community-based, non-corporate, participatory media
On today's show: Pittsburgh City Council decides whether to put a fracking ban on this November's referendum; A tree sit against Mountain Top Removal enters its thirteenth day; an in-depth look into the recent police involvement in the death of San Francisco teenager Kenneth Harding; the effects of the atomic bomb in Japan and the nuclear crisis of the world today and more in our local and global headlines
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Rustbelt Radio for (August) (01), 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.
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We turn now to local stories.
You are listening to voices from RAMPS or Radical Action For Mountain People's Survival, a diverse group of locals and others from all over the country, who are currently camping up in the trees of Coal River Mountain located in South West Virginia.
This August first, marks day thirteen of a tree-sit that aims to prevent Massey Energy from destroying a mountain that has been the scene of over seventy arrests in the past two years.
The activists are camped on a one thousand acre site called Bee Tree, where Marfork Coal Company, owned by Massey, has a permit to surface mine. Since January, seventy-five acres has been mined and in order to continue mining, Marfork coal is awaiting Valley Fill permits to dump the excess rock into nearby valleys and streams.
So far, the tree-sit has successfully halted blasting on the site, aside from a small blast last Friday. For several days, trucks were still hauling coal that had previously been extracted and stockpiled; now, even this work has ceased, this according to RAMPS's website.
A member of the ground support team, Junior Walk, talks about growing up on Coal River Mountain and what it means to him.
Tree-sitter, Catherine-Ann explains how rich and important it is to keep the forests of West Virginia in tact.
While the dangerous health effects of coal mining have been well documented for years, a new study released in the Journal of Community Health provides more evidence linking mountaintop removal mining to severe health impacts.
The study was based on door-to-door interviews conducted in the Coal River Valley and in Pocahontas County, an area with no Mountaintop Removal. It found that people in the Coal River Valley were twice as likely to have cancer than people surveyed in Pocahontas County.
One of the tree-sitters on Coal River Mountain, Becks Kolins, says that they have heard numerous stories about cancer from people who grew up in West Virginia.
One of the tree-sit supporters, Elias Schewel, says that even the coal companie's data shows that Mountain Top Removal mining is dangerous.
Despite the bugs and extremely hot weather this summer, Becks and Catherine-Ann are still sitting up in the treetops of Coal River Mountain. They explained what motivates them to sit up there day in and day out.
The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection just announced a public hearing on the renewal of the Bee Tree permit, where Becks and Catherine-Ann are tree sitting. They are accepting comments until August ninth on the renewal of the permit. For further information, go to ramps campaign dot org
On July 19th, City councilman Doug Shields introduced legislation to include Pittsburgh’s current community bill of rights and gas drilling ban in the City’s Home Rule Charter. The Rome Rule Charter essentially acts as the city’s Constitution on matters of governance not exclusively regulated by state or federal laws. In order to amend the charter, city council must get majority support for the motion. Then the public votes to approve or reject the proposed amendment through a ballot referendum.
The proposed ballot question reads: “Should the Pittsburgh Home Rule Charter be amended to add a Community Bill of Rights which bans commercial natural gas extraction within the City, as the City Council has adopted previously?”
On August 1st, six of the nine city council members approved the motion to place a referendum about gas drilling on the November ballot. Mayor Luke Ravenstahl has hinted that he may use his veto power to stop the proposed referendum from reaching November voters. Ravenstahl has ten days to act by signing, vetoing, or returning the bill unsigned. If blocked, six council members can override the veto. However, all legislation authorizing the referendum must be cleared by August 9th. This means that if Ravenstahl takes no action on the bill, it will not meet the deadline to be on the November ballot.
The current bid to include the drilling ban in the home rule charter comes just nine months after city council passed the first drilling ban in the country. The proposed amendment would add a Pittsburgh Bill of Rights to the charter and would assert the right to water, right to natural communities, right to a sustainable energy future, and right to self governance. Just as the November drilling ban does, the proposed amendment also explicitly bans all corporations from engaging in the process of hydraulic fracturing within city limits. If included in the charter, the drilling ban would be much harder for future council members to overturn:
Councilman Doug shields explains the history of the legislation:
Before the preliminary vote last week, City council heard from member of the community about the charter amendment.
One Mt. pleasant man described his observations of gas drilling sites just outside the city limits.
Industry officials criticize the measure, claiming that a city wide drilling ban unnecessarily strips private property rights from city residents and limits potential profit to the city government. Loreta Weir and Bridget Shields of Communities United for Rights and Environment respond to the accusations:
A local resident summarizes the demands of various grassroots organizations:
For more information, visit MarcellusProtest.org
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 other independent news from around the world.
