BlackBox Radio

February 19, 2006

BlackBox Radio for Feb 21st, 2006

Filed under: Weekly Show — blackboxradio @ 11:35 pm

Listen to the show: lower quality | high quality

Blackbox Radio thanks listeners for donating to WCBN’s annual on-air fundraiser. Listener support keeps us on the air!

On this week’s show, Blackbox reporter Max Sussman attends a Spy-In in Ann Arbor, and Andalusia Knoll from Rustbelt Radio covers the current political situation in Bolivia with the election of Evo Morales. Plus, the following local, national, and international headlines:

Local Headlines:
Washtenaw Community College Killer Coke Coalition
Detroit Public School debt

National and International Headlines:
Elections in Haiti
United Arab Emirates to purchase company controlling US ports
US-Venezuelan tensions hit new high

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Local Headlines

At the start of this academic semester, student activists at Washtenaw Community College organized The Killer Coke Coalition, a campaign to end the sale of all Coca Cola products on campus. Responding to reports of the organized kidnapping and murdering of Union leaders at Coca Cola bottling plants in Columbia, the WCC chapter of Amnesty International initiated a movement to create a code of ethical conduct for campus purchasing. By focusing on human and environmental rights, The Coalition plans to use this campaign as a stepping stone for ensuring that the campus only purchases products from vendors that require the respect of human rights, appropriate labor standards for employees, the environment, and international laws. The Campaign’s list of demands include ending the sale of Coca Cola products on campus and removing all Coca-Cola products from campus vending machines, which are the property of AVI foodsystem. The Coalition is immediately working to challenge and eliminate AVI foodsystem’s contract with Coca Cola, and will alternatively contest WCC’s contract with AVI. The Coalition has already met with the College’s administrators,and has begun petitioning on campus. Striving to further the achievements of the international labor movement, Coalition members also plan to recruit other human rights groups, as well as the Teacher’s Union and the worker’s union that stocks AVI machines.

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During a seven hour meeting of the Detroit Public School’s Board last week, newly elected board members succumbed to pressure from hundreds of enraged DPS teachers, agreeing to postpone raises for school administrators. Teachers cited their September agreement to loan the district five days of pay to help cope with DPS’ deficit, and demanded a cancellation of either their compromise, or a cancellation of the raises for the DPS’ principals. The district will likely need a supplemental loan to the $520.1 million already borrowed from the Michigan Municipal Bond Authority, just to make it through August.
Factors contributing to the districts debt include a $6.8 million increase in administrative expenses in the current fiscal year, and a deficit acquired during the recent 5-year state takeover of Detroit schools. Since winning back local control of the district, DPS board
plans to eliminate the deficit owed to the state have included closing up to 110 schools, nearly half of the district’s facilities, and laying off thousands of teachers and workers. While the DPS board struggles to cope with financial pressure, a state trustee will set aside $376.2 million from the schools’ aid fund to ensure that money due on loans is repaid, including payments to bondholders such as J.P. Morgan Chase.

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National and International Headlines:

The US-installed interim government in Haiti has officially declared Rene Preval the winner of the Presidential elections after more than a week of disuputed vote tallying and rising tension. Preval led early estimates of the poll with over 64% of the vote, reflecting his popularity among Haiti’s poor majority and his perceived alignment with the policies of ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, whom he served as Vice President. His closest rivals in the poll, Leslie Manigat and US-supported sweatshop owner Charles Henry Baker, were able to garner only 12 and 6% of the vote, respectively.
However, following the departure of many election observers, Preval’s lead began to shrink, until it fell below the 50% needed for an outright win. Included in the count were tens of thousands of blank votes, which in some districts accounted for a third of ballots counted. Most of the blank ballots came from outside Cite Soleil, where over 95% of the population voted for Preval’s part Espoir. Also, on Wednesday, thousands of ballots were found smoldering in a garbage dump outside Port-au-Prince. Most of those inspected were marked for Preval.
According to Kevin Pina of Flashpoints radio, negotiations regarding the vote were then conducted behind closed doors with members of the US, France, Canada, Brazil, and Chile meeting with Preval and the interim Haitian government. A high ranking official close to the Preval campaign has stated that the US, Canada and France tried to force Preval to make major concessions in return for not having to face a second round of voting. Demands included that Preval agree not to drop the US-instigated lawsuit against Aristide for “corruption”, accepts IMF- World Bank policies of limiting spending on social programs and open Haitian assets to foreign investment, ensures that Aristide not be allowed to return to the country, nominates a member of the opposition to the position of Prime Minister, and not allow a general Amnesty for Lavalas political prisoners. According to Pina, this campaign is being led by Timothy Carney the charge d’affaires at the US embassy in Port au Prince.

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In a bill introduced Friday by Democratic Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton and Robert Menendez of New Jersey, the U.S. may prohibit foreign government owned or controlled companies from buying US port operations. The intention of the bill is to obstruct the multi-million dollar sale of a US port operating company to a United Arab Emirates controlled firm. Menendez said that “ports are the front lines of the war on terrorism,” with Clinton stating that port security should not be in the hands of foreign governments. Additional Congressmen called for a bipartisan hearing on the purchase by DP World –UAE’s port company—of a company that controls ports major cities in the US. Currently, the Bush administration plans to go ahead with the port sale, with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice claiming that it went through a “thorough review” and the administration “decided that this could be done and done safely.” Rice also stated that UAE is “a very good friend” of the United States, despite two of the 9/11 hijackers being UAE citizens and the country’s financial system helping to transfer money to terrorist plotters. The sale would give DP World control over operations at ports in New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Miami, New Jersey, and New Orleans.

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US-Venezuelan tensions hit a new high last week, when Condoleezza Rice called for a united front against the Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, asserting that he is trying to spread a “Latin brand of populism that has taken countries down the drain.” The democratically elected and popular president Chavez dismissed Rice’s criticism as “crazy” and that the US is merely acting out of aggression. With the US purchasing over 60% of Venezuela’s oil output, the Bush Administration disapproves of Chavez’s initiative to publicize Venezuela’s oil industry in order to alleviate the poverty that affects the majority of the country. The Administration also disagrees with Venezuela’s relationship with Cuba, and Chavez’s suspected control over the country’s media. The statements made by Rice and Chavez dismantle recent efforts by Venezuelan diplomats to better communication with the US holding talks in Washington, in light of the recent expulsion of a Venezuelan diplomat by Washington officials in retaliation for the expulsion of the US naval attaché.

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4 Comments »

  1. Excellent reporting: good show. Thanks!!

    Comment by Anonymous — February 21, 2006 @ 9:20 pm

  2. good production. i’ll listen again

    Comment by Anonymous — February 21, 2006 @ 9:21 pm

  3. clear reporting. it’s great to have alternative radio!

    Comment by Anonymous — February 21, 2006 @ 9:23 pm

  4. Nice reports, very good job.

    Comment by bill of sale — March 8, 2007 @ 8:59 am


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