Hosted by Fightback Pittsburgh, United Steelworkers and others.
Working families in Pittsburgh will hold a May Day rally and march to support a common sense immigration process. The rally will start at Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers then be followed by a march at 6PM. Working families will then rally and celebration of resistance at 6:30PM at IBEW Local 5 Hall, (5 Hot Metal St. Pittsburgh, PA. Organizations participating include Fight Back Pittsburgh, the United Steelworkers other unions and community organizations across Pittsburgh.
Event will start at the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers, 10 S. 19th St. Pittsburgh, PA 15203
April 27, 2013 – Pennsylvania voters overwhelmingly support the extension of background checks for gun purchases at arms shows or online, similar to the measure that recently failed in the U.S. Senate, according to a new poll.
While Republicans and male voters are generally less favorable to gun control initiatives, majorities in even those groups strongly supported the expanded background checks.
Overall, 85 percent of those surveyed in a new poll from Quinnipiac University said they favored the background checks. The same was true for 78 percent of the Republicans surveyed, 93 percent of Democrats and 88 percent of independents.
Asked to describe their reactions to the U.S. Senate’s rejection of the measure on April 17, from a list suggested by the interviewers, 70 percent said they were either "dissatisfied" or "angry" while 22 percent said they were "satisfied" and 5 percent said "enthusiastic."
Among Republicans, 10 percent said they were "enthusiastic" about the Senate action, 35 percent "satisfied," 37 percent "dissatisfied" and 15 percent "angry." Angry also was the response from 59 percent of the Democrats and 27 percent of independents.
Jan. 25, 2010 – In an age of open source, custom-fabricated, DIY product design, all you need to conquer the world is a brilliant idea. Photo: Dan Winters
The door of a dry-cleaner-size storefront in an industrial park in Wareham, Massachusetts, an hour south of Boston, might not look like a portal to the future of American manufacturing, but it is. This is the headquarters of Local Motors, the first open source car company to reach production. Step inside and the office reveals itself as a mind-blowing example of the power of micro-factories.
In June, Local Motors will officially release the Rally Fighter, a $50,000 off-road (but street-legal) racer. The design was crowdsourced, as was the selection of mostly off-the-shelf components, and the final assembly will be done by the customers themselves in local assembly centers as part of a “build experience.” Several more designs are in the pipeline, and the company says it can take a new vehicle from sketch to market in 18 months, about the time it takes Detroit to change the specs on some door trim. Each design is released under a share-friendly Creative Commons license, and customers are encouraged to enhance the designs and produce their own components that they can sell to their peers.
The Rally Fighter was prototyped in the workshop at the back of the Wareham office, but manufacturing muscle also came from Factory Five Racing, a kit-car company and Local Motors investor located just down the road. Of course, the kit-car business has been around for decades, standing as a proof of concept for how small manufacturing can work in the car industry. Kit cars combine hand-welded steel tube chassis and fiberglass bodies with stock engines and accessories. Amateurs assemble the cars at their homes, which exempts the vehicles from many regulatory restrictions (similar to home-built experimental aircraft). Factory Five has sold about 8,000 kits to date.
One problem with the kit-car business, though, is that the vehicles are typically modeled after famous racing and sports cars, making lawsuits and license fees a constant burden. This makes it hard to profit and limits the industry’s growth, even in the face of the DIY boom.
Jay Rogers, CEO of Local Motors, saw a way around this. His company opted for totally original designs: They don’t evoke classic cars but rather reimagine what a car can be. The Rally Fighter’s body was designed by Local Motors’ community of volunteers and puts the lie to the notion that you can’t create anything good by committee (so long as the community is well managed, well led, and well equipped with tools like 3-D design software and photorealistic rendering technology). The result is a car that puts Detroit to shame.
Michael Scarnn of the Earth Quaker Action team has a discussion with a gentleman outside the August Wilson Center, the location of the PNC Financial Services Group’s annual meeting. The group was protesting PNC ‘s policy on mountaintop removal.
