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Archives for December, 2011


Law and Disorder December 26, 2011


Updates:

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National Defense Authorization Act Update

Co-host Michael Ratner expounds on National Defense Authorization Act.  The Act has passed both houses, despite Obama threatening to veto the Act. Obama thought that various provisions of the National Defense Authorization Act concerning detentions, might impinge on his authority as the executive.  Obama was more concerned about Congress telling the President how to treat those captured or kidnapped in “war on terror.”

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UPDATE: Political Prisoner Lynne Stewart

Political prisoner and good friend, Lynne Stewart continues to uplift people around her while serving a 10 year sentence at the Federal Medical Center in Fort Worth Texas.  Lynne, as many listeners know, was prosecuted for representing her client the blind Egyptian Sheik,  Omar Abdel Rahman. In trying to negotiate a return to Egypt out of solitary confinement, she made a press release public.  She was tried and found guilty for materially aiding “terrorism.”  She received a 2 and half year sentence, instead of 30 years that the government wanted. Then, the Second Circuit Court sent the case back to the Judge.  Judge John G Koeltl sentenced defendant, Lynne Stewart: 120 months incarceration on five counts to be served concurrently.  Lynne Stewart is now 72 years old, she’s a breast cancer survivor with other pending health issues.  She’s called them the usual brush fires of aging, yet many are concerned.  SAVE THE DATE FEBRUARY 28-29

Ralph Poynter:

  • She is looking forward to her attorney Herald Price Fahringer to presenting to the court once again testing the law.  We are planning a Occupy the Court Room and the park, the night before on February 28 through to the 29.
  • The lawyer will be talking about the laws used to extend Lynne’s sentence. He said any lawyer that wouldn’t want this case, doesn’t understand law. He looked forward to doing it.  He went for a one hour visit with Lynne at MCC and stayed all day.
  • No matter what happens, Lynne will continue to fight for her license.
  • She’s is Federal Medical Center in Fort Worth, Texas. Big airbase there. It’s an enormous prison, but she’s in the hospital ward.
  • Even though I’d been on the list visiting her (in New York prison) I was not on the list (Texas prison)
  • I just went down there, and she said, you’re not on the list but I’m going to go to floor supervisor and she says, you just come.
  • That Saturday morning I was in front of the prison and they told me I was not eligible to go in. They said it was like an airbase, so I walked outside the gate and stood there. The guard came over and said what are doing here? I said, I’m waiting.
  • Around 10:30 an official car came down and said you’re denied admission.
  • I said, I understand, but I’m going to wait.
  • Around Noon, the woman came back and she says, fill out an application.
  • She said I knew if you fought from the outside I was going to fight from the inside and it only took 4 hours.
  • You can’t imagine after sleeping on a 2 inch exercise mat on a steel platform for a year, and they showed me the hospital bed.
  • She is Miss S, in the prison. Everybody brings her their papers.
  • She heard noise outside her room at 5 o’clock in the morning, they were lined up some with papers stacked 3 feet high.
  • There is an oxymoron – prison health care. There is no such thing.
  • She’s lost about 45 pounds.
  • She’s very sick, she can’t sit down. In the visiting room she has to sit sideways.
  • Thanks again for all of the people sending bucks for me to go see Lynne.
  • Write her a letter. The letters pick her up.
  • They gave her medicine and she couldn’t get out of bed. We have a system now when they give her medicine she calls me up. I call my daughter the doctor and she tells me whether Lynne should take it or not take it.

 

Guest – Ralph Poynter, Lynne’s husband, father, activist. Please write to Lynne Stewart - LYNNE STEWART / 53504-054 FMC CARSWELL / FEDERAL MEDICAL CENTER / P.O. BOX 27137 / FORT WORTH, TX 76127

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Photo by flickr user G20Voice

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Law and Disorder December 19, 2011


Updates:

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Appeal Denied In Holy Land Foundation Case

Last week, the Fifth Circuit dismissed the appeal for the Holy Land Foundation case. This decision affirmed the conviction of Ghassan Elashi, the co-founder of the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development. As many listeners may know, the Holy Land Foundation was considered the largest Muslim charity in the United States before the Bush administration shut it down after the September 11 attacks. In May 2009, a federal judge in Dallas handed down sentences ranging from 15 to 65 years in prison to five of the charity’s founders and former fundraisers. Over a year before, a federal jury returned guilty verdicts on all 108 counts against the Foundation and the five former officers on charges of providing material support to Hamas after the U.S. government designated it a foreign terrorist organization in 1995. During that trial, the prosecution used unrelated video of suicide bombers to emotionally sway the jury.

