Finally, Pgh Media Discusses G-20 Issues Rather Than Tactics

I am thrilled with today's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.  I don't agree with all the content (the gushing over Stanley Lowe made me choke), but the fact that we have content on a Sunday rather than New York Time reprints is wonderful.

My delight was tripled when I read the piece on the G-20 by arguably the best writer in the region, Dennis Roddy.  To put this topic in his hands lends credibility and sensibility to what could otherwise be lost in the ongoing hysterical media coverage of the baby-eating anarchists. 

The issues, my friends, are quite varied as are the groups lumped together under the banner of “protesters.”  You should understand that the G-20 dissent is not an attempt to influence a particular decision, but an opportunity to highlight significant social justice and related issues that fly in the face of democracy and human rights, allegedly represented by the democratically elected members of the G-19 nations (plus the EU).

Objections to the G-20 and its policies are best captured in that dash of capital across international borders, in search of cheap labor and wider profit margins.

“When we have creativity, we ship it elsewhere because it can be produced or made cheaper in another country,” said state Sen. Jim Ferlo, one of a dozen or so prominent leaders who says he is both welcoming the G-20 and planning to take to the streets to protest its policies.

Groups objecting to the G-20 range from environmentalists who want to press governments to drastically curtail greenhouse gases to a range of anti-authoritarian anarchists who see the institution as undemocratic and the free-market theories it promotes as flawed beyond redemption.

“It's hopelessly undemocratic,” says Noam Chomsky, a renowned linguist and a guiding light to much of the anti-authoritarian left.

Mr. Chomsky is among those who see the G-20 as a body that largely reflects concentrated private economic power and the small circle of people that possess that power.

I think many folks in Pittsburgh lose site of the strong connection their personal stories of job loss and economic challenges share with the “agenda” of those planning to protest the G-20.  Roddy does a nice job of linking the world economy to the personal story of a local man who lost his job because assembly makers in other nations are paid $3.00 per hour. 

That's a real concrete connection.  Does it mean you should don a mask and charge the barricades at the Convention Center?  Of course not, but it hopefully makes you take a step back to realize that many, if not most, of the folks making time to take a stand against injustice are just like you and I.  Just like my steelworking father who can't retire because of the health insurance mess.  Just like half the folks shopping at Wal-Mart in spite of the irony that the low wages make it affordable to the masses who likely also live at poverty level. 

Read Roddy for a coherent explanation of American's love-hate relationship with world economies. 

There's a sidebar in the print edition which summarizes some of the major issue-clusters. 

One which I believe you really need to consider is the environmental agenda.  We here in Western Pennsylvania had a humbling dose of the international realities with the EarthEcycle debacle.  Hundreds of local residents were duped into donating electronic goods for recycling only to have the toxic elements dumped in South Africa and caught en route to Asia.  We were fooled by our willingness to accept the free lunch and EarthEcycle's mad-genius idea to affiliate with reputable non-profits. 

We were also fooled by our ignorance on the issue, in spite of major media attention and powerful images of children playing in toxic dumps.  We trusted the non-profits, who failed to do their homework.  They trusted the company who promised to help them help others.  We turned a collective blind eye and children in the two-thirds world suffer, children whose parents probably don't even have access to the $3.00/hour jobs. 

By definition, we need to include Homewood in this two-thirds world analogy.  EarthEcycle took advantage of our blind eye to dump computers in Homewood.

EarthEcycle, which is also storing collected electronics equipment in the yard surrounding an old auto repair shop in Homewood, collects and exports used electronics equipment and parts, including color computer monitors that contain cathode ray tubes. The CRTs may contain toxic phosphors within the glass envelopes, which could contain heavily leaded glass and represent an environmental hazard. The average color computer monitor contains 4 pounds of lead in addition to mercury, cadmium and arsenic.

Maybe we need to rethink a few things.  It isn't just those damn <insert country> treating their own residents like disposable creatures.  It is happening in the East End of Pittsburgh and I have yet to hear a public leader, including those representing Homewood, decry this injustice.  Seriously, don't the children in Homewood have enough on their plates without the potential leakage of mercury, lead and arsenic thanks to the good folks trying to help dogs and cats?  I've been asking around about what happened to those items as well as the storage unit filled in Monroeville.  No response.

