community-based, non-corporate, participatory media
On this week's show... * A new report finds that Transgender Women are routinely subject to harassment, abuse and violence in New York State Men's Prisons * The death toll on the Arizona-Mexico border in 2007 * Media Minutes re-caps some of the most important stories for the media justice movement in 2007 * A Massachusetts woman faces seven years in prison for a self-induced abortion * and more, in 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.
A federal appeals court has agreed to hear the case of a man from Mercer County who is facing deportation for his position as a guard at Nazi concentration camps during World War Two. Eighty-three year-old Anton Geiser, of Sharon, Pennsylvania, admitted that he served as a Nazi but said he never harmed or killed anyone.
In 2006, U.S. District Judge David S. Cercone stripped Geiser's citizenship, which allowed the government to move forward with the deportation process. Geiser's lawyers filed an appeal with the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia to block that process.
According to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Geiser's lawyers claim the native Yugoslavian was drafted into Nazi service and had no choice in the matter. The government says he tried to conceal his true role in the Nazi regime. Geiser's lawyers argue that no one ever asked if he was in the Waffen SS.
Eli M. Rosenbaum, Director of the Justice Department’s Office of Special Investigations, which investigated the case, said (quote) “By standing guard with a loaded weapon under orders to shoot, Anton Geiser helped to ensure that thousands of innocent men and women were forced to endure slave labor, medical experiments, malnourishment and murder. Such individuals do not deserve the privilege of living in the United States. The Government will work to remove Geiser from this country as swiftly as possible.” (end quote)
Geiser is not the only Pennsylvanian to face deportation for past Nazi service. In 2002, Philadelphia native Nikolaus Schiffer was deported to his parents' homeland of Romania.
The proceedings to denaturalize Geiser were initiated in 2004 by the Office of Special Investigations, or OSI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Pittsburgh. The case is a result of OSI’s ongoing efforts to identify, investigate and take legal action against former participants in Nazi persecution who reside in the United States. Since OSI began operations in 1979, it has won cases against 103 individuals who assisted in Nazi persecution. In addition, more than 175 individuals who sought to enter the United States in recent years have been blocked from doing so as a result of OSI’s “Watchlist” program, which is enforced in cooperation with the Department of Homeland Security.
The court will take up Geiser's appeal on March third.
For the second year in a row, Philadelphia Police Officers are responsible for shooting innocent bystanders on New Year’s Eve. City officials are now asking the Police Commissioner to explain this pattern of responses on New Years.
This year, police chasing an armed reveler shot into a house filled with party-goers leaving a 33 year old man in a medically-induced coma, a 32 year old man in stable condition, and a 9-year-old boy with a graze wound to the chest. One year ago, at the start of 2007, police fatally shot a man named Bryan Jones in the back of the head as he tried to flee when neighbors started shooting guns into the air.
In regards to this year’s shooting incident, police state a man fired shots in the air, pointed his weapon at police and ran toward a string of row homes. Clinton Rogers, who was hosting a New Year’s Party, told reporters that bullets started flying through the front door at him, friends, and relatives just after midnight. Parents jumped in front of their children and two men who were shot ran upstairs, trailing blood.
The shootings this year came as Police Commissioner Sylvester Johnson ends a six-year tenure marked by public concern about gun violence and the police response to it. Commissioner Johnson has repeatedly been asked to answer questions about the department's use of deadly force, including two months ago when officers killed a distraught teenager wielding an iron.
Mr. Johnson, who retires on January 11, after 43 years with the department, defended his officers’ behavior. He also promised an investigation into the New Year's Eve shootings, and stated that he felt the department's training is sufficient.
Lawyer Bruce Ginsburg, who represents Bryan Jones, the man killed last year stated: "It seems that there's too much of a policy to shoot first and worry about the outcome later...It puts everybody in the city in danger." Mr. Ginsburg, who plans to file a wrongful death suit on behalf of the family, said police have not released the name of the officer who shot Mr. Jones. The internal investigation into the case is ongoing.
