community-based, non-corporate, participatory media
On this week's show... * In honor of World Aids Day, we bring you a report on the new face of AIDS and the challenges faced by infected individuals * Independent Journalist Ben Dangl speaks about the Constituent Assembly and recent clashes in Bolivia * An update on the "Middle East Peace Conference" in Annapolis * Nurses are striking in West Virginia, plus 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.
The Allegheny County Council will vote tomorrow on a 2008 budget that includes two new taxes to fund mass transit. The new taxes are a 10% tax on poured alcoholic drinks and a two-dollar per day tax on car rentals. After six years of continual funding shortfalls for mass transit, this year the state government has created a new funding source for transit operating expenses. However, in order to receive the state funding for Pittsburgh’s transit system, the county must contribute a 30 million dollar share. County Executive Dan Onorato proposed the new taxes to raise this money.
The drink tax has been met with organized and vocal opposition from restaurant and bar owners. To pass the budget, at least 10 County Council members must vote in favor. The county’s home rule charter requires the council to approve a balanced budget 25 days before the start of the new year. If they do not approve the proposed budget with the new taxes, they must either raise property taxes or lay off 800 county employees.
However, Councilman Dave Fawcett plans to introduce a counter-proposal tomorrow to raise the needed revenue by increasing property taxes 29 dollars for every 100,000 dollars of property value, and creating a new drink tax of 5%. Dan Onorato has said he will veto any budget with a property tax increase. Onorato also said on November 27th that he will withhold the transit funds if the Port Authority does not reduce its labor costs. Port Authority and the Amalgamated Transit-workers Union must re-negotiate their contract this spring, and Onorato is pressing for the union to accept concessions, especially in the area of retiree benefits.
...That was the sound of a golden-cheeked warbler--one of the top 20 most imperiled bird species that regularly breed in the continental U.S. Although Pennsylvania is not part of its habitat, two other species of warblers --the golden winged and the cerulean-- are among 6 species facing extinction in the State. The four other threatened species that either breed, migrate through, or winter in Pennsylvania include the short eared owl, Henslow's sparrow, the semi-palmated sandpiper and the wood thrush. Pennsylvania is not the only state whose birds are endangered. One in four bird species in the United States is headed toward extinction, according to a new study released last week by the National Audubon Society and the American Bird Conservancy.
The study, called WatchList 2007, categorized 178 species in the US as being threatened. This is an increase of about 10 percent from 2002, when Audubon’s study was last conducted. Watchlist 2007 overlaps the federal government’s official endangered species list in some cases. But it also includes a number of bird species that are not recognized as endangered by the federal government but that biologists fear are in danger of becoming extinct.
Greg Butcher, Audubon’s bird conservation director and a co-author of the new study stated: "We're concerned that there's been almost a moratorium on the listing of endangered birds over the last seven years under this administration." He also noted that placing a threatened bird on the new watch list can bring it the kind of attention it needs to survive even if the federal government does not act.
To learn more about WatchList 2007, you can go to www. audubon . org
The Urban Redevelopment Authority is attempting to divide the first floor and the upper floors of the new Bakery Square redevelopment in East Liberty into separate tax parcels. The reason for this unusual tax move is that the upper floors of the development will contain a hotel, and a city ordinance requires that any hotel in which the city has a financial interest must accept collective bargaining agreements. The URA wishes to borrow city money to finance the development through tax-increment financing. By segregating the hotel into a separate tax parcel, and using the city money to fund only the other portions of the development, the union ordinance would not apply to the hotel. Walnut Capital is the major private firm pursuing the development, but the union-evading tax proposal has come directly from the URA.
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.
Over 600 nurses in Kentucky and West Virginia have been striking for over two months against pay cuts, unsafe staffing levels for patients and mandatory overtime. The Appalachian Regional Healthcare system (ARH) now refuses to negotiate a contract with the nurses' union, who says the new management intimidates workers on the picket line and has hired over 150 scabs to break the strike.
