On this week's show...
* We explore Fair Trade goods and their implications for farmers in developing countries
* We examine a new government proposal to remove the grey wolf from the endangered species list.
* A state of emergency is declared in Somalia following the US-backed Ethiopian invasion last month.
* local activists submit a request to re-open the cases of Jerry Jackson and Charles Dixon.
* the word on the street about police violence in Pittsburgh
* and more local and global headlines
Welcome to this week's edition of Rustbelt Radio, the Pittsburgh Independent Media Center's weekly review of the news from the grassroots, news overlooked by the corporate media.
On today's show...
We explore Fair Trade goods and their implications for farmers in developing countries
We examine a new government proposal to remove the grey wolf from the endangered species list.
A state of emergency is declared in Somalia following the US-backed Ethiopian invasion last month.
local activists submit a request to re-open the cases of Jerry Jackson and Charles Dixon.
the word on the street about police violence in Pittsburgh
and more local and global headlines
Rustbelt Radio airs live every Monday from 6-7 PM on WRCT 88.3 FM in Pittsburgh, PA, and again on Tuesday mornings 9-10 AM. We're also on Pacifica affiliate WVJW Benwood, 94.1 FM in the Wheeling, West Virginia area, on Thursdays from 6-7 PM. And we're on at a new time on WPTS - 10-11AM on Wednesday mornings on 92.1 FM from the campus of the University of Pittsburgh.
We're also available on the internet, both on WRCT's live webstream at W-R-C-T dot ORG and for download, stream or podcast at radio dot I-N-D-Y-P-G-H dot org.
We turn now to local headlines.
[1:45] Word on the Street: Police Shooting
Sergeant Craig Campbell of the Pittsburgh Police shot and killed twenty-two year old Michael Lee Ghafoor on Wednesday, January thirty-first. The shooting occurred at 40th Street and Penn Avenue in the Bloomfield- Lawrenceville area of Pittsburgh at about 5:12 p.m. Rustbelt Radio asked the question: 'Do you have anything to say about the recent shooting?' Word on the street at Penn and Main said...
That was Bibi. Fred, from Mount Washington, was more supportive of the police.
After hearing the news reports, Warren had a similar opinion.
Lawrenceville resident Josh disagreed, and was more critical of the police.
Nick from Penn Hills said
Jessica, of Lawrenceville, was concerned for her neighborhood.
Bloomfield resident Diane shared similar concerns.
That wraps it up for this week's 'Word on the Street'.
[2:00] $100,000 Taser Abuse settlement
The usage of Tasers, classified as "non-lethal" weapons by the United States Department of Defense, has become increasingly popular among police departments in the past few years. Taser guns are electroshock weapons that conduct as many as fifty thousand volts of electricity into the body. They are designed to incapacitate and immobilize their victims by sending electroshock pulses into nerves and muscles. The Pittsburgh police department first acquired Tasers in June 2004 and now approximately two hundred officers carry these guns. Activists nationwide have decried the use of tasers since over one hundred-fifty people in the course of five years have died or suffered severe injuries after being stunned with taser guns. These deaths have caused people to question the use of the term 'non lethal' when describing Tasers, which are used by over seven thousand law enforcement agencies in the United States.
In July 2005, police officers in Mt. Lebanon used a taser on sixty-six year-old Frank Caruso, landing him in the hospital after he complained of chest pains. The Police tasing of Frank Caruso, owner of Caruso's pizzeria and well liked member of the Mount Lebanon Community, drew public outcry over police misconduct. A year and a half later, Caruso and his wife received a one-hundred thousand dollar settlement over this incident. The Carusos filed a federal civil rights lawsuit last June accusing Officer Kunz of use of excessive force and also alleged that Police Chief Thomas A. Ogden, Junior failed to adequately train his staff on the proper usage of tasers. In the lawsuit the Carusos also said they were denied due process and they sought compensatory and punitive damages.
The Mount Lebanon police chief has said the officers acted in accordance with police policy. However, the police have declined to share a videotape of the incident with the public. In October 2005 Caruso pled guilty to summary disorderly conduct and a parking violation, in exchange for dismissal of the charges of felony aggravated assault on a police officer and resisting arrest.
This taser incident is not the first to spark controversy in the Pittsburgh area. In August 2005 police used a taser repeatedly on a demonstrator during a counter recruitment demonstration in Oakland and the Citizen Police Review Board has received numerous complaints about the use of Tasers. The organizers of the Counter Recruitment protest, the Pittsburgh Organizing Group, unsuccessfully called for a total ban on taser use by the Pittsburgh Police Department.