By Patricia Sabatini / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
A group concerned with the environmental effects of mountaintop removal coal mining descended on PNC Financial Services Group’s annual shareholders meeting Downtown this morning, disrupting the event and forcing Chairman and CEO James Rohr to abruptly shut it down.
Mr. Rohr tried to deliver his presentation inside the August Wilson Center, but was repeatedly interrupted by members of the Earth Quaker Action Team who took turns calling out the names of individual board members asking them to state their position on mountaintop mining.
After calling the protesters out of order, Mr. Rohr essentially threw up his hands and adjourned the meeting roughly 15 minutes after it began.
Earth Quaker, which has demonstrated at PNC’s annual meetings for three straight years, wants Pittsburgh’s biggest bank to stop lending money to companies that extract coal by shearing off the tops of mountains.
PNC last year said it no longer financed companies with a majority of their business tied to the practice.
But Earth Quaker executive director Amy Ward Brimmer said today that no companies fit that description.
“None of them do a majority of their business in mountaintop mining,” she said.
The group claims PNC remains one of the nation’s two largest financiers of mountaintop coal mining.
Ms. Brimmer said members decided to step up pressure on PNC this year because executives have refused to meet with them.
“This is the only way we can think to get their attention,” she said.
April 22, 2013 – Gasland Part II, which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival on Sunday, takes us deep into the heartland of America, a land overtaken by gas extraction via fracking. The iconic and recurring depictions of water-on-fire seen in the first Gasland, in the new film serve as postcards from a travelogue through a land of broken promises, abandoned homes, and extinguished rights.
The first Gasland, (which was released in 2010 and nominated for a 2011 Academy Award) became this country’s wake-up call about fracking, the first prod for millions to look beyond the industry-engineered PR facade. Banjo music played throughout the soundtrack revealed director Josh Fox’s chosen musical instrument. But Fox became a kind of Pied Piper for a growing grass roots movement that questioned the need for fracking. Challenging the inroads claimed by the multinational gas and oil industry, fractivism is a popular and youth-driven pushback that these powerful industries are neither accustomed nor equipped to deal with.
Gasland and Gasland Part II (and films like them) unmask the human debt incurred by an array of corporate Goliaths. It turns the lens on those joining the ranks of the Davids—ordinary citizens that awaken from the American dream to discover their way of life has been redefined by impersonal corporate entities, intent on constructing new superhighways towards profits‑—right over the lives of tens of thousands of people.
Gasland Part II continues Fox’s exploration by offering textured, in-depth profiles of half a dozen or so families in geographically diverse locations, from Australia, to Wyoming to Pennsylvania. Fox’s camera takes us into the homes of straight-talking folks who worked hard to secure their corner of the heartland.
April 15, 2013 – Ed Wade’s property straddles the Wetzel and Marsh county lines in rural West Virginia and it has a conventional gas well on it. “You could cover the whole [well] pad with three pickups,” said Wade. And West Virginia has lots of conventional wells — more than 50,000 at last count. West Virginians are so well acquainted with gas drilling that when companies began using high-volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing in 2006 to access areas of the Marcellus Shale that underlie the state, most residents and regulators were unprepared for the massive footprint of the operations and the impact on their communities.
When it comes to a conventional well and a Marcellus well, “There is no comparison, none whatsoever,” said Wade, who works with the Wetzel County Action Group . “You live in the country for a reason and it just takes that and turns it upside down. You know how they preach all the time that natural gas burns cleaner than coal; well, it may burn cleaner than coal, but it’s a hell of a lot dirtier to extract.”
To understand what’s at stake, you have to understand the vocabulary. Take the word “fracking” for example. When people say it’s been around since the 1950s, they are referring to vertical fracturing, but what’s causing all the contention lately is a much more destructive process known as high-volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing. Or they’re using "fracking" in a very limited way. “The industry uses [fracking] to refer just to the moment when the shale is fractured using water as the sledgehammer to shatter the shale,” scientist Sandra Steingraber told AlterNet . “With that as the definition they can say truthfully that there are no cases of water contamination associated with fracking. But you don’t get fracking without bringing with it all these other things — mining for the frack sand , depleting water, you have to add the chemicals, you have to drill, you have to dispose of the waste, you have drill cuttings. I refer to them all as fracking, as do most activists.”
