community-based, non-corporate, participatory media
On today's show: A look into the complexities and horrors of teenage incarceration in America; A report on the assault on reproductive health services provided by Title X clinics; Voices on how immigration from Mexico is playing out in southwestern Pennsylvania; An update on conditions inside Pennsylvania's prison system; The Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture's annual conference addresses Marcellus shale drilling and more in our local and global headlines.
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Rustbelt Radio for February 28, 2011
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.
Normally, images of armed guards protecting oil and gas installations are only a picture of conflict across seas, but now, you don't have to look any further than the state of Pennsylvania. Natural gas drilling and the opposition that is growing against it, is leading a boom in the private security industry.
Recently, Consol Energy announced it plans to hire 200 agents to provide security services at its natural gas well sites and mines, according to the Pittsburgh Business Times.
Consol is signing a contract with one of the largest private security companies in the world. Now called "G4S Secure Solutions", this company was formerly known as Wackenhut. Several other companies drilling in the Marcellus Shale have security contracts as well, including Chief Oil and Gas. A spokesman for Chief Oil and Gas, says that they stepped up security at well sites after several vandalism incidents.
With opposition continuing to grow against natural gas drilling, last year it was revealed that the PA Department of Homeland Security hired a company to spy on activists who were organizing rallies and film screenings about the harmful effects of gas drilling.
The company, known as the Terrorism Institute, said in a leaked memo that their research (quote)"is not for dissemination to the public," but "is solely meant for owners and security personnel associated with critical infrastructure and key resources."(end quote)
One of the drilling activists labeled a terrorist, Virginia Cody, began organizing against drilling when she found out about the water contamination in Dimock Pa located upstream from her home in Factoryville.
We now go to an ACLU interview with Virginia Cody.
The Cabot picnic is a large barbecue that Cabot Oil and Gas hosted for the community of Dimock in order to win favor with them-- after contaminating a large swath of the township's water supply.
We now listen to a reporter from Russia Today give an account of the Cabot picnic.
Cabot Oil and Gas is another gas company that has hired armed guards to protect their sites and accompany their employees in the field.
Resident, Julie Sautner says one of the armed guards was recently on her property. "I asked her to leave my property. She would not leave my property. I said 'why are you there' and she said 'to protect them." I said, 'From what?" Sautner said.
Russia Today reports that despite Cabot Oil and Gas's negligence, the Department of Homeland Security still supports the gas industry.
An official from Cabot Oil and Gas, George Stark responded (quote) "We have had to install and employ the use of an armed guard every once in a while when we run into an armed resident." (end quote)
G4S Secure Solutions also received criticism during the BP oil spill for preventing media from taking photographs of dead animals and oil washed up on the shore.
Video blogger J. Douglas Fisher says this new trend of companies hiring armed guards is outrageous.
Oil companies are no stranger to Pennsylvania either, recently Exxon Mobil agreed to buy gas producer XTO Energy, and Shell oil just acquired over half a million acres of Marcellus Shale land in a purchase from East Resources, another big gas company operating in Pennsylvania.
Shell's track record in the oil field is not very good either. Decades of oil spills in Nigeria's river delta has created a large opposition to its operations there.
Energy analyst Paul Molchanov says that whatever protests, theft, or vandalism energy companies face in the United States, these pale in comparison to what occurs in other countries, where violence has been known to break out.
According to the website of private security firm, G4S: Protecting oil companies in Nigeria’s Delta region is a challenging tasks from a security perspective. The principal threats in the region come from politically motivated groups and theft by criminals.
To get a perspective of the parallels between the situation in Nigeria and here in Pennsylvania, we now hear from Global Report.org
To keep up to date with the latest in the Marcellus Shale, check out marcellusprotest.org
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The House of Representatives has recently proposed The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2011, a resolution to cut funding for many and varied social programs. This resolution would eliminate completely the national family planning program called Title X (ten.) According to a report from the reproductive health researchers at the Guttmacher Institute, 234 family planning centers in Pennsylvania received financial support through Title X as of 2006. These services include health department clinics, community health centers, Planned Parenthood, hospital outpatient and other independent clinics.
