BlackBox Radio

April 24, 2006

BlackBox Radio for April 25th, 2006

Filed under: Weekly Show — blackboxradio @ 1:12 pm

Listen to the show: lower quality | high quality

On this week’s show: a synopsis of a project commemorating the history of the Frieze building, and an interview with activist Andrea Smith. Plus, the following local, national, and international headlines:

Local Headlines:
Detroit water plan
DPS students protest school conditions
Michigan wind power

National and International Headlines:
Re-segregation of Omaha’s schools
Non-violent Palestinian protest in Bil’in

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Local Headlines


An initial agreement was reached this month for an affordable water plan for Detroit, reports the Michigan Citizen. The Michigan Welfare Rights Organization and the Detroit Water and Sewage Department presented a plan to the Detroit City Council.

The plan will collect the necessary $5million from late fees and customer contributions.
Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick has voiced approval of the plan and there is optimism about it, although it met resistance when it was first presented in 2004. Detroit has been named the “water shut off capital of the world”. In Detroit, about 45,000 homes do not have water at some point each year.

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The police arrested several Detroit Students when they walked out of their schools in protest of a lack of toilet paper and textbooks. Later that week, the Detroit Police stated that they would enforce the Parental Responsibility Ordinance, the Michigan Citizen reports.

The Ordinance charges parents with responsibility for their children’s “delinquent behavior.” Parents may be ticketed if their children create public safety concerns or disrupt the community.

Detroit Public Schools are split on this issue. Some Board members say it is the school’s fault for poor conditions, and that the school becomes responsible for its students. They also dispute the superintendent’s claims that the School Board supports the Police. Board members assert that the district needs to create support systems for students with emotional problems and struggling families.

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Huron County, Michigan, is erecting 32 wind turbines this summer, says the Great Lakes Bulletin News Service. Noble Environmental Power is preparing almost 5000 acres of land for the 1.5 megawatt, 400 feet tall turbines. This is the first large-scale project of its kind in Michigan and more turbines may be installed nearby.

Michigan is the 14th windiest state and there are many locations with good opportunities for this alternative energy source. It is estimated that turbines could power half of Michigan’s households on a windy day. This new project comes as Governor Granholm proposes research into Michigan’s alternative energy production potential.

Wind farms are often controversial, as residents object to the sightlines and fear for wildlife safety. This may be a problem in Michigan especially as there are few regulations covering turbine operation.

However, farmers and other residents whose land is affected will welcome the additional revenue. Most of the profit from this project will remain local, and the construction process will provide temporary jobs. Such projects should also help Michigan’s economy, if they are properly managed. Some propose cooperative style projects, which would further help to keep revenue local.

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National and International Headlines:

The New Standard reports that new legislation may re-institute racial segregation of Omaha, Nebraska’s school system. A plan by Nebraska legislators contains language allowing for huge disparities in funding of the newly designated districts.

Educators, community members and students in Omaha’s black and Latino neighborhoods are opposed to a bill that could “reorganize” the Omaha public-school district, comprised of 45,000 students, into three separate districts: one predominately white, one largely if not mostly Latino and one mostly black.

Nebraska lawmakers passed the bill 31 to 16 on April 13, and Governor Dave Heineman signed it into law the same day.

The legislation came as the final answer to a nearly yearlong struggle by Omaha Public Schools (OPS), ostensibly intended to determine how to create equitable education opportunities within the city’s expanding borders. The “One City, One School District” bill that was under consideration would have enabled the Omaha school district to annex majority-white schools just outside the city, where the majority of students are people of color.

In the end, lawmakers opted to not only dissolve the One City, One School District plan, but to dismantle and split OPS. Each new school district will have its own school board, its own superintendent, and presumably, when the lines are drawn, its own defining racial identity.

Critics of the bill charge that it will effectively re-segregate the city, and some question its constitutionality. Although the legislation’s text does not mention race, even proponents acknowledge that it will essentially define districts along color lines.

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While the mainstream media focused this week on a Palestinian suicide bomber, the violent Israeli occupation of Palestinian land continued, and the Middle East Media Center reports that Palestinians throughout the West Bank and Gaza organized non-violent protests to challenge this 39-year illegal occupation of their land, and to demand the release of the over 9,000 Palestinian prisoners being held by Israel, many of them without trial.

