community-based, non-corporate, participatory media
On this week's show... * Counter Recruitment strategies from a former soldier and a community activist * New Voices Pittsburgh's Reproductive Justice Weekend * A Judge's ruling puts a controversial immigration enforcement tactic on hold * Multiple incidents of racial intimidation are reported in Pittsburgh * and more in our local and global headlines
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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...
Rustbelt Radio is broadcast live from WRCT studios every Monday at 6 PM on 88.3 FM in Pittsburgh, and the program airs again on WRCT every Tuesday morning at 9AM.
We can also be heard weekly on the following stations:
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 from our website at radio dot I-N-D-Y-P-G-H dot org.
We turn now to local stories.
Last week rustbelt radio reported on the racist threat made against a Port Authority worker in the form of a black Barbie doll with a racist comment written on it.
Since then two more incidents of racial intimidation have occurred at Pittsburgh businesses. On October 3rd a black female supervisor at Verizon found an inter-office envelope on her desk. Inside it had a black baby doll with a noose around its neck. The doll also had the words “nigger” and the woman's name written on the belly.
Verizon has begun an investigation after issuing a statement that the company (quote) takes it very seriously (end quote).
On October 4th, Errol Madyun, an iron worker, arrived at his construction site in O’Hara Township to find a life size noose threatening him in his work area. Because of the size of the noose, the incident is being investigated by both the local police and the FBI.
While the Zambrano Corporation released a statement saying they found the action to be (quote) deplorable (end quote), Madyun says that he was further angered when his supervisor initially passed the incident off as a joke.
On October 5th, PAT announced its partnering with the NAACP Pittsburgh unit to visit the East Liberty garage, where the incident took place, to speak with the employees. The NAACP will also review PATs harassment and diversity training materials.
NAACP Pittsburgh Branch President M. Gayle Moss issued a statement on the three incidents saying (quote) Although these three incidents seem isolated in their respective work environments, what they collectively represent is endemic to the culture in this region and this city recently voted the “Most Livable City in America”—which in my opinion was both fallacious and shortsighted (end quote).
Following orders from Duquesne University, WDUQ has refused Planned Parenthood's underwriting money and supporter messages. The local NPR affiliate is based on the Duquesne University campus and operates under the university's 501(c)3 tax-exempt status.
After only two days of underwriting support, Planned Parenthood was told on Thursday of last week that the public radio station could no longer accept the $5,300 donation to inform their audience about (quote) comprehensive sexuality education, cancer screening, or infection screening (end quote).
Duquesne University spokeswoman Bridget Fare explains that they made their decision to pull the organization's underwriting because (quote) Planned Parenthood is not aligned with the university's Catholic mission and identity and legally, stations are not required to accept underwriting support (end quote).
In response to the refusal, Kimberlee Evert, president and chief executive officer of Planned Parenthood of Western Pennsylvania, stated (quote) According to this logic, WDUQ can't accept donations from anyone supportive of reproductive choice (end quote). Evert also asked (quote) Is WDUQ now going to screen every donor to find out whether they're in compliance with Catholic doctrine? (end quote).
The refused messages are funded from multiple Planned Parenthood affiliates across Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey. WDUQ is the only NPR station in the tri-state consortium to reject the underwriting.
For more information, visit Planned Parenthood of Western Pennsylvania's website at ppwp.org
The West Virginia Council of Churches has declared opposition to a Bush Administration-backed proposal to relax restrictions preventing mining activity near waterways.
The group released a statement against the administration’s move to exempt valley fills -- in which rubble from mountaintop removal mining is dumped in nearby valleys -- from a 20-year-old rule restricting mining activity near streams.
The council said its stance draws from Jesus' practice of seeking the wilderness to pray, the admonition in Genesis that "God's covenant is with all living creatures," and a Psalm declaring "The Earth is the Lord's.” Bishop William Boyd Grove, a leader of the council, told reporters at a press event outside the Capitol that (quote) This is a deeply moral position, and one based on scripture (endquote)
Current policy says land within 100 feet of a stream cannot be disturbed by mining unless a company can prove it will not affect the water's quality and quantity. The new regulation would allow mining activities that alter a stream's flow as long the company promises to repair any damage to the environment later.
The U.S. Office of Surface Mining said the new rule would clarify a policy that has had conflicting judicial interpretations handed down during several court challenges.
The regulatory change would apply nationwide, but would most affect Appalachian coalfield regions where mountaintop removal mining is prevalent. This includes southern West Virginia, eastern Kentucky, southwestern Virginia and Tennessee. According to the Office of Surface Mining, surface mining permits issued between October 2001 and June 2005 have affected more than 500 miles of streams. Of those, almost 70% were in Appalachian coalfields.
