community-based, non-corporate, participatory media
On today's show: We speak with longtime transit activist, Stuart Strickland, about proposed cuts; The FBI reactivates subpoenas on 3 peace activists in Minnesota. Rustbelt Radio interviews one of the three, "granny for peace" Sarah Martin; South Fayette Township passes anti-gas drilling ordinance; Increased funding for the nuclear industry despite recent plant shutdowns and accidents; The People's Oil and Gas Summit brings together anti-drilling activists from across the country, and more in our local and global headlines.
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Rustbelt Radio for November 22, 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.
Less than a week after Pittsburgh decided to ban gas drilling in the city, the township of South Fayette passed a bill that heavily regulates the industry there.
The ordinance prohibits Marcellus Shale development in all residential zones -- from rural farmlands to suburban neighborhoods.
That was Deron Gabriel speaking, the Public Safety Commissioner of South Fayette.
The ban also covers conservation areas -- the South Fayette School District campus, township parks, cemeteries, Hickory Heights Golf Course, and certain preservation lands.
Township engineer Dave Gardner estimated that 75 percent to 80 percent of the approximately 13,000-acre township falls within a residential or conservation zone, according to the Post-Gazette.
Mr. Gabriel says that residents started organizing against drilling when natural gas company, Chesapeake Energy announced their intentions to drill in the township. Residents organized the “Friends of South Fayette,” an organization that started to counter the potentially negative effects of gas drilling in their community.
Public Safety Commissioner, Deron Gabriel.
Chesapeake Energy has been involved in quite a number of workplace accidents in the past, including gas well blowouts and water contamination near where their wells were located. Many of these accidents are documented on the Friends of Fayette Counties website.
According to the Post-Gazette, the ordinance says natural gas compressor stations and processing plants may be located only in commercial and industrial zones. The township is in the process of developing a separate set of regulations for those facilities.
The township also is preparing an overlay plan for commissioners to consider in January. It would pinpoint specific areas in all zoning districts where drilling would be suitable.
To keep up to date with any further developments in South Fayette, go to www.friendsofsouthfayette.com
Next week, the Port Authority of Allegheny County plans to make the final decision on proposed cuts that will affect the jobs of 555 of their 2,755 union employees, while bus riders from over 50 neighborhoods and communities will have their services cut and see fares increased.
To help put this into perspective, Rustbelt Radio spoke with longtime transit activist and Pittsburgh resident, Stuart Strickland. He says that the funding problem is much bigger than you think.
Mr. Strickland explains how Port Authority is funded.
When asked if the gas tax is the answer, Mr. Strickland had this to say.
A coalition of groups is holding a demonstration this week at 9 a.m. Wednesday outside the Port Authority of Allegheny County's administrative building, 346 Sixth Ave., during the transit agency's board meeting.
For more information, check out www.saveourtransit.org or visit Stuart Stricklands blog at www.myspace.com/unicycleintransit.
[ REPLACE WITH MUSICAL BREAK BELOW *** HMB BREAK RUSTBELT - 0:20 (fades down 0:10 in to start global intro) ]
That was The Plugz with "Hombre Secreto", a Spanish language cover version of Steve Barri and P. F. Sloan's famous song, "Secret Agent Man". From the Repo Man soundtrack.
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 national news from independent media sources.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation raided seven homes and an anti-war office in Minneapolis and Chicago on Friday, September 24, 2010. The FBI also handed subpoenas to fourteen activists in Illinois, Minnesota, and Michigan to testify before a federal grand jury.
The activists are involved in many mainstream peace and tradtionally left wing groups, including the Twin Cities Anti-War Committee, the Palestine Solidarity Group, the Colombia Action Network, Students for a Democratic Society, and the Freedom Road Socialist Organization. Some of the Twin Cities activists were organizers of the anti-war marches during the 2008 Republican National Convention in St. Paul.
All of the subpoenaed activists submitted legal documents invoking their Fifth Amendment rights and did not appear before the Grand Jury as required. Now, two months later, three of the activists—-Tracy Molm, Anh Pham, and Sarah Martin——are being told that they will have to appear in front of the Grand Jury.
Sarah Martin is a 71 year old mother of 3, grandmother of 5 and great-grandmother of 1. She was born and raised in Duluth, Minnesota, and has lived in the Twin Cities for 40 years.
A retired nurse who worked at Regions Hospital in St. Paul for 25 years, Sarah says of herself, "I have been peace and justice activist since the '60s when my eyes began to open when I learned we'd been duped and lied to about the justifications for going to war against the people of Vietnam."
Sarah joined Women Against Military Madness (WAMM) in the early 1980s and has actively opposed every war the U.S. has waged. For the past 10 years she has been mainly focused on the Middle East.
A year ago she attempted to visit Palestine but was detained on arrival by the government of Israel when it learned she wanted to see the reality of Palestinian lives under Israeli occupation, and deported back to the United States. She currently serves on the WAMM board and is an active member of the WAMM Mideast Committee.