In Bil’in, in the West Bank, Palestinians, Israelis and international supporters gathered for a protest Friday, April 21, at one of the many sites where the Israeli army is constructing the Annexation Wall through Palestinian land. The protest followed the Israeli High Court’s decision to allow the Wall to be completed around Jerusalem, thus isolating nearly 250,000 Palestinians into ‘ghettoes’. Demonstrators were also calling attention to Israeli products flooding the Palestinian marketplace that are replacing locally produced goods.

Abdullah Abu Rahma, Coordinator of the Popular Committee Against the Wall, said that the protesters called on the residents to buy and use local products in order to support the local economy instead of supporting the Israeli products and economy and the Israeli occupation that surrounds and isolates the Palestinian territories and residents.

During the protest, the protesters collected Israeli products from local shops in the village and burnt them in front of the soldiers; the owners of the shops were compensated for the products taken away from their stores.

After burning the Israeli products, the protesters headed towards a construction site of the annexation Wall and broke several locks that the soldiers placed on the main gate of the Wall in an attempt to reach the orchards that became isolated behind the Wall.

Troops attacked the protesters and fired rubber-coated bullets and gas bombs at them; at least ten residents were injured; one resident required hospitalization.

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April 16, 2006

BlackBox Radio for April 17th, 2006

Filed under: Weekly Show — blackboxradio @ 11:56 pm

Listen to the show: lower quality | high quality

On this week’s show: Aidan Delgado, an Iraq War veteran who was stationed in Abu Ghraib prison, describes US soldiers’ treatment of Iraqis that led him to become a conscientious objector, and a report from New York city’s recent immigrant rights march, where over 125,000 people took the streets to protest HR 4437. Plus, the following local, national, and international headlines:

Local Headlines:
Edward C. Weber, curator of UM Labadie Collection
Delphi to invest $10m in India
Coke back on campus
Michigauma to reform, change name

National and International Headlines:
Texas plans to execute organizer Hasan Shakur
Police assault UC Santa Cruz protestors
SOA protestors begin sentences
NYC bill would allow legal residents to vote
Israeli military assassinates leader with car bomb

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Local Headlines

Edward C. Weber, who served for forty years as Curator of the Labadie Collection at the University of Michigan, died April 11, 2006, at the age of 83. The Labadie Collection, started in 1911, was originally concerned with anarchist materials and its scope was later widened considerably to include a great variety of social protest literature together with political views from both the extreme left and the extreme right. It is the second largest collection of its kind in the world.

Ed Weber was remarkable for the breadth of his knowledge and comprehension of Western civilization, as well as for his avid interest in radical social issues. During his tenure at the library, which lasted from 1960 until 2000, the size of the Labadie Collection increased six-fold, and he inaugurated important holdings in civil rights, campus unrest, and anti-war movements. He also saw the commencement of courses devoted to the social movements of the 1960s, which encouraged undergraduates to examine the material he collected firsthand during that time.

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US auto component giant Delphi Corp, which has filed for bankruptcy protection back home, said on Wednesday that it planned to invest $10 million during the next two years to increase production capacity at its plant in Bangalore.

Delphi was spun off from General motors in 1999, and is the second largest automotive parts manufacturer in the world. In October, 2005 it declared bankruptcy and declared it would sell or close 21 out of 29 plants in the United States. In Michigan workers have had to battle against Delphi for wages, retirement, benefits, and jobs since the Bankruptcy declaration in the fall.

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Last week, the University of Michigan reinstated its contract with Coca-cola after they agreed to instating so-called independent investigators in Columbia and India to review the human rights allegations there.

According to the UM Coalition to cut contracts with Coca-Cola, “he University of Michigan’s decision to immediately reinstate the Coca-Cola contracts is nothing short of an affront to democracy, justice, and accountability. Not only was the decision made without the mandatory consent of students as required by the Dispute Review Board recommendation; but by making this decision with a complete lack of transparency the administration violated its own established due process.”