The West Virginia Coal Association believes the proposed change would clarify the original intent of the stream buffer zone rule. The industry also advocates scrapping the rule entirely.
Public hearings on the proposal will be held Oct. 24 in Charleston, West Virginia; Hazard, Kentucky; Knoxville, Tennessee; and in Washington, Pennsylvania at the Ramada Inn. The Office of Surface Mining is accepting public comments until November 23rd.
The Church Council also praised legal challenges that aim to force coal operators to comply with current regulations. It called on the industry to heed the 1977 federal law governing surface mining, which is widely violated. At the press conference, Bishop Grove said that (quote) We have seen creation defaced and God's gift abused," echoing the Church statement’s words that (quote) In obedience, we are obligated to care for God's wondrous Creation that we may one day walk with God in the garden without shame. (endquote)
For more on local news, you can visit pittsburgh dot I-N-D-Y-M-E-D-I-A dot org.
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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.
Last Wednesday October 9th, a federal judge issued a ruling that puts on hold new rules that would require businesses to fire employees whose names don’t match their Social Security numbers. The so-called “no match” rules are a tactic initiated by the Bush administration to crack down on undocumented immigrants. Since the 1970s, the Social Security administration has been sending letters to businesses informing them when their employees’ social security numbers do not match the administration’s records. However, the Bush administration has now directly Social Security to send additional letters warning businesses they must fire “no match” workers within 90 days or face fines and enforcement actions.
U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer issued a preliminary injunction to stop any penalties until he can hand down a final ruling on whether “no match” enforcement is legal. The final ruling is likely to come in several months. Judge Breyer said the plan would (quote) result in irreparable harm to innocent workers and employers. (endquote) He also said it would place a financial burden on employers and lead to legal workers being fired because of errors. The plaintiffs in the suit argued that the Social Security database is so full of errors that tens of thousands of documented workers would unfairly be targeted.
The coalition that brought suit against the “no match” policy included the AFL-CIO, the ACLU, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the trade associations for the agriculture, restaurant and construction industries.
Rustbelt Radio spoke with Polly Halfkenny, General Council for the United Electrical Radio, and Machine Workers of America, about the no-match policy, which the UE has actively opposed.
Halfkenny put the policy in historical context:
She describes why unions view the policy as a threat to workers:
Halfkenny on what happens next:
If the government mounts any appeals, the case could carry on through the 2008 presidential campaign and into the next administration
Arturo Contreras of New York City's Radio Rootz brings us this radical history lesson for October 16th.
Bolivian President Evo Morales announced on October 8th that his government will gradually withdraw its military from training programs at the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC), formerly known as the School for the Americas, or SOA. Bolivia is now the fifth country after Costa Rica, Argentina, Uruguay and Venezuela to formally announce a withdrawal from the school!
Morales stated, (quote) "We will gradually withdraw until there are no Bolivian officers attending the School of the Americas...they are teaching high ranking officers to confront their own people, to identify social movements as their enemies" (end quote).
This decision is seen as a great victory for torture survivors, social movement leaders and human rights activists in Bolivia and across Latin America. The SOA/WHINSEC has played a significant role in Bolivia’s recent political history. Hugo Banzer Suarez, who ruled Bolivia from 1971-1978 under a brutal military dictatorship attended the school in 1956 and was later inducted into the school’s “hall of fame” in 1988. The SOA has trained tens of thousands of Bolivian military officers in the past fifty years. In October of 2006, two former graduates of the training school were arrested on charges of torture, murder, and violation of the constitution for their responsibility in the death of 67 civilians in El Alto, Bolivia during the “Gas Wars” of September-October 2003.
Last Wednesday marked the first annual National Day of Panhandling for Reparations. This collective performance art piece was conceived by author and artist damali ayo. Over 70 people in 21 states and 3 countries participated in this action. Pittsburghers who happened to be in downtown, Oakland, or Squirrel Hill may have happened upon two local activists who answered ayo's call for participants. Their handmade cardboard signs read "Reparations accepted here" and "Even if we didn't own slaves, we still owe reparations." White passersby were asked, "Spare some reparations for 200 years of slavery?" The reparations money collected was then immediately offered to African American passersby. Both parties were offered a receipt.
Reactions to the panhandlers ranged from confusion to anger, as well as amusement and dialogue, as in this exchange:
Ayo's next step will involve using the multiracial support for reparations demonstrated by the performance to help put reparations on the agenda of the national government.
Now we'll hear radio commentary from Mumia Abu-Jamal on the subject of juvenile detention centers.
That was Mumia Abu-Jamal, recorded from the State Correctional Institution in Greene County.
