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Decision: No Casino on the Hill
No Casino on the Hill Victory has come for activists and residents who have been fighting the development of a Casino in the Hill District.  On December 20th the state Gaming Control Board granted PITG Gaming Majestic Star the casino license to construct a a slot machine parlor on the North Side near the Carnegie Science Center.

In the preceding months an Anti-Casino on the Hill movement had been gaining momentum. On Saturday, December 16th over 100 Hill District Residents and supporters gathered on Freedom Corner to say "not one more inch". This phrase was a throwback to the 1950's when thousands of residents were evicted for the Mellon Arena and development in the Lower Hill.  They vowed that this harmful development would not come "one inch" further and destroy more of their neighborhood.

[ Photos from the Dec. 16 rally | Photos from previous rallies ]

Many speakers at this rally likened the construction of the Isle of Capri casino to the 1950's development that severed the HIll District from Downtown. They called upon their ancestors who had a long history of struggling against wrongdoings and said that they took inspiration from them in this fight against the Casino.  One Hill District resident, Mary Young, spoke of the havoc that gambling had reeked in her family while others spoke of the harm that a gambling facility can bring into an already struggling neighborhood.  Bruce Barron of No Dice, and Sharon Capretto of CasinoFree Pittsburgh spoke of the problems that casinos bring to any neighborhood.

[ Listen to audio clips from the rally ]

[ Listen to previous audio reports: Rustbelt Radio documentary: No Casinos on the Hill (27:14 mp3) | November 6 update:   Raise your Hand rally (11:08 mp3) ]

With the Gaming Control Board's decision to allow a Casino on the North Shore, many are rejoicing that it is not on the Hill but others feel defeated since a Casino is still being constructed in the City of Pittsburgh.

[ See previous Pittsburgh IMC feature coverage | Read No Casino on the Hill by Andalusia Knoll ]

The state Gaming Control Board also chose two casino locations for the city of Philadelpha, and Philly Indymedia has been covering the issue from their end of the state.

[ Philly IMC: The Casino Decisions: Broken Politics All The Way Down | The Casinos are Coming - an extensive resource ]

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"Faces of Democracy" Film Festival at CMU
filmfest Tonight, Thursday November 30th, begins a 11-day film festival entitled "Faces of Democracy" at Carnegie Mellon University. The Film Festival questions the meaning of freedom in various countries and cultures through guest presenters, award-winning short films, documentaries and feature films including: My Country, My Country, Faces of Change, State of Fear, Avenge But One of My Two Eyes, Black Gold, Stolen Eyes, Foundation, Czech Dream, Red Colored Grey Truck, Your Name is Justine and I Love You. The festival kicks off with a screening of the short, "My Country, My Country" (2006), which shows the ethnic, religious, and cultural issues surrounding the 2005 Iraq elections, and "Avenge But One of My Two Eyes" (2005), which explores the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Festival schedule ]
Labor activists picket Starbucks in Squirrel Hill
starbucks On November 24, 2006, local members of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), joined by Friends of Labor supporters from across the city, participated in the IWW Starbucks Union's Global Days of Action" in a picket held in Squirrel Hill. For an hour, over twenty workers supporting the Starbucks Workers Union carried picket signs and loudly chanted in front of the Starbucks at the corner of Forbes and Shady Avenue. This action was part of a broader movement in many cities around the world to protest Starbucks' anti-union practices and the wrongful termination of five union workers. Organizers are planning to protest Starbucks in Bloomfield this Saturday, December 2nd.

[ read more | Dec. 2 announcement Starbucks Union | other  Starbucks protests: NY FL ]

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Residents say No Casino on the Hill!
Slots Casinos became legal when the Pennsylvania General Assembly approved gaming in the state, and created the Gaming Control Board in 2004. The Gaming Control Board will allocate licenses for 14 slots casinos, two which will be located in Philadelphia and one in Pittsburgh. Three applicants are vying for the single license for the Pittsburgh casino.  Two of the proposals are slotted for commercial areas- Station Square and the North Shore.  The Isle of Capri proposal put forth by Pittsburgh First is the only one slated to be developed in a residential neighborhood- the Hill District.  In December of  2006 the Pittsburgh Gaming Task Force will grant a license to one of the three casino firms.

Casino advocates are promising economic development, job opportunities, and community reinvestment. However, many Hill District residents who have a long history with bad urban development aren't buying it.  Activists, Ministers, community leaders, artists and residents have all joined together in opposition of Pittsburgh First's proposal for a slots casino in the Hill District.

Pittsburgh Indymedia's Andalusia Knoll has been covering the story and has produced two radio features for Rustbelt Radio and an article titled No Casinos on the Hill.

[ Read more... ]

[ Listen to the Rustbelt Radio documentary: No Casinos on the Hill (27:14 mp3) | November 6 update:   Raise your Hand rally (11:08 mp3) ]

[ For more info on casino developments in Pennsylvania, see Casinos in Philadelphia, Philly IMC's resource site ]

Angela Davis Recieves 2006 Thomas Merton Award
angela davis On Friday, November 10th, Angela Davis was awarded the annual Thomas Merton Award at a dinner and fundraiser at the Sheraton Station Square. The Thomas Merton Award has been awarded since 1972 by the Thomas Merton Center. It is named after Thomas Merton and is given annually to "national and international individuals struggling for justice." Recipients include Amy Goodman, Molly Rush, Daniel Berrigan, Kathy Kelly, Howard Zinn, among others.  Angela Davis is known internationally for her ongoing work to combat all forms of oppression in the U.S. and abroad.

Davis delivered a 51 minute talk  to an enthusiastic audience in which she discussed the war on Iraq, the recent elections,  the prison industrial complex and Mumia Abu-Jamal, who in fact  introduced her to the audience via a prerecorded message.

[ read more ]

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