community-based, non-corporate, participatory media
On today's show: A look at the coup in Honduras as elections approach, Students protest tuition hikes all across California - and police respond with batons and tazers, Pittsburgh students speak out against police brutality and political profiling at a Citizen's Police Review Board hearing in Oakland, Hundreds protest UPMC's plans to close Braddock Hospital, And more in our local and global headlines.
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Rustbelt Radio for November 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.
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We turn now to local stories.
On Thursday November 19th, in a steady rain, Braddock, Homestead, Rankin, West Mifflin, and Swissvale residents protested the closing of UPMC Braddock's hospital, slated for January 2010. Outside the South Braddock Avenue entrance, organizers parked a truck with speakers and a microphone where a crowd of 2 to 300 gathered.
Braddock Borough Councilman William Zachery, who suggested the rally, was the first to speak. He related his personal story of people over profits:
Claudia Detwiler of Western Pennsylvania Single-Payer Coalition said
Braddock Councilwoman Tina [ SAY doo-SAY]Doose rallied the crowd by questioning UPMC's justifications for the closing. Singer and organizer Ann Feeney also sang.
Braddock Council President Jesse Brown announced initiation of an injunction against the hospital:
Vice President of the United Steelworker's union, Fred Redman, pledged support in the struggle to keep UPMC open, remembering that its citizens had built the hospital and putting its closing in a national perspective:
One Bloomfield resident, who wished to remain anonymous, worried that UPMC's intentions were to focus its energies in Bloomfield to put the Western Pennsylvania Hospital, West Penn, out of business. Many of the citizens present, residents and non-residents alike, felt that the ramifications of the closing the Braddock UPMC would resonate throughout Pittsburgh and other communities.
Tona Buba, a filmmaker and organizer of Save Our Community Hospitals, a grassroots group formed on November 9th to address hospital closings, announced their plans for the future:
For more information on the Braddock Free Press website at http://web.me.com/braddocktiger/SaveOurCommunityHospitals/Head_Lines.html
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.
On Tuesday November 17th, two activists from Minneapolis, Minnesota were ordered to appear before a grand jury in Davenport, Iowa. Scott DeMuth and Carrie Feldman both refused to testify, and were taken to jail on charges contempt of court. If they do not agree to testify, the state can keep them imprisoned for the entire term of the grand jury, up to 11 months.
Before entering the courthouse, Carrie and Scott read the following statements to a crowd of supporters:
The grand jury appears to be investigating a 2004 incident in which hundreds of lab animals were released from University of Iowa research labs. On Friday November 20th, Scott DeMuth's contempt charge was dropped, and he was charged with conspiracy to commit animal enterprise terrorism in a Davenport, Iowa federal court. The Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act makes it illegal to (quote) damage or interfere with the operations of an animal enterprise (endquote); damage may include affecting profits. The act has only been used twice before, once in California and once in Utah. The act criminalizes and brands as "terrorism" actions which injure no one - such as leafleting and sidewalk chalking - and are routinely undertaken by ordinary citizens. According to the indictment in the California case, one of the alleged crimes was (quote) use of the Internet to find information on bio-medical researchers at the University of California. (endquote).
For updates on these ongoing cases, visit Twin Cities Indymedia at tc-imc.serve.com, and to learn more about efforts to support Carrie and Scott during their imprisonment, you can visit davenportgrandjury.wordpress.com.
We now bring you excerpts from LA Indymedia and Bay Area Indymedia coverage of student protests against massive tuition hikes at California public universities.
Student and workers held a series of occupations and strikes at schools across the state of California November 18th through the 20th. On Thursday the 19th, the University of California regents met at UCLA and approved a 32% increase in undergraduate fees. Student regent Jesse Bernal was the only vote in opposition. Tuition fees will be above $10,000 a year for the first time, three times what it cost just ten years ago. The fee hike is in part related to pressure from the state government, which is in fiscal crisis and cutting social services across the board. However, the university system also lost money in the financial crash, and students object to paying this cost while corporations receive billions in bailout funds. Workers and students also object to increasing privatization of the university system, questioning budget priorities that preserve corporate profits while raising tuition and cutting worker benefits.