Perhaps it makes sense that environmental activists team up other groups to draw attention to the fact that not everyone is fooled, as well as their faith that we can be educated about the myriad of issues.  Their faith that we can take control of our economic destinies, on the personal level of where we choose to spend our hard-earned dollars and on the systemic level of demanding fairness and justice in labor policies.  Their stubborn willingness to sleep in tents in order to pass out pamphlets and carry signs in hopes of reaching some of us, in spite of our disdain for the ensuing traffic jams and access to Starbucks. 

Yes, the G-20 will be a pain in the ass for a lot of us, but that's mostly due to the actual summit rather than the protestors.  I'm just saying that perhaps we can be part of the dialogue by getting ourselves informed on the issues instead of bemoaning the tactics. 

Let's not turn a blind eye this time folks. 


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  • Sue, there you go again. Where are your facts? You are leading people blindly into your opinion knowing they won't do the homework to find out the real truth and have them trust your passion and emotions.

  • Oh please spare me the distraction. The facts about EarthEcycle are well documented in a series of articles by the Post-Gazette, some of which I linked to and most of which I've linked to in the past. If anything, take it up with the Post-Gazette. My opinions are open to interpretation. I trust people are capable of reaching their own conclusions whereas you imply they make blind decisions based on a blog — how silly of you and how demeaning you are to the people who read this blog. People are doing their homework which I can tell from the data of how people link out from the site. Your feeble attempts to attack the messenger as well as your anonymity are the distraction.
    Readers, be assured that when I receive credible information on the status of the equipment that was dumped in Homewood and Monroeville, I will share with you.
    Anonymous, I welcome your input, misguided as you are. Your passion and emotional defense of EarthEcycle and the organizations he duped are evident. You can continue to attack me or you can put forth the facts demonstrating that my information is inaccurate. Which is more productive in terms of defending your position is pretty clear.

  • Fact well documented in a newspaper? Are you serious? You really take news paper articles as fact?
    And you say you trust people can draw their own conclusions based on your poor research skills?
    Here we go… The burden of proof is on you. You are the one misleading your readers. The facts are readily available at the EPA. No charges have been filed, no wrong doing has been found.
    Tell m, who received the containers of items? Were they shipped legally? Where do you get your information? Was anything in fact done against the law? Did the charities get paid? People say it was an immoral act. For a fact, where did the items end up? You say stuff was dumped in Homewood. This is not a fact. The fact is EarthEcycle cleaned up the warehouse in order to use it. It was a dump site prior to EarthEcycle moving in and they left it in better condition. The EPA first visited them there at the Braddock Ave address. No one was duped. You are attacking an organization that has donated huge amounts of cash to many organizations in need and has found viable homes for our unwanted ewaste that so many say has no value. If this stuff has no value, why are so many in the U.S. and abroad buying it is such mas quantities?
    To your readers, this is a very complicated issue. Please do you own research using as many sources as you can to determine what the truth is and how you understand it.
    Thank you.

  • My goodness, such an ardent defense from someone unwilling to post their name and email address. Why that's a credible defense if ever I saw one.
    An article printed by a law firm that works with industry on environment regulations is hardly objective or necessarily credible. My father works for a large company that involves industrial environmental regulation so I'm intimately familiar with the behind the scenes experiences, Mr. Nixon (or proxy).
    It is people like you that make the environmental protests at the G-20 essential to remind us that our nation is having an impact on the two-thirds world. Please take your petty attacks and personal agenda somewhere else. I know you resent anyone speaking out critically about your duplicity and I fully expect you to continue the anonymous/fake name insidious attempts to “debunk” the truth, but you are wasting your time. Why not start your own blog so you can get the “truth” out there instead of trying to chill my speech?
    You might be able to fool desperate non-profit organizations about industrial environmentalism, but you'll never fool the daughter of a steelworker. And that, so to speak, is church. Emotion and all.

