BlackBox Radio

March 14, 2006

BlackBox Radio for March 14th

Filed under: Weekly Show — blackboxradio @ 12:18 pm

Listen to the show: lower quality | high quality

On this week’s show: A report from from last weekend’s water rights protest in Detroit, just days after the City Council approved a hike in residents’ water rates, and interviews with Prison Creative Arts Project founder Buzz Alexander and Detroit writer Brandon Gatson. Plus, the following local, national, and international headlines:

Local Headlines:
Local Democratic Party seeking impeachment resolution
Detroit to hire ex-cops to patrol schools
$2.6 million in military contracts for Grand Rapids
WUOM probe tied to alleged corruption

National and International Headlines:
Florida legislators pushing for probe in murder of juvenile
Bush proposes to sell National Forest land
UN: River depletion “a disaster in the making”
Hundreds of physicians condemn Guantanamo medical practices
Abortion discouraged for rape victims in Mexico

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Local Headlines

According to the Ann Arbor News, the Ann Arbor Democratic Party wants the City Council to pass a resolution supporting the impeachment of
President Bush. On Saturday, the Ann Arbor Democratic Party passed a resolution saying President Bush and Vice President Cheney broke the law and should be impeached. The resolution cited the war in Iraq, secret surveillance of American citizens by the National Security Agency, and government acts of torture as grounds for impeachment. Ann Arbor Mayor John Hieftje has said he wants to speak with Congressman John Dingell about the resolution before making a decision. On March 2nd, a similar resolution was passed in San Francisco.

###

The Michigan Citizen reports that Detroit Public Schools is aiming to hire armed laid-off Detroit police officers in a pilot program to quell an alleged outbreak of violence at the schools. On March 6th, the school board voted 10-1 to hire up to 48 recently laid-off police officers.

Detroit Public Schools Superintendent stated that the hiring of the Detroit police, who will have arrest authority, is a temporary move. However, he also stated that long-term plans to hire both Detroit police officers and Wayne County deputy sheriffs are being considered.

Many parents are concerned about having cops walking the halls of their children’s schools, pointing also to the fact that these officers will probably be non-residents of the neighborhoods in which they are patrolling. Parent Stephanie Mason also voiced concern that most of the officers would be white, while the student populations are mostly Black. She said, “They may not understand our culture and may be more hostile based on stereotypes. I feel that we need to re-hire laid-off school officers, not intimidate our children with guns.”

Officers are scheduled to begin patrolling schools by the end of March.

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According to Media Mouse, Grand Rapids Independent Media Center, over $2.6 million in military contracts were awarded to companies in the Grand Rapids area last month alone. While the amount was not particularly large as far as military contracts are concerned, it highlights the fact that local companies continue to profit from the occupation of Iraq as the war nears the three-year point.

###

The Detroit Free Press reported on Monday that WUOM is being investigated in a criminal probe, relating to fundraising practices by two former development staff members: Jeremy Nordquist and Justin Ebright. Allegedly merchandise and meals were given to station staff in exchange for on-air announcements. Donovan Reynolds, Michigan Public Media director, who resigned March 1, said he reported “suspicious business practices” to U-M administrators and the U-M Department of Public Safety on Nov. 15, launching the criminal probe. Reynolds has declined to give details but said his resignation was not tied to the investigation.

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National and International Headlines:

According to the Westside Gazelle, the Florida Conference of Black State Legislators, in conjunction with the NAACP, are pressing for an independent probe of a 14 year-old’s suspicious death while at a juvenile boot camp.

On January 5th, Martin Lee Anderson entered the Bay County Sheriff’s Office Boot Camp, one of five such Florida camps under the jurisdiction of the Department of Juvenile Justice. The 14-year-old had been remanded to boot camp for trespassing on school property, a probation violation on an earlier charge. His earlier conviction was for ‘grand theft’ after which he took his grandmother’s Jeep to go joyriding with friends.

