BlackBox Radio

March 22, 2006

BlackBox Radio for March 21, 2006

Filed under: Weekly Show — blackboxradio @ 4:25 pm

On this week’s show, Max Sussman takes us to the Michigan Peaceworks antiwar rally for a critical take on the antiwar movement, Allison Harris brings us Hip-Hop 101, and poetry from the PCAP Spoken Word and Poetry event. Plus, the following local, national, and international headlines:

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Local Headlines:
US Senate to Make Canada Pay For its Trash
Detroit Proposes Moratorium on Life Sentencing for Juveniles
Pinkney Trial Begins in Benton Harbor
Chicago Employers Crack Down On Pro-Immigrant Employees

National and International Headlines:
Republicans Introduce Repressive “Terrorist Surveillance” Act
1.5 Million Strong Protests Against French Loosening of Labor Rights
Events Commemorate Deaths of Two Basque Separatists
Campaign against Caveiraos escalates in Rio de Janeiro


Local Headlines

As cited in the Detroit News, the U.S. Senate approved a measure written by Michigan Senators Stabenow and Levin to make Canada pay the inspection costs of the trash they export into the U.S.

Michigan accepts over 400 trucks of trash each day, and all of it must be inspected before entering the state. This new bill could transfer the costs of the inspection process from Michigan taxpayers to the Canadian Government.

Michigan currently only charges 21 cents per ton of trash accepted, and past garbage loads have been found to hold illegal drugs and medical waste.

The state of Michigan has tried to restrict dumping and raise fees as well, but the trans-national waste transfer is protected under NAFTA trade laws.


According to The Michigan Citizen, Detroit City Council’s Human Rights
Task Force is working on drafting a resolution regarding The Second
Chance Initiative, a statewide initiative that calls for a moratorium on life without parole sentencing for juveniles. The Second Chance initiative also calls for an end to enhanced parole procedures for those who were sentenced before the age of 18. The Task Force will soon present a resolution to the City Council, in hopes of adding the City Council’s voice to the growing support for the initiative.

The Second Chance group plans to hold briefing sessions with state legislators in late April and early May. In these sessions experts will explain details of the legislation and family members of juveniles serving life sentences will present testimony about the effects of the current laws.

However, a representative for the Initiative acknowledged that it will be an uphill battle to gain support from state legislators who may be afraid of being seen as ‘soft on crime.’

To find out more about the specific legislation or to sign petitions in support of ending life sentences for juveniles, visit


The trial of Reverend Edward Pinkney, leader of the Black Autonomy
Network of Community Organizers (or BANCO), began last week in Benton

Rev. Edward Pinkney is fighting four felony charges that were leveled
against him by the Berrien County Prosecutor’s Office after he led a
successful recall campaign in 2005 to remove City Commisioner Glenn
Yarbrough. The vote was eventually overturned by Judge Paul Maloney,
who reinstated Yarbrough as Commissioner. Pinkney was later charged
with paying $5 to individual citizens to cast their ballots for the
recall; charges that Pinckney and other Benton Harbor residents decry as
“completely fabricated.” If Reverend Pinckney is found guilty he faces up to 20 years in prison.

According to a recent article on the Pan-African News Wire, Rev.
Pinkney is being targeted because of his outspoken criticism of
Whirpool Corporation, which dominates the politics and economics of the
Benton Harbor area. Pinkney has called out Whirlpool for attempting to
gentrify Benton Harbor and uproot the predominantly poor and Black residents.

This trial will be monitored by people all over the United States. Stay
tuned to BlackBox Radio for future coverage of Reverend Pinckney’s


The Chicago Tribune reports that employers retaliated against workers who joined the massive pro-immigrant march in Chicago last week. Over two dozens employees at the Universal Form Clamp factory were fired after participating in the rally, which drew over 100,000 people. With help from the Interfaith Workers’ Rights Center, the employees filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board against the company on Thursday. Workers were initially told they could attend the rally, but managers later spoke to individual workers and told them not to bother to return to their jobs if they attended. They claim that the dismissals are the latest in a pattern of discrimination against Mexican workers at the factory, many of whom are illegal immigrants. Later in the day the company agreed to reinstate 33 workers who were dismissed for being absent without leave the day of the rally.

The rally was in response to new immigration laws being considered in the House and Senate. The current version of the bill criminalizes illegal immigration as well as any actions taken to aid illegal immigrants, for example by churches or social organizations. Although one possible amendment would offer at least hope of eventual citizenship, another version in effect creates a new form of American slavery by relegating immigrant workers to a lower pay scale and offered no pathway to citizenship. Such workers, while required to pay taxes and social security, would have no rights to collective bargaining or redress of grievances.

According to the Financial Times, illegal immigrants make up almost 5% of the work force, and are the backbone of essential sectors such as Agriculture and Services. Unrecognized in the Congressional debate is the fact that many of the migrants are forced here due to the loss of job security and decrease in wages in their home countries, issues that are brought on by multilateral trade agreements such as NAFTA. Such laws set up a dynamic in which capital can freely cross borders to lower-wage workers, but workers are not allowed to cross to better-paying jobs. Last month, the Army Corps of Engineers announced they had awarded a $385 million dollar contract to Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg, Root, and Brown to build massive “temporary immigrant detention facilities”. On October 1st the Department of Homeland Security plans to end its current “catch and release” policy and begin indefinitely detaining entire families of illegal immigrants until they can be returned to their nation of citizenry.



