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Law and Disorder December 19, 2016


US Intelligence Vets Dispute Russia Hacking Claims

The major media has been filled daily with stories about how Russia and its Chief of State Vladimir Putin sought to and did influence the American election in favor of Donald Trump.  It is alleged by the CIA and other American intelligence agencies, the Russians hacked into the computer systems of the Democratic National Committee and of Hillary Rodham Clinton.  This conclusion, it is reported, is based on “overwhelming circumstantial evidence.”  American public opinion is been shaped to support aggression against Russia. Despite a promise made to Russia that they would not do it, the promise was broken and NATO now has troops and weapons on the Russian border where military exercises have been carried out. Tensions have been a ratcheted up to an extreme level not known since the heights of the Cold War.

Guest – Ray McGovern, former CIA analyst who briefed President George Bush daily. He broke with the government under George W. Bush over the cooked intelligence used to rationalize America’s illegal war of aggression against Iraq and  helped form the organization Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity.  Last week his group issued a memorandum to President Obama which demonstrated that the Russians did not hack into the computers of the Democratic Party or Hillary Clinton and did not therefore influence the American election. They asserted that information that came out about the corruption of Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party was leaked by an insider, not hacked.

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Civil Justice And The Trump Administration

Donald Trump has been critical of the U.S. intelligence community, both as a presidential candidate and as president-elect. He recently said he does not need to receive the presidential intelligence briefing every day, suggesting that such briefings are repetitive and that he is content to rely on those around him on matters of intelligence and national security. Trump’s infrequent briefings to-date are a departure from every modern president except Richard Nixon, who was so skeptical of intelligence agencies that he refused to accept briefings offered by President Johnson, even returning unopened envelopes containing classified material to the CIA.

In Washington DC, the public interest organization the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund has a new message on its website. It reads, in part: “At the PCJF, we stand with all those who are taking those steps forward – steps together – to face down what is coming, to protect those who are most vulnerable, and to make it clear that the people themselves are the force to be reckoned with.”

The PCJF has litigated First Amendment and other cases of constitutional import that have helped preserve and even expand the protections afforded individuals in different jurisdictions.

Guest – Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, co-chair of the Guild’s National Mass Defense Committee. co-founder of the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund in Washington, DC, she secured $13.7 million for about 700 of the 2000 IMF/World Bank protesters in Becker, et al. v. District of Columbia, et al., while also winning pledges from the District to improve police training about First Amendment issues. She won $8.25 million for approximately 400 class members in Barham, et al. v. Ramsey, et al. (alleging false arrest at the 2002 IMF/World Bank protests). She served as lead counsel in Mills, et al v. District of Columbia (obtaining a ruling that D.C.’s seizure and interrogation police checkpoint program was unconstitutional); in Bolger, et al. v. District of Columbia (involving targeting of political activists and false arrest by law enforcement based on political affiliation); and in National Council of Arab Americans, et al. v. City of New York, et al. (successfully challenging the city’s efforts to discriminatorily restrict mass assembly in Central Park’s Great Lawn stemming from the 2004 RNC protests.)

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2016 Political Prisoner Pardons 

President of United States under the constitution has the authority to pardon or grant clemency to people after their conviction or even before. This does not include people convicted in state courts, only federal court.  Although the United States denies it, it holds many people as political prisoners.

1. Leonard Peltier – We urge President Obama to grant clemency to Leonard Peltier on humanitarian grounds and in the interest of justice. Peltier was a leader of the American Indian movement in the 1970s. At a confrontation at wounded knee South Dakota between AIM and the FBI two FBI agents were killed.  The FBI had worked with a corrupt tribal leadership to suppress the American Indian movement. At his trial, the prosecution withheld evidence including potential key ballistic evidence. Leonard has served 40 years in prison and is not eligible for hid parole hearing until 2024. His son recently died and he was not allowed to go to the funeral. He is in very poor shape and his health is deteriorating.  Please sign a petition to President Obama at this site.

2. Ethel Rosenberg was electrocuted at Sing Sing prison in 1953 after being convicted of being an atomic bomb spy and part of a ring that gave the secret of the atomic bomb to the Soviet Union.  At that time the government knew she was not a spy. She left two boys ages six and 10.  There was no secret to the atomic bomb, it was a matter of industrial capacity. The famous Rosenberg case was used to stir up the stereo against Russia. A huge body of evidence demonstrates that Ethel Rosenberg was innocent.   Donald Trumps mentor, friend, and attorney Roy Cohn was one of the prosecutors who ruthlessly attacked Ethel and colluded with the judge to have her executed. Listeners can call the Whitehouse at 202-456-1111 or visit this website – Exonerate Ethel, Our Mother

3. Army Sergeant Chelsea Manning has been in Fort Leavenworth prison for six years now, a record for whistleblowers. He was convicted of leaking what has become known as the Iraqi war logs to WikiLeaks, which published them showing the truth about US war crimes in Iraq. Chelsea is a transgendered person whose confinement in an all male prison at Fort Leavenworth has been unusually harsh. This included 11 months of solitary confinement. She has twice attempted suicide. Her sentence is 35 years, the longest ever given to a whistleblower. She has already served more time in prison that any individual in US history who has disclosed information in the public interest. Write or call the Whitehouse.