[3:40] Wage gap
Some people think that sexism in the workplace is no longer an issue. However, the results of a 2006 wage and benefit survey show that sexism is alive and well and manifesting itself in an increasing wage disparity between men and women working in the nonprofit sector. The survey, conducted by the Robert Morris University's Bayer Center for Nonprofit Management, shows that the gender gap is rising.
Peggy Outon (pronounce oo-tun), Executive Director of the Bayer Center for Nonprofit Managment reveals the results of the study.
This report was consistent with a University of Pittsburgh study released in 2004, which showed that full-time female workers earned less than seventy percent of the annual earnings of full-time male workers in Pittsburgh. The Women and Girls Foundation of Southwest Pennsylvania, along with the Post-Gazette, reported that in 2006, women composed fifty-one percent of the work force and held nine point eight percent of executive positions and nine percent of board seats at Pittsburgh's publicly traded companies.
The study also revealed more disheartening information about nonprofits' health insurance costs and the gap between executive and employee pay. More than fifty percent of Pittsburgh area nonprofits offering medical coverage have passed rising costs on to employees, decreased coverage, or offered higher co-pays and deductibles. According to the survey, executive directors' salaries are rising in sharp contrast to regular employee salaries.
[3:30] Jackson/Dixon case reopening
At the annual Black and White Reunion on January 20th, hundreds of people vowed that they would take their discussions of racial and economic justice beyond the conference rooms and put them into action. One example of this committment to action is a recent letter sent to District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala, Jr. on behalf of the Black Political Empowerment Project and the Black & White Reunion. The letter asks for a reopening of the cases of Jerry Jackson and Charles A. Dixon. These two cases are well known instances of police violence that resulted in the deaths of unarmed black men. Tim Stevens, chair of B-PEP and author of the letter, explained why they wanted Jerry Jackson's case reopened.
That was just Tim Stevens chair of the Black Political Empowerment Project articulating the requests that have been made of District Attorney Stephen Zappala A. Jr.
For more on local news, you can visit pittsburgh dot I-N-D-Y-M-E-D-I-A dot org.
[ HMB BREAK RUSTBELT - 0:20 (fades down 0:10 in to start global intro) ]
You are listening to Rustbelt Radio, the Pittsburgh Independent Media Center's weekly review of news overlooked by the corporate media. We turn now to news from other independent media sources around the world.
[1:40] Citizenship and Immigration Services Raise Immigration Application Fees
On January 31, Citizenship and Immigration Services, a branch of the Department of Homeland Security, announced a plan to raise application fees for citizenship and permanent residency. This plan, referred to by the CIS as "fee restructuring," would increase citizenship fees from $330 to $595, and would raise permanent residency fees, also known as green card fees, from $325 to $905, making permanent residency and citizenship increasingly inaccessible to lower-income immigrants. Under the current fee system a family of four pays $1450 in citizenship naturalization fees. Under the new fee system, the same family would be forced to pay $2430, not including unofficial costs for citizenship, such as photograph fees, and test preparation courses.
In Canada, the application fee for citizenship is the equivalent of $85 US dollars per person.
Immigrant advocacy groups around the US, including the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition, have voiced strong opposition to the proposed fee hikes. CIS director Emilio Gonzalez has insisted that raised fees would be the only way to cover bureau costs, 99% of which are paid for by application fees and none of which are covered by tax dollars.
Fred Tsao, policy director for the Illinois Coalition of Immigrant and Refugee Rights, remarked, "We've never seen regular fees that were this high. I think a lot of people are going to get discouraged."
The public has until April 2, 2007 to file written comments on this drastic proposed hike in immigration fees. The projected increases, if approved, would take effect in July 2007. To comment, email OSComments@ dhs.gov and include the docket number (USCIS-2006-0044) in the subject line of your message.
[1:40] Update on Panther Ten
Last week, Rustbelt Radio reported on the January 23 arrests of nine former members of the Black Panther Party and the Black Liberation Army charged with murder or crimes related to the 1971 murder of a police officer in San Francisco. According to recent reports from the Committee for the Defense of Human Rights and the Jericho Movement, a first hearing for the 4 California based defendants, Richard Brown, Hank Jones, Richard O’Neal, and Ray Boudreaux—was held in San Francisco Superior Court on January 29. Boudreaux and Jones had been held in Twin Towers Jail in Los Angeles before being transported this past week to San Francisco. Currently, all four men are being held in prison on bail of $3 million to $5 million each.
A bail reduction hearing and arraignment have been set for February 14, 2007.
