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Law and Disorder November 17, 2014


Updates:

  • Michael Ratner: U.S. President Barack Obama To Seek Additional War Powers From Congress

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IDFboat snapshot-20

ICC Says Gaza Still Occupied, Israel May Have Committed War Crimes, But Court Refuses To Hear

Attorney Michael Ratner:

  • When I’m in Berlin I see there’s a ICC decision by the prosecutor.
  • People probably remember the attack on the Gaza flotilla, particularly the Mavi Marmara. One of 8 boats that were sent from Europe and other places, Turkey, to try and break the blockade that Israel had imposed on Gaza.
  • Israel has been blockading Gaza forever essentially but it put in a very serious naval blockade in 2009 and no boats from the Mediterranean could approach within 20 miles of what Israel called its blockade.
  • The Gaza Flotilla was established in 2010 to try and break the blockade it had 8 ships, one was named the Rachel Corrie.
  • They were at least 80 miles away from Gaza, hadn’t even got into the blockaded territory when the Israeli commandos, the IDF made a raid on those boats.
  • Particularly on the Mavimarmara which was a Turkish boat – the fact that the boat was registered in Comoros gave the ICC jurisdiction over the raid.
  • People may recall the raid. Israeli commandos shimmied down on ropes from helicopters on to the Mavimarmara and they killed 9 people. A tenth died later.
  • Ultimately, Comoros made a complaint to the ICC that – Israel attacked this flotilla even outside the 20 mile blockade zone, they committed war crimes. War crimes in that they were attacking civilian boats. War crimes in that they were killing civilians.
  • Here I am sitting in Berlin thinking about the 76 anniversary of Kristallnacht, the tearing down of that wall, Raji Sourani from Gaza not being able to get in, and this ICC decision comes down.
  • The ICC prosecutor says there’s a reasonable basis that war crimes were committed by the IDF in their attack on the Gaza Flotilla.
  • The next sentence said as part of that finding Gaza was an occupied territory of Israel. That’s of great significance because when you’re an occupying force the laws of war apply. If you commit war crimes, if you kill people – civilians or intentionally targeting them or attack civilian objects.
  • The third sentence is while we find that there was a reasonable basis that the IDF committed war crimes and that Israel continues to occupy Gaza despite its claim in 2005 that it left Gaza we are not going to take jurisdiction and further investigate the case, because the crimes were not essentially severe enough, big enough, enough of them . . . and therefore we’re not going to take this case.
  • To look at them in an isolated way and not part of a stream of war crimes Israel has been committing since 1948 is outrageous.
  • The Situation on Registered Vessels of the Union of the Comoros, the Hellenic Republic and the Kingdom of Cambodia

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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U.S. Government Finds 67-year-old Palestinian-American Rasmea Odeh Guilty

Earlier this summer we reported on Rasmea Odeh’s case. She’s a 67 year-old Palestinian American, community activist and teacher. In the fall of 2013, she was arrested by Department of Homeland Security for failing to disclose a 1969 conviction in an Israeli military court and charged with unlawful procurement of naturalization. Odeh, her father and fiancee were brutally tortured in an Israeli prison in 1969, which was related to a bombing in a Jerusalem supermarket. Israelis extracted a confession from Odeh and she spent 10 years in an Israeli prison where she was tortured and sexually assaulted.

Last week, Rasmea Odeh was found guilty of one count of Unlawful Procurement of Naturalization. For over a year, Rasmea, her supporters, and her legal team have been battling this unjust government prosecution, saying from the start that the immigration charge was nothing but a pretext to attack this icon of the Palestine liberation movement. And although there is real anger and disappointment in the jury’s verdict, it was known as early as October 27th that she would not get a full and fair trial, because Judge Gershwin Drain made it nearly impossible for her defense.

 Attorney Michael Deutsch:

  • This case emanates from the FBI and the US Attorney in Chicago investigating the work of the Arab American Action Network and other people who were doing Palestine solidarity work in the Chicago area and throughout the Midwest.
  • They were bringing speakers here from Palestine to educate people
  • As a result of that work they were targeted by the FBI. Ultimately in September of 2010, the homes 7 activists were invaded. All their political material was taken. There was a Grand Jury that convened and 23 activists were subpoenaed and they also sought the records of the Arab American Action Network.
  • The U.S. Attorney of Chicago sent a request to Washington to look into the records of Odeh in Israel.
  • After several years, the Israelis came up with documents that showed she was arrested in 1969, put on trial by a military tribunal in the Occupied Territories.
  • . . found guilty, horrifically tortured, confessed as did her co-defendants, sentenced to life in prison, put in an Israeli prison, tried to escape in 1975, caught in a tunnel, trying to get out.
  • As a result of this they looked at her Naturalization application and saw that she said no as to whether she had ever been arrested, convicted or in prison and the commenced a criminal investigation and indicted her 9 years after she had gotten her citizenship. Months before a statute of limitations would have run on this charge.
  • We put forward a multi-level defense. One, we said that anything that was produced by the military court, the military judicial system was illegitimate, illegal – you’re tried by soldiers posing as judges. We said that she had been horrifically tortured and we had someone evaluate her over many days and hours, this woman who is one of the leading experts on torture said she (Rasmea) still suffers from PTSD.
  • That would have caused her when she filled out the application to cognitively block what had happened to her 40 years prior in Israel and therefore she wasn’t intentionally lying.
  • The judge refused all our motions, all our defense. He wouldn’t let her (Rasmea) testify about her torture, about her condition, or her innocence. All that was blocked by motions of the government.
  • We went to trial basically with our hands tied behind our backs.
  • What was a shock to me was the judge locked her up, pending sentencing. Now she sits in a county jail in Port Huron, Michigan for five months before the sentencing and obviously if the judge is not going to give her bail pending sentencing, he’s not going to give her bail pending appeal.
  • Judge Gershwin Drain who is African American who at first was kind of sympathetic and supportive and initially said we were allowed to put on our PTSD expert and put on a PTSD defense. Then all of a sudden the government put a move to reconsider, he changed his mind and basically gutted our trial.
  • We know of efforts all over the country to suppress student activity (around issues of Israel – Palestine)
  • We have to convince the judge to let her out on an appeal bond. Even after all that if she’s sentenced, she’s going to go to prison and then when she’s done with her prison sentence, they’re going to put in her into immigration prison and they’re going to deport her.

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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Food Chains Documentary Film Opens Nationwide This Week

The documentary film Food Chains opens nationwide in the United States this month. The film brings you into the world of a Florida farmworker led effort to hold responsible the 4 trillion dollar global supermarket industry. The CIW is doing so through the Fair Food program. That’s the program which partners growers and retailers to improve working conditions for farm laborers in the United States. For years, farmworkers often endure abuse, wage theft, and have been beaten and sexually harassed. Food Chains’ producers include Eva Longoria and Eric Schlosser.  Find out about screenings and action to take at www.ciw-online.org

Saturday November 22 – 1:00pm: Screening of Food Chains & Post-film Panel CIW-Quad Cinema (34 W 13th St)  Food Chains also playing on Sat. Nov 22 at 7:45pm

Protest & March to Wendy’s Meet at Union Square Wendy’s (20 E. 14th St) Facebook

Guest – Gerardo  Reyes Chavez, has worked in the fields since age 11, first as a farmer in Zacatecas, Mexico, and then in the fields of Florida picking oranges, tomatoes, and watermelons. He joined the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, a Florida-based human rights organization, shortly after his arrival in the United States in 2000, when his fellow farm worker roommates, who had previously escaped a violent slavery operation hidden in the swamp south of Immokalee, Florida, invited him to come to the CIW’s Wednesday evening community meetings.

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Law and Disorder November 10, 2014


Infogrpahic-Ebola-CDC Yes-Another-Incubation-period-Ebola-Notice

Civil Liberties Infringement In Wake Of Ebola Panic

The Ebola quarantine protocol in the United States is bringing issues of public health and individual constitutional rights to the front. The Center For Disease Control and Prevention has made clear that the Ebola virus doesn’t become contagious until symptoms appear. Even if symptoms are present, transmission of the disease requires contact with bodily fluids such as blood or vomit. Given this, if you are suspected of having the virus but don’t have any symptoms, can the state to issue a mandatory quarantine?

Attorney Donna Lieberman:

  • What we’re seeing is the rush to policies driven instead of by legitimate public health concerns and Ebola is a legitimate serious public health concern, policy driven by fear.
  • This is where civil liberties and good medicine go hand in hand.
  • Good civil liberty policy is policy that respects individual liberty and does not curtail individual liberty unless there’s a real good reason to do so and there’s no way to protect society without doing so.
  • We don’t object to quarantines under all circumstances.
  • There are sometimes when the public health requires that society be protected from individuals who are infectious.
  • If somebody is not infectious does not pose a danger to society by virtue of their physical condition well then, its unacceptable.
  • If they show no signs of infection, that means they’re not contagious, they should not be quarantined, they should simply be monitored.
  • Medical people don’t go and risk their lives to treat people who are facing horrific epidemic and then come to infect their friends.
  • HIV was an epidemic in the United States, the response to Ebola is based on a tiny handful, a tragic handful to be sure, but a tiny handful of cases and is really way out of proportion and there’s this unspoken fear of related to coming from Africa – here, and it feels as there is a racial component, its just a feeling.
  • What’s an appropriate health policy, driven by medicine not by fear?
  • Some of the ACLU affiliates are pursuing FOIA requests to find out what policies are in place.
  • We are pressing for the state of New York to relax its quarantine policies and make it a public health driven policy rather than a fear based policy.

