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Law and Disorder July 27, 2015


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Cuban Embassy Reopens in Washington DC After 54 Years

The Cuban Embassy had closed down in 1961. It reopened on Monday July 20, 2015. The Cuban flag was flown in front of the three-story building in Washington D.C. Our own Michael Ratner and Michael Smith were there and report back. Let Cuba Be Cuba: An Embassy Re-Opens In Washington by Michael Steven Smith.

Law and Disorder Co-host Attorney Michael Ratner,  President Emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), a non-profit human rights litigation organization based in New York City and president of the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) based in Berlin. Ratner and CCR are currently the attorneys in the United States for publishers Julian Assange and Wikileaks. He was co-counsel in representing the Guantanamo Bay detainees in the United States Supreme Court, where, in June 2004, the court decided his clients have the right to test the legality of their detentions in court. Ratner is also a past president of the National Lawyers Guild and the author of numerous books and articles, including the books Who Killed Che? How the CIA Got Away With Murder, The Trial of Donald Rumsfeld: A Prosecution by Book, Against War with Iraq and Guantanamo: What the World Should Know, as well as a textbook on international human rights.

Law and Disorder Co-host Michael Steven Smith is the author, editor, and co-editor of many books, mostly recently Imagine: Living In A Socialist U.S.A. and “The Emerging Police State,” by William M. Kunstler. He has testified before committees of the United States Congress and the United Nations on human rights issues. Mr. Smith lives and practices law in New York City with his wife Debby, where on behalf of seriously injured persons he sues insurance companies and occasionally the New York City Police Department. Michael Smith has also organized and chaired the Left Forum.

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Greece Economic Crisis, More Austerity And The Plan Moving Forward

Two weeks ago we spoke with Dan Georgakas, a regular columnist for the Greek American newspaper the National Herald. Dan is the co-author of the book Detroit, I Do Mind Dying. He joins us for an update.

Guest – Dan Georgakas, regular columnist for the National Herald, the leading Greek American weekly newspaper co-author of Detroit: I Do Mind Dying and co-editor of Solidarity Forever: An Oral History of the IWW.  He was a frequent contributor to now defunct Journal of the Hellenic Diaspora and the Journal of Modern Hellenism. Dan has taught at NYU, CUNY, Van Arsdale Labor College, Columbia University and University of Oklahoma.

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Susan Rosenberg, An American Radical Discusses President Obama’s Record Of Pardons And Commutations

Using his presidential pardon power sparingly, President Barack Obama recently ordered the release of 46 nonviolent drug offenders. Despite his calls for reducing the size of the nation’s prison population, and despite making history as the first president to visit a federal prison, his record on pardons and commutations is not great. According the U.S. Department of Justice which has recorded clemency statistics since William McKinley presidency, Obama has granted the least number of pardons in history. President Obama also has the 4th lowest number of recorded commutations.

Guest – Susan Rosenberg is a human rights and prisoners rights advocate, adjunct lecturer, communications consultant, award-winning writer, public speaker and a formerly incarcerated person.  Her memoir, An American Radical, details her 16 years in federal prison as well as her conclusions about her prison experience and her past She was released from prison in 2001 through executive clemency by then President Bill Clinton. Upon her release she worked at American Jewish World Service for 12 years beginning as a writer then becoming the director of communications. Post-AJWS Susan has worked extensively in the nonprofit communications field with a focus on human rights and international development.. She is the founder of Sync It Communications, a communications-consulting group working on strategic communications with an emphasis on international human rights and criminal justice. She is also an adjunct lecturer at Hunter College and a member of the prison writing committee of PEN America. Susan has spoken widely at conferences and universities on prison issues. She is working on another book as well as other creative projects.

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Law and Disorder July 20, 2015


Updates:

  • Proposal To Add Women To Central Park Statues. Yes! But How About Black Women? Such As Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman.
  • Yes, Victory For Iran, But At Its Heart Still Imperialism, Just Softer And With Israel’s 200 Nukes?

