Law and Disorder Radio

Archives for January, 2010


Law and Disorder February 1, 2010


Updates:

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Gaza Freedom March Report Back Speeches

We hear strong speeches detailing the experience at the Gaza Freedom March by Ali Abunimah, co-founder of the  Electronic Intifada and author of One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict and our own co-host Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights.  As many listeners know, hundreds of activists with the Gaza Freedom Marchers returned from Israel, Palestine and Egypt from the largest international mobilization of people in solidarity. The Egyptian authorities refused to allow the 1,365 participants from 43 countries to enter the Gaza Strip, but later 100 people were let in to Gaza.

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Michael Ratner’s Article: From Hebron to Yad Vashem: Jewish Sorrow Justifying the Sorrow of Others

Gaza Freedom March Commitments Include:

  • Palestinian Self-Determination
  • Ending the Occupation
  • Equal Rights for All within historic Palestine
  • The full Right of Return for Palestinian refugees

From:  Waging Nonviolence blog. The Egyptian government didn’t let most of the over 1,300 protesters from around the world into Gaza for the planned march, but those at Judson said that they witnessed a new stage in the emergence of a global movement, facilitated by the Internet, that may well be poised to end the international support that makes Israel’s policies possible. The lynchpin of the movement, the Cairo Declaration of the Gaza Freedom March, was drafted by would-be marchers while they waited in Egypt.

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Faculty for Israeli-Palestinian Peace

In the wake of Gaza Siege earlier this year, many groups such as Code Pink have brought delegations of people to Israel to visit and bring support to Palestinian refugees and families. Today we talk with Joel Bitar, he’s a student who traveled to Israel with the group Faculty for Israeli-Palestinian Peace. The group is an international network of academics and students supporting a complete end to the illegal Israeli occupation of lands seized in 1967. Last summer, Joel was among many who visited Israeli universities, the Israeli settlements in the West Bank, and stayed with Palestinian families. These delegations call on the international academic community to take a stand in supporting the end to occupation in Gaza and the West Bank.

Joel Bitar:

  • Most of my life I tried to hide my Palestinian identity and this trip was all about confronting and realizing who I am.  For so long, especially after 9/11 it wasn’t respectable to be an Arab in America.
  • I was kind of ashamed of my Dad’s history and culture for a long time.  This trip was about inner healing and understanding where I came from.
  • I went to the West Bank for a month and a half.
  • It’s all about fitting in and surviving, being a confrontational force in a culture is something I didn’t have the courage to do unfortunately. My family has been apolitical. Doing activism around this (Gaza) has been unifying for my family.
  • It’s enabled us to confront all the awful aspects of American culture and society.
  • What happened in Gaza, shook me, woke me up. I’ve been doing a lot of investigating about the conflict, it seemed so mystical and mysterious.  I read a couple books, it’s really not that complicated, it’s very simple. Palestine Peace Not Apartheid - Jimmy Carter / The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy.
  • I learned about Norman Finkelstein and conflict between him and Alan Dershwitz.
  • Simple in terms of the law. The law is very clear. You can’t acquire territory by force.  Something you learn when you’re growing up, don’t bully people, don’t take their stuff.
  • We visited numerous hot spots of the occupation, we went to Hebron, which is under vicious occupation by Israeli soldiers.
  • 8 Meter high concrete slabs in many places. 85 percent of the wall runs on Palestinian land.
  • Duel road systems and duel license plates.
  • My Palestinian family pay taxes but don’t get the benefits of the taxes, they’re living in an imposed ghetto.
  • They don’t have access to water 24/7 like every other Jew in the settlement. There’s garbage everywhere.
  • We’ve been doing a lot of work with the Gaza Freedom March, with the anti-war movement at Hunter.
  • A lot of the Jews who do an iota of research at Hunter know that what Israel did was awful. Breaking The Silence Report

Guest: Joel Bitar, a Hunter College student who traveled to Israel with the group Faculty for Israeli-Palestinian Peace. The group is an international network of academics and students supporting a complete end to the illegal Israeli occupation of lands seized in 1967.  Joel is active with the Hunter College Campus Anti-War Network.

