On this week's show...
* Sylvia Rivera Cusicanqui, discusses Anarchism in Bolivia, medicinal benefits of Coca and present day social justice struggles.
* Gitanjali Gutierrez, lead counsel representing Guantanamo detainees, speaks on torture, legal activism, and the movement to shut down Guantanamo Bay prison.
* 14 people are arrested in a large civil disobedience action against the war machine in Pittsburgh
* plus more in our 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...
Sylvia Rivera Cusicanqui, discusses Anarchism in Bolivia, medicinal benefits of Coca and present day social justice struggles.
Gitanjali Gutierrez, lead counsel representing Guantanamo detainees, speaks on torture, legal activism, and the movement to shut down Guantanamo Bay prison.
14 people are arrested in a large civil disobedience action against the war machine in Pittsburgh
plus more in our 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 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.
[4:30] Allegheny County Council hearings on Transit Cuts
On Friday March 2nd, the Allegheny County Council Transportation Committee held a hearing regarding service cuts proposed by the Port Authority to address an eighty million dollar budget deficit in the 2007-2008 fiscal year. In January, Allegheny County Chief Executive Dan Onorato and Port Authority Chief Executive Officer Steve Bland announced plans to cut over half of the county's bus routes and to leave over four hundred transit workers jobless beginning June 25, 2007.
The proposals would reduce service by twenty-five percent and raise the base fare to either $2.00 or $2.50 beginning January 1, 2008. This would include the elimination of one hundred twenty-four weekday, fifty-nine Saturday, and thirty-nine Sunday routes.
To determine which routes to cut, the Port Authority examined each route. Barney Oursler of the Mon Valley Unemployed Committee explains:
Over two hours into the meeting, members of pro-transit groups left to rally outside the Gold Room of the Allegheny County Courthouse. While in the hall, speakers addressed around fifty people, from organizations like the Mon Valley Unemployed Committee, Save Our Transit, the League of Young Voters, and local labor unions.
Sam Williamson, of UNITE-HERE:
On Thursday March 8th, Save Our Transit will have its weekly picket against the proposed transit cuts at the Port Authority office, 345 6th Avenue, Downtown Pittsburgh, at noon. The Port Authority Board of Directors will vote on the proposed service cuts on Friday March 23, 2007.
[2:30] Healthcare advocates go to Harrisburg
This past Tuesday, Feb. 27th, health care advocates from all over the state headed towards Harrisburg to show their support for assuring healthcare for all Pennsylvanians. A standing room only crowd of nearly one hundred supporters heard a panel present the case for a single payer healthcare bill that is about to be reintroduced in the states house of representatives for the second year in a row. The bill is known as the family and business healthcare security act of 2007. The panel included Steven Larchuk, an attorney in health law and medical malpractice, and main author of the family and business health care security act, as well as Nadine Bean, president of the Pennsylvania chapter of the national association of social workers. The two are co-chairs of the Health Education and Legislative Progress fund, or HELP, whose goal it is to see Pennsylvania become the first state in the U.S. to achieve quality, affordable healthcare coverage for all with a single payer system.
The hearing in the state’s capital building was requested by the new Democratic majority in the house, and ten members of the democratic policy committee were on hand to hear the presentation and see the overwhelming support of a diverse group of citizens. The HELP organization has been unifying healthcare reform advocates from all over the state, and residents from urban areas such as Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and Erie, as well as smaller areas like Lancaster and Greene counties, were present to show their support for single payer healthcare coming to Pennsylvania.
With Governor Rendell already jumping onto the healthcare reform bandwagon, the panel compared a single payer plan directly to the governor’s reform plan, which is modeled after a plan massachussetts recently adopted. In the governors plan, the state requires that individuals purchase private health insurance plan, and help to pay for those who cannot afford the coverage. However early reports are showing that residents of massachussetts are getting bare bones coverage for prices that are still out of reach for many. In a single payer plan like the family and business healthcare security act, private insurance providers are eliminated and all money goes into a statewide trust, which would provide payment for all residents. The panel pointed out that this is the most just way to spread the risk and responsibility of providing quality healthcare for all residents. Mr. Larchuk specified that “by some estimates up to 25% of every health insurance premium dollar is consumed by the unnecessary and redundant costs of underwriting, sales, claims management, advertising, lobbying, executive salaries and bloated reserves.”