Overall, city police fatally shot 16 people in 2007 and 20 in 2006.
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.
Members of the Lakota Freedom Delegation delivered a letter to the U.S. State Department last month, withdrawing from all treaties with the United States government. The December 17, 2007 delegation consisted of Phyllis Young, Gary Rowland, Russell Means, and Duane Martin Sr., among others.
According to the Lakota Oyate website, the delegation represented the voice of the free Lakota people. The Lakota people come from the area known as the Sioux Indian reservations of Nebraska, North Dakota,South Dakota and Montana. They say, quote “In our freedom, we reject the colonial apartheid system that has caused genocide to our people, and to all Indigenous peoples.” End quote.
Since the Delegation's visit to Washington, DC in December, it has split into two groups – Lakota Oyate and the Republic of Lakotah. Today, two formal tribal leaders rejected the secession and challenged the authorization of the Lakota Freedom Delegation to speak on behalf of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe.
Both groups from the Delegation state on their websites, quote “We do not represent those Bureau of Indian Affairs governments beholden to the colonial system, but we encourage all people to reclaim their freedom.”
The Lakota Oyate website adds, quote “We do not support the imposition of the "Republic of Lakotah" or its so-called "provisional government" which does not represent the will of the people nor the spirit of the Animal Nations which survive within the Elders and children. “
The Republic of Lakotah appears to be the work of Russell Means, a long time American Indian rights activist and former Libertarian presidential hopeful.
The Delegation has received international attention, claiming to have attracted support from more than one hundred nations. They have yet to receive much mainstream support or recognition within the United States. The US continues to struggle with the issue of how to deal with its native population. In September of 2007, the United Nations passed a declaration of Indigenous rights, and the United States was one of only four countries to vote in opposition.
For a more in-depth look at the story of the Lakota withdrawal, stay tuned for upcoming stories from Rustbelt Radio.
Now we bring you Media Minutes, as they take a look back at some of the most important media-related stories from 2007.
One year ago, on January 6, 2007 18-year-old Amber Abreu (PRONOUNCE ah-BRAY-oo) went to the hospital in Lawrence, Massachusetts. She experienced complications after trying to terminate her pregnancy by taking a drug, misoprostol, which is an ulcer medication as well as a key component of the abortion pill RU-486. Amber was between 23 and 25 weeks pregnant. The result was a miscarriage. The doctors rushed the fetus to the Tufts-New England Medical Center in Boston, where it remained alive for four days. A social worker at the hospital alerted the police. They arrested Amber using the charge of “procuring a miscarriage.” After the miscarriage, Amber was taken from the hospital and brought to court in shackles. She was held in the state’s maximum security prison at Framingham for three nights until friends and relatives could come up with the 15,000 dollar bail. The young woman, a recent immigrant from the Dominican Republic, faces up to a seven year sentence.
Rustbelt Radio spoke with Ben Fredericks, a supporter of Amber Abreu about her case.
To protest the punishment of Amber Abreu, supporters gathered on December 29th at Salem City Hall. Those present to raise awareness of the case included members of the Amber Abreu Defense Campaign, the Internationalist Group and the Worker's World party. A group of ten or eleven people from Salem, Boston and New York carried signs and passed out fliers as they marched around Downtown Salem. Their main message was “Amber is innocent, she hasn't done anything wrong” They are calling on the Massachusetts government to drop the charges now.
Ben Fredericks talks about the wider implications of Amber's case:
The judge has yet to rule on Amber's laywer's request for dismissal of the case. For more updates on this story, and plans for protests from the Amber Abreu Defense Campaign, visit the Boston Indymedia site, at boston (dot) indymedia (dot) org.
The year 2007 was another deadly one on the Arizona/Mexico border. Over the year, the bodies of 235 people trying to cross into the US were recovered from the desert. This marks the 5th straight year the number of bodies found has surpassed 200, although it is presumed the number who actually died in the desert is much higher.