Guest – Attorney Donna Lieberman, has been executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union since December 2001. She has also served as the associate director (1988 – 1993) and founder/director of the NYCLU Reproductive Rights Project (1990 – 2000).  Under Lieberman’s leadership the NYCLU has expanded the scope and depth of its work, supplementing and strengthening the pursuit of litigation with an aggressive legislative advocacy and a field organizing program that works on behalf of civil liberties and civil rights. As a result, the organization is widely recognized as the state’s leading voice for freedom, justice and equality, advocating for those whose rights and liberties have been denied, especially for those most marginalized by society.

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 Cuba In The News, The Cuban Five and Exposing Journalists For Hire

Lately, Cuba and its relationship to the United States has been in the news. The New York Times alone had 4 editorials on Cuba. Several urged the reestablishment of diplomatic relations with Cuba which were severed more than 50 years ago. Another urged the prisoner exchange of the Cuban Five now 3, and Alan Gross, the American who has been in a Cuban prison for several years. Last year attorneys with the Partnership for the Civil Justice Fund filed a Freedom of Information Action lawsuit against the U.S. State Department for its refusal to produce responsive materials in its possession about secret payments by the U.S. government to Miami-based journalists who were “reporting” on the Cuban Five case before and during the trial and while the jury deliberated.

Attorney Mara Verheyden-Hilliard:

  • The Cuban Five, are five Cuban men who came into the United States to basically learn what the terrorists in Miami were planning. Cuba is a country that has been subject to terrorist attacks for decade after decade.
  • There have been bombings, planes shot down. A huge amount of death and destruction but it comes out of the United States from anti-Castro in Miami who are reeking terror on the people of Cuba.
  • The U.S government has never taken action to stop these terror attacks that emanate from their shores. In fact the CIA has had been known to have at least some of these people on their payroll or working with them over the years.
  • Ultimately, they (Cuban Five) uncovered information which was shared with the FBI, from the Cuban government to the FBI. What happened was the terrorists weren’t arrested, these men were arrested.
  • They were charged with espionage offenses, put on trial and found guilty.
  • The issue is . . they were tried in Miami, they were tried in this heated environment, tried in conditions that there was no way they could have gotten a fair trial. An issue that has been repeated over and over again in the years of appeals.
  • What has been uncovered more recently is that the U.S. government had journalists on their payroll who were presenting themselves as independent journalists in Miami who filled the airwaves and newspapers with extremely hostile and inflammatory coverage of Cuba as well as the trial itself.
  • There’s no way this couldn’t have had an impact, on the jury, on the jury pool, on the sitting jury.
  • The U.S. government itself is prohibited by the Smith-Mundt Act of 1948 from funding activities to influence and propagandize public opinion.
  • We live in a country where we’re free to be wire-tapped, spied on, to have the FBI infiltrating religious institutions and monitoring peaceful protests.
  • Prisoner exchange: The fact is the Cuban Five were not attempting to undercut or destabilize the U.S. government. They were simply trying to get information about terrorist attacks emanating from the United States, hurting the people of their country. Alan Gross on the other hand was sent as part of a covert U.S. government operation into Cuba multiple times to material, satellites, phones, communication material, in an attempt to destabilize and over throw the Cuban government.
  • We have fought for years with Freedom of Information Act demands and working in partnership with the National Committee to Free the Cuban Five and Gloria LaRiva who has led that organization. She is the key person in the National Committee to Free the Cuban Five that raised this issue, that spent a huge amount of time, going through records, going through the records, audio and visual of the different media, television and radio – and linking these together and doing research into these journalists and establishing what appeared to be this covert operation.
  • Much of that material is up on a website called ReportersForHire.org
  • Because the State Department was clearly holding material within a certain time period and had not searched their records at all for the material we demanded, we filed a lawsuit in Federal court, and that’s a lawsuit we’re still in the process of litigating.
  • The issue of the blockade, which on its face, starving a population to try and force them to change their government is really criminal and a violation of international law.
  • Standing on its own without the U.S. blockade, Cuba would thrive.
  • Cuba is still there and has withstood and been strong through all of this.
  • By lifting the blockade and allowing the U.S. to penetrate into Cuba with American capitalism would be another way of attempting to over throw the government of Cuba.
  • A major major funding stream for these groups and these entities in Miami who are working against the people of Cuba and against the government of Cuba.
  • US Army Col Lawrence Wilkerson Letter To Obama.

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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Locked Down, Locked Out: Why Prison Doesn’t Work and How We Can Do Better

In this country there are 2.3 million Americans locked up in prison, and 95 percent of prisoners that are released emerge with very little opportunity to rebuild their lives. Our guest journalist Maya Schenwar has written about the social destruction of the prison industry and the community based initiatives to help former inmates in her book Locked Down, Locked Out: Why Prison Doesn’t Work and How We Can Do Better. Locked Down, Locked Out begins by examining the fundamental crisis of how prison breaks apart families and communities. These experiences relay the enormous damage caused by severing millions of people from family and community ties. In exploring alternatives to incarceration Maya suggests ways to provide resolution to victims while repairing communities of color.

Maya Schenwar:

  • It started about ten years ago which was when my sister went to juvenile.
  • I had been corresponding with someone on death row, and I had an inclination to write about this issue at the time was really on the margins of journalism.
  • When my sister went to juvenile detention and I went to visit her I was immediately struck by the fact that this detention center was a jail.
  • Fourteen year olds were being locked up.
  • You’re taking people who have already been traumatized and putting them in the most isolating conditions, separating them from society in this way that can’t help create further trauma.
  • Prison just doesn’t work. About 2/3 of people who are released from prison are re-arrested in 3 years.
  • Instead of talking about the law, we’re going to be talking about the harm that was done to you. A very different thing.
  • There needs to be a victim centric approach, something that takes the victim’s healing into consideration.
  • Sometimes it gets lost in the conversation about mass incarceration that every single person occupying a prison is a human being and therefore has a constellation of connections with people on the outside when they go in.
  • Prison becomes this process of breaking each of those links.
  • When you’re communicating with a person in prison, you can’t call them they have to call you. You have no idea when they’ll be able to call you.
  • Letters become the only reliable form of communication.
  • It comes down to the community level, it comes down to erasing this idea we have that there is a one size fits all solution.
  • So many of those problems stem from things we’re depriving people of in our society like housing, food, shelter. We have to think about providing those things as part of creating a society with less harm and less violence.

Guest – Maya Schenwar, is Truthout’s Editor-in-Chief. Her book, Locked Down, Locked Out: Why Prison Doesn’t Work and How We Can Do Better,  Berrett-Koehler Publishers.  Previously, she was a senior editor and reporter at Truthout, writing on US defense policy, the criminal justice system, campaign politics, and immigration reform. Prior to her work at Truthout, Maya was contributing editor at Punk Planet magazine.

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Donate now!

Please help support Law and Disorder, the show is now a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization. Contributions for the charitable purposes of Law and Disorder must be made payable to Fractured Atlas only and are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.

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Law and Disorder November 3, 2014


Updates

  • Michael Ratner Reports On An Important Break In The Julian Assange Case
  • Michael Ratner: Longest Case Of Pre-Trial Investigation In Swedish History In Which The Prosecutor Has Simply Sat On Her Hands.
  • Michael Ratner: What Sweden Did Here Is Divert Attention From The Underlying Problem
  • Michael Smith: United Nations And The Cuban Embargo Vote 2014
  • Michael Ratner: Israeli Business Men Are All Over Cuba

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nisour3 susan

Blackwater Guards Found Guilty in 2007 Baghdad Killings

Since 2003, private military contractors have been awarded millions of dollars each year by the U.S. Government in contracts. Many of the military contractor personnel have engaged in atrocious war crimes with zero accountability. Last week a federal jury convicted 4 former Blackwater private security contractors on manslaughter charges and 1 for manslaughter and murder of 17 Iraqis in Baghdad on September 16, 2007. The men were prosecuted under the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act, a law that allows the U.S. courts to hear cases against contractors to the U.S. Department of Defense for crimes committed overseas. The men were originally hired as private security guards for U.S government employees. Lawyers for Blackwater, now known as Academi LLC argued that the men were simply returning fire to protect themselves.Several civil cases filed by victims injured in the shootings were settled in 2010.