Members of the coalition point out that the investigating board has financial ties to the Coca-Cola Corporation, including one board member who is also a Coke employee. The University’s actions caused many students to protest last week for both student rights and the rights of workers in Columbia and India.

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Last week in the Michigan Daily, Michigauma announced the names of its 2005 and 2006 graduating class members and promised to rename the organization. Michigauma is a secret society at the University of Michigan that has a legacy of racism against Native Americans. In 1989 the organization agreed to end all references to Native American Culture in its meetings and ceremonies. 11 years later, however, the Students of Color Coalition discovered that Michigauma had failed to implement the promised reforms and occuppied the Tower of the Michigan Union until a second agreement was reached.

The list of names released last week included MSA President Nicole Stallings and LSA Student Government President Andrew Yahkind. To see the complete list visit goodspeedupdate.com .

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National and International Headlines:

Portland Indymedia reports that the state of Texas plans to proceed with the execution of death row inmate Hasan Shakur, also know as Derrick Frazier, on April 27th. Shakur was found guilty of the murder of mother and son Betsy and Cody Nutt in 1998. Supporters are pushing the state for a stay of execution and a new trial, citing a lack of physical evidence tying Shakur to the case, a forced confession, and an incompetent trial attorney among other reasons.

Since being sent to prison, Shakur has spent his time organizing events to end violence in communities, fundraising, and publishing newsletters about prison issues, and the liberation of black people. Supporters are asking people to write and call the governor to ask for a stay of execution. For more information, please visit http://www.hasanshakur.com.

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On April 11th, Students Against War organized over 150 students to march from the center of UC Santa Cruz to the campus job fair, where they peacefully prevented access to military recruiters through sit-ins and other measures. After about an hour and a half of negotiations and students’ refusing to back down, military recruiters left the job fair.

The students’ first victory appeared early in the day, as administrators separated military recruiters from other employers, allowing the protesters to block access to the military, while the remainder of the job fair continued.

University administrators hired, at great cost to the school, a number of police from other UC campuses. These police, local officers, and a top local official, physically assaulted multiple students without provocation. Police also repeatedly refused to provide identification when requested. Students were pushed, punched, choked, and a student’s hand was slammed in a door. One student, acting as a legal observer, was pushed and arrested for documenting police surveillance, but was released soon after when other students protested the arrest.

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According to the School of the Americas Watch, on April 11th, twenty nine SOA Watch human rights advocates from around the United States reported to federal prisons to begin serving sentences of one to six months for their acts of nonviolent civil disobedience opposing the controversial U.S. Army’s School of the Americas, or SOA. The 29 advocates, ranging in age from 19 to 81, are among the 37 people who were arrested at Fort Benning last November and later sentenced in a federal court. They join four others already serving prison time for the same action.

The protesters were part of a demonstration of 19,000 people who gathered in Georgia last November to call for the closure of the school. The 29 – including Delmar Schwaller, an 81-year-old World War II veteran –- peacefully crossed onto the Fort Benning military base and were subsequently arrested.

The SOA, now called the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, made headlines in 1996 when the Pentagon released training manuals used at the school that advocated torture, extortion and execution. Despite this admission and hundreds of documented human rights abuses connected to soldiers trained at the school, no independent investigation into the facility has ever taken place. New research confirms that the school continues to support known human rights abusers. Despite having been investigated by the United Nations for ordering the shooting of 16 indigenous peasants in El Salvador, Col. Francisco del Cid Diaz returned to SOA in 2003.

Last month, Argentina and Uruguay sent a strong message of support for human rights and military accountability by ceasing all military training of their troops at the controversial school. The two South American countries became the second and third to announce a cessation of training at the SOA. In January of 2004, Hugo Chavez announced that Venezuela would no longer send troops.

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The New Standard reports that a coalition of human rights groups in New York City has won the re-introduction of a bill that would give more than a million legal residents the right to vote in city elections. The measure is the result of a long campaign to gain citywide support for noncitizen voting by the New York Coalition to Expand Voting Rights. The coalition represents around 70 immigrant-rights, labor, religious and other advocacy groups. Coalition members worked with Brooklyn Councilor Charles Barron to re-introduce the Voting Rights Restoration Act in City Council. If passed the bill would enfranchise approximately 1.3 million immigrant residents age eighteen or older who are not yet citizens. Advocates are currently working on gaining co-sponsors and pushing a council hearing on the bill.

