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Archives for July, 2013


Law and Disorder July 29, 2013


Updates:

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Dick-Gregory-at-BOP1-938x1024 Lynne-Stewart-June-2013-

Lynne Stewart: Continued Support For Compassionate Release From Prison

As many listeners know, political prisoner, attorney, activist and friend attorney Lynne Stewart was denied compassionate release on the grounds that her health is improving. Not only is that untrue, it’s cynical. Cancer has spread to her lungs as Lynne is held in isolation. Her white blood cell count is so low that she is at risk of generalized infection. Lynne was convicted on charges related to materially aiding terrorism, related to her representation of Omar Abdel Rahman.  Her original 2 year sentence was increased to 10  years after the government pressured the trial judge to reconsider his sentencing decision.

Please call to push for Lynne’s release from prison.

  • U.S. Bureau of Prisons Director Charles E. Samuels – 202-307-3198  Ext. 3
  • U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder – 202-514-2001
  • President Barack Obama – 202-456-1111

Guest – Ralph Poynter, Lynne’s husband and an activist.

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mikesbookcover Detroit Mayor Dave Bing, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder with Kevy

Michael Hamlin: Black Workers In Detroit

Last month, our guest,  retired auto worker and activist Dianne Feeley discussed the plans of emergency manager of Detroit, Kevyn Orr that would wipe out the pensions and health benefits of all current and retired city workers. Nine billion in worker benefits are in the cross hairs of this plan that would impoverish 20 thousand retirees on fixed incomes. There are only 10 thousand city employees left in Detroit who’ve had their pay cut by 10 percent, and now their medical care. This has since made international news. Today we look at the history of workers in Detroit from the perspective of black workers and how what’s happening now can fit into the broader pattern of oppression.

Mike Hamlin:

  • Well, I came here from sharecropping country in Mississippi. We landed in a suburb of Detroit that was segregated.
  • My father was run out of Mississippi, just ahead of the sheriff. His sister lived out here. We lived in a project, 2 bedroom apartment. There were 8 of us in this 2 bedroom apartment. The people looked out and cared for each other. My mother was only 15 years older than me, so we grew up together.
  • It was a peaceful community, sometimes interrupted by weekend drinking, arguing and spouse abuse.
  • At that time we were so completely repressed and segregated. Those of us in the south were prepared for that because in the south you had to learn to keep your place.
  • We’d submit and we played the game. Go to school or go to the factory.
  • Most of my friends quit school and went into the factory. My father advised me to do the same but I wouldn’t.
  • The factories at that time were hiring and he eventually got into Ford.
  • Most of the workers there either worked at Ford or Great Lakes Steel.
  • The typical pattern was they moved to the north got a job in the plant, bought a new car, I’m sure that created a lot -of angst.
  • He used to be quite a cotton picker. The Ford job was like play to him. He worked a lot of overtime-kinda typical.
  • The situation with the bankruptcy is kind of a culmination.
  • If you know black history. . . there’s a history of destroying black communities that are prosperous.
  • You look at Tulsa, Rosewood.
  • There has always been bitter hatred in Michigan throughout on part of blacks toward whites.
  • The racial aspect of this bankruptcy should not underplayed or underestimated.
  • People outside of Detroit have been tearing it down since the 50s.
  • There’s joy in Mudville now that Detroit is bankrupt.
  • Quicken Loans gives his employees incentives to move into downtown lofts and apartment complexes.
  • Detroit is going to prosper again.
  • The population is changing. It was 85 percent black. It hasn’t been counted recently.

Guest – Mike Hamlin, co-founder of the Dodge Revolutionary Union Movement and the League of Revolutionary Black Workers. For 35 years, Hamlin worked as a social worker and addiction therapist. He is currently a professor of Africana Studies at Wayne State University.
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henrialleg the-question

Remembering Journalist and Author, Henri Alleg

In November of 2007, we were fortunate to interview French-Algerian journalist Henri Alleg. Henri passed away last week. He was 91.  We talked with him about his book, The Question, a moving account of his arrest and torture at the hands of French paratroopers during the Algerian War of Independence. The book became a bestseller and created major public debate in France. Jean-Paul Sartre wrote the preface that remains a relevant commentary on the moral and political effects of torture on the both the victim and perpetrator. The book was eventually banned by the authorities.