Attorney Susan Burke:

  • I think the verdict sends a very loud and large message to the globe that the American judicial system can operate properly.
  • That American juries understand when they see war crimes, they understand when they hear about a massacre.
  • We began working before the Abu-Ghraib photos were leaked. It began when Bob Woodward wrote a story for the Washington Post that revealed that the Bush Administration had decided to use torture as an instrument in the war.
  • We viewed this outsourcing as a potential weak flank in a sense in order to use legal mechanisms, lawsuits in order to prevent this country from departing with its values.
  • We were putting the evidence together before the photos leaked and suddenly we had a lot more evidence to sue the 2 government contractors L3 and CACI that were involved in the Abu-Ghraib torture.
  • The Blackwater case fits into that rubrick where we brought several different law suits along with the Center for Constitutional Rights. We brought the seven law suits for the victims of the Nisour Square massacre as well as for many other victims.
  • If you think about we’re going to the home turf of the wrong doers. The corporations are based in Virginia actually, and so we sued them in their home turf.
  • There’s one (civil) case remaining that’s now being handled by Baher Azmy at CCR and they just got a win from the Fourth Circuit – again getting permission for the case to proceed.
  • The vast majority of victims have settled with L3 paying 5.25 million.
  • Blackwater is a mercenary company that basically earned over a billion dollars from the State Department.
  • They were not at Abu Ghraib rather they were providing security for all of the diplomats and other Americans in Iraq.
  • At the time they were owned by Erik Prince, operated without any oversight from the State Department and they were involved with a significant number of instances were unnecessary and excessive force was used.
  • Erik Prince ended up entering into a settlement and all of those folks obtained compensation.
  • Prince then sold the company, retained a revenue stream but the company became Academi.
  • As a nation we continue to use these mercenaries and we continue to lack any regulation or oversight.       Unfortunately, things didn’t change under the Obama Administration and under Secretary Clinton at the State Department
  • What’s happened is there’s this terrible pattern where these companies have a lot of political influence and they continue to get enormous contracts and the State Department continues to outsource security without have a vibrant, or robust oversight function.
  • Blackwater vehicles rolled into Nisour Square and they began to open fire with heavy automatic weaponry and they simply began to spray indiscriminatly. They began to shoot all over Nisour Square killing people nearby and injuring people as they fled. No provocation, no real reason they began shooting.
  • One of the Blackwater men, a man named Jeremy Ridgeway actually stepped and told the truth early on, pled guilty and explained how this was in fact just indiscriminate shooting for no reason.
  • In order to properly handle these matters I ended up creating my own firm.

Guest – Attorney Susan Burke, represented plaintiffs in those civil cases and she joins us today to talk about criminal case, the sentence and the supporting evidence.

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Drones and Targeted Killing: Legal, Moral and Geopolitical Issues

A powerful analysis on the use of drones for targeted assassination by the Obama Administration is explored in Professor Marjorie Cohn’s newly published book titled Drones and Targeted Killing: Legal, Moral, and Geopolitical Issues. It’s a collection of various disciplines including sociologists, legal scholars, and human rights activists that examine aspects of the U.S. policy of targeted killings with drones and other methods. The book documents civilian casualties, and discuses the first U.S. targeted killing lawsuit by the lawyer who brought the case.

Attorney Marjorie Cohn:

  • Drones have become the Obama Administration’s preferred weapon of choice.
  • We rarely see images of the victims of drone strikes the overwhelming majority of whom are civilians.
  • We don’t hear their stories because the media sanitizes their stories.
  • We really don’t have a sense of the devastation that is reeked by drones.
  • I thought it was important to put together a collection of different aspects of this drone policy. Is it legal? Is it moral? What are the political ramifications? Does it make us safer? Does it make us less safe?
  • That Authorization for the Use of Military Force was very limited, it was only limited to groups and countries that supported the 911 attacks and Congress specifically rejected the Bush Administrations request for open ended military authority to deter and preempt any future acts of terrorism against the United States – and yet the Obama Administration has been relying on this as its legal authority.
  • Targeted extrajudicial killings off the battle field are illegal.
  • Richard Falk, the U.N. Special Rapporteur to the Palestinian Occupied Territories wrote a very and interesting and provocative chapter called Why Drones Are More Dangerous Than Nuclear Weapons.
  • Medea Benjamin talked about stories of victims in Pakistan and Yemen and the tolls drones take on communities. The horror, the terror that children are sleeping with drones hovering overhead.
  • Pardiss Kebriaei with the Center for Constitutional Rights that handled the first targeted killing case in the United States writes a chapter.
  • Tom Hayden writes the conclusion about stopping the drones.
  • Phyllis Bennis from the Institute of Policy Studies talks about the assassination as essential to the U.S. war strategy due to the militarization of our foreign policy.
  • John Quigley from Ohio State University talks about the blowback from drones and how they actually make us less safe because when people see their families blown up, they resent the United States even more.
  • He talks about the history of U.S. foreign policy and the resentment its caused in those countries against the United States.
  • He (Barack Obama) has even expanded the use of drones in Iraq and Syria. He’s also using piloted aircraft. He’s also using the AUMF which does not apply at all.
  • This ISIS and Khorasan, the current groups doing horrible things over there are not covered by the Authorization for the Use Of Military Force.
  • He’s actually acting beyond what Congress has authorized to say nothing of it violating the U.N. charter.
  • Only 4 percent of victims in Pakistan were members or even associated with Al-Qaeda which means the overwhelming number of 2400 who have been killed in Pakistan by drone strikes are civilians.
  • The FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 requires the FAA to integrate into U.S. airspace by September of 2015 to legalize commercial drones and some government agencies to use small drones. This is very very worrisome because of the privacy considerations primarily.
  • There are two different drone strikes the U.S. carries out. One is called personality strikes, where they target suspected bad guys. They call them militants. That could mean anything.
  • No due process, just take em out.
  • The other type of attack is called signature strikes. That is a strike that is carried out in an area of suspicious activity. If you’re a male between the ages of 16-65 in a area of suspicious activity than you’re fair game, even though the Obama Administration doesn’t know your identity.
  • First, there must be a legal basis for using lethal force, whether it is against a senior operational leader of a terrorist organization or the forces that organization is using or intends to use to conduct terrorist attacks.
  • Second, the United States will use lethal force only against a target that poses a continuing, imminent threat to U.S. persons. It is simply not the case that all terrorists pose a continuing, imminent threat to U.S. persons; if a terrorist does not pose such a threat, the United States will not use lethal force.
  • Third, the following criteria must be met before lethal action may be taken:
  • Near certainty that the terrorist target is present;
  • Near certainty that non-combatants will not be injured or killed;
  • An assessment that capture is not feasible at the time of the operation;
  • An assessment that the relevant governmental authorities in the country where action is contemplated cannot or will not effectively address the threat to U.S. persons; andAn assessment that no other reasonable alternatives exist to effectively address the threat to U.S. persons.
  • Finally, whenever the United States uses force in foreign territories, international legal principles, including respect for sovereignty and the law of armed conflict, impose important constraints on the ability of the United States to act unilaterally – and on the way in which the United States can use force. The United States respects national sovereignty and international law.

Guest – Attorney Marjorie Cohn  former president of the National Lawyers Guild. She lectures throughout the world on international human rights and U.S. foreign policy. A news consultant for CBS News and a legal analyst for Court TV, she also provides legal and political commentary on BBC, CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, NPR, Air America and Pacifica Radio.   In addition, Professor Cohn is the author of Cowboy Republic: Six Ways the Bush Gang Has Defied the Law and co-author of Cameras in the Courtroom: Television and the Pursuit of Justice and Rules of Disengagement: The Politics and Honor of Military Dissent. Her latest book, The United States and Torture: Interrogation, Incarceration and Abuse, was published in January 2011 by NYU Press.

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Law and Disorder October 20, 2014


Updates:

  • Heidi Boghosian Updates Listeners On The Revictimization Relief Act

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Michael Smith Returns From Argentina Book Tour

Early October marks the 47th anniversary of Ernesto Che Guevarra’s capture and assassination in Bolivia. Co-hosts Michael Ratner and Michael Smith have authored the book Who Killed Che? How The CIA Got Away With Murder. Michael Smith has recently returned from a trip to Buenos Aires to promote the Spanish language version of the book. Michael explains how Che was a threat to the United States by helping Cuba take over their own economy and why its important to set the story straight about Che’s death. Review of Who Killed Che?

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Weekend of Resistance: Ferguson, St. Louis Protests and the National Lawyers Guild

Last weekend, thousands of protesters in Ferguson, Missouri just outside of St. Louis demonstrated during a long planned Weekend of Resistance to the militarized suppression of peaceful demonstrations against the the killings of unarmed black teenagers including Michael Brown two months ago. Demonstrators traveled from cites across the country to participate in protests against police violence – including sit ins and vigil marches. Meanwhile, National Lawyers Guild members have been providing legal support, legal observation and felony representation for people arrested during the weekend. We catch up with St Louis Lawyers Guild member attorney Maggie Ellinger-Locke who has been working long hours representing arrested demonstrators. There are 90 municipalities in St. Louis and Maggie also explains the challenges in helping those arrested get processed through a unique court system.