Rustbelt Radio spoke with Sarah Martin about the FBI investigation and Grand Jury subpoena.
The subpoenas talk of travel to Palestine, Lebanon and Columbia. Rustbelt Radio asked Sarah Martin if she had visited any of these countries.
In the wake of the end-October conclusion of the two-year-long saga of the "RNC 8", it is deeply troubling that federal-level cases against the same Twin Cities activist community continue. The community was already exhausted after half a year of organizing before the 2008 RNC, and two further years of the RNC's legal and emotional aftermath.
Earlier this year, news broke that Minneapolis was one of three possible sites for the 2012 Democratic National Convention which, in common with other political-oriented National Special Security Events, brings with it a massive security mobilization that one National Lawyers Guild activist in Minnesota described as "the roving police state". And in September, the FBI raids opened a brand new front of repression. Local activists have not had a chance to wind down for two and a half years.
When so-called "grannies for peace" such as Sarah Martin are targets of FBI terrorism investigations, it is clear that the right to freedom of speech and association are under serious threat in the United States.
It is precisely because of this threat to legitimate political activity that many mainstream activists and other progressives around the country are watching developments closely. Regular grand juries sit for between 18 and 24 months, mostly at the low end, so this issue is with us for the forseeable future.
The provisional date for the antiwar activists' lawyers to meet with the government prosecutors is December 6th, after which we should have a clearer picture of how the investigation will proceed.
Sources in the Committee to Stop FBI Repression believe that, among several possible scenarios, the three recently re-subpoenaed activists are likely to be offered immunity in exchange for testimony.
As far as we know from public statements, the original decision of the three activists to not cooperate with the Grand Jury and plead the Fifth Amendment still stands. Sarah Martin asked for people to visit the Committee to Stop FBI Repression's website at StopFBI.net to stay in touch with the campaign.
The Obama administration is expanding funding to the nuclear industry despite numerous accidents and two nuclear plant shutdowns this month.
Just days after a Nov. 3 press conference where the administration spoke of increased funding for the nuclear industry, two plants, both operated by New Orleans based Entergy Corporation were shutdown due to accidents.
At the Vermont Yankee plant, radioactive water escaped from a pipe leading to the reactor and at the Indian Point plant, which is located only a few miles from NYC, a transformer exploded at the facility, also causing a shutdown.
The Vermont plant has been plagued with problems in the past. Recently, there was a fire in the main transformer and a cooling tower collapsed due to structural corrosion and rust. Residents have put pressure on elected officials which has resulted in a decision to close the plant in 2012.
We now go to excerpts from a Russia Today interview with Greenpeace USA’s, Harvey Wasserman, about why he thinks the Obama Administration is pushing forward with encouraging nuclear power, despite his promises of green energy.
The Obama administration has already guaranteed 8.3 billion in loans to build two more nuclear power plants. In his last state of the union address Obama proposed an additional 54 billion for nuclear power in the 2011 budget.
Henry Wasserman says that all this funding amounts to a big bailout for the industry.
According to the Institute of Southern Studies, these incidents come on the heels of an electrical explosion at NRG's South Texas nuclear plant a few weeks ago, and an incident at Progress Energy's Shearon Harris plant in North Carolina, which caused the plant to momentarily lose cooling to the reactor core.
The Shearon Harris plant, the Indian Point plant, and the Vermont Yankee are also all on the list of the 27 nuclear plants currently leaking tritium, a known carcinogen. In other words, nearly one quarter of the one hundred and four nuclear power plants in the US are leaking tritium.
We now hear excerpts produced by the radio show “New World Notes,” of famed anti-nuclear activist, Dr. Helen Caldicott, who spoke in Brattleboro, VT, last April just miles away from the Vermont Yankee power plant. She explains what the reactor does and the danger of Tritium exposure.
Dr. Caldicott continued to explain the longevity of nuclear plants, in light of the Vermont Yankee plant's slow deterioration.
You are listening to famed anti-nuclear activist, Dr. Helen Caldicott, as she explains how a nuclear meltdown can happen and Sweden’s close call with one nearly two years ago.
That was Tom Lehrer with 'We will All Go together When We Go'. For more music and information, visit tomlehrer.org.
You're listening to Rustbelt Radio, the Pittsburgh Independent Media Center's bi-weekly review of news from the grassroots.
Rustbelt correspondent David Meieran interviewed some of the western residents who came to share their stories with Pennsylvanians.
Gopa Ross of south-central Colorado recounts how drilling first came to the area where she lives.
Ross bought her property to build a rehabilitation center for troubled teens. Her real estate agent assured her there would be no drilling in the area. But state-owned land adjacent to her property had in fact been leased. Three summers into the construction of her youth center, she felt the impacts.
Eventually, the state oil and gas investigators did come to investigate, and found that the company had blown up their aquifer. In addition to the loss of her water, the ongoing presence of drilling activities adjacent to her land also caused a strain.
Ross held traditional native American ceremonies on her land, and says she faced extreme disrespect and harassment related to these spiritual practices from the drilling industry employees.
