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Law and Disorder February 1, 2016


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CCR Human Rights Group Returns From Israel

Executive Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights Attorney Vince Warren returned from Palestine Israel last month where he was accompanied by CCR Legal Director Baher Azmy and CCR Deputy Legal Director Maria LaHood.  We talk with Vince Warren about what they saw, with whom they met, and the current activities of the CCR in support of the Palestinian people and human rights in Israel Palestine.

Guest – Vince Warren, Executive Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights. He oversees CCR’s groundbreaking litigation and advocacy work, which includes using international and domestic law to hold corporations and government officials accountable for human rights abuses; challenging racial, gender and LGBT injustice; and combating the illegal expansion of U.S. presidential power and policies such as illegal detention at Guantanamo, rendition, and torture. Prior to his tenure at CCR, Vince was a national senior staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, where he litigated civil rights cases, focusing on affirmative action, racial profiling, and criminal justice reform. Vince was also involved in monitoring South Africa’s historic Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings, and worked as a criminal defense attorney for the Legal Aid Society in Brooklyn. Vince is a graduate of Haverford College and Rutgers School of Law.

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American Exceptionalism And The Proto-Fascist State

American exceptionalism is a term referencing the special character of the United States as a uniquely free nation based on democratic ideals and personal liberty.  Our guest Todd Pierce has written about this and American militarism on sites such as MondoWeiss.com, Consortiumnews and Truthout. We’ll also talk with him about the Obama Administration’s expression of “American exceptionalism.” How has military rule degenerated the principles within U.S. Constitution? Todd Pierce points out that there is a continuity between the Obama Administration – today’s neoconservatives and the law under fascist Germany in the 30s and 40s.

Guest – Todd Pierce, retired Major in the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corps in November 2012. His most recent assignment was defense counsel in the Office of Chief Defense Counsel, Office of Military Commissions. In the course of that assignment, he researched and reviewed the complete records of military commissions held during the Civil War and stored at the National Archives in Washington, D.C.

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Law and Disorder January 25, 2016


Updates:

  • Co-host Michael Smith Makes Presidential Election Prediction

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Mumia Abu-Jamal Health Lawsuit Update

For three days in late December, the 3rd Circuit Federal District Court heard Mumia Abu-Jamal’s lawsuit against the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections for refusal to provide him treatment for Hepatitis C.  Testimony from Dr. Paul Noel, Chief Medical Officer of the Pennsylvania DOC revealed that under the DOC’s new protocols only 5 out of an estimated 5,000 prisoners with chronic Hepatitis C were being treated with the new anti-viral drug beginning this fall – less than 1/10th of one percent.

The trial ended with a stunning revelation that the lawyer representing the DOC had knowingly introduced false evidence. Dr. Noel was the final witness; he stated that an affidavit introduced by defense attorney Laura Neal bearing his signature was NOT his actual testimony. It quickly became evident that the DOC attorney had ignored Dr. Noel’s repeated requests not to insert an erroneous paragraph into the document–in other words, she tampered with the evidence.  This same altered affidavit had been a key piece of evidence used by a PA magistrate judge in September to deny Mumia’s injunction against the DOC.

Guest – Bob Boyle, one of Mumia’s attorneys and a long time National Lawyers Guild member.

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Guantanamo Bay Prison: 14 years

As of January 2016 more than 100 men remain at the U.S. military prison at Guantánamo Bay in Cuba. While our own Michael Ratner was president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, a network of hundreds of lawyers were at the forefront of the legal battle against indefinite detention and torture at Guantanamo. After the Center won landmark Supreme Court cases that established U.S. court jurisdiction over the prison and affirming detainee rights to habeas corpus review, hundreds of Muslim men and boys were gradually released from the offshore prison. Keep in mind the majority of the men at that prison weren’t charged with a crime. Many have been cleared for release yet remain trapped by political inaction or other bureaucracy. The pressure from concerned activist groups, organizations and citizens calling on the president of the United States to close Guantanamo has gained momentum.

