community-based, non-corporate, participatory media
On today's show: The debate about Marcellus Shale drilling heats up around Pittsburgh; The School Board votes 8-0 on a controversial East End Plan; Mountain Top Removal activists block entrance of DEP headquarters in West Virginia; A jury finds David Japenga guilty of vandalism during the G20 Summit and more in our local and global headlines.
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Rustbelt Radio for August 30th, 2010
Welcome to this week's edition of Rustbelt Radio, the Pittsburgh Independent Media Center's bi-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.
Rustbelt Radio continues bringing you segments from The Green Compass. This series of environmental stories was created through a collaboration between The Heinz Endowments Youth Philanthropy Program and the Saturday Light Brigade. Today's piece focuses on energy use and carbon footprints.
Stay tuned to future Rustbelt Radio episodes for more from the Green Compass.
On August 25th, after serving nearly 10 months on house arrest, a jury found David Japenga guilty of breaking the windows of three businesses in Oakland during the G-20 summit last year.
Mr. Japenga was charged with three counts of criminal mischief and one count each of possessing instruments of crime and making false identification to law enforcement.
Dave Japenga was arrested the night of September 24, 2009 following a demonstration where over a 150 people dressed in black and concealing their identity marched in Oakland. During the march, the windows of corporate chain stores were broken and spray painted in order to bring attention to the corporate influence at the G20 Summit.
The march was organized by Bash Back!, a loosely organized network of anti-authoritarian queer groups that are influenced by other groups like Act Up, and events like the Stonewall and White Night riots.
The evidence used against Mr. Japenga is based on the testimony of an undercover state trooper who was present during the march.
We speak with Mr. Japenga’s attorney, Patrick Nightingale:
Following the jury's decision, a demonstration was organized that evening in support of David Japenga. Approximately 30 of David's friends and supporters rallied for him outside of the Allegheny County Jail where he was housed.
For about a half an hour, they chanted "David Japenga" and "Down with the police" while banging on metal guardrails with rocks, lighting road flares and smoke bombs, and playing music over a stereo. Inmates flicked their lightswitches and banged on their windows in response.
The Pittsburgh chapter of the prisoner support organization Anarchist Black Cross is accepting donations for Mr. Japenga's legal fees and commissary while in jail.
David Japenga can also receive money orders with his DOC number written on them to his Allegheny County Jail address.
You are listening to Rustbelt Radio, the Pittsburgh Independent Media Center's bi-weekly review of news overlooked by the corporate media.
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We turn now to news from other independent media sources around the world.
Rustbelt Radio brings you the following report from the Earth First Newswire:
Joe Hamsher and Sarah Seeds, activists with Climate Ground Zero, were arrested Thursday August 26th while blocking the entrance to the headquarters of the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).
The protesters chained themselves to a metal barrel in front of the DEP and remained locked to the barrel for an hour and a half. They painted the following statement on the barrel : Department Of Easy Permits: Closed.”
Seeds and Hamsher seek to condemn the DEP for sanctioning mountaintop removal mining and for failing to enforce the Clean Water Act. According to Hamsher, a West Virginia native: “There is no way to operate a mountaintop removal mine without violating the Clean Water Act. Even CEO of Massey Energy, Don Blankenship admitted that in Charleston when he debated Robert Kennedy. The DEP ought to step up and do their job by enforcing the Clean Water Act. But instead, Randy Huffman, and his boss Joe Manchin, try to find loopholes around it.”
The activists have been charged with trespassing, obstruction of justice, and disrupting government processes. Their bail was set at $5000 dollars each. Hamsher has posted bail. Seeds remains locked up at South Central Regional Jail in Kanawha County.
Hamsher, Seeds, and Climate Ground Zero will continue to hold the DEP accountable for its crimes against West Virginia.
In addition to putting pressure on the DEP, Climate Ground Zero and its allies will be gathering in Washington D.C. on September 25 through September 27 for Appalachia Rising, a mass mobilization to call for an end to mountaintop removal mining and bring the issue to the national stage.
In related news, the Environmental Integrity Project, Earthjustice, and the Sierra Club released a report entitled “In Harms Way”, about the perilous threat that coal ash poses to the US’s water supply. The report condemns mismanagement of coal ash, toxic waste produced at coal-fired power plants. 150 million tons of coal ash have been disposed of into ponds and dumps nationwide. Hazardous toxicity was measured at 39 sites over 21 states, and high toxicity levels were found 100% of sites surveyed. Studies based on the groundwater near La Grange, Texas, and Joilet, Illinois, provide excellent examples of the report's findings.
Prompted by the Tennessee Valley Authority disaster of 2008 where 500 million gallons of coal ash flowed into the Tennessee river, the EPA has finally begun hearings to set a national standard for ponds or landfills used to dispose of waste from burning. The first of seven hearings will take place on Monday, August 30th in Arlington, West Virginia.
Meanwhile, the Obama administration has come out against a lawsuit that calls coal burning plants a “public nuisance.” Seeking to hold coal plants liable for their role in causing Climate Change, this lawsuit made it to the Supreme Court. However, Obama has taken the part of the power companies, insisting that the placement of power plants is a political, not a judicial, matter, and should therefore be decided in legislative bodies rather than the courts. Even Obama’s allies are flabbergasted at this stance on climate change.
This has been a report from the Earth First Newswire via Rustbelt Radio. For more information, go to climategroundzero.net and earthfirstnewswire.wordpress.com
You're listening to Rustbelt Radio, the Pittsburgh Independent Media Center's bi-weekly review of news from the grassroots.
* DonnaKey02.flac: DonnaKey02 (0:30)
That was Donna Key, President of the parent-teacher association at Lincoln High School, expressing her frustration during a community meeting this summer. The topic? The Pittsburgh Public School District's East End Reconfiguration Plan, which will close doors, combine facilities, and restructure how the students are taught.
