community-based, non-corporate, participatory media
On today's show: Feminist spoken word artist Alix Olson performs in Pittsburgh, locals organize a fund raiser to support Eight activists organizing protests against last year's Republican convention who are facing serious criminal charges, Ireland's Shell to Sea activists halt further production of dangerous gas pipeline, Obama clears the way for more mountaintop removal mining, And more in our local and global headlines.
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Rustbelt Radio for May 18, 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.
Three Pittsburgh hip-hop and R&B radio stations have been sold to a religious organization, and the stations will be reformatted to air religious programming. The format change for WAMO106.7-FM, WAMO 860-AM and WPGR 1510-AM will likely occur at the end of the summer. WAMO has broadcast African-American centered programming for over 30 years and is the only FM station in the Pittsburgh area to do so. It has been owned by Sheridan Broadcasting since 1973. Sheridan broadcasting is a relatively small media company based out of Pittsburgh. It owns stations in Atlanta, Buffalo, and Birmingham and is a majority owner in the nation's only African-American-owned radio network, American Urban Radio Networks. Sheridan spokesman Russell Bynam said that (quote) This is a business decision. That's the reality of the marketplace. The marketplace determines how businesses go, and industries have to change with the times. (end quote). Most of the station 35 employees are likely to lose their jobs.
Mr. Bynum also told the Post Gazette that part of the reason for the sale has to do with the Federal Communications Commission. He said that radio listenership is measured (quote) with a disproportionate impact on minority formats (endquote). Bynum said that Sheridan's owners tried to find minority buyers for the stations, but none could arrange the necessary financing.
Bynum's claim about the measurement of radio listenership is backed up by the FCC's own studies, which show that minority listeners are undersampled in audience surveys. Furthermore, invalid statistical techniques are often used to project data from the small number of minority listeners sampled to be representative of the entire community. This can make it appear that minority-audience stations have fewer listeners in desireable advertising categories, such as college graduates or people with higher income levels, than is actually the case. Information from audience surveys, such as total radio audience, demographic data, and buying patterns of the audience, carries heavy influence with advertisers and financiers. Audience survey data often make or break a station's commercial success.
A new method for conducting radio audience surveys, by the Arbitron ratings company, may make the problem of bad measurement of minority communities even worse. The Arbitron People Meter is a portable digital device that is worn by a volunteer and records their radio listening choices. The sample sizes of People-Meter surveys are typically two-thirds smaller than traditional methods, which makes bias problems worse. Minority broadcasters have been pressing the FCC to force Arbitron to adjust the people meter system since its inception in 2007. One instance cited in their complaints was a July 2008 survey in Los Angeles, which showed 34 african-American listeners in a market of 11 million people. The People Meter system is now used as the only radio audience measurement tool in six major urban areas, including Philadelphia. Arbitron plans to deploy the system in all of the 50 largest radio markets by 2010. Pittsburgh will be converted in fall of 2009.
Two weeks ago the Obama administration ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to review all mountaintop removal mining permits currently in process. However, on May 15th, West Virginia congressman Nick Rahall announced that the EPA had approved 42 of the 48 permits in its first round of review. Obama said he was against mountaintop removal during his campaign, and two weeks ago when the administration ordered the permit reviews and overturned a Bush administration regulation that made mountaintop removal legal, many news outlets and environmental groups reported that Obama was halting mountaintop removal. The administration’s latest actions have made clear that this is not the case. The EPA issued the following statement:
(quote) EPA decided not to provide additional comments on the remaining 42 permits after consideration of the nature and extent of project impacts. 28 of the projects have two or fewer valley fills. Eleven have no valley fills at all. None have more than six. EPA’s understanding is that none of the projects would permanently impact high value streams that flow year round. By contrast, EPA has opposed six permits because they all would result in significant adverse impacts to high value streams, involve large numbers of valley fills, and impact watersheds with extensive previous mining impacts. (endquote).