On the morning of August 6, 1945 the city of Hiroshima, Japan was swallowed by a mushroom cloud. Over one hundred thousand civilians were killed that day by the first atomic bomb ever used in history, three days later, a second bomb was dropped on Nagasaki. Today, sixty-six years later, the number of civilians affected by the two nuclear bombings is unfathomable. Rustbelt Radio spoke with Ronnie Alexander, an American professor of international affairs and peace studies, who has lived in Japan since 1977, and worked extensively with survivors.
Alexander explains some of the long lasting effects of the bombs today.
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While nuclear warfare has devastated Japan, the recent earthquake and resulting nuclear meltdowns have relived the dangers of nuclear energy. Alexander explains how little the consequences differ.
The Popoki Peace Project is Alexander's program that combines art and oral history to heal and reconcile the people affected by warfare. With the anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki this month, she describes how the Popoki Peace Project is working today.
Article Nine of the Japanese Constitution came into effect in 1947 to prohibit Japan's involvement in all warfare. Alexander explains how Japan's Self Defense Force and the United States military has dealt with the recent earthquake and nuclear crisis.
On August 5th, the Pittsburgh collective, Remembering Hiroshima, will be commemorating the anniversary of the bombings in conjunction with the Popoki Peace Project. Similar events will be taking place in Japan as well.
Alexander describes the connection and leaves us with insight to ponder Japan's present and the world's future with nuclear power.
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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 Saturday July 16th, 19-year-old Kenneth Harding was gunned down by San Francisco police officers. The incident took place on a busy corner, at the heart of the predominantly Black and Hispanic Bayview-Hunter’s Point district of San Francisco.
Harding began to run from the officers after being questioned about paying his $2 fare on the city’s public transit platform. About 100 yards later, Harding fell to the ground as crowds quickly gathered around the scene.
As seen in various amateur videos later posted online, Harding remained on the ground, dying in a pool of blood. The officers surrounded him with their guns drawn. The police called for back-up to control the growing crowd while members repeatedly shouted in anger, “Where’s the gun?” in an attempt to understand why police would fire at an apparently unarmed man.
After the incident, medical examiners found two bullets in Harding’s body. At a press conference held on July 18th, police Chief Greg Suhr stated that ten shots were fired that afternoon. According to the “Shot-Spotter” sound detection system previously installed by police in the area, the ten shots were fired in a succession of six seconds, with a gap of 1.9 seconds between the first and second shots. SFPD now claims that this gap is proof that Harding shot first, and thus was armed.
SFPD has also produced more evidence to support the claim that Harding had a gun, including an amateur video showing a bystander pick up what they believe to be Harding’s gun at the scene. According to the Associated Press, medical examiners have recently reported that the .380-caliber bullet found in Harding’s head did not match those normally used by SFPD.
Despite all of the police-produced evidence, none of the shooting witnesses claim they saw Harding fire back at the officers or have a gun. Hours after the shooting, crowds gathered in San Francisco’s Mission District to protest against the police killings.
Since the incident, there has been a series of rallies, press conferences, and meetings organized by community activists demanding justice for Kenneth Harding and his family.
Carl Finamore is a delegate to the San Francisco Labor Council and a Hunter’s Point resident. He spoke to Rustbelt Radio, describing his community’s reaction as well as the police’s portrayal of Harding:
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The police and corporate media have both consistently demonized Harding, using his past as evidence to support their claims for the July 16th incident. Finamore describes the public transit system’s fare inspection methods, which initially led to Harding’s death:
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Mesha Monge-Irizarry is the director of the Idriss Stelley Foundation, co-founder of Education Not Incarceration, and a reporter for the San Francisco Bayview National Black Newspaper. Irizarry’s son, Idriss Stelley, was killed by SFPD in June 2001. She spoke to Rustbelt Radio of police misconduct and corruption:
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Finamore speaks of the need for a community-controlled police department:
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The use of excessive force and the lack of accountability are not unique to the Kenneth Harding incident, or to San Francisco. It has become clear that police brutality and misconduct is a national problem. According to the 2010 National Police Misconduct Statistics and Reporting Project, there have been 4,861 tracked reports of police misconduct, with the largest percentage coming from the use of “excessive force.”
Here in Pittsburgh, the patterns of police brutality are clearly reflected. Eighteen months and 20 days have passed without accountability or justice for Jordan Miles, the CAPA High School honors student, who was brutally beaten by three plainclothes Pittsburgh police officers.
Finamore describes the patterns he has seen over the years as a Hunter’s Point resident:
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That was “Straight Outta Hunter’s Point” by San Francisco Bayview locals RBL Posse.
For more information on Kenneth Harding’s death, upcoming Bay Area community actions, and links to amateur videos of the incident, visit www.sfbayview.com.
For more on the local fight against police brutality, visit www.justiceforjordanmiles.com
That was "What U Gonna Do" by Burghtown featuring Jasiri X
And now we present the Indymedia Calendar of Events:
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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 Alecia Ott and Mana Alibadi with contributions from Juliana Strickland, Seth Bearden, Hanna Taleb, and Mana Alibadi. 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.