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Law and Disorder January 25, 2010


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The Death Penalty Loses Support of The American Law Institute

In late 2009, the American Law Institute, which created the intellectual structure for the current capital justice system for nearly 50 years, essentially announced that its project has failed. The American Law Institute or A.L.I. is made up of around 4 thousand judges, lawyers and law professors, streamlines law and model codes to provide coherence in a federal legal system that is usually taking a varied approach. In a 1962 Model Code,  the best legal minds of the institute framed a way for the death penalty to be carried out fairly, it then was re-instated in 1976. Now, the same people disavow the structure saying there is no fair system of capital punishment. The New York Times, in one article wrote (quote) the institute’s move represents a tectonic shift in legal theory. The article also points out that capital punishment was plagued by problems including racial disparities.

David Seth Michaels:

  • American Law Institute, the intellectual group that tries to cobble together federal law in the United States including capital punishment.  The capital punishment rules that they invented fifty years ago,  have been the groundwork on which everything has happened since.
  • So, it comes as a bit of a shock that fifty years later, they say “oh, oh.” It doesn’t work. It won’t work, we can’t make it work, so we’re going to fold up our tents. We won’t have anything else to do with it.
  • Unworkable elements in the system:   They’re troubled by the racial disparity on who gets executed, there’s tremendous disparity that is regional across the U.S. The prospect of capital punishment is ridiculously expensive. There’s risk of executing innocent people and politics of appointed judges who wantonly convict.
  • It’s one of these circumstances that it is irreparably falling apart, broken. Everywhere you turn you find horrendous errors, egregious discrimination.
  • The murder rate is higher in places where they have the death penalty than places where they don’t have the death penalty. Public support for the death penalty has been slowly and gradually decreasing.
  • In the early 70s I became concerned about conditions in the prisons and mental hospitals in Tennesee and Mississippi. This is after the restoration of the death penalty in 1976.
  • I can’t wait for the day that capital punishment is abolished. This system can’t die soon enough. You got nobody supporting the death penalty on an intellectual basis.
  • National Coalition Against the Death Penalty.

Guest – Attorney David Seth Michaels.  David has represented clients for 30 years, clients such as prison inmates in Mississippi and Tennessee. He’s worked with Brooklyn Legal Services B and with the Federal Defenders Service Appeals. He is also a novelist, has his own practice in New York.

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Lawyers You’ll Like: Jim Lafferty Part II

We’re delighted to have back with us attorney Jim Lafferty for the second half of our Lawyers You’ll Like series.  He is the Executive Director of the National Lawyers Guild in Los Angeles and host of The Lawyers Guild Show, a weekly public affairs program on Pacifica radio sister station KPFK, 90.7 FM in L.A.

He has served as a chief officer of, and spokesperson for, various national anti-war coalitions, including the National Peace Action Coalition, the anti-Vietnam War coalition that organized the largest protests during that war; the National Coalition for Peace in the Middle East; and, the National Campaign to End U.S. Intervention in the Philippines. In the 60s and 70s, his law firm, Lafferty, Reosti, Jabara, Papakian & Smith, represented virtually all of the left political movements in and around Detroit, Michigan, during which time he became one of this nation’s leading experts on Selective Service law and military law.

In the early 80’s, Mr. Lafferty founded and chaired the largest A.C.L.U. Chapter in the State of Michigan. In New York City, in the late 80’s and early 90’s, he traveled the world organizing on behalf of the labor rights of merchant seafarers. During this time he also taught a course at the New School for Social Research, entitled, Vietnam: The War at Home and Abroad.  More recently, Jim Lafferty was the Coordinator of the L.A. Coalition to Stop the Execution of Mumia Abu-Jamal, as well as a member of the national steering committee of the Campaign to Stop the Execution of Mumia Abu-Jamal.