Ken Nash and Mimi Rosenberg of Building Bridges: Your Community and Labor Report spoke to Amy Scott and Andre Wilson, members of Local 201, West Virginia Nurses Association, about their work under the new staffing levels.
That was Andre Wilson, preceded by Amy Scott, who were interviewed by Pacifica Radio's Building Bridges.
Like Pittsburgh's UPMC, the ARH network is a tax-exempt non-profit corporation, but has become known for its aggressive business and anti-labor practices. Earlier this year, nearly 3,000 ARH employees represented by the United Steelworkers Local 14491 went on strike for over a month. During that strike, ARH went to great expense to pay the housing and travel costs of strikebreakers while claiming that the union members' benefits were too costly.
And now, we bring you an update on last week's conference on the Middle East in Annapolis, Maryland. Dubbed a "peace conference," the gathering was hosted by the United States government. The update comes from The International Middle East Media Center's This Week in Palestine .
That was the International Middle East Media Center. To listen to This Week in Palestine, visit www.imemc.org.
And now Radio Rootz brings us this radical history lesson for December 4th:
Thanks to Radio Rootz for that report.
You're listening to Rustbelt Radio, the Pittsburgh Independent Media Center's weekly review of news from the grassroots.
December 1st is commemorated as World Aids Day. Started in 1988, this day is held in honor of those affected by the disease, and those who have died as a result. The disease which was first identified in the 1880's is now a world wide pandemic that affects people of all races, classes, genders and sexual preferences. According to AMFAR, the Foundation for AIDS research, a total of 33.2 million people now live with HIV/AIDS, 2/3 of whom are found in Sub-Saharan Africa. In 2007, an estimated 2.5 million people became infected with HIV, or 6,800 people each day. Also this year, 2.1 million people died from AIDS.
For years in the United States, the disease has been seen as a "gay-men's" issue. However, as the disease spreads, new groups are faced with the challenges of prevention, education, and confrontation of the stereotypes and stigmas that come with AIDS. Today, a report from Making Contact entitled "The Color of AIDS" will examine the new face of this pandemic, and grassroots strategies that are working to prevent the spread of HIV.
Thanks to Making Contact at the National Radio Project for that report. For a listing of clinics in your area where you can receive a free HIV test, go to www. hiv test. org.
In 2006, Evo Morales became the first Indigenous president in South America. Since his election in Bolivia, government officials, leftist social organizations and indigenous groups have been determined to break with the country's colonial past. Over the past year, a constituent assembly has been convened to rewrite the Constitution. Morales and supporters of his political party MAS, say that the new constitution will guarantee autonomy for departments and indigenous groups, nationalization of natural resources, and greater access to water, land, electricity, education and healthcare.
The process of rewriting the constitution has been fraught with conflict as violent clashes have erupted between Morales supporters and opposition protestors. As the constituent assembly was set to convene in Sucre, Bolivia on the weekend of November 24-25, street confrontations left three people dead and over 100 wounded. As a way to derail the meetings of the assembly, the Opposition protesters demand that the Bolivian capital to be moved from La Paz to Sucre. Ben Dangl, author of the Price of Fire: Resource Wars and Social Movements in Bolivia spoke from Cochabamba Bolivia with Uprising Radio about the current situation.
That was just Ben Dangl speaking with Uprising Radio about the constituent Assembly and recent clashes in Bolivia. The assembly has until December 14th to approve the final constitution with a 2/3’s majority.
Over this past weekend Voters in Venezuela narrowly defeated a referendum that would have passed broad sweeping changes to the Country’s Constitution. These changes backed by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez would have eliminated presidential term limits, guaranteed universal social security coverage for workers in the informal sector, created forms of communal property and reduced the workday from eight hours to six. The Venezuelan Government has denounced the role that the U.S. has played in the Referendum vote and stated that the U.S. and C.I.A. fomented opposition that led to the referendums defeat.
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 Carlin Christy and Andalusia Knoll with contributions from Matt Toups, Jessica McPherson, Carlin Christy, Vani Natarajan, and Andalusia Knoll. This week's show was produced by Matt Toups and Jon Heiman. 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.