community-based, non-corporate, participatory media
On today's show: A report from the 11th Annual Black and White Reunion, Progressive groups weigh in on the proposed changes to the Pittsburgh Public Schools' Sex-Ed curriculum, Protests at a local performance of Israel's Batsheva Dance company, Cindy Milstein talks on Anarchism and its Aspirations, Plus more in our local and global headlines
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Rustbelt Radio for February 9, 2009
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.
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We turn now to local stories.
Last Thursday Feb 5th, around thirty people came to protest a performance by Israel's Batsheva Dance company at the Benedum in Downtown Pittsburgh. The company that started in 1964 by Martha Graham and Baroness Batsheva de Rothschild quickly rose to become one of the most inspirational dance troupes. And with 250 annual performances around the world, the company is considered Israel’s leading cultural ambassador. Now in the midst of a US tour, the Batsheva Dance Company are drawing protests from those who are calling for divestment in Israel and for a boycott of all Israeli goods.
Courtney Nasser, a local resident and actress was there to protest the company, to ask for them to denounce Israel's apartheid policies against Palestine.
Another local resident at the protest, Carl Anna Roten talks about the message she would like the company to take to Israel.
Finally Brian Johnson, a professor emeritus at CMU, talks about the lack of awareness of Israel's past and current actions.
The Black and White Reunion’s annual Summit Against Racism was held once again to explore issues of race, equity, police brutality, violence and action for change in the Pittsburgh area. On Saturday January 24th, over 250 Pittsburghers came together for the 11th annual day of dialogues, workshops, and presentations. Participants ranged from people in their teens to those in their 90’s.
The history of the Annual Summit Against Racism stretches back to 1995, when citizens were outraged over the death of Jonny Gammage, a black motorist who was suffocated to death by Brentwood Police. All 5 of the white police officers were found not guilty in Gammage’s death. Born out of the organizing surrounding this incident, the annual summit is now held on the Saturday after the Martin Luther King Jr holiday. This year’s event also coincided with the inauguration of America’s first black president just 4 days prior.
At this year’s Black and White Reunion, many participants discussed the effects of Barack Obama’s election to the presidency. A long time Summit Against Racism attendee, Major Mason, shared his thoughts:
In addition to discussions surrounding the new president, a central theme of the day’s events was once again the violence plaguing the black community in Pittsburgh. Many organizers and participants of the Black and White Reunion have mobilized over the past two years, working together as the Coalition Against Violence. This group was formed in response to a 2007 study citing Pennsylvania as having the highest black homicide rate.
Valerie Dixon of the Center for Victims of Violence and crime gave information about crime and violence on a national level and explained where Allegheny County fits in that picture.
Steve Johnson, an author and lifelong resident of Wilkinsburg was in attendance for the second year in a row. He is also concerned with the violence occurring in Pittsburgh:
Founded in 1969, the Intercultural House located in Oakland, is open to primarily black and white college students. The students live together cooperatively, while working to learn and appreciate each other’s attitudes and values. Kathryn Balsamo is a student from the University of Pittsburgh who has lived in the house for 2 years. She discusses the Intercultural House and its impact on her beliefs and attitudes towards racism.
We asked Kathryn what changes she would like to see take place in Pittsburgh.
Sarah Campbell has been a resident of Pittsburgh since 1947. She lives in Homewood and has attended the Black and White Reunion for several years. Here’s Sarah: (2:37)
Pittsburgh Public Schools administrators have proposed moving from abstinence -only sex education curriculum to a comprehensive curriculum that focuses on abstinence, but also includes language about contraception and alternative lifestyles. The curriculum will not include distribution or demonstration of contraception.
According to the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, the proposal was made in response to parental pressure as well as data about high teenage birth rates within the city.
Marianne Poutous(Poe tis), Director of Community Education for Adagio Health, which does sex education outreach in some city schools, is thrilled with the decision. She says the key is consistency, so that students from each school are receiving identical pieces of information. Right now, teachers across the district are using their own lesson plans for sex education.
Betty Hill, Executive Director of Persad, an LGBT counseling service with an AIDS service organization, advocates for mandatory comprehensive sexual health education state-wide. She calls abstinence-only education worthless and harmful, and thinks the city's adoption of comprehensive education is a step in the right direction:
Sam Pyles is a senior at Pittsburgh's High School for the Creative and Perfoming Arts(CAPA) and a volunteer with Persad's Youth Empowerment Project, which promotes sex education among peers. Pyles is often surprised by his peers' understanding of sex:
Planned Parenthood has been working in schools, including CAPA, for 19 years. Sue Steel, Vice President of Education for Planned Parenthood of Western Pennsylvania, says that the way the curriculum is taught is as important as its content :
Steel says their program's success rate for school completion is 100%, and for teen pregnancy prevention is 99%.
The Pittsburgh Public School Board School votes on the change February 24th.
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 lesson for February 14th.
You're listening to Rustbelt Radio, the Pittsburgh Independent Media Center's weekly review of news from the grassroots.
Dr. Naftali Kaminski is a physician and research scientist at UPMC who moved to Pittsburgh in 2002 from Israel. He grew up in Israel, served his required term in the Israeli Military, as well as attended medical school and received training in Israeli Hospitals. He maintains strong connections to Israel through family ties and friends who still living there.
Dr. Kaminski was instrumental in organizing the recent "Pro-Israel, Pro-Peace" event on January 15th at the Jewish Community Center in Squirrel Hill. During an interview with Rustbelt Radio, he explains what being Pro-Israel Pro-Peace means to him.
Next, Dr. Kaminski shares his experiences in the Israeli Military:
Because every 18 year old Israeli youth is required to join the Israel Army, its influence is extremely significant in Israeli society. Rustbelt Radio inquired about the societal pressures that surround serving in the Israeli Army.
After the "Pro-Israel, Pro-Peace" gathering, Dr. Kaminski observed some of the reactions among the local Jewish community. He explains his initial understanding of the Jewish community in Pittsburgh, and how that has evolved.
During the "Pro-Israel, Pro-Peace" gathering, Dr. Kaminski spoke via conference call to Dr. Ezzeldeen Abu al-Aish, a Palestinian doctor and personal friend who lost 3 daughters in the recent crisis in Gaza. Dr. Kaminski explains how he met Dr. Abu al-Aish, and some shared visions they had about a Israeli-Palestinian hospital.
And finally, Dr. Kaminski shares his sense of optimism in this current situation:
Cindy Milstein (say MIL-stine) is an anarchist activist, writer, and educator. Her works covers the philosophical roots of anarchism and its evolution to the present, including pre-anarchist ideas of liberty, the anarchist-communist split, and a number of different anarchist philosophies.
She has also been involved with the Institute for Social Ecology, and is currently a board member with the Institute for Anarchist Studies and a co-organizer of the Renewing the Anarchist Tradition conference. She is also a collective member of the all-volunteer Black Sheep Books in Montpelier, Vermont. In 2008, Milstein spoke in Pittsburgh to discuss the topic "Anarchism and its Aspirations." Today we bring you a portion of that lecture.
You've been listening to anarchist activist, writer and educator Cindy Milstein. Stay tuned to the next Rustbelt Radio for more from her presentation on Anarchism and its Aspirations.
And now we present the Indymedia Calendar of Events:
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Our hosts this week are Kara Holsopple and Carly Dobbins Bucklad with contributions from Khalid Haroun, Carlin Christy, Sara Ali, and ]. This week's show was produced by Phill Cresswell. Special thanks to all of our hosts, producers, and contributors.
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