BlackBox Radio

May 1, 2006

BlackBox Radio for May 2, 2006

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

On this week’s show: Ben Chodoroff reports on the Nazi March in Lansing, Megan Williamson interviews Elena Herrada, founder of Centro Obrero/Latino Workers Center, Clara Hardie talks to young men about to cross the U.S.-Mexico border, and Kris Kaul brings us a report on local Mayday activities.

Plus, more local, national, and international headlines (after the ‘read more’ link).

Listen to the show: lower quality | high quality

Local Headlines:
Elbow Room cancels neo-Nazi show
600 sleep outside City Hall to bring attention to child soldiers in Uganda
Advocates push for health care to cover contraceptives

National and International Headlines:
Greenpeace demonstrators arrested outside Ontario Kleenex factory
Cornell expert: Ethanol inefficient energy source
Mainstream media ignores massive protests against Iraq war
Southern Poverty Law Center files suit against Del Monte
U.S. actively interfering in Nicaraguan elections


Local Headlines

This week in Ypsilanti the musical venue the Elbow Room cancelled a scheduled performance by the neo-Nazi band Nocturnal Fear. According to the National Women’s Rights Organizing Coalition, Nocturnal Fear has an established history in the white power music scene, and every label that sells their CD is a white power record label. In a recent Intelligence Report, the Southern Poverty Law Center stated that Elegy Records, one of the distributors of Nocturnal Fear’s music, has become one of the biggest distributors of racist black metal.

The Elbow Room cancelled Nocturnal Fear’s performance after receiving messages of protest and concern from various community members. This outcome evoked relief for some, while other individuals expressed concerns about censorship, as well as unease regarding the Elbow Room’s motives in this situation.


The Ann Arbor News reports that around 600 people spent last Saturday night sleeping outside Ann Arbor’s City Hall, in an effort to raise awareness of the 18-year long civil war in Northern Uganda and the war’s affects on children in the region. Participants marched from Pioneer High School to City Hall and slept in the parking lot, symbolically enacting the plight of children in Northern Uganda who must flee outlying villages each night, to sleep in the relative safety of major towns and avoid abduction by rebels.

According to United Nations reports, Ugandan children are being abducted by rebels and forced to become soldiers. Current reports estimate that 80 percent of the rebel fighters are minors.

The sleep-in was part of a national action called “Global Night Commute” that over 130 other cities participated in last Saturday. These coordinated actions have been sparked by the recent dissemination of a documentary about the Northern Ugandan conflict called “Invisible Children: Rough Cut.”


In Michigan, family planning advocates are currently campaigning to require employers’ health plans to cover all federally approved contraceptive drugs and devices. Currently, some drug plans will cover the cost of Viagra, taken by men to treat sexual impotence, but not cover women’s birth control costs. Due largely to this inequity, women in Michigan of childbearing age spend two-thirds more than men on out-of-pocket health care.

Despite bipartisan sponsorship, the bills supporting equal reproductive health coverage haven’t gotten a vote in the GOP-controlled Legislature since they were first introduced in 1999.After being blocked in the Michigan state Legislature, women’s rights groups are preparing to take their case to the Michigan Civil Rights Commission. They want the eight-member panel to decide that employers who don’t cover all federally approved contraceptive drugs and devices are violating the state’s civil rights law. Many insurers and businesses oppose mandated benefits, arguing that contraceptive coverage should be negotiated. The Michigan Catholic Conference calls the bills a “direct assault” on the rights of religious employers.

The Michigan civil rights commission will hear arguments in May and can set a precedent to be followed by employers – though courts likely will have the final say.
The panel agreed to rule following a request from the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan and other groups, including some health organizations.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has found that Title VII – which applies to companies with 15 or more workers – bars the exclusion of contraceptive coverage when other drugs and devices are covered. But 60 percent of Michigan businesses employ fewer than 15 people, according to the ACLU.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, a nonprofit reproductive rights think tank, twenty-four states require coverage of contraceptives approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration if other prescriptions are covered – though 17 of those states have exceptions for certain employers, usually religious organizations.



National and International Headlines:

Police arrested two Greenpeace demonstrators outside a Kimberly-Clark Kleenex factory in Ontario on Sunday. Greenpeace, which has about 30 demonstrators at the plant and also sent representatives to the company’s annual general meeting in Texas, is protesting Kimberly-Clark’s clear-cutting of ancient forests for use in its products. The two protestors had chained themselves to the railroad tracks immediately outside the factory, halting production. Two other protestors remain chained to the track.