Professor Marnia Lazreg:

  • I had worked on the issue of torture during the Algerian War 1954-62.
  • I read Henri Alleg’s The Question. It really struck a chord with me.
  • There were times in my research and writing where I lost complete faith in humanity or the notion of humanism.
  • I lived in the Arab area in the city where I was going to high school and in the mornings I would see hundreds of men in line at the unemployment office.
  • I read The Question and I realized he was speaking to me.
  • He was tortured mercilessly, and he didn’t talk, he didn’t crack.
  • He was the also the first French intellectual who blew the whistle on the hypocrisy of the colonial military establishment which was spreading this news that they were in Algeria to save this country.
  • What Alleg wanted to do was show in a very powerful manner that France had not changed from the Middle Ages.
  • In fact, France was engaging in the same practices 9 years after it fought fascism, Nazism in Europe.
  • He was writing about what happened to him while it was still fresh in his mind.  Memories become jumbled, the suffering is so intense.
  • He was writing on cigarette paper and he had it smuggled out of the prison. It showed something about Alleg’s personality. He was not going to be muzzled, or silenced. He was going to continue to resist.
  • What he said couldn’t be denied because he bore the signs of torture in his own flesh.
  • Sarte asked how could such young men exhibit the same kind of hatred toward the Algerians and those that supported the Algerians.
  • Alleg asked me to have dinner at his home. We had a marvelous dinner. With him I did not have to explain the premises of my views or my opinion.
  • We never met before but I could talk to him and he could understand what I was talking about.
  • We live in an age where humanism is a bad word. Anti-humanism is very well established in academic institutions.
  • To me, Alleg represented perhaps one of the last figures of the humanist era. It was an era also when you had people who fought for what is human. What is worth dying for . . preserving that basic fundamental human dignity which characterizes all human beings regardless of their race, nationality.

Guest –  Marnia Lazreg is professor of sociology at Hunter College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. Her books include Torture and the Twilight of Empire; From Algiers to Baghdad and The Eloquence of Silence: Algerian Women in Question.

Past Law and Disorder Interview with Henri Alleg

Past Law and Disorder Interview with Marnia Lazreg
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Law and Disorder July 22, 2013


Updates:

  • Michael Ratner: Bradley Manning’s  Defense Makes Case To Dismiss Aiding The Enemy Charge
  • Freedom of the Press Foundation For Transcripts
  • Update: Judge Upholds Aiding The Enemy Charge in Bradley Manning Trial

oscar-grant oaklandprotest

NLG Obtains $1.17M, OPD Reforms for Occupy Oakland Protesters and Journalists

In recent weeks, attorneys from the National Lawyers Guild achieved two significant victories for the rights of protesters faced with police brutality and unlawful repression. The first came when the city of Oakland settled a class action lawsuit for more than 1 million dollars. The second victory occurred in early July when Oakland City Council approved a settlement for 1.17 million in another lawsuit arising from police actions at protests. As part of these settlements, the Oakland Police Department is now legally obligated to follow a crowd control policy. This policy which already existed but lacked enforcement outlines limits on police department officer’s use of force and the ability to make mass arrests in protest situations.

Attorney Rachel Lederman:

  • The first case has to do with the demonstration that had occurred on the day Johannes Mesterly was sentenced for the death of Oscar Grant. That’s the BART officer who shot Oscar Grant in the back as he was restrained facedown on the subway platform.
  • There’s a movie out about the last day in the life of Oscar Grant called Fruitvale Station that I would highly recommend seeing it’s playing all over the country now.
  • The death of Oscar Grant sparked a large number of demonstrations. November 5, 2010 was the date that Mesterly was sentenced and he was given a very minimal sentence of involuntary man slaughter of 2 years, 11 months with time served.
  • There was a demonstration planned for that evening it was actually a very small demonstration. OPD had planned to not allow a march after dark.
  • There was a rally that was permitted in downtown Oakland and then about 200 people started marching in the direction of Fruitvale Bart where the shooting had occurred. As soon as the march started the police began to set up for mass arrest.
  • When a police line would be erected in front of the march people would naturally turn another direction. This went on for a while, where the march was re-routed.
  • Eventually the OPD herded people to a residential area where they didn’t intend to go. The police announced it was a crime scene and began arresting everyone.
  • The Oakland City Police have been under consent decree since January 2003 mandating reform process.
  • We’ve had this crowd control policy in place but basically every single provision of the crowd control policy was violated in the Occupy Oakland incident and the Oscar Grant incident.
  • We brought those cases to try to enforce the crowd control policy. A lot has changed in the last six months.
  • There’s also been a new shake up of command (OCP) there’s a new acting chief.

Guest – Rachel Lederman, a California based National Lawyers Guild attorney who worked on both cases.  Rachel first got involved in police misconduct civil rights cases as a result of her criminal defense work with political demonstrators. In 1989, Dennis Cunningham and Rachel Lederman successfully sued the San Francisco Police to obtain justice for AIDS activists who had been brutalized and unlawfully detained in what became known as the “Castro Sweep”.
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irisscans Telegraph Keya

Surveillance Blowback: The Making of the U.S. Surveillance State, 1898-2020

What is the history and context of surveillance in the United States? Last week Scott Horton explained how the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court devolved into a panel of judges making decisions in secret that influence federal law. Returning guest Alfred McCoy traces the US surveillance apparatus back to the late 1800s and brings us up to understanding the context of leaked NSA documents by whistle-blower Ed Snowden. In his latest article titled Surveillance Blowback: the Making of the U.S. Surveillance State 1898-2020, Al McCoy,  Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison details the surveillance timeline beginning with the US occupation of the Philipines and makes the connection to US imperialism abroad and apathy at home.

Professor Alfred McCoy:

  • Four years ago I published a book called Policing America’s Empire which started in the Philipines and started the history of US domestic surveillance through what I call surveillance blowback.
  • It’s the trajectory of history that allows you to see this.
  • In the late 19th century America had what I call our first information regime which was really a brilliant synergy of discoveries.
  • Thomas Edison’s quadruplex telegraph, Remington’s typewriter allowed the transmission around the world, across the nation, absolutely accurately at 40 words a minute.
  • The Gamewell Corporation for a half century during the 19th century was the world leader in the development of police telegraph and telephone communication – those police boxes that used to be on the streets of every American city.
  • The Gamewell Corporation had 900 of these boxes in operation and collectively they sent 41 million messages in the year 1900.
  • When we intervened in the Philippines we were suddenly faced with this massive insurgency, this guerrilla underground. We smashed the regular military formations but we couldn’t break the insurgency.
  • The US military in order to pacify that country created the first field intelligence unit in its 100 year history.
  • They appointed an obscure medical doctor Captain Ralph Van Deman to be the head of the division of military information.
  • He decided he would map the entire Filipino political elite.
  • William Howard Taft passed very draconian sedition and libel legislation and created a powerful colonial secret police called the Philipines constabulary. It took about 10 years to accomplish. 1898-1907
  • We had to track down the politicians (Philipines) we had to manipulate them.
  • 10 years after that process, the US joined WWI. April 1917.
  • The United States was the only army on either side of the battlefield that didn’t have an intelligence service with any description.
  • We turn now to Colonel Van Deman who applied his Philippines experience to developing a very elaborate counter-intelligence apparatus inside the United States.
  • Mr and Mrs Van Deman ran a private intelligence service that had Army file clerks and regular FBI liason officers dropping by.
  • And from their home they compiled files on 250 thousand suspected subversives.
  • They divided the world. Basically, North America, Latin America became the purview of the FBI for counter-intelligence the rest of the world became purview of US military intelligence and of course the CIA and then NSA.
  • That division of the word remain in effect until December 2011.
  • 3 million Afghani iris scans and fingerprints are housed in a main frame computer in West Virginia.
  • So, we developed then, this very efficient system of surveillance and digital monitoring overseas.
  • During the war on terror we now know the Bush Administration beginning October 2001 authorized the NSA to start massive capping of all digital communications.
  • In March of this year, it was 97 billion emails that were tapped by the NSA.
  • This began migrating home very very quickly.
  • When Obama came even though he criticized this illegal wiretapping, when he came in, instead of cutting it back like the Republicans did in the 1920s, he decided to build upon it.
  • What he’s building upon it for is to build an architecture for the exercise of global power through a significant edge or advantage for information control and information warfare.
  • Obama wants to cut back on the appropriations for the big behemoths, the heavy tanks, the big ships and he wants to shift us into an agile form of information warfare and global information control.
  • The NSA is spending 1. 6 Billion dollars for the world’s biggest data farm in Bluffdale, Utah.
  • The National Geo-spatial Intelligence Agency has a nearly 2 billion dollar headquarters with 16 thousand employees in DC.
  • The Obama Administration has launched a new generation of light low cost, very agile satellites that can be remotely controlled from the ground, serving ground force commanders.
  • The Obama Administration is also building an armada of 99 Global Hawk drones with 24 hour flight capacity. These are surveillance drones with a 100 mile ambit for sucking audio communications.
  • With the combination of drones sucking up the local two way radio – cell phone communication with the tapping of the fiber optic cables within the US by the NSA, and internationally by the Five Eyes Coalition, Canad Australia, New Zealand and Britain, means that the NSA will have a total global surveillance system for the first time in human history.