Guest – Aliya Hussain, the Advocacy Program Manager for the Guantanamo Global Justice Initiative at the Center for Constitutional Rights.

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Drinking Water Crisis in Flint, Michigan

A severe water crisis in the city of Flint, Michigan is attracting mounting concern from around the country. Politicians, celebrities and even presidential candidates are focusing on the toxic tap water in one of Michigan’s biggest and most troubled cities. When the state took charge of the City’s budget during a financial emergency, it decided to temporarily switch Flint’s water source from Lake Huron to the Flint River to save money until a new supply line to Lake Huron was finished. After the April 2014 changeover, residents complained about water looking, smelling, and tasting odd. Virginia Tech researchers revealed that the water was highly corrosive. A class-action lawsuit alleges the state Department of Environmental Quality failed to treat the water for corrosion, as federal law requires, and because so many service lines to Flint are made of lead, the toxic element leached into the water of the city’s homes. Although the city switched back to the Lake Huron water supply in October, the damage was already done to the lead pipes. The state is now handing out filters and bottled water with the National Guard.

Guest – Sheila Foster, the Albert A. Wash Professor of Law at Fordham Law School and Faculty Co-Director of the Urban Law center at Fordham University.

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Law and Disorder January 18, 2016


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NYC Teacher Fired For Lessons About The Central Park Five

An English teacher at a New York City high school claims that she was fired because of a lesson on the so-called Central Park Five which school administrators warned her would “rile up” black students. Jeena Lee-Walker recently filed a lawsuit in federal court against the Dept. of Education and several administrators from the High School for Arts, Imagination and Inquiry after being fired for insubordination and poor evaluations. She claims they were the result of her pushing back on topics like the Central Park Five. Lee-Walker,  who graduated from Barnard and has post-graduate degrees from Harvard and Fordham, began working at the school in 2013 and says she was told to be more “balanced” in covering the Central Park Five case in November of that year.

The  lawsuit claims retaliation against her “violated her First Amendment right to discuss the Central Park Five case, and that the firing violated the city’s contract with the teacher’s union because she was not given a required 60 days notice.” As listeners may recall, the Central Park Five, who were wrongfully jailed for the 1989 rape of a Central Park jogger, received a $42 million settlement from NY City. In 2014, they sued the state seeking $52 million in damages for the emotional trauma of being incarcerated for years for a crime they were coerced into confessing to.

Guest – Attorney Ambrose Wotorson, a Brooklyn based attorney who is representing Jeena Lee-Walker in this case. He’s a trial lawyer focusing employment law and business litigation. Twitter account.

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Intelligence Matters: The CIA, the FBI, Saudi Arabia, and the Failure of America’s War on Terror

Retired Florida U. S. Senator Bob Graham was the head of the US Senate intelligence committee and also  the chairman of the 9/11 commission of inquiry. He is the leading person trying to get President Obama to release to the public the suppressed 28 pages of the 911 report which have been hidden. Senator Graham contends that the 19 hijackers, 15 of whom who were Saudi Arabians,  could not have pulled off the operation alone and that in fact they were part of a support network involving the Saudi Arabian monarchy and government which helped plan, pay for and execute the complicated 911 plot which, says Senator Graham, would have otherwise been impossible to accomplish. Senator Graham has written the book Intelligence Matters: The CIA, the FBI, Saudi Arabia, and the Failure of America’s War on Terror. It provides a candid insight to the workings of the US in Saudi relations and their implications on US foreign-policy making as it pertains to the middle east and bags tension, contemporary geopolitics.

Guest – Senator Bob Graham, is the former two–term governor of Florida and served for 18 years  in the United States Senate. This is combined with 12 years in the Florida  legislature for a total of 38 years of public service. As Governor and Senator,  Bob Graham was a centrist, committed to bringing his colleagues together behind  programs that served the broadest public interest. He was recognized by the  people of Florida when he received an 83% approval ranking as he concluded  eight years as Governor. Bob Graham retired from public service in January  2005, following his Presidential campaign in 2004.

