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Rustbelt Radio for June 26, 2006
by Indymedia Rustbelt Radio collective Tuesday, Jun. 27, 2006 at 8:58 PM (email address validated) 412-923-3000 WRCT 88.3FM

On this week's show... * We bring you voices of the various activists, organizers, and media makers who gathered at the 8th annual Allied Media Conference this past weekend * plus, our local and global headlines

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Rustbelt Radio for June 26, 2006


Welcome to this week's edition of Rustbelt Radio, the Pittsburgh Independent Media Center's weekly review of the news from the grassroots and news overlooked by the corporate media.

On today's show...

Rustbelt Radio airs live every Monday from 6-7pm and again Tuesday mornings at 9AM on WRCT 88.3FM in Pittsburgh, every Thursday from 11am to noon on WARC Meadville 90.3 FM from the campus of Allegheny College, every Saturday from 5-6pm on WVJW Benwood, 94.1 FM in the Wheeling, West Virginia area, and also every Saturday at 5pm on WPTS 92.1 FM from the campus of the University of Pittsburgh.

And we're also available on the internet, both on W-R-C-T's live webstream at W-R-C-T dot ORG and for download or podcast at radio dot I-N-D-Y-P-G-H dot org.

We now turn to local headlines from Pittsburgh Indymedia.


Local News

[0:45] PA set to raise minimum wage

The Pennsylvania State Senate has passed a bill raising the minimum wage in the state to $7.15. The state House of Representatives passed a similar bill in April; differences in the two bills - dealing with whether companies with under 10 employees have until 2007 or 2008 - must be reconciled, then the bill will be move on to the desk of Governor Ed Rendell.

The bill raises the minimum wage for full time employees to approximately $14,500 - just over the Federal Government's definition of a living wage for a single person, but under that for a family of two. The bill is the first time in 9 years that the state has raised the minimum wage; the Philadelphia Independent Media Center points out that during this period, the Pennsylvania State Legislators have given themselves pay raises 8 times.

[0:45] Police chase in Garfield

Last Tuesday, June 20th, another police chase ended in a car crash that critically injured two innocent bystanders. The chase began when police in the Hill District attempted to pull over an SUV for playing music too loud and failing to use a turn signal. In the 5300 block of Mossfield St. in Garfield, the SUV crashed head-on into a Cadillac, critically injuring the two people inside. Police say their car was about 150 yards behind the SUV at the time of the crash, and that the chase had been terminated before the crash occurred. After the crash, the driver of the SUV attempted to flee, and police used tasers to subdue him, then arrested him. The driver will be charged with aggravated assault, fleeing and eluding, and driving without a license.

[1:30] East End Food Co-op Begins to Unionize

Workers at the East End Food Co-op, Pittsburgh's only member-owned natural and organic grocery store, have organized with the Industrial Workers of the World to improve working conditions, pay and benefits, and to address what the IWW sees as long-standing issues of low staff morale and high turnover. The Co-op currently employs approximately 50 workers.

Since launching their organizing drive on May 15th, Co-op workers have requested that the Board of Directors agree to recognize the workers' demand for collective bargaining rights based upon a showing of majority support for the union. The workers want the Co-op to accept the union through the authorization card-check process, whereby workers who support unionization sign cards authorizing the union to represent them during collective bargaining.

Co-op customer service representative, Stacey Clampitt stated, "We want the Board to accept the authorization cards instead of putting us through a long and tedious election process." Once an employer agrees to accept the card-check process, a neutral third party will verify the cards and report if they represent a majority of eligible workers. If they do, the employer then officially agrees to recognize the union for the purposes of collective bargaining.

Mike "Q" Roth, from the Co-op's Board of Directors stated that they (quote) " recognize and respect the EEFC's employees rights to seek unionization. We feel that the issue of whether the EEFC employees will unionize or not is strictly a decision of the employees. The Board and our management remain impartial in this decision. The only concern that we have is that this decision be made in a fair and democratic process."

At the Co-op board meeting tonight, further details regarding the unionizing process will be anounced.


For more on all of our local news stories, visit pittsburgh dot I-N-D-Y-M-E-D-I-A dot O-R-G.

Global News


You are listening to Rustbelt Radio, the Pittsburgh Independent Media Center's weekly review of news overlooked by the corporate media. We turn now to headlines from Independent Media Sources around the world.

[3:00] General Motors reduces workforce by one quarter

Over 30,000 workers have signed up to accept buyout offers from General Motors, receiving a one-time sum and some or all of their retirement benefits in return for giving up their jobs. Employees will receive from 35,000 to 140,000 dollars in exchange for their jobs, depending upon their seniority. GM's union workforce will be reduced by one quarter by the downsizing program, which was negotiated with the United Auto Workers union.

Cynthia Merz, who has worked for GM nearly 30 years:

John Weisman, who describes himself as a GM gypsy, having moved 5 times in the last 10 years to keep up with plant closings, said: (quote) You have to weigh your options. If you don't take the buyout and your contract renews, especially with GM going slowly down the way it is, you're going to lose your guaranteed income probably in 2007. You know, I've just ran out of towns, ran out of plants to go to. I have lost my family along the way. That's what's happened and that's what happened to a lot of families. (endquote) Weisman said he plans to accept the buyout and start a business converting cars to run on bio-diesel fuel.

