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Law and Disorder July 21, 2014


Updates:

  • Swedish Judge Denies Assange Lawyers Request To Set Aside 2010 Arrest Warrant On Sexual Misconduct Allegations
  • Torture Memo Author John Yoo Awarded Endowed Faculty Chair At University of California Berkeley School Of Law
  • Michael Ratner: The Trial of Donald Rumsfeld

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Israel’s Continued Disproportionate Use Of Force Against Palestinian Civilians

In a slow escalation of violence in the Gaza Strip, the Israeli Army responded earlier this month by launching “Operation Protective Edge” as Israeli jets dropped hundreds of bombs on the impoverished coastal enclave of nearly 2 million Palestinians. At this time, more than 200 Palestinians have been killed and more than 1400 injured. According to the United Nations, 77 percent of those killed are civilians and yet the massacre sadly continues. The vicious attacks are framed as a mutual conflict or exchange of fire. The reality is that the low quality rockets hitting Israel are not comparable to Israel’s powerful military strikes.

Phil Weiss:

  • In a nutshell I think Israel is trying to destroy the unification agreement between Hamas and Fatah. They don’t want diplomacy they want to end that unification deal.
  • It’s a great danger to Israel that the Palestinians are united, they want them divided.
  • They’ve used any pretext they can in the last month including the horrifying abduction and killing of these Israeli teens on the West Bank. They’ve used any pretext they can to break up, to try to break up that understanding.
  • The goals of a unified Palestinian government are to achieve some type of Palestinian freedom.
  • They would go on to International Criminal Court, International bodies and say hey, this occupation has been going on nearly 50 years . .. are you finally going to give us a state, sovereignty? If we can’t get sovereignty we’ll move to an equal rights struggle. .
  • I think the good thing that they show is there’s no green line. Israel operates with impunity, with complete autonomy all over historic Palestine. Netanyahu has said we’re never giving up the West Bank. It’s sort of an announcement to the world, this is one state.
  • The legal response and the one you demonstrated (Michael Ratner) against Cast Lead was this is Internationa Humanitarian Law and Human Rights law apply here and Israel should be brought up before International bodies for violating those laws.
  • The one form of progress is there’s no ground invasion this time. (this is what he thought at the time)
  • Michael Ratner, you and I have a somewhat different relationship to the mainstream press in that I used to be part of it and now and then I have fantasies of getting back in.
  • With that proviso, I think there has been a little bit of progress in the mainstream so you have on NBC news, you have words opening that report saying these people are trapped, they have no where to go and its a lopsided conflict.  I didn’t hear that around Cast Lead.
  • I’m not trying to defend the mainstream so much to say that I feel that there is some real shift going on.
  • Michael Ratner: Here’s a question about half-full. Do you want me to call the family that lost 17 kids in the same household in Gaza? That’s not half-full. That’s empty.
  • You’re putting me in the position of saying what I’m about to say which is the slaughter of 200 people is different from the slaughter of 500 people.
  • Michael Ratner: We’re still counting Phil.
  • The Jewish American community is highly responsible for this behavior, for this conduct that’s going on there.
  • How useful was that aircraft carrier (Israel) when we were occupying Iraq and we were invading Afghanistan? It wasn’t at all useful to us.
  • I think its a burden (Israel) I think it’s a millstone around our necks because it says the United States stance is slaughtering brown people.
  • You look at J Street, this great liberal Zionist organization. They’re justifying everything Israel is doing now.
  • There’s only a couple of Jewish organizations that stood up and said this is wrong. Jewish Voices For Peace and Jews Say No.
  • I think there’s an implicit understanding around the world now about why these people are firing rockets.
  • One of things you hear in Israel is the existential threat, in that people are delegitimizing us and I think that’s great news.
  • I see more voices talking about this conduct as just beyond the pale. I feel that the world is regarding this as a central human rights issue.