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The Ongoing Racial Crisis In The United States

In his recent article No ‘Je Suis Charleston’?: The De-politicization of Black Oppression veteran grassroots activist Ajamu Baraka asks where is the international solidarity with African Americans and world leaders? He joins us to discuss the ongoing racial crisis in the United States and its connection with the capitalist model.

Guest – Ajamu Baraka, Longtime activist, veteran of Black Liberation Movement, Human Rights defender, Former founding director of US Human Rights Network, currently Public Intervenon for Human Rights with Green Shadow Cabinet, member of Coordinating Committee of Black Left Unity Network and Associate Fellow at IPS.  He is a human rights defender whose experience spans three decades of domestic and international education and activism, Ajamu Baraka is a veteran grassroots organizer whose roots are in the Black Liberation Movement and anti-apartheid and Central American solidarity struggles.

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 Legal Framework To Litigate Climate Change Gains Traction

In a recent development, courts are requiring governments to take adequate actions to limit greenhouse gas emissions. This past June in the Netherlands, the news spread as judges ordered governments under the Kyoto Protocol to step up their game to protect their citizens from the dangerous impacts of climate change. Urgenda  OurChildrenTrust.org

Guest – Eleanor Stein, a judge and an energy and environmental lawyer specializing in climate change. She teaches law of climate change: domestic & international at Albany Law School and the State University of New York. She is on the board of Eco-Viva, a US group in solidarity with rural sustainability and climate adaptation organizers in El Salvador and she is currently completing an LLM degree in international climate change law at Strathclyde University in Glasgow.

Guest – Alex Geert Castermans is Professor of Private Law at Leiden University. He is interested in the interaction between European Law and Dutch private law.  His human rights writings include exploration of the legal liability of Dutch parent companies for subsidiaries’ involvement in violations of fundamental, internationally recognized rights, including environmental rights.  He is currently writing on issues of poverty and climate change.

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Law and Disorder July 13, 2015


Updates:

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Steven Salaita Hired by American University of Beirut

In what we can view as a major victory for supporters of Palestinian human rights fired Professor Steven Salaita has been hired at the American University in Beirut in the American Studies Department. The American Association of University Professors calls Steven Salaita’s firing one of the significant violations of academic freedom in this decade. Nationwide over 5000 academics pledged to boycott the university resulting in the cancellation of dozens of scheduled talks and conferences at the University of Illinois. The University of Illinois’ action was part of a broader campus crackdown on Palestinian human rights activism that threatens both the foundational role of the university as a place of critical thinking and debate and the ability to advocate for Palestinian rights.

Guest – Professor Steven Salaita,  former associate professor of English at Virginia Tech. He is the author of six books and writes frequently about Arab Americans, Palestine, Indigenous Peoples, and decolonization. His current book project is entitled Images of Arabs and Muslims in the Age of Obama.Steven grew up in Bluefield, Virginia, to a mother from Nicaragua (by way of Palestine) and a father from Madaba, Jordan.  Books by Salaita,   his upcoming book is titled Uncivil Rights and The Limits Of Academic Freedom by Haymarket Press.

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Greece Economic Crisis 2015 Update

Earlier this year we spoke with regular columnist for the National Herald Dan Georgakas about the historic election as the people of Greece voted in the anti-austerity party of Syriza, led by Alexis Tsipiras winning a 149 seats of the 300 seat Parliament. Today, the economic and political state in Greece is in a tremendous state of flux.  Will Greece leave the EU and the Eurozone? Will its debt be written down and restructured?

Guest – Dan Georgakas, regular columnist for the National Herald, the leading Greek American weekly newspapero co-author of Detroit: I Do Mind Dying and coeditor of Solidarity Forever: An Oral History of the IWW.  He was a frequent contributor to now defunct Journal of the Hellenic Diaspora and the Journal of Modern Hellenism. Dan has taught at NYU, CUNY, Van Arsdale Labor College, Columbia University and University of Oklahoma.