GM's share of the car and light truck market in the US has fallen steadily since its heyday in the 50s and 60s, when it controlled over 50 percent of the market. Last month its market share fell to 22.5 percent. The buyouts are part of GM's plan to bring north American capacity into line with its shrinking market share. It is cutting capacity by 1million vehicles a year, with a dozen plant closures planned by 2008.

The buy-outs will bring big savings to GM, especially in future health and pension benefits. GM blames its continued net losses on high labor costs.

GM shares have soared by a third since the company announced the (quote) accelerated attrition programme late in March. They closed at twenty six dollars and ninety-seven cents on Friday.

Over the next few months, 50,000 workers are projected to leave the auto industry in America, as other companies including Ford and Delphi, an auto-parts maker, also downsize. Ford has said 10,000 workers will accept buyouts, while Delphi is expected to announce later this week that at least 9,000 of its 31,000 unionised workers have accepted buy-outs.

[1:30] Army Lt. refuses to serve in Iraq

Last Friday, First Lieutenant Ehren K. Watada became the first commissioned US Army officer to refuse to serve in Iraq. Lt. Watada has stated that he believes the US invasion and occupation to be illegal, and by extension, any participation in that war to be illegal as well.

His mother, Carolyn Ho explained her son's actions to the Miami Independent Media Center: [quote] "My son's decision to refrain from deploying to Iraq comes through much soul searching. It is an act of patriotism. It is a statement to all Americans, to men and women in uniform, that they need not remain silent out of fear, that that they have the power to turn the tide of history: to stop the destruction of a country and the killing of untold numbers of innocent men, women, and children. It is a message that states unequivocally that blindly following orders is no longer an option. My son, Lt. Watada's stance is clear. He will stay the course. I urge you to join him in this effort." [unquote] Lt. Watada is currently confined to base and is prohibited from speaking with any non-military personnel except his legal council.

Lt. Watada attempted to resign his commission in January, stating [quote] "I am whole-heartedly opposed to the continued war in Iraq, the deception used to wage this war, and the lawlessness that has pervaded every aspect of our civilian leadership." [unquote]

Lt. Watada expects to be brought up before a military court-martial for refusing to deploy. His attorney, Eric Seitz has stated that the illegality of the war will be his primary defense.

Tuesday the 27th has been called as a national day of action in support of Lt. Watada. Locally, the Pittsburgh Organizing Group is calling for a picket at noon in front of the Market Square Armed Forces Recruiting Station.

[2:00] More NSA spying

The Washington Post and the New York Times revealed yet another illegal domestic spying program this week. Under this program, the National Security Agency, the Department of the Treasury, and the CIA have been monitoring confidential banking and other financial transactions and using that information to build a vast database that records the financial transactions of a unknown number of American citizen. The Washington Post writes [quote] the secret NSA and Treasury programs have built unprecedented government databases of private transactions, most of them involving people who prove irrelevant to terrorism investigators. [unquote]

This program - like the telephone eavesdropping program run by the NSA with the help of several major telephone companies - gathers information on individuals without a warrant or any evidence that they are involved terrorists.

An anonymous counter-terrorism official told the New York Times [quote] "The capability here is awesome or, depending on where you're sitting, troubling," ... "the potential for abuse is enormous." [unquote]

In the past months, several US spy programs have been revealed including the National Security Agency, despite early assurances to the contrary, monitoring the telephone calls of thousands and potentially millions of American's domestic calls. The major telephone companies that turned these records over to the government without a warrant-AT&T, BellSouth and Verizon-are now facing a class-action lawsuit brought by their customers. It also came out that the NSA was running another program whereby they would gather information from social networking sites like In yet another program, the government has paid millions of dollars to so-called information brokers-- companies with databases typically used by junk-mail and telemarketing companies.

In response to questions about the program, White House spokesman Dana Perino said "We are disappointed that once again the New York Times has chosen to expose a classified program that is working to protect Americans." Rep. Peter King, a Republican from New York and chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee called for criminal charges to be brought against newspapers that reported on programs used to trace terrorists, singling out the New York Times for breaking the story. "We're at war, and for the Times to release information about secret operations and methods is treasonous," King said. Sen. Arlen Specter, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee disagreed. He said, "On the basis of the newspaper article, I think it's premature to call for a prosecution of the New York Times, just like I think it's premature to say that the administration is entirely correct." Specter is considering new laws that would retroactively legalize the NSA's wiretapping program.

[:20] Irish Afghani follow-up

On May 22nd, Rustbelt Radio reported on 41 Afghani hunger strikers who occupied St. Patrick's Cathedral in Dublin, Ireland seeking asylum. They were removed by police after a week and the 34 adults in the group were charged with forcible entry. Last Monday, June 19th, the charges were dropped against all but two of the men. The two men whose charges weren't dropped failed to appear at their hearing.