Guest – Alfred McCoy, Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His recent book, Policing America’s Empire: The United States, the Philippines, and the Rise of the Surveillance State (2009), draws together these two strands in his research–covert operations and Philippine political history–to explore the role of police, information, and scandal in the shaping both the modern Philippine state and the U.S. internal security apparatus. In 2011, the Association for Asian Studies awarded Policing America’s Empire the George McT. Kahin Prize, describing the work as “a passionate, elegantly written book.” He’s also the author of  “Torture and Impunity: The U.S. Doctrine of Coercive Interrogation.” Al is also the author of “A Question of Torture: CIA Interrogation, From the Cold War to the War on Terror” and “The Politics of Heroin: CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade.  The first edition of his book, published in 1972 as The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia, sparked controversy, but is now regarded as the “classic work” about Asian drug trafficking.

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Law and Disorder July 15, 2013


Updates:

  • Prisoner’s Hunger Strike: Pelican Bay Prison, Guantanamo Bay Prison, Palestinians In Israeli Prisons
  • CCR Lawsuit – Pelican Bay Prisoner Class Action
  • 20 Plus Palestinians On Hunger Strike In Israeli Prisons Demand Better Conditions For Pelican Bay Prisoners
  • Federal Judge Gladys Kessler Says the President Is The One To Stop Force Feeding and Release Cleared Guantanamo Bay Detainees
  • Bradley Manning Trial: Important Proceedings During Defense Case At Ft Meade, Maryland

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Domestic-Spying utahnsa

Secret Federal FISA Court Advocate of National Security State

Here on Law and Disorder we’ve discussed the process of the US government expanding its power to get wiretapping permission from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court or FISA court. This is under a provision called section 215 of the Patriot Act which if listeners might recall was set to expire in 2009. It did not.  We discussed how the FISA court will be accessed by what’s called Lone Wolf Authority or National Security Letter Authority whereby the FBI can write a letter to the court without suspicion of terrorism and get bank, telephone and internet records.

The 11-member FISA Court has been central to allowing a massive surveillance state to exist by granting US agencies such as the NSA access to private telecommunication data. Today, the FISA court essentially operates as an advocate for the national security state. It’s judicial oversight now parallels the Supreme Court. But more troubling,  these FISA Court Justices operate in complete secrecy and base their decisions from hearing only one side the argument, the US government’s.