The EPA also said (quote) We will continue to follow the law and use the best science as we quickly and thoroughly evaluate over 150 pending applications to reduce harmful environmental impacts. (endquote). According to many legal experts and several court rulings, all valley fills into perennial streams inherently violate the Clean Water Act. However, the Bush administration attempted to introduce regulations to circumvent the Clean Water Act’s prohibition of dumping waste into streams by classifying valley fill material as something other than waste.
The EPA’s approval of more mountaintop removal mining permits comes even as thousands of West Virginians are digging out from recent flooding, exacerbated by mountaintop removal. Obama’s words during the campaign (quote) “I will also tell you that the environmental consequences of the runoff from some of these mountains can just be horrendous. (endquote) summarize the situation well but appear to be irrelevant to the administration’s current decisions.
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.
Continuing a nearly 8-year battle, the Shell to Sea campaign has once again delayed Shell's construction of a gas pipeline through County Mayo in Western Ireland. The Pipeline would transport dangerous unprocessed natural gas from the offshore Corrib gas field to a refinery onshore.
On Thursday May 14th, two local men suspended themselves with climbing equipment high above the Glengad Public Beach on two specially designed tripods. That morning, despite not having planning permission, Shell was due to extend the construction of its compound down to the beach, but were blocked by these 20 foot tall structures. Neither police nor Shell security attempted to remove the men from the beach, and doing so could have severely endangered their lives.
The tripod action followed a Glengad Day of Action on Saturday May 9th where Shell to Sea supporters came from counties Clare, Cork, Donegal, Dublin, and Galway to stand in solidarity with the Shell to Sea Campaign. Despite being heavily guarded, the crowd surrounded the Shell compound near the Glengad beach attempting to tear down the fences with ropes. Though the protesters posed little threat many were injured by the security force.
For nearly 8 years, Shell to Sea, an international non violent campaign, has been demanding that Corrib Gas be processed at sea, a standard practice around the world. They are resisting the construction of a pipeline that would connect an offshore drilling site to an onshore refinery in Bellanaboy, in southern county Mayo. This 9 kilometer pipeline would run through private property, residential areas, farms, and a boggy area known for landslides, carrying the raw highly explosive odorless gas at an extremely high pressure. The pipeline is the last step to connecting the drilling site to the refinery, and local communities have been resisting the construction. Shell to Sea has been working to highlight the negligent environmental, health, safety and economic consequences of this Shell plan which is backed by the Irish government.
The project poses extremely harmful environmental detriments to the local communities of County Mayo. Despite the approval of the Irish Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the refinery in Bellanaboy is located within the catchment of a major drinking water supply. An Taisce, the National Trust for Ireland, is urging the EPA to reevaluate its decision for allowing the refinery to exist at this site, because it is highly contested by the local communities due to these environmental hazards, and says Shell is violating its own business practice of being good neighbors.
Locals continue to remain active and vocal in their opposition to the project. Shell to Sea spokesperson Maura Harrington says (quote) "Yet again, Shell is disregarding both the law and the will of the local community by trying to extend their illegal compound onto the public beach. Today's action shoes that we are as determined as ever to obstruct this obscene project and give away of Irish natural Resources." (end quote)
For more on Shell to Sea and the Corrib gas project, visit the Ireland Independent Media center at www(dot)indymedia(dot)ie and www.corribsos.com (c-o-r-r-i-b-s-o-s)
Radio Rootz brings us this radical history lesson for May 21st:
* RDH-MAY-21.mp3: Radical Day (1:02)
On the day before Mother’s Day, 40 New York human rights advocates gathered at the Leviev jewelry store on Madison Avenue and called on throngs of weekend shoppers to boycott the Israeli diamond mogul Lev Leviev over his companies’ construction of Israeli settlements on Palestinian land in West Bank villages including Bil’in and Jayyous. The New York protest came as controversy is growing in Norway over the Norwegian government's investments in Leviev’s company Africa-Israel. Alexis Stern from Adalah-NY: The Coalition for Justice in the Middle East added, (quote) The government of the United Kingdom, UNICEF and Oxfam are all now boycotting Leviev. We’re calling on New Yorkers, and the government of Norway to join them. (endquote)
The New York protesters also commemorated Bassem Abu Rahma from Bil’in who was shot to death by Israeli soldiers last month during a peaceful protest against the construction of Israel’s wall and of the Mattityahu East settlement on Bil’in’s land by a Leviev company.