Guest – Philip Weiss,  founder of Mondoweiss, longtime journalist and regular contributor to the Nation and a fellow at the Nation Institute.  Philip is the author of two books a political novel, Cock-A-Doodle-Doo, and American Taboo, an investigative account of a 1976 murder in the Peace Corps in the Kingdom of Tonga.  Weiss is one of the editors of The Goldstone Report: The Legacy of the Landmark Investigation of the Gaza Conflict.

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Andrew Kadi:

  • I don’t necessarily know that Israel has any real goals that will benefit Israeli society other than possibly the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in Gaza, forcing them to move out.
  • They’re leaving Gazans in deplorable conditions. They have unilaterally absolved themselves of their legal obligation under International law to the population in Gaza and have instead declared something that I think nobody else recognizes that Gaza is somehow a hostile territory or an enemy territory.
  • It’s counter-productive if your belief that the goal or the end goal for the Israeli government is peace.
  • The majority of these rocket attacks are pretty small projectiles as anyone who has seen them knows has no chance of actually injuring anyone or causing damage. Some of them are as small as a Coke can.
  • Hamas has deployed larger rockets in last 4 years that can fire through a building. ‘
  • By and large these attacks are being carried out by other groups round the clock. The ones that Israel is referring to are usually other groups that have nothing to do with Hamas.
  • I would say the rocket attacks are a cry for help from Gaza.
  • In the end, Gazans are isolated, there’s a siege, a blockade that Israel’s carrying out. I think that Gazans don’t want to be subject to it anymore.
  • They want to be able to live like any other population.
  • The American Foreign Services committee published a list of American companies directly involved and complicit in the attacks on Gaza.
  • Those companies include Boeing, Hewlitt Packard, Elbit Systems, Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, General Electric, Northrup Grumman, Raytheon.
  • In 2005, Palestinian civil society called for a Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel until it complies with the 3 tenets of International law.
  • The end of the occupation, equality for the Palestinian citizens of Israel and the right of refugees to return to their homes.
  • Other companies that folks can boycott, Sodastream, Ahava cosmetics, Strauss Group, Osem – Tribe Hummus, Sibeon Company.

Guest - Andrew Kadi, a human rights activist and digital media specialist currently serving on the Steering Committee of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation. He’s contributed to the Guardian’s Comment is Free, The Electronic Intifada, Mondoweiss, Left Turn and other publications.

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Law and Disorder July 14, 2014


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Campaign Demanding Proper Health Care For Incarcerated COINTELPRO Target Imam Jamil Al-Amin (H. Rap Brown)

A campaign was recently launched demanding immediate health care for political prisoner Imam Jamil Al-Amin, formerly known as H. Rap Brown. Once the chairperson of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and minister of justice for the Black Panther Party, Al-Amin was one of the original four targets of the FBI’s infamous COINTELPRO. Now 70 years old, he has been held in a federal prison at Florence, Colorado since 2006 where he is serving a life sentence for what many claim was the wrongful conviction in 2002 for shooting two deputy sheriffs. At the time, four leading Muslim organizations – CAIR, the AMC, ISNA and the Muslim American Society – issued a joint statement: “The charges against Imam Jamil are especially troubling because they are inconsistent with what is known of his moral character and past behavior as a Muslim.”

Al-Amin has multiple health issues have rapidly accelerated, including dental problems, a swollen jaw, broken teeth and swollen legs, ankles and feet, and has lost 30 pounds in just a few weeks, likely the result of recently-diagnosed cancer. Recently, former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark visited Al-Amin.

Attorney Karima Al-Almin:

  • I met Jamil on July 1st 1967. I had graduated from college and started a job on that day. He walked into the job where I was to see someone who he was staying with.
  • At that time he was under house arrest and he could only stay in the borough of Manhattan, the Bronx and then William Kunstler’s house up there in Westchester county.
  • He invited me to go to lunch. The lunch was with Louis Farrakhan. So I met him on the same day, we joke about that but I married Jamil.
  • In May of 1967 he was elected chairperson of SNCC Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.
  • Based on the fact that he didn’t appear for trial in Maryland for inciting to riot charge which was later dismissed, he was put on the 10 most wanted list in May 1970.
  • For 19 months he was being sought and not found but then he was found and capture in October 1971. He was attempting to clean up New York City’s drug problem.
  • There was an H. Rap Brown Anti-Dope Campaign. As a result he was captured in what was labeled as an “armed robbery.” He did go to trial and William Kunstler and Howard Moore defended him.
  • He was given a sentence of 5-15 years. He served 5 years in the New York State prison system and then he got out in 1976.
  • After getting out in October 1976 he can come to Atlanta where I had moved.
  • He spent years, establishing a Muslim community again cleaning up the neighborhood making it safe for families and children.
  • In May of 1999 he was stopped which ended up being an illegal stop outside of Atlanta city limits. He was charged with driving a stolen car which he did not know about.
  • In January of 2000 he was given a date to appear in court on those charges there was a storm and it was postponed. He didn’t know he was supposed to return and a warrant was issued in March 2000. That’s when the incident happened.
  • A Fulton County deputy was killed and one was shot and then we had the trial in 2002. There were so many problems with the trial. There were so many constitutional violations during the trial. As a result he was found guilty in March 2002 and given a life sentence without the possibility of parole.
  • Georgia in 2003 tried to get him transferred and held in a federal facility, but it didn’t come to happen until July 2007. They were moving him based on his popularity.
  • Georgia (the state of) is paying a per diem to the Federal Bureau of Prisons for him to be housed.
  • It goes back to what he thought was a dental problem about a year and a half ago. He developed abscesses. He was unable to get out of bed.
  • A petition has already been sent to President Obama, Eric Holder and Charles Samuels.
  • Call ADMAX – 719-784-9464.
  • Create an email and fax flood. Email FLM/execassistant@bop.gov or use the form at http://www.bop.gov/inmates/concerns.jsp (location Florence ADMAX USP). Fax 719-784-5290. Jamil Al-Amin, #99974555
  • He dared to step out when he was 23 years old to speak out about injustices and make a difference.

Guest – Attorney Karima Al-Amin is an attorney at law and the wife of political prisoner Imam Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin. In addition to her private practice, Mrs. Al-Amin continues to work with attorneys in appealing her husband’s conviction and in working on his civil lawsuits challenging First Amendment and religious violations. Mrs. Al-Amin is a member of several legal and community organizations, including the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), the Clarkston Business Association, and the Georgia Association of Muslim Lawyers (GAML).

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US Attorney General Ramsey Clark:

  • I met first through FBI memos, a stack that reached floor to ceiling. He had a wonderful talent to irritate the FBI.
  • The country needs that sort of skill. So I got a lot of memos before I even met him.
  • He committed the supreme offense in the hierarchy of offenses of the FBI that is he embarrassed the bureau by making them look foolish cause they couldn’t catch him.
  • The legal staff were cheering him on. He made our day with narrow escapes. After this Congress enacted this absurd statute in his honor that shows he was a productive citizen concerned for our welfare.
  • He’s big strong tall guy and he has to duck under that door on the other side of that glass that you meet him through, he looked smaller.
  • Usually his energy level is very high. His energy level is way down, he looked frail in spite of his large frame.
  • Went back Sunday and his condition was the same, confirmed. He’s got a real health problem that needs to be addressed.
  • I think ideally he’d go to the Mayo Clinic first, get the thorough work up and diagnosis and everything. If its going to be long range treatment get him over to North Carolina.
  • The main thing is he needs the help of caring people from all over the country. We have to organize that to pressure the United States to do the only moral thing.

Guest – Ramsey Clark, former Attorney General of the United States, under President Lyndon B. Johnson. The first Attorney General at the Justice Department to call for the elimination of the death penalty and all electronic surveillance. After he left the Johnson administration, he became a vociferous critic of the Vietnam War and continued on a radical path, defending the underdog, defending the rights of people worldwide, from Palestinians to Iraqis, to anyone who found themselves at the repressive end of government action.