The report estimated the contraceptive services of clinics such as Planned Parenthood helped women under the age of 20 avoid 17,001 unintended pregnancies. Without such services, the level of teen pregnancy is estimated to have been 76% higher. In 2008, these sites had served two-thirds of all clients seeking Title X-funded contraceptive services. That year 59,700 unintended pregnancies were approximated to have been avoided, otherwise 26,500 unintended births and 24,900 abortions.
While the House Republican leadership’s anti-abortion stance appears to fuel their legislative agenda, the Guttmacher Institute estimates the absence of Title X funded services would raise the level of abortions in Pennsylvania by 57%. While contraceptive services and abortion rights are in danger, organizations such as Planned Parenthood are key to sexual education programming in the public school system. Advocates say comprehensive sex education is vital to human relationship skills. Yet it is under scrutiny while "Abstinence Only" programs are federally funded despite studies that conclude it is ineffective.
Jodi Hirsh of the National Council of Jewish Women, and Christina Cann of the Women’s Law Project spoke to the issues at an informational meeting last week entitled The War on Women: What You Need to Know and Why You Need to Care.
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Family planning services and education are not the only programs provided by Title X funding. Every year, millions of uninsured individuals are also provided with a wide range of basic and preventative health care. That includes breast exam and self-exam instruction, pap tests for early detection of cervical cancer or precancerous conditions, testing for high blood pressure, screening and appropriate treatment for sexually transmitted infections, HIV screening, counseling, and referrals to specialized health care.
Jodi Hirsh describes the necessity of Title X for basic health care needs.
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For information on how to support Title X funding visit plannedparenthoodaction[dot]org or infopitt@womenslawproject[dot]org
And for more information from the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States visit S-I-E-C-U-S[dot]org
As part of Duquesne University's annual Human Rights Film Series, students and advocates viewed a new documentary about the ways that Arizonans cope with immigrants making the perilous journey across the border and into the United States. They also discussed how attitudes about Mexican immigrants are playing out locally.
Fed Up!, the Pittsburgh chapter of the Human Rights Coalition, or HRC, gives us the prison radio report from the weeks of February 18th and the 25th.
First, news related to Pennsylvania’s prisons and those incarcerated in this state:
Vincent Hallman, a prisoner held in solitary confinement at State Correctional Institute in Huntingdon in south-central Pennsylvania reports being physically taken from his cell and assaulted by two guards in January. He also reports that he has been denied the pain medication prescribed to him after he was hospitalized because of the assault.
Dwayne Roberts, currently confined in the Secure Special Needs Unit -- a solitary confinement unit for individuals with mental health needs -- reports being deprived of his insulin after refusing to comply with a visual strip search from Sgt. Fox. Roberts says Fox has made multiple sexually suggestive comments towards him. HRC has received similar complaints about Fox in the past. Roberts is being held at the Cresson prison in southwestern PA.
On February 17th, the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections announced that a proposed state prison in Fayette County will not be built. John Wetzel, the acting secretary said [quote] Locating another prison facility in western Pennsylvania is not conducive to our current re-entry plans, where family connections play a large role in helping inmates return to a productive life in society [end quote]. A large portion of the state's prison population is from eastern Pennsylvania. Construction of the prison would have cost $200 million.
Pennsylvania inmate Robert Ivory was awarded $50,001 by a jury in a civil rights lawsuit in late January. Ivory was severely injured after a cellmate attacked him with a pen at the Fayette prison in July 2008 -- despite his requests to be moved because he feared such an attack.
The long-awaited re-trial of Terrell Johnson has been postponed for the sixth time. Johnson has served 16 years of a life sentence for a 1994 homicide in the Hazelwood neighborhood of Pittsburgh that he and the Innocence Institute of Point Park University maintains he did not commit. In late 2009 and again in early 2010, Johnson was offered a deal that would have freed him from prison with time served, but he maintains his innocence and demands a new trial. Visit JUSTICE – FOR – TERRELL [dot] blogspot [dot] com to learn the facts of the case and see how you can help.
Former Luzerne County Judge Mark Ciavarella, Jr., was convicted Friday of accepting bribes and kickbacks for putting juveniles into detention centers operated by PA Child Care and a sister company, Western Pennsylvania Child Care. Ciavarella and another judge, Michael Conahan, are said to have received $2.6 million for their efforts. Ciavarella faces a maximum sentence of 157 years in prison.