In 2007 the Pima County Medical Examiner's Office had to open a new building in order to cope with the volume of remains being recovered. While the majority of deaths occurred as a result of exposure to the elements, a growing number resulted from trauma, including gunshot wounds. Arizona human rights groups such as the Coalición de Derechos Humanos and No More Deaths argue that the increasing militarization of the border will exacerbate this humanitarian crisis.
On the start of the new year, several new laws went into effect, directly impacting immigrants and Mexican citizens. On January 1st Arizona's new employer sanctions law went into effect, allowing the business license of any company to be revoked, if they are found employing undocumented workers. Additionally, construction continues on the San Pedro River border wall, in violation of 19 federal laws and a judicial restraining order. Lastly, new trade provisions under the North American Free Trade Agreement took effect on the start of the new year.
When NAFTA was negotiated in 1993, Mexico obtained a 15-year protection for certain crops. However, these protections expired in 2008, and now Mexico has abolished its last protective tariffs on basic crops like corn, beans and sugar. Many Mexican farmers and solidarity activists state that Mexicans will be unable to compete with U.S. farmers who receive government subsidies. In response to the trade protections being lifted, dozens of farm activists in Ciudad Juarez blocked one lane of the border bridge leading into El Paso, Texas, as part of a 36-hour demonstration that started in the first minutes of the New Year.
Mexico's Roman Catholic Church has warned that the changes in the trade agreement could spark an exodus to the U.S. (quote): "It is clear that many farmers will have a difficult time competing in the domestic market, and that could cause a large number of farmers to leave their farms," the archdiocese said in a statement issued on January 1st. Isabel Garcia, an immigration lawyer in Tuscon echoed this sentiment:
That was Isabel Garcia, an immigration lawyer in Tucson Arizona, speaking in the documentary “Dying to Get In”.
You're listening to Rustbelt Radio, the Pittsburgh Independent Media Center's weekly review of news from the grassroots.
A new report finds that Transgender Intersex and Gender Non-Conforming people in New York State Men’s Prisons are routinely subject to abuse and violence by correctional Officers and fellow inmates. The report entitled “War in Here” released by the Sylvia Rivera Law Project in NYC also examines the pervasive discrimination and police harassment faced by Transgender people. Gabriel Arkles a lawyer with the Silvia Rivera Law Project spoke with Rustbelt Radio about the findings in the report, the cycles of poverty that lead to an overrepresentation of transgender people within the criminal justice system and the pervasiveness of abuse and violence against transgender people incarcerated throughout the country.
That was just Gabriel Arkles, a lawyer with The Silvia Rivera Law Project speaking about Trangender Women and the violence and abuse they face within NY State Prisons. Mariah Lopez, an activist and advocate with the Strategic Transgender Alliance for Radical Reform. says that New York State Prisons need to comply with the Transgender Rights Bill that was signed into law in 2002. This bill mandates that transgender prisoners are placed in correctional facilities that match their gender identity.
Authors of the Silvia Rivera Law Project report hope that their research will be used to develop and implement policies and practices that will alleviate the violence and discrimination that Transgender and Intersex people face both inside and outside New York State correctional facilities. To view the complete report go to srlp.org
The Democratic Republic of Congo, formerly known as Zaire, has suffered two major wars in the past decade. These wars have killed 4 million people and forced millions more to flee their homes.
Throughout this time, Canadian mining companies have been operating in the country, drawn by valuable deposits of cobalt, tin, copper and zinc. Today we bring you an interview which originally aired on "Red Eye" an independent current affairs show on Vancouver's Cooperative Radio station. They speak about the Congo with Denis *(den-EE) Tougas (TOO-guh) of L'Entraide Missionaire.
You were just listening to Denis Tougas, a coordinator of a network on the African great lakes region, speaking about Canadian mining interests in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Thanks to Red-Eye for that piece.
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 Carlin Christy with contributions from Carlin Christy, Diane Amdor, and Andalusia Knoll. 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.