community-based, non-corporate, participatory media
On today's show... * a report back from the 14th annual Summit Against Racism * "Occupy Your Mind" brings together protestors, artists and intellectuals to discuss the Occupy movement * violence provoked by a Canadian mining company results in death in Oaxaca, Mexico * the Human Rights Coalitions Prison Radio report * we investigate the idea of a 20 hour work week * And more in our local and global headlines
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Rustbelt Radio for January 30, 2012
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.
On January 21, the 14th Annual Summit Against Racism was held at the East Liberty Presbyterian Church. Workshops, documentaries, and discussion made up the day's program, addressing such issues as accountability and alliance, land tenure, police brutality, the image of women, mass incarceration, and the occupation movement. The following are excerpts from spokespeople of these discussions.
For more information, visit www.blackandwhitereunion.org
This story was edited by Emily Laychak with audio taken by Emily DeMarco who attended the event.
A new monthly event series in Pittsburgh, entitled "Occupy Your Mind" brings together protestors, intellectuals, and artists to discuss the Occupy movement. It's described by organizers as, "part teach-in, part salon, with a little pot-luck and a lot of conversation."
Occupy_Your_Mind.flac: Occupy Your Mind (7:42)
This story is contributed by Amos Levy.
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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 other independent news from around the world.
Community residents opposed to a mining operation in the Ocotlán Valley, just south of Oaxaca City, were met with gunfire from local officials on January 18th. The attack has left one man dead and another woman injured. Both victims were part of the local coordinating committee that opposes the operation of a silver and gold mine in the community of San José el Progreso. Reports state that the municipal president fired the shots himself, or may have ordered other armed civilians to fire upon Bernardo Méndez Vásquez, as well as Abigail Vásquez Sánchez who is reported to be in fair condition.
The mine in San Jose el Progreso is run by Minera Cuzcatlán, a subsidiary of the Canadian mining company, Fortuna Silver Mines.
In a press conference held on Monday January 23rd, community residents who oppose the mine called for the cancellation of the project and its total removal from the area. They cited Minera Cuzcatlán and Fortuna Silver as being responsible for human rights violations, confrontations, injuries, and deaths that have occurred since the company’s entrance into the community in 2006. They are also calling for the removal of the municipal authorities involved in the attack and the prosecution of those responsible.
Witness for Peace Mexico partners--including Services for an Alternative Education, the Center for Indigenous Rights, Flor y Canto, the Union of Organizations of the Sierra Juarez of Oaxaca, and the Human Rights Center Miguel Agustín Pro Juárez--also denounced the attack, as well as the ongoing conflicts related to the mine’s operations in the area.
These human rights and indigenous defense organizations are also members of the Oaxacan Collective in Defense of the Land. As a collective, they work to expose the impacts that megaprojects and the exploitation of natural resources can have on local communities’ rights to their land, water, farming, and food sovereignty. They focus on rural and indigenous communities who did not give their “prior, free, and informed consent” to the entrance of these projects into their communities.
The Oaxacan Collective in Defense of the Land states on their website that [quote] “under the paradigm of free trade, neoliberal policies through international treaties, new laws, and government programs, a few politicians are giving out concessions for the exploitation of natural resources.”
Indeed, with over 24,000 mining concessions given out by Mexican administrations during the years 2000-2010, 25% of all of Mexico’s surface territory is now in the hands of foreign mining companies. While the majority of those are Canadian companies, at least 45 U.S.-based companies, such as Coeur d’Alene Mines Corporation and Cotton & Western Mining Inc., have mining operations within the country.
The implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1994 certainly has facilitated the entrance of Canadian and American mining companies into Mexico. When asked by Witness for Peace what was the relation between NAFTA and the situation occurring in Oaxaca, indigenous Zapotec and director of Flor y Canto, Carmen Santiago Alonso responded, “With these treaties what we have seen is that they have enriched a few, and impoverished the majority of the people. That’s what we see…The illicit enrichment of a few businessmen and our governments as well...And the impoverishment of the people in all aspects--in health, in access to food. In effect, they are violating all rights.”
While all of Mexico is rich in natural resources, the southern state of Oaxaca is home to a vast wealth of resources, and currently has 13 different megaprojects operating around the state. Oaxaca is also home to the country’s largest percentage of indigenous peoples, who continue to use their land communally.
Despite these indigenous communities having rights over their territory, often community members and local officials are coerced, corrupted, mislead, or misinformed about what is actually happening if and when they sign their land rights over. On many occasions, projects are implemented without prior consultation with community members. As seen in the case of San José el Progreso, the conflicts that arise can turn deadly.
This story was written by Carlin Christy for Witness for Peace's blog at witness4peace.blogspot.com.
You're listening to Rustbelt Radio, the Pittsburgh Independent Media Center's bi-weekly review of news from the grassroots.