4. Oscar Lopez, a Puerto Rican political prisoner has served 30 years in prison, convicted of seditious conspiracy – a thought crime involving no actual act – because of his commitment to the independence of Puerto Rico. He was not accused or convicted of causing harm or taking a life. He was sentenced to 70 years and is one of the longest held political prisoners in the world.  Oscar served in Vietnam, Was a wooded a bronze star, and came home to Chicago where he became a talented community organizer. He served 12 years in isolation in a Supermax prison. He comes up for parole when he will be 83 years old. A petition asking President Obama to commute Oscar’s sentence can be found at: Oscar’s Story Here  boricuahumanrights.org

5. Edward Snowden blew the whistle about the USA’s illegal global master valence system. This scandalized the American government and caused it to partially rein in its surveillance for the first time in four decades. This would not have happened but for Snowdens courageous act,  a public service as former Attorney General Eric Holder has admitted. Snowden is facing charges under the espionage act, a world war one law that put another great American hero Eugene Debs in prison for making a speech in opposition to the war.  Snowden should be honored for his action, not forced into exile in Russia. The entire establishment favors prosecuting him. President Obama has wrongly stated that he can’t do anything to help Snowden until he has returned to this country and gone on trial.  A petition urging the president to pardon Snowden can be found here:  pardonsnowden.org

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Law and Disorder November 26, 2016


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The Trump Administration And The Current Police State Apparatus

The movement for social change in the United States has been growing and accelerating in the last five years with the Occupy Movement, Black Lives Matter and now the large encampment and protest of Native Americans and their allies protecting our water in North Dakota. Half of American young people under the age of 29 say they would prefer Socialism. Bernie Sanders, running as a democratic socialist, had received more than 13 million votes. It is a time of great possibilities and simultaneously a time of great danger with the election of Donald Trump. What is the state of democratic rights as we go into the Trump era? Because of the policies of George W. Bush and Barack Obama  Americans are the most spied upon people in the history of the world with government surveilling every keystroke on their computers, social media,  and every email they send.  The ancient right of habeas corpus has been compromised allowing for indefinite detention of American citizens, military commission trials, and imprisonment offshore in Guantánamo Cuba. Extra- judicial assassinations are a regular practice, with American citizens being targeted and killed by drone strikes. Torture carried out by the CIA and private contractors has gone unpunished. The Posse Comitatus Act has been abolished and now the US military will be allowed to perform police functions inside United States.  The police force itself has been militarized and given military grade weapons.  What can the movement for social change expect from the Trump administration?

Guest – Attorney Baher Azmy, Legal Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights. He directs all litigation and advocacy around issues related to the promotion of civil and human rights. At CCR, he has litigated cases related to discriminatory policing practices (stop and frisk), government surveillance, the rights of Guantanamo detainees, and accountability for victims of torture. Baher is currently on leave from his faculty position at Seton Hall University School of Law, where he taught Constitutional Law and directed the Civil Rights and Constitutional Litigation Clinic.

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DAPL Protests Attacks: Oceti Sakowin Encampment

A week ago Sunday the water protectors numbering in the thousands including members of more than 100 Native American tribes at Standing Rock, North Dakota were brutally attacked for over six hours by police and  private security.   They have been camped in the freezing North Dakota weather attempting to halt the construction of a 1200 mile oil pipeline that is scheduled to go through sacred Indian lands and beneath the Missouri River and then through South Dakota, Iowa, and into Illinois. Pipelines frequently break and if and when this one does it will contaminate the water supply of some 15 million people.  Water from the river was sprayed on the protesters in 26° weather causing many of them to get life threatening hypothermia.  Rubber bullets were also shot at the protesters. A long-range sound cannon was employed to disorient them and mace was sprayed in their faces. Several hundred people were injured and more than 100 were arrested.  Although President Obama could stop the pipeline he has so far put off ruling on it’s legality or safety.  The 3.8 billion-dollar pipeline is owned by the energy transfer partners company, an outfit in which  Donald Trump has a large investment. The Norwegian government bank  has recently  pulled out of the project and if the pipeline is not completed soon other investors may bail jeopardizing the entire project. Oectisakowincamp.org

Guest – Angela Bibens, an attorney from Denver, Colorado, Angela practices criminal, juvenile and family law with a specialty in the Indian Child Welfare Act.  She earned her law degree from the University of Denver Sturm College of Law in 2006.  She is a wife and mother of three.  Angela has been the ground coordinator for the Water Protector Legal Collective at Oceti Sakowin Camp near the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe for the past three months.

