community-based, non-corporate, participatory media
On today's show... </p><p> </p><ul> <li> A 40 year retrospective of political artwork comes to CMU </li> <li> Pittsburgh responds to Israel's attacks on the Gaza Strip </li> <li> The Islamic Center of Pittsburgh mosque is Vandalized </li> <li> Fed Up gives us a report on the abuses occurring inside Pennsylvania prisons </li> <li> A massive toxic sludge spill in Tennessee threatens the water and safety of local residents </li> <li> plus more in our local and global headlines </li>
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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 other 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.
1,000 worshippers at the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh were shocked and saddened to find the entrance to the center vandalized on Friday January 2nd. Red paint was poured on the steps and grounds of the mosque, located in Oakland.
Imam Abdusemi, a leader at the center, said the property had been vandalized once before in its 15-year history. No one has been arrested in connection with the vandalism.
Rustbelt Radio spoke with Melek (mell-leck) Yazici (YUH-zi-juh) the President of the Muslim Students Association at the University of Pittsburgh. Melek describes her reaction upon learning of the vandalism.
The Muslim community battled against another attack of their religion in September 2008 when a DVD entitled "Obsession: Radical Islam's War against the West" was distributed in newspapers across several swing states, and was included as an insert in the local Pittsburgh Post Gazette. Melek describes how Muslim leaders and community members held an event to de-mystify Islam for the general public.
Finally, Melek describes how combating the myths and misconceptions surrounding Islam is a daily struggle.
Fed Up the local chapter of the Human Rights Coalition works in solidarity with people incarcerated in Pennsylvania's prisons. Since 2006, Fed Up has documented over 90 pages of human rights abuses against prisoners, by employees of the Department of Corrections. These abuses are not isolated to just a handful of prisons, but are found across prisons in Pennsylvania and the US. Prisoners in Pennsylvania cite physical and/or mental abuse, medical neglect, denial of due process, and racism as some of their key grievances.
Rustbelt Radio spoke with Fed Up representative Bret Grote about a prisoner who recently won a lawsuit against the Department of Corrections. 26 year old Andre Jacobs has been in Pennsylvania prisons for 11 years. During this time he has continued to accumulate charges which Fed Up claims are based on bogus accusations.
Bret describes the history behind the recent case won by inmate Andre Jacobs.
The Pennsylvania Department of Corrections is working to appeal the verdict from Andre's victory. While the trial verdict can be seen as a win for Andre, he and the fellow inmates who supported his case have suffered continual abuses as a result of their efforts to challenge the prison system. More from Bret.
Michael Edwards and David Smith are prisoners at Special Management Unit Camp Hill. In addition to Eric Lyons, Edwards and Smith both testified on Andre Jacobs' behalf during his recent trial. Bret describes some of the conditions faced by these two men after they publicly spoke out against the Department of Corrections.
Fed Up has received hundreds of letters and testimonies from inmates describing human rights violations and other abuses. They explain that these incidents faced by Andre Jacobs and the men who testified on his behalf are not isolated incidents, rather they reflect the racism, corruption and abuse that is pervasive throughout the US prison system.
To learn more about the work of Fed Up, you can email them at hrcfedup @ gmail.com or go to their website, www.thomasmertoncenter.org/ fed up
Last Thursday, January 8 , over 50 Pittsburghers came out to stand in solidarity with Palestine. Protesters, including many from the group Pitt Students for Justice in Palestine, gathered at the corners of Bigelow and Forbes in Oakland, to speak out against the recent Israeli bombing and ground invasion of the Gaza Strip. While chanting, and distributing fliers, people held Palestinian flags, and signs with messages stating Free Palestine, Give My People a Voice, and Might Doesn't Equal Right.
The siege, which began on December 27th, has amassed almost 900 Palestinian deaths in Gaza as of January 12th. At least 200 of those deaths are children. Approximately 3,000 Palestinians have been injured in the attacks. Five Israeli army deaths have been reported, but according to the Irish Times, only one has been due to Hamas mortar fire. The Israeli airstrikes have been widespread across the Gaza Strip, leveling private businesses, homes, schools, mosques, workshops, and government buildings.
Rustbelt Radio had the opportunity to speak with protesters to get some insight on this current situation, and how people in Pittsburgh are responding.
Hannah, a local activist and student, has just recently returned from Hebron in the occupied West Bank. She lived there for 2 and a half months working with the International Solidarity Movement. The ISM is an non-governmental organization that focuses on protesting Israeli activities in the middle east conflict. Hannah says quote "We support Palestinian resistance of the illegal occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza strip. We also do direct action and accompaniment work." end quote
Hannah explains what accompaniment work involves:
Hannah also gives Rustbelt some insight into the conditions in Gaza as she saw it:
Across the street from the Gaza Protest, a smaller counter protest was being held. Protesters supporting Israel held an Israeli flag, and a peace sign. One of the protesters said quote "We really just want peace." end quote
Rustbelt spoke with counter protestors Elon and Jeremy and asked them how this recent invasion might advance any peace negotiations in the area. The gentlemen also offered their opinions on Israel, Hamas, and why they support the Israeli invasion.
* elonjeremy_on_hamas.flac: Elon and Jeremy on Peace and Hamas (Use this one) (2:16)
Back on the other side of the street, Hannah gives Rustbelt her opinion on Hamas:
Finally Rustbelt spoke with Sommer, a local protester, holding a sign calling for peace in Palestine. Sommer passionately explains why she is protesting the Israeli occupation while offering some insight to the conditions in the Gaza strip.