And prison related news from the rest of the nation:
On February 23rd, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a statement with the United Nations’ Human Rights Council, urging it to (quote) address the widespread violations of the human rights of prisoners in the United States associated with solitary confinement and call for the adoption of appropriate measures to protect their human rights (end quote). An extensive report on the effects of and guiding principles for future monitoring and restricted use of solitary confinement were included in the statement. Find out more at ACLU [dot] org.
The Justice Department has reportedly requested a 10% funding increase for prison expansion this year. The department claims that a growing prison population requires the $8.3 billion budget.
This information was excerpted from the February 18th and 25th editions of the P-A Prison Report from the Human Rights Coalition. Listen to more prison reports at ON THE BLOCK RADIO [dot] org broadcast Fridays at 9pm on W P E B in West Philly, 88 point 1 FM. For more information, visit www [dot] H-R-coalition [dot] org.
In January 2011, Congress passed the Local Community Radio Act, a piece of legislation that's been 12 years in the making.
For more on this important move towards people-powered airwaves, we turn to an interview with Vanessa Graber (pronounce: GRAY bur). Graber is the Community Radio Director at Prometheus Radio Project, based in Philadelphia. In 1999, Prometheus successfully lobbied the Federal Communications Commission to grant 800 new permits to communities across the nation. Despite the 1999 legislation, media ownership is far from diversified.
For 10 years Prometheus has been building partnerships, generating awareness, and advocating for equitable legislation. Finally, the Local Community Radio Act was passed. Rustbelt Radio caught up with Graber about upcoming meeting. Graber began by talking about the Local Community Radio Act. She references L-P-F-M, meaning "low power frequency modulation", and the FCC, which is the Federal Communications Commission.
That was Vanessa Graber (pronounce: GRAY bur) of the Prometheus Radio Project.
You are invited to join the conversation about people-powered airwaves! Email us at radio [at] I-N-D-Y-P-G-H [dot] org for details about the March 5th meeting!
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You're listening to Rustbelt Radio, the Pittsburgh Independent Media Center's bi-weekly review of news from the grassroots.
On February 2nd – 5th the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture or PASA (pah-sah) held their 20th annual “Farming for the Future” Conference in State College, Pennsylvania. The event has long been a forum for discussion about sustainable farming practices and policy concerns. This year a very different practice dominated the conversation: Marcellus Shale gas drilling.
Drilling activity, which is expanding rapidly throughout the region, is changing both the economic and physical landscape of rural Pennsylvania. Even as some farmers stand to gain short-term income from leasing, the impacts of drilling on the land and water threaten the future of farming.
Over the last several decades it has been increasingly difficult to turn a profit as a farmer. Farmers today see a smaller percentage of the money in food than ever before, with more money going to large agri-business corporations, food processors, and retail outlets. Farming also depends on the availability of suppliers for seed and equipment, and on distributors for their products. This supporting infrastructure requires a critical mass of farmers in a region to remain viable. As more small farmers leave the business, it becomes more difficult for those who remain. Organic and sustainable farming has been bucking the trends of decline in the industry, however, by diversifying farm products and doing direct marketing to local consumers and businesses. PASA Executive Director Brian Snyder and board president Kim Seeley fear that the short term influx of gas money will be disruptive to the already tenuous economy of the farm sector.
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Brian Snyder thinks that gas drilling money will especially influence the future of sustainable farming in the state:
Impacts to the land, and rural quality of life, will also affect the region's farming future. Roger Johnson, the president of the National Farmer's Union, described the negative effects that an oil and gas drilling boom in North Dakota has had on communities there.
Seeley has seen the same changes taking place in Bradford County.
Seeley explains the situation in his community.
Ultimately his family decided to lease.
Some PASA attendants were surprised to learn that Seeley had signed a lease with a natural gas company. Dana and Derek, attendants from Bucks County:
The conference addressed Marcellus drilling through two expert panel sessions and an evening screening of Gasland. One panel session was presented mainly by scientists from Penn State University. The second panel session was added into the agenda because so many PASA members distrusted the perspective of those in Penn State's pay. In 2009 Penn State notoriously put its name on a study that painted a rosy economic picture of drilling, but was actually authored by industry. At times, both panel presentations seemed to minimize the concerns and direct experience of conference participants.
Mike Arthur and Tom Murphy from the Marcellus Center for Outreach and Research at Penn State presented to a packed room.