[3:30] Telecommunications bill update

The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee met last Thursday to consider which amendments will be attached to a major telecommunications bill, SB 2686, before it goes to the Senate floor. Two hundred and thirteen amendments have been proposed for the bill. Committee members debated several points of contention, including the Universal Service Fund, funding for first responders, and net neutrality. Several Senators also voiced concerns that provisions in the bill would pre-empt state regulations over certain aspects of telecommunications, although no one could explain exactly which aspects. None of the senators contested the provision to streamline video franchising rules. Senator Olympia Snowe of Maine promised to introduce an amendment to preserve net neutrality, although Senator Ted Stevens, the bill's author and the chair of the committee, has said he does not want the bill to address net neutrality. Few conclusions were reached and Senator Stevens scheduled another markup hearing for Tuesday June 27 at 10 a.m.

The corresponding House version of the telecommunications bill passed on June 9th, without provisions to protect net neutrality.

In addition to net neutrality, Public Access TV advocates are denouncing the bill as it stands saying that it will allow telecom companies to bypass the laws that provide for network access for public and governmental programming. The website save access dot org is campaigning for senators to amend the bill to save community media and says the amendment that the telecom companies want (quote) "will NOT make good on the promises of increased competition, lower rates, better service, more choices or expanded high speed internet access for rural consumers." (end quote)

Prometheus Radio Project, while also denouncing the net neutrality and public access aspects of the proposed law, is also asking the public to contact their senators to amend the telecom bill to enable Low Power FM radio to enter non-rural markets.

You can read the McCain amendment for LPFM online at prometheusradio dot org.


You can read more about our global news stories by visting I-N-D-Y-M-E-D-I-A dot O-R-G. We'll be back after a brief break.

Music Break



You're listening to Rustbelt Radio.

[18:00] Allied Media Conference Keynote

This past weekend, the 8th annual Allied Media Conference was held at Bowling Green State University in Ohio. This annual gathering brings together some of the most innovative and visionary culture producers, media workers, artists and activists working in the US.

The theme of this year's AMC was "From Truth to Power, because being Right is not Enough." Over the weekend, participants shared thoughts and ideas about how to construct popular media projects that effectively build grassroots power and advance social justice. We will now bring you excerpts from the Keynote Address and Panel at the Allied Media Conference.

To kick-off the keynote panel, high school student Asmiou Diallo performed a reading of an untitled poem from Voices of the Peoples History of the United States.

Deepa Fernandez is the host of Wakeup Call, a daily radio show on WBAI, the Pacifica radio station in New York City.

Jeff Chang is a music critic and the author of Can't Stop, Won't Stop: A history of the hiphop generation

climbing poetree

Alixa and Naima are the Heart-Beat-Soul-Sister spoken word duo Climbing PoeTree. On a mission to reshape the world through evolutionary art that speaks truth to power, they employ poetry as their weapon, their medicine, their voice, and their vision. Here we have an excerpt of their performance at Allied Media.

the weather and takes a long pause

That was just climing poetree. You can also listen to an archive of them performing live on Rustbelt Radio on november 14th of 2005

Now we will hear playwright, HBO Def Poet, and performance lecturer Mark Gonzales blending words into worlds as he intimately deconstructs global issues.

That was just Marc Gonzales at the Allied Media Conference.

[1:30] Media Literacy Education

The first day of the Allied Media Conference was a Symposium on Media Literacy in Education, and there Bob Williams screened several short videos that he helped make with high school students in schools around Vermont. He also spoke about the elements that he tries to incorporate into these films.

[11:00] Reporting on immigration issues

Deepa Fernandez hosted a session on the challenges of reporting on immigration issues. She spoke about a technique which helped her find out about what corporations have been selling to the government. * deepa-immigrant-reports.wav

[2:00] Outro

And now we present the Indymedia calendar of events:

Thanks for tuning in to Rustbelt Radio here on WRCT Pittsburgh, WARC Meadville, WVJW Benwood and WPTS Pittsburgh.

Our hosts this week are Morgan Ress and Carlin Christy with additional contributions from Andalusia Knoll, Jessica McPherson, Abie Flaxman, Jessi Berkelhammer, and Matt Toups. This week's show was produced by Donald Deeley. Special thanks to all of our hosts, producers, and contributors.

Your story submissions are welcome! To get involved with Rust Belt Radio, or to send us your comments, email RADIO at I-N-D-Y-P-G-H dot ORG or call 412-923-3000. All of our shows are available for download on our website at RADIO dot INDY-P-G-H dot ORG, and this program can be heard again on Tuesday morning at 9AM after Democracy Now on WRCT 88.3FM Pittsburgh.

Tune in next week at this time for another edition of Rustbelt Radio, the Pittsburgh Independent Media Center's weekly review of the news from the grassroots.

Rustbelt Radio for June 26, 2006 [ogg vorbis]
by Indymedia Rustbelt Radio collective Tuesday, Jun. 27, 2006 at 8:58 PM 412-923-3000 WRCT 88.3FM

audio: ogg vorbis at 21.6 mebibytesaudio: ogg vorbis at 21.6 mebibytes

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