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.


1 Comment »

  1. Thanks for your work. Here is a novel, After 9/11: A Korean Girl’s Sexual Journey. I strongly believe that you will have something to say about it, and especially about chapter 43, “9/11s are forgiveness,” which makes “9/11” a general noun for the worst disaster that could happen in one’s life. I have never seen any writer put it this way.
    If I bothered you, please forgive me. Good luck!

    Comment by Bill Kennedy — January 31, 2006 @ 4:36 am

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