BlackBox Radio

July 18, 2006

BlackBox Radio for July 18, 2006

Filed under: Weekly Show — blackboxradio @ 7:10 pm

On this week’s show, an update on the case of Oscar Ramos, a report from Sunday’s Ann Arbor demonstration by supporters of Israel and counter-protest by supporters of Palestine & Lebanon (Megan Williamson producer), and Nadia Hajib, senior fellow at the Institute for Palestine Studies, discusses the outbreak of war between Israel and Hezbollah (Kate McCabe producer). Plus local, national, and international headlines (find them after the ‘read more’ link).

Listen to the show: lower quality | high quality

Local Headlines:
Pittsfield Residents Use Recall Vote to Keep Out Wal-Mart
Anti-Choice Initiative Fails to Get on Ballot
EPA Fails to Monitor Pollution in SE Michigan Waterways
MCRI Will Remain on Ballot Despite Alleged Petitioner Fraud
National and International Headlines:
Ford Cuts Retirees’ Health Care, Retirees Challenge in Court
Tennessee & Nebraska Pass Anti-Gay Legislation
Mexico’s Leftist Presidential Candidate Charges Election Fraud

Local Headlines

There have been several new developments in recent weeks in the Pittsfield Township fight against Wal-Mart and the effort to recall Township officials who have been unresponsive to residents’ demands.

For almost two years, Pittsfield residents have been organizing to stop the construction of a Wal-Mart Supercenter at the corner of State Road and US-12- a location that is adjacent to several area schools.

Last March, a grassroots organization called “A New Pittsfield” launched a campaign to recall Township Supervisor Jim Walter, Treasurer Christina Lirones and Clerk Feliciana Meyer, after residents determined that these elected township officials were not acting in the interest of local citizens.

Among the official reasons for the recall effort, residents list excessive compensation and pension benefits, numerous false statements made to Township citizens, and a general disdain for residents’ concerns about a pending Wal-Mart store.

It was also alleged that these officials misused Township resources as part of their campaign against the recall. The Ann Arbor News reported last week that the Michigan Secretary of State has cleared two of these Pittsfield Township officials of those charges. The secretary of state is still looking at four allegations against the third official.

Adding more controversy to this already heated issue, is the July 5th announcement that a new Political Action Committee (or PAC) called “Friends of Pittsfield,” has been formed to fight the recall. According to a press release being distributed by Pittsfield residents, this new Political Action Committee is actually a front group for Wal-Mart. The press release states that “In many towns across America, Wal-Mart has prominent residents set up Political Action Committees right before an election as a means to donate money to a campaign. Pittsfield Township is possibly the newest recipient of Wal-Mart campaign dollars.” The statement by A New Pittsfield goes on to note that the new PAC was formed by a Detroit resident and lawyer with no known ties to Pittsfield, and that this may be Wal-Mart’s way of influencing voters to keep in office Township officials who have been sympathetic to Wal-Mart’s cause.

The recalls of these three Township officials will be on the ballot in the upcoming August 8th elections.


Media Mouse reports that Michigan Citizens for Life have failed to obtain the 317,757 valid signatures necessary to place an amendment to the state constitution on the November ballot. The amendment would have defined personhood as beginning at the moment of conception.

Michigan Citizens for Life had planned to use this amendment to outlaw abortion in all cases, including pregnancies caused by rape. The initiative had gained the support of several far-right religious organizations including the Eagle Forum of Michigan, the American Family Association of Michigan, and various anti-choice groups.

The initiative failed to gain the support of the statewide Right to Life organization due to the far-reaching nature of the proposal, and low expectations for the success of the measure.

The American Civil Liberties Union had said it would file a lawsuit to block the initiative if it had been approved.


On July 7th, three Michigan Democrats have called on the Environmental Protection Agency to update it’s data collection involving oil and chemical spills in the St. Clair River, Lake St. Clair and Detroit River areas.

The Associated Press reports that Congress’ investigative arm found there were 991 spill reports from the U.S. side of the waterway, compared with 157 spills reported by Canadian officials.