Attorney Scott Horton:

  • The Nixon Administration attempted to use “intelligence gathering” as a justification. Congress reacted to that by saying we’re not going to agree that the government has the right to wiretap people in the United States on the grounds of intelligence gathering. We’re going to require this judicial check, so Congress created this special court the FISA court.
  • The court has been around for a long time, but its become a far more significant entity doing much more work after 9/11.
  • It has 11 judges. The judges are selected by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, John Roberts.
  • The judges are picked from courts all around the country.
  • It’s not a secret court in that we know that it exists. It IS a secret court in that it operates in secret.
  • Literally, the public doesn’t know what papers are filed with it and doesn’t know about its decision.
  • That’s a highly controversial matter because decisions by federal courts constitute law.
  • This means that this court is manufacturing secret law that the people don’t know about.
  • We don’t know the jurisprudence of this court, we don’t know its decisions, we don’t know the full rationale for all its decisions because most of them have been secret.
  • It is very aggressively expanding the power and authority of the NSA in surveillance areas.
  • This is a court picked by Roberts who share his attitude. Out of 11 judges we have 10 Republican appointees. It’s very well known that Roberts in making appointments here looks very closely to select only judges who reflect his attitudes about the national security state.
  • It is a cherry picked court. A movement conservative perspective which is quite hostile to civil liberties.
  • The court has become an advocate for national intelligence services.
  • It really puts the whole institution of the court under a cloud right now.
  • If you want to disperse that cloud you would make sure those judges are representatives of the country.
  • The legal reasoning and interpretation of statutes that should be there for people to see and know and understand and criticize.
  • Telecoms: Here they are service providers dealing with consumers, lying to their clients and allowing the government free access to all this information.
  • That is a criminal act under various statutes of states including New Jersey and Maine. That have rules that say they may not allow governments, investigators access to this information other than pursuant to a government subpoena or court order.
  • This court is sweeping away core rights and making a joke out of the 4th Amendment.
  • Whistle-blower damage control strategy: A program to deflect attention from the disclosures themselves.
  • There is a move afoot to take this out on the American service providers who cooperate with the NSA, Verizon, AT&T. . .Google and so forth.

Guest – Scott Horton, human rights lawyer and contributing editor to Harper’s Magazine. Scott’s column – No Comment. He graduated Texas Law School in Austin with a JD and was a partner in a large New York law firm, Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler.

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reform-and-revolution-at-left-forum globe

Left Forum 2013: Ron Reosti

Capitalists are not necessary to run firms, nor to run macro-economies and investment says Ron Reosti in his presentation at the Left Forum Panel titled Imagine Living In A Socialist USA, Part 2: Making The American Socialist Revolution.

Speaker – Ron Reosti, his Italian parents imparted to him a working-class identity, a sense of social justice, a belief in the possibility of social change, a commitment to democracy, and a hatred of the undemocratic ruling class. He embraced socialism in his early teens, during the McCarthy era, and has remained committed to that vision. He practices law and is part of the radical community in Detroit.

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Law and Disorder July 8, 2013


Updates:

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White-washing Human Rights Abuses and Suppressing a Popular Revolution

Two years since the Arab-Spring demonstrations erupted in Bahrain, human rights abuses continue to this day. In 2011, an independent report exposes these abuses that compelled the Kingdom of Bahrain to hire former NYPD police chief John Timoney to white was acts of political repression. Who is John Timoney and why was he outsourced to Bahrain? We ask legal worker and journalist Kris Hermes who recently penned the article John Timoney and Kingdom of Bahrain: White-washing Human Rights Abuses and Suppressing a Popular Revolution.

Kris Hermes:

