BlackBox Radio

January 30, 2006

Blackbox radio for Jan 31st, 2006

Filed under: Weekly Show — blackboxradio @ 9:34 pm

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On this week’s show: The Real State of the Union with Professor Sharon Howell, and the nurse-in at the Ann Arbor YMCA. Plus, the following local, national, and international headlines:

Local Headlines:
New Detroit Council members to be elected by Council
Changes in Michigan adoption law

National and International Headlines:
Senator Lugar supports release of Father Jean-Juste in Haiti
US Army admits to holding fugitives’ wives hostage
Agent Orange manufacturer forced to pay compensation
President’s arguments in defense of spying not valid
Executive branch in power grab


Local Headlines

The Michigan Citizen reports that Detroit Council member Kwame Kenyatta and Council President Ken Cockrel, Jr., are hoping to pass a resolution which will have a major effect on Detroiter’s voting rights.

The resolution was introduced last week, and, if passed, it would allow new council members to be chosen by current ones, rather than by voters. Kenyatta believes it will be save costs and will be a more efficient method of electing new members.

DeAmo Murphey, a partner with the political consulting group Blocker Associates, is worried that the resolution will take power away from Detroit voters. “I don’t like it at all for the city. It usurps the people’s will to be able to elect their own representatives.”

Murphy compares this situation to the recent discovery of President Bush’s domestic spying program. “Likewise with that situation,” he says, “if you put cost savings over the people’s right to select their own representatives, it’s wrong.”


The Metro Times reports that adoption law may undergo large changes in Michigan.
Under current law, if an unmarried couple — whether they are gay or straight — want to adopt, only one parent is granted legal custody.

Last December, state Rep. Paul Condino of Southfield introduced House Bill 5399, which would allow two single adults to have joint legal custody over a child.

Second-parent adoption rights are currently recognized in nine states and Washington, D.C., according to the National Center for Lesbian Rights. A spokeswoman for the group says that second-parent adoption rights are crucial for the child’s health. A child who loses his or her only legal guardian is in jeopardy of losing their financial security and health benefits. In some cases, a child who loses its biological parent may be sent to a foster home, even if their second parent is still invloved in their life.

The bill is supported by many organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics who said “children deserve to know that their relationships with both of their parents are stable and legally recognized. This applies to all children, whether their parents are of the same or opposite sex.”



National and International Headlines:

The Republican Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has called for the release of imprisoned Haitian priest Gerard Jean Juste. In a letter to interim Haitian Prime Minister Gerard Latortue, Republican Senator Richard Lugar wrote: “I am very concerned that father Gerard Jean-Juste, who is imprisoned in Haiti, is seriously ill… Medical experts are saying that if [he] contracts an infection, then the effects could be fatal. Without appropriate treatment, which is unavailable locally in Haiti, his life could be in jeopardy.” Jean-Juste was jailed in July for a murder that occurred while he was out of the country. He’s vehemently denied the charges, and the Haitian government has failed to provide any evidence. This week, the Haitian government announced it was dropping those charges but keeping Jean Juste on two new charges of illegal weapons possession and criminal conspiracy. Supporters of Jean-Juste have argued the priest is a political prisoner being detained because of his close ties to the ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Amnesty International has declared him a prisoner of conscience.

Meanwhile, the Haitian government has announced it will not permit voting inside Haiti’s largest poor community, Cite Soleil. The announcement comes just one day after hundreds of Cite Soleil residents took to the streets to demand polling stations. Between 250,000 and 600,000 people live in Cite Soleil. It is widely known as a stronghold for the Lavalas movement of ousted President Jean Bertrand Aristide. Haitian officials said the neighborhood is too dangerous for voting. But a UN official told Reuters voting is feasible in Cite Soleil, pointing out thousands of voters have been registered without incident. Rene Lundi, a local community leader, said: “It is clear they want to prevent us from voting, because they know our vote won’t go their way.”


