community-based, non-corporate, participatory media
On today's show: Iraqi political analyst Raeed Jarrar speaks on the current state of the war, Gateway High School retracts a ban on Kaffiyehs, A report on the public meeting regarding changes to Sex Ed in Pittsburgh Schools, Fed-up brings us a report from inside the Prison Industrial Complex, Plus more in our local and global headlines
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Rustbelt Radio for February 23 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.
We can also be heard weekly on the following stations:
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We turn now to local stories.
On Monday February 16 the Pittsburgh Public School Board heard testimony from parents, students and community leaders about proposed changes to the public schools' sex ed curriculum. 30 people spoke out in support of the recommendations of the Pittsburgh Public Schools Health Curriculum Review Committee to adopt a comprehensive sexuality education curriculum for the district. The new curriculum would provide age appropriate, science based sex ed which promotes abstinence, but also includes information about contraception, risk reduction behaviors and decision making skills, and addresses gender roles and stereotypes.
One parent, Renee Lau spoke out against the proposal.
Parents may opt out of sending their kids to these classes, but the proposed curriculum is based on national findings that comprehensive sex ed is effective in delaying the onset of sexual intercourse and increases contraceptive use and is supported by groups like the American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Education Association.
Erika Fricke of Planned Parenthood of Western Pennsylvania says a compelling reason for adopting the new curriculum is that it is what the community wants.
Statistics suggest other reasons for adopting comprehensive sex ed in public schools. According to the committee's findings, in 2008, 8.3% of all births in Allegheny County were to mothers under 20 and 24% of African American births in Pittsburgh were to mothers under 19.
La' Tasha Mayes, director of New Voices Pittsburgh, which advocates for reproductive justice for women of color, calls comprehensive sex ed the great equalizer.
Students supported the proposed K-12 curriculum, citing misinformation about pregnancy and STIs and fear of talking to their parents as motivations.
Madeline Chandler is a senior at CAPA High School.
On February 24th the School Board votes on the proposal.
Fed Up, the Pittsburgh Chapter of the Human Rights Coalition brings us this week's report on the prison industrial complex.
On February 17th, two students were sent home from Gateway Highschool in Monroeville for refusing to take off their traditional neck scarves, known as Kiffeyahs. The Kiffeyah is a traditional checker-patterned scarf that is worn by Arab men.
According to Principal William Short , the tension between Jewish students and the Arab group of students began when a Jewish student published an article in a local publication that referred to the Kiffeyahs as "Palestinian support scarves" and characterized them as terrorist garb. When one Arab student wore a T-shirt with a message RIP Israel and he was asked to remove the t-shirt. He complied, and apologized. But Jewish students circulated a petition asking not only for a ban on such t-shirts, which all parties agree are highly inappropriate, but also on the kiffeyeh. In effect, the student petition equated hate speech and symbols with an everyday article of clothing worn in Arab cultures around the globe. Attempting to diffuse the tension between the two groups, the principal asked the Arab students not to wear the Kiffeyah . However, on Tuesday morning, Mohammad Abbasi and Ahmad Asadi wore the Kiffeyahs to school and were asked by the principal to either remove the scarves or go back home. Given the options, Mohammed Abassi decided he would rather go back home, asserting his civil rights.
The following morning, school officials met with the parents of one of the two students, as well as representatives from a number of other organizations, including:
After their meeting, Mr. Short agreed to retract the ban. As CAIR-Pittsburgh Communications Coordinator Zohra Lasania remarked, (quote) We thank school officials for recognizing that all students have the right to freedom of expression and that cultural symbols such as Kiffeyah have nothing to do with hate or terrorism. (end quote)
One of the students sent home in this incident, Mohammad Al-Abbasi, shares his thoughts about the incident:
Finally, Mohammad explains how he feels about the outcome of the events:
On Friday, February 20th, a group of student organizations hosted Gaza Awareness Day at Carnegie Mellon University. What started off as an event to promote awareness of the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, resulted in a lively discussion about a whole host of issues related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. One of the organizers of the event Bassem Mikhael explains:
Rustbelt Radio asked a few participants about their reactions to the event:
Johnny Dahu, a Palestinian from Ramullah in the West Bank speaks about his reactions to the event:
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.
In December, a group of laid off Republic Window and Door factory workers took on their corporate bosses and the Bank of America by organizing a factory occupation. The workers were laid-off because the Bank of America failed to extend the company's line of credit, and the company could no longer meet pay roll. The workers had been denied their rightful compensation.
On February 13, CMU hosted a visit from John Hovis, The National President of United Electric Workers Union, and Ron Bender. Bender was one of the workers that sat in the closed factory for six days determined to receive the compensation that was owed to them. Bender spoked about what the workers were up against and how they were able to prevail in the struggle.
For more information, visit ueunion.org .
You're listening to Rustbelt Radio, the Pittsburgh Independent Media Center's weekly review of news from the grassroots.
As the US occupation of Iraq nears its 6 year mark, many Americans and Iraqis hope that the new administrations in both countries will bring an end to the war.
Despite election promises by Barack Obama that he will work to end the war, analysis of the current troop withdrawal policies indicate a different situation. Raed Jarrar, an Iraqi working for the American Friends Service Committee spoke in Pittsburgh to debunk some of the myths and misinformation surrounding the occupation of Iraq.
He first describes the new political landscape and the Status of Forces agreement signed between the US and Iraq in the fall of 2008.
Raed continues by describing the history of US occupation and intervention in Iraq since 1990.
Raed believes that causes for the outbreak of violence in Iraq are misrepresented in US media. He tries to explain the root causes of the violence, while de-bunking the excuses for why the US can’t withdraw from Iraq.
Finally, Raed describes the history of interventions into Baghdad over the last 13 centuries.
That was Raed Jarrar, an Iraqi who works for the American Friends Service Committee. For more information on the status of forces agreement you can go to: living beyond borders.blogspot.com and for information on troop withdrawal you can go to countdown to withdrawal.org.
Now we bring you something a little different, an inside look at Bricolage, one of Pittsburgh's independent theater companies. Paul Ruggiero ( "Ruh-jee-ro") and producer Adriana Ramirez tell us how Bricolage bridges the gap between the arts and the world that inspires them.
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, and WIUP Indiana.
Our hosts this week are Carlin Christy and Jessica McPherson with contributions from Carlin Christy, Khalid Harun, Lizzie Anderson, Levi Marcus, Kara Holsopple, Adriana Ramirez, Colleen Halley and Paul Ruggiero. 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.