community-based, non-corporate, participatory media
On today's show: We interview the 1st Palestinian hip hop group- DAM, We take an in-depth look at the current situation in Pakistan, A "Checkpoint Demonstration" brings a hard taste of Palestinian life to Pittsburgh, and An update on last July's deadly assault on immigrant Luis Ramirez, plus more in our local and global headlines.
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Rustbelt Radio for May 4, 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 Cannondale bicycle factory in Bedford, Pennsylvania will be moved to Taiwan by 2010. The factory was the second-largest bicycle manufacturer remaining in the United States, after most major brands have outsourced production to Asia. Cannondale produces several lines of high-end bicycles, and over the last few decades has brought innovative technologies into the industry. The factory was also a tourist destination for cyclists, due to the quality and popularity of the Cannondale brand. Two-thirds of the plant's three hundred employees will lose their jobs, as the plant is to be re-purposed to minor assembly work and administration. Bedford, with a population of 3000, already has an unemployment rate of thirteen percent. According to bicycle painter Mike Miller (quote) A bunch of us thought this was coming, the way people were acting. Something fishy was going on.(endquote) Miller says his severance package will be one week of additional pay.
The Dorel Group, the Canadian company that now owns Cannondale, made record profits in 2008. It says the move to Asia will provide an additional $4 million in profit each year. At the Dorel investors group meeting in March, recreation and leisure segment president Robert Baird said that it takes 45 hours to manufacture a carbon fiber bicycle frame, and labor costs $1 an hour in China versus $35 an hour in the U.S.
Primary election day is fast approaching -- on May 19th Pittsburgh will choose between three Democratic candidates for mayor -- Luke Ravenstahl, Carmen Robinson, and Patrick Dowd. Braddock is also having a mayor's race this year, and its current mayor John Fetterman hosted a party a few days ago - -to promote his own campaign -- and lend his support to Patrick Dowd.
Last summer, Rustbelt Radio reported on the July 13th assault on Luis Ramirez, a 25 year old Mexican immigrant who had been living and working in Pennsylvania for the past six years. The assault occurred in the small town of Shenandoah PA, located in the Eastern part of the state. In recent years, there has been an increasing Hispanic population in this traditionally white coal town. The assault began when 4 teenage boys exchanged words with Ramirez who was with a friend at the time. A fight ensued between Ramirez and the 4 teens, some of whom were members of the local high school football team. After the fight ended, one of the boys shouted a racial epithet, prompting Ramirez to fight once again.
It was at this time that Ramirez was repeatedly punched and kicked in the head causing him to convulse and foam at the mouth. Ramirez died in the hospital two days after the incident as a result.
Tensions between the immigrant Mexican population and the white community members were exposed as some white community members referred to the incident as a drunken brawl and street fight that got out of hand, while Latino community advocates stated that the killing constituted a hate crime, as Ramirez was targeted for being Mexican.
The youths involved in the attack were formally charged on Friday, July 25th, 2008. Three were charged as adults and one as a juvenile.
Now on May 1st, 2009, members of an all-white jury acquitted 17-year-old Brandon Piekarsky and 19-year-old Derrick Donchak of counts of ethnic intimidation, third-degree murder, and aggravated assault. Both were convicted of simple assault which carries a 1-2 year prison sentence. Donchak was also convicted of corruption of minors and an alcohol charge, as he had purchased beer and malt liquor that he drank and his friends drank prior to the fight on July 13th.
17 year old Colin Walsh, who admitted to punching Ramirez and knocking him out, pleaded guilty in federal court to violating Ramirez's civil rights and could be out of prison in four years. On the witness stand, he identified Brandon Piekarsky as the kicker. So did the 4th teenager involved in the fight, Brian Scully age 18. Scully stated he was the first to initiate words with Ramirez, and tried to kick him during the fight, but missed. Scully is charged in juvenile court with aggravated assault and ethnic intimidation.
Prosecutors were pushing for the death to be considered a hate crime, however the jury disagreed.
Once again, the community, and the nation at large are split between whites who supported the jury’s decicion and latinos who are outraged by the verdict.