Military documents show that the U.S. Army in Iraq has at least twice seized and
jailed the wives of suspected insurgents in hopes of “leveraging” their husbands
into surrender. The Associated Press reports that in once case the wife was a nursing mother with
an infant. In the second case, an American colonel suggested that they pin a note
to the fugitive’s door telling him, quote “to come get your wife”. In a memo by a Pentagon intelligence officer, the task force conducting the operation that if the wifer were present, she be detained and held in order to leverage the primary target’s surrender. These reports, and the
apparent outright acceptance of this technique by the US military, has provoked
outrage among bloggers and progressive journalists.

Not only is this practice illegal under the Geneva conventions, it is also illegal under domestic law. Section 3 of the Geneva Convention on the Treatment of Prisoners of War clearly
states that non-combatants may not be taken hostage. Although the Bush
administration has flaunted the Geneva Conventions on numerous occasions, this
particular provision is explicitly included in domestic law. US Title 16
specifically states that anyone found violating the laws against taking hostages
shall quote “be fined under this title or imprisoned for life or any term of
years, or both, and if death results to the victim, shall also be subject to the
penalty of death.”

This law makes it clear that holding the wife of a wanted fugitive is a war crime
under American law.


In South Korea, two US manufacturers of Agent Orange have been ordered to pay compensation to thousands of South Korean veterans who fought with the US in the Vietnam War. Dow Chemical and Monsanto, which supplied the US during the war, were ordered to pay up to $61 million in damages. The case marked the first ruling in a favor of Agent Orange Victims in South Korea. Last year, a US federal judge dismissed a similar class action lawsuit against the two companies brought by a group of Vietnamese citizens. The U.S. military sprayed over 3,000 Vietnamese villages with Agent Orange during the war, affecting between two and five million people with cancer, birth defects, and other consequences of chemical poisoning.


The domestic spying scandal, in which the National Security Agency has eavesdropped on thousands of Americans’ emails and international phone calls since at least 2002, is being presented by President Bush as both legal and vital to national security.

However, the Washington Post reports that in 2002, the White House dismissed a
Congressional move to lower the threshold for obtaining FISA warrants, stating
that the current system was working well and that it might be unconstitutional to
lower the legal standard. This contradicts current claims by the President that
such increased powers are essential in the fight on terrorism. Also contradicting
the President’s claims that such powers might have prevented 9/11, the blog
flogging the simian reports that at no time has FISA prohibited surveillance
without a warrant on people who are either in the United States illegally or are
here on temporary (legal) visas. This means that all 19 of the 9/11 hijackers
could’ve been under NSA surveillance legally with no warrant necessary.

Furthermore, reports that a previous domestic spying program, named
“suspicionless surveillance” and developed by the Pentagon’s controversial Total
Information Awareness department, was explicitly shut down by Congress in 2003
after Republican and Democratic lawmakers feared it amounted to domestic spying.
It was shortly after this that President Bush authorized the NSA program, in
effect overruling Congress and ignoring its authority. Bush has personally
renewed the authorization every 45 days since that time. The ACLU has brought suit
against the NSA in an attempt to halt the controversial program.

Meanwhile, the lawyer for one of two US Muslims jailed on terrorism charges has filed a motion to dismiss the entire case on the grounds their prosecution originated in the Bush administration’s domestic spy program. In August 2004, Mohammed Hossain and Yassin Muhhiddin Aref were arrested in a sting operation on their mosque in Albany, New York. The case may set the stage for a constitutional challenge to the NSA program as part of the case.


The Bush administration is engaged in an unprecedented consolidation of power in
the executive branch which may change the face of our country’s government
forever, say numerous articles appearing last week. states
that the theory of the “unitary executive”, whose chief architect is Supreme Court
nominee Samuel Alito, places almost unlimited powers in the hands of the
president, allowing him to determine whether laws passed by Congress are
constitutional, and makes the claim that the President’s interpretation of a law
is as important as Congress’s intent in writing it.

The possibility of Alito altering the balance of the Supreme Court has awoken some
Democracts to the dangers inherent in the extreme views of executive power held by
this administration. For example, a new provision in the Patriot Act would create
a permanent federal police force, to be known as the ’United States Secret Service
Uniformed Division’, which will be under direct control of the Department of
Homeland Security and will have the authority to bypass the bill of rights in any
situation deemed “a special event of national significance”.