Attorney Maggie Ellinger-Locke:

  • People poured into the streets after the killing of Mike Brown and have pretty much been occupying various locations around the St. Louis area and protesting ever since.
  • We at the National Lawyers Guild have mobilized close to 100 legal observers at this point to come down and do the observing and training people who are local.
  • We’ve also been connecting people who are facing felony charges with representation as well as backing up the Arch City Defenders who are handling the bulk of the ordinance violations and charges.
  • In August there were lots of chemical weapons used, tear gas every night. I was tear gassed multiple times. Other major mobilizations that I’ve been to, they last a couple of days, maybe the duration of a week, but this has been a continued onslaught of less than lethal weapons.
  • There are a lot of difference agencies on the ground for law enforcement. There’s the Missouri Highway Patrol, St. Louis County Police Department, The Sheriff’s Department and of course we have 90 different municipalities in St. Louis County, each with its own police force.
  • This is what it takes to fight back. People are out there every day on the streets.
  • We’ve had NLG members pour in from all over which has really been fun getting to know all these people.
  • Monsanto, which is based in Creve Coeur, Missouri, made a donation recently of a million dollars to various community groups doing work on the ground. On the other hand we’ll have a local pizza company board up and then the owner will train a gun on protesters to intimidate them.
  • The demands have varied depending on the organizations. Indicting Darren Wilson, the officer who shot Michael Brown is at the top of everyone’s list. In order to achieve that you would have to have demand number 2 met which is that Don McCullough, the St. Louis County prosecuting attorney recuse himself from this case. People think that he’s conflicted in that his father was a white police officer who was shot by an African American man and killed.
  • Another big demand is that the many many municipal charges that people are facing be dropped.
  • In addition we desperately need reform of our municipal court system. The structure is insane.
  • We’re hopeful that if we can demand jury trials for all of those arrested, we may in fact be able to crash the system.
  • We have 40 people now who are facing felonies.
  • The Organization For Black Struggle and  Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment.

Guest – Attorney Maggie Ellinger-LockeNational Lawyers Guild member and activist, and a partner with Ellinger & Assoc., P.C., a Law Firm in O’Fallon, Missouri.

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Jon Burge, Torturer of Over 100 Black Men, is Out of Prison After Less Than 4Years

Last week former Chicago police commander Jon Burge who was convicted of lying about torturing more than 100 African-American men at Chicago police stations will be released from the Butner Correctional Institution and reporting to a halfway house in Tampa, Florida. This, as many listeners know is an ongoing story that we’ve been reporting on for many years with Attorney Flint Taylor with the People’s Law Office in Chicago who worked on the case representing some of the torture victims. We talk about why Jon Burge was released and his recent article titled Jon Burge, Torturer of Over 100 Black Men, is Out of Prison After Less Than Four Years. Flint reminds listeners that the total in financial damages to taxpayers from the torture of over 100 black men that Burge oversaw, and the ongoing pension payouts to his collaborating officers, exceeds $120,000,000.

 Attorney Flint Taylor:

  • Burge is a now notorious police torturer here in Chicago. He shot from detective up to commander of a police station based on torturing African-Americans suspects into giving confessions and sending many of them to death row and to life in prison.
  • Ultimately, we were, along with community activists, expose this pattern and practice of 100 cases of police torture.
  • This was by electric shock, by bagging people and other kinds of racist brutality.
  • We exposed it and nothing happened for many years. Ultimately the Feds, indicted Burge, several years ago, not for torture because the statute of limitations had run on that, but rather for perjury and obstruction of justice.
  • He was convicted by a predominantly white jury and ultimately sentenced to 41/2 years in the penitentiary.
  • After 31/2 years, he was permitted to go to a halfway house for 6 months.
  • What’s happening now? What’s happening with regard to the men who are still in the penitentiary, decades later, and there are almost 20 of them, based on tortured confessions.
  • How about the men who testified against Burge, who were his victims?
  • Those men, unlike Burge who gets a pension now, and the Illinois Supreme Court has upheld his right, even as a convicted felon to collect that money. These men get nothing, have nothing.
  • There are as many as 90 of those men on the streets now, with no health care, with no treatment for psychological damage.
  • The majority of city council members support at this point reparations for those men. The reparations for those men would be 20 million dollars.
  • The same amount of the money the city spent to defend Burge in the cases of the exonerated men.
  • We’re now at a sensitive stage, where the mayor, Emanuel has had to come out. He’s no friend to the anti-torture forces, and he’s been asked repeatedly on this.
  • He has played both sides against the middle, its time right now where he’s going to have to fish or cut bait.
  • We had the strong support of Karen Louis who was a wonderful challenger and she has now had to withdraw from the (mayoral) race because of “health issues.” She was a strong supporter of the reparations ordinance.

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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Law and Disorder October 13, 2014


Updates:

  • Mumia Spurs Bill To Block Publicity-Seeking Criminals (Son of Sam Law)
  • Guantanamo Bay Prisoner Files Historic Lawsuit Against Obama Over Force-Feeding

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Lawyers You’ll Like – Charlie Abourezk

As part of our Lawyers You’ll Like series, we talk with attorney Charles Abourezk about his work with the Native American community in South Dakota. Charles is a trial attorney, author and film maker. His documentary A Tattoo On My Heart: The Warriors of Wounded Knee 1973 is a gripping documentation of those American Indian men and women involved in the siege. Charles is the Chief Justice of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe Supreme Court, he’s also member of South Dakota Advisory Committee to U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. He’s the son of James George Abourezk, former Democratic United States Representative and United States Senator where he was generally viewed as critical of US foreign policy in Israel and Palestinian.

Attorney Charlie Abourezk:

  • The Rosebud Sioux Tribe is the second largest tribe in South Dakota. There are nine total tribal governments in the state. It’s where I grew up.
  • I spent most of my adult life on the Pine Ridge Reservation which has been the poorest county in the United States.
  • I went to law school, long after I worked for a number of Indian organizations including a Native American NGO that worked at the UN in Category 2 status.
  • The Pine Ridge Reservation is the second largest reservation in the United States, located in south western South Dakota. It’s a huge land mass, takes about an hour and a half to drive diagonally across the reservation. There’s very little economy. The geography is very poor, it lends itself to cattle grazing but not much in terms of raising crops.
  • Wounded Knee was the site of the 1890 massacre in which almost 300 American Indians from several different tribes were killed by the U.S. Army. They were surrounded and essentially murdered on that spot.
  • So, in 1973, there had been a lot of racial discrimination and racially motivated killings of Indian people, the American Indian Movement returned and joined forces with the traditional people who had long been neglected on the reservation.
  • As a result they decided to engage in a protest. They chose the site of the massacre at Wounded Knee, to stage that protest.
  • They set up sort of a line there, with the government and US Marshalls, along with Dick Wilson’s followers who were armed and were called the goon squad and formed the other side of that line. The siege lasted 71 days.
  • It finally dismantled and number of people were prosecuted as a result of that.
  • At Wounded Knee, two Indian people killed and one Marshall wounded.
  • We set up a recording studio right at the Wounded Knee school, and just took people’s stories. I did the interviews, they were really powerful. There were some stories that didn’t fit with the arc of the film but were incredible. I’m glad I documented it then, because I think of the people in the documentary, 7 or 8 have now passed away.
  • I continue to be a strong advocate for tribal sovereignty, self determination and the rights of individuals especially within the dynamic of racial discrimination which at times in South Dakota have been as bad as the south is toward African Americans.
  • I helped affirm and preserve the boundaries of the Yankton Sioux Reservation, that went up to the Supreme Court twice. I was the lead council when it finally concluded, we were able to win that one.
  • I was a former Supreme Court Justice on the Pine Ridge Reservation for their Supreme Court and I retired from that position.
  • Except for limited jurisdiction the Federal Government had on criminal matters, the civil jurisdiction for incidents which occur within the reservation lie with the tribal court as do criminal misdemeanors for tribal members and non tribal members meaning Indians from other tribes that happen to be living on the reservation.
  • In the Native American view you can’t really have winners and losers, you have to try to restore the harmony or the balance within the tribe.
  • The American government adopted the British style of colonialism as did the Israelis when they began to colonize parts of Palestine. It kind of goes in 4 steps.
  • A disruption of traditional agriculture and food gathering, which out here was done in two ways, killing off the buffalo and secondly constraining them from moving around in a wide arc for hunting and gathering – by putting them on the reservation they stopped that.
  • Transfer commonly owned land into private ownership, to turn land into a commodity that can be bought and sold. They did that through what’s called the Daws Act or the Allotment Act in the late 1800s.
  • Theodore Roosevelt called that act a “might pulverizing machine” with which to break up the tribal mass.
  • The third step was to develop a native ruling elite. In this case they first developed “paper chiefs” then in the 1930s developed modern tribal government.
  • Last step, develop an educated elite. Of course any colonizer anywhere, that’s the step that always back fires.
  • The American Indian Movement was born from the children of the parents who were relocated into cities trained as workers.
  • They were the ones who came back home and joined forces with the traditional people and stood up against racism and in favor of tribal sovereignty and tribal self determination.
  • You see many parallels with that and what’s happening to the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.  Dr William Julius Wilson

Guest – Charlie Abourezk, from Rapid City, South Dakota and is a trial attorney, longtime activist and community organizer in the native American community in South Dakota.   He is also a documentary film maker, his most recent is the feature length documentary “A Tattoo On My Heart: The Warriors of Wounded Knee 1973” which played on public television stations around the United States. He is the current Chief Justice of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe’s Supreme Court and a member of the South Dakota Advisory Committee to the US Commission on Civil Rights. His client base is made up largely of Native Americans, tribal schools and Indian tribal governments, but he also represents plaintiffs in civil rights litigation. He will have a book coming out this next year entitled “A Mighty Pulverizing Machine: The Continuing Colonization of American Indians.”