At a January 28th screening of the documentary “Legacy of Torture: The War Against the Black Liberation Movement,” in San Francisco, Soffiyah Elijah, deputy director of the Criminal Justice Institute at Harvard Law School, remarked, “The case against these men was built on torture, just like the history of this country and it's commonplace for law enforcement to claim that they don't torture people, but in the end we always find out that they're lying.”
For more information on the Panther Ten, you can visit The Committee to Defend Human Rights’ web site at http://www.cdhrsupport.org. For information on the documentary Legacy of Torture: The War Against the Black Liberation Movement, a documentary about the use of torture by New Orleans police in the 1973 interrogation of Hank Jones, Ray Boudreaux, John Bowman, Harold Taylor, and Richard Brown , visit http:// freedomarchives. org/ BPP/torture.html.
The US launched two separate airstrikes against Somalia in January, killing up to twenty people. Somali officials said Islamist fighters were killed along the Kenyan border. According to Somali villagers, the victims were civilians. The Pentagon acknowledged that it was unsuccessful in killing the intended targets of the strikes - members of Al Qaeda connected to the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam. The attacks were the first overt U.S. military action in Somalia since the infamous "Black Hawk Down" episode in 1993, when eighteen US Army Rangers and about 1,000 Somalis were killed in Mogadishu.
In December of 2006, U.S.-backed Ethiopian forces invaded Somalia and overthrew the Union of Islamic Courts. Reports have also emerged that suggest U.S. Special Forces and CIA paramilitary teams are now directly embedded with Ethiopian forces in Somalia. Earlier this year, the CIA was accused of backing a group of Somali warlords.
For commentary on US involvement in the Ethiopian attacks on Somalia, we go now to 'The Black Agenda Report' from the December 29, 2006 episode of Uprising Radio. Uprising is a daily radio program produced at KPFK, Pacifica Radio in Los Angeles.
That was Glen Ford of the Black Agenda Report with commentary on Somalia for Uprising Radio.
Somalia's interim government has imposed martial law after declaring a three month state of emergency. Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Gedi ordered four major media outlets, including Al Jazeera, to be shut down. On January 30, a curfew was imposed on the town of Baidoa, where the U.N.-backed interim government is based. The Islamic Courts Union controlled Mogadishu and much of Somalia until the Ethiopian invasion in December. Somalia's interim government now faces the challenge of maintaining control over Mogadishu and the rest of Somalia without foreign military support.
You're listening to Rustbelt Radio, the Pittsburgh Independent Media Center's weekly review of news from the grassroots.
[13:30] Fair Trade Coffee
Millions of farmers across the world make a living by selling their crops to the global market. For decades, products such as sugar, bananas, coffee, tea and cocoa provided a livelihood to farmers in Latin America, Africa, and Asia.
In the 1970’s and 80’s unregulated competition in global commodity markets encouraged a severe drop in prices. Advocates for these farmers note that between 1970 and 2000, prices for many of the main agricultural exports of developing countries- such as sugar, cotton, cocoa and coffee- fell by 30 to 60 percent. The U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization estimates the total loss for developing countries due to falling commodity prices to total almost $250 billion during 1980-and 2002.
With the fall of commodity prices and their current unstable nature, farmers across the world can no longer depend on gaining a reliable or profitable source of income from their products. They are no longer able to sustain their families and communities. Out of this realization, the Fair Trade movement was born.
Today in the United States, the non-profit agency which is responsible for certifying products as “Fair Trade” is TransFair. This organization acts as an independent, third-party certifier and is one of the 20 members of Fairtrade Labeling Organizations International.
Reykia (RAY-key-a) Fick of TransFair Canada shares the history behind the fair trade system:
Reykia1- FT history 0:36
Reykia describes how the modern fair trade certification process came about:
Cesar explains how shifting their coffee production to meet fair trade standards has benefitted the cooperative:
peru 2 (0:54)
Cesar shared this message with American consumers:
peru 3 (0:26)
While fair trade is growing on a global scale, it has not been without criticism. One critique of the system claims that it focuses too much on individual small producer groups, instead of advocating immediate trade policy changes that would have a larger impact on disadvantaged producers' lives. Dean Cycon, founder of Dean's Beans Organic Coffee Company, talks about the potential for fair trade to be a solution to the inequities small farmers face in the global market:
dean coffee (2:20)
Representatives from Transfair and other certification labeling organizations are continuing to promote awareness of the inequities in the global market. The issues surrounding fair trade are now appearing in films such as Black Gold and are discussed on college campuses across the US and Canada. Fair trade foods were also named as a 2007 trend in Epicurious online magazine. It is the hope of Transfair that this trend will have positive impacts on the lives of farmers worldwide.
