BlackBox Radio

May 30, 2006

BlackBox Radio for May 30th, 2006

Filed under: Weekly Show — blackboxradio @ 6:53 pm

On this week’s show international observers document the controversial sectarian Orange Order marches taking place in the north of Ireland, (producer: Kate McCabe), and Fay Givens discusses government neglect and the state of health care for urban Indians living in Detroit (producers: Max Sussman & Kate McCabe), plus local, national, and international headlines (find them after the ‘read more’ link).

Listen to the show: lower quality | high quality

Local Headlines:
State of Michigan Fails to Pay Debt to City of Detroit
Director of WUOM Pleads No Contest to Embezzlement
HUD Funding Program Facing Cuts by Bush Administration
National and International Headlines:
Anti-War Activists Block Military’s Use of Olympia’s Port
Korean Farmers Continue Struggle to Keep Land, Stop US Base Expansion
Chileans, Argentinians Organize Against PASCUA LAMA Mining Project
South African Workers Hold National Strike, Highlight Unemployment


Local Headlines



According to the Michigan Citizen, the city of Detroit is asking for money that the state government has owed them for the past four years. During Gov. Jennifer Granholm’s four-year term in office, the state incurred over $ 6 million for weed-cutting and maintaining electrical services by the city for state properties.

Despite several requests made over the last four years, the state has yet to pay Detroit. The city said it needs the money to help with the budget deficit.

“We have made good faith efforts to coordinate a meeting with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources on several occasions, and the verbal response given by telephone to our staff is that the state does not have the funds allocated to reimburse the city for providing the weed-cutting services,” Kilpatrick’s letter continued. “There have been good faith efforts to resolve these matters but we have not been successful in resolving the delinquencies. I am intervening to obtain your support to resolve these important financial liabilities so that the city can close its books on these yearly services.”

Granholm’s press secretary, Liz Boyd, said she is not familiar with the issue and would look into the matter.

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According to the Michigan Daily, The former deputy director of Michigan Public Media – the University’s public radio and television ventures – pled no contest Thursday to a misdemeanor charge of embezzlement involving the Michigan Radio station WUOM. Pleading no contest is a way to avoid trial without admitting guilt or claiming innocence.

In conjunction with an investigation into alleged criminal activity of WUOM employees, Michael Coleman was accused of embezzling thousands of company dollars and taking food, alcohol, airline tickets and lodging for personal use.

Coleman is the second of three former Michigan Public Media employees to plead no contest to charges involving embezzlement.

Former development director Justin Ebright – who pled no contest to one count of embezzlement less than $20,000 in April – also appeared in court Thursday receiving two years probation, $10,000 restitution and 50 hours of community service.

Jeremy Nordquist, the third defendant, maintains that any misconduct during his time as an account executive transpired with knowledge of his supervisors. He has not been offered a plea agreement and faces trial in July under charges of embezzlement and conspiracy to embezzle.

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Alarmed by a Bush administration proposal calling for further large budget cuts to a longstanding and popular community development program, elected and appointed officials around Michigan and across the country are organizing to defeat it, according to the Michigan Land Use Institute.

The Bush proposal would cut the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s long-running Community Development Block Grants for next year by approximately $1 billion. That would reduce the program’s budget, which stood at $4.3 billion two years ago, to $2.7 billion next year—a 38 percent reduction since 2004.

Supporters of CDBG funding assert that the reduction is ill-conceived because the program works so well for so many communities. They add that, for the program to work correctly for the more than 1,100 towns and cities that receive the federal funds, the CDBG budget funding should not fall below $4 billion.

Some observers say that CDBG is even more crucial in Michigan because the state has the nation’s highest unemployment rate and soaring numbers of home foreclosures and personal bankruptcies. These trends, they say, are harming local budgets and stalling badly needed efforts to improve built-up areas in older rural, suburban, and urban regions. All have been losing economic vitality for decades in the face of sprawling development and the state and federal subsidies that encourage it.


National and International Headlines:


Counterpunch.org reports that activists in Washington state are using direct action tactics to resist the war in Iraq. In Olympia, Washington, a group of citizens known as Port Militarization Resistance, have been engaged in civil disobedience to prevent the loading of US military ships bound for the battlefields of Iraq. Olympia’s port, located near Fort Lewis, one of the US’s larger Army bases, is one of the ports used to keep troops in Iraq supplied with weaponry and other tools of war.