In the last two weeks, there has been a universal out cry for this tiny 25 by 5 mile strip of land, home to 1.4 million people. Protests and rallies have been rippling across the US and Europe. In Paris thirty thousand people took to the streets to protesting the Israeli attacks, and over ninety thousand throughout the rest of the country. Six thousand gathered peacefully in Berlin, seven thousand in Bern Switzerland, and more than two thousand in Athens Greece. Pittsburgh is hosting another rally and march to end the war on Gaza, on Sunday January 17, 3pm at the Pitt student union. All those who wish to share their support for the families of Gaza are encouraged to attend.
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.
Radio Rootz brings us this radical history for January 11th.
On December 22nd there was a massive toxic waste spill near Kingston, Tennessee. An earthen dam broke at a coal ash containment area operated by the Tennessee Valley Authority, spilling over a billion gallons of sludge onto 400 acres of adjacent land, and into the Emory River.
United Mountain Defense has been working on the ground at the spill since it happened. Rustbelt Radio spoke with Matt Landon, full time volunteer staff person, about his organization’s efforts to assist residents in the area.
Although the Tennessee Valley Authority, or TVA, has started to construct a riprap dam to slow the movement of the coal ash mass, it continues to flow into the Emory River. Matt Landon describes its impacts:
Coal ash usually contains high levels of heavy metals and other toxic compounds. Many residents in the area of the spill rely on well water or springs for drinking water. TVA initially told residents to boil their water. However, boiling water contaminated with heavy metals does not make it safe to drink, it actually concentrates the heavy metals because some water is removed in the boiling. Additionally, TVA did little to communicate with local residents, and thus many continued to drink the water, unaware of health risks, for 7 to 10 days after the spill.
The TVA, the EPA, and the Tennessee Department of Conservation had released almost no data to the public, but stated that there were no health concerns.
United Mountain Defense worked to get independent water testing in the area, collecting samples starting immediately after the spill. Matt Landon describes the results:
The full results of the water testing are available at the website United mountain defense dot org.
Because local residents have been exposed to high levels of heavy metals, United Mountain Defense is working to provide free heavy metal screening tests. However, the tests cost $500, a high price for many residents who now face decimated property values. There is a short window of time during which testing must occur in order for heavy metal levels to be linked clearly to the spill, rather than some other exposure that may have occurred any time in a person’s life. Heavy metal exposure can result in chronic illnesses that are difficult to diagnose and may manifest years after exposure. If residents do not have tests linking their exposure to the spill, they could potentially be faced with decades of health problems and no legal recourse for compensation from those responsible for the spill.
United Mountain Defense is trying to raise the funds needed to provide free testing for area residents:
Matt Landon describes the broader impact of the spill:
The next challenge United Mountain Defense is trying to prepare for is monitoring the air quality impacts of the spill.
Heavy rains have so far kept much of the ash in slurry form. However, once the acres of land coated in ash start to dry out, air quality problems could be massive as the dust becomes airborne.
To continue their efforts to provide relief to residents and hold the TVA accountable for a complete cleanup, United Mountain Defense is looking for more people with skills in water monitoring or analysis, air quality monitoring, video editing, and fundraising. You can email them at united mountain defense at yahoo dot com, or call 865-689-2778
Rustbelt radio will bring you more comprehensive coverage of the spill’s impact on our next broadcast.
You're listening to Rustbelt Radio, the Pittsburgh Independent Media Center's weekly review of news from the grassroots. We'll be back after this musical break.
...That was Serious Bizness with the song .
Artwork has always been a part of any revolutionary or social justice struggle. Posters, stickers, stencils, videos and other images have been used for centuries to communicate ideas, inform the public, and support efforts to create desired changes. A new exhibition opening January 23rd at CMU's Miller Gallery compiles and displays over 40 years of these visual tools for activism. The show is entitled " Signs of Change: Social Movement Cultures 1960s to Now". The artwork touches on issues of civil rights and black power in the US; democracy in China; anti-apartheid in Africa; squatting in Europe; environmental activism and other global issues including the AIDS crisis, indigenous struggles, and women's rights.
The materials for this exhibition were compiled over several years by political artists and activists Dara Greenwald and Josh MacPhee.
Eric Sloss of Lab A6, the CMU College of Fine Arts podcast program, had a chance to speak with Greenwald and MacPhee to learn more about the origins behind the show and the themes displayed in the artwork. Today we bring you Lab A6's interview with the Signs of Change curators and also Astria Suparak (SU-pa-rack), the Director of the Miller Gallery.
The Signs of Change exhibit will open January 23rd at the Miller Gallery on CMU's campus and will continue through March 8th. Prior to the opening, there will be a presentation by the curators Dara Greenwald and Josh MacPhee entitled "Visualizing Social Movement Cultures." They will discuss the historical context behind the works in the exhibition and share their process of compiling the materials. This will take place from 4:30-6:00pm at the McConomy Auditorium in the University Center. For more information you can go to www.cmu.edu/millergallery.
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, and WIUP Indiana.
Our hosts this week are [ ] and [ ] with contributions from Colleen Halley, Jessica McPherson, and Carlin Christy. 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.