Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Whirlpool Moves Closer to Monopoly With Government Blessing

I can think of only two words to describe the following: ABSOLUTELY OUTRAGEOUS

Whirlpool bought Maytag in March, so, the former Maytag executives are moving to Berrien County and Whirlpool is building extravagant homes for them. The majority of the money for this huge expenditure is coming from none other than MICHIGAN TAXPAYERS. By signing off on a 10.4 MILLION dollar tax break specifically for the purpose of building these mansions, Gov. Jennifer Granholm is selling out taxpayers by forcing us to bear this burden. Whirlpool is shelling out 5 million to help build the mansions.

Whirlpool Corporation, Benton Harbor, Mich., the world's largest appliance maker will close three factories and cut 4500 jobs. After the 1.68 billion dollar purchase of Maytag Corp., Whirlpool now owns over 70% of all washers and dryers in the world. This near-monopoly is made possible by government at all levels.

The cuts include 1000 jobs at a plant in Herrin,Ill.(downstate) and another 70 jobs at a Maytag adminstration office in Schaumburg,Ill. Both buildings are closing.

The washer and dryer plants in Searcy,Ark. will close by the end of this year(1700 jobs) and one in Newton, Iowa will shut down in the year 2007(1730 jobs). Several people from the Newton, Iowa plant contacted me and asked for help. I told them the only way you can beat a corporation like Whirlpool is to boycott the product that the company makes. I promised the people in Newton that I would do all I can to help.

By eliminating these 4500 jobs, the Benton Harbor based Whirlpool Corp. has continued to suck the life out of the residents not only in Benton Harbor, but the rest of the country, one city at a time, wherever Whirlpool products are sold and where jobs are lost.

Maytag did not want to outsource their American jobs to China, South Korea, and Mexico. Whirlpool was quicker to go overseas to outsource as many jobs as possible. Maytag has been almost exclusively in the United States. But now, Whirlpool will outsource over 50% of all Maytag jobs which they do not eliminate.

We Must Boycott all Whirlpool products. Once again, Whirlpool widens the gap between the haves and the have nots. We must say enough is enough.


Friday, May 26, 2006

Number of US Inmates Rises Two Percent

We know that the racist, "make-up-our-own-laws" Berrien County Courthouse
in St. Joseph, MI contributes mightily to this injustice. And Lansing & Granholm turn a deaf ear.

By Elizabeth White
The Associated Press
Monday 22 May 2006
Washington - Prisons and jails added more than 1,000 inmates each week for a year, putting almost 2.2 million people, or one in every 136 US residents, behind bars by last summer.
The total on June 30, 2005, was 56,428 more than at the same time in 2004, the government reported Sunday. That 2.6 percent increase from mid-2004 to mid-2005 translates into a weekly rise of 1,085 inmates.
Of particular note was the gain of 33,539 inmates in jails, the largest increase since 1997, researcher Allen J. Beck said. That was a 4.7 percent growth rate, compared with a 1.6 percent increase in people held in state and federal prisons.
Prisons accounted for about two-thirds of all inmates, or 1.4 million, while the other third, nearly 750,000, were in local jails, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics.
Beck, the bureau's chief of corrections statistics, said the increase in the number of people in the 3,365 local jails is due partly to their changing role. Jails often hold inmates for state or federal systems, as well as people who have yet to begin serving a sentence.
"The jail population is increasingly unconvicted," Beck said. "Judges are perhaps more reluctant to release people pretrial."
The report by the Justice Department agency found that 62 percent of people in jails have not been convicted, meaning many of them are awaiting trial.
Overall, 738 people were locked up for every 100,000 residents, compared with a rate of 725 at mid-2004. The states with the highest rates were Louisiana and Georgia, with more than 1 percent of their populations in prison or jail. Rounding out the top five were Texas, Mississippi and Oklahoma.
The states with the lowest rates were Maine, Minnesota, Rhode Island, Vermont and New Hampshire.
Men were 10 times to 11 times more likely than women to be in prison or jail, but the number of women behind bars was growing at a faster rate, said Paige M. Harrison, the report's other author.
The racial makeup of inmates changed little in recent years, Beck said. In the 25-29 age group, an estimated 11.9 percent of black men were in prison or jails, compared with 3.9 percent of Hispanic males and 1.7 percent of white males.
Marc Mauer, executive director of The Sentencing Project, which supports alternatives to prison, said the incarceration rates for blacks were troubling.
"It's not a sign of a healthy community when we've come to use incarceration at such rates," he said.
Mauer also criticized sentencing guidelines, which he said remove judges' discretion, and said arrests for drug and parole violations swell prisons.
"If we want to see the prison population reduced, we need a much more comprehensive approach to sentencing and drug policy," he said.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Corporate Welfare for Whirlpool, the world's largest appliance manufacturer