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Saudi Arabia, Wahhabism and Middle East Geopolitics

We take a deeper look at Saudi Arabia and its relationship first United States and then to the other countries in the Middle East region.

Guest – Professor Rashid Khalidi, a Palestinian American who grew up in New York City. He teaches at Columbia University where he is the Edward Said Professor of Arab studies and the head of the Middle East Institute.  He is the author of a number of books, most recently “The Iron Cage: The Story of the Palestinian Struggle For Statehood. He has written more than 80 scholarly articles on Middle Eastern history and politics as well as op-ed pieces in the New York Times, the Boston Globe, the Los Angeles times, the Chicago Tribune, and The Nation magazine.

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Law and Disorder January 4, 2016


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U.S. Pressed on Israeli Settlement Tax Breaks

The U.S. Treasury has long turned a blind eye to as many as 150 nonprofits that funnel up to $1 billion a year to Israeli settlements, according to a federal complaint filed in December. It now finds itself as a defendant in a just filed a lawsuit by Washington DC attorney Mark McMahon. Rather than engaging in “charitable activities,” these nonprofits—supported by US donations—are allegedly fueling land theft, forcible expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their land, demolition of homes and paramilitary activities carried out by armed Israeli settlers against Palestinian civilians. Some of the tax-exempt entities include the Hebron Fund, the Gush Etzion Foundation, American Friends of Ariel and Friends of the Israeli Defense Forces.

Pro bono attorney for the plaintiffs in the case, Martin McMahon, claims that huge tax deductions are being taken that support ethnic cleansing of Palestinians. Proving the allegations could lead the U.S. to designate these entities as “special designated global terrorists,” stripping them of their tax-exempt status and freezing their assets, he says. In addition to entrenching Israel’s occupation of Palestine, the complaint alleges that these organizations have undermined U.S. foreign policy in support of a Palestinian state and helped breed the conditions from which Palestinian violent resistance emerges. It alleges that the Treasury’s “double standard” in enforcing its own regulations has led to the proliferation of the Israeli settlement enterprise, resulting in up to $1 trillion in lost U.S. tax revenue.

Guest – Attorney Martin McMahon, the founding member and managing partner of Martin F. McMahon & Associates. He has extensive experience in the securities industry, civil rights litigation, and has argued in over 10 appellate cases before the D.C. Court of Appeals and Maryland Court of Appeals.

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Islamophobia 2016

After 9/11, and now in response to recent events around the globe, thousands of innocent Muslims continue to be monitored, entrapped, and arrested in the name of subverting radicalized terrorism. Hateful rhetoric from presidential candidate Donald Trump and others have inflamed anti-Muslim stereotypes and led to numerous instances of hate crimes.

Joining us to discuss law enforcement ideologies and strategies, as well as the general public’s perceptions of Muslims, is Arun Kundnani, author of the 2014 book The Muslims Are Coming! Islamophobia, extremism, and the Domestic War on Terror.

Guest – Arun Kundani – Born and bred in London, Arun moved to New York in 2010 on a fellowship with the Open Society Foundations. He lives in Harlem. He is also the author of The End of Tolerance: Racism in 21st Century Britain, selected as a New Statesman book of the year in 2007. A former editor of the journal Race & Class, he attended Cambridge University, holds a PhD from London Metropolitan University, and teaches at New York University.

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Law and Disorder December 28, 2015


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Mumia Abu-Jamal Lawsuit Update

Mumia Abu-Jamal has gone to federal court in Scranton, Pennsylvania to get an order compelling the state of Pennsylvania to provide him with medical care for Hepatitis C.  Mumia has suffered symptoms of slurred words, elephants skin, scales and bloody cracks in his skin on 90 percent of his body. Other symptoms include extreme weakness, swelling of his limbs and loss of mental acuity. Mumia Abu-Jamal is being represented by Bret Grote of the Abolitionist Law Center and by Robert Boyle a National Lawyers Guild lawyer and prisoner’s rights advocate.