The chairman of the hearing, representative Todd Eachus noted that public pressure will be the key to achieving such comprehensive reform. He thanked the panel for “expanding our vision” and, acknowledging the huge crowd, asked those present to “keep building your coalition”. Locally, Pennsylvanians united for single payer healthcare, or PUSH, is busy planning for actions to build support for this much needed reform in western Pennsylvania. To learn how to get involved, visit www.just-healthcare.net, or call brian at (412) 303 - 7634.
[4:30] POG's NREC Protest
On Friday March 2nd, the Pittsburgh Organizing Group and other activists from Pittsburgh, Ohio, and Chicago came together early in the morning for direct action against Carnegie Mellon University's National Robotics Engineering Center. Organizing under the slogan "Barricade the War Machine," they succeeded in shutting down the Lawrenceville facility for the day. NREC is a largely Pentagon-funded facility operated by CMU's Robotics Institute, and it has become a world leader in warfare robotics.
In order to disrupt the normal proceedings at N-REC, a blockade of their front and rear entrances was organized. A tripod, which suspended an activist 15 feet in the air, also prevented people from entering the building. In total, thirty-four people blockaded the main entrances to the facility in the largest act of civil disobedience in Pittsburgh since the war in Iraq began. For several hours, police were unable to cut the protestors loose, which allowed the blockade to last for over 5 hours. This action marks the first large-scale use of lockboxes, u-locks, and tripods in Pittsburgh.
We turn now to excerpts from Blast Furnace Radio's recording at the event, which includes some of the mainstream media's coverage of the day's events.
Members of POG are declaring the action a success. As of 4:00 AM, on Saturday March 3rd, all 14 arrestees were arraigned and released. They are being charged with failure to disperse, obstruction of a public highway, and possession of instruments of a crime with criminal intent. Those who live in the Pittsburgh area were released on their own recognizance, while non-locals had to post a $100 bail. Their hearing will take place March 8th.
For more on this event go to www.indypgh.org and www.organizepittsburgh.org
For more on local news, you can visit pittsburgh dot I-N-D-Y-M-E-D-I-A dot org.
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.
[3:00] Ungdomshuset Eviction
On Thursday March 1st in Copenhagen, Denmark, a seven-year battle between the autonomous social center Ungdomshuset and a Christian sect intent on taking possession of the buildiing came to a head when a Danish anti-terror squad raided the building and evicted the activists who had been occupying it. Ditte, a member of the Ungdomshuset collective describes the eviction:
The eviction of Ungdomshuset led to widespread demonstrations and clashes with police over the course of several days, which have led to over 600 arrests, deportations of non-danish people, and raids of local houses and centers. Ditte describes the situation.
To get more information about the situation in Denmark and to learn what you can do to support those arrested in the demonstrations, go to www.blackcross.dk and www.indymedia.org for english-language news. Rustbelt Radio will continue to follow this story in upcoming weeks.
[1:30] Japanese Whaling Ends
The whale killing season has officially ended, and the Japanese whaling fleet has returned to port. Two weeks ago, a fire broke out aboard one of these ships--the Nisshin Maru-- causing the death of one crew member. The ship was stranded for ten days in the Antarctic Whale Sanctuary after the fire, where conservationists feared that the fire damage would cause the ship to leak oil and chemicals into the water.
The Greenpeace-splinter group Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, who followed the Japanese whalers and attempted to stop the hunt, have been accused of causing the fire on the Nisshin Maru. They deny any involvement and state that their ships were 1,000 miles away when the blaze broke out.
The Sea Shepherds plan to return to Antarctica to protect the whales when the next whaling season begins. Captain Alex Cornelissen said [quote] “We have discovered weaknesses with the Japanese ships that can be exploited given the right equipment. We learn more about these ruthless killing machines every year. Next year if they return to kill humpbacks and fins, we will have to take a more aggressive stand to stop these poachers.”
