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Archives for November, 2015


Law and Disorder November 30, 2015


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Lawyers You’ll Like – Attorney  Carol Sobel

As part of our Lawyers You’ll Like series, we’re joined today by civil rights attorney Carol Sobel. Attorney Sobel has spent more than 2 decades working in various positions for the ACLU, including as Senior Staff Attorney. She also chaired the National Lawyers Guild mass defense committee for many years helping coordinate a nationwide defense of Occupy protesters and marshaling legal defense at several Democratic and Republican National conventions.

Carol has been involved in numerous significant cases in federal and state courts including on behalf of homeless individuals on Los Angeles’ skid row. She has been involved in numerous significant cases in federal and state courts. She served as local counsel for the Center for Constitutional Rights in Humanitarian Law Project v. Ashcroft and served on the Rampart Blue Ribbon Panel investigating police corruption in California. A graduate of the Peoples College of Law, since 2002, Carol has been named as one of Los Angeles’ Super Lawyers for Civil Rights.

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The War ISIS Wants: Nafees Hamid

Today we take a look into the psychology of terrorist recruitment and mindset in the wake of the coordinated attacks in Paris carried out by the Islamic state. We also look at the profound allure of the propaganda bringing young Muslims in to join ISIS and become a Mujahid. The transition from regular person to a warrior willing to die for the revolution happens quickly. In the article titled Paris: The War ISIS Wants by Scott Atran and Nafees Hamid, the ISIS movement is described as a trans-national movement, a sub state that doesn’t depend on an infrastructure of a state system. That and ISIS’s unitary message and appeal has created a big problem for the west using military action and ramped up mass surveillance to combat and intercept terrorist acts.

Guest – Nafees Hamid, Social Psychologist Nafees Hamid of University College London, researcher, actor and author of many articles including The War ISIS Wants.

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Law and Disorder November 23, 2015


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A Good American

Weeks before the September 11 attacks, newly-arrived NSA director General Michael Hayden nixed a highly-effective computer surveillance program called ThinThread. Hayden instead elected to award a $280 million contract to the private Science Applications International Corporation to develop Trailblazer, a program that ultimately cost billions of dollars and that was deemed by anonymous NSA sources as a “wasteful failure” before it was finally abandoned.

A new film by Austrian director Freidrich Moser, “A Good American,” tells the story of the mathematician many consider the best code-breaker the US ever had and how he and a small team within the NSA created ThinThread. It could pick up any electronic signal on Earth, filter for terrorist activity, and render results in real-time, avoiding data overload which has been an life-threatening impediment to national intelligence agencies. ThinThread protected American’s privacy by using an anonymizer so that identities were only revealed after obtaining a court warrant. In a secret test-run in early 2002 of the ThinThread against the pre-9/11-NSA database, the program quickly detected the terrorists’ plans.

Guest – Freidrich Moser, Friedrich holds a university degree (MA) in history and german studies from the University of Salzburg Austria. Friedrich started his professional career as a TV journalist and editor in Bolzano-Bozen Italy. In 2001 he founded blue+green communication. He has made over 20 documentaries most of them as producer director DoP. In 2008 he attended successfully the Documentary Campus, the European Masterschool for non-fiction filmmaking.

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Academic Freedom Case Victory Bittersweet: University of Illinois To Pay $875,000 Settlement To Professor Steven Salaita

University of Illinois trustees have voted to agree to a $875,000 financial settlement with Steven Salaita. Last year, his job offer for a tenured position at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign was withdrawn after he posted tweets harshly critical of the 2014 Israeli assault on Gaza. Under the terms of the settlement, Salaita will not get his job back but will receive $600,000. The rest of the money will go to his legal team. “This settlement is a vindication for me, but more importantly, it is a victory for academic freedom and the First Amendment,” Salaita said in a statement. “The petitions, demonstrations, and investigations, as well as the legal case, have reinvigorated American higher education as a place of critical thinking and rigorous debate, and I am deeply grateful to all who have spoken out.” .