Under the measure, immigrants who have resided legally in New York City for at least six months would be eligible to vote in all city elections. While the coalition originally sought to extend voting rights to undocumented immigrants as well, members said they ultimately restricted the bill to legal residents in order to make the measure more politically viable, and out of concern that undocumented immigrants whose names showed up in voter-registration rolls could be discovered and deported by authorities. Under the measure, immigrants who have resided legally in New York City for at least six months would be eligible to vote in all city elections.

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On Friday, the Israeli military assassinated Abu Yousef Al-Quqa, 44, leader of the Popular Resistance Committees. The International Middle East Media Center reports that Israeli military personnel remotely detonated a car fifty meters from Al-Quqa’s home in Gaza City, killing him instantly.

Later that night, three Palestinians were killed and twenty injured, in an exchange of fire between fighters of the Popular Resistance Committees and an unknown armed group. This exchange of fire came shortly after a spokesman of the Popular Resistance Committees accused Palestinian security figures of planning the assassination.

Also in response to the assassination, Palestinian factions in Gaza
fired homemade shells at Israeli targets with no damage reported. The Israeli military shelled Gaza, killing two and injuring 8 others, including a mother and her six-month-old child.

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April 9, 2006

BlackBox Radio for April 11th, 2006

Filed under: Weekly Show — blackboxradio @ 10:08 pm

Listen to the show: lower quality | high quality

On this week’s show: Christian Parenti on the prison industrial complex, and a report on healthcare barriers faced by transgendered people. Plus, the following local, national, and international headlines:

Local Headlines:
Students protest inadequate school conditions
Native American health care neglect
Telecom companies to restrict Internet access
Homeless allegedly beaten in Greektown

National and International Headlines:
Mine waste dumping
Voting in Peru

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Local Headlines

In Detroit, 32 students protesting deteriorating conditions at MacKenzie High School were handcuffed and arrested by police, the Michigan Citizen reports. Students cited leaking roofs, lack of textbooks and toilet paper, and generally filthy conditions. Eight students are charged with disorderly conduct, punishable by up to 90 days in jail. One student is charged with inciting a riot, a felony punishable by up to 10 years in jail. Because of their children’s behavior, several parents have also been charged $500 dollar fines under the Parental Responsibility Ordinance.

Principal Bernard Bonam defended the March 29 arrests. Bonam claimed the students were protesting the uniform policy, a charge denied by students. Markell Donaldson, a sophomore said, quote, “this protest is about how the school is run.” Corey Williams, a junior, noted that three students share one book for classwork.

Several School Board members voiced support for the students’ protest and stated that the conditions at the school had been brought to the attention of the principal in January, when over 180 parents raised similar concerns. Board member Marie Thornton noted that 45 new computers acquired by the school are still sitting in their boxes after suffering water damage from leaking ceilings. “The kids have a right to protest,” she said. “The school should have addressed this issue.”

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The UM Clinical Law Program, led by David Santacroce, has filed a class action suit in Federal District Court on behalf of Native Americans living in the Detroit area. According to the Free Press, the suit charges the Federal government with defaulting on its obligation to provide health care to all Native Americans and, if successful, would set a precedent that could affect Native Americans across the United States.

Santacroce and his students researched legislation and found that the federal government is obligated to provide health insurance to all Native Americans. A 2004 U.S. Commission on Civil Rights report, “Broken Promises”, found that Native Americans are more than 7 times as likely to die from alcoholism, more than 6 times as likely to die from tuberculosis, four times more likely to die from diabetes, and have the poorest cancer survival rates of any racial group. Santacroce says that continued discrimination and neglect have deprived Native Americans of access to health care.

Metro Detroit has one health care clinic providing basic medical care for over 38,000 Native Americans, of which 27,000 have no health insurance. Patients needing more than basic services are either referred to specialists, which they cannot afford, or put on a waiting list to receive treatment on their tribe’s home reservation. Many patients die before receiving treatment.