Jim Lafferty:

  • The man who was presented to me as my uncle, when I was sixteen he died, my mother acknowledged that he was my father.  A friend of mine, she was a white nurse and she was married to a white school teacher and had a 3 year old daughter.
  • She divorced that man and married a black surgeon. Her mother and former husband wanted custody feeling it was inappropriate for child to be raised in biracial home. George Crockett was one of the lawyers in the National Lawyers Guild in Michigan, took the case only if I clerked and read every opinion on domestic relations given down by the Michigan Supreme Court.
  • We lost that case, and I continued working with that firm. They made a movie about that called “One Potato, Two Potato”
  • The firm had been lawyers for UAW.  I had gone down South to work with the lawyers guild in 1963, I was taking depositions for the Freedom Democratic Party. That’s where I met Mary Robinson.
  • Bill Kunstler and Arthur Kinoy / Bill Kunstler’s book (1966) Deep In My Heart
  • Michael Smith:  Jeff Haas says Fred Hampton had Bill’s book, Deep In My Heart on his bed.
  • When you finally take a stand, even though it leads to your incarceration and apparent lack of freedom, you’re finally free.  Anti-war movements: Some friends of mine ran as peace candidates just to bring up the question of the war. We ran the entire campaign for 3300.00.   Including 10 small billboards. Later we put together the Detroit Coalition to End the War in Vietnam Now.
  • I wasn’t representing people anymore, but as the head of this coalition, you were doing public speaking, and getting an appreciation for what the power of people could do.   To the credit of those lawyers who were winning those victories, even then they were saying to younger lawyers like me, but the real important thing is what goes on in the streets.
  • Los Angeles Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, – Labor Movement is vital. The anti-war movement is vibrant.  You can’t blame the young activists for not knowing history, because nobody’s bothered to teach them.  I’d like to see the movement coalesce around a meaningful left socialist third party.
  • On the issue of the war, we’re worse off than we were with Bush.
  • Healthcare plan: boondoggle for insurance companies, if you insure people who haven’t been insured, the profits of insurance companies aren’t gonna go down, you and I will pay more. Whereas the government should be paying more.  NY Times article: putting aside the public option, you get past it by not dealing with it.

Guest – Attorney Jim Lafferty,  Executive Director of the National Lawyers Guild in Los Angeles and host of The Lawyers Guild Show, a weekly public affairs program on Pacifica radio sister station KPFK, 90.7 FM in L.A.

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Law and Disorder January 18, 2010


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Historic International Support: Gaza Freedom March Debrief

Hundreds of activists with the Gaza Freedom Marchers have returned from Israel, Palestine and Egypt bringing home incredible stories from the largest international mobilization of people in solidarity.  We hear first hand accounts from our own Michael Ratner who with his family were among the 13 hundred solidarity marchers. We are also joined by Felice Gelman who has also returned from the Gaza Freedom March. As many listeners may know, the Egyptian authorities refused to allow the 1,365 participants from 43 countries to enter the Gaza Strip, but later 100 people were let in to Gaza.

Felice Gelman / Michael Ratner:

  • It was a remarkable event despite not getting into Gaza. 1400 people from 43 countries, Europe India, Australia, South Africa. Within 3 days the Egyptian government went from we need more info, we’re working with you to . . . you’re not coming.
  • We were unable to get a meeting place at any time for any group of people. The Egyptians said that any gathering of more than six people would be illegal.  One of the prerequisites in order to get into Gaza is you don’t engage with local opposition in Egypt. In a way it was a perfect demonstration of what the siege in Gaza is all about.
  • Egypt is a police state. There are 2 million police for a population of 60 million.
  • Egyptian police are very brutal with their people. They’re disappeared, they’re tortured. No room for democracy. No support for a civil society to express itself to protest.
  • The thing that was incredible was the number of Egyptians that wanted to join us.  There were a couple of instances where people were hurt. The secret police would try to single people out at a demonstration and punch or hit them.
  • They would identify women who were Muslims. I don’t know if was that they were Egyptian and they (secret police) thought they could get away with it. They beat up a 12 year old girl and a 75 year old woman, they were not discriminating.
  • Egyptians (opposition) joined in with GFM demonstrations in Cairo.
  • We had a demonstration at the US Embassy in Cairo, the police surrounded them for five hours before they could get into Embassy. The US Embassy didn’t seem to think that this was bizarre until they were reminded of their legal obligation to help their citizens.
  • the US Embassy informed the Egyptian police that they had no objection of us going to Gaza.
  • There were some people who went to Al-Arish, and the Egyptian police were onto that. They surrounded a hotel in Al-Arish
  • (Michael Ratner) I can’t imagine the logistics and the organizing nightmare it was for you guys
  • I can’t think of a time since the Spanish Civil War, that there was a contingent of such size and national breadth that traveled to assist people in their distress from a brutal attack.
  • I think this was an incredible demonstration of where the world stands on Gaza.
  • My kids 19 and 21, seeing people with the courage to go to these demonstrations from all over the world. Out of that I think there will be a global organizing structure.
  • The other thing is the drafting of the Cairo Declaration, drafted by the South African delegation.  Calling on the ending of the occupations of Gaza and the West Bank, primarily with global BDS movements.  (Palestinian unified call)
  • When Gaza was getting attacked, it was the South African trade unionists that refused to load the weapons that were being sent to Israel.
  • The potential for labor to move on this is enormous and powerful.
  • The Gaza Freedom March website will be handed over to the committee working on the Cairo Declaration.
  • New York Report Back – Judson Memorial Church January 21 / 55 Washington Square S.