Guest – Maria LaHood – Deputy Legal Director at the Center for Constitutional Rights with expertise in constitutional rights and international human rights. She works to defend the constitutional rights of Palestinian human rights advocates in the United States in cases such as Davis v. Cox, defending Olympia Food Co-op board members for boycotting Israeli goods; Salaita v. Kennedy,representing Steven Salaita, who was terminated from a tenured position for tweets critical of Israel; and CCR v. DOD, seeking U.S. government records under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) regarding Israel’s 2010 attack on the flotilla to Gaza. She works closely with Palestine Legal to support students and others whose speech is being suppressed for their Palestine advocacy around the country. She also works on the Right to Heal initiative with Iraqi civil society and Iraq Veterans seeking accountability for the lasting health effects of the Iraq war.

Guest – Anan Swaminathan– joined Loevy & Loevy in 2010. Anand has worked on a broad range of constitutional and civil rights cases, and has worked extensively on False Claims Act litigation, where he has represented whistleblowers alleging defense/military and other government contractor fraud, bid-rigging, Medicare and Medicaid fraud, construction/contractor (MBE/DBE) fraud, and tax fraud. Anand has also represented whistleblowers in financial fraud cases under the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill, and in complex fraud cases under other federal and state statutes.

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CIW Farmworkers Protest Wendy’s Board Chairman Nelson Peltz

We caught up with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers protest in front of the Wendy’s fast food restaurant in midtown Manhattan and spoke with Gerardo Reyes Chávez. Gerardo has worked in the fields since age 11, first as a peasant farmer in Zacatecas, Mexico, and then in the fields of Florida picking oranges, tomatoes, and watermelons. He joined the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, a Florida-based human rights organization, shortly after his arrival in the United States in 2000, when his fellow farm worker roommates, who had previously escaped a violent slavery operation hidden in the swamp south of Immokalee, Florida, invited him to come to the CIW’s Wednesday evening community meetings.

We also spoke with a Rabbi Raphael Kohntraster with T’ruah, a major Jewish ally of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, inspiring Jewish communities around the country to join and support the human rights of farmworkers and call on grocery stores and restaurant chains to sign onto the Fair Food Program.

(photo credit: Jake Ratner)

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Law and Disorder November 16, 2015


Updates:

  • University of Illinois Reaches Tentative Settlement With Professor Steven Salaita

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Wedlocked: Law Professor Katherine Franke

While the movement for marriage equality by the LGBT rights community has been a leading civil rights issue of the 21st century, it’s not the first movement seeking the right to marry. Slaves who were freed in the 1860s also organized for, and ultimately won, the right to marry at the end of the Civil War. As Professor Katherine Franke argues in her new book, WEDLOCKED: The Perils of Marriage Equality: How African Americans and Gays Mistakenly Thought the Right to Marry Would Set Them Free, tying the definition of free and equal citizenship so intimately to the institution of marriage presents its own set of problems.

In Wedlocked, Professor Franke meticulously compares firsthand accounts of African Americans’ struggle for freedom and civil rights with lessons for today’s marriage equality movement. This association offers two lessons: first, be careful what you wish for, as the backlash against new rights holders may set back the larger cause for equality; and second, the two movements for marriage rights may help expose the differences between racism and homophobia.

Guest – Professor Katherine Franke is the Isidor and Seville Sulzbacher Professor of Law at Columbia Law School, where she directs the Center for Gender and Sexuality Law. She is among the nation’s leading scholars in the area of feminism, sexuality and race.

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Remembering Attorney Liz Fink

Civil rights and criminal defense attorney Liz Fink was remembered last week at the Union Theological Seminary in New York City.  She was best remembered for the work she began as a young woman when prisoners rioted and took over a part of Attica Prison in 1971. Liz got involved when Senator Nelson Rockefeller, who was running for president and didn’t want anything unseemly to happen in his state, ordered the retaking of the Attica Prison. Forty-three people were killed including a number of prison guards.

Liz Fink was on the defense team for those charged with crimes and then she brought an offensive civil suit against Rockefeller and the other state and prison officials who were responsible for these murders. Three decades later the suit was settled for $12 million. Liz Fink was also a long time member of the National Lawyers Guild. We hear selected speeches from the event remembering Attorney Liz Fink.

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Law and Disorder November 9, 2015


41s1YjDN5-L Sen. John F. Kennedy, (left), and Allen W. Dulles, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) director, walks towards newsmen on the lawn of the Democratic presidential candidates in Hyannis Port, MA., home on July 23, 1960. The two men held a news conference after Senator Kennedy was briefed by Dulles on international affairs. (AP Photo/WCC)

The Devil’s Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the CIA, and the Rise of America’s Secret Government

As director of the CIA, from 1952 until Kennedy fired him, Allen Dulles has been said to exemplify unbridled authority at the height of the Cold War. Under his leadership the CIA became a lawless force domestically and internationally that engaged, with impunity, in covert acts such as the assassination of foreign leaders including Patrice Lumubo in the Congo and Jacobo Arbenz in Guatemala and the over throw of a number of foreign governments.