Executive power in foreign affairs is also being expanded. The Washington Post
reports that the Pentagon has announced it intends to increase its “special ops”
forces by thousands, and has obtained permission to operate militarily in foreign
countries without Congressional approval. The Army has also changed the rules for
execution of detainees, making it easier to carry out military executions and
allowing them to take place in numerous locations. Previously, only Fort
Leavenworth was approved as a site for military executions. Some theorize that
the move may be preparation to allow executions at Guantanamo Bay.



January 25, 2006

BlackBox Radio for Jan 24th, 2006

Filed under: Weekly Show — blackboxradio @ 2:58 pm

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On this week’s show: Clara and Sigh explore the role local activists play in U of M’s secret society Michigauma and Jen brings us an update on the Zapatistas’ new campaigns in Mexico. Plus, the following local, national, and international headlines:

Local Headlines:
Civil and Housing rights violations in Detroit
privatizing Michigan state parks
MCRI update

National and International Headlines:
World Social Forum: Bamako, Mali
Guantanamo Bay hunger strikers close to death
Evo Morales: first indigenous leader of Bolivia
Police murder in Georgia


Local Headlines

The Detroit Free Press reports that two Taylor men were responsible for setting a fire meant to drive away an African American family from their neighborhood. In July of 2002, Wayland Mullins and Michael Richardson started a fire in the home just purchased by the Doster family in order to scare them and prevent them from moving in.

The men are charged with violating the Dosters’ civil and housing rights and with conspiring to lie to investigators. Each of the counts carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Richardson is currently serving a 4-year prison sentence for misleading investigators in an attempt to prevent Mullins from being charged. The investigation is still ongoing, however Mullins has been charged and was due to appear in court last Friday.

The Doster family put up with years of racial harassment, including racially charged graffiti, arson and insults. In August 2005, Reginald Doster, a computer administrator, and his wife and daughter moved out and left the neighborhood.


According to the Grand Rapids Press, the Midland-based Mackinac Center for Public Policy has proposed to privatize 14 Michigan state parks in order to increase revenue for the state.

According to the Mackinac Center, the “liquidation of these properties would allow state park managers to focus their limited resources on protecting the state’s truly outstanding natural and historic sites.”

Thomas Bailey of Harbor Springs, the executive director of
the Little Traverse Conservancy, a land conversation nonprofit group says that the plan doesn’t make sense. “As our manufacturing takes it on the chin, it’s going to be more
important to rely on (tourism) to help get through these tough times.”


At a hearing last week called by the Michigan Civil Rights Commission, about two dozen people testified that they believed the signatures gathered by Ward Connerly’s Michigan Civil Rights Initiative were collected fraudulently, reports the MetroTimes

The testimony, along with about 180 affidavits making the same claim, states that Signature gatherers asked people to sign a petition “for” civil rights or “in support” of affirmative action. However, the initiative the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative seeks to put on the November 2006 state ballot that would ban public institutions from using affirmative action practices in hiring.

Martha Cuneo, a Warren attorney and board member of the National Lawyers Guild who said she signed a petition handed to her outside a Royal Oak post office, told the commission, quote, “I was never informed that the aim of the petition was to ban affirmative action. I implore you to take my name off this petition. It’s an embarrassment to me.” Ruthie Stevenson, president of the NAACP’s Macomb County branch, told the commission she believes that institutional racism was one of the reasons the claims of petition fraud were not being looked into until now. Another hearing in the same vein is to be scheduled in the coming weeks.



National and International Headlines:

The 2006 World Social Forum opened Thursday in Bamako, Mali. The World Social Forum is an alternative to the World Economic Forum, a yearly meeting of business and political elites in Switzerland.

The World Social Forum is a space for exchanging information and experiences of fighting neo-liberalism. The past decade has seen a wide range of popular resistance in Africa. The Forum will offer an opportunity for dialogue and reflection on those fights and the alternatives they offer in the global project to build a better world based on solidarity and common struggle, not competition and war.

