BlackBox Radio

December 14, 2005

BlackBox Radio for Dec 13th 2005

Filed under: Weekly Show — blackboxradio @ 8:33 pm

This week’s show is dedicated to the life and work of Stanley Tookie Williams, who was executed on the 13th of December, 2005, after being denied clemency by the state of California.

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On this week’s show: a report on last weekend’s Neo-Nazi rally in Toledo, where anti-fascist protestors faced police brutality. Also, Building Bridges Radio speaks with UAW President Ron Gettelfinger about Auto Workers Resistance and a possible strike against Delphi. Plus, the following local, national, and international headlines:

Local Headlines:
Great Lakes near ecological breakdown
Janitors protest in Detroit
Martin Luther King Day march and rally on January 16th in Detroit
city of Detroit’s bond ratings are BBB- one step above junk level

National and International Headlines:
Iraq round up
high school student suspended for speaking Spanish
Police fire on Power Plant protestors in China
FBI/police crack down on activists
NYU cuts Coke


Local Headlines

A group of 75 scientists has stated that the Great Lakes are near ecological breakdown due to stresses from numerous threats. The statement came days before the release of a final plan for preserving the Great Lakes by a task force made up of federal agencies, Congress, local government officials and regional Indian tribes.

The body’s preliminary report in July recommended $20 billion in federal, state and private funding to upgrade antiquated municipal sewer systems, restore 500,000 acres of wetlands, and clean polluted harbors and bays. However the plan was scrapped by the White House on the recommendation of a federal oversight group which said the budget was too tight to allow additional funding.

Threats to the Great Lakes are converging, scientists who worked on the report said. These range from overfishing, toxic substances, invasive species, and global climate change. Alfred Beeton of the University of Michigan said,

“These have been dealt with individually. What we need to do is look at the ecosystem – the combination of stresses. Historical sources of stress have combined with new ones and we have arrived at a tipping point. What we mean is that ecosystem changes will occur rapidly and unexpectedly.”

The report emphasized the need for preserving or restoring shoreline “buffer zones,” such as wetlands and lake tributaries to help the lakes heal themselves.


In honor of the 50th anniversary of Rosa Parks’ refusal to give up her seat on a Montgomery, Alabama bus, hundreds of janitors and their supporters occupied the lobby of 1001 Woodward Avenue Dec. 1, reports the Michigan Citizen.

They were protesting Sky Development’s summary discharge of the building’s unionized janitorial staff in April. Service Employees International Union Local 3 members from as far away as Pennsylvania and Ohio joined Detroit janitors and workers from other unions in the protest.

Pete Hanrahan, president of SEIU Local 3, told the demonstrators, “We’re not going to let our tax dollars go for parking lots for buildings that screw janitors. We want the people’s money to go for union-building.”

Eight women who sat down and linked arms in the lobby were arrested and carted off by Detroit police, but later were released without charges. Dana Sevakis, one of the arrested women and an SEIU staffer, said the company has refused to re-hire the three janitors fired from the building. In the meantime, another company, Farbman Associates, has discharged unionized janitorial and skilled trades workers at the First National and Penobscot Buildings.


The Pan-African News Wire reports that this year’s plans for the annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day march and rally on January 16th in Detroit are well underway. This is the third consecutive year that a demonstration has been organized to specifically honor the peace and social justice legacy of Dr. King.

The theme for 2006 is “Freedom From the Shackles of War, Racism & Poverty” and is intended to highlight the growing socio-economic crisis in the country as well as the continuing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Organizers state,

“The growing budget deficit in Detroit, the attacks on the standard of living of working people by the corporate structures, the efforts to outlaw affirmative action in Michigan and the total neglect of hundreds of thousands of our brothers and sisters displaced from New Orleans and the Gulf region, illustrates clearly the necessity of the majority of the population to take control of their own destinies.”

The rally will serve as an opportunity to connect with other progressive people and to build networks aimed at fostering change. Volunteers are needed to assist in a variety of ways. For more information, contact the MLK Planning Committee by phone at (313) 680-5508 or by email at mlkdetroit (at)


Standard & Poor’s has downgraded the city of Detroit’s bond ratings to BBB-, one step above junk level, according to the Michigan Citizen. The move comes despite Mayor Kilpatrick’s lay-offs of almost 1,400 city workers since June and recently disclosed plans to close most of the city’s recreation centers. In its report, S&P noted “The administration’s hesitancy to cut positions, as well as the inability to adjust union contracts to gain savings” as major reasons for the downgrading.

The situation is eerily similar to that of indebted countries in the Global South who fail to meet the drastic structural adjustment program regulations imposed by the IMF and World Bank. Under these programs, countries must agree to neo-liberal prescriptions to cut social programs, privatize services, and weaken worker’s rights. Countries that fail to meet their obligations have their financial status downgraded and are no longer able to attract foreign investment or be eligible for loans.

