community-based, non-corporate, participatory media
On today's show: FBI Harrasment of Anti-War Activists Continues In the Twin Cities; A look at the first Latino mural in Pittsburgh; The Rachel Carson Homestead challenges Marcellus Shale drilling in its 2010 legacy conference; Appalachia Rising converges on Washington to demand an end to mountaintop removal coal mining and more in our local and global headlines
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Rustbelt Radio for October 11, 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.
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We turn now to local stories.
* JovenesSinNombres_Mural.flac: (9:30)
That was Free Palestine by Head Roc.
[ 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 bi-weekly review of news overlooked by the corporate media. We turn now to news from other independent media sources around the world.
On September 24, the FBI raided the homes of anti-war and international solidarity activists and delivered grand jury subpoenas to activists across the country. The subpoenas claim that the grand jury is investigating violations of a 1996 law on the issue of “material support” of “designated foreign terrorist organizations.”
On June 21, 2010, the Supreme Court held, by a 6-to-3 vote on the 1996 law, that the statute's prohibitions on "expert advice," "training," "service," and "personnel" were not vague, and did not violate speech or associational rights as applied to plaintiffs' intended activities.
The activists targeted in the raids are people who have been very involved in the anti-war and international solidarity movements for many years. They worked together to organize an anti-war protest attended by ten thousand activists at the Republican National Convention in 2008. Some of those targeted have traveled to other countries to understand our government’s role in places like Palestine and Colombia. While there, they met with people to learn about their experience facing brutal repression from U.S. sponsored regimes, and brought their stories back to people in the U.S. Hearing about the reality of U.S. military aid is not a crime, and yet this appears to be the target of this investigation.
Following the FBI raids and confiscations of computers and documents in Chicago and Minneapolis two weeks ago, FBI agents have continued their campaign against anti-war activists in the Twin Cities this week. Jennie Eisert, a member of the Anti-War Committee said, "FBI agents came to my work and wanted to talk to me about activists in the anti-war movement. I was called away from my desk, and when I refused to talk to them, they tried to turn me against my friends and fellow activists." She continued, "They said that Jess Sundin, Meredith Aby and Mick Kelly had manipulated me and others in the anti-war movement. The only ones trying to manipulate me are these FBI agents."
Eisert concluded, "It is insulting that federal agents would try to make me talk to them by attacking the personal and political relationships that I've had with Jess and the others for more than ten years. To do this while I'm at work is harassment, plain and simple. These attempts to divide us will not work personally and it will not work in the movement."
Jess Sundin said, "The FBI is clearly trying to carry out a smear campaign in order to divide the movement." She added, "If that's their aim, it's going to blow up in their faces. We are people's neighbors, co-workers and friends . A few lies by FBI agents cannot undo the years that we have invested in our community. Instead, it will make people all the more sure that this investigation is nothing more than a fishing expedition."
Two other individuals in Minneapolis were also targeted by the FBI for visits this week. Local activists have continued to remind the community that they are not required to speak to FBI agents. They added that the FBI has tried using smear campaigns to damage movements in the past, exposing these tactics to the light of day is the best defense.
The Committee to Stop FBI Repression stated: "We fear the the government may be seeking to use the recent Supreme Court decision in Holder vs Humanitarian Law to attack conduct that clearly falls under the realm of freedom of speech and that we never imagined could be construed as [quote] 'material support for terrorism.'”
On October 5th, five anti-war and international solidarity activists from Chicago and Minneapolis announced they would be invoking their 5th amendment right to not testify in front of the Grand Jury.
Chicago activist Joe Iosbaker stated, “We have nothing to say to a Grand Jury. Most people do not understand how secretive and undemocratic the Grand Jury is. I am not allowed to have my lawyer with me. There isn’t even a judge. How strange is that? It is the U.S. prosecutor with 23 people they hand picked to pretty much rubber stamp whatever the prosecutor says. A person is defenseless in that situation.”
To follow developments in this case, visit the website of the Committee to Stop FBI Repression at STOPFBI.NET. This report was compiled from news releases from the targeted activists.