Whale hunting is illegal under international law, but a limited number are allowed to be killed each year for scientific purposes. The Japanese whalers are officially a scientific mission, but they also sell whale meat to restaurants and consumers.
A Greenpeace vessel that was also monitoring the whalers offered to tow the damaged ship to safe harbor, but the whalers declined the offer.
[3:30] FCC Meeting in Harrisburg Reportback
On Friday February 23rd, all 5 FCC Commissioners gathered in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania for a public hearing on media ownership. Some of the issues to be discussed at that meeting included corporate consolidation of media outlets such as radio stations and television networks. While members of the public came ready to discuss these items, they were surprised to find the meeting's atmosphere did not foster an open dialogue on these topics.
Rustbelt Radio brings you this report from Media Minutes:
media minutes (3:15)
That was this week's Media Minutes, for more information on this program visit freepress.net
You're listening to Rustbelt Radio, the Pittsburgh Independent Media Center's weekly review of news from the grassroots.
[23:30] Silvia Rivera Cusicanqui
The South American Nation of Bolivia has filled the headlines of the global press with their fight against water privatization, struggle for nationalization of Gas, non-compliance with Free Trade policies and the election of South America's first indigenous president Evo Morales. These struggles are part of a long history of Indigenous resistance to colonialism and imperialism in Bolivia. During her recent stay in Pittsburgh subaltern theorist, Aymara sociologist and Historian Silvia Rivera Cusicanqui, discussed with Rustbelt Radio, Bolivian Anarchism, the health benefits of the Coca plant and the Coca Growers fight for sovereignty.
That was just Silvia Rivera Cusicanqui. To hear the complete interview with her go to radio4all.net To hear an interview with Cusicanqui in Spanish that aired on the Latin American Radio Hour you can go to http://revistaradial.googlepages.com/
In July 2006, New York based legal advocacy group the Center for Constitutional Rights published a document entitled, “Report on Torture and Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Treatment of Prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba”. The report included primary accounts by Guantanamo Bay prisoners describing physical and psychological torture, sexual assault, routine beatings, and a lack of basic medical treatment among the conditions faced by those held in detention.
In September 2004, Gitanjali Gutierrez of the Center for Constitutional Rights, became the first lawyer to speak with detainees after a US Supreme Court ruling in the Hamdi vs. Rumsfeld case that US citizens in detention could access legal counsel and challenge their detention.
Last Wednesday, February 28, Gitanjali spoke at the Moot Court Room of the University of Pittsburgh on torture, the suspension of due process, her work as lead counsel representing Guantanamo detainees, and ways that people can take the US government to task on its many human rights abuses committed in the name of national security.
To read full reports by the Center for Constitutional Rights on conditions at Guantanamo Bay Prison, visit WWW (dot) CCR (dash) NY (dot) ORG.
Calendar of Events
And now we present the Indymedia Calendar of Events:
This Tuesday March 6th, Rustbelt Radio will be holding our monthly media literacy training. It will be held at 8pm at our office, located at 5125 Penn Avenue in Garfield. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (412) 923-3000.
Thursday March 8th is International Women's Day. Codepink Women for Peace and Women's International League for Peace and Freedom will be holding a celebration to recognize women's contributions to peace and social justice. This will be held from 12-1pm in Market Square Downtown.
Celeste Escobar of the Student/Farmworker Alliance will be speaking at CMU this Thursday March 8th. She will discuss NAFTA, immigrant farmworkers, and the fast food industry. This event will be held at Doherty Hall Room 1112 at 7:30pm.
During the month of March, Rustbelt TV will return to local community television. This week, tune in to PCTV channel 21 on Tuesday March 6th at 9am, Thursday March 8th at 11pm, or Friday March 9th at 9am, for a one-hour program produced by Pittsburgh Indymedia. For the dates during the rest of March, or to watch the show over the internet, go to video.indypgh.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 and Andalusia Knoll with contributions from Vani Natarajan, Andalusia Knoll, Carlin Christy, Jessica McPherson, Matt Toups, Rob Cullen, John Landis and Brian Stagno. This week's show was produced by Donald Deeley and Matt Toups. 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.