Guest – David Lindorff, is an American investigative reporter, a columnist for CounterPunch, and a contributor to Businessweek, The Nation, Extra! and Salon.com. His work was highlighted by Project Censored 2004, 2011 and 2012. Born in 1949, Lindorff lives just outside Philadelphia. He currently writes for ThisCantBeHappening.

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The General’s Son, Journey of an Israeli in Palestine

Miko Peled is an Israeli writer and activist living in the US. He was born and raised in Jerusalem. His father was the late Israeli General Matti Peled. Driven by a personal family tragedy to explore Palestine, its people and their narrative. He has written a book about his journey from the sphere of the privileged Israeli to that of the oppressed Palestinians. Peled speaks nationally and internationally on the issue of Palestine. He supports the creation of a single democratic state in all of Palestine, and a firm supporter of BDS.

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Trotskyists on Trial: Free Speech and Political Persecution Since the Age of FDR

The American war against Iraq, originally called Operation Iraqi liberation, (O.I.L.) was not fought, as we can clearly see now, to bring freedom and democracy to Iraq. But what about World War II, often called “the good war”?  There were socialists indicted tried and convicted for opposing the American government’s aims in World War II, which they said was an imperialist war for markets and territories. They were falsely accused of conspiracy to overthrow the American government by force and violence,  a thought crime,  and imprisoned in Minnesota before the American government got involved in the war, that is, during peacetime.  This was accomplished by the Roosevelt government, urged on by J Edgar Hoover and the FBI.  The indictments and convictions were secured under the recently passed alien and registration act, known as the Smith Act, named after its sponsor Howard K Smith, a southern anti-labor racist democratic senator.  Back then in 1941 fear was marshaled against socialists union liters who were called subversives just as fear is used now against Muslims and terrorists.

Guest – Professor Donna Haverty-Stacke, is an Associate Professor of History and Roosevelt House Faculty Associate at Hunter College, CUNY where she teaches courses in U.S. cultural, urban and labor history.  She received her BA in American Studies from Georgetown University in May 1994.  As the recipient of the Joseph L. Allbritton Scholarship she studied at Brasenose College, Oxford University where she earned an MSt in Historical Research in 1995 and an MLitt in Modern History in 1997.  She then attended Cornell University, where she graduated with a PhD in History in May 2003.

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Law and Disorder December 21, 2015


Updates:

  • Co-host Attorney Michael Smith Reflects On The Anti-Union Oppression In Detroit And Wisconsin In The Late 50s

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Trumbo

In the late 1930s and early 40s, many artists, writers, and intellectuals who sympathized with the poor, the labor movement, and the fights against racism and fascism aligned themselves with the Communist Party – which was then following the Stalinist policy of the “popular front”.  Hence, when the governments anti-Communist witch-hunt got underway soon after the end of the second world war in 1946, many in Hollywood were placed under suspicion. Lists of names were drawn up, and those named were subpoenaed by the house committee on un-American activities (HUAC). Novelist and screenwriter Dalton Trumbo had joined the Communist Party in 1943, and he was on that list. In 1947, when called to testify before the HUAC, Trumbo refused to testify on the basis of freedom of association and freedom of thought, both supposedly guaranteed by the First Amendment to the constitution known as the Bill of Rights.  Trumbo spent 11 months in federal prison in Kentucky. He was blacklisted and couldn’t get a job in Hollywood for 13 years, but won Oscars is for two movies that came out under other names. The movie Trumbo starring Bryan Cranston does an effective job of showing the fear of communism that was generated in those dark times and how it decimated Hollywood and was used for thought control.

Guest – Zachary Sklar, Oscar-nominated co-screenwriter of Oliver Stone’s film JFK, and author of the book JFK: The Book of the Film. He’s a journalist, and a professor at the Columbia School of Journalism. He was also a contributor to The Lies of Our Times, a monthly journal dedicated to exposing the truth behind the mainstream media. Zach collaborated with director Oliver Stone on the screenplay of the movie “JFK” and was editor of Jim Garrison’s book “On the Trail of the Assassins.”

