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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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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