On the weekend of September 25-26th, opponents of mountaintop removal mining converged on Washington, DC for a weekend of movement building and action called Appalachia Rising. Participants addressed issues related to the lifecycle of coal, from its extraction through mountaintop removal mining, to toxic air pollution when it is burned, to the dangers of the poorly constructed and monitored impoundments where mountains of coal ash from power plants are stored. Organizers from Pittsburgh and New York presented on the impacts of Marcellus shale gas drilling; although Appalachia Rising focused on coal, many attendees were eager to learn more about the Marcellus issue. Some were also facing gas drilling in their own communities. Participants were eager to draw connections between the issues, and build solidarity across the region in the struggle against extractive industries.
Many workshops discussed the impacts coal has had on Appalachian communities, and looked beyond coal to more sustainable futures for coalfield communities. The Mountain Association for Community Economic Development, or MACED (PRONOUNCE: MAY-said), based in Kentucky, has recently published a report showing that coal’s contribution to the state budget is actually negative, rather than positive. Each year, the state spends 100 million dollars more to support the coal industry than it receives in revenues from the industry, even though it has a severance tax. Meanwhile, census figures show that the coalfields of Appalachia have some of the highest rates of poverty and unemployment rates in the nation.
The employment benefits are often overstated as well:
Although mining provides short-term employment to a few, it also leaves communities with permanent costs:
Adam Hall of West Virginia told his family’s story:
Those looking towards a more sustainable future are finding deaf ears in the halls of government:
However, many in attendance described their efforts trying to build solutions from the ground up, ranging from local agriculture movements to improvements in household energy efficiency to developing economies in tourism and artisanal crafts. And, if attendance at Appalachia Rising is any evidence, the grassroots movement is growing. On Monday S[ptember 27th, over a thousand people marched through the streets of DC to demand an end to mountaintop removal.
Adam Hall spoke again in front of the EPA:
Protesters occupied the offices of the EPA and of the corporate headquarters of PNC bank. PNC finances companies invested in mountaintop removal, as well as extractive industries of local concern here in Pennsylvania including longwall mining and Marcellus shale gas drilling. The march culminated with a sit-in on the sidewalk in front of the White House, where over a hundred people were arrested when they refused to leave until Obama lived up to his campaign promises to end mountaintop removal.
That was Michael Kline singing Billy Edd Wheeler's song "You Can't Put it Back".
You're listening to Rustbelt Radio, the Pittsburgh Independent Media Center's bi-weekly review of news from the grassroots.
The 2010 Rachel Carson Legacy Conference, held Friday September 24th in Pittsburgh, focused on the issue of Marcellus Shale Gas drilling. Presenters explored impacts on the environment, on human health, and on our communities. Dr. Anthony Ingraffea, a professor of engineering at Cornell University, framed the issue with his remarks in the first panel discussion:
Ingraffia also spoke of his experience visiting a wastewater treatment plant that has recently been built in Lock Haven, Pennsylvania to handle gas drilling waste fluids. The plant was built across a parking lot from a Wegman’s food supermarket.
Dusty Horwitt, Senior Council for the Environmental Working Group, spoke about EWG’ new research into the chemicals used in well fracking. The Environmental Working Group is a non-profit research and advocacy organization. EWG has been researching the effects of natural gas drilling for six years, starting out west and following the drilling east.
State Senator Jim Ferlo introduced the next set of panelists and offered his own take on the situation:
Lance Simmons from Governor Ed Rendell’s office:
The development of Marcellus shale gas in Pennsylvania has occurred entirely during the Rendell administration; Simmons did not speak to why Rendell had not worked to prevent its harms before opening the state to drilling, or to how the “vibrant” severance tax would restore the life-sustaining functions of polluted water and land.
Dr. Kent Moors of the Political Science Department at Duquesne University advises unconventional gas development projects around the United States and around the world. He spoke about the patterns he observes repeatedly when development begins.
He also addressed the liquid waste disposal problem.
He mentioned the impacts on local government services and local economies:
Moors said unconventional gas development, including shale and coalbed methane drilling, is now being considered around the world as a major new source of energy. He advises projects already underway in Europe. And, he says that China also has significant unconventional gas reserves which it will soon be developing, because China now relies heavily on coal power and wants to diversify.
Peggy Utesh, a landowner from Colorado who was directly affected by hydrofracturing, spoke about her work against the industry’s abuses.
Utesh emphasized that landowners and communities are left out of the process of planning gas drilling development.
The Pennsylvania Oil and Gas law guarantees that the owners of mineral right may access those minerals, even at substantial harm to landowners or natural features. It has been determined in Pennsylvania courts that the state law substantially prevents local governments from restricting industrial activity. However, in Colorado, citizens fought to change their state oil and gas law, and won.
