community-based, non-corporate, participatory media
On today's show: 1960's radical Mark Rudd speaks in Pittsburgh, Trials of those arrested during the G20 continue, Dr. Mazin Qumsiyeh [PRONOUNCE: MAH - zin kum SEE yeh] on the history of Palestinian nonviolent activism, News from the canada-us border and more in our local and global headlines.
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Rustbelt Radio for March 15, 2010
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.
Dr. Qumsiyeh spoke to why he thought people outside of Palestine may not be familiar with this history:
He argues that this bias leads to portrayal of multifaceted Palestinian movements as exclusively violent:
Qumsieh described many examples of resistance in daily life in Palestine:
Dr. Mazen Qumsieh’s new book, which will be published this year, is titled “Hope and Empowerment: A History of Popular Resistance in Palestine”. In two weeks we’ll bring you more from his talk in Pittsburgh, including his research on Palestinian popular uprisings and his experience with increasing Israeli harassment of nonviolent activists, which he believes may be initiating a new uprising.
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.
On 16 March 2003, American peace activist Rachel Corrie was crushed by an Israeli bulldozer as she tried to prevent the demolition of the family home of a Palestinian doctor in the Gaza Strip. On 10 March, an Israeli court in Haifa began hearing testimonies in a civil trial brought by her parents.
In a statement, Rachel's parent's Cindy and Craig Corrie said:
"March 16th marks the seven-year anniversary of Rachel’s killing. We hope to mark this day as a “Day of Conscience” with a large gathering that calls for truth, accountability and justice, in Rachel’s case and beyond. There will also be events in Gaza (at the Rachel Corrie Children and Youth Cultural Center in Rafah), the West Bank, and around the world. If you are not with us in Palestine/Israel, please think about how you and your group/community can be visible/audible on March 16. We expect this to be a challenging time, but we know the friendship we have felt from so many of you over the years will help us navigate the weeks ahead. Though the course and outcome of the trial are unknown, we welcome the opportunity to raise and highlight many of the critical issues to which Rachel’s case is linked."
Protests have erupted across Greece in response to a new financial austerity plan signed into law by the Greek government. The government has been under heavy pressure from the European Union to resolve its debt crisis; the austerity plan cuts government spending while increasing tax revenues. The plan freezes pensions, cuts public sector pay, and increases the general sales tax, as well as taxes on cigarettes, alcohol, fuel, and luxury goods.
Six months ago it was revealed that Greece’s debt was twice as high as public records to date had shown. European Union members are required to have debt less than 3 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product. Greece’s debt, at 12% of the GDP, is four times greater than that limit. However, it is comparable Britain’s debt load, and in relation to national GDP it is lower than the debt of Japan and the United States.
The faulty recording of the debt was engineered at the time of Greece’s entry into the European Union, and aided by prominent banking firms such as Goldman Sachs. Other EU members similarly masked their debt in order to gain entry.
The Greek debt has been incurred for several reasons. Corruption is rampant in the government, in part because employees are paid low wages. Furthermore, the government did not set aside pension wages into a pension fund as they were paid, and now has incurred enormous pension obligations. However, since the initial discovery, the financial crisis has worsened because of speculation. The same banks that helped to hide the level of Greek debt together created a market for debt insurance. Speculative trading has driven the price of the debt insurance higher and higher, thus increasing market fears about Greece, and making it more expensive for Greece to get loans to service its debt.
As speculators have profited from trading on the Greek crisis, causing it to worsen in the mind of the market, the material facts of the Greek economy have not changed. With the new austerity plan, however, the crisis will now be paid for from the salaries of government employees and the pensions of retired workers. There is widespread anger at this plan among the citizenry. 3 million workers, out of a total labor force of 4.9 million, participated in a general strike on Thursday march 11. The strike shut down almost all transportation in the country, and closed all the banks, schools, and public offices. 150 thousand people came to public demonstrations in Athens, Greece’s largest city, in the largest public demonstration in fifteen years. In an effort to directly prevent the austerity measures from taking effect, striking interior ministry employees have occupied the government printing press. Under Greek law, all new legislation must be printed in the Government Gazette before it can take effect. The government is now pulled between massive grassroots opposition to the reforms, and pressure from other members of the EU. The three major umbrella unions that called the strikes, in response to the anger of their members, provide essential voting blocks for the socialist government now in power. However, the other members of the EU fear that the Greek crisis will destabilize the value of the Euro, and are leaning heavily on Greece. Other EU members, including Spain, Italy, Portugal, and Ireland, have similar weaknesses in their economies. Since financial markets respond so heavily to fear and speculation, containing the Greek crisis is seen as a way to lessen the spread of speculative responses into these economies.
On March 4th, protests were held all across California against proposed cuts in the state education budget. The new cuts would raise university tuition 32 percent, and would also affect the states’ public schools systems. Since 2007, 24 billion has already been cut from the education budget. Schools have been closed, hundreds of teachers laid off, and class sizes reach 40 students in some schools. The protests included walk outs from public schools, mass marches, and building occupations. Hundreds of thousands of people across the state took part, including a wide spectrum of students, teachers, university support staff, and faculty. In the bay area, after a march that drew over 10,000 people, several hundred protesters blocked interstate 880, until police brutally mass arrested 144 of them. Indymedia video footage shows the police beating people with truncheons who are already on the ground with their hands up. During the police push to arrest the protesters, a high school student also fell off the interstate to land 30 feet below. He is recovering from head trauma and broken bones. At UCLA, students marched to the chancellor’s office with a list of demands. When the office refused to see them, they read their demands outside with a megaphone.