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Campaign to Bring Home Mumia Abu-Jamal & Inside the Activist Studio 

The New York-Based activist group, the Campaign to Bring Mumia Home, is filming the second episode of an innovative project, Inside the Activist Studio on December 6 at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. Inspired by the popular television series, Inside the Actors Studio, its inaugural show featured a profile of Sekou Odinga.

The second episode features an interview with longtime activist Ramona Africa, of the MOVE Organization. Ramona was the only adult survivor of the police bombing of the MOVE home in West Philadelphia on May 13, 1985. The bombing caused a fire that the fire department initially allowed to burn and that killed 11 MOVE members, including five children. It devastated the 6200 block of Osage Avenue, destroying 61 homes and damaging many others.

Guest –  Professor Johanna Fernandez, is a native New Yorker. She received a PhD in History from Columbia University and a BA in Literature and American Civilization from Brown University. Professor Fernández teaches 20th Century U.S. History, the history of social movements, the political economy of American cities, and African-American history. She has previously taught at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburg, PA and Trinity College in Hartford, CT and is, most recently, the recipient of a Fulbright Scholars grant to the Middle East and North Africa that will take her to Jordan in spring 2011, where she will teach graduate courses in American History.

Guest – Ramona Africa, Minister of Communication for the MOVE organization.

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Law and Disorder November 21, 2016


UPDATE: Police Attack Unarmed Standing Rock Water Protectors in Freezing Temperatures

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San Francisco Lawsuit Against Cash Bail System

The purpose of a criminal defendant being forced by the state to post bail in order to be released prior to his or her trial is to ensure that the defendant show up for the trial.  This is the only purpose of bail. The importance of securing pretrial release is that it allows for the  criminal defendant to help prepare his or her defense; something that is difficult to do if a person is behind bars.  This is an inherently discriminatory situation with respect to poor people who do not have the money to post cash bail or even the ten percent fee necessary to borrow it from a bail bonds agent.

Guest – Attorney Chesa Boudin, Chesa completed his J.D. at Yale Law School. A Rhodes Scholar, he earned two master’s degrees from Oxford University in 2006 and 2004. In 2003 he graduated summa cum laude from Yale College. Chesa has translated, edited, and authored several books. His scholarly law articles cover a range of topics such as direct democracy, immigration, institution building, the rights of children with incarcerated parents, and prison visitation policies. Chesa Boudin is currently a trial attorney at the San Francisco Public Defender.

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Inauguration Lawsuit: Legal Challenge To Parade Route

How close will protesters be allowed to get to the inaugural parade in DC this January 20? Two months before Donald Trump is sworn in as president, First Amendment advocates appeared in federal court to urge that demonstrators have access to the sidewalk in front of Trump’s luxury hotel and nearby Freedom Plaza. The case was filed long before Trump was elected and continues ongoing litigation over National Park Service regulations that determine the location of Inauguration Day demonstrations.

The Partnership for Civil Justice Fund recently argued the case for the ANSWER Coalition (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism). As protesters converge across the country, thousands of individuals –deemed by Trump to be “professional protesters”–have taken to the streets. It is likely that an unprecedented number will converge on the nation’s capitol for the inauguration.

Government lawyers told the court that the Park Service has long set aside space on the parade route for the incoming president’s organization to plan a day of “national celebration” and that protesters will have “ample prime alternatives” to engage in First Amendment activities along Pennsylvania Avenue. The government estimates that 84 percent of the sidewalks along the parade route are not off-limits for protest. The Presidential Inaugural Committee is a private entity controlled by the president-elect and responsible for planning most of the inaugural celebration activities, including selling tickets to the parade.

Guest – Brian Becker is the National Coordinator of the ANSWER Coalition and a leader of the Part for Socialism and Liberation. Becker has been a central organizer of the mass anti-war demonstrations that have taken place in Washington, D.C. in the past decade.

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Dakota Access Pipeline: Dispatch #6 – Food and Water Watch

UPDATE: Police Attack Unarmed Standing Rock Water Protectors in Freezing Temperatures

Concerned members of the public are strongly encouraged to call local and federal agencies to demand (1) immediate end to the construction of the $3.8 billion Dakota Access Pipeline, (2) a full investigation into abuses by law enforcement, and (3) dropping the felony charges against Water Protectors arising from the October 27 police raid on the camp.

PLEASE DON’T LET THIS LIST DISAPPEAR! ADD: JUSTICE DEPT. Community Relations Service – Tribal Relations: 202-305-2935…..please say: “Lives are endangered at Standing Rock – at this point, people could die from the police actions being taken….”

SENATOR KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND :  202-224-4451.  She is taking a talley of opposition to DAPL & atrocities against Protectors in order to oppose propaganda now being put out by police and media.

UPDATED LIST OF NUMBERS TO CALL:

424-353-2016  NBC wants you to text them your opinion. Tele. #s won’t be recorded.