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Law and Disorder July 6, 2015


Updates:

  • Michael Ratner: Julian Assange Update
  • Wikileaks Continues To Release Cables
  • 17 Secret Documents Revealed On Trade And Services Agreement
  • Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement Cables Released
  • 70 Thousand Saudi Cables Released
  • Espionnage Élysée

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Eli Smith:  Woody Guthrie – 100th Centennial Celebration

Woodrow Wilson Guthrie was born on July 14, 1912, in Okemah, Oklahoma.  Music festivals around the country mark his centennial.  Many know Woody Guthrie by the song, “This Land Is Your Land” but he recorded much more and the bulk of those songs are archived in the Library of Congress. Woody was very productive, he was a writer, a cartoonist, and a biographer.  “Roots of Woody Guthrie: Celebrating Woody at 100? Down Home Radio Show

Eli Smith:

  • He was born on July 14, Bastille Day. He moved to Brooklyn in 1940. He was a radical guy, a socialist. His father was a successful business man in Oklahoma during the boom times.
  • He had grown up in a stable middle class family. His mother suffered from Huntington disease which killed Woody Guthrie in 1967 at the age of 55.
  • Woody Guthrie did travel with migrant workers, of course there were hundreds of thousands of migrants riding the rails.
  • In California, Woody started his career also as a radio personality,  he was already writing and painting, he was a multi-faceted artist.
  • Woody loved Will Rogers, another Oklahoman, he was a Native American and stand up comic.
  • Not only was he (Woody) a writer and performer of songs, he also wrote poetry and prose and newspaper opinion pieces.
  • He was also a talented painter and visual artist.
  • His autobiographical novel, Bound for Glory was published in 1943.
  • Woody Guthrie had 8 children over the course of his life. He did several albums of children’s songs for the Folkways Records.
  • He composed This Land Is Your Land to a response to that song (God Bless America)
  • Since that time its been sanitized because they took out the more communistic verses, it’s kind of a second national anthem.
  • “Roots of Woody Guthrie: Celebrating Woody at 100? Down Home Radio Show

Guest – Eli Smith (host/producer) is a banjo player, writer, researcher and promoter of folk music living in New York City. Eli is a Smithsonian Folkways recording artist.  He puts together two major folk festivals annually, the Brooklyn Folk Festival in the Spring and Washington Square Park Folk Festival in the Fall.  He has appeared as a guest on terrestrial radio stations such as WBAI, WNYC, WKCR and WDST in New York and KPFA, KPFK and KUCI in California.

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National Lawyers Guild Honors Co-host Michael Smith Champions Of Justice 2015

Michael Steven Smith is a New York City attorney and author. For the last 10 years he has been a co-host with Michael Ratner and Heidi Boghosian of the radio show Law and Disorder which is heard on WBAI and 71 stations across the country. Smith is the author or editor of a number of books including most recently with Michael Ratner “Who Killed Che: How the CIA Got Away With Murder” and with Frances Goldin and Debby Smith  “Imagine:  Living in a Socialist USA”.   The Cuban publishing house Ciencias Sociales translated and published his book on Che, which was featured at the 2015 Havana International Book Fair, where it was presented at the University of Havana Lae School by Ricardo Alarcon, the former President of the Cuban National Assembly, who also contributed the introduction.  The book is dedicated to his friend Len Weinglass, the main attorney for the Cuban Five, for whose release Smith worked.  Smith also wrote “Notebook of a Sixties Lawyer:  An Unrepentant Memoir” and a book about Guild lawyers called “Lawyers You’ll Like”.

He has been a member of the National Lawyers Guild since the 60s when he started a movement law firm in Detroit. Before going into private practice in New York City representing seriously injured persons he worked at Harlem Legal Services, Queens Legal Services, and directed Seafarers Legal Services.

Smith was educated at the University of Wisconsin.  He lives in New York City with his wife Debby and talking parrot Charlie Parker.