Despite concerns about the proposed changes, the District was granted the go-ahead from the School Board. In an eight to zero vote on August 25th, the hotly contested plan is now official.
The East End Reconfiguration Plan is the latest installment of Excel-12, a blueprint that addresses declining enrollment and low test scores in what the District has identified as "failing schools."
Among the changes slated to take effect during the 2011-2012 school year, the Plan shifts students from Peabody High School and Lincoln junior high to Westinghouse High School, which will then serve grades 6-12. And, for the first time in a Pittsburgh public school, the building will transform into "two, single-gender academies." In other words, boys and girls will walk the halls together, but will have specially tailored classes for each gender.
While some organizations--including the Pennsylvania ACLU--have raised concerns over the constitutionality of single-sex classrooms in a public school, much of the controversy has centered around a lack of transparency from the District. To fill in the gap, parents and community members hosted meetings to discuss the proposed changes. At one such event, Dr. Marilyn (Mar-lynn) Barnett, teacher, administrator and former Principal at Westinghouse, spoke on behalf of the NAACP.
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Alongside the community meetings, the District hosted public hearings at the Administration Building in Oakland. During the most recent hearing--just days before the School Board would cast their final vote--Gayle Moss, President of the Pittsburgh NAACP, criticized the disconnect between the District's proposal and the community members' wishes.
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During the same hearing however, many countered the criticisms of the Reconfiguration Plan, voicing support and encouragement. Among those was Kiva Fisher-Green. Parent and Homewood resident, she contested that the single-gender academies at Westinghouse would offer a rare opportunity to many families in her community.
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Also in support of the changes was Vanessa German, a Homewood resident & spoken-word artist.
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Over the course of the summer--and on both sides of the debate--a common narrative is evident: change is needed.
Assistant Superintendent Derrick Lopez, spoke with Rustbelt Radio about how teachers will be trained to facilitate a single-gender curriculum at Westinghouse.
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While the District has yet to unveil its final list of consultants who will facilitate the training, single-gender education supporters have been closely monitoring the proceedings. Cheryl Boise of the Commonwealth Education Organization, weighed in on the proposed changes. Her organization specializes in teacher training for private, parochial and public schools.
* CherylBoise01.flac: (1:30)
The East End Reconfiguration Plan will be moving forward--including the single-gender classrooms at Westinghouse--whether or not the community is behind the the District. During the upcoming months, many expect to learn more about how the plan will affect their children.
Tania Wilbon, whose three sons attend Westinghouse, spoke to Rustbelt Radio about her concern that the District has signed off her neighborhood to an experiment rather than a well-thought out plan.
* TaniaWilbon01.flac: (1:00)
Like any parent, Wilbon is looking at what the future will look like for her children. She questioned what life lessons the students at Westinghouse might take away from their experience in a single-gender environment.
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That was anti-marcellus drilling activist Loretta Weir, whose Pittsburgh neighborhood faces impending drilling activity.
In another Marcellus-related event on Friday, August 27th, at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health... the Center for Healthy Environments & Communities presented information on hydrofracturing, or fracking, in Pennsylvania. Charles Christen, Director of Operations, presented an overview of the hydrofracturing process itself. Samantha Malone, Communications Specialist, demonstrated their crowdsourcing documentary tool, Frack Tracker at fracktracker.org, a catalogue and interactive visual aid of citizen-input fracking-related incidents. Conrad Dan Volz, Principal Investigator, outlined the potential sources of health risk from hydrofracturing to surrounding community and environment. The panel then held a Q&A discussion. The following recordings are answers made by Dan Volz.
An audience member questioned the panel about the structural integrity of the leech pit plastic liners and the cement well casings after prolonged exposure to the brine and chemicals used and produced in fracking.
This led to discussion on infrastructure repercussions of high Total Dissolved Solids (a term used to indicate levels of salts and other minerals in water) in the Monongehela River, the basin of which is currently receiving frack water at more than 10 municipal waste treatment facilities.
These salts come out of the water and crystallize on industrial machinery, interfering with operation.
This raises the question: What is the source of the frac water these trucks are disposing of in West Virginia? Are these truckloads of frac water all sourced from West Virginia hydrofracturing operations, or are the drilling companies hauling waste water from Pennsylvania fracking operations down to West Virginia to exploit more lenient dumping or disposal regulations in that state?
An audience member asked if the wells drilled down to the Marcellus layer can be re-used to drill deeper layers in future.
Another audience member asked what effect drilling is having on the food chain.
The audience and the panel had some back and forth about the need to identify the specific compounds used to fracture the shale layer and the need to know the parameters of the possible health effects of them.
You can stay current with documentation and research from Center for Healthy Environments & Communities, as well as citizen documentation, at fracktracker.org
A Pittsburgh City Council Public Hearing on the Marcellus Shale Petition is scheduled for Monday, September 13, 2010 at 7:00 P.M. in the Council Chambers in downtown Pittsburgh.
That was The Tale of Marcellus Shale, by local musician Mike Stout.
And now we present the Indymedia Calendar of Events:
[ Outro Music ]
Thanks for tuning in to Rustbelt Radio here on WRCT Pittsburgh, WIUP Indiana, WNJR Washington, and FRSC Santa Cruz.
Our hosts this week are Nigel Parry and Lizzie Anderson with contributions from Carlin Christy, Alicia Bryan, Emily DeMarco, Seth Bearden, Jessica McPherson, and Nigel Parry. 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 bi-weekly review of news from the grassroots.
updates on our latest episode
by Mike Friday, Sep. 24, 2010 at 11:12 AM
Get the full info from IMC-PGH here