National and International Headlines:

The “Terrorist Surveillance Act of 2006” being introduced by Republican Senators Mike DeWine, Olympia Snowe, Lindsey Graham, and Chuck Hagel effectively removes the 4th amendment from the U.S. Constitution. Largely overlooked in the mainstream press, the law enables warrantless surveillance of Americans and officially removes actual oversight power from Congress and the Courts, allowing the President to indefinitely reauthorize the spying every 45 days. Ironically, the Bush administration signaled that it did not want Congress to introduce a law “legalizing” its activities since one of its main defenses has been to allege that its activities were already legal.

In fact, Glenn Greenwald, a former First Amendment attorney, argues that it is unclear what the purpose of such a law is since the President has stated that he has the right to break any such laws for reasons of national security. Even if the Intelligence committee disagreed with the President’s decision, their only recourse to halt the surveillance would be to convince a 2/3 majority of Congress to amend the law. Furthermore, the law makes it a criminal offense for any member of the committee to publicize illegal or abusive eavesdropping by the Administration.


More than 1.5 million people gathered in over 150 French cities on Saturday to protest a new youth labor law that will allow companies to fire employees under the age of 26 without cause during their first 2 years of employment. The government claims that the law, called the First Employment Contract, or “CPE”, was designed to end high unemployment rates among the youth. According to the BBC, over 20% of 18 to 25 year olds are unemployed, which is more than twice the national average. In many of the poorest communities in France, youth unemployment rates are as high as 40%.

Many employers are in favor of the law because it would allow them to overcome difficulties associated with terminating workers who are unsuitable or no longer necessary. Students, teachers, labor union leaders and politicians have come out in record numbers this weekend to oppose the law, which they claim would erode employment rights and benefits and would make it harder for young people to find permanent employment. Demonstrators argue that the law discriminates against young people and was pushed through Parliament without debate.

Saturday’s protests come at the close of a week of demonstrations that have closed down many universities throughout the country. In an interview with the New York Times, Bernard Thibault, head of the popular left-wing labor union CGT, said, “If they don’t listen to us, we are going to have to think about moving to a general strike across the entire country.”


Last week, events were organized in the Basque Country to commemorate and pay tribute to Igor Angulo and Roberto Saiz, two Basque independence activists who recently died in prison custody. ASKATASUNA, the political prisoner and exile support organization, has released a statement to inform the international community of these deaths and of the violation of civil rights created by the governmental ban on tribute events. According to their statement:

The Spanish and French penitentiary policy is criminal. It seeks to destroy the men and women in the Basque Political Prisoners’ Collective as well as their relatives. In order to do so, they are dispersed and held far from the Basque Country, they are isolated inside the jails, they do not receive healthcare, they are forbidden to study in their own language or at the University of the Basque Country, and there is an attempt to prevent them from taking part in the political process in their country. Despite the obstacles, they manage to participate. All in all, they are deprived of basic rights.

The recent demonstrations were all banned by the Interior Ministry of the Basque Autonomic Executive, a government that includes only three of the seven Basque provinces. The Basque Autonomic police, the Ertzaintza, brutally charged against demonstrators, causing a large number of broken bones and rubber-bullet injuries, as well as legal proceedings against demonstrators.

Askatasuna has released this call for support to the international community in the hopes that those who receive the message will take action against the penitentiary policy implemented against the Basque Political Prisoners’ Collective by the Spanish and French states.


Monday, March 13th, marked the beginning of the campaign against the use of Caveirao in Rio de Janeiro. Caveiraos are six-wheeled armored personnel carriers that have been used by the Military Police of Rio de Janeiro in the favelas, or slums, for the stated purpose of fighting off drug traffic. The black vehicles are painted with the emblem of Rio’s special operations police: a skull impaled on a sword. An Amnesty International report last week claims that Rio’s communities are suffering from such military tactics. Tim Cahill, Amnesty International’s research on Brazil, said that “By deploying a vehicle to aggressively and indiscriminately target whole communities, the authorities are using the caveirao as a tool of intimidation.” He reports of hearing that “people are scared to leave their homes, that they are too frightened to send their children to school in case they get caught up in a shoot out.” Although 11 killings have been attributed to the caveirao, the state security department defends the use of the vehicles, stating that they protect the population and the police.



  1. If anti-war groups aren’t showing solidarity with “Muslims, Arabs, South Asians and undocumented workers or immigrants,” why don’t you interview some of them to see what they think?

    Comment by Anonymous — March 26, 2006 @ 3:18 pm

  2. Thanks for your comment. Are you asking that question because you disagree that those groups are affected or because you think that no members of those groups were interviewed and therefore that is a problem?

    Comment by max — March 27, 2006 @ 9:31 am

  3. We can’t have that new form of slavery where immigrants are relegated to a lower pay scale and not allowed to air their grievances or ever become US citizens. Social Security is for all.

    Comment by Geoff Dodd — February 28, 2007 @ 2:01 am

  4. I have been saving emblems secretly worn of uniform by US servicemen in Vietnam. They are displayed in my article to depict what happens when men in such position after prolonged period of killing (basically civilians) including women and children must harden their hearts to survive.

    This also was point of a college professor dividing his students into victim/aggressor as experiment. When the moral and ethic charater of students broke down, getting totally out of hand, the professor terminated the experiment. He did however later write a report calling what he found as the ‘Lucifer Effect’.

    Anyway, I cannot find a single emblem of the Brazilian Special Forces ‘Swords/Skull’ emblem, anyone having or finding such, please send me a copy, my email:

    Comment by DeWayne Benson — September 20, 2007 @ 10:08 pm

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