Anderson died during his second day at boot camp, after he was severely beaten by guards for refusing to cooperate during the intake process. A surveillance videotape of the beating shows six to eight guards wrestling the 140-pound teen to the ground and striking his torso repeatedly. The videotape was made available only after a lawsuit was filed demanding its release to the public. Family members and their attorneys stated that the videotape has been tampered with. They note that parts that have been spliced together and sections of the original tape have clearly been deleted.

Anderson’s parents, who saw their son at the hospital after medical personnel rushed him there, said his body was so battered and swollen that he looked twice his normal size. His internal organs were damaged beyond repair.

In a statement that has been called “totally preposterous” by medical experts, the District Medical Examiner who conducted the autopsy, ruled that the 14-year-old died a natural death. The Medical Examiner claimed that Anderson’s death was due to “excessive exercising” and a previously undiagnosed Sickle Cell Trait, and was not related to internal injuries resulting from the beating by guards.

Florida state legislators are also outraged by Anderson’s brutal death, which came not long after the deaths of two other young men while in detention centers. “We expect some answers why our Black young men are dying,” asserted State Rep. Audrey Gibson. Of the roughly 600 detainees in juvenile detention facilities across the state, nearly half are Black in a state where the entire Black population is roughly 15 percent.

###

In President George W. Bush’s Fiscal Year 2007 budget, unveiled last month, the Bush administration proposed selling some 300,000 acres of National Forest land. Media Mouse reports that of the land that has been proposed for sale, 5,580 acres are in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. While the plan has been touted as a way to offset the cost of the Secure Rural Schools Act of 2000 and guarantee funding for rural school districts located in remote areas like the Upper Peninsula, advocacy organizations working on rural education are questioning the efficacy of the plan. The proposal is part of a series of Bush administration changes in forest policy that promote a transfer of publicly owned land and resources into the hands of private corporations. The proposal has drawn widespread opposition from environmentalists, conservationists, and legislators across the United States. The Forest Service is allowing public comment on the sale until March 30, 2006. Comments can be emailed to SRS_Land_Sales@fs.fed.us

###

This week, the UN’s triennial World Water Development Report will warn
that more than half of the world’s 500 biggest rivers have been
seriously depleted. Klaus Toepfer, the executive director of the
United Nations Environment Programme calls the state of the world’s
rivers “a disaster in the making”. Dams and global warming have
largely contributed to the drying of the rivers. Over 45,000 dams now
block 15% of all the water that used to flow to the sea. In recent
years, the United States has dismantled 465 dams, but a recent bill
that passed in Washington State will allow the federal government to
build a series of dams on the West’s largest river, the Columbia.
With increasing temperatures, even undammed rivers have been affected,
leaving dead salmon in the Yukon and a record draught in the Amazon
basin last autumn.

###

In a letter in medical journal The Lancet this week, a group of about 260 physicians describe the force-feeding of Guantanamo detainees as violating international medical codes. They cite the Declarations of Tokyo and Malta, which both specifically prohibit force-feeding. The American Medical Association has also officially recognized a prisoner’s right not to eat. However, according to a recent New England Journal of Medicine article, potential Guantanamo Bay health care workers are screened before deployment to ensure that they are not ethically objected to “assisted” feeding. Physicians have also expressed concern about the restraining chairs used for the procedure. In the past, these chairs have been reported to cause circulatory and respiratory complications. Ultimately, David Nicholl, a British neurologist, argues that “the issue is one of patient consent” as prisoners who risk their lives by going on hunger strikes are making informed decisions.

###

Abortion in Mexico, while generally illegal, is allowed in rape cases. Yet, the Human Rights Watch has found that rape victims face numerous difficulties when seeking abortion services. Aggressive strategies used by government agencies, public hospitals and family services include inaccurate information about abortion risks and anti-abortion videos. As Kenneth Roth, the Executive Director of the Human Rights Watch states, “pregnant rape victims are essentially assaulted twice. First by the perpetrators who raped them, and then by public officials who ignore them, insult them and deny them a legal abortion.”

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