Guest: Felice Gelman, member of the Wespac Middle East Committee and a member of the Steering Committee that organized The Gaza Freedom March. She has traveled to Gaza twice since the Israeli invasion last year.

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The Response: Sig Libowitz – Combatant Status Review Tribunals

January 11, 2010 marked the 8th anniversary since the Bush administration turned the US Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba into a “enemy combatant” detention facility. Essentially re-commissioning the base as a torture chamber and legal black hole, where prisoner suicides are considered acts of war.  As we’ve reported on in the last few months, the Obama administration has held on to the power to allow for a preventive detention system that would indefinitely jail terror suspects in the United States without trial.  Meanwhile, military tribunals are now mainstream news, the tribunals are called Combatant Status Review Tribunals, where military justices discern who is an enemy combatant.  These trials are also the subject of a 30 minute film titled The Response. The film is written and produced by actor Sig Libowitz who is transitioning from being an actor playing an attorney on the TV series Law and Order, to becoming a real lawyer. While in law school, Libowitz was tranfixed by the tribunal process of no jury and no defense lawyer. The film is based on actual court transcripts and is shortlisted for The Academy Award. The Response is screening at Columbia University’s School of Law on January 20th at 6pm.

Sig Libowitz:

  • Michael Ratner: First of all there was no real process for people in Guantanamo. Then we won the right to Habeas Corpus, to go into a federal court and challenge their detention. At that point the Bush Administration set up a special process in Guantanamo.
  • As we depict in the film, this is a process where the detainees don’t have a lawyer, they are not provided with the evidence that’s against them. The real transcripts told the story of the detainees and the judges in these CSRTs. From that I saw an incredible movie, and incredible opportunity.
  • Because, I thought I had an understanding of what Guantanamo was all about, then I read the transcripts (of a CSRT)  It gives a human dimension to the detainee and the military judges.
  • Screening at Columbia Law School, Wednesday January 20th 6PM All the cast will be there and Shane Kadidal and Matthew Waxman.  We’ve screened the movie at the Pentagon.


Guest: Sig Libowitz,
an American lawyer, actor, film executive and director.  Libowitz is notable for producing, directing and starring in a film, The Response, he wrote after reading some transcripts from Guantanamo captivesCombatant Status Review Tribunals. Libowitz is an executive for the acquisitions department of Turner Classic movies.  He had a recurring roles in The Sopranos and Law and Order.

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Free Fahad Hashmi

Fahad Hashmi a Pakistani born American student, has spent nearly 2 1/2 years in solitary confinement in a Manhattan detention facility.  He has been isolated for one of the longest periods in America as a suspect before trial.  Hosts reported on this case in March 2008, we spoke with Fahad Hashmi’s father Syed Anwar, and Fahad’s attorney Sean Mayer. Fahad is accused of storing waterproof socks, ponchos and raincoats. The US charges were based on allowing an acquaintance “Janaid Babar” to store this rain gear in the closet of his London flat. Janaid Babar was a paid government cooperator who has been used to testify against Muslims around the world.  Nicknamed ‘Supergrass’ by the British media, Babar was used by the UK government to testify against Omar Khyam and several other Muslim men in the so-called Fertilizer Case. Meanwhile Fahad’s trial is expected in January 2010, the prosecution will use Junaid as a main witness.  Hashmi has been held under the SAM’s Special Administrative Measures that include a 23 hour a day lockdown, constant video surveillance of his cell and limited visitation.