  • Shortly after the Arab Spring began in 2011, Bahrain followed in the footsteps of Tunisia and Egypt by demonstrating against the ruling monarchy that’s been in power for more than 200 years.
  • Those protests were met with intense repression by King Hamad.
  • The protests made of the Shiite population who argue they’ve been systematically discriminated against in employment, housing, education.
  • The ministry of interior hired John Timoney as well as John Yates who is from the UK.from Britains metropolitan police department.
  • John Timoney started with a long career in the New York City Police Department, he was probably most well known for his handling of the Tomkins Square Park riots in 1988.
  • Regardless of what he did to clean up the Philadelphia Police Department, his handling of the Republican National Convention protests were abysmal. He came down very hard on protesters in 2000, essentially establishing a new form of policing in the United States that for the most part was intolerant of political demonstrations.
  • He became the police chief of Miami in 2002 and oversaw one of the most violent police reactions in modern history. He not only used what he learned in Philadelphia, conducting preemptive raids, using infiltration and heavy surveillance, brutalizing protesters on the street, and wrongfully arresting hundreds of people.
  • In Miami he used a whole panaply of weapons against protesters, including tear gas, pepper spray, rubber and wooden bullets, bean bag rounds, tasers and electric shields.
  • He gained a reputation both in Philly and Miami.
  • He’s been in Bahrain for a year and a half now and has a two year contract and its just about up.
  • That’s the reason why the article was done, an assessment on how Timoney has done in Bahrain in terms of his crown control measures.
  • Andrews International: Part of a security apparatus that is increasingly private in terms of policing and security personnel that are deployed around the world.
  • It allows the US to expand its militia around the world as well.
  • The death toll of political demonstrators has only increased since Timoney arrived on the scene. One of his favorite tools to suppress demonstrations in the United States is tear gas.
  • Things are pretty dire for political dissidents in Bahrain.

Guest – Kris Hermes, activist who provides legal support work on cases involving political dissidents.

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morsi-egypt1 mideast-egypt-protests2

Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi Ousted Following Days of Massive Largest Anti-Government Protest

Last week, democratically elected President Mohamed Morsi was ousted following historic demonstrations by Egyptian protesters.  Morsi and his advisors have been held under house arrest in the Egyptian Republican Guard Club, the highest Brotherhood leader, Mohammed Badie, and some associates of his have been arrested. Protesters accused Morsi of supporting Obama’s anti-Syrian agenda, ignoring critical economic problems and betraying his support for Palestinians. However, what are the some of the economic issues involved that led up to these massive protests?

Omar el-Shafei:

  • We’re going through a real historic process. At least you had 20 million people in the streets expressing their anger in different Egyptian cities.
  • This is a continuation of the process that started in January 2011, not just Egyptian but an Arab phenomenon.
  • I think its a complete anger, bitterness and disillusionment of the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood.
  • We have to remember that the Muslim Brotherhood has been the largest opposition force during the last decade of the Mubarack dictatorship.
  • After one year in power they managed to alienate everybody. They were essentially ruling as a continuation of the old regime, and pro-imperialist foreign policy.
  • The dominant image of the Arab Spring is purely political, middle class, youthful mobilization aiming at democratizing despotic regimes.
  • The Mubarack dictatorship for years and sometimes decades have applied neoliberal economic policy that tremendously increased class divide, so the social element of this revolution was vital.
  • In the case of Egypt, the revolution in 2011 came after five years of the biggest wave of workers struggle in the history of the country, since the 1940s.
  • The continuation of the revolution is in large part of the worker mobilization. After the revolution we didn’t have independent trade unions, they incorporated by the state.
  • More like the agent of the state against the liberal movement.
  • Since then we’ve witnessed an emergence of thousands of trade unions and they are playing an important part in the revolution in social demands.
  • The message from below even when it is apparently limited demands it has the potential of raising people’s confidence and enhance a process of self radicalization that can link these demands to a wider vision of transformation in society.
  • What happened in Turkey a few weeks ago and Brazil more recently has very much has inspired the Egyptian struggle.
  • What we are witnessing is a huge mobilization against the Muslim Brotherhood. The military prefer to remain in the background.
  • We are in a prolonged revolutionary process and I think that the people are learning from their own experience.

Guest – Omar el-Shafei, political activist, and independent researcher currently living in NYC. He is a doctoral candidate of International Law at Paris VII University in France. Omar is a founding member of the “Committee of Solidarity with the Struggle of the Egyptian People” in Paris, France, and author of “Workers, Trade Unions, and the State in Egypt, 1984-1989,” Cairo Papers in Social Science, American University in Cairo Press (Volume 18, Monograph 2, Summer 1995).
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