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U.S. Government To Prosecute 67-year-old Palestinian-American Rasmea Odeh

In the fall of 2013, the Department of Homeland Security arrested Rasmea Odeh, a 67 year old Palestinian American community activitist and teacher in her Chicago home for failing to disclose a 1969 conviction in an Israeli military court. She was charged with unlawful procurement of naturalization. Odeh had allegedly failed to disclose her time in an Israeli prison 45 years ago. In 1969 Rasmea Odeh, her father and fiancee were brutally tortured in an Israel relating to a bombing at a Jerusalem supermarket. Israel extracted a confession from Odeh, and she spent 10 years in an Israeli prison where she was tortured and sexually assaulted.

Odeh is Associate Director of the Arab American Action Network and leader of that group’s Arab Women’s Committee. The events bring together disenfranchised women, mostly recent immigrants, from Arabic-speaking countries. Odeh is scheduled for trial at a Detroit Federal court in September. If convicted she could be imprisoned, have her citizenship revoked and be deported.  Human rights campaigners in the United States are calling on the Obama administration to drop charges against Rasmea Odeh, a Palestinian-American community organizer in Chicago who is accused of lying on a citizenship application two decades ago.

Attorney Michael Deutsch:

  • She was arrested Israel military and secret police in February of 1969. Her family, her father and two sisters were also arrested, taken out of the house in the middle of the night.
  • She was then transported by herself to a prison in Ramallah. On the way she was brutally beaten, when she arrived at the prison she was beaten again to the point where her whole body turned black.
  • She was then transferred to another prison which is called the Russian compound which is in the West Jerusalem.
  • There she was horrifically beaten subject to electronic torture, alligator clips to her breasts and genitals.
  • Prisoners and soldiers came into her room, she was raped repeatedly. She was raped with sticks. She was denied food, denied sleep, this went on for 45 days until she gave in and confessed.
  • Her father was brought in a room with her and they said her father was going to rape her. Her father of course refused and they beat her father to the point of unconsciousness and they dragged him out.
  • She was accused of being involved in two bombings one at a British counsel and one at an Israeli grocery store.
  • When she was brought into an alleged court, which was a military court run by soldiers, she renounced her confession and said that she was innocent. That was ignored and she was convicted of these bombings and being a member of an illegal organization and given a life sentence.
  • Ultimately in 1979, she was traded with 70 other Palestinian prisoners for the return of an Israeli soldier where she was taken to Syria, then Lebanon then to Jordan where she lived til 1994. She obtained a VISA to come to the United States.
  • Basically for almost the following ten years she’s been working as a community activist in Chicago particularly with the Arab-American Action Network.
  • In 2010 there were all these raids by the FBI toward anti-war activists and the executive director of the AAAN. He was subpoenaed to a grand jury after the FBI raided his home and took all his papers.
  • They claim that he was providing material support for the PFLP and as a result the whole AAAN was put under investigation and the grand jury subpoenaed all the documents of the organization.
  • As a result of this investigation into the AAAN, the US attorney in Chicago sent word to Washington that they wanted to get Rasmea’s files from Israel.
  • In a year or two years they got the records or alleged to be her records of arrest, conviction and sentence by the Israeli military court.
  • I don’t believe a conviction or arrest by the IDF and a conviction by an Israeli military tribunal is consistent with International Law, fundamental fairness or due process.
  • One of the things were going to say is that the conviction and arrest can’t be given any kind of credit in a U.S. courtroom because its fundamentally unfair and shouldn’t be considered.
  • The question is whether she answered those questions with an intent to falsely procure her naturalization.
  • I would add the judge in this case has been a fervent supporter of Israel since the 50s.
  • The Israeli tribunals are not only based on torture but illegal occupation. They invade a people’s land and set up these military courts.
  • The question in my mind in Rasmea’s trial is how are they going to keep out the issue of torture? Which is want they’re going to want to do.
  • To support Rasmea Odeh, contact the Arab-American Action Network
  • CCR Statement

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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Law and Disorder July 7, 2014


Updates

  • Chilean Court Finds American Journalist Charles Horman Was Murdered With Help of US Government – CCR Case
  • Appeals Court Rules Victims of Torture at Abu Ghraib May Sue Private Military Contractor CACI  Al-Shimari v. CACI
  • Happy Birthday To Julian Assange From Law and Disorder Hosts
  • Hobby Lobby: Continued Attack On Women’s Reproductive Rights
  • The Meaning of the Fourth of July For the Negro By Frederick Douglas

