BlackBox Radio

February 27, 2006

BlackBox Radio for the week of February 28th

Filed under: Weekly Show — blackboxradio @ 9:14 pm

Listen to the show: lower quality | high quality

On this week’s show: On this week’s show we’re focusing on young people. First we hear from Telling It, a creative writing program for kids. Next, interviews and music from the local record label, Youth Owned Records. Plus, the following local, national, and international headlines:

Local Headlines:
’Michigan Needs A Raise’ Campaign
Local Citizens Organize for Dioxane Clean-Up
Bus Service to Ypsilanti/Ann Arbor Under Threat

National and International Headlines:
Farmers, Environmentalists Challenge GMO-Giant Monsanto
Anthropologist Reveals Human Evolution Based on Cooperation
U.S. Refuses to Meet with Lebanon’s Pro-Syrian President
Attempted Coup in Philippines


Local Headlines

The Michigan Citizen reported earlier this month that a new petition drive started in Detroit for a measure to increase Michigan’s minimum wage. The “Michigan Needs a Raise” coalition is collecting 350,000 signatures by this summer to get the proposal on the November ballot.
This proposal would increase the minimum wage to $6.85 on hour–up from $5.15, which has been the federal minimum wage for the last 9 years.
State Senator Irma Clarke-Coleman states: “A full time worker at the minimum wage makes $10,700 a year, which is actually $5,000 below the federal poverty line for a family of 3.”
18 other states including Ohio have already raised their wages above the federal minimum. However, in Michigan, there are working families that cannot afford rent and have been forced into homeless shelters.
Some small business groups are concerned that they will not be able to hire workers at the new rates. However, the Michigan Needs a Raise Campaign asserts that businesses will actually benefit, as more consumers will be able to afford their goods.


The Ann Arbor news reports a newly formed group to oversee the clean-up efforts to remove dioxane from local groundwater. The Coalition for Action on Remediation of Dioxane, or CARD, is based on former citizens groups that formed after dioxane contamination was discovered in the 1980’s. The dioxane comes from Gelman Sciences Inc. in Scio Township, who watered their lawns with their manufacturing byproducts.
Since then, despite clean-up efforts, the chemical has spread to the west side of Ann Arbor, forcing the closing of wells.
CARD facilitates the clean-up process by connecting government and company officials with neighborhood groups and citizens, who often have the most effective ideas. The City Council is also considering participation with CARD; a resolution is due to be passed in the upcoming weeks


The Ypsilanti City Government has proposed reductions or even eliminations of the bus service between Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti. This will hurt hundreds of workers and students who depend on the bus for a ride to work or class. The routes between Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor are currently some of the busiest in the entire busing system.
The proposed cuts come in response to budget deficits in the Ypsilanti government, and involve dropping the city’s seven bus routes by 2009. Ypsilanti currently pays the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority around $170,500 a year for this service.
A petition is being circulated online to protest the proposed cuts at


National and International Headlines:

Agbiotech giant Monsanto is facing resistance to its push for introduction of genetically engineered plants. In one case, a coalition of farmers, consumers and environmental activists have sued the U.S. government over its approval of a Monsanto-developed biotech alfalfa ( The lawsuit charges the US Dept of Agriculture with improperly allowing Monsanto to sell the herbicide-resistant seed without completing a full review of its public health, environmental, and economic consequences. Alfalfa, the 4th most widely grown crop in the US, is easily cross-pollinated, and as a perennial, persists in the ecosystem. The suit states that the genetically modified alfalfa will likely contaminate conventionally-grown alfalfa at a rapid pace. This would eventually force farmers to pay Monsanto for the crop whether they had wanted the technology or not, and potentially lead to eradication of the conventional alfalfa industry entirely.

On another front, over 300 global grassroots organizations, including farmers and indigenous peoples’ groups, are challenging Monsanto’s renewed attempts to get Terminator technology approved by the UN next month ( Terminator seeds are deliberately engineered to be sterile so that farmers cannot collect seeds for the next years’ crop, making them dependent on purchasing their seeds from Monsanto each year.