They gave a lot of technical information about the drilling process that placed a great deal of emphasis on the expertise of the industry
Many issues that have raised concerns about the process were downplayed. Mike Arthur on water usage.
Other issues, such as air pollution and the disposal of wastes into surface waters, were not mentioned at all. When a potential risk was acknowledged, the presenters were quick to highlight the best practices of the industry that were being used to prevent the problems. Tom Murphy
On the issue of groundwater contamination, which has been reported by landowners throughout the state, Mike Arthur insisted that Marcellus Shale drilling could not be the cause.
Audience members, however, disputed this assertion.
In another session about Marcellus Shale drilling Jan Jarret of Pennfuture, a large environmental non-profit responded similarly to questions about groundwater…
Many participants left feeling that their concerns were not being heard. In both sessions time was left for only four questions from audience members. Some felt intimidated…
Marcellus drilling was obviously a major concern of many conference attendees, and cast a shadow over an event that is normally upbeat and focused on sustainability. Some farmers already living with drilling feared they might have to move because of toxic pollution they were experiencing. The Gasland screening was packed to capacity with several hundred people. Since members were not able to voice their opinions or questions during the workshops provided to address Marcellus Shale, they formed their own break-out groups so they could continue the discussion amongst themselves.
At the end of the workshop hosted by PennFuture, Tracy Carluccio of the Delaware Riverkeeper responded to Jan Jarret in a way that at last matched the sentiments of PASA members. Jan Jarret…
And now we present the Indymedia Calendar of Events. Send yours to info@INDYPGH. org
* Thursday March 3rd sees multiple screenings of the Gasland documentary on HBO. Get your Tivo ready. Anti-hydrofracking events continue in the Pittsburgh area and beyond -- but not as many events as there are drilling company donations to politicians supposed to be watching our backs and keeping our water drinkable. Browse the events calendar at marcellusprotest.org for a complete list.
* The Sunstar Women in Music Festival, features Concerts, workshops, events and more, focusing on the topic of Women & Media. March 3rd-5th at the Kelly-Strayhorn Theater, 5941 Penn Ave, Pittsburgh. Call 412-363-3000 for more info.
* Folk legend Phil Ochs (1940-1976) wrote songs about the issues of his day: civil rights, union strikes, and of course the anti-war movement. Wielding only a battered guitar and a clear voice, he tirelessly fought for peace and justice throughout his short life. Pittsburgh Filmmakers presents the documentary "Phil Ochs: There But For Fortune" at the Harris Theater, starting March 4th. Visit pghfilmakers.org for more information.
* It’s time to celebrate! Join Rustbelt Radio in Pittsburgh on Saturday, March 5th at 1:00pm to celebrate US Representative Mike Doyle’s championship of the Local Community Radio Act. The awards ceremony, hosted by Free Press and the Prometheus Radio Project, will be followed by an interactive How-To workshop for organizations interested in learning how to start a low power FM radio station in their community. Saturday, March 5th at 1:00pm at the National Association of Letter Carriers, Local 84. 841 California Ave., Pittsburgh, PA in the Northside. Doors open at 12:30.
* Come to the 16th Annual Empty Bowls Dinner, a simple meal of bread and soup to benefit Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank and Just Harvest, and help raise awareness about the problem of hunger in our community. Celebrity soup-servers, live entertainment, children’s activities, silent auction of world-class ceramic art, and ticket holders choose a beautiful hand made bowl to take home. Sunday, March 6th at Rodef Shalom Congregation, 4905 5th Ave, Oakland, 2-7 pm. Tickets are $20.00.
* Please join Louis "Hop" Kendrick for a presentation on the history of the Pittsburgh Courier and its continuing relevance today. The Pittsburgh Courier was once the most widely circulated black newspaper in the United States, with a national circulation of almost 200,000. Kendrick is a columnist for the New Pittsburgh Courier and a former radio commentator for WAMO 860 AM. Tuesday, March 8th from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at Monroeville Public Library, 4000 Gateway Campus Blvd. Monroeville.
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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 Emily Laychek and Jessica McPherson with contributions from Mana Aliabody, Lizzie Anderson, Seth Bearden, Annie DeFazio, Emily D'Marco, Ben Fiorillo, Emily Laychek, Jessica McPherson, Nigel Parry, Bonnie Pfister, and Hannah Taleb. 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, and follow us on Twitter @pghimc. 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.