Greenpeace and the Natural Resources Defense Council are calling on the company to increase its use of recycled and sustainably produced fiber. Currently, only 19% of fibers are recycled, and no recycled content goes into disposable Kleenex products.

In addition to distributing a brochure describing the company’s practices to shareholders, activists also educated consumers and employees. A truck resembling a giant Kleenex box made stops at company headquarters and 2 nearby malls, where activists handed out information about the company’s involvement in boreal forest destruction.

Over 40,000 concerned citizens around the world have written Kimberly-Clark urging the company to adopt more sustainable practices. The boreal forest, often called “the Amazon of the North”, accounts for 25% of the world’s remaining forests.


David Pimental, a leading Cornell University agricultural expert, has found that the energy required to produce one gallon of ethanol exceeds the energy contained in the ethanol itself. In other words, according to Health and, it takes more energy to make ethanol from grain than the combustion of ethanol produces. Ethanol is being promoted as the “answer” to America’s fossil fuel dependence by President Bush and large agribusiness producers.

131,000 BTUs of energy are needed to produce a gallon of ethanol, which has an energy value of 77,000 BTUs, thus leading to a net waste of 54,000 BTUs of energy for each gallon produced. Furthermore, an acre of grain produces 328 gallons of ethanol but requires 140 gallons of fossil fuels to grow using modern farming methods.

Pimental also found that the 11 acres of cropland required to grow the grain from which to power a single automobile for one year could grow a year’s supply of food for 7 people. According to Pimental, quote: “Abusing our precious croplands to grow corn for an energy-inefficient process that yields low-grade automobile fuel amounts to unsustainable, subsidized food burning”.


On Saturday, an estimated 350,000 people marched in New York to protest the Iraq War, making it one of the largest anti-war marches in the recent years. It was attended by many well-known anti-war figures, including Cindy Sheehan, Jesse Jackson, Susan Sarandon, and NYC Transport Workers Union leader Roger Toussaint.

The march, organized by a multitude of organizations including NOW and United for Peace and Justice, contained the largest contingent of labor anti-war protestors in history and stretched for over a mile, according to the New York Times. The Times, however, did not feature the march on the front page, but instead relegated it to the New York section.


A class action lawsuit has been filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Immigrant Justice Project against food giant Del Monte. The suit, filed in Miami, claims the company underpaid migrant farmworkers who were working for a Del Monte subsidiary in south Georgia.

Plaintiffs include both domestic migrant workers and Mexican guestworkers, who are brought into the US on special H-2A visas that restrict them to working only for the employer who has requested them. Guestworkers are entitled to the Adverse Effect Wage Rate, set by the Department of Labor each year to ensure that foreign workers do not adversely affect wages paid to domestic workers. The suit alleges that the workers, after spending large sums to travel to Georgia to work for Del Monte, were consistently denied these wages.

IJP director Mary Bauer says this is an increasingly common practice, in which corporations try to bypass the wage law by having middlemen submit the H-2A applications. According to attorney Greg Schell of the Migrant Farmworkers Justice Project, Del Monte and other large companies then claim the workers are solely the repsonisibility of the middlemen, when in fact the workers quote “live in housing provided by Del Monte, and are Del Monte’s employees in every important respect.”


The US is actively interfering in democratic elections in Nicaragua in an attempt to ensure the defeat of candidate Daniel Ortega, according to an article in Znet. Ortega, President during the Sandinista revolution against the US-supported Somoza dictatorship, has consistently been opposed and vilified by Washington.

In April, US Ambassador Paul Trivelli sent letters to opposition parties in which he offered to fund primaries in which parties advanced only one candidate, thus increasing their chance of defeating Ortega. Trivelli then met with leaders of the Liberal Constitutional Party, many of whose members have been stripped of their US visas, and asked them to withdraw their candidate and join the effort to defeat Ortega. When they refused, Trivelli publicly denounced the Party, calling it undemocratic.

When interviewed in the Nicaraguan News magazine Confidencial, Trivelli defended his actions by stating that quote “…in this country, in the electoral process, there are antidemocratic forces and there are democratic forces” and stated that he would support anyone quote “elected democratically, who governs democratically, with a sensible economic policy and who is ready to cooperate with the United States on security issues.” Trivelli then announced that Eduardo Montealegre is the democratic choice for President. Montealegre supports neoliberal policies and is the US choice for presidential candidate.

The urgency to defeat Ortega stems in part from his support by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and the fear that another country may join the growing leftist consensus in Latin America. Chavez recently spearheaded a three-way trade agreement between the countries of Venezuela, Cuba, and Bolivia which is aimed at reducing US influence in the region.




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