community-based, non-corporate, participatory media
On today's show... * Highlights from Penn Future's conference on global warming * A historic power shift in El Salvador's recent election * Pam Africa, of Philadelphia's MOVE organization speaks in Pittsburgh * Fed-Up brings us a report from inside the Prison Industrial Complex * and more in our local and global headlines.
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Rustbelt Radio for April 6, 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:
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 Bureau of Environmental Crimes in the state of New York has arrested 18 people for collecting native wildlife and selling it on the black market. The charges resulted after a year-and-a-half-long investigation, dubbed “Operation Shellshock,” revealed a large and lucrative illegal trade in native wildlife. Operation Shellshock was conducted in cooperation with authorities in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Florida, and Canada. Many of the species experiencing illegal collections are native to Pennsylvania, and some are rare here. The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat commission also charged 6 individuals. Rustbelt Radio spoke with Lieutenant Richard Thomas in New York, who worked on the investigation.
The illegal wildlife sales were being conducted over the Internet, and under the table at legal reptile shows. Thomas says that for some species, the impact of collecting can be devastating. For many turtles and snakes, removal of just a few adult individuals will likely doom the local population. Thomas hopes that Operation Shellshock will deter black market traders in the future. He also has a message for those who have a special interest in reptiles and amphibians:
Alternative energy, climate change, and green jobs are topping the Obama administration's agenda -- and they're coming to new prominence here in the Pittsburgh area too.
Fed Up, the Pittsburgh Chapter of the Human Rights Coalition, brings us this week's report on the prison industrial complex.
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.
A historic shift in power has occurred in El Salvador, with the March 15th victory of the leftist FMLN party in the recent presidential election. FMLN candidate Mauricio Funes [PRONOUNCE: Mah- ooh-REE-see-oh FOO-nes] won 51% of the vote, while ARENA party candidate Rodrigo Avila won 48%. The two major political parties in El Salvador represent the opposing sides in a decade-long civil war that claimed 70,000 lives, before peace accords were reached in 1992.
The FMLN, or Faribundo Marti National Liberation Front, was created from a coalition of leftist resistance groups, while ARENA, the Nationalist Republican Alliance, is the rightist party that held power during the civil war. During the civil war the ARENA government, with the backing of the United States, was responsible for brutal death squads that killed tens of thousands of civilians. In the years since the peace accords, the ARENA government largely followed the direction of the United States and embraced neoliberal economic policies. In contrast, the FMLN platform calls for “advancing social justice through overcoming the poverty, the exclusion, and the enormous inequalities in society.” Poverty is widespread in El Salvador; 80% live in substandard conditions, and 1/3 of the population has emigrated to the United States. Through a policy created during the civil war, Salvadorans can receive political amnesty and immigrate legally to the U.S.
Mauricio Funes is a well-respected TV news journalist known for documenting the human rights abuses of the government during the civil war. He addressed the nation of El Salvador after his election:
The victory represents a new maturity for democracy in El Salvador. It is the first peaceful transfer of power ever to occur in El Salvador’s existence as an independent nation. The integrity of the election was vigorously monitored by citizens. Radio stations aired citizen testimonies of irregularities throughout the election day, and applied pressure to local authorities.
It is also the first national election in El Salvador where the United States did not attempt to exert significant influence. But this neutrality did not come without a dramatic last-minute fight. In the days just before the election, after campaign activities had ended according to El Salvadoran law, Republican leaders in the House of Representatives publicly threatened revoking temporary amnesty for Salvadoran immigrants if the FMLN won. If that had happened, the supply of remittance money that forms 1/5 of the economy in El Salvador would have been cut off.
However, after an immediate grassroots response by U.S. activists, Democratic house members publicly countered Republican threats and pledged to respect the results of the election in El Salvador. Even more significantly, President Obama’s state department issued a public declaration of neutrality.
In contrast to the bitter splits that have developed between the newly empowered leftist parties and the deposed rightist minorities in Venezuela and Bolivia, the rhetoric of both parties in El Salvador so far has been conciliatory. Funes has pledged to pursue a government of national unity, and the ARENA party has said it will (quote) be a constructive opposition.
On March 17th, Ali Abunimah, the co-founder and executive director of The Electronic Intifada, an award-winning online publication about Palestine and the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, addressed an audience at the University of Pittsburgh. He shared his views on the conflict in the region and about the possibility of a One State Solution. He began by reminding us that even today Palestinian civilians, including many children, continue to be killed by Israeli soldiers on a daily basis, citing some of the recent incidents that have not been aired on Western media. Among other things, he discussed in-depth the systematic Israeli policy to restrict the sovereignty of the Palestinian people and the complicity of the American government. And he echoed the call for the boycott, sanctions, and divestment against Israel, movements which have been gaining critical mass in Europe and growing in the US. Finally, Abunimah, closed with a brief explanation of the One State Solution:
That was Ali Abunimah. You listen to the entire lecture and Q&A session at the Pittsburgh Indy Media website, www.indypgh.org.
You're listening to Rustbelt Radio, the Pittsburgh Independent Media Center's weekly review of news from the grassroots.
Ed Robbins has made several films about the Iraq war -- including one from the perspective of American soldiers, and one about Iraqi refugees. He recently visited Pittsburgh to discuss the complications of documenting war.
The MOVE organization was founded in the early 1970's by John Africa in Philadelphia. It grew into a communal black radical organization which promoted respect for the earth and all living things. Activities of the MOVE organization were seen as a threat by then-Mayor Frank Rizzo, who was also a former Police Commissioner.
Tensions between the Philadelphia Police and the MOVE members came to a head in 1978, when members refused to leave their West Philadelphia compound. Police moved in to forcibly evict the MOVE members using guns, water cannons, and bulldozers.
During this confrontation, several MOVE members and Philly police officers were injured. One office, James Ramp was murdered. For this, 9 MOVE members were convicted of third degree murder and were sentenced to 30 years to life. Last year marked the first year of eligibility for parole for 7 of the remaining MOVE members. One of the original nine passed away in prison. After being denied parole last year, MOVE and their supporters, which include internationally known political prisoner Mumia Abu Jamal, are hoping that public support will lead to the parole of the remaining members in prison.
In order to draw support for this cause, Pam Africa, a move member since the 1970's, spoke in Pittsburgh in March. She contends that it was impossible for MOVE to shoot and kill Officer Ramp.
The 1977 assault on the MOVE compound stemmed out of MOVE's confrontation to issues in Philadelphia. Pam describes how West Philadelphia has changed since MOVE was most active in the area.
Nine MOVE members were sentenced to prison for the murder of Officer Ramp. MOVE has continued to have confrontations with the police as recently as 2001.
The MOVE organization has stood out for their frequent use of profanity in speeches, interviews, and propaganda. Here Pam Africa explains the use of one frequently used profanity:
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 [ ] and [ ] with contributions from Carlin Christy ]. This week's show was produced by Phill Cresswell. Special thanks to all of our hosts, producers, and contributors.
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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.