BlackBox Radio

March 5, 2006

Blackbox radio for the week of March 7th 2006

Filed under: Weekly Show — blackboxradio @ 10:45 pm

Listen to the show: lower quality | high quality

On this week’s show: an analysis of what South Dakota’s abortion ban could mean for the future of Roe v. Wade in the U.S., and activist & musician Joe Carr speaks and sings about his recent experiences in Iraq & Palestine.. Plus, the following local, national, and international headlines:

Local Headlines:
Fraud charged in Michigan Civil Rights Initiative
Developers challenge Clean Water Act
Medicaid to provide affordable contraceptives
Bill will make it illegal for MI communities to ban GMOs

National and International Headlines:
Winter of Our Discontent faster and protesters arrested in DC
Detention of women and girls in Libya
East Africa drought
Discrimination impeding treatment of HIV/AIDS in Ukraine


Local Headlines

The Michigan Civil Rights Initiative is a controversial ballot referendum that would outlaw all forms of affirmative action in the state of Michigan. Last year during its development, fraud charges surfaced when it was found that MCRI petitioners led voters to believe the proposal would help to strengthen affirmative action, not take it away entirely.
Since then, individuals and organizations on either side of political party lines have spoken up against the initiative.
The most recent action against the MCRI comes in the form of a letter sent out by a group of Michigan corporate leaders on March 3rd. Detroit News reports that the sending group includes the chairman of DTE energy company Anthony Early and former Detroit Mayer Dennis Archer. The letter urges citizens to help preserve diversity by opposing the MCRI.
This is not the first time that big business has supported affirmative action in the state of Michigan; two major auto manufacturers filed briefs of support when the University of Michigan defended its practices before the U.S. Supreme Court.


The power of the 1972 Clean Water Act is currently being challenged in the U.S. Supreme Court by two Michigan developers who claim the government has no right to regulate private use of “isolated” wetlands. According to the Toledo Blade, one developer wanted to build condominiums on his land but was stopped when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers found the land to be too ecologically viable. The other developer didn’t even seek approval before he filled in over 50 acres of wetlands on his property.
Attorneys for the defendants argue that the Clean Water Act only applies to navigable bodies of water and their tributaries. The opposition includes senior U.S. House Representatives John Dingell and John Conyers, both from Michigan and both co-sponsors of the Clean Water Act. They assert that the Act was meant to protect all wetlands, even landlocked ones.
Wetlands are necessary to absorb rainfall, prevent flooding, and filter out pollutants before runoff can get into major water supplies and threaten the safety of our drinking water and fishing.


Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm recently announced a plan to use Medicaid money to provide birth control to low-income women. According to the Detroit News, the plan will provide affordable contraceptives and education on birth control. Although critics complain that this is a misuse of government money and will promote promiscuity, Granholm contends that by reducing the amount of unwanted pregnancies the plan will save Michigan millions in welfare costs.

Last week on BlackBox, we reported on agro-giant Monsanto and their quest for U.N. approval to internationally market terminator technology. Terminator seeds become sterile after one harvest and force farmers to buy new seed every year. At a national level, the U.S. department is being sued for allowing Monsanto to sell a biotech, herbicide-resistant alfalfa without properly assessing the risks. Now, the State of Michigan’s House of Representatives is poised to further support bio-tech agricultural companies like Monsanto by banning citizen’s rights to restrict genetically engineered crops.
In recent years communities around the U.S. have banned G.E. crops, including counties and towns in California and New England. Globally, 40 nations have mandatory labeling of all Genetically Modified Organisms, or GMO’s. But in the U.S., Monsanto, with the support of the Farm Bureau, is pressing State Legislators to pass preemptive bills that eliminate the right for citizens to object to GMO’s. These bills make it illegal to regulate seeds, restrict trade on biotech products, or label food that contains G.M.O.’s.
The farm bureau claims that fears on the dangers of biotech products are unfounded and that not having access to biotech seeds will harm farmers. The opposition, comprised of small farmers, concerned citizens, and environmentalists, states that much of biotech has not been fully tested and poses many risks to human and eco-system health. They were recently able to stop a senate bill through a citizen’s letter writing campaign, but now members of Michigan’s house are quickly trying to pass a similar bill. The bill will make Michigan the 15th state to make local bans on G.E. crops illegal.



National and International Headlines:

Since February 14th, four activists have been engaged in a 34 day fast for peace in front of the U.S. Capitol, as part of the Winter of Our Discontent campaign organized by Voices for Creative Nonviolence.

According to email updates sent by Mike Ferner, one of the activists participating in the fast, seven peace activists were arrested on February 28th in front of the White House, in a civil disobedience protest against the war in Iraq.

The seven arrested were all from Catholic Worker communities. They were charged with the federal misdemeanor of demonstrating without a permit. The action was part of a series of worldwide demonstrations taking place in the month leading up to the third anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq on March 20.

Mike Ferner also reports that on March 1st, fifteen people were arrested in front of the White House after protesting against U.S. sanctioned torture of detainees in military prisons.

Members of Witness Against Torture, many of whom are part of the catholic Workers Movement, began their protest at the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court, continuing to the Capitol and the Department of Justice. Escorting six fellow protesters dressed in bright orange jumpsuits, hands tied and hoods over their heads, the marchers proceeded along busy sidewalks to the White House, carrying signs that read, “You can deny it’s torture, but the world knows,” and “Ban all torture – no exception for Bush.”

The march took place on Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, an annual period when Catholics pray and fast to repent for sins.

Several weeks into the 34 day fast, Mike Ferner had this to say,
“We are fasting with the realization that at best we may get a few members of Congress to think briefly about what they’re doing; with no real hope we can actually get them to stop funding this war.”


Human Rights Watch reports that Libyan women and girls are being held indefinitely in government facilities for “social rehabilitation.” They are kept in locked quarters without any opportunity to legally contest their confinement.
A researcher for the Women’s Rights Division of Human Rights Watch, Farida Deif, says “these facilities are far more punitive than
protective.” Yet, many of the women and girls being held at the
facilities have not committed any crimes and some are there because they were raped and have been ostracized by their families. The women and girls can only get out of the facilities if they are taken custody by a male relative or agree to marriage, often to strangers who go there looking for wives.


A two-year drought, the worst in decades, threatens over 11 million people across East Africa with starvation. The U.N.’s World Food Programme launched an appeal for an emergency response on Saturday, warning that aid will run out in April unless help arrives in the next 10 days. “We will urgently need more help in the next 10 days because it takes time to buy, ship, and distribute food,” said James Morris, executive director of the WFP. Of the $225 million that is needed, WFP has only received $28 million.

A recent report from the Human Rights Watch documents how discrimination and abuse are impeding Ukrainian government’s efforts to fight against the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Injection drug users, the population at highest risk of infection, are subject to routine police abuse and discrimination from healthcare workers, who frequently refuse to provide care. The common disclosure of HIV status by healthcare workers also further propagates discrimination and abuse. Rebecca Schleifer, a researcher with Human Rights Watch’s HIV/AIDS program, states that “the HIV/AIDS policies that Ukraine has put in place are generally good ones. But until the government addresses the chronic abuses of people at highest risk of HIV/AIDS, it will have little hope of stemming its HIV epidemic.”


1 Comment »

  1. Is no else disturbed by the fact that Bush has made it so we are not legally able to protest? Where are our rights? Monsanto Corp(owned by Rockefellers) are poisoning all of our food and people are getting sick and dying and we are not allowed to protest this? WTF?

    Comment by Lisa Bee — February 15, 2008 @ 9:49 am

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