The themes of the Bamako WSF include: Militarization and War, the outcomes of the Hong Kong WTO meeting, UN reform, and Migration.

This year’s World Social Forum is also being held simultaneously in Caracas (Venezuela), and Karachi (Pakistan). Approximately 30,000 activists from across the region and the world are expected to attend. This is the first World Social Forum to be held in Africa


According to Sunday’s London Times, several hunger strikers at Guantanamo Bay may be close to death despite force feeding by the American military,
The condition of two emaciated Yemeni hunger strikers who have been refusing solid food since August is causing particular concern. There are also fears for the life of a hospitalised Saudi prisoner.
The Yemenis, identified as Abu Bakah al-Shamrani and Abu Anas, are said by detainees to be gravely weak. Shamrani weighs only 70 pounds.
The military said last week that the number of hunger strikers had declined to 22 after a peak at Christmas and that 17 were being fed by “tube”.
The prisoners being force fed have a permanent tube in the nose, which descends to the stomach and is attached to another tube for feeding. If they do not rip it out, the US military say they are consenting to be fed even if the tube was inserted under duress.
One of the hunger strikers, Shaker Aamer , has vowed to continue his hunger strike until he is given a fair trial or released.
Aamers lawyer has commentd the “inevitable spectre of a Muslim prisoner dying on Guantanamo soil will cause greater outrage than even the desecration of the Koran”.


Evo Morales was sworn in on Sunday as the first indigenous leader of Bolivia, South America’s poorest nation.
Along with Bolivian politicians, and invited dignitaries, 11 presidents and government leaders from Latin America and Europe attended his swearing in.
Among those present at the ceremony were Hugo Chavez, Venezuela’s president and Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, the president of Brazil.

In his inaugural speech, Morales declared that “the 500 years of Indian resistance have not been in vain”.
“From 500 years of resistance we pass to another 500 years in power,” he said. “We’re going to put an end to injustice, to inequality.”
Morales blamed neo-liberal economic policies of the past and the “looting of our natural resources” for the widespread poverty in the country.


According to NBC Atlanta news a group of community members in Marshallville, Georgia, attacked police officers with rocks and then looted and burned down Police Chief Stephen Stewart’s home after an African American man, Clarence Walker, was murdered by the police on Sunday.
Police claim that they only used “minimal force” to subdue Walker who was wanted on outstanding charges, but witnesses claimed otherwise. “They had him down, and kept spraying him with mace. And one of the largest ones was sitting on him,” said Walker’s brother, James Jackson. At some point, after they handcuffed Walker, he stopped breathing. After he was transported to a hospital, the watching crowd started to throw rocks at the police.
Marshallville is a small town of 1,300 people about 90 miles south of Atlanta.



January 19, 2006

Voices Left Behind: Hurricane Katrina and the Prison Epidemic

Filed under: Special Feature — blackboxradio @ 3:22 pm

The Prisoners Creative Arts Projecs presented this event, which was recorded on January 16, 2006. Louisiana prisoners and their families faced a unique circumstance in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Prisoners were literally left behind and forgotten when tragedy struck. This event featured a unique panel of individuals who offer first-hand accounts of what it means to be left in flooding prisons; to live for days without food or water; to go weeks without contact from family or friends.

Part 1: Tammy Williams | Part 2: Megan Garvey

January 18, 2006

Blackbox Radio for Jan 17th, 2006

Filed under: Weekly Show — blackboxradio @ 7:19 pm

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On this week’s show, in recognition of Martin Luther King Day, we take an in-depth look at race, class and injustice in New Orleans almost five months after Katrina.