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 From Guantanamo to Wikileaks: Taking on the State In a Post 9/11 World.

Our own Michael Ratner, President Emeritus, Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), past president, National Lawyers Guild; Chair, European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights delivered a talk last week titled ‘From Guantanamo to Wikileaks: Taking on the State In a Post 9/11 World.’  Michael was honored with a PathMaker to Peace Award by the Brooklyn For Peace Organization for his consistent work in litigation against government spying and surveillance of activists including the targeting of Muslims particularly after 9/11.

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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Please help support Law and Disorder, the show is now a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization. Contributions for the charitable purposes of Law and Disorder must be made payable to Fractured Atlas only and are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.

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Law and Disorder October 6, 2014


Updates:

  • Michael Ratner: Moazzam Begg Freed After Terrorism Charges Dropped
  • Michael Ratner: 149 Inmates In Guantanamo Bay Prison – 79 Approved For Transfer

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U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder Evaluation

Michael Ratner and Heidi Boghosian draw a balance sheet on the record of U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.

  • Holder approved drone killing of American citizen al-Awlaki without due process.
  • Holder failed to prosecute any of the Bush Administration officials who were openly admitted torturers.
  • Holder abrogated the responsibility in holding corporate criminals accountable. Wall Street.
  • Holder settled with HSBC for 2 billion, the bank was caught laundering money for drug cartels yet no prosecution.
  • With-Holder prosecuted whistleblowers, Chelsea Manning, Julian Assange, Edward Snowden, James Risen, Jeremy Hammond, Fox News Reporter,

Law and Disorder Co-host Attorney Heidi Boghosian,  executive director of the A.J. Muste Memorial Institute, a nonprofit charitable foundation providing support to the nonviolent movement for social change. Before that she was executive director of the National Lawyers Guild. She is author of the book “Spying on Democracy: Government Surveillance, Corporate Power, and Public Resistance” (City Lights, 2013) as well as several reports on policing and the First Amendment.

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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Academic Freedom & Political Dissent: A Conversation with Katherine Franke and the Community

We continue to report on Professor Steven Salaita’s case and the concerns regarding established principles of academic freedom. We hear a presentation by Katherine Franke, Professor of Law at Columbia University. Listeners may recall that Professor Salaita was unhired from the American Indian Studies program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign because of his statements on social media criticizing Israel’s conduct of military operations in Gaza. We reported last month on Law and Disorder that scholars from law schools around the country came out with a letter condemning the decision of the University of Illinois to unhire Professor Salaita. Katherine Franke discussed Salaita’s case at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign late last month.

Speaker – Katherine Franke,  Isidor and Seville Sulzbacher Professor of Law; Director, Center for Gender and Sexuality Law at Columbia University. She was awarded a 2011 Guggenheim Fellowship, and is among the nation’s leading scholars in the area of feminism, sexuality and race. In addition to her scholarly writing on sexual harassment, gender equality, sexual rights, and racial history, she writes regularly for a more popular audience in the Gender and Sexuality Law Blog. Franke is also on the Executive Committee for Columbia’s Institute for Research on Women and Gender, and the Center for Palestine Studies and teaches at a medium security women’s prison in Manhattan. Her legal career began as a civil rights lawyer, first specializing in HIV discrimination cases and then race and sex cases more generally. In the last 25 years she has authored briefs in cases addressing HIV discrimination, forced sterilization, same-sex sexual harassment, gender stereotyping, and transgender discrimination in the Supreme Court and other lower courts.

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Donate now!

Please help support Law and Disorder, the show is now a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization. Contributions for the charitable purposes of Law and Disorder must be made payable to Fractured Atlas only and are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.

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Law and Disorder September 15, 2014


 

Updates:

  • Professor Salaita Press Conference Update
  • Michael Ratner: 13th Anniversary of 9-11
  • Michael Ratner: You Can’t Have Imperialism Abroad And Democracy At Home
  • Michael Ratner: Basically . . .It’s Over. The Legal System Is Done For.
  • Michael Ratner: September 11, 1973 Anniversary – Chilean Coup D’état
  • Michael Ratner: September 7, 1971 Anniversary Attica Prison Rebellion

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50 Year Anniversary of the Free Speech Movement

The Free Speech Movement began September 14, 1964, marking the 50 year annivesary this month. It began when the University of California at Berkeley announced that existing university regulations banning political activity on campus would be “strictly enforced.”  The resulting protests, unprecedented in scope, were the harbinger of the student power, civil liberties, and antiwar demonstrations that convulsed college campuses throughout the country for the next decade. American playwright, social activist and author Barbara Garson joins us to talk about the Free Speech Movement and her most famous work MacBird.

Barbara Garson:

  • I was at the University of California at Berkeley and when we got back to campus in 1964 some people from the Freedom Summer in Mississippi, myself working with the farm workers in California . . . we come on to campus and we discover that the area in front of the school that we (all the groups) traditionally used to hand out leaflets about their events and so on, suddenly you couldn’t hand out leaflets there.
  • The reason we were given was trash. That is to say litter.
  • Pretty soon all the groups, I mean all the groups, the Republicans, the Young Republicans, the Democrats and the Anarchists, we all went to the administration and . . . . they dropped that flimsy excuse.
  • They said no, the only thing is you can’t pass out leaflets on campus that advocate action off campus.
  • It was obvious not only to the radicals but all the students that some . . powerful people in Berkeley had become annoyed by the farmworkers boycott and the equal employment picket lines in Oakland and had put pressure on the president of the university.
  • All the groups realized this wasn’t an issue about litter, it was an issue of free speech.
  • Throughout that year of expulsions, arrests, all the groups stood together.
  • They stuck together with a very simple demand, that we be able to exercise the freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution of the First and Fourteenth Amendments on the CAL campus.
  • We won 100 percent.
  • We created a counter force and we stayed with it. I don’t believe in the cult of a personality but Mario Savio really was special.
  • The campus police called the Berkeley Police and the Berkeley Police who are very nice put Jack Weinberg in a police car. Suddenly everybody sat down around the police car. There are dozens of people who claim to be the first person to sit down around the police car.
  • He (Jack) knew immediately not give his name to step up the action.
  • People start getting on the police car to address the crowd. Try to remember back what kind of kids we were. When you look at the pictures we had short hair, we had bright glasses, just really nice kids. (They take off their shoes before getting on police car.)
  • One of the people who gets on the police car is Mario Savio who’s been on a Freedom Summer, that summer. The gift that Mario gave us was his utter sincerity.
  • He (Mario) created that sense, we’ve come here to do something worthwhile with our lives. We were talking lives, not lifestyle.
  • We were very naive and we accept committees to look into the free speech regulations on campus.
  • Over the course of six months it became clear to everyone that there was nothing we could do that we would be betrayed.
  • Many of the students were most radicalized by being lied to.
  • I’m an FSM alumni really, not a Berkeley alumni.
  • It’s just natural, they really did agree with us, who doesn’t agree with the First and Fourteenth Amendments.
  • We literally voted to dissolve the Free Speech Movement. That’s wrong. We saw the same thing happen with Occupy, from a good impulse, not be like them, we haven’t presented any power to fight them.
  • One of the areas where we left no fight, the economic areas which have seen working people beaten down for the 40 years.
  • Now when you go to the University of California Berkeley campus you don’t need regulations about speech when most of the students have mortgage sized debts.
  • When I went to University of California Berkeley my tuition was free.
  • The FSM, well, its in part in sorrow that we meet to figure out how things went this way.
  • FSM.org – Reunion Event

Guest – Barbara Garson, an American playwright, author and social activist known for the play MacBird. She wrote a series of books describing American working lives at historical turning points, including All the Livelong Day (1975), The Electronic Sweatshop (1988) and Money Makes the World Go Around (2001). Her new book, just published, is Down the Up Escalator: How the 99% Live in the Great Recession

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 Louis Tikas and the Ludlow Massacre

Louis Tikas and the Ludlow Massacre is the title of the new documentary film from Greece by Lamprini Thoma and Nickos Ventouras. April 20, 2014 marked the 100th anniversary of the historic attack on workers. In April 1914, the Colorado National Guard and Colorado Fuel and Iron Company Camp Guards began shooting into a tent colony of 1200 striking coal miners and their families in Ludlow Colorado. 39 people were killed including 2 women and 11 children. Among the murdered was Louis Tikas, a Greek immigrant who is remembered in this documentary for his work that helped launch the U.S. labor movement. The story is told through the voices of prominent historians, artists and the descendants of Ludlow miners in Colorado.

