community-based, non-corporate, participatory media
On today's show... * voices from the No Borders camp on the US-Mexico border * Despite opposition, the House of Representatives passes the Peru Free Trade Agreement * Veterans for Peace hold a parade in Meadville, Pennsylvania * Selma James on sixties activism and the current struggle to free Mumia * 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:
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We turn now to local stories.
On Friday November 2nd, a veteran correctional officer at the State Correctional Institution in Houtzdale, Pennsylvania fashioned a noose from a piece of electrical cord and hung it from the door of a prisoner. The incident was witnessed by several black prisoners who briefly questioned the officer about his actions. The officer laughed and removed the noose without further comment. An older prisoner convinced the witnesses to file a grievance, despite the fear of retaliation. The results are pending. SCI-Houtzdale is located in Clearfield county north of Altoona, PA.
This follows several similar incidents over the previous several weeks in which nooses were hung anonymously in various locations throughout the Pittsburgh area, including Allegheny General Hospital, the Port Authority’s East Liberty bus garage, and an O’Hara Township construction site. Each noose was found in the workplace of African-Americans. Noose incidents have also occurred throughout the country following a case in Jena, Louisiana where a group of 6 African-American high school students face criminal charges for their involvement in a school yard fight. The Jena Six have drawn national attention and support, as the fight was fueled by a racially charged incident in which nooses were found hanging from a school yard tree.
This past Sunday, November 11th, the Veterans Day holiday was observed in the United States. While politicians and presidential candidates around the country used the opportunity to advance their campaigns with vague patriotic slogans, a very different event was happening in Meadville, Pennsylvania, north of Pittsburgh near Erie. Crawford County Veterans for Peace sponsored a parade through the town, with a message that echoed the sentiment of the original November 11th holiday, Armistice Day.
Sandy Kelson, Veteran's for Peace organizer, had this to say:
The date is still celebrated as Armistice Day in other countries on the Western Front of World War I, like France and Belgium. The U.S. changed the holiday to Veterans' Day in 1954. In Meadville, the parade was led by the Pennsylvania national guard, and included young and old peace activists, veterans and their supporters such as the local Women in Black, and a marching band from Pittsburgh.
Two people opposed to the event stood on the street with signs that read "TRAITOR" and "Hutto: Al Qaida thanks you for your service." Jonathan Hutto, referenced in the second sign, is a sailor in the US Navy who spoke at the event, criticizing the government's current wars. Here's what he had to say about being called a traitor:
Elsewhere, in Washington D.C., former Secretary of State Colin Powell spoke to mourners gathered at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Powell participated in the cover-up of the My Lai massacre when he was a Major in the U.S. Army. In that incident, U.S. soldiers killed hundreds of unarmed Vietnamese civilians, mostly women and children, many of whom were raped or tortured before their death. Powell did not mention the incident in his speech, but did say (quote) "There are no politics here, no policy disagreements."
In Waco, Texas for Veterans Day, George W. Bush said (quote) "In their sorrow, these families need to know - and families all across our nation of the fallen - need to know that your loved ones served a cause that is good and just and noble,"(end quote)
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.
Ignoring opposition from both Peruvian and US based trade unions, Andean indigenous groups, and a large number of Democratic party Leaders; the House of Representatives passed the Peru Free Trade Act last week. This trade act will further the neoliberal model, opening Peruvian markets to both cheap agricultural imports from the US as well as factories owned by American companies in search of cheap labor.
Those opposed to the Peru Free Trade Act are saying this is a mere extension of the North American Free Trade Act or NAFTA, which has had devastating affects for farmers and workers both in the U.S. and Mexico. Western Pennsylvania has suffered economically due to NAFTA policies. As a result many congressmen from the area voted against the Peru Free Trade Act. Western Pennsylvania Congressman Jason Altmire said
“Pennsylvania has been especially hard hit as a result of the flawed trade policies of the past, having lost 200,000 manufacturing jobs since the turn of the decade. While not all of these job losses can be blamed on trade policy, it is safe to say that our region has not been among the winners in previous trade agreements.” He also said that this trade agreement would “create a “race to the bottom” for commodity prices, which could further weaken the hand of small American farmers struggling to survive.”