(Fahad’s Brother)Faisal Hashmi:

  • I’m under SAMs as our family is. Our visits with him, we can’t talk about it, but I can say from open court, he looks frail, he looks jittery He’s been in solitary confinement for 2 and half years.
  • He’s in the Metropolitan Correctional Center a few blocks from here. Within his own cell, he’s videotaped at all times. He’s not allowed to talk out loud. He has a microphone in his cell.
  • This is about deconstructing a human being, depriving him of his humanity. He’s 29 years old.
  • Charged with four counts of material support for terrorism. He stored ponchos and rain gear.
  • In 2004, this acquaintance while working on his Master’s degree stayed with Fahad.
  • This was January 2004, he went to the US in April 2004, was arrested, and became a cooperating witness for the US government.  At this time about 8 people got arrested, some in Pakistan, London and Canada, all on Junaid Barbar’s witness cooperation.
  • In June 2006, my brother gets arrested. They tell Fahad, that Junaid gave the ponchos and gloves to Al-Qaeda and you gave material support to terrorists. You let Junaid use your cell phone, and Juanaid borrowed 300.00 from Fahad, saying that his ailing daughter needed the money. Fahad’s trial starts January 6, 2010
  • FreeFahad.com This case has nothing to do with ponchos and socks.

Jeanne Theoharis:

  • This is a case we need to be concerned about for those who value the first amendment. I had Fahad as a student in Brooklyn College in 2002
  • There’s no way to understand this case without understanding the way Fahad was being watched many years ago even as a college student. We’ve sent a letter to the attorney general addressing 3 main issues, the conditions of his confinement, the way his due process is being violated and then first amendment issues.
  • The letter was signed by more than 550 scholars and writers.  Organizing among the Muslim student community.
  • Theaters Against War calling attention to Fahad’s case.
  • Free Fahad Vigil January 18, 2010

Guests: Fahad’s brother Faisal Hashmi and Jeanne Theoharis, an associate professor of political science at Brooklyn College, City University of New York.  She was one of Fahad’s professors and she has been following this case.

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Law and Disorder January 11, 2010


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Historic Win for Constitutional Rights! Injunction Granted in CCR Lawsuit on Behalf of ACORN

Recently, a federal judge blocked Congressional effort to withhold funding to the community group ACORN. In the decision, the court found that ACORN can show that the targeting by Congress in de-funding the anti-poverty group, is a violation of the Constitution’s prohibition against the Bill of Attainder. This is a legislative act which singles out a specific person or group for punishment. Jules Lobel, CCR Vice-President and Cooperating Attorney says quote “This historic decision by the Court affirms the fundamental constitutional principle that the Congress cannot be judge, jury, and executioner.”   Following the decision, Bertha Lewis, ACORN’s Executive Director, said quote  “The court’s decision is a victory not only for the many dedicated citizens who work with ACORN to improve their communities and promote responsible lending and homeownership, but for the Constitution and the rights of all Americans.”

Bertha Lewis:

  • ACORN is 39 years old, started in Little Rock, Arkansas.  It grew out of the welfare rights movement, George Wiley founder of WRO.  We began to organize folks in the South first, just around bread and butter issues.
  • Red-lining banks, block busting racist strategies, potholes. Most people would know us by the housing work that we did, we challenge the banks for the red-lining tactics.  I was the executive director for New York, I’ve been with ACORN for almost 20 years.
  • We had an internal scandal, where the founder Wade Rasky had allowed his brother in a 2 year period of time misappropriate almost a million dollars. I was appointed CEO after that for my New York City organizing work. We’re (ACORN) the best organizers, but we’re not the best managers.
  • It was fine if we stuck with soup kitchens, etc, but we started registering poor people to vote around issues. The minimum wage law passed in Florida. I think we became a threat when we actually moved those people to the polls. Now we begin to change the balance of power.
  • We need to organize multi-ethnic, multi-culture, multi-issue, and build an institution where people have real power. Karl Rove leaked emails revealed : “Bring me the head of ACORN.”
  • The organizing was effective because we’re not a single issue organization. We can be better managers, but I guess we had a naivete about the forces we’ve been going against all these years.
  • Since 2000, the right has seen us as a growing threat, we were effective and almost immediately we were accused of voter fraud, voter registration fraud. Nothing stuck. They decided, we got to keep (ACORN) in the news, we gotta keep attacking them.
  • This filmmaker – James O’Keefe made up this fantasy scenario, was racist and sexists. So, they had this series of videos, when you looked at it, it was very sensational.
  • Anyone could see it was highly edited, where they had this woman say she hadn’t paid taxes, and there are these girls from Honduras we want to bring over.
  • So, what you see in these tapes is some of our workers giving advice. Next thing it was online, it went viral. Funders were saying they didn’t want to be associated with us. Five hundred organizers, four hundred thousand member families.
  • Three times before the Republicans tried to say ACORN was a criminal organization, no due process. In October after that video, they put in writing, no funds given to ACORN. Omnibus funding bill. The bill passed, only 7 brave senators voted against it.
  • Congress (right wing) was pushed to name ACORN, because federally funded groups such as Blackwater / KBR / would be snared in broad language net. This is about the Constitution, it applies to poor people, it applies to poor people’s organizations.
  • CCR lawyers – “I call them Jedi Knights for Justice”

Guest – Bertha Lewis,  Chief Executive Officer and Chief Organizer of ACORN, the largest community organization in the country. Appointed in May 2008, Ms. Lewis oversees the operations of its 400,000 strong membership, which is active in over 110 cities across the country. A 16 year veteran of the organization, Ms. Lewis was most recently the Executive Director of ACORN’s New York affiliate and is a founding Co-Chair of the New York Working Families Party.

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Why Are We in Afghanistan?

Why Are We in Afghanistan is the question many listeners still have and is the title of a film by Michael Zweig. The film examines how the reasons for the Afghanistan war have clouded since September 11, 2001. The conflict centers on geo-political positioning that holds the US in the war torn landscape.  At this stage, the Afghanistan war is a humanitarian disaster, the civilian casualities are stunning and conditions on the ground are desparate for Afghani women and children.  The film, Why Are We in Afghanistan? is an educational resource for communities, unions, veterans and active duty military, classes, and anyone who wonders why we are in Afghanistan, and what to do about it.

Michael Zwieg:

  • We started out being in Afghanistan because of the 9/11 attacks, the idea was they attacked us from a base in Afghanistan, and we’re going to get the bad guys.  Once they were there it became clear, that they weren’t interested in going to Afghanistan, they were interested in invading Iraq.
  • Starting in 2002, the focus left Afghanistan, we were there, in an inactive state. Then comes the presumed resolution in Iraq, then Obama comes in and tries to be the president, running the campaign of prosecuting the good war.
  • Why are we now doubling down in Afghanistan?
  • Obama’s latest speech says primary reason for war escalation is Taliban, who are sheltering Al-Qaeda. To “nation-build” – stabilize Afghanistan.  Al-Qaeda is in Pakistan, though, if you were to stabilize Pakistan, Al-Qaeda would go to Somalia, etc. It’s like wack-a-mole.
  • General Petraeus’s American Counterinsurgency Doctrine. 2006
  • They accept in the doctrine, that counter-insurgency is 80 percent civilian work and taking care of civilian population / 20 percent military.  But if you look at the budget in place right now for 2010, it’s 6 percent civilian and 94 percent military.
  • So, what’s going on? It’s not really about counterinsurgency, it’s not really about Al-Qaeda? We shouldn’t downplay the domestic and military pressure to do this.
  • Sentiment about Afghanistan War changed in the US Labor movement summer of 2009
  • Pipelanistan: During collapse of Soviet Union, the central asia “stan” countries came in to play.
  • The US department of Energy forecasts between the year 2000 and 2025, China’s need to import oil is going to increase to 73 percent of its oil needs they will have to import.
  • Pakistan’s agent in Afghanistan are the Taliban.
  • Unocal – Moderate size US oil company, negotiating with Taliban and Pakistan to build pipeline.
  • Unreported:  There were meetings in Turkmenistan, in 2002 with the Bush Administration and Asian development Bank to build a pipeline going to Arabian Sea.
  • There was a meeting in 2001 before 9/11, with Cheney and energy executives. They issued a report on American energy strategies May 2001. They identified the Central Asia republics as a major source of oil and natural gas.
  • They identified these resources, Cheney and his crew, as a source to block from the Chinese and others from getting those resources.
  • We’re in Afghanistan because of both strategic interests which include the oil resources and to block others.
  • What are going to do, we can’t win, but we can’t not fight it.  Obama doesn’t see a way unless there’s a mass movement in this country or military rebellion.
  • Barbara Tuchman – March of Folly – Leaders of countries lead them into disasterous courses, against advice and alternative policies.
  • You can’t reduce it all to simple, rational calculations because there are other courses that they could do.
  • How do you make it hot for Obama on the decisions that he’s made? How do you build the social movement.
  • We’ve built quite a presence in the labor movement around Iraq.
  • Almost spending 100 billion dollars a year in Afghanistan.  You could create a lot of jobs, tax relief, stimulus systems.
  • War good for economy? No. For every dollar spent on military spending, you create way fewer jobs than the same money spent on building roads, or turbines for wind farms.

Guest – Michael Zwieg,  Professor of Economics and Director of the Center for Study of Working Class Life at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, where he has received the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching. His most recent books are What’s Class Got To Do With It? American Society In the 21st Century and The Working Class Majority: America’s Best Kept Secret (2000). He was executive producer and co-writer of the documentary Meeting Face to Face: The Iraq-US Labor Solidarity Tour. (Center for Study of Working Class Life, 2006).

Professor Zweig received his PhD in economics in 1967 from the University of Michigan where, as an undergraduate, he was a founding member of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), and as a graduate student helped found the Union for Radical Political Economics (URPE).

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Law and Disorder January 4, 2010


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Historic International Support: Gaza Freedom March

Hundreds of activists from more than 40 countries staged demonstrations and sit-ins in Cairo to protest the Egyptian government’s refusal to allow them to cross the border into Gaza. Our own Michael Ratner and his family are among the 13 hundred solidarity marchers in the Gaza Freedom March. Among the marchers, 300 from the United States, 80  from New York State and 250 marchers from France. Last week organizers said an offer by Egyptian authorities to allow only 100 members of the group into Gaza was not enough.  The Egyptian embassy has stalled the marchers and some were detained by police as crowds outside the embassies grew.

Abdeen Jabara / Dorothy Zellner:

  • This has truly been one of the truly great, historic, international mobilizations of people in solidarity.
  • Thousands upon thousands over the course of months have been working in over 42 countries around the globe.
  • They go to Cairo, Egypt as a transit point to go to Gaza.
  • This effort has heightened the consciousness about the siege on Gaza and exposed the United States, Israel and the Egyptian government to promote the division of the middle east for their own selfish reasons.
  • There is the Gaza Freedom March, then there is Viva Palestina, which is a convoy of trucks loaded with humanitarian aid that actually made it into Gaza several months ago.
  • Viva Palestina is led by George Galloway, former British parliament member, they are stuck in Jordan.
  • The Egyptians initially said the trucks can go through but the people can’t.  This is a massive international effort to prevent the Palestinians from getting the help that they need.
  • The French have been lying down in the streets in front of the French Embassy for 3 days already.
  • The Gaza Freedom March had been working with the Egyptians for months and it was only until the organizers got to Cairo that the Egyptians changed their decision.
  • They said we didn’t come here to create any difficult for the government, we came here to stand in solidarity with the Palestinians in Gaza.
  • The Egyptian government then allowed 100 people to come through to Gaza, and to give them the names in 2 hours. A divide and rule approach, more conflict against the marchers.
  • Congress voted to make Egypt the second largest aid recipient in the world : 1.7 Billion annually.
  • Congress tried to take 100 million dollars away from Egypt because of the “smuggling tunnels to Gaza.” Egypt got the message. Egypt is not a democracy, Mubarak has been in power since 1981. It’s essentially a police state, they more people in their intelligence and police than they have in the Army.
  • Egypt is planning to put in (with the help of the US Army Corp of Engineers)  metal barriers, 50 feet into the ground to prevent tunneling to Gaza. Sixty percent of the Gaza is dependent upon that tunnel trade.
  • This is the largest civilian population of the world that is completely trapped. If you ever go to Gaza, this could be the Riviera of the Mediterenean. This could be an unbelievable place if they would let them live like human beings.
  • The problem is with the campaign finance system and the money that keeps them in office. This is where the problem is.