  • What a bunch of corporate bullshit. This computer company is the fucking reason people need to pay attention. The fucking county signed off on this and what have they done to fix it? Not a fucking thing. It is a joke that masks are being outlawed when companies like this wear them every day.
    People fall for shit because they don't open their eyes. Putting different points of view out there is the only way to get them to THINK.
    If you think this is a radical position, you are an ignorant fuckwad in addition to being a corporate dick.

  • Name is irrelevant and you assume as do most people who need to impress and satisfy one person and put another person down to feel superior.
    As you say, stick to the issues and abandon personal attacks. You say this after you make a personal attack.
    I want to know the truth. If other countries are processing the ewaste in the same manner we are here in the U.S. and are willing to purchase it at a higher c=value, why shouldn't we consider participating in the world market? It brings capitol to the economy and processes the ewaste properly if the research is done to insure that in fact they are doing it properly. A very small percentage of de-maunifacturers and recyclers abroad are immoral and unsafe to our environment. In fact, you will find more gross errors here on U.S. soil.
    Oh, I am not “trying to chill your speech” and I am not angry with you. I wonder why you display anger in a situation that may call for intellectual debate or simply being open minded about getting an education.
    You insist you did your research. I'll reveal my name when you answer the questions. In order for your readers, one of them me, to understand that your word is credible, why not tell them where you are getting your info. Aside from reading what someone else wrote in a some what sketchy newspaper I see no decent research.
    If you like, I can provide a great deal of documentation from both sides of this argument that support either one.
    Again, I respect your opinion. Show me where you have learned for a fact that the allegations are true. Show me what the EPA, local, state and other federal entities have said anything was done wrong by EarthEcycle and why participating in the world market is bad if we insure the process is as efficient and eco-friendly as ours here in the U.S.
    You must have studied presidential rhetoric in some university. Your debate style is very effective.

  • You really have a colorful way of expressing yourself. how can you say “it is people like you who…” You have no factual knowledge of the companies mission, what if anything, went wrong the motive or the business model. something is definitely wrong with people who intentionally discard any waste and it ends up in the wrong hands. It is irresponsible and immoral. Some people learn, some people change, some people just play the blame game and do nothing more than write about their opinion.
    I am an active member of this community who believes in getting her hands dirty and mind clean. I feel the pain of the environmentalists and the businesses trying to make a viable living for themselves and the people they employ.
    Let's not be so harsh and judgmental until we have all the facts. Less supposition and more real concrete evidence. I won't trust what I read anywhere without digging in and pullin out the real grit.

  • Thank you. It is about time a corporate drone made the point we in the field have been struggling to point out for decades. Your cooperation in an industry that uses a standard set by undemocratic nations interested in the capital rather than their citizens is a perfect example of how the G-20 legitimizes unethical practices throughout the world economy. The US, as you point, out has dirty hands, too.
    Capitalism does not benefit the masses. The very fact that you've repeatedly steered this dialogue away from the G-20 issues to defend your industry illustrates both your ignorance of international issues and the futility of further debate.

  • Not sure if that's her, but that's definitely the woman who got the whole thing started in Pittsburgh. She's a volunteer at the WPA Humane Society and works for earthecycle. She sent out a long email describing why she believed in this cause. It was on a yahoo group so there's “evidence.” The dog people won't say a word because they need her husband's help. I think its sickening how many people are covering this up. Don't they realize DOGS live with the people in those dump sites? You could see them on the 60 Minutes video.
    Pittsburgh has no business hosting this stupid G20 Summit. I am so not looking forward to the traffic jams and the vandalism. Of course, my boss doesn't let us take off. I don't get that a group of college students marching all over the place will fix the recycling situation. Wouldn't it be better if they went to one of the local dumping sites and cleaned it up instead?

  • Only writing about opinions is the most frequent method used to discredit bloggers and others who have the audacity to challenge the status quo, dating back to the pamphleteers with the Founding Fathers. Writing opinions is as American as apple pie.
    Condeming people for holding forth their opinions is what is commonly known as fascism. And that leads us back to the G-20 Summit which is supposed to be the point of the conversation.