Michigan Representative Sander Levin in his opening statement is support of The Peru Free Trade agreement says that this agreement incorporates stronger labor and environmental standards than previous ones:
Oregon Representative Peter Defazio questioned how these standards will be enforced.
Union Leaders are also skeptical of this enforcement. The Teamsters, Unite HERE and the Change to Win coalition have all spoken out against the passage of this trade act. Union leaders in Peru have also been increasingly vocal about the devastating effects the trade act can have.
Jose Chahua Gonzales a member of the General Confederation of Peruvian workers says that this kind of globalization only benefits a few.
Gonzales says that previous trade agreements have undermined the rights of Peruvian workers and the government has had no power to protect these workers.
In his statement against the Peru Free Trade Act Representative Altmire expressed his concerns over “the agreement’s weak food safety provisions, which in some cases would require the United States to accept imported food that has not met our nation’s safety standards. “ Roberto Lopez Cruz of the Farmworker Confederation of Peru echoed this sentiment:
The Interethnic Association for the Development of the Peruvian Amazon or AIDESEP that represents over 350,000 indigenous people in Peru have urged congress not to pass the bill. They say it will “give incentives for further and irreversible destruction of virgin rainforest, which will in turn increase global warming and displace our communities from their home territories. “ AIDESP says that Peruvian President Alan Garcia is “currently auctioning off Peru’s Amazon at a breakneck speed to foreign firms ranging from Hunt Oil to Occidental Petroleum and beyond.” They also said that since 2005 Garcia has rezoned an additional 55 percent of the Peru’s Amazon for oil, gas and mining.
In the coming weeks the Senate will vote on the Free Trade Act. If passed it will pave the way to expanded neoliberal globalization in South America.
An investigation done by the Guardian newspaper found that global banana companies have been avoiding paying taxes on their profits in the UK, US and in countries where the goods are produced.
Dole, Chiquita, and Fresh Del Monte have created (quote) elaborate structures to move profits through subsidiaries to offshore centers such as the Cayman Islands, Bermuda and the British Virgin Islands (end quote).
These banana companies are able to weigh their profits towards the subsidies they have set up in jurisdictions other than the US or UK where there is little or no tax on their profits. According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, 60% of world trade consists of internal transfers within transitional companies.
These three companies have generated over $50 billion of sales and $ 1.4 billion of global profits in the last five years but have paid only $200 million, or just over 14% of profits, in taxes during that same period. Also, in some years banana companies paid only 8% in taxes while the standard in the US, where they are each headquartered, is 35%.
This tax evasion has been doubly bad for the countries where their goods are produced as the fall in taxes paid by the companies has also coincided with the driving down of costs by reducing wages even as working hours have increased.
When contacted by the Guardian, Dole declined to comment on the allegations while both Chiquita and Fresh Del Monte defended their business practices.
For the full article, please visit guardian.co.uk.
On Saturday, October 27, hundreds death penalty abolition activists from around Texas gathered in Houston for the 8th annual March to End Executions. In keeping with the march's theme, "Celebrating Our Victories, Remembering Our Losses; Continuing the Fight", the rally featured a range of speakers, from activists involved in past and current struggles to free death row inmates, to families of the executed.
Rachel Clarke and Rob of Houston Indymedia bring us these sounds from the day's events.
Last Friday November 2nd, in the Mexican state of Oaxaca, 20 people were arrested for blocking an intersection near the state university. They were honoring those killed in the 2006 uprising and commemorating the one-year anniversary of the "All Saints' Victory." This uprising anniversary was previously reported on the October 29th edition of Rustbelt Radio.