Guests – Abdeen Jabara and Dorothy Zellner give a broader scope on the Gaza Freedom March and the significance of  demonstrations.  Abdeen Jabara,  civil rights lawyer and former president of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee.  Dorothy Zellner, civil rights activist with Jews Say No, who has organized groups opposing Israeli violence in the occupied territories.

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victor toro2 chileantank2a

Victor Toro: Chilean Socialist Faces US Deportation After 25 Years

Ex-political prisoner and human rights organizer Victor Toro joins us in the studio. Victor is a Bronx community organizer and he was a former leader in the resistance to Chile’s military dictatorship during the 1970s. In July of 2007 Victor was arrested in an immigration sweep by border officials aboard an Amtrak train in Rochester, New York. He was charged for being in the country illegally and has been out on bail since.  Before coming to the United States in 1984, Toro helped found and lead the MIR, or Revolutionary Left Movement. The group opposed the US -sponsored coup against the military dictatorship led by Augusta Pinochet.    The Department of Homeland Security and US Immigration are seeking to deport Toro, the prosecution has filed a 46 page court brief containing information on the MIR, claiming the group attacked government buildings. Meanwhile, a deportation hearing for Victor Toro was adjourned until Jan. 11, 2010. Victor joins us in the studio with his translator Gonzalo Venegas.

Victor Toro:

  • I was arrested by Pinochet’s regime, April 20th, 1974. I was incarcerated for 3 years in different concentration camps in which I was tortured. I was expelled from Chile, and given a document stating never to return. I was expelled to Sweden, and then Cuba.
  • When I was forced to leave Chile, I was officially declared dead by the Pinochet regime.
  • I ended up in Mexico, where I was given transitional asylum, however my safety was at risk in Mexico, because agents of Pinochet were trying to murder me. I left Mexico in 1984, fleeing persecution of Pinochet’s agents.
  • Well, in the South Bronx, I continued doing the work, an extension of the work I had done in Chile in my earlier years. Working in the community and with unions.
  • I’ve worked with undocumented people and immigrants in the United States. In California in 2007, I was engaging in the advocacy work for immigrant rights. On a train back to New York, I was caught in an immigration raid, with bomb sniffing dogs.
  • Initially, I was facing the same case as any undocumented worker in the US. Recently the case took a political turn where the government has presented documents against me.
  • I went from undocumented worker to becoming a terrorist because of my affiliations and work that I did in Chile in the 1970s.
  • I was the leader of the organization MIR, that was building a socialist left movement. MIR resisted Pinochet’s oppressive tactics. MIR was branded a terrorist organization by the US.
  • If you look at Chile’s current president of the senate, and house of representatives, the Navy, it all lead by former members of Pinochet’s political party.
  • Demand asylum for Victor Toro / Friday January 8, 2010 - SEIU 1199 / Martin Luther King Auditorium. 310 West 43rd Street / between 8th and 9th Avenues.
  • Monday January 11, 2010 – Court date 9 AM – / Rally afterward at NOON at 26 Federal Plaza, NY.

Guest – Victor  Toro, a Chilean activist in the Bronx who fought against the Pinochet dictatorship in Chile. Toro is one of tens of thousands of immigrants who are racially profiled and targeted for deportation unjustly and unfairly.

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