Lamprini Thoma:

  • When the situation in Greece . . . we’re not a democracy anymore, you know. When we started losing our working rights, we started having problems with immigrants . . it all became obvious we were back there.
  • Me and Nickos who’s my partner in life and in crime, we did the movie together.
  • We thought that we didn’t have to say anything, that history could say everything, about people like immigrants, like Greeks and how they suffered, and how they fought for their rights.
  • That’s how it became relevant to us now. Not something from history but something from your life, you have to put in your life and you have to say to the other, see this is what happened.
  • We musn’t let it happen again.
  • Palikari, young men in their prime. Louis Tikas his name is Elias Spantidakis. He left from Crete, late 19th century, went to New York and from there Colorado where he got involved with the unions and he started organizing the Greeks and he saw how hard things were especially for the miners.
  • He was a man of peace and of justice I can say.
  • He was murdered brutally by the man of the Rockefellers at the time of the Ludlow massacre.
  • In this work of ours we’re trying to let the people meet him and see how wonderful a man can be.
  • At the time John Rockefeller Sr was passing his power on to John Rockefeller Jr. it was 1914 that the thugs of the Colorado Fuel and Iron Company of the Rockefellers attacked the miners.
  • It was the second day of the Greek Easter, a very important time for Greek immigrants. Louis Tikas was the first to be killed among the union men.
  • It’s a history then that shows how things were and still are in my opinion for the working class.
  • Women were the ones to keep the house, to keep the children fed. To take their place (the men) when they were arrested.
  • When working rights move on, all rights start to move on. They’re connected in a way.
  • Most people think that Rockefeller was the winner. He killed them when the strike was brought. But he was not, history is the judge there . . . and how it survived in memory.
  • They never speak about class war in the United States. They use other phrases.
  • Our premiere will be in the CUNY Grad Center in Manhattan September 19, 2014 and we’re expecting to see you there.
  • Nonorganicproductions.com – Coal is organic.

Guest-Lamprini Thoma has been working as journalist, radio producer and script writer for the last 30 years. She has covered wars in the Balkans, the former Soviet Union and West Africa. She has worked in print, online and broadcast media, including the BBC’s now defunct Greek service. She created the first specialized newspaper column on the Internet in Greece, something which still makes her proud.  Lamprini and Nikos have been working together for the last ten years.

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Law and Disorder September 8, 2014


Updates:

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University of Illinois Chancellor Wise Going Forward With Salaita Appointment To Board of Trustees Vote

Last month, the University of Illinois rescinded the job offer of Professor Steven Salaita who wrote controversial social media posts about the war in Gaza. This raised serious concerns under established principles of academic freedom. Professor Salaita was basically dehired from the American Indian Studies program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign because of his statements on social media criticizing Israel’s conduct of military operations in Gaza. We reported weeks ago on Law and Disorder that scholars from law schools around the country came out with a very strong letter condemning the decision of the University of Illinois to dehire Professor Salaita.  FOIA Email Link

Professor Katherine Franke:

  • Professor Steven Salaita until recently was a tenured professor at Virgina Tech and was well known in English departments across the country and also among scholars who worked in colonialism and post colonialism studies. He developed a really rich body of work thinking about Native American rights, native people’s rights in the United States and connecting them to Palestinian rights in particular internationally.
  • Read Professor Katherine Franke’s second letter here.
  • He was a well sought after scholar and was hired by the University of Illinois in their American Indian Studies program in a process that started last fall.
  • The department unanimously voted him an offer and this summer the university started to get pressure from outside donors, some of their alums and advocacy groups to not finalize the offer because of some tweets Professor Salaita sent out over the summer related to the Israeli attacks in Gaza.
  • The emails to the chancellor were released showing that large six figure donors had seen those tweets or learned of them and said you cannot hire this guy or I will withdraw my future giving to the universities.
  • So, the chancellor let Steven know that she was not going to finalize his offer even though they already negotiated his teaching schedule, he’s already rented an apartment, they had already negotiated his moving expenses.
  • Right now he has no job, no income, no where to live.
  • It’s the most recent iteration of what has been a rather well organized, well financed campaign in the United States in particular to purge the academy of scholars and even graduate students who are doing work that is either sympathetic to the idea of Palestinian sovereignty or rights or critical of Israeli state policy particularly the occupation.
  • It was so obviously a violation of the fundamental right of academic freedom.
  • I’ve only learned of his scholarship as a result of this campaign and his termination from the University of Illinois.
  • I explain to Chancellor Wise in the letter that I sent, that not only will I not come to the university to speak in an official capacity but I will come to Urbana-Champaign and meet off campus with faculty and students, and members of the communities about these issues of academic freedom.
  • Their strategy has been to portray any criticism of Israeli state policy or any criticism of political Zionism as uncivil or as a form of hate speech, but more importantly to appeal to a civility norm. That its not nice. That it creates an unwelcome learning environment for students, particularly jewish students.
  • To see her parroting that language (Chancellor Wise) and for Chris Kennedy to parrot that language says to me that they’ve been reached by these organized operatives from the outside about how to message this termination.
  • I don’t believe there is a civility norm at stake here and I think we actually shouldn’t have one in a university setting. We ought to take on uncivil ideas, ideas that are troubling, that are uncomfortable and unpack them in thoughtful scholarly ways.
  • As these emails are coming out under the Freedom of Information Act Requests over the last few days its quite clear that civility is not what underwrote the decision to terminate him. It was really outside pressure from donors.

Guest – Katherine Franke,  Isidor and Seville Sulzbacher Professor of Law; Director, Center for Gender and Sexuality Law at Columbia University. She was awarded a 2011 Guggenheim Fellowship, and is among the nation’s leading scholars in the area of feminism, sexuality and race. In addition to her scholarly writing on sexual harassment, gender equality, sexual rights, and racial history, she writes regularly for a more popular audience in the Gender and Sexuality Law Blog. Franke is also on the Executive Committee for Columbia’s Institute for Research on Women and Gender, and the Center for Palestine Studies and teaches at a medium security women’s prison in Manhattan. Her legal career began as a civil rights lawyer, first specializing in HIV discrimination cases and then race and sex cases more generally. In the last 25 years she has authored briefs in cases addressing HIV discrimination, forced sterilization, same-sex sexual harassment, gender stereotyping, and transgender discrimination in the Supreme Court and other lower courts.
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The Jihadis Return: ISIS and the New Sunni Uprising

In June of this year, the United States sent more troops to Iraq and carried out airstrikes to stop the advance of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, known as ISIS into the Kurdish capitol Erbil. However, a more complicated situation has developed in Syria. The U.S., Western European, Saudi, and Arab Gulf policy is to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, which is also the goal of ISIS and other jihadis in Syria. ISIS’s membership is between 10 and 17 thousand.  We talk today with veteran Middle East correspondent Patrick Cockburn about his new book The Jihadis Return: ISIS and the New Sunni Uprising, about the origins of ISIS. We’ll also talk about the role of Saudi Arabia in the larger picture and in funding part of the Sunni terrorist groups, which was exposed by Wikileaks.