Gladys Limon, staff attorney for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, who attended the trial stated quote: "There's been a complete failure of justice…It's just outrageous and very difficult to understand how any juror could have had reasonable doubt."
Last Thursday the 30th of April, at around 5:30 in the afternoon, about 15 people took to the streets of Oakland. Their goal: to make Pittsburghers aware of the regular hassles and dangers that Palestinian people face in their daily lives.
FedUp, the local 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.
[ 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.
Radio Rootz brings us this radical history lesson for May 6th.
The Obama administration has stated its intention to reverse a last minute regulation pushed through by the Bush administration that officially sanctioned the valley fills associated with mountaintop removal mining. However, the administration also essentially stated that it did not intend to enforce this law.
The stream buffer rule was created in 1983 as part of the Surface Mining and Reclamation Act, and states that no mining activities can affect areas within 100 feet of a stream. Mountaintop removal mining is a process by which the tops of mountains are blown off with dynamite in order to access coal seams. Millions of tons of rubble are piled in adjacent valleys. The valleys almost invariably have a stream at the bottom of them, which becomes buried under the rubble. According to the Sierra Club, 500 miles of streams in Appalachia were buried between 2001 and 2005. Mountaintop removal mining has been illegal since its inception, since there is no way to dispose of the rubble without valley fills, and no way to fill valleys without burying streams. However, the federal law protecting streams has never been enforced in relation to mountaintop removal mining, by any administration. In December 2008, the Bush administration enacted a regulation that explicitly exempted mountaintop removal mining from the stream buffer rule requirement and from Clean Water Act requirements.
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar said on April 29th that the Obama administration intends to vacate the Bush Administration’s regulation, calling it (quote) legally deficient (end quote). However, he also said that the change will have (quote) no impacts on existing mines (endquote). Mining interests had immediately launched a court challenge to the effort to vacate the rule.
Dianne Bady, of the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, an Appalachian citizens’ group, said the action (quote) ultimately will be nothing more than a publicity stunt unless and until it is enforced by the agencies. Removing the bad Bush policy from the books is not enough, unfortunately. Real action is needed to enforce the rule and immediately protect America's mountain streams. (end quote).
The Obama Interior department has the power to order the Environmental Protection Agency to review whether currently pending permits for mountaintop removal mining are legal. The EPA can also require states to refuse to issue new mining permits that violate the stream buffer rule. However, it still remains unclear whether the Obama administration will pursue either of these actions.
You're listening to Rustbelt Radio, the Pittsburgh Independent Media Center's weekly review of news from the grassroots.
DAM, or Da Arab MC’s is known as the premier hip hop group that gave birth to the Palestinian hip hop scene. Formed in the late 1990’s, DAM is comprised of 3 young Palestinian men living inside Israeli territory. They make up part of the 20% minority of Israeli society known as Arab-Israelis. These Palestinians are descendants of the original inhabitants of the land which Israel seized for its creation in 1948 and 1967. Growing up in the ghetto of Lid, the group members Tamer, Suhell, and Mahmoud began to take an interest in Western hip hop. They began to write their own lyrics, beats, and songs, which explored the social and political injustices of Palestinians who live inside Israeli and in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip. Their music has been a source of inspiration for thousands of Palestinians and they recently toured the US to raise funds for the Gaza Strip, which was attacked in December and January by Israeli forces. During this bombardment, over fourteen hundred people were killed, of whom approximately 900 were citizens.
Spreading a message of resistance and hope through their music, DAM has been touring the United States. They performed in Pittsburgh on April 9th, and Rustbelt Radio had a chance to speak with them before their show at CMU:
To learn more about the hip hop group DAM and to hear their music, you can go to slingshothiphop.com and dampalestine.com. We'll now hear the song Warde, or Brother, from the album Dedication.
You were just listening to DAM, the first Palestinian hip hop group. And that was the song Warde from the album Dedication.
Rustbelt Radio reporter Khalid Harun brings us a report about the concerns over the instability in Pakistan.
And now we present the Indymedia Calendar of Events:
[ Outro Music ]
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 Lizzie Anderson, Margaret Hagan, Khalid Harun, and Jessica McPherson. This week's show was produced by Shawn Watson. 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.