701-333-2006 National Guard Public Affairs

701-328-2200 North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple

701-667-3330 Sheriff’s office in charge of the police on site

202-456-1111 White House

202-456-9431 White House Situation Room

701-328-4726 North Dakota Attorney General:  object to the illegal
sale of farmland to a corporation….

202-353-1555 Dept. of Justice comment line

202-514-2000 Dept of Justice switchboard:  Tell them you are watching and to have the police stand down

The Dakota Access Pine Line DAPL , which would cross unceded Indigenous  territory

is a direct violation of the sovereign rights and culture of the Standing Rock Sioux.

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The Dakota Access Pipeline construction is near completion. It is designed to bring shale oil from North Dakota and South Dakota through Iowa into Illinois.  The energy transfer partnership is the company building the pipeline at a cost of $3.8 billion which it borrowed from some of the major banks in the world. The pipeline is stalled at the banks of the Missouri River under which it intends to tunnel. Opponents of the pipeline oppose it contending that pipelines break and that if it does so it threatens the water supply of over 15 million people. Moreover it has been dug through sacred Souix Indian lands in violation of two treaties.  And last, the burning of the oil  will further increase global warming and irreversibly change our climate.

In the last several months thousands of people including over 100 Native American tribes have camped out at sacred stone in North Dakota attempting to prevent the completion of the pipeline.   The Obama administration has ordered a review of the process by which consultations with Native American tribes are held concerning the pipeline. This has put a temporary hold on construction.  The company and the government of North Dakota have sought to  viciously suppress the protest using dogs , rubber bullets, sound cannons, beatings, and mass arrests. Food and Water Watch Petition

Guest – Eleanor Bravo just returned from the encampment.  She’s a Senior Organizer for Food & Water Watch based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She works with local communities and groups throughout New Mexico, Texas and Arizona. Eleanor also works with lawmakers in New Mexico on fracking and food safety issues. With more than 30 years of experience as a social activist and political organizer, she managed the top performing field office in the nation during the 2008 presidential campaign to elect Barack Obama.

 

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Law and Disorder November 14, 2016


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Uprooting Entrenched Systems of Power: Chris Hedges

On the morning after the US presidential election, we spoke with Chris Hedges. Chris has written several best-sellers including Wages of Rebellion, The Moral Imperative of Revolt, Empire of Illusion, Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt and War Is A Force That Gives Us Meaning.  In this interview, Chris provides an analysis of entrenched systems of power and shares his thoughts on how we all move forward to challenge a new series of repressive measures.

Guest – Chris Hedges,  author and journalist, who publishes weekly on Truthdig. He’s written 11 books, including New York Times best seller “Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt” (2012), which he co-authored with the cartoonist Joe Sacco. Other books include “Death of the Liberal Class” (2010), “Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle” (2009), “I Don’t Believe in Atheists” (2008) and the best selling “American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America” (2008). He’s a former war correspondent, specializing in American and Middle Eastern politics and societies.

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Syrian Proxy Wars 2016

The horrific situation in Syria is something that the American people don’t know much about. Anti-war movement activists suffer from a lack of decent reporting. Some of the issues we’ll examine are – Is it a proxy war between Middle Eastern governments? Can Isis be reigned in? Should Assad go? Is that any of “our” business? Finally, should the American peace movement be promoting the goal of a weapons of mass destruction free Middle East?

Guest – Phyllis Bennis directs the New Internationalism Project at IPS, working as a writer, activist and analyst on Middle East and UN issues. She is also a fellow of the Transnational Institute in Amsterdam. In 2001 she helped found and remains active with the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation. She works with many anti-war organizations, and writes and speaks widely across the U.S. and around the world as part of the global peace movement. She has served as an informal adviser to several top UN officials on Middle East and UN democratization issues.

Protesters demonstrate against the Energy Transfer Partners' Dakota Access pipeline near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in Cannon Ball, North Dakota standing-rock-r-lederman

Attorney Jeff Haas: Dakota Access Pipeline Dispatch #5

Construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline continues. Two weeks have passed since we last spoke with Attorney Jeff Haas who has been representing the Native Americans and the protesters at Standing Rock. A lot has happened. The company is hellbent in getting that pipeline done and they’ve built it all the way up to the river, even though they don’t have a permit for going under the river yet.

The pipeline goes from North Dakota to South Dakota to Iowa. Winter is setting in. There are 5000 people encamped there. On October 27, 2016 with a huge military force. The governor and the armored police tried without success to roll things back.

Guest – National Lawyers Guild Attorney Jeff Haas, recently returned from living at the North Dakota encampment with thousands of Native Americans and climate change activists who gathered in solidarity with the Standing Rock Indian tribe in North Dakota to protest the pipeline construction. Jeff Haas was a founding partner of the Peoples Law Office in Chicago. He victoriously represented the family of Fred Hampton, the chairman of the Chicago Black Panther Party and proved that Hampton was assassinated by the FBI and Chicago Police Department. He’s also author of the book The Assassination of Fred Hampton.