For more information on the La Florida Cooperative in Peru go to www.brownscoffee.com and to learn more about Transfair, you can visit their website at transfairusa.org. To find fair trade products in Pittsburgh, look at the East End Food Coop's February edition of their monthly newsletter The Cooperator. There you will find a listing of Fair Trade items available for sale at their store.
That was the sound of a grey wolf howling— a sound Pennsylvanians may never have heard, because the wolf was hunted to extinction here in the early 19th century.
After three centuries of eradication efforts and thirty years of recovery efforts, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is now proposing to remove the grey wolf from the endangered species list. Today Rustbelt Radio examines the story of the wolf and the current status of the species, as we speak with Nick Fiore, Director of Education at the Wolf Education Resource Center in Idaho; and with Andrea Lovett-Strauss, communications director for the International Wolf Center in Minnesota.
Nick Fiore on the ecological role of the wolf:
Andrea Lovett-Strauss on the wolf’s diet.
When a species is listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act, it is illegal to kill individuals of that species, or to harm the species through destruction of its critical habitat. The United States Fish and Wildlife Service, which has jurisdiction over land species, is required to create a recovery plan for each listed species, with scientifically based standards to determine when the species is no longer in imminent danger of extinction. A species may also be classified differently under the Act in different parts of its geographic range. Such is the case with the wolf. In the Great Lakes region, the removal of the grey wolf from the endangered species list takes effect today, Monday February 5th.
Andrea explains the legal consequences:
The Fish and Wildlife Service has also announced its intention to pursue the delisting of the Rocky Mountain wolf populations.
Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana also are required to create management plans. However, government officials in Idaho and Wyoming have made it clear they do not want wolves.
The wolf reductions would be accomplished by the creation of a hunting season with a limited number of licenses.
Fiore questioned whether these plans are consistent with the endangered species act’s intent:
In the rocky mountains, people currently have the right to shoot a wolf if they perceive that it is a danger to their property. The protection of wolves under the ESA is also well known, however, and Fiore says that currently there are minimal problems with poaching. He fears that might change if wolves are delisted.
Andrea speaks to this concern in Minnesota:
* min_poach [0:45]
The wolf’s decline was the result of an eradication campaign by European settlers and their descendents. Today, once some of its legal protections are removed, its future success may depend on how people today regard the wolf.
Andrea on how attitudes have changed:
Andrea Strauss on the Endangered Species Act –
The proposal to de-list the rocky mountain wolves enters the federal register today, february 5th. Nick Fiore encouraged people to make their opinions known.
For more information, visit the International Wolf Center website at www.wolf,org, and the Wolf Education Research Center website, at www.wolfcenter.org.
Calendar of Events
And now we present the Indymedia Calendar of Events:
On Tuesday February 6th and again on Tuesday the 20th, attend a city council meeting along with Save our Transit. The meetings will take place at 5pm, and you must register in advance if you wish to speak. The meeting will be held at the Allegheny County Courthouse 4th Floor, Gold Room. For more information call 412-361-3022.
Also on Tuesday, Rustbelt Radio will offer training on media literacy including savvy media consumption, independent media, and our grassroots approach to Radio Production. The training will be held at 8pm at the 3rd floor of the Thomas Merton Center, located at 5125 penn ave. For more information email radio @indypgh. org.
On Friday, join the Pittsburgh Student/Farmworker Alliance for its monthly 'Fair Food Friday.' Meet at noon at the corner of Wood Street and Liberty to talk about the campaign in solidarity with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, then walk to the Wood Street McDonald's together to deliver a letter to the manager and talk with customers about the injustice in McDonald's tomato supply. Fair Food Friday takes place at a different McDonald's location around the city on the second Friday of every month. For more information, contact Diane at firstname.lastname@example.org
[ Outro Music ]
Thanks for tuning in to Rustbelt Radio here on WRCT Pittsburgh, WVJW Benwood and WPTS Pittsburgh.
Our hosts this week are Diane Amdor, Carlin Christy and Jessica McPherson with contributions from Vani Natarajan, Andalusia Knoll, and Matt Toups. This week's show was produced by Donald Deeley, Veronica Milliner, and Deren Guler. Special thanks to all of our hosts, producers, and contributors.
You can get involved with Rustbelt Radio! To contact us, or to send us your comments, email RADIO at I-N-D-Y-P-G-H dot ORG. All of our shows are available for download or podcast on our website at RADIO dot INDY-P-G-H dot ORG and this show can be heard again Tuesday morning on WRCT at 9 AM after Democracy Now!
Tune in next week at this time for another edition of Rustbelt Radio, the Pittsburgh Independent Media Center's weekly review of news from the grassroots.