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Law and Disorder June 15, 2015


 Updates

  • Michael Ratner Update: Iraqi Woman Sues Bush Administration for Illegal Iraq War
  • Remembering Ronnie Gilbert from The Weavers

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The Campaign To Free Oscar Lopez Riviera

There’s been a long struggle by Puerto Ricans here in the United States for the independence of their native land Puerto Rico. Oscar Lopez Riviera was one of these people. He was framed up on the political charge of seditious conspiracy and has been in prison since the 1980s. All his co-defendants in the original trial have now been freed but he remains locked up and there is a campaign going on in the United States right now to free Oscar Lopez Riviera.

Guest – Attorney 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.

Her long history of work on behalf of political prisoners and prisoners’ rights includes litigation, advocacy and educational work around federal and state control unit prisons in the U.S. Her work with the Puerto Rican Independence Movement and with progressive movements challenging U.S. foreign and domestic policies has been a constant throughout her 36 years as a lawyer. She was an adjunct professor of criminal justice at Northeastern Illinois University, and taught constitutional law at the University of Puerto Rico.  For over three decades she has represented Puerto Rican political prisoners, and she served as lead counsel in the efforts culminating in the 1999 presidential commutation of their sentences. She continues to represent those who remain imprisoned.
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Genocide In The Middle East, The Ottoman Empire, Iraq and Sudan

Here on Law and Disorder we’ve discussed genocide. Genocide of course, we’ve most recently discussed with our co-host whose family was effected by the Armenian genocide, we’ve discussed that genocide. We’ve also discussed the question of whether what has happened to Palestinians the Middle East also constitutes as genocide.

Guest – Hannibal Travis teaches and conducts research in the fields of cyberlaw, intellectual property, antitrust, international and comparative law, and human rights. He joined FIU after several years practicing intellectual property and Internet law at O’Melveny & Myers in San Francisco, California, and at Debevoise & Plimpton in New York. He has also served as Visiting Associate Professor of Law at Villanova University, and a Visiting Fellow at Oxford. He graduated summa cum laude in philosophy from Washington University, where he was named to Phi Beta Kappa. He graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law School, where he served as a member of the Harvard Journal of Law and Technology and the Harvard Human Rights Journal, and as a teaching assistant in Harvard College. After law school, Professor Travis clerked for the United States District Court in Los Angeles, California. Professor Travis has published articles on copyright, trademark, and antitrust law in the Berkeley Technology Law Journal, Hofstra Law Review, the Journal of the Copyright Society of the USA, Notre Dame Law Review, Pepperdine Law Review, University of Miami Law Review, Vanderbilt Journal of Entertainment and Technology Law, Virginia Journal of Law and Technology, and Yale Journal of Law and Technology.

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Law and Disorder June 8, 2015


Updates:

  • Ireland Same Sex Marriages
  • DOJ Reaches Settlement With Cleveland Over Police Excessive Use Of Force
  • Inquiry to Examine Racial Bias in the San Francisco Police
  • Wyoming Criminalizes Sharing Photos And Citizen Science

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Understanding The Cuban Reality: Michael Ratner

Our own Michael Ratner returns from Cuba and dispatches this update. The United States officially takes Cuba off the terrorist list. Cuba was placed on the terrorist list years ago along with  Iran, Syria and Sudan. Getting to Cuba is easier now that travel restrictions are decreased. Michael explains the importance in how Cuba maintains its fundamental economic rights in a non-capitalist government structure. Cuba also represents solidarity with the oppressed around the world and shares his personal experiences at Revolution Square in the early 70s. As the economic embargo continues to impact many facets of life for the people of Cuba, Michael Ratner points out the specific trade lifted by the Obama Administration were goods going from the United States to Cuba and not Cuba selling to the United States. The goal of every U.S. administration was to choke off and kill the Cuban Revolution. Lastly, Michael asserts that Cuba won’t become a U.S. neo-colony with IMF austerity plans privatizing state run enterprise.