You're listening to Rustbelt Radio, the Pittsburgh Independent Media Center's weekly review of news from the grassroots.
Every day in the United States, military recruiters enter the halls of high schools equipped with a goodie bag of promises and free copies of the US Army's official new video game, America's Army. However, the assurances of non-combat positions and college money made largely to teens of color and low-income communities rarely materialize upon real-life service. In order to educate the public about this reality, 2 community organizers have teamed up to release a new book entitled "An Army of None: Strategies to Counter Military Recruitment, End War, and Build a Better World."
The authors include Courage to Resist and WTO Protest organizer David Solnit and Gulf War objector and community organizer Aimee Allison, both from the San Francisco Bay Area. The pair made a stop in Pittsburgh on October 9th, during their tour across the country. By visiting dozens of cities and towns, they hope to share success stories of the counter-recruitment movement, and give insight into the tactics and tricks of military recruiters.
To start off the discussion, Aimee described how she got involved in the military, and what led to her transformation from soldier to counter recruitment activist and educator:
Counter Recruitment organizing is made up of diverse tactics, which Aimee believes are necessary to mobilize a wide range of people:
As the war in Iraq worsens, recruiters have had more difficulties finding new young people to join the military. Aimee describes some of the new tactics the military uses to obtain their quotas. She also shares a personal story about one of the youth she has met during her 10 years of organizing:
The US Military makes a concerted effort to reach children from a very young age. David describes how the Army reaches out to school children, and another vulnerable population, immigrants:
The black community is disproportionately represented in the military, but their enlistment figures are significantly lower than they were a few years ago. Aimee explains why:
More from Aimee, on the role parents can play in counter recruitment struggles:
Finally, Aimee notes that one of the most important reasons to fight military recruitment in young people, is because it destroys the humanity they were taught as children.
Not only does the book Army of None provide compelling arguments for opposing the military, but it also provides organizing tips and direct action ideas for counter recruitment activists. The book may serve as a useful tool for those who believe the Counter Recruitment movement is one of the necessary components for stopping the US-War Machine. More information on the book "Army of None" can be found online at www. courage to resist .org. And if you are interested in free, confidential, and accurate information for troops, vets, recruits, and their families, you can call the new GI Rights Hotline number at 877-447-4487.
Thanks to Blast Furnace Radio for the audio.
That was Rebel Diaz, with "Which Side are You On?"
In 2007, the percentage of white women in Pennsylvania who received prenatal care during their pregnancies, beginning in the first trimester, was 80%. In comparison, only 57% of African American women in Pennsylvania received prenatal care. Race and class have a pronounced impact on the quality of reproductive health care that women receive, or whether they receive any at all. These topics, and more, were explored during New Voices Pittsburgh's Reproductive Justice Weekend.
Last Thursday night, an awards ceremony at the Montage Design Studio honored local women organizers for decades of work in reproductive justice. Honorees included Alma Speed Fox, with a Voice of Courage Award; Claudette R. Lewis with a Voice of Vision Award ; Dr. Margaret Larkins-Pettigrew with a Voice of Courage Award; and Lois "Toni" McClendon with a Voice of Justice Award.
After the presentation of awards, Dorothy Roberts spoke about her work as a legal and historical scholar with a focus on reproductive history. Her interest in the topic was sparked by a court case:
For decades, the US government has promoted programs of population control that directly impact poor women and women of color. More from Dorothy Roberts:
The expansion of the prison system and the growth of harsh sentencing policies have violated the human rights of women. Dorothy Roberts:
At a training in East Liberty on Saturday, Loretta Ross of the organization SisterSong broke down the concepts central to reproductive justice. SisterSong's core principles are based on human rights: that every woman has the right to decide if and when she will have a baby and the conditions of giving birth, to decide not to have a baby and to have real options for preventing or ending pregnancy, and to parent the children she already has with the necessary social supports, safe and healthy environments, and without the fear of individual or state violence.
On women's reproductive lives, more from Loretta Ross:
A key concept within reproductive justice is intersectionality. Loretta Ross spoke about this idea:
With support from new Voices Pittsburgh, a Philadelphia New Voices for Reproductive Justice is launching this fall. For updates from New Voices, email email@example.com.
And now we present the Indymedia Calendar of Events:
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Thanks for tuning in to Rustbelt Radio here on WRCT Pittsburgh, WPTS Pittsburgh, WNJR Washington, WVJW Benwood, WIUP Indiana and WKCO Gambier.
Our hosts this week are Jessica McPherson and Matt Toups with contributions from Carlin Christy, Jessica McPherson, Lizzie Anderson, Vani Natarajan, Daniel Hammer, and Noah Lewis. This week's show was produced by Phill Cresswell. 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.