Ghassan Elashi was then sentenced to 65 years in prison for giving material support in the form of humanitarian aid to Zakat committees – Palestinian charities in the West Bank and Gaza, that prosecutors were alleging were fronts for Hamas. Ghassan is being held in the Communications Management Unit in Marion, Illinois.

Noor Elashi:

  • One of the arguments the defense lawyers made is that USAID, which is a government agency sent money to the same exact Zakat Committees which are these distribution centers in Palestine that the Holy Land Foundation sent charity to.
  • That was their main charge, they were charged with giving material support in the form of humanitarian aid to Zakat Committees which the prosecutors were claiming were fronts for Hamas.
  • In their appeal, one of their main arguments is that these Zakat Committees received money from many NGOs including an American agency.
  • Another argument in the appeal was for the first time in US history, an expert witness who was an Israeli intelligence officer who testified under a fake name was allowed to testify under a pseudonym.
  • My father recently had a phone call ban, because he put his name on a yoga mat, and it was considered destruction of government property.
  • Our defense attorneys are not going to quit. They will ask the entire panel of appellate judges to re-hear the case, if that is denied, they’ll take the case to the Supreme Court.
  • The foreign policy and politics of this country have been very favorable to Israel.
  • FreedomToGive.com

Guest – Noor Elashithe daughter of Holy Land Foundation prisoner Ghassan Elashi. She is a writer based in Dallas, Texas. After receiving a Bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of North Texas, she worked for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. In July 2008, she won the 3rd place Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Award for her manuscript titled “Displaced,” which she plans to expand into a memoir about the displacement of three generations of Palestinians: her grandmother, father, and herself. She can be reached at noorelashi@gmail.com.

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Event In Philadelphia Marks 30 Years of  Mumia Abu-Jamal’s Incarceration

On December 7, the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office announced that it will not seek another death sentence for Mumia Abu-Jamal. Under Pennsylvania law, Mr. Abu-Jamal will now be sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas.   The National Lawyers Guild commented that while there is overwhelming doubt about what the state claims to be the facts in this case, even those allegations never supported a capital charge. That it has taken three decades to remove death from the table is astonishing.

The Guild has long maintained that Mr. Abu-Jamal is entitled to a new and fair trial. Procedural irregularities plagued his case from the outset, including blatant constitutional violations, from the judge allowing the prosecution to admit evidence of his affiliation with the Black Panther Party, in violation of the Supreme Court case Dawson v. Delaware, to the use of a faulty sentencing form that misled jurors during the penalty phase, in violation of the Supreme Court case Mills v. Maryland.

A great deal of relevant evidence has never been reviewed by any court, much less presented to a jury. This evidence includes several photographs of the crime scene which impeach the testimony of a police officer who was a key eyewitness and proof that another individual was present, and fled, the scene of the shooting.

Mr. Abu-Jamal was charged at a time when, it was later revealed, there was extensive corruption within the Philadelphia Police Department. In 1995, then-District Attorney Lynne Abraham promised the city that she would dismiss any case in which there was evidence of police perjury or purposeful misreporting of facts. Given the history of police misconduct in Philadelphia when Abu-Jamal was arrested, and the specific instances of police perjury in his case, the National Lawyers Guild has urged current District Attorney Seth Williams to act on his predecessor’s unfulfilled pledge.

