BlackBox Radio

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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