The students held a sit-in lasting 5 hours. The only response was from a vice chancellor who said that there would be no statement from the office, and no meeting. The March 4th demonstrations are the result of a massive organizing effort across all sectors of public education. Student groups; unions representing teachers, professors, graduate students, and university employees; and parent advocate groups all came together last fall at the Mobilizing Conference to Save Public Education. After hours of open collective discussion, the participants voted democratically, as their main decision, to call for a Strike and Day of Action on March 4. All schools, unions and organizations were free to choose their specific demands and tactics.
California Governor Arnold Schwartzennager has publicly agreed that the state's budget priorities are misplaced:
However, his solution was to propose privatization of the prison system to cut costs. Critics responded that a far more effective and just cost cutting measure would be to change the drug laws that have massively expanded the state’s prison population. Civil rights lawyer Michelle Alexander wrote in the LA Progressive: (quote) The skyrocketing incarceration rates of the past three decades have not affected all segments of California’s population equally. African Americans and Latinos have been hardest hit, thanks largely to the war on drugs — a war that has targeted people of color for drug crimes, even though studies show they are no more likely to use or sell illegal drugs than whites. (endquote).
For more coverage of the pro-education demonstrations in California visit the websites for Bay Area indymedia, www.indybay.org, and Los Angeles Indymedia, la.indymedia.org.
Meanwhile the fate of a major student loan reform bill, the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act, known as SAFRA, has become linked to the passage of health care reform. SAFRA would expand pell grants and perkins loans, which help low income students pay for college. It would also remove private banks as middlemen in the federal student loan process. All new loans would be through the direct loan program, directly between the government and the borrower. Currently, the loan money comes from the government, but more federal money is then paid in subsidies for banks to administer the loans, which are guaranteed by the government and therefore risk free for the banks. The change would save between 67 and 87 billion dollars, insulate student loans from economic swings affecting private lenders, and protect students from the extortionary practices of private lenders.
SAFRA passed the House of Representatives last September, but has not been introduced into the Senate because of fears of a Republican filibuster. Now democrats plan to try to pass SAFRA through the budget reconciliation process, which requires only a 50-vote majority. However, only one budget reconciliation bill can be passed per year, and Obama hopes to pass health care reform in the same bill. Currently, student advocates are pressuring Congress to pass the bill, but private lenders are lobbying against it, many of whom make substantial campaign contributions to members of congress.
That was Anakbayan, with a new song written about the education crisis in California.
You're listening to Rustbelt Radio, the Pittsburgh Independent Media Center's weekly review of news from the grassroots.
In Part 2 of an ongoing series, Deconstructing Borders examines the U.S. - Canada border as a unique space where the government can search and interrogate people who otherwise avoid such close interaction with authorities.
1960's radical Mark Rudd has recently released a book entitled "Underground: My Life with SDS and the Weathermen." This book explores his involvement in political organizing as a young student at Columbia University, to becoming a founding member of the Weather Underground. He spoke at a local bookstore in Pittsburgh on March 2nd, and the next night at the University of Pittsburgh to a large crowd of students, activists, and anarchists.
During his first appearance, Mark spoke about how he got involved in organizing in college and later described the perspective he has developed over the past 40 years regarding the Weather Underground's use of violent tactics.
During Mark Rudd's presentation at Pitt, he was curious to speak the audience about the G20. He questioned the attendees as to the goals of the G20 demonstrations.
As the dialogue around the G20 progressed, several audience members found themselves at odds with Rudd's statements. Many attendees argued with Rudd, and walked out in a mix of disgust and frustration with his perceptions of how activists approached the G20 in Pittsburgh.
The entire recordings of both of Mark Rudd's appearances in Pittsburgh will appear on our website shortly. Check indypgh.org to hear the complete version of these presentations.
And now we present the Indymedia Calendar of Events:
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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.
Rudd was Maddening!
by PJD Tuesday, Mar. 16, 2010 at 2:31 PM
I found Rudd to just about the most condescending washed-up hippie, and sold out, bourgois asshole I have ever heard. And that is saying a lot from someone who is fairly old (in his 50's) himself.
I am seeing a rather revisionist form of "nonviolence" being promoted by the older activist set - one which Thoreau or Gandhi would not recognize. In this new form of "nonviolence" any kind of confrontation, even a raised voice, is called "being violent". They even have condemned as "violent" peaceful disobiedient protest that lead to police aggrssion - the "violence" being on the part of the protestor, not the cop!
As for me, whether helpful of unhelpful to a cause, I never considered damage to an unliving object to be "violence".
I agree a lot of these older activists have basically become sold-out defenders of their own bourgeois provlege. Rudd no doubt has a nice spread in Albuquerque, and a fat income from his books. He want's to keep that.
What I also found maddening about Rudd was his deliberate refusal to address the woman who had pointed out that it was the burning cities, more than MLK, that spurred the political system to do something about racism. More recently, in Oakland, California, it wasn't until there was some rioting and property damage that the city government there moved to arrest the BART cop who killed Oscar Grant on January 1, 2009.
The inconvienient truth is that at some places and times, so-called "violence" (i.e. property damage) has been effective at bringing social progress. It is not hard to see why. One only wrests a concession from someone more powerful than you if you can threaten to disable their means to use that power. In most cases, it is an orderly obidient populace, and and the servicability of their property that powerful depend on, so if that can be thretened they will come to the table to talk.