Listen to the sounds and speeches from the protest.
You're listening to Rustbelt Radio, the Pittsburgh Independent Media Center's weekly review of news from the grassroots.
It has been nearly nine months since the Republican National Convention, or RNC, was held in September 2008, but several activists who helped organize protests in St. Paul, Minnesota, are still facing serious criminal charges. Eight members of the RNC Welcoming Committee, now known as the "RNC 8", were charged with conspiracy to commit riot in furtherance of terrorism, and are the first people known to be charged under Minnesota's version of the federal PATRIOT Act.
Recently, the terrorism charges were dropped but the eight activists are still facing charges of conspiracy to commit riot and conspiracy to commit criminal damage to property, and could be sentenced to year of prison time.
The criminal complaints filed by the Ramsey County attorney do not claim that any of the RNC8 engaged in any act of violence or damage to property. But authorities are seeking to hold the eight defendants responsible for acts committed by other individuals during the opening days of the Republican National Convention. Six of the eight defendents were arrested before the convention even began, and the other two were arrested on the first day of the convention.
Warrants obtained by the police in their raids before the convention claimed that the activists planned to kidnap RNC delegates, use fire bombs and sabotage airports. Although no evidence of these activities were found, Ramsey County Attorney Susan Gaertner is still prosecuting the RNC8 for conspiracy.
On May 9th a fundraiser for RNC8 legal defense was held at Pittsburgh's Friends' Meeting House. Sarah Small is a native of Pittsburgh who is now with the Philadelphia RNC8 support committee, and she gave a presentation about what happened to her fellow activists who are now facing these charges. She also helped organize the RNC Welcoming Committee, and described what the group was about.
The members of the RNC Welcoming Committee say they've been targeted for their political organizing, and point out that the police raids on their convergence center only yielded seizures of political materials like printed guides for protest attendees. At the May 9 fundraiser in Pittsburgh, parts of the film Terrorizing Dissent were shown where the RNC8 responded to the way that police targeted their group:
Those were the voices of members of the RNC 8, taken from the documentary Terrorizing Dissent, produced by the Glass Bead Collective and members of several Indymedia groups. You can watch the whole film or download a DVD image from the website www.terrorizingdissent.org.
In her presentation, Sarah Small said that the struggle to defend the RNC 8 is not only important to people protesting the Republicans, but that the case has implications that affect anyone doing political or community organizing. She linked what is happening to these eight people to many other political prisoners:
The RNC8 legal defense fund raised over a thousand dollars at the Pittsburgh fundraiser this month, but they still estimate that $250,000 will be needed to fight the charges in court. You can donate to the legal fund and learn more about the ongoing case on the website: http://rnc8.org.
That was the Rude Mechanical Orchestra with the song "Kosice."
Alix Olson is a feminist spoken word poet and a progressive queer artist-activist. Her work focuses on various issues including heterosexism, homophobia, and patriarchy. On March 31st, Alix performed at the University of Pittsburgh and today we are broadcasting a portion of that evening's show.
And now we present the Indymedia Calendar of Events:
* On Thursday, May 21st, Dr. Conrad Volz, director of the Center Healthy Environments and Communities at the University of Pittsburgh, will speak on the health impacts of coal power. The session is the first of three forums hosted by the Center for Coalfield Justice and other local grassroots groups; it focuses specifically on water impacts. It will be held from 7-9 pm at the Graduate School of Public Health Auditorium, 130 DeSoto Street in Oakland.
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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 Colleen Halley and Matt Toups with contributions from Carlin Christy, Khalid Harun, Lizzie Anderson, and Jessica McPherson. This week's show was produced by Jon Heiman and Shawn Watson. 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.