According to Drew Hendricks, the spokesperson for Port Militarization Resistance, members of the group have been blockading roadways to keep armored military vehicles, known as Stryker Vehicles, from reaching the port where they will be sent to Iraq. During the week of May 22-28th, at least sixteen people were arrested for obstructing the movement of these vehicles.

In a recent statement to the community and the media, Olympia Movement for Justice and Peace and Port Militarization Resistance said quote ” The weapons shipments, and the use of our public property to prolong and supply the war in Iraq have made us complicit in crimes against humanity. We refuse to be complicit any longer. Just as soldiers have a responsibility to disobey unlawful orders, we have a responsibility to refuse to cooperate with the American Empire.”

Spokespersons for the group have also stated that they hope to inspire more US citizens to engage in similar actions, and quote” start a national conversation about what we are doing locally to stop the war in Iraq.”

###


Now a follow-up on the situation in Daechuri, Korea, where local farmers have been resisting the appropriation of their lands for the expansion of a US military base. In August of last year, the Korean Ministry of National Defense announced the government’s plans to use imminent domain to evict thousands of rice farmers and take their land. The government also stated that unless residents left their homes voluntarily, force would be used to evict them.

On May 4th, the government kept their word, and around 13,000 riot police and 2,000 Korean soldiers invaded the villages of Daechuri and Doduri. Over 400 protestors were arrested and hundreds of people were hospitalized, after riot police charged the school where residents & protestors were barricaded.

Since then, the military has maintained a strong occupying presence in the villages, imposing curfews on residents, establishing a checkpoint at the entrance to Daechuri, and installing cameras to monitor villagers’ behavior.

According to “Days in Daechuri” a blog maintained by the farmers and their supporters, the soldiers are destroying the land more each day, digging trenches and erecting barbed wire around the rice fields. The Ministry of National Defense has banned farming in the area and blocked off the natural flow of water to the fields, causing stagnant water to collect around the village. In addition, soldiers are drinking and bathing in the remaining fresh water, causing a water shortage for local residents. Villagers continue to hold candlelight vigils every night at the peace park in Daechuri.

June 4th has been declared a day of International Solidarity with the Daechuri Villagers, and vigils will be held across Korea and around the world.

According to savePTfarmers.org, the government has given an end of July deadline for the final eviction of residents. They say anyone left at that time will be forcibly removed.

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Last week in Huasco Valley, in the mountainous region along the border between Chile and Argentina, around 200 farmers, community leaders and neighbors marched in protest of a mining project known as PASCUA LAMA.

The project, an operation of the mutinational mining company Barrick Gold, would move or destroy large portions of three ancient glariers in order to reach large deposits of gold and silver that have been discovered under them.

Barrick gold plans to create 2 huge holes, each as big as an entire mountain, one for extraction and the other for collecting the mine’s rubbish.

Indigenous Chilean farmers and residents of the surrounding Huasco Valley are strongly opposed to the proposal of transferring the ice masses. The glaciers’ tributaries are used for irrigation by the farmers, and their removal would threaten the ecological balance and agricultural production of the fertile river valley. The use of cyanide and sulfuric acid in the mining extraction process will almost certainly contaminate the tributaries and rivers fed by the glaciers, making the regions water unfit for human and animal consumption.

Indigenous community leaders have asked for international support in their efforts to stop the PASCUA LAMA mining plan, stating quote “We don’t want to live in an area contaminated by the fault of foreign economic interests.”

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On Thursday, May 18th, protest marches took place in South Africa’s main cities as thousands of trade union members participated in a one-day national strike. The strike was organized by The Congress of South African Trade to protest poverty and unemployment, and to demand that employers stop using casual labor and outsourcing jobs. The union said far more resources should be devoted to job creation projects, training programs and the provision of basic services.

The National Union of Metalworkers of SA concentrated its protests on the South African division of Daimler Chrysler, because of alleged racist practices by management.

The Taipei Times reports that unemployment is a major problem in South Africa, with official figures claiming just under 30% unemployment and some analysts estimating up to 40%.

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