On Tuesday, May 16 the Herald Palladium reported that the state of Michigan is awarding Whirlpool Corporation of Benton Harbor a tax abatement of a whopping 10.4 million dollars. Whirlpool plans to build homes for the new Maytag execs to the tune of $5 million dollars. Giving tax abatements (which is simply handing over money we pay the government in taxes to corporations) is a tool to make the rich get richer. And we know what's happening to the poor. Whirlpool received this enormous gift from the government at about the same time they reported
net sales of $3.5 billion - the best ever for the first quarter and up 10 percent from the year-earlier period. Something is very, very wrong with this picture.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Berrien County Bribery & Coercion

*please forward widely

I have documentation proving that the Berrien
County Prosecutor and the Berrien County
Sherrif's Dept. successfully coerced and
paid witnesses to give false testimony in my trial,
and attempted to do the same with others.

Please let Margaret Chiara, US Atty. for the
Western District of Michigan know that you
would like to see this situation investigated
thoroughly. This is a travesty of justice.

Either email or send her a note thru the US


United States Attorney's Office
Western District of Michigan
P.O. Box 208
Grand Rapids, MI 49501-0208

Info on Ms. Chiara can be found at:


This type of law enforcement (bribery, coersion)
is common in this county, and is ILLEGAL.
Please do a simple thing to get it investigated:
contact atty. Chiara.

With respect and many thankyou's,
Rev. Edward Pinkney

Media Censorship in St. Joe

The courthouse in St. Joseph, Michigan is barring journalists from entering and reporting on court activities - except, of course, those from the Herald Palladium. The Michigan Citizen and Peoples' Tribune (peoplestribune.org) have both been turned away. Is the ACLU willing to get involved to right this wrong? NAACP? Not so far. Have we gone crazy as a society to allow this? It's been too many years of this geographically isolated community getting away with illegalities not heard of elswhere. When will the Department of Justice and other groups finally get involved?

In case you have not read Phil Bassett's excellent piece of writing on Rev. Pinkney, the trial he was framed for, and the coming retrial, it's posted on this weblog.

Asking for money is always a humiliating endeavor. So, here goes. If everyone who signed the statement of support were to send Rev. Pinkney $100.00, it would make a dent in his $30,000.00 legal fees.

Help take away the power of the St. Joseph-Whirlpool dominated group of elites who want Rev. Pinkney removed from their plate so they can, without exposure, continue to eradicate African-Americans from Benton Harbor and build up the lake front property for their own profit. Their plan is to ruin him financially, have him stressed to the max for months, then put him behind bars for at least 20 years. These are people without guilt, shame, or any feelings of humanitarian caring. They live in close proximity to severe poverty and order law enforcement to come down hard on those already suffering. The last thing they need is Rev. Pinkney shining a light on them. Pinkney has gone virtually everywhere one can go for assistance, but deaf ears are mostly what he finds - especially from Gov. Granholm's office. Whirlpool has a long reach. Read about the latest "good will" bestowed on the world by Whirlpool at the end of this email.

It's come down to one person, Rev. Edward Pinkney, fighting one of the world's largest corporations, Whirlpool. He needs help.

