community-based, non-corporate, participatory media
On today's show: Prisoners strike across the state of Georgia, we bring you an interview with one of the inmates; The challenges of investigating human rights abuses in Colombia; A report on International Migrants Day, which was commemorated on December 18th; A report from the "Black Friday" protest in Downtown Pittsburgh and more in our local and global headlines.
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Rustbelt Radio for December 20, 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.
The December holidays mean plenty of hype by retailers, who would have you believe the only way to celebrate the season is to buy lots of cut-rate consumer goods. But some Pittsburgh activists are swimming against that tide, shunning commercialism and reminding stressed-out shoppers about the high price ... of war. Bonnie Pfister (FiST-uhr) has this report.
Nearly 46,000 Pennsylvanians will potentially lose their health insurance coverage in the next year if funding for adultBasic is not found. AdultBasic provides subsidized no-frills health insurance coverage to families that make too much money to afford Medicare and too little to afford private insurance.
The program was created over nine years ago by then-Governer, Tom Ridge. Since 2005, adultBasic has recieved most of its 160 million budget from a five-year funding agreement with four private insurers.
Highmark and the other insurance companies have agree to extend funding for another six months, but advocates want it extended until 2014. This is when the new federal health insurance overhaul takes effect.
Last July, a report came out entitled “AdultBasic Sings the Blues” sponsored by the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center. The report seeks to dispel myths about who uses adultBasic and how underfunded it really is.
We now go to excerpts from a conference call between journalists and Sharon Ward, director of the Pa Budget and Policy Center, as well as a small business owner from Lewisburg, PA, Freddi Carlip, discussing the report’s findings.
Ms. Ward explains who uses adultBasic.
Ms.Ward says that the majority of the health insurance recipients rely on the program for there healthcare needs and not temporarily like some critics say.
We now hear from a small business owner from Lewisburg, PA , Freddi Carlip, who talks about her experience with adultBasic.
Since 2005, Pennsylvania’s four Blue Cross/Blue Shield plans (the Blues) have provided most of the funding for adultBasic under the Community Health Reinvestment Agreement or CHR. This in order to satisfy the charitable obligation the insurers have in return for their tax-exempt status.
Ms. Ward says that the insurance companies were doing well before the agreement and have continued to increase profits since then.
According to the advocacy group PA Health Access Network, it would take $54 million dollars to ensure adultBasic is fully funded at the current enrollment level through June 30th 2011. A little more than $300 million dollars are needed to ensure it is funded through 2014, when key reforms in the new federal health insurance legislation take place.
In addition, advocates are seeking coverage for the other nearly 400,000 people currently on the adultBasic waiting list. The recession has also contributed more need for the program. In 2007, the waiting list was less than a third of its current size.
If the Blues do not agree to extend funding, the Pennsylvania General Assembly could take action this fall to continue the program. Legislation sponsored by House Majority Leader Todd Eachus (HB 2455) would continue the CHR agreement until December 2013, providing continuing coverage for 45,000 enrollees, according to the Pennsylvania Policy and Budget Center.
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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 18th December 1990, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families. Ten years later, after much lobbying by migrant communities and their supporters, the UN General Assembly declared December 18th International Migrants Day in December of 2000.
Over the last few years, the Brussels-based organization "December 18" has recognized the day by hosting a project called Radio 1812. This project links community radio stations and producers around the globe who produce, air, and share migration-related radio stories to honor the 18th of December. This year's Radio 1812 saw participation from over 165 radio programs and stations in over 44 countries.
Today we bring you an interview with December 18 co-founder and director René Plaetevoet (PLAH-teh-vote) who speaks about the importance of the day, as well as the Radio 1812 project.
For more information on International Migrants Day and for many more stories from around the globe, go to www.radio1812.net
We'll be back after this musical break:
That was Manu Chao with the song Clandestino.
You're listening to Rustbelt Radio, the Pittsburgh Independent Media Center's bi-weekly review of news from the grassroots.
Thousands of prisoners have ended a week long peaceful strike in the state of Georgia. Touted as one of the largest prisoner strikes in US history, thousands of prisoners from at least ten correctional facilities statewide, peacefully began a sit down strike on Dec. 9 in protest against unjust prison conditions and forced labour.
The inmates coordinated the strike via contraband cellphones bought from prison guards.
The prisoners’ main demand is an end to forced labor without pay. Georgia state law prohibits paying them. Inmates are required to do prison chores, cook, serve meals, and are sent out to maintain other government buildings.
They also object to a monopoly on money transfers from their families to them, held by the private company J-Pay, which takes a 10 per cent commission. Global Tel-Link, another private company, charges $55 a month for once weekly 15-minute phone conversations between prisoners and families.
Prisoners say they are over-charged for medical care, as well, and want better food, especially fruit and vegetables. Georgia spends $49 a day per prisoner, compared to a national average of $79, according to the Irish Times.
We now go to a December 17 interview conducted by organizer, Elaine Brown, with an inmate in Georgia.
You are listening to prison activist, Elaine Brown, interview an inmate about the recent statewide prison strike in Georgia.
With 60,000 prisoners and 150,000 people on probation, Georgia has the highest prisoner-to-resident ratio in the US. African-Americans comprise 63 percent of the prison population but only 30 percent of state residents.
Several rallies in solidarity with the Georgia inmates have been springing up in cities across all across the US, including Richmond Virginia, Denver Colorado, and Oakland California.
For more information about the situation in Georgia, check out the Facebook page of the Concerned Coalition to Protect Prisoner Rights, and you can keep up to date with regular postings on www.blackagendareport.org
Rustbelt Radio now brings you this story entitled Scene of the Crime, which was written and produced by first-time radio journalist Paul Bieber. Paul is a private investigator who went on a Witness for Peace lead trip to Colombia this past summer. While there, he spoke with human rights activists, union leaders, displaced farmers, and witnesses and victims of paramilitary violence. His goal was to investigate the claims that these acts of paramilitary violence and human rights violations were funded by multinational corporations, such as Dole and Chiquita. What he found was more than he could have anticipated. Here's Paul's story:
Thanks to Transom for this radio piece. Transom is a project of Atlantic Public Media in Massachusetts. They work to channel new voices to public radio by offering tools, advice and community. For more information, see transom.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 Jessica and Emily with contributions from Carlin Christy, Seth Bearden, Jessica McPherson, Lizzie Anderson, and Bonnie Pfister. This week's show was produced by Shawn Watson. 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!
Rustbelt Radio and the Pittsburgh Independent Media Center would like to wish you a safe and happy holiday! Tune in on January 3rd, as we bring you the annual Calls from Home episode. Thousand Kites and WMMT-FM will broadcast this special 1 hour show where the friends, family, and loved ones of prisoners send in holiday greetings and well wishes. We here at Rustbelt Radio thank you for your support in 2010 and hope you will continue listening in 2011, as we bring you our bi-weekly review of news from the grassroots.