community-based, non-corporate, participatory media
On today's show... Corporate Funded Cyber Security Research at Carnegie Mellon University, The Efforts to Save Braddock Hospital, An Emergency Rally Against War Escalation in Afghanistan, Coverage of the Honduran Elections, And more in our local and global headlines
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Rustbelt Radio for December 7, 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.
On Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009, an Emergency Protest was held at the Schenley Plaza in Pittsburgh, PA as a response to President Obama's speech announcing plans for escalating the US occupation in Afghanistan. Obama pledged to send an additional 30,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan in addition to the 17,000 that have already been deployed earlier this year. The demonstration co-sponsored by the Thomas Merton Center Anti-War Committee, Pitt Students for a Democratic Society, Code Pink, Women's International League for Peace& Freedom, Iraq Vets Against the War, and others brought together a large crowd of people to voice their concerns about the latest troop increase. Rustbelt Radio was there to bring you some of the voices from the rally.
Those were some of the voices protesting the war escalation in Afghanistan at a rally held in Schenley Plaza on December 2nd.
In Pittsburgh's first snow of the year, Homestead's Historic Steel Valley Christmas Parade drew 108 businesses and organizations, from Steel Valley Girl Scout Troop 54204 and Homestead District Lions Club, to Greg the Can Man, and 3 times as many residents on a march down 8th Ave in Homestead this past December 5th. Save Our Community Hospitals, an organization formed November 9, 2009 after University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) announced the January closing of its Braddock facility was invited to walk in the parade by Parade Organizer, Denise Kelly on behalf of Betty Esper, Mayor of Homestead, Ray Bodnar, Mayor of Munhall and John Dindak, Mayor of West Homestead,. Save Our Community Hospitals, or S.O.C.H. (Sotch), passed out candy to children and a fact sheet for adults while wishing the Homestead community a healthy new year. The action is a continuation of rallies and public appearances launched during regular Monday night planning meetings at the Immanuel Lutheran Church across from UPMC Braddock. Residents and observers of the Steel Valley Christmas Parade expressed disbelief that UPMC Braddock decision was based on a loss of profit.
A UPMC employee raises issues of accountability for the money that went into the UPMC system:
David Hughes of both Citizen Power and the Coalition for Single Payer, describes a truly publicly accountable hospital and outlines resident concerns:
Residents were supportive of Save Our Community Hospitals' presence in the parade and explained how UPMC's closing will negatively impact them:
Pat Morgan represents SOCH in the Heritage Health Working Group, a committee facilitated by Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato to lobby UPMC against closing, and to create a contingency plan should the hospital close. Morgan passed out fliers at the parade and spoke with residents:
The following is quoted directly from the flier and website savebraddock.org:
"[The] PA health department reports on hospital utilization show that UPMC Braddock's occupancy rate in 2007-08 was 72.4 percent, higher than six other Allegheny County hospitals, including UPMC Mercy, West Penn, Heritage Valley in Sewickley and Ohio Valley…. UPMC management did not include in UPMC Braddock's utilization calculations behavioral health beds used for the drug and alcohol, sober living and detoxification programs. UPMC President and CEO Jeffrey Romoff received $4,448,181.00 in compensation and $72,367.00 in contributions to his employee benefit plan in 2008. UPMC is building a similar-sized hospital in Monroeville, an affluent community northeast of Braddock. Monroeville already has a modern hospital that is part of the West Penn Allegheny Health System, UPMC's competition in the area. On November 12, 2009 WPAH offered to collaborate with UPMC in Monroeville, so this new building project could be avoided."
Hughes told Rustbelt Radio that besides using his pulpit to talk about how UPMC's practice could hurt the region, Allegheny County Executive and Gubernatorial Candidate Dan Onorato could help Save Our Community Hospitals in two ways:
Number one: lobby to re-enact the Certificate of Need programs which expired for Pennsylvania in December of 1996. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, "by determining the most urgent health care needs, contributing solutions for those needs such as regulating the number of beds in hospitals and nursing homes, preventing the overbuying of expensive equipment, or by attempting to manage the fluctuations in prices often caused by a competitive market, Certificate of Need Legislation was "aimed at restraining health care facility costs and allowing coordinated planning of new services and construction"
Number two: by using his clout in Harrisburg to challenge UPMC's nonprofit, tax-exempt status.
We called Allegheny County Councilman Chuck McCullough for his thoughts:
We called Dan Onorato's office for his reaction to Citizen Power's suggestions but were unable to get a response in time for this broadcast.
Rustbelt Radio will be following the complaint filed with the ACLU by Jesse Brown, Braddock council president.
We will be following that story as it unfolds. Stay tuned to our calendar of events to see how you can get involved.
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 November 29th, presidential elections were held in Honduras, which has been in political crisis since June, when the democratically elected president Manuel Zelaya was ousted by a military coup. Zelaya had called for a boycott of the elections, saying that they could not be conducted fairly under the coup government. He predicted that the turnout would be less than 50 percent. The Honduran group Making Democracy conducted a quick count from polling stations, and reported turnout at 47 percent. The Popular Resistance Front, which supports the boycott, said turnout was 21%. The state-controlled Supreme Election Tribunal reported turnout at 61%. Tribunal authorities had promised that new technologies would increase transparency and allow them to report the results promptly after the polls closed; however, reporting was delayed for several hours, due to an unexplained "technical error". The coup government has asserted that the elections are a resolution to the political crisis, and is now claiming that high voter turnout means the Honduran people agree.
Many international organizations refused to recognize the elections as valid and did not send observers, including the Organization for American States, the United Nations, and the Carter Center. International reporters from Al Jazeera and Upside Down World said that the turnout appeared extremely low in poorer areas of Honduras, and somewhat higher in wealthier areas. With turnout skewed by the boycott of many Liberal Party supporters, Conservative Party candidate Porfirio (poor-FEAR-rio) Lobo won 52 percent of the vote, while liberal candidate Elvin Santos took 36 percent.