In the case of the city of Detroit, the prescriptions include forcing workers to pay a larger share of their health care, and imposing a 10% pay cut in the form of a shortened work week. The city also plans to close 22 of the city’s 33 recreation centers, leaving only 11 such centers for a population of almost 1 million. In addition, the city is considering proposals to turn the City Zoo and Eastern Market over to private management, leaving the fate of the over 45 union jobs currently at the zoo in question.



National and International Headlines:

Violence in Iraq reached unprecedented levels this week, as insurgents led multiple attacks and bombings just days ahead of the national elections.

The AP reports that insurgents killed four American soldiers in separate attacks Saturday. Two soldiers were killed southwest of the capital, and the others died in a roadside bombing in Baghdad’s Sunni neighborhood of Azamiyah.

The U.S. military also said an American soldier was killed and 11 others wounded Friday in a suicide car bombing in the Abu Ghraib district of western Baghdad.

In a different attack, insurgents killed 19 Iraqi soldiers and wounded four in a coordinated ambush northeast of Baghdad.

No news has been heard regarding peace activists kidnapped by a group called Swords of Truth. The group accused the activists of being spies, and it said each would be killed if all prisoners in Iraq were not released by Saturday, reports the BBC.

Analysts expect the violence to continue to increase in anticipation of the elections on December 15. The White House has launched a public relations campaign in an attempt to regain public favor regarding the Iraq war, however the continued violence and inability to maintain oil production has left many still extremely critical of the US occupation.


A student was suspended for speaking Spanish in the hallway of a Kansas City high school, reports the Washington Post. 16-year old Zach Rubio is fluent in English and was replying to a question in Spanish from a schoolmate in the hallway, when he was overheard by a teacher who sent the two students to the principal’s office.

The students’ suspension became a local news sensation, and the school has officially rescinded his punishment. The Rubio family has retained a lawyer and is considering a civil rights lawsuit.

The suspension and subsequent debate in the community reflect some of the issues arising as the Hispanic population in the US continues to increase. Some report increasing prejudice against Hispanics.

Regarding the lawsuit, Rubio’s father said, “I’m mainly doing this for other Mexican families, where the legal status is kind of shaky and they are afraid to speak up. Punished for speaking Spanish? Somebody has to stand up and say: This is wrong.”


Witnesses and Chinese authorities differ on how many people were killed after police fired on protesters in a confrontation over demands for higher compensation for the loss of land to make way for the construction of a power plant.

The official reports say that three demonstrators were killed after “170 armed villagers” used weapons and explosives to launch an attack on a wind power station last week.

After the initial demonstration was cleared with tear gas and a number of villagers detained, the protesters regrouped, obstructed the police and threatened to blow up the power plant, the official account says.

Other witnesses, however, say that at least 20 demonstrators were killed and that police opened fire on them indiscriminately.

The prime cause of rural unrest across China has been the confiscation of farmland by local governments for use in industrial and real estate projects, says the Financial Times Online.

The commander of the police force that fired on the demonstrators has been detained for questioning by the Chinese government.


New York Indymedia reports that federal marshals arrested six environmental activists in a series of coordinated raids in four states on December 8. The arrests were in apparent response to a string of arsons in Oregon and Washington attributed to the Earth Liberation Front (ELF), including simultaneous attacks in 2001 at the University of Washington’s Urban Horticulture Center and the Jefferson Poplar Farms in Clatskanie, Oregon.

Daniel McGowan, 31 was arrested in New York City. Authorities have also stated that there will be more arrests, with at least one indictment immediately outstanding.

Bail has been denied in all of these cases.

Two Portland activists, Frank Winbigler and Shannon Urick, were also served with papers ordering them to be a witness for a federal Grand Jury, and were advised that they are both a target of the Grand Jury’s investigation.

According to spectators at McGowan’s hearing, prosecutors read through posts on the NYC Indymedia newswire and mentioned them as part of the bail hearing.


New York University, the largest private university in the country, has banned the sale of Coca-Cola products on campus because of the company’s human rights abuses in Colombia. NYU’s decision, which was released last Thursday, was the result of a lengthy campaign by students and faculty.

Shortly before the decision was announced, a Coca-Cola spokesperson expressed concern regarding the possible removal of Coke products from NYU. She told the Washington Square News: “NYU is a trendsetting university, and that could greatly harm our reputation.”

The ban at NYU comes at a time when pressure is mounting from various groups — both in the U.S. and abroad — for Coke to address concerns of human rights abuses in India, Turkey, Pakistan, and Guatemala as well as Colombia.

New York University is the 12th college or university in the United States, and at least the twentieth worldwide, to have banned the sale and marketing of Coke products on campus.




1 Comment »

  1. Someone should pray for the world…

    Comment by Austin — April 17, 2007 @ 12:59 am

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