A report about home demolitions taking place in the Lower 9th Ward, a fair housing activist describes how the city is eliminating public housing, an account from Tammy, a New Orlaens resident, who was arrested with her daughters and held in makeshift prisons for 60 days without being charged, & Dr. Beverly Wright of the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice describes the implications of the hyper gentrification plan for rebuilding New Orleans. :. Plus, the following local, national, and international headlines:

Local Headlines:
State Trooper Acquitted for Murder of Homeless Man
Detroit’s Homeless May be Targetted During Super Bowl
Toxic Chemicals Accumulating in Great Lakes

National and International Headlines:
US Marines Arrested for Rape of Woman in Philippines
Global Warming Set to Accelerate
Bush Receives Mainstream Media Scrutiny
South Carolina Teens Plead Guilty to Lynching
US Government May be Weighing Invasion of Iran


Local Headlines

Jay Morningstar, the state trooper who was on trial for the murder of a Detroit homeless man named Eric Williams, was acquitted on January 5th. A mostly white jury aquitted Morningstar, despite a videotape admitted as evidence which showed Williams, who is black, being shot at point-blank range by the state trooper. The Michigan Citizen reports that the jury returned with a ‘not guilty verdict’ after less than four hours.

Morningstar’s defense team was led by attorney Richard Convertino, who repeatedly
referred to Williams in terms usually reserved for animals, saying he was “down on all fours, growling and snarling.” Convertino is himself under investigation by the federal government for his role as a federal prosecutor in a faulty case against four Detroit men accused of being terrorists.

The family of Eric Williams, says they will not give up their fight for justice. They
have filed a $15 million lawsuit against Morningstar and his partner Theresa Malone.
Lawyers in the case explained that Malone is cited as a co-defendant in the lawsuit
because she failed to protect Williams by cautioning her partner against immediately
shooting him, instead of using other means such as pepper spray.

The Michigan Citizen reports that as the Super Bowl draws near, Detroit’s homeless population may be targetted by police. In reponse to reports that homeless people are routinely rounded up during Super Bowl events, homeless advocates and some elected officials have expressed concern.

The NFL requires host cities set up ‘entertainment zones’ in the weeks leading to the
Super Bowl game to encourage a festive mood. ‘ENtertainment Zones’ are public areas such as parks where certain local laws are loosened and public alcohol consumption is allowed. Critics say these zones benefit those attending Super Bowl festivities, but they can be manipulated to discriminate against the poor.

A director for Neighborhood Service Organization, said a poll that was recently taken by his group showed a majority of the homeless served by their program want to take part in the Super Bowl events.

To curb arrests and harassment of homeless people, the city’s Bureau of Substance Abuse, Prevention & Treatment plans to offer Detroit Police Officers hotline numbers to call when they encounter homeless people near the downtown area during the event. “Should the police run into somebody who needed mental health service we want to come out and service them, instead of seeing them arrested,” a spokesperson said.
There are plans to continue this crisis prevention service even after the Super Bowl.


A year ago, Blackbox Radio covered the hazards of a little-known fire
retardant that has been accumulating in Great Lakes sediment and game
fish for decades without detection. This story has just broken into
the mainstream press in a Detroit Free Press article.

Federal regulators are suprised to learn that there may be toxic
effects from the chemical Dechlorane Plus, which has been produced since 1964.

Dechlorane Plus has been used for more than 40 years as a coating for
electrical wires and computer cables. The chemical’s only U.S.
manufacturer, Occidental Chemical Corporation, or OxyChem, says it is
safe for people and other animals and has no plans to conduct testing
on the product.

The Detroit Free Press writes that the a recent study at Indiana University found DechloranePlus in the sediment of lake Erie and lake Michigan, present in air
samples throughout the region and in the tissues of walleye, a popular
game fish, in Lake Erie.

For decades, state officials have issued advisories to anglers to
limit their consumption of some Great Lakes fish because of
contaminants such as PCBs and mercury. The greatest risk is eating game fish from polluted water. The chemicals become increasingly concentrated as they move through the food chain beginning with microscopic plants and ending in humans.

Federal regulators say that because Dechlorane Plus preceded regulations
designed to screen out dangerous chemicals, it was never rigorously

The study could lead to a renewed effort to determine whether it is a
danger to wildlife, including its potential to cause cancer. Many
substances in the same chemical family which were sold under the brand name
Dechlorane have been banned because of their cancer-causing
potential and toxicity to wildlife.

Mirex and Dechlorane were manufactured at the same facility, which was
formerly known as the Hooker Chemical Co. which was responsible for the Love
Canal chemical disaster in Niagara Falls in the late 1970s that
spawned the federal Superfund toxic cleanup program.