Guest – Lyla June Johnston, a writer, a Dine, Chayenne and Scandinavian poet

Sacred Stone Camp Legal Defense – Lawyers wanting to support the Sacred Stone Camp, contact Attorney Robin Martinez –  robin.martinez@martinezlaw.net

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Law and Disorder October 3, 2016


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Demand the Impossible! A Radical Manifesto

The  presidential debate held last week between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton allowed us to take a sober measure of the calamitous situation we find ourselves in 15 years after September 11, 2001. Our guest Bill Ayers just published Manifesto! Demand the Impossible. It presents a different vision from those sketched out by the candidates and the economic, political and cultural system which produced them. As Robin D. G. Kelly has written, “Bill Ayers vision for a humane future is incendiary – it incinerates old logics and illuminates new paths. If we do not end the violence of militarism, materialism, caging, dispossession, debts, want, ignorance, and global warming our very survival is impossible.”

Guest – Bill Ayers, Distinguished Professor of Education and Senior Bill AyersUniversity Scholar at the University of Illinois at Chicago (retired), member of the executive committee of the Faculty Senate and founder of both the Small Schools Workshop and the Center for Youth and Society, taught courses in interpretive and qualitative research, oral history, creative non-fiction, urban school change, and teaching and the modern predicament.  A graduate of the University of Michigan, the Bank Street College of Education, Bennington College, and Teachers College, Columbia University, Ayers has written extensively about social justice, democracy and education, the cultural contexts of schooling, and teaching as an essentially intellectual, ethical, and political enterprise. He is a past  vice-president of the curriculum studies division of the American Educational Research Association.

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Free Puerto Rican Nationalist Oscar López Rivera 2016

A growing movement is calling for the release of 72-year-old Puerto Rican Nationalist Oscar López Rivera, who has served 34 years in prison, 12 of which have been in solitary confinement. In 1980, 11 members of FALN were arrested for a series of bomb attacks on banks, government facilities and military sites across the U.S, in protest against the US colonization of Puerto Rico. Although named a co-defendant in the case, López Rivera was not arrested until a year later, picked up during a traffic stop, and charged with seditious conspiracy, weapons possession and transporting stolen vehicles across state lines. No evidence was ever found tying López Rivera to any of the bombings, and although he was not convicted of any violent crimes, he was sentenced to 55 years in federal prison. Fifteen more years were later added to his sentence for an alleged escape attempt.

Most Puerto Ricans and human rights advocates view López Rivera with enormous respect for his work as a civil rights activist and community organizer. He is a decorated war veteran, having been awarded the Bronze Star medal during his service in the US Army. In 1999, Bill Clinton offered all FALN members, including López Rivera, conditional clemency. López Rivera declined the offer because the deal included a condition that he serve an additional 10 years in prison, and because two of his co-defendants would be left behind.  Supporters are now collecting signatures on a petition that asks Barack Obama to issue a presidential pardon that grants his immediate release.

Guests – Attorney Jan Susler from the People’s Law Office in Chicago. A longtime member of the National Lawyers Guild she has has represented Puerto Rican political prisoners for over three decades. Jan Susler joined People’s Law Office in 1982 after working for six years as a Clinical Law Professor at the legal clinic at Southern Illinois University’s School of Law, Prison Legal Aid. At the People’s Law Office she continued her litigation and advocacy work on prisoners’ rights issues and also took on representing people wrongfully imprisoned, falsely arrested, strip searched, or subjected to excessive force by police officers.

We are also joined by Alejandro Molina from the campaign to free Oscar López.

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debtorsprison Sarah Geraghty. Photo by John Disney/Daily Report.

Debtors Prison In The South

It has been nearly 200 years since this country abolished the practice of imprisoning those who fail to pay their debts. Recently, however, many impoverished persons face the modern equivalent of debtors’ prisons in the form of unfair legal practices. More and more courts are charging fees to those convicted of crimes, including fees for public defenders, prosecutors, court administration, jail operation, and probation supervision. Aggressive, and often illegal, tactics are employed to collect unpaid fines and fees, including for traffic offenses and other low-level offenses. These courts have ordered the arrest and jailing of people who lag behind in payments, without offering hearings to determine an individual’s ability to pay or to provide alternatives to payment such as community service.

The human toll of these practices is enormous. Coercive debt collection means that poor individuals may forgo the basic necessities of life in order to avoid arrest. Debtors’ prisons increase government costs and waste taxpayer money by jailing people who may never be able to pay their debts. Finally, debtors’ prisons result in racial injustice and a two-tiered system of justice in which the poor receive harsher, longer punishments for committing the same crimes as the wealthy.