PITTSBURGH — Most people celebrate Earth Day by planting trees. But a local coalition of environmentalists plans to celebrate the Earth by protesting actions of the state agency intended to protect it.
The coalition, made up of 60 organizations and individual citizens, is staging a statewide Earth Day protest Monday at six regional Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection offices. The groups are calling for the DEP to return to its mission, “to protect Pennsylvania’s air, land and water from pollution and to provide for the health and safety of its citizens through a cleaner environment.”
The group also has five demands for the regulatory agency, which has come under fire in recent months over its water-testing practices. It stems from a Public Accountability Initiative report that highlighted extensive ties between DEP leadership and the oil and gas industry, and its granting of a permit to Chesapeake Energy for hydraulic fracturing just 1 mile from the Beaver Valley Power Station, among others.
The Earth Day Protest Against Fracking has the following five demands:
• Appoint an environmental expert without industry ties as DEP Secretary to ensure DEP’s mission is fulfilled
• Place a moratorium on permits for gas wells, compressor stations, pipelines, water withdrawals, coal mines, and other infrastructure related to fossil fuel extraction
• Allow no more toxic secrets and full disclosure of water tests and other studies by DEP
• Provide justice for those harmed by the oil and gas industry
• Reopen the DEP Office of Energy and Technology Deployment to develop solar, wind and other renewable energy technologies
The local demonstration will take place at 2p.m. Monday at the DEP Southwest Regional Office, 400 Waterfront Drive, Homestead.
The United States is refusing to recognize the results of the Venezuelan elections, insisting that Venezuela conduct a re-count of 100 percent of the votes in light of the narrow margin of victory for Nicolas Maduro. The facts surrounding the voting process and election outcome in Venezuela, the U.S.’s own experiences with close presidential elections, and the U.S.’s recent recognition of coup governments in Latin America demonstrate that the U.S.’s position in regard to Venezuela has nothing to do with the U.S.’s alleged concerns for democracy, but rather, its complete disdain for it.
I just returned from Venezuela where I was one of over 170 international election observers from around the world, including India, Guyana, Suriname, Colombia, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Scotland, England, the United States, Guatemala, Argentina, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Ethiopia, Jamaica, Brazil, Chile, Greece, France, Panama and Mexico. These observers included two former presidents (of Guatemala and the Dominican Republic), judges, lawyers and numerous high ranking officials of national electoral councils. What we found was an election system which was transparent, inherently reliable, well-run and thoroughly audited.
Indeed, as to the auditing, what has been barely mentioned by the mainstream press is the fact that around 54 percent of all votes are, and indeed have already been, audited to ensure that the electronic votes match up with the paper receipts which serve as back-up for these electronic votes. And, this auditing is done in the presence of witnesses from both the governing and opposition parties right in the local polling places themselves. I witnessed just such an audit at the end of election day on Sunday. And, as is the usual case, the paper results matched up perfectly with the electronic ones. As the former Guatemalan President, Alvaro Colom, who served as an observer, opined, the vote in Venezuela is “secure” and easily verifiable.
In short, the observers’ experience this past week aligns with former U.S. president Jimmy Carter’s observation last year that Venezuela’s electoral system is indeed the “the best in the world.”
After a short but bitterly fought, insult-laden campaign, Chavista standard-bearer Nicolás Maduro defeated challenger Henrique Capriles, thus assuring continuity in Venezuela after the death of President Hugo Chávez last month. But the election was much closer than the polls predicted: a margin of just 1.6 percentage points, or about 275,000 votes.
Capriles is demanding an audit of 100 percent of all votes; Maduro has apparently agreed. But the audit is unlikely to change the outcome. Unlike in the United States, where in a close election we really don’t know who won, the Venezuelan system is very secure. Since there are two records of every vote (machine and paper ballot), it is nearly impossible to rig the machines and stuff the ballot boxes to match. Jimmy Carter called Venezuela’s electoral system “the best in the world.”