Outgoing song – “Nothing” by the Fugs, performed by the Down Hill Strugglers

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Climate Change Conference COP21

The meeting on controlling climate change by reducing greenhouse gases produced by fossil fuels concluded in Paris last week and involved representatives from every nation in the world. The agreement that came out a Paris is widely believed by climate change activists to be not nearly enough; That we need more reductions or our very existence is threatened. Critics of the talks say that it fell short because there were no timetables and no targets and no binding commitments.

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 November 30, 2015


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Lawyers You’ll Like – Attorney  Carol Sobel

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

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

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The War ISIS Wants: Nafees Hamid

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

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

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Law and Disorder November 23, 2015


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A Good American

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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CIW Farmworkers Protest Wendy’s Board Chairman Nelson Peltz

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

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

(photo credit: Jake Ratner)

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Law and Disorder November 9, 2015


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

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

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

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

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

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Palestinian Uprising And The Growing BDS Movement

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

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

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

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Law and Disorder October 26, 2015


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An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States

In the United States today, there are more than 500 federally recognized indigenous communities and nations comprising nearly three million people. These are the descendants of the 15 million people who once inhabited this land and are the subject of the latest book by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz.  In An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States, Dunbar-Ortiz challenges the founding myth of the United States and shows how policy against the indigenous peoples was genocidal and imperialist—designed to crush the original inhabitants. Spanning more than 300 years, this classic bottom-up history significantly reframes how we view our past. Told from the viewpoint of the indigenous, it reveals how Native Americans, for centuries, actively resisted expansion of the U.S. empire.

Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz:

  • It’s absolutely necessary to know this history of settler colonialism and how it effects consciousness today of U.S. people and in the world because everyone is convinced of this myth of the United States and somehow its always going off the path of this destiny that has never been true in the first place.
  • It’s like a fairy tale except its extremely deadly and dangerous.
  • Other countries have romantic myths as their form of nationalism but they don’t control the world with this ideology.
  • The myth is that it was a birth of settler democracy but we know from apartheid South Africa, we know from colonialism, particularly settler colonialism such as Israel.
  • There are so many parallels with Israel because the Puritans and this became embedded in all settlers, had this idea of the new Jerusalem of Zion. They used that terminology.
  • That God had given them this land to settle, it wasn’t just a right it was a responsibility to destiny, to the world.
  • This made the native farmer and fisherman, ordinary people like other people in the world into savages and monsters, sort of like the Israelis to do the Palestinians today.
  • Throughout the book I have a theme of the militarism and the counterinsurgency that attacks civilians and a food fight they call it, burns the food, supplies, the crops, burns the houses of the people in their towns, creates refugees. This then becomes the pattern.
  • Every generation there is this Indian war. Vietnam looked like an Indian war, even the language they use – Indian country for enemy territory, all of the weapons they name after native people.
  • This is not how we think of the United States, supposedly a civilian country, the military is always under control of civilians but that civilian president is commander and chief of the armed forces.
  • There’s also a theory, the Bering Strait the one entrance to the whole continent, which is absurd because all of the people on the coast were great seafaring people.
  • A part of European imperialism say as the beginning of everything that it connected people up. Actually what it did was separate people each other and their tradition.
  • My specialization is the southwest and central Mexico, Central America. I knew there were complex trade routes and roads all over the place, irrigation canals, how they developed agriculture.
  • The first chapter, Follow the Corn, I did just that. I followed out of Mexico, the dispersion of corn agriculture all the way to Tierra Del Fuego to the sub Arctic and coast to coast.
  • What you find in the Americas is when they get to the point of abusing the environment and become dictatorial, there tends to be revolts to overthrow, that was happening when Cortez came to Mexico.
  • The Quetzalcoatl cult that took over the Aztec government became abusive and was doing slave raiding. Had done a wonderful job of dispersing trade routes. Cortez simply allied with the rebels and overthrew the central government.
  • Course they couldn’t know his intentions of simply wiping out their civilization.
  • When British colonialism came to North America with these peculiar characteristics of the puritan ideology settling in. With 2 centuries of settler colonialism they developed this idea of ownership.
  • It went from owning human beings to the idea of owning the land.
  • George Washington was a surveyor and you have to ask why was such a super wealthy – a lowly surveyor?
  • Surveyors got to choose the best land, and got to mark it up. They had already developed this idea of a Platte, creating territories that would then become states once they had a majority settler population.
  • That’s why it took so long for Oklahoma, Oklahoma was the 47th state, New Mexico, Arizona, these places that had a majority native population.
  • It was rough being native in the United States, it still is. I grew up in Canadian county Oklahoma, my dad sharecropped, and was a tenant farmer throughout that area until the depression wiped it out.
  • The people went to California as refugees.
  • I’m cautious about the identity because native nationalism Cherokee or Onondaga or Shawnee or Creek Muskogee
  • There was an instance in 1917, I think its one of the most important moments in US history and hardly anyone knows about it. Jack Womack and I had written about it Monthly Review, it was called the Green Corn Rebellion.
  • That is the main demand, land base, nationhood, the ability to prosper and exist as people, not just as individuals being assimilated out, that’s another form of genocide.