The Accountability Office stated in their recent report that “these reports do not accurately portray the actual number or volume of spills” and said the EPA was “uncertain of which specific facilities are subject to regulation under its spill prevention program.”

The 98-mile corridor linking lakes Huron and Erie is part of the U.S.-Canadian boundary and provides drinking water for more than 5 million people. The lawmakers said about 500 facilities, such as chemical companies, oil refineries and power plants, are located in the area.

The EPA conducts only a handful of inspections within the corridor each year. The agency issued only four fines from 1994 to 2004.


The Michigan Supreme Court ruled last Thursday that the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative will remain on the November ballot. This ruling comes in response to a lawsuit filed by a coalition of affirmative action supporters who allege that citizens were tricked into signing the petition when canvassers told them it was an initiative to support affirmative action.

The Detroit Free Press reports that Justice Stephen Markman, who ruled on the case, said the allegations would not justify removing the issue from the ballot, even if they are true. Justice Markman wrote in an official staement that “a citizen cannot blame others when he signs a petition without knowing what it says.”

The MCRI, which would ban government affirmative action programs that use race or gender preferences in hiring, contracting and university admissions, will remain on the November ballot.


National and International Headlines:

Ford Motor Company will save $5 billion in retirement obligations after the US District court last Thursday approved it’s plan to charge Ford retirees for health care coverage. The Detroit News reported that 51 percent of current Ford members in the UAW voted to have individual hourly retirees pay $370 a year and $752 per family, as opposed to paying no fees. Ford and GM combined; there are 197,000 active UAW workers and 422,000 retirees.

The ruling, similar to the one made with General Motors Corporation in October, was a response to $1.6 million in losses for American automotive companies.

The ruling was promptly challenged by a group of retired hourly workers from Ford Motor Co., who filed a class- action motion last week that argues the UAW did not have the right to negotiate benefit cuts on behalf of retirees, who do not pay union dues and were not allowed to vote on the agreement. The motion also claims that Ford cannot legally reduce benefits based on the pact.

The outcome of the retirees’ motion could have implications for tens of thousands of Ford retirees, surviving spouses and dependents. It also could establish a precedent for other U.S. automakers and parts suppliers trying to shed costs by reducing retiree benefits.


Tennessee and Nebraska passed legislation that limits marriage to a man and a woman last week. The Nebraskan 8th district court ruled that the Nebraska marriage Amendment—approved by 70% of voters in 2004—is “rationally related to legitimate state interests” and does not violate gay rights.
The court overturned last year’s ruling that the ban hindered the constitutional rights of gays and lesbians because it was too broad and discriminatory.

In Tennessee the ACLU argued that the state did not meet its notification requirements for a proposal to ban gay marriage, but the state Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the ACLU did not have grounds to file a suit. The proposed amendment which the ACLU wanted to remove from the ballot will ensure, if passed, that the current Tennessee law banning gay marriage cannot be overturned by future legislation.

44 other states have taken similar motions to prevent same-sex marriage by means of statute or constitutional amendment.


Reuters reports that 200,000 protestors took to the streets of Mexico City on Sunday to demonstrate their support for Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, Mexico’s leftist presidential candidate who claims he lost the recent election due to fraud. An election court is currently investigating allegations that electoral officials fixed the vote in favor of Felipe Calderon, the ruling party conservative candidate. Calderon won the election by a margin of 0.58 of a percent, which comes out to be about 240,000 votes.

Lopez Obrador, called AMLO by his leftist supporters, has vowed to bring millions of Mexicans out of poverty. He is encouraging further protests to keep pressure on the court, which expects to make a decision and announce the president-elect by early September. Despite the fact that European Union observers have said there was no major fraud, leftists continue to be suspicious of the results since the government almost certainly stole the election from their candidate in 1988.



1 Comment »

  1. Excellent post, I will save this in my Digg account. Have a good evening.

    Comment by Gilberto Brokaw — June 14, 2010 @ 3:48 am

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