Lucy Harrison, Director of the American Indian Health and Family Services of Southeast Michigan, says the issue is especially relevant in the Detroit area. She insists this is an issue of justice, not charity, noting that Native Americans gave up over 95% of their lands under duress in exchange for very few promises by the federal government, most of which have not been kept. President Bush’s 2007 budget, while cutting taxes for the wealthy, eliminates funding entirely for the southwest Detroit clinic and 33 others like it in urban settings across the country.

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The idea of the Internet as a public commodity accessible to all citizens may be on its way out. US Telecommunication companies have introduced a series of bills at both the state and federal levels that would restrict Internet access based on fees, remove corporate “build out” obligations that mandate providing service to all customers within an area, and remove local franchise agreements that currently fund local cable stations and local services. These proposals arise as telecom companies are poised to offer video over the Internet which would allow TV to be delivered over DSL phone lines.

According to Michigan Citizen, US Representative Joe Barton of Texas, chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee’s telecommunications and Internet subcommittee, has introduced a bill that would create a national franchise agreement for cable providers. Under this bill, providers could choose individual neighborhoods in which to provide service while bypassing others. AT&T, for example, has promised its investors that they intend to serve 90% of “high-value” customers but only 5% of what it considers “low-value” customers, namely low-income and rural residents.

Amazon, Yahoo, Google, and other Internet companies have sent a letter to Barton criticizing the bill, saying it would fail to protect the Internet from discrimination and would limit the power of the FCC to oversee fair access. The bill is similar to many state-level bills that have been introduced in Michigan and 20 other states. In Indiana, where a similar measure passed last year, local franchises have been eliminated completely and Public Educational and Government cable access is under State control. Local politicians, including the Detroit City Council, Wayne County Commission, and the Michigan Congressional Black Caucus have passed resolutions denouncing the Michigan bill. Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick has offered to fast-track local franchise negotiations with AT&T, but has not as yet received a response.

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Attempts to rid Greektown of homeless people has resulted in several beatings, according to victims interviewed by the Michigan Citizen. After the city cut back on the number of police officers on duty, restaurant and casino owners hired a private security force composed of 8 laid-off police officers. Otis Jones, a lifelong Detroit resident, claims he was beaten by the officers and was subsequently prevented from filing a complaint. The Detroit police Department liaison denies the charges and claims that Jones has filed two false reports previously.

On February 16th, Jones says he attempted to stop two security guards from beating a homeless man when they assaulted him. He attempted to file a report with a nearby officer, but was told to go to the station. Upon arrival at the station, the desk clerk refused to take the report, stating that Jones had been interfering with the guards. It is unclear what powers private security guards have over citizens.

Jones states that all of the police he spoke with were familiar with the two officers involved in the beating. He says at least 8 other homeless men have been beaten by the security force. Two other victims confirmed Jones’ accusations.

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National and International Headlines:

On Wednesday, Environmentalists in Alaska renewed a court battle against government regulators, seeking to upend a mining permit they say would enable mining companies to fill water bodies with toxic byproducts. Last week, the US Army Corps of Engineers and the US Forest Service reinstated a permit allowing a gold-mining company to dump some 4.5 million tons of waste products into Southeast Alaska’s Lower Slate Lake over a ten-year period. The plaintiffs – the Sierra Club, Lynn Canal Conservation and the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council, say the move would undermine the federal Clean Water Act and could open yet another channel for big business to legally destroy water bodies and habitats. Federal and state regulators’ environmental-impact report on the mining project anticipates a loss of the lake’s entire aquatic habitat during the operation period, along with a total loss of major fish and invertebrate species.

The report also predicts that the project would lead to an irrevocable loss of cultural resources, including relics of old mining areas at over a dozen designated historic sites. Federal law restricts the gold-mining industry from contaminating local waters with chemical wastes. Yet the Bush administration’s recent tweaking of Clean Water Act rules effectively frees mining companies from restrictions on toxic dumping in the nation’s water bodies.