Two days after the DA’s announcement, and commemorating International Human Rights Day, a free forum was held at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia to mark the 30th anniversary of Mumia Abu-Jamal’s incarceration, justice.  Twelve-hundred Mumia supporters met to reinvigorate the movement for justice for Abu-Jamal and to say no to life in prison for the political prisoner. “Because for 30 years Abu-Jamal has been unconstitutionally imprisoned in death row torture, justice for Mumia will not be served by life imprisonment, but by freedom,” said Dr. Johanna Fernandez, professor of history at Baruch College of the City University of New York and a co-producer of the forum. Fernandez wrote and produced a documentary, which debuted at the Constitution Center in 2010 on Abu-Jamal’s case. “Justice on Trial: The Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal,” examines evidence pointing to Abu-Jamal’s innocence and exposes the inequities of the American justice system.

Speakers: 

The December 9 forum was co-sponsored by Educators for Mumia Abu-Jamal, the National Lawyers Guild and International Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal.

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Law and Disorder December 12, 2011


Updates:

  • IAE Report On Iran’s Nuclear Program
  • New York Mayor Bloomberg Brags About Having Army of 7000 Police
  • Federal 1033 Program, Pentagon Arms Local Police
  • Zucotti Park Mini Police State
  • New York Mayor Fines Street Musicians $250.00

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The Israelification of American Domestic Security

We’ve discussed on an earlier show the massive coordinated effort among the federal, state and local police involving a consulting organization called the Police Executive Research Forum. In Max Blumenthal’s recent article From Occupation to “Occupy”: The Israelification of American Domestic Security, he digs deep and reveals critical connections at every level of law enforcement with Israel’s national security tactics. Recently the New York Police Department disclosed its use of “counter-terror” measures against Occupy protesters at Zucotti Park. There are more connections yet to be made says Blumenthal.

Max Blumenthal:

  • Cathy Lanier, the Chief of the Washington DC Metropolitan Police said no experience had more impact on her life and doing her job than going to Israel.
  • She said she designed her entire Homeland Security Program for the DC Police based on her experience being trained in Israel.
  • Yamam is the elite force of the border police in Israel which is one of the most thuggish elements of the Israeli military. It’s a quasi-police force that is also active in the West Bank.
  • We’ve never had Congressional Hearings on why elements from an autocratic dictatorship like Bahrain which was shooting demonstrators at the time, which was shooting people as they entered hospitals to get treatment-was allowed to train with our police forces.
  • There’s not just a sharing of tactics, there’s a sharing of weaponry that’s being used against American civilians, against kids who think their birthright was sold, that was first tested on Palestinians.
  • They’re studying with some kind of “Harvard Professors” of anti-terrorism.
  • The bridge for American police officers to go to Israel is the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs. (JINSA)  A Washington DC based think tank with an arm in Jerusalem I think.  A lot of the people making the case for the Iraq War were in JINSA.
  • They claim to have had trained through Israeli led training sessions, over 9000 American law enforcement officials.
  • One of the things they learned was how to secure large venues, like sporting events, shopping malls and concerts.
  • They also learned to look out for and take down suicide bombers.
  • You’re supposed to think of the Anti-Defamation League as a Jewish civil rights group that fights the defamation of the Jewish people and humanity. This is not the extent of the ADL’s work.
  • All new FBI agents are required to be taken to the Holocaust Museum in Washington DC by the ADL, according to official FBI recruiment material that I found.
  • The Mall of America, an Israeli security team stops and interrogates 1200 American shoppers a year.
  • The NYPD under the leadership of Ray Kelly who has been to Israel repeatedly to speak an Israeli neoconservative conferences set up a demographic unit to spy on Muslim communities around the city.

Guest – Max Blumenthal, award-winning journalist and bestselling author. His articles and video documentaries have been in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Daily Beast, The Nation, The Guardian, The Independent Film Channel, The Huffington Post, Salon.com, Al Jazeera English and many other publications. His book, Republican Gomorrah: Inside The Movement That Shattered The Party, is declared a bestseller among major newspapers.

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Class Action Lawsuit On Behalf Of Women Farmers

They’ve always had a presence in the fields, but in recent years women have come to run a quickly increasing share of America’s farms. Of the 3.3 million U.S. farm operators counted in 2007 census data, more than one million, or nearly one third, were women. That number represents a 19 percent increase in just five years, significantly outpacing overall growth in the profession. And the proportion of women who are the principal operators of the farms they work on has also increased over the past decade—women now manage 14 percent of the nation’s 2.2 million farms.