As an attorney for the law firm Sullivan and Cromwell in the 1930s, Dulles protected and promoted Nazi-controlled cartels. He wielded his influence in the Office of Strategic Services during World War II and then in the CIA to shield former Nazis from prosecution for war crimes in the ’40s and ’50s. David Talbot writes in book The Devil’s Chessboard, ” over the final months of the JFK presidency, a clear consensus took shape within the American “deep state” Kennedy was a national security threat. For the good of the country he must be removed and Dulles was the only man with the stature, connections and decisive will to make something of this enormity happen. so he could enlist them to fight communists. In addition to assisting with the assassination of Congo leader Patrice Lumumba, he organized the Bay of Pigs invasion and tried repeatedly to murder Fidel Castro.

Guest – David Talbot, the author of the New York Times bestseller Brothers: The Hidden History of the Kennedy Years and the acclaimed national bestseller Season of the Witch: Enchantment, Terror, and Deliverance in the City of Love. He is the founder and former editor in chief of Salon, and was a senior editor at Mother Jones and the features editor at the San Francisco Examiner. He has written for The New Yorker, Rolling Stone, Time, The Guardian, and other major publications. Talbot lives in San Francisco, California.

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Palestinian Uprising And The Growing BDS Movement

This past October more than 49 Palestinians were shot dead by Israeli occupation forces while 500 others were injured by live ammunition and thousands more injured. As a mass popular rebellion, often attracting tens of thousands of Palestinians, asserts its right to self-determination and freedom, Israel has escalated a brutal response, especially in occupied East Jerusalem.

The Palestinian BDS National Committee, a diverse coalition of Palestinian unions and organizations which leads the global BDS movement, recently called for a wave of BDS solidarity with Palestinian popular resistance and to pressure governments, institutions and businesses to end support for Israel’s violations of international law. Tens of thousands of people across 100 cities took to the streets to show Israel that it will be held to account for its crimes against the Palestinians. Despite this, mainstream media coverage remains for the most part biased, echoing Israel’s propaganda.

Guest – Rebecca Vilkomerson, the Executive Director of Jewish Voice for Peace. JVP is a national grassroots organization rooted in Jewish tradition, human rights, and international law that works for a just peace, self-determination and full equality for all people of Palestine and Israel.

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Law and Disorder November 2, 2015


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Tapping In To The Flow: NSA Global Surveillance

We spoke with the director of the Library Freedom Project about a New Hampshire library standing its ground by using the TOR browser to protect the anonymity of its patrons from DHS surveillance. A victory yes, but also another stark reminder of what society now confronts while under a total surveillance state. Government spying technology has quietly built up its networks and invisible webs of surveillance. It’s mostly unseen, data passing through the air, cables behind walls, in the ground and underwater.  Trevor Paglen brings these images and concepts into the public consciousness in his recent exhibit at a New York City Chelsea gallery.

Guest – Trevor Paglen has photographed and written about drones, military black sites and satellites. He’s an artist, image maker, journalist and engineer. He holds a PhD in experimental geography and contributed research and cinematography to the Academy Award-winning film Citizen Four.

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National Lawyers Guild Convention 2015

Natasha Bannan is the president of the National Lawyers Guild, as well as a human rights lawyer and Associate Counsel at LatinoJustice PRLDEF. At that national civil rights organization she works with low-wage Latina immigrant workers, and on the domestic implementation of human rights norms. Previously, she worked in the International Women’s Human Rights Clinic at CUNY School of Law and at the Center for Reproductive Rights. While attending CUNY School of Law, she was Editor-in-Chief of the CUNY Law Review and a Fellow at the Center for Latino and Latina Rights and Equality.

Guest – Natasha Lycia Ora Bannan, president of the National Lawyers Guild has advocated before international and regional human rights bodies on issues including colonialism, sexual violence in armed conflict, reproductive rights violations and hate crimes.  She has written several articles and reports, specifically on gender and human rights. Natasha also co-chairs the National Lawyers Guild’s Subcommittee on Puerto Rico.

 

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