Honduran resistance groups have stated that over 5000 people have been arrested by the coup government. The coup government also threatened a 4-6 year prison term for anyone advocating a boycott of the elections. In San Pedro Sula, the second largest city, resistance members held a peaceful demonstration on election day in which they marched in the streets carrying 30 crosses with the names of resistance members who have been assassinated by the coup government. A resistance member explains why they were protesting:
The coup was imposed in response to growing dissatisfaction of the elite with Zelaya's socially progressive policies. However, the specific event that prompted the coup was Zelaya's attempt to ask Hondurans, in a referendum which would have accompanied the presidential election, whether they wanted an assembly to reform the nation's constitution. Another resistance member:
When confronted by police, the demonstrators sat down in the street, and then sang the Honduran national anthem. Police attacked the demonstrators with tear gas, water cannons, and batons.
On Wednesday after the election, the Honduran congress narrowly voted not to reinstate ousted president Zelaya to serve out the remainder of his term, which would have ended in January. For a video report on the elections and the San Pedro Sula protest, visit The Real News dot com feature on youtube, Honduras: an election validated by blood and repression. The interviews in this story were excerpted from this feature.
December 6th marked the one year anniversary of the police killing of a 15 year old boy in Greece. The killing of Alexis Grigoropoulos in Athens sparked months of social upheaval including building occupations, riots, attacks on police, police stations, banks, and the suspension of university classes. Thousands of anarchists took to the streets following the killing of Grigoropoulos and continued to organize demonstrations, building occupations, and confrontations with fascist groups throughout 2009.
To commemorate the anniversary of the police shooting, 15,000 people marched in Athens, and they were met by approximately 10,000 police. The march was quickly attacked by police and they tear-gassed, beat, and arrested the demonstrators. Greece's Universities have an asylum policy where police are not allowed to enter the campuses. This policy was broken when riot police arrested protestors at the Athens Law School. Students have been protesting the violation of this policy with building occupations in Athens and Thessaloniki.
From Saturday December 5th until Monday the 7th, at least 823 people have been detained across the country; of these, 159 have officially been arrested and charged. These are only the confirmed numbers; actual numbers might be higher.
For more information on the situation, go to http://karakok.wordpress.com
Columbus Community Radio Foundation brings us "On this day in History " for December 7th:
You're listening to Rustbelt Radio, the Pittsburgh Independent Media Center's weekly review of news from the grassroots.
On December first, the fourth largest defense contractor in the world, Los Angeles based Northrop Grumman, announced at a press conference in Washington D.C. the formation of the Cybersecurity Research Consortium or NGCRC. This new corporate funded initiative has been created to address "known and unknown threats to critical infrastructure, public safety and e-commerce". The 5 year contract awarded by Northrop Grumman will provide millions of dollars annually, according to their chief technology officer, Robert Brammer. The initiative is composed of 10 different projects distributed amongst three universities, including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Perdue University, and Pittsburgh's Carnegie Mellon University.
Carnegie Mellon's history of military research is nothing new. Recent anti-war protests against CMU's Robotics Engineering Institute in Lawrenceville has brought attention to it's research being used against civilian populations in the Iraq and Afghanistan occupations. Pittsburgh activist, David Mereian speaks about CMU's robotics research and it's relation to cyber security:
In January 2009, Northrop Grumman won a federally funded, National Cyber Range Contract,with the Department of Defense. The purpose of the research is to find "new technologies to protect against modern cyber threats".
Cyber security has recently gained increased interest with the introduction of new legislation entitled, the Cyber Security Act of 2009. Privacy concerns have been raised about questionable provisions in the bill that allow for the federal government to interfere with the internet, in case of a national cyber security threat. David speaks about cyber security and it's military applications:
Carnegie Mellon is host to CyLab, a cyber security research program that is set to receive the grant from Northrop Grumman. CyLab works closely with the Software Engineering Institute (SEI) which is also located on Carnegie Mellon's campus. We speak with David Mereian about SEI's involvement with military research:
CERT or the Computer Emergency Response Team is a program of the Software Engineering Institute. David speaks about the cyber security work they do and the role that plays in the repression of dissent in Pittsburgh:
David continues explaining SEI's role in Pittsburgh:
CMU's collaboration with private military firms raises concerns about academic freedom and the threat this research poses to it. David speaks:
We'll be back after this musical break:
That was Manu Chao with Rainin In Paradize.
This December, up to 20,000 people will descend on Copenhagen, Denmark for the COP15 climate change conference, which aims to negotiate a successor agreement to the Kyoto Protocol. In the lead up to the conference, the issue of climate change has been hotly debated and discussed in the US, as this country is seen as one of the key players that must pledge to reduce carbon emissions. Uprising Radio from Los Angeles brings us an update on the situation as they interview Rick Piltz, Director of Climate Science Watch.
You were listening to an interview on Uprising Radio with Rick Piltz, the Director of Climate Science Watch. For more from Uprising Radio go to www.uprisingradio.org
And now we present the Indymedia Calendar of Events:
[ Outro Music ]
Thanks for tuning in to Rustbelt Radio here on WRCT Pittsburgh, WNJR Washington, WIUP Indiana, and WOBC Oberlin.
Our hosts this week are Carlin Christy, Gretchen Neidert, and Khalid Harun with contributions from Khalid Harun, Seth Bearden, Carlin Christy, Jessica McPherson, Gretchen Neidert, and Keith DeVries. This week's show was produced by Deren Guler and Jon Heiman. 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.