More information from the conference is available at the Rachel Carson Homestead's website, www.rachelcarsonhomestead.org
In honor of the recent Columbus Day celebrations, that was Bruce Cockburn with "Stolen Land," from his 1990 album "Live."
And now we present the Indymedia Calendar of Events:
* There will be a screening of "South of the Border", a documentary film by Oliver Stone Followed by a Q and A session with Dan Beeton of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, who provided research support for the film, and John Beverley, Distinguished Professor of Hispanic Languages and Literatures at the University of Pittsburgh. Monday October 11th at 8pm at The Oaks Theater, 310 Allegheny River Blvd, in Oakmont.
* The Northside Coalition for Fair Housing hosts the 3rd Annual Women's Walk for Peace on Saturday October 16th, from 10AM to 4PM. National Syndicated Radio Host BEV SMITH will be the Keynote Speaker and Grammy Award Winner CHRISETTE MICHELE will perform. For more information visit www.womenswalk.org
* The First Statewide Conference on Marcellus/Natural Gas Drilling will be taking place on October 16th at the Radisson Hotel in Harrisburg. The conference is for community groups, activists, and homeowners who are concerned about effects of drilling in the Marcellus Shale. Sponsored by PennAction and the PA League of Conservation Voters. For more information e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
* There will be a screening of the G-20 Indymedia documentary "Democracy 101: What Happened At Pitt?" on October 19th at the University of Pittsburgh. The 25-minute film will be followed by a panel and audience discussion featuring filmmaker and student G-20 arrestee Keith DeVries; Beth Pittinger, Director of the Citizen Police Review Board; Sara Rose, ACLU staff attorney; Anthony Brino, student G-20 arrestee & ACLU plaintiff; Nigel Parry, Indymedia reporter; and Brandi Fisher from the Alliance for Police Accountability. October 19th at 8:30pm room 120 in David Lawrence Hall.
* The President of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Cecile Richards, will be joining us in Pittsburgh on October 21st to discuss the impact of the reproductive health movement on gender equality. There will be a short Q&A at the end of the presentation. The event takes place at 4PM in the Cathedral of Learning at the University of Pittsburgh, Room 144. This event is free and open to the public.
* "Paper Politics" is an ongoing exhibit at SPACE gallery of a major collection of contemporary politically and socially engaged printmaking. "Paper Politics" continues until October 24th, showcasing print art which uses themes of social justice and global equity to engage community members in political conversation. Visit spacepittsburgh.org for more information.
* I HEART HAMAS AND OTHER THINGS I'M AFRAID TO TELL YOU is a comedy show by San Francisco-based writer and performer Jennifer Jajeh. Join Jennifer as she travels to Palestine at the beginning of the Second Intifada, and grimace with her as she navigates the thorny terrain around Palestinian identity at auditions, bad dates, and across military checkpoints. Director W. Kamau Bell‘s television appearances include Comics Unleashed and Comedy Central. Watch the show on Sunday, October 24 from 2:00pm to 3:30pm, at the Frick Fine Arts Auditorum Room 125, Schenley Drive, University of Pittsburgh. Sponsored by Pitt Students for Justice in Palestine. For more information visit www.ihearthamas.com.
* "Write On!" an organization that works for prisoners' rights, needs help answering its 60 letters a month from people in prison dealing with abuse and neglect. Meet every Wednesday at 6:30pm at the Thomas Merton Center, 5125 Penn Avenue, in Garfield.
* The weekly gathering of Black Voices for Peace to protest war, takes place at 1:00-2:00 pm on Saturdays at the corner of Penn and Highland in East Liberty.
* There will be screenings of the Josh Fox's must-see documentary "Gasland", about the safety of hydro-fracking of Marcellus Shale to extract natural gas, every Wednesday in October at 7pm, at the Lili Coffee Shop in Polish Hill. Lili is located at 3138 Dobson Street, near Herron Avenue.
* Marcellus Shale public hearings, trainings, and informational meetings continue to take place in Pittsburgh and statewide. To keep up to date with events, see the calendar on marcellusprotest.org.
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Thanks for tuning in to Rustbelt Radio here on WRCT Pittsburgh, WIUP Indiana, WNJR Washington, and FRSC Santa Cruz. Our hosts this week are [ Jessica McPherson] and [Nigel Parry ] with contributions from [Emily DeMarco, 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.