Law and Disorder Co-host Attorney Michael Ratner,  President Emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), a non-profit human rights litigation organization based in New York City and president of the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) based in Berlin. Ratner and CCR are currently the attorneys in the United States for publishers Julian Assange and Wikileaks. He was co-counsel in representing the Guantanamo Bay detainees in the United States Supreme Court, where, in June 2004, the court decided his clients have the right to test the legality of their detentions in court. Ratner is also a past president of the National Lawyers Guild and the author of numerous books and articles, including the books Who Killed Che? How the CIA Got Away With Murder, The Trial of Donald Rumsfeld: A Prosecution by Book, Against War with Iraq and Guantanamo: What the World Should Know, as well as a textbook on international human rights.

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US-Cuba Relations: What does “Normalization” Mean?

In December, Presidents Barack Obama and Raul Castro announced that the United States and Cuba would restore diplomatic ties and the remaining three of the Cuban Five were freed. This panel, with leading US-Cuba experts,will look at what’s behind the new policy, what it means on a political and economic level as well as for people-to-people relationships, political prisoners in Cuba, and Cuban support in the African Diaspora.

Speaker – Sandra Levinson, founder and Executive Director of the Center for Cuban Studies in New York City and Director of the Center’s Cuban Art Space who has traveled to Cuba more than 300 times, often as consultant to major news organizations. Sponsored by the National Lawyers Guild, NYC and NYU Chapters and International Committee.

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Law and Disorder June 1, 2015


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Firefight The Century-Long Battle to Integrate New York’s Bravest

It has taken nearly a century of well-orchestrated grassroots organizing to squarely address rampant racial discrimination in the New York City Fire Department. In 1919 Wesley Williams became the first African American firefighter. Yet by the beginning f the 21st Century, and with a population 2 million African Americans, the department still had only about 300 black firefighters, lagging far behind other uniformed departments like the police. And overt racism still plagued the FDNY.  Although women and African Americans had sued the FDNY’s hiring practices—and prevailed in court—the fire department never enacted steps to eradicate hiring inequities. A court battle ultimately ensued between Mayor Bloomberg and the well organized Vulcans, the Society of Black Firefighters.

Finally in 2014, the City settled a $98 million discrimination lawsuit mandating changes to the qualifying test for firefighters and to hiring practices in the Fire Department.

The new book “Fire-fight: The Century-long Battle to Integrate New York’s Bravest” lays out the compelling story of this hard fought quest to break through a tightly knit culture in which whites and predominantly Irish exerted a hold on who entered 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.
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Supporters Fight to Reinstate Teacher Who Allowed Students To Send Mumia Get Well Cards

Third grade elementary school teacher Marilyn Zuniga was recently fired from her job for allowing her students to write get well cards to the gravely sick Mumia Abu-Jamal who is in prison in Pennsylvania. We speak today with Larry Hamm, the founder and chairman of the New Jersey civil rights organization Peoples Organization for Progress.

Send a letter care of :

Orange New Jersey Public Schools
c/o Orange Public School Board Secretary Adekunle O. James
Patricia Arthur
451 Lincoln Avenue
Orange, NJ 07050

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Supporters are asked to contact the Orange School system at:

Orange Superintendent of Schools, Ron Lee
Email: leeronal@orange.k12.nj.us
Phone #: 973 677-4040

Forest Street School Principal, Yancisca Cooke
Email: cookeyan@orange.k12.nj.us Phone # 973.677.4120