Guest – Attorney Sarah Geraghty, managing attorney of the Impact Litigation Unit at the Southern Center for Human Rights.  Sarah practices in the areas of civil rights, habeas corpus, and class action litigation aimed at improving fairness and conditions in the criminal justice system.  She has litigated cases challenging inhumane prison conditions, unfair police treatment, open records law violations, denial of the right to counsel, and the incarceration of indigent persons for debt.  In 2011, Sarah received the Indigent Defense Award from the Georgia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. She was listed by the Fulton County Daily Report as an “On the Rise Georgia lawyer under 40”. She received her J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School, her M.S.W. from the University of Michigan School of Social Work, and her B.A. from Northwestern University. She is a member of the Alabama, Georgia, Illinois and New York bars.

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Law and Disorder July 4, 2016


Updates:

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Economic and Political Fallout From British Exit

A domino effect has begun as banks and investment firms lose billions in the wake of Great Britain’s decision to leave the European Union. The value of the British pound has dropped more than 9 percent and global financial markets are in free fall. In a recent Truthdig article, 2008 All Over Again, by Chris Hedges, economist Michael Hudson blames the Brexit vote on Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. He says this a response to the US war policy in the Middle East and Ukraine that destroyed Libya, and turned over weapons to al-Qaida. Those weapons ended up in their war in Syria. The mass exodus of refugees into Europe fueled nationalism and anti-immigrant sentiment. Meanwhile, countries such as France, Austria and the Netherlands are positioning to do the same as the UK. Many suspect the banks will again turn to governments for bail outs as they did in 2008. The question is: how will the American public respond to the effects of ever increasing inequality, destruction of the environment and trade deals that benefit the one percent?

Guest – Chris Hedges, author and journalist, who publishes weekly on Truthdig. He’s written 11 books, including New York Times best seller “Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt” (2012), which he co-authored with the cartoonist Joe Sacco. Other books include “Death of the Liberal Class” (2010), “Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle” (2009), “I Don’t Believe in Atheists” (2008) and the best selling “American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America” (2008). He’s a former war correspondent, specializing in American and Middle Eastern politics and societies.

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Lawyers You’ll Like – Attorney Margaret Kunstler

For our Lawyers You’ll Like series we’re joined today by civil rights attorney Margaret Kunstler. Throughout her career she has provided support and protected the rights of activists. She’s been a consultant to the Occupy Wall Street and Anonymous protesters. Her book Hell No: Your Right To Dissent in 21st Century America was co-authored with Michael Ratner and it remains a leading handbook for activists. Attorney Margaret Kunstler has advised Wikileaks, Bradley Manning supporters in connection with grand jury subpoenas.

Together with her late husband William Kunstler, the subject of the documentary Disturbing the Universe, Margaret worked on high profile cases including the Virgin Island Five, Attica and Wounded Knee. She is the founder of the William Moses Kunstler Fund for Racial Justice that works to combat racism in the criminal justice system. Margaret was a founding member of the National Lawyers Guild NYC Mass Defense Committee that provides legals observers at demonstrations and represents those arrrested. At the Center for Constitutional Rights, she worked as an attorney and educational director and authored the well known pamphlet “If An Agent Knocks.”
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Law and Disorder June 27, 2016


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NYPD Seizes Millions In Civil Forfeiture

Antiquated civil forfeiture procedures in NYC are causing many, including the city’s poorest, to have assets seized by the NYPD to fill the City’s coffers.

Elected officials are finally calling for the city to reexamine the mechanism that fills the city’s coffers with millions of dollars annually. In what many call a gross violation of civil liberties,the  Office of Management and Budget report revealed that the NYPD seized over $5 million dollars through an opaque but common process of civil forfeiture in 2013. That doesn’t even count more than $8 million in cash and property that’s considered “unclaimed.”

Since the administrative code governing forfeiture was written in 1881, several court rulings have modified the procedure. In 1972, the civil rights case of McClendon v. Rosetti established that the city had not been providing due process to predominantly poor and minority New Yorkers when pursuing civil forfeiture. The ruling called the 1881 admin code “unconstitutional” and asked for a lower court to lay out new procedures for the NYPD property clerk. In 1974, the lower court laid out those procedures, making clear that the property clerk must prove that the property was somehow connected to the alleged criminal activity.

Yet forty years later, property clerks still enforce the law arbitrarily. The federal monitor designated by the court’s decision in 1974 has expired, leaving no independent body with oversight over how the NYPD pursues civil forfeiture.

Guest – Attorney Molly Kovel, Legal Director of the Civil Action Practice at The Bronx Defenders. Her practice includes a wide variety of direct legal services and affirmative impact litigation—including representing plaintiffs in Ligon v. City of New York, one of three federal class actions against the NYPD challenging unconstitutional stop and frisk practices. She has represented clients in a wide variety of civil venues in matters related to the collateral consequences of arrests and prosecutions. She has also advised hundreds of clients about the employment and licensing consequences of their criminal records, as well as assisting them in applying for Certificates of Rehabilitation and correcting criminal record errors. She trains criminal defense attorneys, social service providers and community members in these matters.
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Anti-BDS Legislation In New York State

We recently discussed how Israel advocacy groups and state law makers who support them have introduced anti-BDS legislation in up to 21 across the United States of America, including the US Congress. Today we look closely at New York State.