In 1999, in response to widespread opposition, Monsanto pledged not to attempt to commercialize terminator technology. However, new language which Monsanto intends to introduce at next month’s UN Convention on Biological Diversity revokes the pledge on non-food crops and opens the way for terminator use in cotton, tobacco, pharmaceutical crops, and grasses. The text recommends Terminator applications be approached on a “case by case” like any other genetically modified crop, examining its health and environmental impacts. Opposition groups contend this approach would ignore the potentially severe economic and societal impacts of genetic seed sterility, especially in agricultural communities in developing countries.


Humans actually evolved to be peaceful, cooperative and social animals and not dangerous predators, states Duke University anthropologist Robert W. Sussman ( Speaking at the American Association for the Advancement of the Science’s Annual Meeting, Sussman argues that primates, including early humans, evolved not as hunters but as prey of many predators, including wild dogs and saber-toothed cats, hyenas, eagles and crocodiles.

Since the 1924 discovery of the first early humans, most scientists theorized that early humans were hunters and possessed a killer instinct. Sussman theorizes that this view, quote, “developed from a basic Judeo-Christian ideology of man being inherently evil, aggressive and a natural killer. In fact, when you really examine the fossil and living non-human primate evidence, that is just not the case.”

In studying Australopithecus afarensis, an early hominid that lived 2-1/2 to 5 millions years ago, Sussman and his co-researcher discovered that the species was dentally unequipped to eat raw meat, yet lived long before the regular use of tools and fire made hunting and cooking meat possible. Not only were early hominids small, but predators then were far more numerous and much larger than today’s predator species. Further study of the afarensis fossil record showed that between 6 and 10% of early hominids were preyed upon, a rate identical to predation rates of similar edge-living primates today. Sussman concludes that like other prey species, early hominids lived in large groups and that the intelligence, cooperation, and many other features of modern humans evolved as a way to survive and out-smart the predator.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice chose to not meet with Emile Lahoud—the pro-Syrian president of Lebanon—when she made an unannounced visit to the country Thursday.
Explaining that she had “already met him” when she last visited six months ago, Rice
convened with Christian and Muslim political leaders of the country, instead. There to
give “support for the Lebanese people and the Lebanese government as they continue to
recover their sovereignty,” Rice often sites Lebanon’s recent separation from Syria as a
Bush administration success in bringing democracy to the Middle East.

The anti-Syrian majority Lebanese Parliament is discussing whether to remove Lahoud from presidency. Rice did not indicate to eager Lebanese reporters whether or not the United States would support a pro-Syrian President, but her refusal not to meet with Lahoud wa sa clear indicator of her position. Rice also did not put any real pressure on the Lebanese government to disarm the Hezbollah militia that is in control of southern
Lebanon. Over the pass two years, the United Nations created resolutions demanding that the Lebanese government disband Hezbollah. In her statements to the media, Rice was in no hurry to encourage Lebanon to abide by the resolutions.


President Gloria Arroyo of the Philippines declared a national emergency in efforts to
stop a coup plot involving security forces commanders. Giving the army and police
“extraordinary powers,” Arroyo called for all planned demonstrations to be withdrawn and all schools to be shutdown. Rumors of a coup—timed to coincide with the 1986 anniversary of the rebellion against a former president—led to heightened security throughout lastweek. With 12 coup attempts in the last two decades, this unrest is not new to the Philippines.

The leader of the Scout Rangers—an elite regiment in the army—is accused of being the
head of the coup plot. He and 10 other top military officials are under arrest for
involvement in the coup attempt. In September 2005 President Arroyo survived an impeachment attempt. She also withstood an army mutiny in July 2003. In recent months, opponents accused Mrs. Arroyo of vote rigging and corruption.




  1. oh i can’t believe what i’m seeing with my eye. Serafino Raimondo.

    Comment by Serafino Raimondo — September 19, 2007 @ 12:22 pm

  2. you had me suicidal, suicida. Merrill Amram.

    Comment by Merrill Amram — October 21, 2007 @ 3:12 pm

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