Board Secretary, Adekunle James
Email: jamesade@mail.orange.k12.nj.us

Orange Brd of Ed phone #: 973 677-4000

Guest – Lawrence Hamm, civil rights activist and advocate for African-American people and the cause of human rights for more than 30 years. Raised in Newark New Jersey, he attended public schools and emerged at age 17 as a forceful and articulate spokesperson for the educational needs and aspirations of Newark students and the community. He was appointed to the Newark Board of Education, making him the youngest school board member in the United States. While at Princeton University (Larry received his Bachelor’s degree there in 1978) Larry distinguished himself during the anti-apartheid movement by organizing student protests and calling attention to Princeton’s financial investment in apartheid South Africa. These protests, and the rising tide of public indignation, resulted in Princeton University’s divestment in the apartheid South African economy. Larry Hamm’s impact as a student activist at Princeton is chronicled in the documentary film, “Blacks at Princeton.” After graduation, Hamm returned to Newark and became active in local politics. He served as district leader and president of the 24th District Assembly. Larry was the founder and director of the People’s Energy Cooperative, a community fuel oil cooperative. He served as the Director of the Community Organization Program for the United Church of Christ Commission For Racial Justice.

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Law and Disorder May 25, 2015


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50 Year Anniversary of the Vietnam War: Professor Susan Schnall

From 1967 to 1969, during the Vietnam War Lieutenant J.G. Susan Schnall was a Navy nurse stationed at a hospital in Oakland California treating wounded marines. She and other soldiers threw anti-war leaflets out of airplane on to an Army base in California. For this she received a general court martial and was discharged from the Navy in 1969. She’s an expert on the effects of Agent Orange. The chemical used by the United States to commit chemical warfare against the Vietnamese people and their land.

Guest- Susan Schnall, co-coordinator of the Vietnam Agent Orange Relief & Responsibility Campaign, chairing the legislative outreach and science group. She is currently a professor in Health Policy and Planning at NYU and a member of Vietnam Veterans Against the War, Veterans for Peace and American Public Health Association. In 1969 she was tried and convicted by a general court martial for her anti-war activities while a member of the US Navy.

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50 Year Anniversary of the Vietnam War: Attorney Jim Lafferty

When the United States government escalated its war in Vietnam in 1965, Detroit Attorney Jim Lafferty who is a leader of the National Lawyers Guild and an attorney representing draft resisters became active in what was unfolded as the mass movement opposing the American war. Jim was one of the five national coordinators of the National Peace Action Coalition and played a central role in the huge anti-war demonstrations in 1967, 1969 and 1971.

Guest – Jim Lafferty, has been a movement lawyer, political organizer, and legal worker for the past 50 years. He served as NLG executive director from 1963 to 1967, during the peak of Guild work in the South. In Detroit, he was a founding partner of Lafferty, Reosti, Jabara, James, Stickgold, Soble and Smith, a law firm which, according to his Red Squad file, represented “every left-wing, civil rights, anti-war, and black nationalist group in Detroit.” Jim is also a strident antiwar activist. He established numerous draft counseling centers in the Midwest, helped organized some of the largest Vietnam War protests, and, when Iraq invasions loomed in both the 90s and the aughts, he coordinated some of the largest anti-war coalitions. Jim has served as the Los Angeles chapter’s Executive Director for over two decades. Most recently, he headed his chapter’s well-publicized support for Occupy LA.

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50 Year Anniversary of the Vietnam War: Doug Rawlings

As we commemorate the 50th anniversary of the American war in Vietnam, many believe that the US government is attempting to reshape the historical record, omitting the perspectives of antiwar protesters and of disaffected and nonconforming soldiers and their families. Also missing are the narratives of Southeast Asians who suffered from misguided and disastrous foreign policies.  Veterans for Peace has launched a Full Disclosure campaign calling on Americans to write letters to the soldiers whose names appear on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington DC. They urge everyone with a role in the Vietnam war–be it war resister, combatant, family member, conscientious objector or citizen, to share their memories and perspectives.

Guest – Doug Rawlings, founding member of Veterans For Peace and was an active member in early years of the organization, became Maine chapter president for 5 years, and served as chapter secretary.  He was on the planning committee for the  annual PTSD symposia and, planning committee for the 25th anniversary national convention. Rawlings was drafted in the fall, 1968 and served in Vietnam from July 1969 to August, 1970, 7/15th Artillery.  He was a secondary school teacher for six years and has been teaching at the University of Maine at Farmington for close to thirty years.