The New York legislature has tried in the past year, without success, to pass laws protecting Israel against the boycotts, divestment and sanctions movement–or BDS–for its illegal occupation of Palestinian lands.

In an unconstitutional move, given that the government may not penalize individuals or entities on the basis of free expression, Governor Andrew Cuomo recently issued an executive order directing all agencies under his jurisdiction to cease in dealing with companies and organizations that support BDS. The order calls for Cuomo’s commissioner to compile a list of institutions and companies that support a boycott of Israel. The list will be publicly posted.

Several organizations, including the National Lawyers Guild, Palestine Legal and CCR wrote in a legal memorandum critical of the anti-BDS bills pending in the New York legislature. More than 100 churches, human rights groups and legal organizations signed a letter to the New York legislature opposing the legislation, saying “it would chill and deter constitutionally protected speech by intimidating people from engaging in political actions for fear of being blacklisted.”

Guest – Dima Khalidi, founder and Director of Palestine Legal and Cooperating Counsel with the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR). Her work includes providing legal advice to activists, engaging in advocacy to protect their rights to speak out for Palestinian rights, and educating activists and the public about the repression of Palestine advocates.

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Rasmea Odeh Case Update

Over 100 people gathered in Detroit to support Rasmea Odeh as she, her attorneys, and the prosecution appeared before Judge Gershwin Drain for a status conference last week.
Lead attorney Michael Deutsch announced that a tentative date for a new trial has been set for January 10, 2017.

Rasmea was convicted in 2014 of a politically-motivated immigration charge, and sentenced to 18 months in prison and deportation last year. In February of this year, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals sent the case back to Judge Drain, saying he had wrongfully barred the testimony of a torture expert that was critical to Rasmea’s defense. At the trial, Rasmea was not allowed to tell the entire story of Israel forcing her to falsely confess to alleged bombings in 1969, when she endured over three weeks of sexual, physical and psychological torture by the Israeli military.

Last week, the government called for a “Daubert Hearing,” to challenge the validity and admissibility of expert testimony (in this case, Fabri’s), and also requested to examine Rasmea with its own expert. If the hearing is granted by Judge Drain, it will happen on November 29 of this year, the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.

Two other positive developments occurred. Deutsch asked to have Rasmea’s “burdensome reporting requirements” to probation authorities reduced from once a week to once a month. Judge Drain did not object, commenting that his earlier concerns about her being a flight risk “have been alleviated.” He also suggested he would be willing to ease travel restrictions and allow Rasmea to occasionally travel within the U.S. The government wants to speak to the probationary authorities before agreeing to the end of the travel ban.

Guest – Attorney Michael Deutsch, After clerking for United States Court of Appeals Judge Otto Kerner, Mr. Deutsch went into private practice, joining People’s Law Office in 1970 where he has represented political activists and victims of police and government civil rights violations. His advocacy has taken him all around the world, including to hearings in the United Nations. He has tried many civil and criminal cases in federal and state courts, and has written and argued numerous appeals, including several in the United States Supreme Court.

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Why Does The IRS Need Guns?

There is a growing arsenal at paper pushing federal agencies with firearm and arrest authority that have expanded their arsenal since 2006, including the Small Business Administration, Social Security Administration, NOAA, the Education Department, the Department of Energy, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the Smithsonian Institute.

Special agents at the IRS, for example, have AR-15 military style rifles and nearly 4,000 Dept. of Veterans Affairs personnel are armed.

Recently, the group American Transparency released an oversight report on the federal government’s purchase of guns, ammunition, and military-type equipment. More than $335 million was spent by agencies we traditionally think of as administrative or regulatory, such as the U.S. Mint or the Smithsonian Institution.

Guest – Adam Andrzejewski, in 2007, he founded For The Good of Illinois to educate, engage and empower citizens to demand transparency and accountability. He also founded the transparency website, www.openthebooks.com, and launched it by posting the salaries and pensions of all 1 million Illinois public employees (2011). Today, OpenTheBooks.com is the world’s largest private repository of public spending with 2.6 billion individually captured transactions from the federal government, 48/50 states and 36,000 local units of government across America. Read – Why Does The IRS Need Guns?

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Law and Disorder June 20, 2016


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¡Michael Ratner Presente!

We hear excerpts from Michael Ratner’s public memorial held in the Great Hall at Cooper Union in Manhattan, New York.  It would have been Michael’s 73rd birthday on June 13, 2016.