National and International Headlines:

This week in South Carolina, five white teenagers pleaded guilty to charges of
lynching. The youths, ages 17 and 18, entered the pleas before
their trial was set to begin. They were given sentences ranging
from two and a half to six years in state prison. The surviving victim,
17-year-old African-American Isaiah Clyburn, said through his lawyer that
he forgave them. The five teens attacked Clyburn as he walked along a
rural road in Cherokee County, South Carolina on July 7. According to
prosecutors, the teens shouted racial slurs at Clyburn and beat him
repeatedly as he tried to escape.


According to The Independence, Global warming is set to accelerate due to a sharp jump in the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. (

Preliminary figures from the US government’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, taken at the summit of Mauna Loa, Hawaii, show that the level of carbon dioxide has risen abruptly in the past four years. Carbon dioxide is the main cause of global warming. Scientists fear that warming is entering a new phase, and may accelerate even further.

The measurements have been taken regularly since 1958. For the past 50 years the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere have risen by an average of 1.3 parts per million per year. In the late 1990s this figure rose to 1.6 parts per million, and then to 2 parts per million in 2002 and 2003. Preliminary figures for the first 10 months of this year have already shown a rise of 2.2 parts per million.

Scientists believe this may be the first evidence that climate change is starting to occur. Rising temperatures have altered natural systems causing the Earth to release more carbon dioxide.

Some of the most polluting countries in the world refused to set targets for reducing their carbon dioxide emissions last week during a summit assembled by the Bush administration. Instead, they focused on the voluntary development of cleaner technologies. The summit was set up in opposition to the Kyoto Protocol, which the US refuses to sign, and was attended by Australia, China, India, Japan and South Korea as well as the United States.


In an update of a story we’ve covered previously: In the Philippines last
week, a judge issued an arrest warrant for four US Marines accused in the
rape of a 22-year old Filipino woman near a former US Navy base in
November. The soldiers are currently detained at the US embassy, and the
US government has not indicated whether the soldiers will be returned. The
soldiers allegedly gang raped the woman in a rented van and then dropped
her onto a busy road, where she was found and hospitalized.


A host of new information this week reveals the extent to which the President and the Bush administration have rendered the judicial and congressional branches of government impotent and assumed limitless power for the executive branch.

A New York Times editorial entitled “The Imperial Presidency at Work” ( notes that President Bush in effect countermanded laws that were passed by Congress in order to place limits on the abuse of power by the executive branch.

In the first instance, the President made the McCain bill irrelevant by outlawing torture by the government by issuing a “signing statement” which effectively exempted him from the law in his position as commander in chief.

Bush also sidelined the judiciary branch by scrapping the Levin-Graham amendment that allowed suits already filed by Guantanamo detainees to continue through the courts. Last week, the solicitor general informed the Supreme Court that it no longer had jurisdiction over detainee cases and demanded that the court drop an existing case in which a Yemeni man challenged the military tribunals created by Bush after 9/11. Few of the 500 plus men at the Guantanamo facility have been charged with a crime.

In addition, the President personally authorized domestic spying shortly after he was sworn in 2001 and well before 9/11 ( This directly contradicts the President’s claim that the surveillance was a necessary response to the threat posed by terrorism after 9/11. The information was revealed by James Risen who first broke the story about the NSA domestic surveillance program.


Recent news has been dominated by Iran’s decisions regarding the
use of nuclear power, particularly its removal of UN seals on uranium
enrichment equipment. The United States seems to be pushing for Iran
to be brought before the UN Security council where it would likely
face sanctions or even armed action. Knowledge that Iran made public in June has been widely obscured in the media.

Beginning in March 2006, the Tehran government has plans to begin competing with New York’s NYMEX and London’s IPE in the field of
international oil trading by using a euro-based mechanism. According to
Information Security Analyst William Clark, the proposed Iranian oil
bourse, or securities exchange, indicates that the euro would establish a firm foothold in the international oil trade without US intervention.