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Law and Disorder May 18, 2015


Updates:

  • Michael Ratner: This Year Marks Three Years Julian Assange In The Ecuador Embassy
  • Michael Ratner: Assange Is In Embassy Pending Extradition to Sweden Regarding Allegations. No Charges. It’s Essentially Indefinite Detention.
  • Michael Ratner: Wikileaks Posts The BND Transcripts (Germany Holding Inquiry Into NSA Spying) and Searchable Database of Sony Hacked Emails
  • Michael Ratner: Julian Assange Has Strong Proportionality Argument That Could Dismiss Allegations From Sweden.
  • Michael Ratner: The British Have Said If Julian Leaves the Embassy He Will Be Arrested.
  • Michael Ratner: CIA’s Jeffrey Sterling Sentenced to 42 Months for Leaking to New York Times Journalist

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May 8 1945 – End of World War II

Our own Michael Ratner has been in Europe, specifically in Berlin in his capacity as the President of the European Center for Constitutional Human Rights. May 8 is an important day in Europe, because its the day the Nazis were defeated 70 years ago. Michael Ratner was at a celebration during this historic event. We also hear part of a famous poem titled September 1, 1939. That’s the day the Nazis invaded Poland. It’s the day that WWII started. The Nazis had vowed they were going to destroy Poland and destroy Russia. They threw everything they had into it. 150 divisions moving east toward Russia and W.H. Auden, the great poet was sitting in bar on 52nd Street and he reflected on that historic day.

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ECCHR: Bush Torture Team Travel Restriction

Today we can say with some surety that members of the torture team from Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, the lawyers and scores if not hundreds of CIA agents are unwilling and afraid and fear going to the European Union and countries in Europe. Why? Because they’re are afraid they’ll be subpoenaed and arrested or otherwise forced to testify about what they did when they were part of the torture team. That result is in large part due to an organization in Europe called the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights. It along with the Center for Constitutional Rights and others have brought numerous cases throughout Europe to make sure the torture team will be indicted and certainly at a minimum some 12 years later, that they can’t travel to Europe. The ECCHR does other work as well. It litigates and brings cases against corporations involved in labor abuses throughout the world particularly in Pakistan and Bangladesh where sweatshops have killed hundreds of workers.

Guest – Attorney Wolfgang Kaleck, founded the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) together with other internationally renowned lawyers in Berlin in 2007. ECCHR is an independent organization that works with lawyers and groups around the world to take legal proceedings against state and non-state actors for their roles in crimes against international law. ECCHR also uses legal instruments to combat inhumane working conditions and other issues in the area of business and human rights. Wolfgang Kaleck has served as General Secretary of the organization since its foundation. Kaleck previously worked as a criminal law attorney at law firm Hummel.Kaleck.Rechtsanwälte, which he co-founded in 1991. Since 1998 he has been an advocate for the Koalition gegen Straflosigkeit (Coalition against Impunity) which fights to hold Argentinian military officials accountable for the murder and disappearance of German citizens during the Argentinian dictatorship. Between 2004 and 2008 he worked with the New York Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) to pursue criminal proceedings against members of the US military, including former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

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Law and Disorder May 11, 2015


 

Updates:

  • Heidi Boghosian: Attorneys Make United Nations Urgent Appeal Request For Mumia Abu-Jamal

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FiSaraha International Film Festival

Co-host, attorney Michael Ratner recently attended the 11th FiSaraha International Film Festival in Africa’s Western Sahara Desert. He bring us up to date on the festival and the larger issue of Sahrawi refugee camps in Southwestern Algeria. He also reminds about the anniversary of the United States’ contra torture and murder of Ben Linder in Nicaragua.