Send a tax-deductible check to: BANCO, 1940 Union St, Benton Harbor, MI 49022.
Call Rev. Pinkney anytime: 269-925-0001

The Latest on Whirlpool

You probably have read about the Whirlpool layoffs in recent news. In addition here is a link to articles from a few years ago about Whirlpools flight to Mexico and other planned shut downs in case you're interested. -- http://www.siteselection.com/ssinsider/pwatch/pw031201.htm

Whirlpool to cut 4,500 jobs, close plants
Updated 5/10/2006 12:56 PM ET

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. (AP) - Whirlpool (WHR) said Wednesday that it will eliminate 4,500 jobs by closing three plants and consolidating corporate offices and other sites following its purchase of rival appliance maker Maytag.
The moves come in the wake of Whirlpool's $1.8 billion acquisition of Maytag on March 31, extending its lead as the nation's biggest appliance maker.
Whirlpool plans to close Maytag washer and dryer plants in Newton, Iowa; Herrin, Ill.; and Searcy, Ark. Laundry manufacturing sites in Clyde, Ohio, and Marion, Ohio, will absorb the production, Whirlpool spokesman Daniel Verakis said.
Also slated to close are Maytag's corporate headquarters and research center in Newton, Iowa, as well as administrative offices in Schaumburg, Ill., Canada and Mexico.
Verakis said Whirlpool said the functions of the former Maytag corporate headquarters will be consolidated with those in Benton Harbor, where Whirlpool is based.......

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Civil Rights Leader Gets Reprieve

by Phil Bassett, from the Kalamazoo Voice, Friday, May 5, 2006

Claiming charges of voter fraud, authorities in St. Joseph/Benton Harbor attempted to silence a popular dissident in late March of this year. In a case marred by confusing premises, questionable witnesses, and a glaring lack of hard evidence, the prosecution failed to win the confidence of the jury in the recent trial of Reverend Edward Pinkney, which ended in a hung jury.

A tireless activist, Pinkney successfully engineered a recall of a commissioner using absentee ballots, but accusers claimed he paid others to vote and handled some of the ballots personally. The city brought in a string of witnesses saying the Reverend paid them to vote, and a pile of ballots that supposedly had something wrong with them After Pinkney's attorney, Tat Parrish, skillfully cross-examined several witnesses and provided overwhelmingly superior closing arguments, it's a small miracle that the government was able to achieve a stalemate, let alone a conviction.

For instance, Mr. Parrish pointed out that with all the time and attention devoted to this case, the prosecution failed to produce a single fingerprint on any of the envelopes that Reverend Pinkney supposedly handled. Ditto for DNA from any spit used to seal the envelopes. In fact, the prosecution's entire case seemed to rest on a big pile of correctly voted absentee ballots, along with five or so incorrectly voted ones, mixed with a healthy dose of deception, confusion and mysterious innuendo. Add to that about eight people to badmouth the Reverend, and you stir up just enough dust to confuse a jury.

Prosecutor Gerry Vigansky's stable of witnesses was not impressive. Close to half of them are known to be crack cocaine addicts. This is not a statement of their value as people, but it is common street knowledge that crack addicts can be easily manipulated for money. And get this—two of Vigansky's witnesses were involved in a drive-by shooting; one was the driver, the other, the shooter. They are known to have committed these crimes, yet have not been prosecuted. How easily could they be induced to lie on the witness stand, if someone offered their potential freedom in exchange?

The prosecution's most credible witness, Reverend Foster, claimed heart trouble during his cross-examination when questions got touchy, and pulled out a bottle of nitro glycerin. Shortly after, the judge excused him.

Mr. Vigansky's case was riddled with diatribes designed to confuse rather than enlighten. His mostly hot-air strategy involved subjecting witnesses (and observers) to a monotonous litany of non-evidence presented to the jury as if it mattered. He droned on and on about different colors of ink on applications for absentee ballots, and meticulously noted differences in handwriting on the forms. What he failed to inform the jury is that neither of these things is a crime, and with all likelihood, it was the clerks who filled in the blanks with the correct information, not Pinkney, as was suggested. And, as Mr. Parrish pointed out, if handwriting was to be considered evidence, why didn't they bring in a handwriting expert?