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¡Michael Ratner Presente! was co-sponsored by Cooper Union, the Center for Constitutional Rights, Democracy Now!, National Lawyers Guild, The Nation Institute, Nation Magazine, Haymarket Books, and Voices of a People’s History of the United States.

Michael Ratner’s Politics – By Michael Smith

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Law and Disorder March 14, 2016


Update: Co-host Michael Smith’s Parrot Charlie Turns 25

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Green Party 2016 US Presidential Candidate Dr. Jill Stein

Jill Stein is a physician and activist who is seeking the Green Party’s 2016 presidential nomination. She ran for the White House as the Green Party’s candidate in 2012, winning nearly half a million votes.  Stein is a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Medical School.

Her campaign website urges: It’s time to build a people’s movement to end unemployment and poverty; avert climate catastrophe; build a sustainable, just economy; and recognize the dignity and human rights of every person. The power to create this new world is not in our hopes; it’s not in our dreams — it’s in our hands.

Guest – Dr. Jill Stein, was the Green Party’s 2012 candidate for president of the United States. She is an organizer, physician, and pioneering environmental-health advocate. She has led initiatives promoting healthy communities, local green economies and the revitalization of democracy – addressing issues such as campaign finance reform, green jobs, racially-just redistricting, and the cleanup of incinerators, coal plants, and toxics. She was a principal organizer for the Global Climate Convergence for People, Planet and Peace over Profit. Dr. Jill Stein is a mother, physician, longtime teacher of internal medicine, and pioneering environmental-health advocate. She is the co-author of two widely-praised reports,  In Harm’s Way: Toxic Threats to Child Development, published in 2000, and Environmental Threats to Healthy Aging, published in 2009.  The first of these  has been translated into four languages and is used worldwide. The reports promote green local economies, sustainable agriculture, clean power, and freedom from toxic threats.

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Department of American Indian Studies at the University of Illinois Reduced From Nine To Zero

Professor Robert Warrior is the departing chairman of the Department of American Indian Studies at the University of Illinois. Warrior is a member of the Osage Indian tribe of Oklahoma. He was the chairman of the department that help recruit Professor Steven Salaita to the University of Illinois in 2014. Salaita gave up his tenure in Virginia and was moving to University of Illinois when he was openly critical of the Israeli bombing of Palestinians in Gaza. For this, his tenured position at the University of Illinois was revoked. In the wake of Salaita’s firing, the Department of American Indian Studies at the University of Illinois had dwindled down to zero people from the nine it had just two years ago.

Guest – Professor Robert Warrior is Director of American Indian Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he is Professor of American Indian Studies, English, and History. An enrolled member of the Osage Nation, he is the author of The People and the Word: Reading Native Nonfiction, American Indian Literary Nationalism (with Craig Womack and Jace Weaver), Like a Hurricane: The Indian Movement from Alcatraz to Wounded Knee (with Paul Chaat Smith) and Tribal Secrets: Recovering American Indian Intellectual Traditions. He is also a member of the Native Critics Collective, which published Reasoning Together, a collection of essays focused on Native literary criticism.

Members of the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association selected both The People and the Word and Reasoning Together for its list of the ten most influential books in Native and Indigenous studies in the first decade of the twenty-first century. He and the coauthors of American Indian Literary Nationalism were the inaugural recipients of the Beatrice Medicine Award for Scholarly Writing from the Native American Literature Symposium, and Warriorhas also received awards from the Gustavus Myers Foundation, the NativeAmerican Journalists Association, the Church Press Association, and others.

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Law and Disorder February 29, 2016


Update:

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Black Women, LGBT And Police Abuse

Attorney Andrea Ritchie has dedicated the past two decades to challenging abusive and discriminatory policing against women, girls, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people of color. An accomplished litigator, she is a highly-respected commentator –and recent Soros Fellow– on policy reforms and litigation strategies addressing the ways in which discriminatory policing impacts women of color.

Guest – Andrea Ritchie is the co-author of Queer (In)Justice: The Criminalization of LGBT People in the United States (published in 2011) and Caught in the Net, a report on women and the so-called war on drugs. She works closely with a range of local and national organizations, including Streetwise & Safe, an organization focused on policing of LGBT youth of color, and is a member of INCITE! She is also involved in #SayHerName, a gender-inclusive racial justice movement that campaigns against police brutality and anti-Black violence against black women. It aims to highlight the gender-specific ways in which police brutality and anti-Black violence disproportionately affect black women, especially black queer women and black trans women. Andrea’s Website.

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Milbank Changes Course on $1M Harvard Law School Gift after Pro-Palestine Event

Today we explore a controversy that has erupted at Harvard Law School when a prominent law firm, Milbank Tweed, discontinued a $1million grant it had given to the school after it learned that its donation helped pay for a panel on Palestine.  We’ll talk to the Harvard Law Student who organized the event, who will explain how students on campuses across the country have been met with fierce efforts to suppress discussion of Palestinian rights.

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