Working just 20 hours a week may sound like a pipe dream, but a growing number of economists are taking this idea seriously. The New Economics Foundation issued a report in 2011 called “21 hours: why a shorter working week can help us all to flourish in the 21st century”. NEF, based in London, describes itself as “an independent think-and-do-tank that inspires and demonstrates real economic well-being.” On January 11th, NEF hosted an expert panel discussion on the 20 hour work week at the London School of Economics. Today we’ll examine this idea of a much shorter work week; we’ll delve into the 21 hours report, bring you excerpts from the panel discussion, and we’ll see what Pittsburghers have to say about the idea.
Experts agree: Juliet Schor, a professor of sociology at Boston College, spoke on the NEF panel. She says there is strong historical precedent for creating more jobs by shortening the work week. She argues that over the last hundred years, American and European capitalist economies would not have been able to maintain their high levels employment if they had not also been reducing the average number of hours worked at the same time. In the U.S. in 1870, average working hours were just above 60 per week, while by 1970 they were near 40 hours per week. However, in the last few decades the United States and Britain have reversed the trend towards shorter hours, and the average work week has grown longer for people with full-time jobs. Employment levels have remained stagnant or dropped. Meanwhile, countries such as the Netherlands and Germany which have continued reducing the work week have maintained higher levels of employment even through recessions. Juliet Schor explains why growth alone can't provide enough jobs:
The current recession continues to worsen in the United States and in Europe. Although American financial titans like AIG and GM have stabilized, jobs are still being lost. Furthermore, the 21 hours report points out that
With these structural problems, it looks unlikely that growth will return any time soon, and the question of how to create jobs during economic downturns, in economies that are growing very little or not growing at all, becomes increasingly important.
The 21 hours report also sees a shorter work week as a tool for addressing income inequality. In the United States, current trends in working hours are exacerbating income inequality. Juliet Schor:
This also helps create the larger-scale inequality that the Occupy movement is protesting. According to economist Edward Wolff of New York University, in the United States, the top 1% of the population owns 35% of all wealth. The next 19% owns 50% more, and the bottom 80% of the population splits among itself just 15% of our national wealth. Under the system Schor described, owners extract the maximum possible from full time employees to whom they pay benefits, while continually reducing full time positions and creating more part time positions with no benefits.
Schorr and the 21 hours report also see reducing the working week as a way to transition to a more environmentally sustainable economy.
Since our present capitalist economy is essentially dependent on production of goods and services that consume environmental resources and create pollution, a larger economy consumes more resources and causes more environmental degradation.
The 21 hours report argues for shifting the current paradigm of living to work, working to earn, and earning to consume.
Anna Coot, head of social policy at New Economics Foundation:
Susan Veraldi owns a hair salon on South Craig Street in oakland for 23 years.
The 21 hours report argues that shortening the work week is essentially shrinking the market economy while expanding the human economy, and that this is critical to meeting human needs in an equitable way without destroying the planet:
NEF also argues that re-balancing the human and the market economies may also help improve gender equity in society. Previous NEF reports show that when unpaid work such as childcare, housework, and elder care are counted alongside paid work, women work substantially more hours than men. However, a lower portion of those hours are actually paid work.
Susan Veraldi is already stepping outside of these pressures:
Many other Pittsburghers we spoke to said they would like to. We caught up with Bud in Bloomfield waiting for a bus:
People also had concerns, though. Bud explains why he was waiting for the bus:
Nancy Way of Bloomfield:
The 21 hours report describes itself as a “provocation, not a prescription”, and it acknowledges that strong safeguards would have to be implemented along with a shorter work week in order for it to have the desired effects.
Nicole had some suggestions for it making work:
Many studies show that productivity actually does increase when people work shorter hours. The United States, with its long hours, is not more productive per worker than Germany or the Netherlands. This may be true even for industrial work. When Britain imposed a 3 day work week during an electricity shortage while coal miners were on strike in the late 1970s, productivity declined only 6 percent even though everyone was working 40% less time.
Juliet Schor with more on how to make it work:
The 21 hours report also emphasizes making high quality childcare available, changing employer’s contributions to social security per-hour rather than per-employee, and providing employer incentives to hire more people, such as tax cuts. The report tackles the difficult problem of how to increase social safety nets that allow people to live better with lower incomes at the same time as shriking the economy as a whole, suggesting we meet more of these needs with social cooperative systems. And if that sounds intriguing, you’ll have to read the report, which is available at www.neweconomics.org. Video of the entire panel discussion is also available at their site. We leave you with these words from Professor Lord Robert Sidelsky:
This report was produced by Jessica McPherson. Thanks to Nigel Parry for being the voice of the 21 hours report.
Michael_Jackson_-_Working_Day_and_Night.flac: Michael Jackson - Working Day and Night (4:58)
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 [Emily Laychak] and [Jessica MchPherson with contributions from [Carlin Christy, Emily DeMarco, Amos Levy, Gretchen Neidert, Jessica McPherson, Nigel Parry, and Hannah Taleb]. This week's show was produced by Phill Cresswell. Special thanks to all of our hosts, producers, and contributors.
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