There was confusion throughout the trial over the ballots themselves, the envelopes and the applications for ballots. Prosecution and defense alike would use the terms interchangeably, and would rush to correct themselves. I doubt very much if half the members of the jury knew before this trial that it is a felony to handle an absentee ballot unless you are the voter, the voter's family, a mail carrier or a registered election official. I didn't. But this is what the Reverend was being charged with, and he was facing twenty years. The lesser charge, paying people to vote, is only a misdemeanor. Figure that one out. (A side note: City Clerk Jean Nesbitt was fired from her position as a result of the recall, even though two of her former assistants testified at this trial that she never handled any ballots.)

The prosecutor made a big deal about certain stickers or styles of stamps appearing again and again on ballot envelopes. But Reverend Pinkney freely admitted on the stand to handing out stamps to help in the election effort. And the stickers, he said, were the return address of City Hall, to make sure the ballots made it to where they needed to go, even if they were returned. Looking at it that way, he was doing something that was not only okay, but admirable in a political sense. He was trying to win the election.

The prosecution spent some time on the fact that some ballot envelopes had stamps that weren't cancelled, implying that Pinkney had carried them to the clerk's office. But it is possible for stamps to come out not cancelled at times, especially on odd-sized envelopes, and folks have occasionally been known to put a stamp on an envelope, and then deliver it themselves. None of this implicated the Reverend. Take away the testimony of a motley crew of unreliable witnesses, and this becomes total speculation on the part of the prosecutor.

Several witnesses were caught in outright lies. One claimed that Reverend Pinkney had at least five blank absentee ballots in his hand at one point. But questioning of city clerk workers revealed that it would have been impossible to steal ballots without being detected, as the ballots are numbered sequentially and signed for when turned in.

There was lying going on outside the courtroom as well. I approached Glen Yarbrough, the commissioner who was recalled, during one of the breaks. Since I had heard some derogatory things about him, I wanted to hear his side of the story. I asked him if he had a criminal record, and he said, yes, he committed a crime in the sixties and wasn't ashamed to admit it. I asked if he used crack cocaine and he vehemently denied it. I asked if he was in the pocket of Whirlpool, and he told me he didn't even have a Whirlpool washer and dryer, how could he be in their pocket? I had to admit he had me there.

Not ten minutes later, I was approached by two women who showed me a news article that said Glen Yarbrough was convicted in the nineties of forging a check. Although they didn't have the article, they then told me about a different occasion where he had been caught shoplifting Vitamin C and some other item. When asked if he was a drug user, one woman told me that at one time, he was so caught up in his crack cocaine use, his own mother had to evict him. "Go ask his mother!" she said, and kind of laughed. The other woman just shook her head.

This is the commissioner Reverend Pinkney was trying to get out of office.

And here we sat in the courtroom, watching an inexperienced prosecutor try to make a case out of thin air, using witnesses who just might have a reason to perjure. At times, the courtroom drama brought to mind the Salem Witchcraft trials, with crackheads and drive-by shooters filling in for the hysterical adolescents.

As the trial wore on, you had to wonder why anyone was prosecuting this man. Reading between the lines of testimony, a picture of the character of Edward Pinkney began to appear: A man who cares about the place he lives in and the people who are his neighbors, and someone who is willing to take action to make a change happen. Even witnesses on the prosecution side testified that Pinkney was trying to bring jobs into the area, and the prosecutor somehow turned that into a bad thing, saying he tricked people into signing the absentee ballot application by pretending it was a job application. But all witnesses demonstrated that they could read, and would presumably know the difference between the two forms. The prosecutor tried to cast a bad light on Pinkney's calling people together and advising them of their duty to vote, by implying it was some sort of conspiracy, but many on the side of free speech have applauded the Reverend's actions.

Pinkney, a fireball of energy, devotes a significant part of his day to ministering to others, offering hope and encouragement, and occasionally, small jobs. Last year, just before the election, he was offering five dollars to poor and homeless people to pass out flyers explaining the recall election. The prosecution twisted this to suggest Pinkney was preying on a vulnerable population, and that he paid them each five dollars to vote.

