community-based, non-corporate, participatory media
On today's show: North Side Residents express concern over closing Pittsburgh Rooney 6-8, The Fraternal Order of the Police exercise their first amendment rights--and abuse of power--at this year's St. Patrick's Day parade, Mazin Qumsiyeh speaks on popular resistance in Palestine, Voices from Kinks, Locks and Twists; a Reproductive and Environmental Justice Conference in Pittsburgh, And more in our local and global headlines.
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Rustbelt Radio for March 29, 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.
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We turn now to local stories.
On Wednesday, March 24, 2010 the Pittsburgh School Board voted 8-1 to close the Pittsburgh Rooney six through eight middle school after this academic year. Prior to this decision, on March 3rd, a community forum was held in the North Side to discuss the proposal to end the Rooney 6-8 program and move Pittsburgh Morrow, a Kindergarten through fifth grade school into the Rooney building. At the forum, Deputy Superintendent Linda Lane and Assistant Superintendent for Secondary Schools Derrick Lopez presented the plan to North Side residents, who then voiced their concerns with closing the Pittsburgh Rooney Program.
North Side resident John Canning urged the district to reconsider closing Pittsburgh Rooney this year, because more time is needed to effectively restructure the school.
Pete Bellisario, President of the Brighten Heights Citizens Federation, said that he feels K through eight schools are a good idea, but the Rooney 6-8 program should not be ended before a suitable K through eight system has been developed. Bellisario has a daughter who works at a K through eight school in San Francisco.
City Councilwoman Darlene Harris echoed the call for more time for the Rooney program, adding parent and community involvement is necessary to the development of a successful program.
* darleneharris1.ogg: 1:55
The School Board also voted to close Pittsburgh Vann k through five in the Hill District and approved changing Pittsburgh Weil, another Hill District school, from a k to eight program to a k through five program at the start of the 2010-2011 school year.
A new first has come to Pittsburgh: a festival combining the arts, technology, and environmental sectors. The Geek Arts/Green Innovators is a new event taking place on Friday April 2nd, as part of the First Friday Unblurred events along Penn Avenue in Garfield. According to the festival's website, The Geek Art/Green Innovators--or GAGI festival "was created as a platform to showcase current, unique and innovative projects, products and art created by the green and technology industries."
This event will feature dozens of activities, and is an official part of the UN's World Environment Day which takes place on June 5th.
Rustbelt Radio had a chance to speak with the Festival's Co-Founder and Director, Christine Bethea. We first asked her to talk about the inspiration behind the event:
Once again, you can go to www.gagifestival.blogspot.com to see the list of events taking place on Friday April 2nd.
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 corpulent media. We turn now to news from other independent media sources around the world.
The Kinks, Locks, and Twists: Environmental and Reproductive Justice Conference was held in Pittsburgh on March 13th. New Voices Pittsburgh, Women of Color for Reproductive Justice hosted the event, which included a panel discussion and break out groups.
La'Tasha D. Mayes, a co-founder of New Voices Pittsburgh, says environmental justice and reproductive justice should be seen as a human rights. She commented on their intersection in the lives of women of color:
Issues of race, class and gender around climate change were addressed by panelist and workshop leader Jacqui Patterson. She founded Women of Color United and is Director of the Climate Justice Initiative at the NAACP. She talked about how reproductive justice and climate change are linked and how some common notions about climate change have been twisted.
Another panelist, Danyell Williams, talked about how reproductive justice affects women in a harsh and often inhumane environment- the US prison system. 200,000 women are incarcerated now in the United States.
Williams calls pregnant inmates the "invisible population", and says many are in prison as a result of drug and low level violence charges. She works as program coordinator of the MOMobile at the Riverside Correctional Facility in Philadelphia, serving these women and their children in the criminal justice system. As part of the Anti-Shackling Subcommittee, Williams worked to end the practice of shacking female prisoners while they are in labor. A Pennsylvania Senate bill banning the practice state-wide has been passed. When it is signed by the governor, it will make Pennsylvania only the 9th state to pass such legislation.
The Kinks, Locks and Twists Conference was part of Women of Color HERStory Month 2010. More information at www.womenofcolorherstory.org.
This week marks the 30th anniversary of the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero in El Salvador. Romero was a champion of social justice and reconciliation during El Salvador’s bitter civil war. More than 75,000 Salvadorans died during the war, most of them killed by Salvadoran military forces, which the United States financed and trained. In February 1980, just weeks before his death, Romero wrote to President Jimmy Carter:
(quote) _Because you are a Christian and because you have shown that you want to defend human rights, I venture to make a specific request of you. I am very concerned by the news that the government of the United States is planning to further El Salvador’s arms race by sending military equipment and advisors to ‘train three Salvadoran battalions in logistics, communications, and intelligence.