This act, falling on Mexico's Day of the Dead, was but one of a series of events planned for that day by the Section 22 Teachers' Union and the Popular Assembly of the People of Oaxaca. These plans also included building a traditional Day of the Dead alter and a "tapete," or sand painting, at the intersection. However, once state police arrived at the scene, they began making arrests and pursuing those escaping on foot, even searching house-to-house to find those who were at the intersection.
And now, this day in radical history:
That was just La Frontera by Reyes del Bajo Mundo. You're listening to Rustbelt Radio, the Pittsburgh Independent Media Center's weekly review of news from the grassroots.
During the week of November 7-11th, the first No Borders Camp was organized on the US-Mexico border. The camp took place on the 18th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, and was planned to coincide with the Indigenous Border Summit of the Americas in San Xavier on the Tohono O’odham Nation and the Week of Action Against the Apartheid Wall in Palestine and Israel
Participants who want to see (quote)"a world without borders, where no one is illegal" met on both sides of the border in Mexicali (may-he-CALL-ee) in Mexico and Calexico (Cal-EX-ick-oh) in the United States on Wednesday, November 7th. Days of action against capitalism, immigrant detentions and the separation wall followed the establishment of the camp. On Friday, November 9th, No Borders campers attended a rally and march against the Border Patrol and Immigrations and Customs Enforcemen,t or ICE, in El Centro, California, site of one of the largest federally run detention centers in the United States. Solidarity events also happened across North America, including in Tacoma, Washington at the biggest Homeland Security Detention Center in the North West.
On Friday, November 9th, 50 to 100 people gathered in a park in downtown Tacoma. They passed out literature about the ICE detention facility in the Tideflats. After a rally, they marched on the sidewalk to the Wells Fargo tower. T One arrest was reported.
Back on the border, Seth Porcello from No One Is Illegal Radio conducted interviews on both sides of the border fence in Calexico / Mexicali.
No One Is Illegal Radio interviewed one of the camp organizers, who outlined the origins and goals of the No Borders Camp.
Sunday, November 11th, a bi-national march from the No Borders Camp to the US-Mexico port of entry ended in a police attack. Around 30 marchers on the US side were attacked with pepper gas pellets, tazers and batons by police. One person was attacked by baton wielding border patrol agents. Three were arrested, and reports indicate they have not received medical treatment. Footage of the events and updates can be found on the No Borders Camp website, at no borders camp (dot) org.
This fall, supporters around the world await the possibility of a new trial for journalist, activist, political prisoner, and Death Row inmate Mumia Abu Jamal. Last month saw the release of previously suppressed photographs from the scene of the crime for which Mumia was sentenced: the shooting of police officer Daniel Faulkner. The pictures, captured by press photographer Pedro Polakoff, suggest that Philadelphia police manipulated and falsified crime scene evidence from December 9, 1981. The group Journalists for Mumia is using these photographs to draw attention to injustices in Mumia's original trial and to step up a campaign for a new trial (just one example of how professionals have used their influence to mobilize support for Mumia).
Last Friday, the feminist author and activist Selma James visited Pittsburgh after a visit with Mumia in Waynesburg, Pennsylvania . She discussed new strategies to support Mumia Abu-Jamal.
James spoke on the following Mumia has received around the world:
How do sixties-era politics differ from the present?
Debates over strategy have surfaced among Mumia's supporters:
From her work on Mumia's campaign and in the Global Women's Strike, Selma James shared some advice for organizers :
More from Selma James:
Some thoughts on ambition in social justice movements:
On Tuesday December 4th, Paradise Gray will lead a discussion in Pittsburgh with updates on Mumia's case. Stay tuned to future editions of Rustbelt Radio for news on Mumia Abu-Jamal.
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 Diane Amdor and Andalusia Knoll with contributions from Vani Natarajan, Lizzie Anderson, Matt Toups, and Jon Heiman 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.