Law and Disorder Radio

Law and Disorder November 7, 2016

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More FDNY Lawsuits

Two years ago the New York Fire Department settled a racial discrimination suit brought by the Center for Constitutional Rights and the United States Department of Justice on behalf of the Vulcans, black fire fighters organization. The court awarded $100 million in back pay and benefits to fire fighters who had been discriminated against and to applicants who’s efforts to join the department had been stymied by what the court ruled was institutional bias. Two weeks ago a second lawsuit was filed by Brooklyn attorney Greg Smith on behalf of 10 African American civilians who work in the non-uniform part of the New York Fire Department. The suit alleges pay discrimination, retaliation for complaints, and harassment of black people working at the fire department.

Guest – Ginger Adams Otis  has been writing about New York City and local politics for more than a decade. She is a staff writer at the NY Daily News. Otis started covering City Hall and the Fire Department when she worked for The Chief-Leader, from there she moved to staff position at the NY Post. She’s also been a radio and print freelancer for WNYC, the Associated Press, BBC, National Public Radio, The Village Voice and national magazines such as The Nation and Ms. She lives in Harlem, NY.Ginger Otis. She’s the author of the book Firefight The Century-Long Battle to Integrate New York’s Bravest. Ms. Otis works as a staff writer for the NY Daily News.

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Anti-SLAPP Legislation

If you have ever left a less than favorable comment on a website such as Yelp or TripAdvisor you should know that some businesses or doctors are suing consumers for their negative reviews. Patients writing about botched surgical procedures or doctors’ billing practices have been sued in small claims court saying the bad reviews cost their practices thousands of dollars.

Two pending federal laws are designed to protect consumers from legal retaliation when they express opinions online.

The Consumer Review Fairness Act, dubbed the “Right to Yelp Act,” would bar companies from including gag clauses in agreements they ask consumers to sign. And the Speak Free Act would create a legal weapon for defendants in lawsuits over their publicly expressed thoughts. Such cases are called SLAPP (strategic lawsuits against public participation). Someone brought into court over their words can invoke the bill’s anti-SLAPP motion to get the case dismissed quickly and force the plaintiff to pay attorney’s fees.

Yelp is among some 40 companies and nonprofits backing the bills, which also have bipartisan support in Congress, where they are expected to move forward this fall. Some, however, find the bills unconstitutional as they might impose barriers to civil rights and public interest litigation.

Guest – Evan Mascagni, policy director at the Public Participation Project. The Project assists individuals and organizations working to pass anti-SLAPP legislation in the states while educating the public regarding SLAPPs and their consequences.

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9781510711013-frontcover Photo by Michael Ratner

How the CIA Killed Che: The Murder of A Revolutionary

The Cuban revolution of 1959 was a historical turning point. It ended American corporate and political control of the island’s economy and government and it demonstrated to other Latin American and Caribbean peoples that they could do the same. The American response was quick and deadly.  They overthrew any governments that did not oppose the Cuban revolution. This included Brazil, Argentina, the Dominican Republic, Bolivia and most spectacularly, in 1971, in an effort involving US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, the democratically elected socialist government of Chile. Che Guevara failed in his attempt to defend the revolution in Cuba by extending it. He started in Bolivia with a band of international revolutionary guerrilla fighters and was quickly discovered, surrounded, and assassinated by Bolivian soldiers trained and organized by the CIA in an operation that was directed right out of the White House. The economic blockade of Cuba by the United States is still in effect.  Left leaning governments in Argentina, Brazil, and Honduras have been replaced by neoliberal capitalists under the favored hand of the American government.

Guest –  Professor Greg Grandin  wrote the introduction to the recently published book by our own Michael Ratner and Michael Steven Smith called “How the CIA Killed Che. Grandin is the author of a number of prize-winning books, including most recently “The Empire of Necessity: Slavery, Freedom, and Deception in the New World,” which won the Bancroft Prize in American History and was shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize in the UK. NPR’s Maureen Corrigan on Fresh Air named The Empire of Necessity as the best book of 2014, both non-fiction and fiction. “Fordlandia: The Rise and Fall of Henry Ford’s Forgotten Jungle City” was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in History, as well as for the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award and was picked by the New York Times, New Yorker, Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune and NPR for their “best of” lists, and Amazon.com named it the best history book of 2009.

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