Ross had to move to the small town of La Vita, Colorado – but drilling followed her there as well.
After 3 years of litigation, Ross did get a settlement from the drilling company. However, she says she lost 10 years of her savings in the fight.
Lisa Parr is another westerner who travelled to Pennsylvania to share her experiences with gas drilling. She lives above the Barnett Shale in Texas.
As Pennsylvanians learn of these sobering stories from western regions where intensive hydrofracturing has been practiced longer, many are very worried about the future. Jenny Lisak lives in Jefferson County on an organic farm that she’s built up with family over the last 27 years.
When she saw surveyor’s stakes for the seismic testing used to map the gas fields go up nearby, she started to learn about Marcellus shale gas drilling. Now, she fears she and her family will be poisoned if they stay on their farm.
The conference featured speakers from the East and the West working to understand the impacts of gas drilling on their communities and prevent its harmful effects. Jeanette Barth is a PhD trained economist who also owns land in the Catskill region of New York. She has researched the claims that Marcellus drilling will bring economic benefits to the region, and finds that they are greatly overstated.
Sharon Wilson works with the Oil and Gas Accountability project in Texas, and she writes a blog about deep shale gas drilling. She talks about working on this issue before Gasland came out, how the movie changed the movement, and her reaction to Pittsburgh’s drilling ban.
You can read Texas Sharon’s blog about the ongoing problems with gas drilling in Texas, and organizing efforts to stop these problems, at txsharon.blogspot.com
Jeanne Shenandoah of the Onondaga Nation, one of the Haudenosaunee (PRONOUNCE: HO-din-a –SHOnee) peoples, known in English as the Six Nations Confederacy, talks about her people’s perspective on drilling:
John Fenton is a rancher from Pavilion, Wyoming. He was interviewed in the film Gasland about the impacts of drilling on his ranch, and since then has been involved in national activism around the issue. He had these words of encouragement for people coming together across the country to fight gas drilling:
And now we present the Indymedia Calendar of Events:
* In December of 2009, Amy Gillespie was imprisoned because she became pregnant, which was a violation of the terms of her work release. One month later, as a result of medical neglect, Amy and her unborn child died of pneumonia at the Allegheny County Jail. On Tuesday November 23rd, please join the Human Rights Coalition-Fed Up!, New Voices Pittsburgh: Women of Color for Reproductive Justice, Birth Circle, ACLU of Pittsburgh, Women and Girls Foundation, and the Women's Law Project as we march on the Allegheny County Jail and openly speak out about the lack of reproductive and human rights! At 12pm, we will begin the march downtown at the corner of Fifth Avenue and Grant Street, near the Allegheny County Courthouse and then march to the jail.
* Pittsburghers for Public Transit are holding a demonstration against transit budget cuts at the Port Authority offices, 346 Sixth Avenue in Downtown on Wednesday November 24th between 9am and 2pm. Visit pittsburghersforpublictransit.org for more details.
* Chatham University Dr. Ercan Karakoç (PRONOUNCED ERK-KAN KAR-A-KO) will present a lecture on “Current Turkey-US Relations” as part of the Current Turkey-U.S. Relations course series. November 30th, 12:45pm-2pm in Coolidge 130. For more information see chatham.edu/events
* A lecture entitled "The consequences of Marcellus Shale", by Political Science and Public Policy Professor Kent Moors, will take place on December 8th at 7:30pm in the McConomy Auditorium, Carnegie Mellon University. E-mail reservations to ADULTLL@andrew.cmu.edu.
* Anne Feeney, a stalwart of Pittsburgh Folk Music, who has been touring for close to a decade, has been stricken with small-cell cancer on her lungs and heart. She has an avalanche of medical bills her insurance does not cover. On Sunday December 12th at 7PM, come together for TAKE A STAND, ROCK WITH ANNE, a diverse night of music from Billy Price, Joe Grushecky, Liz Berlin, Justin Sane, Hermie Granati, Mike Stout and the Human Union, The Newlanders, Tres Lads, Joe Munroe, and more! All tickets are a $20 donation of which 100% will benefit Anne. Friends and bands are donating all of their services and Mr. Smalls Theatre is donating the venue. More info at ticketweb.com/mrsmalls
* Marcellus Shale public hearings, trainings, and informational meetings in Pittsburgh and statewide continue to take place at a rate faster than hydrofracking fluid through a blowout preventer. To keep up to date with the latest Marcellus Shale anti-gas drilling events, see the calendar on marcellusprotest.org.
[ Outro Music ]
Thanks for tuning in to Rustbelt Radio here on WRCT Pittsburgh, WIUP Indiana, WNJR Washington, WLRI LanChester, and FRSC Santa Cruz.
Our hosts this week are [ ] and [ ] with contributions from [Seth Bearden, David Meieran, Favian Xavier, 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.
You can get involved with Rustbelt Radio! To contact us, email RADIO at I-N-D-Y-P-G-H dot ORG. Become our fan on Facebook to receive updates on our latest episode. All of our shows are available 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 bi-weekly review of news from the grassroots.