Patrick Cockburn:

  • The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, which has turned into the new caliphate in western-northern Iraq and western Syria. It has come out of Al-Qaeda in Iraq.
  • This organization that was linked to Al-Qaeda but not formed by Al-Qaeda after the invasion of Iraq in 2003 is very anti-Shia, Sunni fundamentalist is extremely violent.
  • What makes it so effective is its a mixture of religious fanaticism and military efficiency.
  • Some of the senior people of ISIS are former security officers and special republican guard officers from Saddam Hussein’s time.
  • ISIS is led by a core of people who fought the U.S. in Iraq, fought the Iraqi Army, this is after 2003 and then after 2011 fought in Syria.
  • So, it’s quite an experienced group.
  • It had been growing stronger in Iraq over the last 3 years. It launched a series of campaigns, one of which to break its members out of prison.
  • It had taken over quite big territory in Iraq then it had moved into Syria.
  • It’s present in both countries, but its main effort was in Iraq this year.
  • It always had strength in Mosul City, even though the Iraqi Army was in theoretically in charge but it would still levy protection money on people.
  • Maybe 8 million dollars a month. I know contract men there paying half a million dollars a month.
  • It’s final take over was swift and devastating. I can’t think of an example in history when 350 thousand men in the Iraqi Army,  650 thousand police simply disintegrated under an attack from under 3000 ISIS fighters.
  • What really changed in 2011 when you had the uprising in Syria, primarily the Sunni Arabs of Syria, Iraq politicians said it would spill over into Iraq.
  • The U.S. and its allies to a substantial degree were responsible for this. They backed the uprising against Assad. Even when it was apparent in the last 2 years that Assad wasn’t going to go.
  • Wahhabism is the Islamic variant practiced in Saudi Arabia.
  • There’s always been an alliance over the last 300 years between the preachers of this very puritanical, fanatical, violent and bigoted variant of Islam and the House of Saud.
  • What they believe is not that much different from what ISIS believes. It’s very anti-Shia, the Shia seen as heretics worthy of death. It’s anti-Christian, anti-Jewish and deeply intolerant.
  • Without the policies of Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, there wouldn’t have been a 911.
  • Bin Laden was part of the a Saudi elite.
  • Rather amazingly, the Saudis were let off scott-free.
  • Kuwait has been a major financial supporter of the Jihadis, so has UAE, so has Qatar, the gulf monarchies as a whole if you like and so has Turkey.
  • The problem with Obama and the U.S. is they have to decide what side they’re on.  In Iraq, they’re supporting the government against ISIS, they’re supporting the Kurds against ISIS.
  • But in Syria, the main opponent of ISIS is the Assad government but the U.S. policy is to weaken and displace that government.
  • In a way, (the U.S. policy actually assists ISIS)

Guest – Patrick Cockburn is currently Middle East correspondent for The Independent and worked previously for the Financial Times. He has written three books on Iraq’s recent history as well as a memoir, The Broken Boy and, with his son, a book on schizophrenia, Henry’s Demons, which was shortlisted for a Costa Award. He won the Martha Gellhorn Prize in 2005, the James Cameron Prize in 2006, and the Orwell Prize for Journalism in 2009.

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Law and Disorder September 1, 2014


Updates:

  • Michael Ratner: The Dahiya Doctrine, Wikileaks and Julian Assange
  • Michael Ratner: U.S. Is The Fundamental Supporter Of Israel War Crimes
  • Major Free Speech Court Victory in Brooklyn Bridge Occupy Mass Arrest Class Action
  • Update On H.Rap Brown Health And Treatment

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Labor Day Songs From The Union Makes Us Strong.

Michael Smith and Heidi Boghosian play songs from The Union Makes Us Strong album by Peter Siegel and Eli Smith to honor Labor Day 2014. The historical importance of these songs lie in the role they played in the creation of the union movement in the United States in the first half of the 20th century. They instrumental in propagating the attitudes and ideas the “class consciousness” that led working men and women by the thousands to recognize the need to stand together in solidarity. In short, they shaped a politicized working-class culture based more upon social than individual values.

Songs: There Is Power In the Union / The Preacher And The Slave / The Death of Mother Jones / Song For Bridges.

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Non-GMO Seed Programs Help Poor Farmers In El Salvador Secede From Monsanto Monopoly

When you hear news reports about the mass migration of unaccompanied children coming across the Mexico – U.S. border, you usually don’t hear about the pressures that are driving the emigration. Today we look at some of the economic and agricultural reasons that cause migrations specifically in El Salvador.  One organization helps poor farmers grow and market sees for corn and beans. This program is called the Mangrove Association where the government buys the seeds and distributes them for free to the 400 thousand farmers. However, these are non – GMO seeds, a preference that local communities and the El Salvadoran government had to fight for.

Professor of Law Eleanor Stein:

  • My primary work over the last 10 years has been centered on climate change and what can be done to reverse that trend and to change the political climate in which those decisions get made.
  • I was interested in this project in El Salvador because I understood that it was based in some local community groups in a very poverty stricken rural area in the southwestern part of the country and they were using very creative methods to develop more of a sustainable agriculture and also to take measures related to adaptation of their region as a result of climate change.
  • CAFTA is a trade treaty which the U.S. and Central America are parties and the Dominican Republic and it governs very much like NAFTA. It governs the requirement for procurement of goods and services by governments in those regions.
  • El Salvador is a very poor country. It’s still living with the results of a civil war that went from 1979 to 1992 that resulted in the death of almost 80 thousand people.
  • When I say a civil war, that doesn’t really capture the full involvement of the U.S. government fully supporting the right wing counter insurgency forces.
  • They (Salvadoran government) have put in place a seed program that began in 2012 that was meant to deal with tremendous problems in food insecurity, agricultural non-sustainability and poverty and lack of economic opportunity that exist in the rural areas.
  • They’re cooperatives that produce seeds. They’re locally grown, they’re non-GMO and they are apparently more successful than the Monsanto varieties.
  • They have a higher germination rate, and they’re much more hardy in their conditions of growth in El Salvador.
  • Until fairly recently, Monsanto had been procuring almost all of its seeds from a Monsanto subsidiary in the region and from very few other producers and were arguable in violation of CAFTA because this was a direct procurement without bidding.
  • The Millennial Challenge Corporation is a U.S. government agency which is basically a dispenser of aid in the form of grants to countries that have been defined as emerging potential democracies by the State Department.
  • This aid package for every country it has been offered has been conditioned on the local government making certain changes. Legislative changes to bring the economy of the recipient country more in line with the neo-liberal trade policies.
  • For example, they tried to get the El Salvadoran legislature to privatize water in their country.
  • This is one of few places in the world where a region has been able to secede from the Monsanto monopoly.
  • Mangrove Association.There were able to provide for free to more than 400 thousand farmers these very high quality seeds. This is a concrete effective local program that is really combating hunger and food insecurity and its at a time when tens of thousands of children from El Salvador are trying to emigrate to the United States because of not only violence but poverty and lack of opportunity in El Salvador.
  • Both the violence and the poverty and the lack of economic development are rooted in the war in the history of El Salvador and the history of the U.S. role in that war.
  • I think the underlying condition not only for the emigration but for the violence itself is the lack of infrastructure, the lack of development, the lack of opportunity that continues to haunt this country that was under the rule of an oligarchy for 60 or 70 years.
  • We didn’t meet a single family that had indoor plumbing. People are living under really difficult conditions.
  • www.eco-viva.org

Guest – Eleanor Stein, teaches a course called the Law of Climate Change: Domestic and Transnational at Albany Law School and SUNY Albany, in conjunction with the Environmental  and Atmospheric Sciences Department at SUNY. Eleanor Stein is teaching transnational  environmental law with a focus on catastrophic climate change. For ten years she served as an Administrative Law Judge at the New York State Public Service Commission in Albany, New York, where she presided over and mediated New York’s Renewable Portfolio Standard proceeding, a collaboration and litigation of over 150 parties, authoring in June 2004 a comprehensive decision recommending a landmark state environmental initiative to combat global warming with incentives for renewable resource-fueled power generation.

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Law and Disorder August 25, 2014


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Ali Abunimah On Gaza, His New Book The Battle For Justice in Palestine and Censorship

ElectronicIntifada co-founder Ali Abunimah is the author of new book The Battle For Justice in Palestine. He shares with hosts the recent news of what’s happening in Gaza, the resistance around the world, as well as on campus and in the United States. Ali was scheduled to speak at the Evanston Public Library in early August. The library later sent an email telling him he couldn’t be allowed to speak without an Israeli speaker to ensure balance. Neighbors for Peace an organization of antiwar activists based in the Chicago suburb of Evanston, Illinois who initially brought Abunimah to speak suspected the library’s director was pressured to censor the event. The event was canceled the following day and after some activism and demonstration, the presentation was rescheduled. Ali spoke about his recent book The Battle For Justice In Palestine, the event was packed.  Last year at Brooklyn College a similar controversy erupted when Palestinian BDS advocate Omar Barghouti and University of California Berkeley philosopher and BDS supporter Judith Butler we’re scheduled to speak.