The upcoming course will introduce new dynamics to the biggest market
in the world – global oil and gas trades. In essence, the U.S. will no
longer be able to effortlessly expand its debt-financing by issuing U.S.
Treasury bills. Accordingly, the dollar’s international demand and liquidity value
will fall. Given U.S. debt levels and the stated neoconservative project
of U.S. geo-political security, Tehran’s objective constitutes an obvious
challenge to dollar supremacy in the crucial international oil market.

Leaks of Pentagon planning for a potential Iranian invasion have been
covered since 2004 in mainstream publications such as Newsweek.
In August of 2005, The American Conservative published an
article by intelligence analyst Philip Giraldi, entitled “In Case of
Emergency, Nuke Iran.” According to The American Conservative, the US
military command has drawn up a contingency plan under instruction of
the vice-president. This command would follow another serious terrorist attack on
the US with a broad air assault on Iran, “employing both conventional and
tactical nuclear weapons.” This is apart from Iranian involvement in
such an attack.


January 10, 2006

Blackbox Radio for Jan 10th, 2006

Filed under: Weekly Show — blackboxradio @ 4:25 pm

Listen to the show: lower quality | high quality

On this week’s show: UAW Delphi workers and supporters form a picket line outside the Detroit auto show and discuss the Delphi bankruptcy and workers’ rights. Plus, the following local, national, and international headlines:

Local Headlines:
Ann Arbor mayor favors wind power
Black businesses left out of Super Bowl benefits
GM to cut more jobs
Wal-Mart superstore for Grand Rapids

National and International Headlines:
New Orleans police shoot mentally-disabled man
DNA test ordered for executed man
New Medicaid ID requirements


Local Headlines

According to, Ann Arbor’s Mayor is looking to meet the city’s electricity needs with wind power from Michigan’s Thumb:

Mayor John Hieftje, who has said he would like to see city government using 20 percent renewable energy by 2010, wants to add wind power to the city’s energy portfolio.

The city’s energy commission will discuss how realistic those goals
are and how the city might meet them during a working session of the City Council on Feb. 13.

The Noble Environmental Power company is now building 32 windmills in Michigan’s Thumb, with plans to build 218 more. Energy from those first 32 will be purchased by Consumers’ Energy as part of its renewable energy program.


Detroit business owners were promised that hosting the Superbowl would bring lots of money into the city in the form of contracts with the NFL, but so far black business owners are being left out of the deal.

They argue that the Superbowl Host Committee, the official liason
between the NFL and metro Detroit, has denied millions of dollars
worth of contracts to even very prominent black businesses, sometimes preferring to bring in businesses from out of town to render services. The Host Committee created a subcomittee for Emerging Businesses, which was supposed to help minority and women-owned businesses get contracts.

The Michigan Citizen reports, however, that many, who have now been denied contracts, claim that the committee is a charade and a waste of time. Though the Host Committee refuses to divulge how much money has been awarded to different businesses, they claim that 30% of their total contracts have been awarded to Black businesses, and that African American businesses in Detroit have gotten a lot of special attention. Valenca Cade, who runs Big Fellows restaurant, won a catering contract but turned it down when she realized how low her profit margins would be, calling the offer “insulting.”


Despite having already announced 30,000 job cuts, General Motors Corporation Chairman, Rick Wagoner, says the slumping automaker will cut even more jobs, possibly starting this year.

Wagoner declined to give any numbers during an interview on Friday. But he didn’t rule out more plant closings if GM continues to shed market share in 2006.

GM said in November that it would eliminate manufacturing jobs, close 12 plants and parts facilities, and trim health care benefits for hourly workers and retirees. The automaker said those moves will cut its structural costs by $6 billion this year.

GM’s U.S. sales fell 4 percent in 2005 as sales of its
large sport-utilities plunged in the wake of higher gasoline prices.

Ironically, GM is counting on a revamped lineup of full-size SUVs to
help it restore profitability.


Media Mouse reports that Wal-Mart is planning to build a new store in the Grand Rapids area.

The new store will be located directly behind the existing Wal-Mart on Alpine Avenue. In order to build the new larger Supercenter, which will replace the current one once construction is completed, Wal-Mart will first buy the property behind the current store and get the property rezoned from agricultural to commercial use.