  • Ok, you really have my attention now. The status quo? A bunch of women with alternative sexual orientation is the status quo? I don't remember anything about that in the old or new testaments. That would be status quo. You ladies really have it twisted. You have absolutely no idea what your talking about. It appears you just want to be angry about something and at someone rather than have intelligent conversation to discuss what is best and plan a course of action that is suitable for your educated beliefs.
    Your smokescreen is pathetic and only exists to divert attention from your own inadequacies.
    Oh, and no…. I am not Shirl and do know who she is. She is far more credible than you Sue. A rumor hog. Stop living in fear of the truth and creating your own realities. The world is a complicated place and the statuse quo is nothing more than a utilitarisic common viewpoint that can change at any given moment i this braod spectrum of truths.
    Good luck with your anger and good night.

  • So now we add homophobia to the myriad of sins of EarthECycle. Nothing says “I have no valid argument” like dragging out the Old Testament as a bastion of normalcy to bash the angry lesbians for challenging “the man.” All we need is the threat of a lawsuit so we can wrap up this edition of Jeff Nixon stops by

  • James,
    I know the folks working with the resistance projects are pretty busy, but I was hoping someone would chime in. What did you think of Roddy's article? I was trying to write a summary post about the missions/purposes of the various groups, but I just couldn't get it to flow. I know the PG is a corporate paper to many, but it is also one of the best ways for Joe Pittsburgh to understand the issues. Like this one in particular, there will be backlash from corporate America as people strive for more transparency and accountability.
    I'd like to hear what you think?

  • Anon, the analogy about masks is an interesting point. The layers of corporate structures alone are masks, must less the true intent of those at the helm.
    I agree, albeit slightly less virulently, that encouraging people to consider alternative points of vied is a key strategy and one tactic is to get the local bloggers writing about the G-20. I suspect the general public is much more informed about the permitting issues and the legislation before City Council because of new social media … I've seen it all over Twitter and so forth. I'm not sure accountability has changed, but certainly things are more transparent.
    Thank you for defending the value of my having and expressing an opinion. It is quite true that I'm by no means a radical, but America seems sadly still entrenched in the notion that expressing dissenting opinions ferments bad things.

  • Again, I'm just not sure if you really don't understand that the facts have been laid out pretty well or if you have some sort of secret knowledge that would put a new spin on the situation. When I first discussed this issue with Mr. Nixon, he told me that the recycling process for the toxic materials was proprietary knowledge and accused me of being complicit in corporate espionage because I asked that question. (Yes, I have the email to prove it). I started this whole journey because I asked one question after watching a very thoughtful story on 60 Minutes. Frankly, if Mr. Nixon had given me a reasonable answer without the jab, I probably would have let it go. His reaction made myself and others stop and think “wait a minute.”
    I've learned a lot during this story … a lot about ecycling, fundraising, environmental issues, the collision of privilege with poverty. I've also learned that a blog post can make a difference by catching the attention of the mainstream media. Putting my experiences and opinions out there help to expose what I believe was a scam. If you consider that doing nothing, so be it. You are welcome to continue doing the dirty work and not reading this blog.
    As for all this hue and cry about evidence and proof, etc. There are multiple articles in the Post-Gazette that document the response of the EPA, the DEP and other groups which I advise folks to check out. There are plenty of stories at reputable news organizations such as 60 Minutes and Time magazine. I have personally have gathered many email messages from various sources (including EarthECycle and the WPA Humane Society) in response to Mr. Nixon threatening me with a lawsuit, so those too would become public if he proceeds.
    There's plenty of documentation. The original point of my post was to illustrate how a corporate project had a direct and immediate impact on both Pittsburgh and internationally. Even if you assume that the impact was neutral rather than environmentally detrimental, my original point still stands — what happened when Mt. Lebanon Sally brought her TV to the Northside recycling site has an impact on the lives of Sally living in Bangladesh. That's the point — the connectivity. It isn't just the markets that are connected; it is the choices people make in the first world with the lives people live in the two-thirds world. We aren't just connected by money; we are connected by the web of humanity and that's the piece to which we seem to turn a blind eye.

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