The company and regulatory bodies contend that the project would have a minimal long-term impact. Army Corps spokesperson Tom Findter acknowledged that “there will be a temporary loss of aquatic life in the lake as a result of the mine tailings discharge,” but told The NewStandard the damage would be offset because the sludge-filled lake would eventually be reclaimed, and the filling would force it to sprawl out and in effect become a larger aquatic environment. But in their legal complaint, the environmental groups expressed skepticism that environmental engineering could fully reincarnate a habitat after a decade of deadening pollution. The groups pointed out that the EPA’s limited tests on local waterborne organisms had offered no comprehensive evidence that the residual mine sediment would not negatively impact survival rates.

Earth Justice and other groups fear that the enactment of this permit will enable the mining industry to invoke similar strategies at other sites in Alaska. Environmentalists say that water pollution from mining could devastate the area’s diverse ecosystem, including major salmon spawning grounds that have provided sustenance for local residents’ for thousands of years.

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Peruvians have begun voting in national elections after a bitter campaign that reflected intense divisions in the country. Officials have said 53,000 police and soldiers are being deployed to make sure the election goes smoothly. None of the 20 presidential candidates is expected to obtain the 50% of votes needed for victory in the first round.

A key candidate is former army officer Ollanta Humala, a nationalist who has vowed to spend more money on the poor. His closest rivals are Lourdes Flores, a market-friendly conservative, and an ex-President, Alan Garcia, who had a disastrous record in office. Outgoing President Alejandro Toledo leaves office with a low popularity rating. Despite the country enjoying sustained economic growth, little of the wealth appears to have reached the more than 50% of Peruvians living below the poverty line.

On the eve of the poll, Mr Toledo – who, under the constitution, is barred from running for re-election – urged Peruvians to “vote constructively”. Be sure the person [you vote for] doesn’t represent the authoritarianism and the instability of the past,” he said, in what correspondents say was a veiled reference to Mr Humala. Mr Humala first came to public attention when he led a military rebellion against the government of Alberto Fujimori in 2000. His talk of rewriting the constitution in order to “stop the process of neo-colonialism in Peru”, and blocking the signing of a free trade agreement with the United States, has reportedly led some foreign firms to put investment plans on hold.

The business sector is widely said to favour Ms Flores, a former congresswoman who is hoping her chances will be boosted by Michelle Bachelet’s recent win in Chile. She will also be hoping to avoid a repeat of the 2001 election, when she was edged into third place by the left-leaning Mr Garcia. Mr Garcia’s 1985-1990 administration was marked by hyperinflation and rebel violence, but he remains popular among many Peruvians and has focused much of his campaign on attracting young voters. If no candidate obtains an outright victory, Peru’s 16.5 million voters will go to the polls again on 7 May to choose between the two leading candidates.

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April 3, 2006

BlackBox Radio for April 4th, 2006

Filed under: Weekly Show — blackboxradio @ 10:29 pm

Listen to the show: lower quality | high quality

On this week’s show: the controversial interrogation camp at Guantanamo Bay, and the women’s movement against toxic waste in Mexico. Plus, the following local, national, and international headlines:

Local Headlines:
Mistrial declared in Reverend Pinkney case
Animal killings in Superior Township
Detroit plans to lay off 5% of city water & sewerage workforce

National and International Headlines:
High School students protest immigration bill
Israeli Separation Wall causes flooding, killing Palestinian man
French students and trade unions protest labor law
Wages raised in Vietnamese foreign-invested firms after strikes

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Local Headlines

Last Friday, the judge in the trial of Reverend Pinkney declared a mistrial after over 20 hours of deliberation. Pinckney was accused of illegally influencing voters to support the recall campaign of City Commissioner of Benton Harbor Glenn Yarborough in February of last year. He was charged with four felonies and one misdemeanor, and faced a long prison sentence had the jury convicted him.

According to the Black Autonomy Network Community Organization, Pinkney is declaring this a victory, saying “I am truly happy about the outcome of this trial. I was innocent from the start… it was a victory for the people. We have to teach people to stand up and fight.”

The prosecution has not decided whether or not to retry the case. In the meantime, Pinkney plans to get back to “business as usual.” He is planning to revive his efforts to bring jobs to Benton Harbor and to continue to monitor the activities at the courthouse.

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According to the Associated Press, two dead dogs were found in rural eastern Washtenaw County on March 26. Authorities say the killings may be linked to a series of animal slayings that have occurred since January.