Law and Disorder Co-host Attorney Michael Ratner,  President Emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), a non-profit human rights litigation organization based in New York City and president of the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) based in Berlin. Ratner and CCR are currently the attorneys in the United States for publishers Julian Assange and Wikileaks. He was co-counsel in representing the Guantanamo Bay detainees in the United States Supreme Court, where, in June 2004, the court decided his clients have the right to test the legality of their detentions in court. Ratner is also a past president of the National Lawyers Guild and the author of numerous books and articles, including the books Who Killed Che? How the CIA Got Away With Murder, The Trial of Donald Rumsfeld: A Prosecution by Book, Against War with Iraq and Guantanamo: What the World Should Know, as well as a textbook on international human rights.

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ACLU Lawsuit To Make Catholic Groups Provide Abortions To “Illegal” Immigrants

After hearing reports that Catholic bishops are prohibiting Catholic charities from allowing undocumented immigrant teenagers in their care to access contraception and abortion services—even in cases of rape—the ACLU recently filed a lawsuit to obtain federal government records. The group seeks documents related to reproductive healthcare policy for unaccompanied immigrant children in the care of federally funded Catholic agencies, which do not believe in abortion.  Nearly 60,000 unaccompanied minors illegally crossed over from Mexico border in 2014. Approximately one third were young girls, an astonishing 80% of whom were victims of sexual assault.

The government contracts with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to care for those children until they can either reunite with a relative or face an immigration hearing. In total the Conference has received $73 million overall from the government—with $10 million allocated for the care of unaccompanied minors in 2013 alone.

The Conference has objected to a regulation proposed by the Obama administration mandating that contractors provide abortions to immigrants who have been raped. In response to the ACLU’s request, the Conference asserts that they are within their rights to exercise religious freedom while taking care of the minors.

Guest – Brigitte Amiri, Senior Staff Attorney at the ACLU’s Reproductive Freedom Project.  Brigitte is currently litigating multiple cases, including a challenge to South Dakota’s law that requires women seeking abortion to first visit a crisis pregnancy center before obtaining an abortion, a restriction on Medicaid funding for abortion in Alaska, and a law in Texas that has forced one-third of the abortion providers to close their doors.  Brigitte is also heavily involved in the challenges to the federal contraception benefit, and was one of the coordinators for the amicus briefs in the Supreme Court.  Brigitte is an adjunct assistant professor at New York Law School, and has been an adjunct assistant professor at Hunter College.

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larger policetorturepressconference

 Proposal To Award Chicago Police Torture Victims Reparations

Victims of police torture under former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge will share $5.5 million, receive an apology and have their story taught in school under a reparations package proposed recently. The proposal is expected to pass when the council votes on it this month.

More than 100 people who accused Burge and officers under his command of torture—from cattle-prod shockings, phone book beatings prods, and suffocation with bags until false confessions were given—over nearly two decades ending in 1991. While some have already settled for thousands or millions of dollars, the remaining dozens can each receive up to $100,000 under the proposed ordinance. More than $100 million has already been paid over the years in court-ordered judgments, settlements and legal fees. Amnesty International USA lauded the proposal, which it said was unlike anything a U.S. municipality has ever introduced.

Besides a provision that calls for teaching the Burge torture cases to 8th and 10th graders in public school history classes, the ordinance includes a formal apology from the City Council, and psychological counseling and other benefits such as free tuition at community colleges. In recognition that the torture, and in many cases wrongful convictions and lengthy prison sentences, has impacted victims and their families, the ordinance extends some benefits to victims’ children or grandchildren.

Burge, 67, was fired from the Chicago Police Department in 1993. He was never criminally charged with torture, but was convicted in 2010 of lying about torture in a civil case and served 4.5 years in federal custody. Still drawing his pension, he was released from a Florida halfway house in February.

Guest – Attorney  G. Flint Taylor, a graduate of Brown University and Northwestern Law School, is a  founding partner of the People’s Law Office in Chicago, an office which has been dedicated to litigating civil rights, police violence, government misconduct, and death penalty cases for more than 40 years

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