Ali Abunimah:

  • The situation has gotten considerably worse (in Gaza) over the past year because of the coup in Egypt.
  • The current regime in Egypt is very closely aligned with Israel. They’ve made it just impossible for 1.8 million people to live in Gaza.
  • The demands from Palestinian civil society is lift the siege, open the crossing, allow farmers to farm, allow fishermen to fish, allow factories to function, allow travelers to travel, students to go to their universities, patients to reach their hospitals, allow medicines to come in, allow books to come in.
  • You mentioned my book The Battle for Justice in Palestine. Well, there’s no way to get that book into Gaza.
  • It’s also a siege on human contact, culture, education and nourishment. They killed now more than 2000 people in Gaza which is 1 out of every 1000 residents in Gaza.
  • Entire families have been wiped out, nobody feels safe. This massacre Israel thought would break people’s will and get them to accept and go back under siege.
  • But Israel won’t (lift the siege) it’s a matter of pride for them, it’s a matter of colonial control.
  • The most frightening statement about where they’re (Israel) going was made more than 10 years ago. I wrote about this recently in an article called The Gaza Massacre Is The Price of Living In A Jewish State.
  • At that time you hearing fantasy about Gaza becoming the new Singapore on the Mediterranean. The Israelis were saying to themselves that Gaza was going to become a giant holding pen for human beings who are not Jewish.
  • If we’re going to wait for government to do the right thing or the UN to get its act together, then we’re doomed.
  • Despite the multiple levels of complicity by this government in this country, and governments in Europe and the Arab world, something is happening.
  • We’re not starting from zero we have a really important and sustained Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement.
  • They’re firing artillery, mortar shells that are designed to be indiscriminate into populated areas of Gaza with the intended consequence of causing widespread destruction.
  • We have to go after the weapons manufacturer, we have to after the people who approve these sales from around the world and its because of public pressure that the UK announced last week that they will suspend armed exports to Israel if significant hostilities resume.
  • Well now they have resumed, let’s see what they do.
  • Look what’s happening just this week, an Israeli cargo ship was prevented from unloading for 4 days in Oakland because solidarity activists and unionized port workers have been working together to prevent that.
  • Israel can only maintain its dominance over Palestinians through brute force and use of violence against Palestinians there, and through attempts to suppress debate, suppress political action on behalf of Palestinians in the United States and around the world.
  • Mainstream media is more closed to Palestinian voices than what I’ve seen in 20 years. I used to get on CNN, I used to get on MSNBC.
  • The librarian let me know that the event was canceled until they could get a pro-Israel speaker.
  • There was such an uproar, it was amazing. They did a U-turn pretty quickly.
  • As Israel and its apologists lobbies lose control of the narrative, lose control of the politics in this country, there is a more blatant resort to outright repression such as what is going on now at the University of Illinois and other institutions around the country.
  • In that chapter I site an organization called the David Project, which is a Zionist group that’s been working for ten years attacking and targeting professors.

Guest – Ali Abunimah a Palestinian American journalist who has been described as “the leading American proponent of a one-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. A resident of Chicago who contributes regularly to such publications as The Chicago Tribune and The Los Angeles Times, he has also served as the Vice-President on the Board of Directors of the Arab American Action Network, is a fellow at the Palestine Center, and is co-founder of The Electronic Intifada.

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salaita salaita

Top Legal Scholars Decry Chilling Effect of Dehiring Professor Steven Salaita

The University of Illinois has rescinded the job offer of the professor who wrote controversial social media posts about the war in Gaza. Professor Steven Salaita was essentially dehired from the American Indian Studies program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign because of his statements on social media criticizing Israel’s conduct of military operations in Gaza. This has raised serious concerns under established principles of academic freedom. Those principles are enshrined in Illinois law, in the U.S. Constitution, and in the written principles of the American Association of University Professors. Recently, scholars from law schools at Columbia, Cornell, Berkeley, Georgetown, and other universities have come out with a very strong letter condemning the decision of the University of Illinois to dehire Steven Salaita. Read letter here.

Professor Katherine Franke:

  • Professor Salaita was made a tenured offer of appointment at the University of Illinois in their American Indian studies program last year. He accepted it and negotiated the terms of the offer. Then during the most recent assault on Gaza, he was active on twitter expressing his views on the Middle East and colonialism.
  • The University of Illinois came under a tremendous amount of pressure to revoke the offer of employment to Professor Salaita.
  • The offer wasn’t finalized, there’s usually a rubber stamp process where the department and the head of the university have to take appointment to the Board of Trustees.
  • The chancellor of the university Phyllis Wise informed Professor Salaita that she would not be bringing his appointment to the Board of Trustees and was unwilling to finalize his appointment.
  • He had already resigned his position at Virgina Tech and was getting ready to move. He’s a well known scholar, not only of American Indian studies but of colonialism more generally and has connected up the struggle for sovereignty and analysis of genocide and occupation in the United States to the struggles that the Palestinians have suffered in the Middle East.
  • He certainly didn’t depart from views he expressed before but I think they, in the heat of the moment of this recent assault on Gaza, the university basically buckled and withdrew the offer, and he’s now without a job and an income.
  • It’s because of his speech on the issue of war crimes that may have been committed by Israel in the assault on Gaza.
  • His tweets have been rather even across the board I think in terms of criticizing the critics of Israel when they’ve overstepped but also criticizing Israel itself.
  • He’s a firey guy with strong opinions and rigorous academic critiques of colonialism and colonial violence.
  • I thought it would be useful to add constitutional and legal analysis of the problem, situated historically in threats to free speech on campus. I drafted a letter for Constitutional law professors, not in which they would agree to boycott universities . . . more offering a constitutional analysis of retaliation against unpopular speech.
  • The law in this area has been made by faculty and sometimes students.
  • I brought it back to Urbana-Champaign and their own history of threats to free speech both during the McCarthy period when bills were introduced in Springfield to punish or purge people who had back then what they call Communist sympathies when working in public universities. In 1960, there was a professor in the biology department at Urbana-Champaign that had written and spoke about human sexuality and premarital sex, and had actually endorsed premarital sex.
  • There are a couple of principles that are at stake here, one has to do with the state punishing any citizen for speaking on an unpopular topic and particularly punishing for the viewpoint they take.
  • There’s another faculty member at the University of Illinois Kerry Nelson who has been a rather enthusiastic advocate of Israel’s right to attack Gaza. He said things that are quite inflammatory, he’s not been fired. He’s not been punished for the positions he’s taken on the Middle East.
  • Viewpoint discrimination, that’s the first point. The second point is academic freedom. Universities are the primary bastion of protection. A domain where we protect the pursuit of unpopular ideas, controversial ideas, of ideas that might even be frightening.
  • That is the commitment that we make as part of the academic endeavor. The point of that concept of academic freedom is that we don’t want to have a kind of orthodoxy or an official version of the truth.
  • Dr. Wise comes out of a somewhat corporate background. She, I think is the poster woman if you will for the executive that is now leading universities and thinks of universities as a business.
  • The presidents are making an economic calculation, that they can pay off someone like Salaita and satisfy their donors.
  • We can’t just agree to do nothing which what a boycott is. In a way it’s the easiest thing to do.
  • I would say I have a lot of faith in students.

Guest – Katherine Franke,  Isidor and Seville Sulzbacher Professor of Law; Director, Center for Gender and Sexuality Law at Columbia University. She was awarded a 2011 Guggenheim Fellowship, and is among the nation’s leading scholars in the area of feminism, sexuality and race. In addition to her scholarly writing on sexual harassment, gender equality, sexual rights, and racial history, she writes regularly for a more popular audience in the Gender and Sexuality Law Blog. Franke is also on the Executive Committee for Columbia’s Institute for Research on Women and Gender, and the Center for Palestine Studies and teaches at a medium security women’s prison in Manhattan. Her legal career began as a civil rights lawyer, first specializing in HIV discrimination cases and then race and sex cases more generally. In the last 25 years she has authored briefs in cases addressing HIV discrimination, forced sterilization, same-sex sexual harassment, gender stereotyping, and transgender discrimination in the Supreme Court and other lower courts.

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History Of Police Brutality And The Militarization of Local Law Enforcement

In the days since the uproar over the police shooting and killing of unarmed teenager Michael Brown, state and local law enforcement have been cycling through different approaches demonstrators in Ferguson, Missouri. They rolled out armored vehicles, while police in riot gear deployed tear gas, stun grenades and shotguns. Another decision permitted the Missouri State Highway Patrol to march with protestors. The National Guard was also ordered in.  We examine the history and consequences of militarizing local law enforcement with Baruch College Civil Rights Professor Clarence Taylor.

Professor Clarence Taylor:

  • We can’t talk about a post civil rights era. These issues are still with us today.
  • It’s the people on the ground, who have gone through this, that are fed up.
  • It’s not just arguing for a black face in a high place.
  • There is no requirement of the police of Ferguson to live in that community.
  • Having black officers would change the nature of the investigation.
  • This is something that’s been argued going back in the 1930s and the 1940s and people were organizing against police brutality.
  • We should not take our eyes off the racial component of this.
  • Police brutality would still go on without the militarization of the police.
  • You throw all these new toys at the police department and once you have a big enough hammer, everything looks like a nail.
  • Diversifying police departments is very very important and emphasizing more community policing.

Guest – Professor Clarence Taylor, His research is in modern civil rights, black power movements and African American religion. He’s the author of many books including co-editor of Civil Rights Since 1787: A Reader in the Black Struggle. He’s currently writing a history of police brutality in New York City from the 1930s to the 1960s. In 1991, Clarence received his PhD in American history and began teaching at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, New York. He reworked his dissertation into a book, The Black Churches of Brooklyn from the 19th Century to the Civil Rights Era, and it was published by Columbia University Press in 1994. In 1996, Clarence became a member of the history department and the African-New World Studies Program at Florida International University.
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