Nearly 40 domestic and wild animals have been found dead in the same general area of Superior Township since January. The dead animals include six dogs, and the rest were coyotes and foxes.

The two most recent slayings were of a cocker spaniel and a pit bull puppy that were found near each other. Some of the animals were shot and others were decapitated, hogtied or skinned.

The Humane Society is offering a $6,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.

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Beginning April 10, Detroit plans to lay off 5% of the city’s water and sewage workforce, according to the People’s Weekly World Newspaper. A rally was held by the employees of the Detroit Water and Sewage Department to protest the cut-backs.

Members of Michigan Welfare Rights joined the protest as well, saying that the cutbacks will cause higher bills for Detroit residents due to higher bills and more leaks, as well as a lessened ability to repair water main breaks.

Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick further angered the workers when he said the city must continue to make cutbacks and privatize “any and all city services” at his State of the City Address. Many fear that the privatization of the city’s water resources will cause water access and quality to become dependent on wealth.

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National and International Headlines:

US Indymedia reports that tens of thousands of high school students walked out of their classes last week in protest of HR 4437, the anti-immigrant legislation pending in Congress. The bill would make it a felony to be in the United States illegally, criminalize individuals or organizations who assist illegal immigrants, and authorize the construction of a 700-mile fence along a portion of the border with Mexico.

Massive walkouts began in Los Angeles on Friday March 24th and continued on the 27th, when according to the School District’s count, 24, 580 walked out in protest. Similar walkouts were soon in effect across California, with scattered walkouts taking place at high schools across the country.

By last Wednesday, authorities were cracking down. Reports from San Diego, Los Angeles, and Watsonville indicate that police are dealing harshly with students, and some districts are working with local police to prevent students from leaving campuses.

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The International Middle East Media Center reports that one Palestinian man was killed, and another injured last Saturday when hundreds of acres of farmland in the northern West Bank were flooded. The flooding occurred when waters from a seasonal rainstorm were blocked from draining by the Israeli Separation Wall.

Since 2002, environmental groups and municipal authorities have warned about the problem of drainage caused by the Wall, which acts as a ‘dam’ during times of heavy rain. The Annexation Wall has also previously caused sewage to backup onto people’s homes in the city of Qalqilia.

Citizens of Kherbitha village have called the Palestinian Police to ask them to contact the Israeli side to open water passages in the area to avoid more losses in their fields, which continue to be covered by water.

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The BBC reports that French Union leaders will press ahead with a general strike this week, after President Chirac vowed last Friday to uphold a controversial new law that makes it easier for employers to hire and fire people under 26.

After weeks of protest, Chirac still refuses to withdraw the new youth jobs law. He has made two key concessions: that the controversial two-year trial period for the under-26s would be reduced to one year, and that firms would have to justify their reasons for firing young people. However, under the new law, workers under 26 would have no recourse if they are unjustly fired, nor would they be able to present their case before any review boards, as older workers are able to.

Students and trade unions continue to organize against the legislation, and Paris Indymedia reports that protestors are adopting highly effective, non-violent tactics such as the short-term blocking of building entrances and railway stations.

One popular tactic, called “l’escargot”-or ‘the snail’-consists of groups of protestors walking or driving slowly, causing gridlock on major roads and effectively shutting down parts of Paris.

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On April 1st, a new minimum wage went into effect for workers in Vietnam’s foreign-owned factories. The wage increase was the direct result of months of massive protests by workers in southern Vietnam’s export processing zones.

During December and January of last year, some 40,000 workers participated in a wave of wildcat strikes protesting low pay and poor working conditions. After the strikes, the government agreed to raise the minimum wage in foreign-invested factories by nearly 40 percent.

Despite this victory, Vietnamese workers have said that their fight is not over. They cite inhumane factory conditions and the fact that some foreign companies have compensated for the wage increase by cutting worker stipends and bonuses.

CorpWatch reports that the Vietnamese government is ‘walking a tightrope’ by trying to meet workers demands while staying competitive with China, where low wages are a huge draw for international companies. Already, some factories impacted by the wildcat strikes have threatened to leave Vietnam and take their business to China, despite the fact that China’s minimum wage is still 13 percent higher than Vietnam’s.

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