Last month, the first national poll on the public’s view of Wal-Mart
found that 56% of respondents agreed that while Wal-Mart does provide low prices, it is ultimately bad for America due to the high moral and economic cost associated with the company.

Despite substantial holiday sales, there has been a considerable amount of negative press for Wal-Mart over the past few weeks with the company being ordered to pay $172 million for violating California labor laws, a criminal investigation of how it handled merchandise classified as hazardous waste, and its destruction of a turtle habitat in south Florida.

Locally, the community group Pittsfield First has called on Wal-Mart to make a new year’s resolution not to build any more stores next to schools. Pittsfield Township residents continue their fight to keep a Wal-Mart from being constructed next to Harvest Elementary School.



National and International Headlines:

New Orleans Indymedia reports that a man known to be a friendly, mentally-disabled individual was shot last Monday afternoon by Sixth District New Orleans Police. Witnesses reported at least ten bullet casings on the ground after police opened fire on the man. Although the police spokesman said that the man lunged at a police officer with a [three inch] knife before he was shot, witnesses all say that the man was backing up when he was shot numerous times by police. Staff at the Burger King nearby say that the victim was a daily customer there, and had never hurt or threatened anyone.

Onlookers expressed anger at the police for responding with excessive force to the situation, and for taking this man’s life unnecessarily. One shouted at police, “Are your officers not trained to disarm a man with a knife without using lethal force?”

Sixth District officers are already under fire for their excessive behavior in several incidents, including harassment of relief volunteers and unlawful search of peoples’ homes. This incident calls into question the legitimacy of a police force known both historically and recently for corruption and brutality.


Virginia Governor Mark Warner ordered a post-execution DNA testing be performed to determine once and for all the guilt or innocence of Roger Coleman, a Virginia coal miner convicted of the rape and murder of Wanda McCoy in 1981. Coleman, who was executed by electric chair in 1992, maintained his innocence until the end, and gained the support of New Jersey-based non-profit Centurion Ministries, an investigative agency that works to overturn wrongful convictions. Governor Warner was prompted to reverse the state’s long-term opposition after a series of appeals from Centurion Ministries.

If Coleman is in fact exonerated of the crimes for which he was put to death, it will be the first time that anyone in the United States has been proven innocent after they have been executed.

Ira Robbins, a criminal law professor at American University predicts that the test’s outcome could be the point in death penalty abolition. Robbins said, “Let’s assume it comes back that he was proved innocent. Here is the case that the death penalty opponents have been looking for for a long time–that we have executed an innocent person.”

The results of the tests are expected sometime this week before Governor Warner leaves office.


The New Standard reports on a new trend toward citizen identification requirements. A new budget bill coming up for vote in February would require Medicaid beneficiaries to show two different forms of official identification before receiving any benefits. This is a requirement that opponents of the measure say will likely affect minorities and people with low incomes disproportionately.

According to language approved for the budget, beginning July 1, all Medicaid recipients, whether they are applying for the first time or reapplying for continued benefits, would have to show a passport or Birth Certificate as proof of citizenship, in addition to presenting a driver’s license or other proof of identity.

The new rule, which is buried in the bill’s 800-plus pages, purports to prevent ineligible immigrants from gaining access to Medicaid benefits reserved for citizens and certain categories of immigrants. But the progressive think tank Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) warns that the rule could deny or seriously delay healthcare coverage for millions of society’s most vulnerable citizens.

CBPP said that because poor, homeless and mentally ill people are the least likely to possess or have easy access to passports and birth certificates, they are in danger of missing out on coverage. Additionally, the new barrier could prove insurmountable to people born outside of a hospital, those in nursing homes and victims of natural disasters, the report found.

Most likely to be affected of all groups are blacks, CBPP said, citing a half-century-old study that found that as many as 20 percent of black women born between 1939 and 1940 lack a birth certificate because they “were born in a time when racial discrimination in hospital admissions, especially in the South, as well as poverty, kept their mothers from giving birth at a hospital.”



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