As a Salvadoran and archbishop of the archdiocese of San Salvador, I have an obligation to see that faith and justice reign in my country, I ask you, if you truly want to defend human rights:
Romero was assassinated while saying mass on March 24th, 1980. He used the homily in the weekly mass as a means to send messages into society questioning oppression, injustice, and war. The day before his assassination, Romero gave this message in his sermon.
(quote) I would like to make an appeal in a special way to the men of the army, to the police, to those in the barracks. Brothers, you are part of our own people. You kill your own campesino brothers and sisters. And before an order to kill that a man may give, the law of God must prevail that says: Thou shalt not kill! No soldier is obliged to obey an order against the law of God. No one has to fulfill an immoral law. It is time to recover your consciences and to obey your consciences rather than the orders of sin. In the name of God, and in the name of this suffering people whose laments rise to heaven each day more tumultuously, I beg you, I ask you, I order you in the name of God: Stop the repression! (endquote)
Romero’s assassination was planned by right-wing politicians and businessmen, including some who were trained at the School of the Americas in Fort Benning, Georgia. The digital newspaper El Faro has just published an exclusive interview with some of the men involved in the killing, who allege that Robert D’aubisson, a prominent politician and former leader of the ARENA party, orchestrated the killing.
This year, in a landmark election, ARENA, the right wing party that ruled El Salvador throughout the civil war and at the time of Romero’s assassination, was defeated. Mauricio Funes, candidate for the leftist FMLN and a television journalist who covered many of the human rights abuses of the civil war, was elected president. Funes issued this statement to mark the anniversary of Romero’s death.
(quote) I ask forgiveness from the thousands of families who were affected by this type of illegal and unacceptable violence, and especially to members of the religious communities represented by the spirit of Monsignor Romero and who maintain alive his legacy of peace and respect for human rights. Again, as president of the republic, I ask for forgiveness in the name of the Salvadoran state for this assassination that occurred thirty years ago and which took our best patriot from us. (endquote)
Archibishop Romero’s last words were:
(quote) May this body immolated and this blood sacrificed for humans nourish us also, so that we may give our body and blood to suffering and to pain – like Christ, not for ourselves, but to teach justice and peace to our people. (endquote)
You're listening to Rustbelt Radio, the Pittsburgh Independent Media Center's weekly review of news from the grassroots.
We now bring you part two of a feature with Palestinian author and activist Mazin Qumsiyeh speaking on the history of non-violent resistance in Palestine. Qumsiyeh spoke in Pittsburgh at an event hosted by the Palestine Solidarity Committee on March 2nd. He has written a new book, Popular Resistance In Palestine, which will be published later this year. In part one of this feature on our last show, Qumsiyeh outlined the history of a century and a half of non-violent Palestinian resistance and described many examples. Today we’ll cover resistance in Qumsiyeh’s hometown of Beit Zahour, his research into the patterns of popular uprising throughout Palestinian history, and his outlook on the future.
During the first Intifada, there was a movement for Palestinians to boycott Israeli taxes. According to a statement from the organizers (quote) No taxation without representation. The military authorities do not represent us, and we did not invite them to come to our land. Must we pay for the bullets that kill our children or for the expenses of the occupying army? (endquote)
Qumsiyeh describes his own village’s participation in the tax strike.
The Israeli army also blocked food shipments into the town, cut telephone lines to the town, tried to bar reporters from the town, and imprisoned forty residents. The property seizures totaled millions of dollars in money and property belonging to 350 families. For his book, Qumsiyeh researched the history of how popular uprisings come into being:
In recent months, harassment of pro-Palestinian activists has increased, especially of those involved in non-violent resistance. Over 30 activists have been arrested in the village of Bilin over the past year, where non-violent protests are held each week. Many others have been arrested in Ni’lin, Al-Ma’sara and elsewhere. On the Tuesday before Qumsiyeh spoke in Pittsburgh, at 1:30 am the Israeli army put up road blocks in his village and came to his home demanding to see him. Qumsiyeh had already left for the United States, but the army awakened his wife, sister, and elderly mother.
Qumsiyeh believes the central issue in Palestine is human rights. He is chairmen of the board of directors for the Palestinian Center for Rapproachment Between Peoples, which works to promote grassroots dialogue and joint work between Palestinians and people from different nationalities.
That was Mazin Qumsiyeh speaking in Pittsburgh on March 2nd. He has since finished his speaking tour and returned home to Beit Zahour, with no further visits from the Israeli Army to date. His new book is called Popular Resistance in Palestine and will be published later this year.
And now we present the Indymedia Calendar of Events:
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Our hosts this week are Garth Porter and Jessica McPherson with contributions from Carlin Christy, Emily DeMarco, Kara Holsopple, Jessica McPherson, Nigel Parry, and Garth Porter. This week's show was produced by 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.