Yet throughout this time, women farmers have faced routine and systematic discrimination by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In 2001, female farmers filed a lawsuit against the USDA for gender discrimination in its farm loan programs. In the years leading up to the lawsuit, having been repeatedly denied loans by the USDA Farm Service Agency and its predecessor the Farmer’s Home Administration, many women plaintiffs had given up farming entirely. The lawsuit claimed that many who applied or tried to apply for farm loans were turned down because of their gender.

The government’s own reports confirm claims of widespread gender discrimination. In 2003, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights issued a report highlighting the inadequate civil rights record of the USDA.

Attorney Kristine Dunne:

  • The loans provided are for last resort, where farmers have been unable to obtain loans from traditional commercial lenders.
  • The women farmers lawsuit which is now Love v. Vilsack. It was filed initially as a class action on behalf of women all across the country.
  • The courts have not granted it class certification, which may not be a surprise to your listeners if they’ve heard about the Walmart litigation.
  • The USDA has had an office of civil rights. That office was effectively dismantled, so that women farmers or any farmers had a complaint of discrimination or how they were being treated with regard to their farm loans, could call up to office of civil rights in Washington DC and complain
  • That was actually a requirement to preserve their discrimination complaint rights.
  • The woman farmer is going to be offered up to 50 thousand dollars if she has a successful claim under the USDA proposed program. In past programs, these are for the African American farmers, and now the ongoing Native American farmers claims programs, those amounts have been different. There is a category that they could get up to 50 thousand but also up to 250 thousand. That is very troubling to women farmers that they’re not offered the same relief.
  • Women are finding that there are opportunities for them, in the past its been a man’s job.
  • Women have been at the forefront in advances of organic farming and other types of niche farming.
  • Our lead plaintiff Rosemary Love suffered terribly, she had her animals literally dying on her farm because the USDA wouldn’t release the funds that she had been awarded through a farm loan.
  • There are other examples where USDA officials at the local level have propositioned women, have told them to their faces, farming isn’t for women.
  • The case is on hold, its been on hold for a number of years while the government and women farmers try to mete out a resolution.
  • A woman farmer can be successful in establishing that she indeed was discriminated against. She was wrongly denied a farm loan 30 years ago and all that mounting debt from that discrimination may not all be forgiven.

Guest – Kristine Dunne with the law firm Arent Fox in Washington, DC. Kristine’s focus is on litigation and counseling relating to employment, labor and OSHA matters, in addition to providing legal advice to educational institutions and other non-profit organizations. She currently serves on the firm’s Pro Bono Committee.

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Law and Disorder December 5, 2011


Updates:

  • Chilean Judge Indicts US Military Official in 1973 Killings – CCR Case
  • Newt Gingrich: “Water Boarding Is By Every Technical Rule, Not Torture.”
  • Michael Ratner: S.1867 — National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012

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Occupy Albany: Undisturbed By City Officials

The collusion among mayors and police departments around the country to raid and take down Occupy Wall Street movements by force has revealed a particular hierarchy of control.  However, as listeners may know there is a unique situation with the Occupy Wall St solidarity movement in Albany, New York. Despite the request of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and Albany mayor to shut the encampment down at Academy Park, the police refused, then the State Troopers refused.  In a memo obtained by the The Times Union, Albany Police Deputy Chief Steven Krofoff stated “At this time I have no intention of assigning officers to monitor, watch, videotape or influence any behavior that is conducted by our citizens peacefully demonstrating in Academy Park.

Attorney Mark Mishler:

  • The Governor a few days before the occupation started met with the city of Albany office and as best as we can figure out at that meeting sort of all agreed that this wasn’t going to be permitted.
  • It seemed to be permitted that people would not be able to stay past the 11PM curfew at the park.
  • We have two very independent minded folks in law enforcement here.
  • They took a different view. We have a District Attorney David Soares, who was independently elected as an opponent to the Albany County machine and with a lot of grassroots support.
  • David Soares say he wasn’t interested in using his office to prosecute peaceful protesters.
  • In correlation with that our police chief in the city of Albany, who also came into office as result from a grassroots movement for improved police / community relations. He also said he didn’t want to use the resources of his department to arrest peaceful protesters.
  • The mayor who we believe really wanted to carry out the governor’s direction was really boxed into a corner and couldn’t do that.
  • The park is really 2 parks, half of the park is city owned, the other half is state owned.
  • We’re now in the sixth week, there are now about 50 tents.
  • Essentially completely undisturbed by city officials.