The regents met for three days at UCLA, and were met with spirited protests throughout. LA indymedia brings us this account of the protest Wednesday November 18th:
The November 19th protest at UCLA was dubbed "crisisfest":
The regent meeting was completely surrounded by thousands of students and workers with arms locked together. The regents were unable to leave until police beat a path through the protesters with batons and rushed the regents to a waiting van. Throughout the three days of protest at UCLA there were many incidents of police violence against students, including the use of tasers, pepper spray and batons on peaceful assemblies.
Early Thursday morning, students barricaded themselves inside Cambell Hall, a UCLA campus building. They renamed it “Carter-Huggins Hall” in honor of two Black Panthers who were shot and killed in the building during a Black Student Union meeting in 1969. They left voluntarily about 48 hours later.
At UC Davis, a total of fifty-two students have been arrested. Some occupied a campus building and were arrested for trespassing. On Friday afternoon, students sat-in at Dutton Hall and were dispersed by police that evening.
At UC Berkeley, in the early hours of Friday November 20th about 40 people occupied Wheeler Hall, and three were arrested as police arrived. Solidarity crowds grew throughout the morning outside the building. Police set up metal barricades, beating those in the crowd with batons and shooting rubber bullets. Occupiers voluntarily left the building with misdemeanor citations in the evening.
Students at California State University Fresno occupied a campus library on Friday evening, protesting cuts in library staffing and open hours that left the libraries open less often than the campus bowling alley. After 24 hours the students left voluntarily, citing progress made in negotiations with the administration.
At UC Santa cruz, hundreds of students rallied at the two entrances to the campus on thursday, shutting them down for several hours. Students also occupied Kresge Town Hall, and on Friday occupied the campus's main administrative building, Kerr Hall. Both occupations ended on Sunday morning after police dispersal.
Throughout the university system, staff have already been hit with pay cuts, work furlough days and layoffs. More cuts and layoffs could come next year. Students and campus workers are now mobilizing for a second round of mass actions early next year in March.
Twenty years ago, six Jesuit priests, their co-worker and her teenage daughter were assassinated in El Salvador because they were outspoken proponents of a peaceful and just resolution of El Salvador's civil war. A U.S. Congressional Task Force and human rights groups reported that the soldiers responsible in this and many other atrocities across the hemisphere were trained at the U.S. Army School of the Americas at Fort Benning, Georgia.
A year later, Father Roy Bourgeois founded the School of the Americas Watch, which called for the closure of the military facility that is supported by Americans' tax dollars. In the years since, thousands of people have come to Fort Benning every year on the third weekend in November to commemorate the tens of thousands who have died at the hands of U.S.-trained soldiers.
On-stage during this 2-day protest and vigil, Orlando Tizon explains how his life was affected by the school:
This November, thousands gathered to remember the victims and survivors of torture. Roy Bourgeois, founder of the School of the Americas Watch, explains the growing movement:
This year, the American Friends Service Committee announced that they have officially submitted the names of both Roy Bourgeois and the School of the Americas Watch for consideration for the Nobel Peace Prize. AFSC representative John Meyer made the official announcement on Sunday, November 22 at the gates of Fort Benning.
For more information, visit soaw.org
Indymedia announces a successful legal battle fought against F.B.I. intimidation. Indymedia is a loose network of grassroots media organizations from all over all the world that cover events often overlooked by the corporate media. On January 30th, 2009, Kristina Clair of Philadelphia, PA — one of the system administrators of the server that hosts the indymedia.us site — received in the mail a grand jury subpoena from the Southern District of Indiana federal court. The request demanded that Indymedia hand over the details of the visitors to the website on a particular day in June; a very broad request that Indymedia has objected to. Even more disturbing is that a condition was attached to the subpoena requesting Indymedia not to reveal or publicly discuss the existence of the request. After nearly a year of battle in the courts, the subpoena has been withdrawn and we are now able to speak with the Senior Staff Attorney of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Kevin Bankston. Nick cooper from Houston Indymedia gives us this interview:
You're listening to Rustbelt Radio, the Pittsburgh Independent Media Center's weekly review of news from the grassroots.