Guest – Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz,  grew up in rural Oklahoma, the daughter of a farmer and half-Indian mother. She has been active in the American Indian Movement for more than four decades and is known for her lifelong commitment to national and international social justice issues. After receiving her PhD in history at the University of California at Los Angeles, she taught in the newly established Native American Studies Program at California State University and helped found the departments of Ethnic Studies and Women’s Studies. Her 1977 book The Great Sioux Nation was the fundamental document at the first international conference on Indians in the Americas, held at the United Nations’ headquarters in Geneva. She is the author or editor of seven books.

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ap6 nypdcls

NYPD Muslim Surveillance Case Reinstated

After the 9/11 attacks, the New York City Police Department created a vast and covert suspicion-less surveillance program targeting Muslim American communities in New York, New Jersey, and beyond. The federal lawsuit Hassan v. City of New York challenges the constitutionality of this program. The original complaint was filed by Muslim Advocates in the District Court of New Jersey and later joined by the Center for Constitutional Rights. The lawsuit seeks an end to the program and destruction of any records gathered. Our client Zaimah Abdur-Rahim was spied on by the NYPD because she operates a grade-school for Muslim girls.  NYPD officers recorded details about the school, such as the fact that it was run from Abdur-Rahim’s home and that its students were predominantly African-American. As the Associated Press reported in an award-winning series, the NYPD monitored and/or infiltrated almost every aspect of Muslim life, from mosques and student associations, to halal butcher shops, restaurants, and private citizens.  Internal NYPD documents confirm that the program produced zero leads to terrorist activity after more than a decade in operation.

Guest – Ghita Schwarz, a senior staff attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights.  She works on racial justice, immigrants’ rights and government misconduct cases. Her current cases include the Freedom of Information Act cases Detention Watch Network v. ICE and Immigrant Defense Project v. ICE, seeking government transparency about controversial immigration detention and enforcement practices; Hassan v. City of New York, challenging the NYPD’s discriminatory program of surveilling Muslims; and United States and Vulcan Society v. City of New York, challenging long-term employment discrimination by the New York City Fire Department. Ghita’s past work includes Aguilar v. ICE, fighting ICE’s practice of warrantless home raids, and NDLON v. ICE, challenging government secrecy regarding DHS’ Secure Communities program. Prior to coming to the Center for Constitutional Rights, she worked at LatinoJustice PRLDEF, the Door Legal Services Center, and Legal Services for New York City. Ghita graduated from Harvard College and Columbia Law School. Ghita’s recent writing includes “Why New York is Still the Capital of Immigrant America,” published in The Nation.

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