Guest –  Mark Mishler, attorney and National Lawyers Guild member.
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Occupy Los Angeles Legal Action

Occupy Los Angeles and Occupy Philadelphia were among the encampments forcibly removed last week. Occupy LA demonstrators had expected to be evicted after the mayor announced that the park would be closed at 12:01 a.m. on Monday last week. Late the following night, police in riot gear stormed the encampment and dozens were arrested as protesters chanted and stood defiant through the raid. The more than 500 tents have been taken down. The encampment at Philadelphia’s Occupy Wall Street movement was also raided after demonstrators marched to protest their eviction. Up to 40 protesters were arrested.

Hours after the Occupy Los Angeles eviction deadline protesters filed for a federal injunction that would prevent the police from dismantling the occupation in Oakland Park. The city, mayor and chief of police are named in the lawsuit as defendants. The complaint also says the city engaged in “arbitrary and capricious action in violation of the 1st and 14 Amendments by first approving the Occupy presence for 56 days before suddenly revoking permission through the unilateral action of defendants.

Attorney Carol Sobel:

  • We filed papers, we argued that the mayor’s actions were unlawful because the City Council of Los Angeles passed a resolution saying that they could stay there.
  • The Council, only the Council has the authority to do that.
  • Once that Council acts, he could veto it, he chose not to at the time, back in October, or he could get it rescinded. He chose not to.
  • Our position is, the Mayor can’t make up the rules as he goes along.
  • This is a public forum, we’ve had anti-war marches here, marches to protest the Pope when he came.
  • The mayor used to be friend. The Mayor went to the same Guild law school that I did.
  • I think that the Mayor is bought and paid for by the developers in Los Angeles. Somebody said to me last night, he’s lost his soul.
  • He’s not progressive by any definition of that term. He is the head of the US Conference of Mayors.
  • It looks bad for him I guess to have the largest Occupy in the country, in his city, at his doorstep.
  • They (LAPD) have agreed that they will not come out with a show of force, unless and until it’s needed.
  • If you can’t close the park after the fact, then these arrests were all unlawful.

Guest – Civil rights attorney Carol Sobel, a legal advisor for Occupy protests across the country. Carol Sobel is listed as the attorney on the new complaint.

Collusion in the Defense of the 1% is No Vice

As mayors of cities across the country colluded to crackdown on the OWS encampments, an international non-governmental organization had coordinated with police chiefs and mayors behind the scenes. The group is called the Police Executive Research Forum, it is an influential private membership based organization that is marketed to heads of major metropolitan areas as specialists with mass demonstrations.  The group has ties to the US Department of Homeland Security and their general membership in the group is exclusive to former executives leading a state or county funded agency that provided police services.

Geov Parrish:

  • The Occupy Seattle movement is community college property.
  • The community college let them stay there but at first it was a public square and it was a cat and mouse game with the police.
  • From November 4-10, there were conference calls. Much of the local media coverage was very coordinated.
  • This smacks of the operations of some of the high ranking people the PERF has been associated with.
  • The PERF actually does research on less then lethal weaponry, such as the pepper spray that has been used in lots of different cities.
  • Charles Ramsey, Philadelphia Police Commissioner and the chair of PERF’s board of directors is also on the Homeland Security Advisory Council as are a couple of other board members from PERF.
  • There’s an entire industry that has sprung up around the militarization of the police forces. The routine use of SWAT teams now for even non threatening situations.

Guest –  Geov Parrish, a Seattle-based columnist and reporter. He writes the Straight Shot column for WorkingForChange.  Parrish also wrote the article Collusion in the Defense of the 1% is No Vice.

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