Honduran elections are scheduled at the end of this November despite the refusal of the coup government to allow Honduran President Manuel Zelaya [PRONOUNCE: man - u - EL zeh LIE ah], to leave the Brazilian Embassy where he is currently taking refuge.
Zelaya, the democratically elected president of Honduras, was kidnapped last June by the military and was replaced by Roberto Micheletti [PRONOUNCE: roh - BEAR - toe mitchell - LET - ee], the leader of the current coup government. Many people in the military and business community have been outspoken in their condemnation of Zelaya’s progressive policies towards the poor and the country as a whole. During his three and a half years in office, Zelaya abolished fees for primary education, increased the minimum wage, and brought Honduras into a new economic alliance called ALBA or the Bolivarian Alliance For the Americas. ALBA is a nine-nation anti-imperialist trading bloc established in 2004 by Cuba and Venezuela. These actions, as well as Zelaya's proposal for a referendum on whether Honduras should have a constitutional assembly to redraw the national constitution, did not sit well with particular groups in Honduras. We now go to Dan Beeton from the D.C. based Center For Economic and Policy Research, who speaks about the constitutional referendum that Zelaya proposed days before his overthrow :
Since the illegal takeover of the presidency, government abuses of civil liberties and human rights have been rampant. Thousands of Honduran citizens have organized protests against the Micheletti Government and flooded the streets, in defiance of coup-imposed curfews. Dan Beeton speaks:
This past week, Dr. Dario Euraque [PRONOUNCE: DAR - ee - oh you-RAHK-ay], Professor of History at Trinity College and former director at the Honduran Institute of Anthropology and History gave a lecture in Pittsburgh. Dr. Euraque spoke about his discharge from that government office two weeks after Zelaya was overthrown. Euraque blames Mirna Castro, the new coup-appointed Minister of Culture. He speaks about this turn of events as the “the coup within the coup.”, and says that many government departments have been turned over and had their policies re-oriented under the coup government.
Dr. Euraque speaks about a systematic effort to devalue Honduran culture and diversity in what he euphemistically calls “Mayanization”.
He continues to explain how this process disempowers the poor and indigenous populations of Honduras:
Zelaya was flown to Costa Rica after he was forcibly removed from Honduras. The Costa Rican president Oscar Arias [PRONOUNCE: OH - skar AR-ee-as] attempted to mediate negotiations between the ousted president and the coup leaders, to return Zelaya to power. After months of failed negotiations, Zelaya covertly crossed back into Honduras and took refuge in the Brazilian Embassy. Today he remains held up in the embassy, unable to leave for fear of arrest. Promises to restore Zelaya back into power to serve out his term have not been followed through with, and new elections are scheduled to happen in late November. Zelaya is not legally allowed to run again for office, and at this point it appears the coup government intends to to keep him out of office until after the a new president is elected. The international community is calling for the boycott of these elections. The Obama administration’s position during the coup has been ambiguous from the beginning. Dan Beeton speaks about Obama’s trip to Trinidad in April, two months before the coup.
Amidst widespread condemnation from the international community-- including the United Nations, the Organization of American States, and the European Union-- the US. has still not taken substantial measures to pressure the coup government to step down. Dan Beeton addresses this concern:
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, WIUP Indiana, and WOBC Oberlin.
Our hosts this week are Shawn Watson and Gretchen Neidert with contributions from Deren Guler, Seth Ray Bearden, Jessica McPherson, Kara Holsopple, and Gretchen Neidert. This week's show was produced by Shawn Watson and 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.