Throughout all of this, the Reverend has managed to keep his sense of humor. During a court recess, he clutched his heart and said, "This is the big one!" in imitation of Fred Sandford from the old sit-com. Although he was poking fun at the Reverend Foster, it didn't seem to be out of spite or meanness. After hanging out with him for a while, you get the feeling that this guy likes just about everybody—even the ones who are trying to shut him up. And, in the face of overwhelming obstacles, he manages to maintain a positive attitude that is positively contagious. Even during the more tense moments of his trial, he always had a smile and a hug for whomever might approach him.

I followed Reverend Pinkney around for a couple of days after the trial, interviewing some of his supporters. Everywhere we went, people would greet him in that easy way that suggests they trust him and feel comfortable around him. Yet they are careful not to take him for granted; many say that if Pinkney were not around, there would essentially be no justice for black people in Benton Harbor.

So why, you might ask, are they trying to put him away? Well, that is a long story, and most of it will have to wait for another article. My guess is that, just for a moment, the powers-that-be in St. Joseph/BentonHarbor heard the mighty voice of the people, and it scared them. But here's something to chew on: A recall election that was won by more than fifty votes was overturned on the basis of five or so tainted votes and one judge's "belief" that there was voter fraud. No facts, no hard evidence; just conjecture and an almost desperate need for Glen Yarbrough to remain on the city commission. Then we have a voter fraud trial featuring a jury with a relative of the county clerk on it, as well as three Whirlpool employees. (Pinkney's group is boycotting Whirlpool products.) Add to that the widespread rumors, and some testimony, that witnesses for the prosecution were paid off, and the whole thing starts to smell pretty bad.

Reverend Pinkney is philosophical about the court battle. "I'm willing to go to jail", he says, "if it will bring attention to what's going on in Benton Harbor." For now, the Reverend has another six months or so of freedom, before authorities take another swat at him. Meanwhile, he is in debt to the tune of $30,000 for legal fees. If you want to help with that, send a check to: BANCO, 1940 Union St, Benton Harbor, MI 49022. I'm sure the Reverend and his wife will say a prayer for you.

A few months ago, this magazine featured an article by John Mann urging voters to bring Congressman Fred Upton home. I agree. Let's give Fred the chance to really focus on the twin cities of St. Joseph and Benton Harbor, and hopefully, clean up his own backyard.

(Reprinted with permission under a Creative Commons license.)

Monday, May 01, 2006

Justice in Berrien County & Whirlpool info


Evidence of innocence is irrelevant to Berrien County, Michigan prosecutors such as James Cherry and Jerry Vigansky.

When the Bill of Rights was added to the constitution, its authors clearly intended to protect the rights of persons accused of crime. Those simply stated protections have been continuously eroded over the past fifty years. For each interpretive appellate decision that attempts to even the playing field, there are five more that steepen the grade. Our concern has turned from seeking truth to seeking convictions, and post-conviction efforts are focused on denying any further review.

Michigan prisons are full of wrongfully convicted persons from Benton Harbor, many who were coerced into admitting to crimes they did not commit by prosecutors threats to pile on more charges. Others were convicted by false testimony from criminals bribed by prosecutors who exchanged dropped charges, paid cash, or reduced sentences for false testimony against the defendants in Berrien County.

It is painful how ambitious prosecutors such as James Cherry and Gerald Vigansky invented phony made-up crimes to frame me. This is how the system works in Michigan, especially Berrien County. Gov. Granholm is guilty of presiding over, and in essence, condoning, this level of corruption. She has shown more than a few times that she supports the actions of Whirlpool, Cornerstone Alliance, and Berrien County law enforcement/courts. Racism is on steroids in Berrien County.

Thank you,
Rev. Edward Pinkney

(keep in mind that Whirlpool is in the same community as maybe the most severe poverty in the state)

Whirlpool enjoys record first quarter
Sales up 10% from '05 1st quarter

H-PBusiness Writer
BENTON TOWNSHIP - Fueled by strong demand for its products, Whirlpool Corp. this morning announced first quarter net earnings of $118 million, a 37 percent increase over the first three months of last year.

Net sales of $ 3.5 billion were the best ever for the first quarter and were up 10 percent from the year-earlier period....