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Federal Court Dismisses All Charges Against Dr. Sami al-Arian

In very good news last week the US Department of Justice dropped all of its criminal charges prosecutions etc of activist and Palestinian professor Sami Al Arian. They’ve been trying to persecute, charge him etc. for over 11 years. The case began in 2003 as a criminal case. Although he was charged with some 14 counts he was convicted of none. Rather than face trial again Al-Arian pled guilty to one count served some time and most of us thought it was over by then. He had an agreement that he couldn’t be further prosecuted, that they wouldn’t go after him any longer but that he could be deported. Unfortunately the Department of Justice had a what you would have to call an Islamophobic vendetta against Sami Al Arian. They went after him again, first with the civil contempt of a grand jury he did time for that and in then something utterly unusual they charged him with criminal contempt. The criminal contempt case was pending for five years finally, last week the Department of Justice, the prosecutors dismissed that case.

 Laila Al-Arian:

  • We’re feeling a sense of relief that this nightmare appears to be coming to an end.
  • We’re happy to hear about the government dismissing the charges against my father.
  • In a way it’s vindication for my father, we said in the very beginning. It’s been 11 years. We said all along this is a political case.
  • If my father truly were a criminal, they would try their utmost to keep him in prison. Not to say political prisoners aren’t often arrested unjustly, tried and imprisoned but we’re hoping that this finally means this saga will end and my father can live as a free man.
  • What preceded it (2003 indictment) was really a decade of harassment. The FBI basically tapping our phone calls, not just my father’s but siblings and I as well. When you think of the Snowden disclosures and the NSA spying on people, for us this is a reality.
  • We had no sense of privacy growing up. Simply because my father was a Palestinian activist who dared to challenged the common narrative that you normally hear in the United States.
  • Because he really dared to offer a different perspective and to try to help people being subjugated and occupied, so because of that he became a target, not only of the FBI but really powerful pro-Israel voices and forces here in the U.S who tried to smear his name for many many years, accused him of being a terrorist.
  • That was part of it, because he was an advocate on Palestinian human rights but also because he was a person who really thought to involve American Muslims politically.
  • A lot of these forces I mentioned after 9-11, they really exploited the atmosphere with fear and hysteria and tried to paint my father as this menacing figure, as a terrorist, and at time when the Bush Administration should have been working with American Muslim leaders and try to build a bridge between east and west. Instead the targeted my father and tried to make an example out of him, to say that if you dare to speak out this is what will happen to you.
  • He ended up being arrested in 2003 and placed in some of the most atrocious and inhumane conditions that even Amnesty International condemned and was held basically for 2 and a half years before he was basically put on trial.
  • The trial lasted for six months, the government spent millions and millions of dollars on the case. They even flew in witnesses from Israel to testify about things my father had nothing to do with.
  • After months of negotiations my father signed a plea agreement to end his case once and for all.  The government ended up violating the key agreement and basically a prosecutor here in Virginia on ended up at bringing him here and trying to basically retry the Florida case despite the agreement and tried to get him to testify in another case against a Muslim think tank in Virginia and when he refused to testify for the violation of the pre-agreement he was held first on civil contempt and then charged criminal contempt.
  • It was very clear that the true intent of this Islamophobic and pro-Israel prosecutor Gordon Kromberg is to retry the Florida case in Virginia, basically pretending it was another case when all of the questions had to do with the Florida case.
  • Then the judge received a couple of motions from my father’s attorneys asking to fully dismiss the case and there were no rulings in the past few years by the judge and finally the government decided to drop the charges.
  • Luckily in the fall of 2008, my father was released on bail. He was released on house arrest.
  • It’s really a testament that there is no case. The think tank that was investigated by Kromberg wasn’t charged for a single crime. They convened one grand jury after another and there were never any charges, any indictment.
  • My father was a professor at the University of South Florida, a professor of computer engineering when he was arrested. It’s a very complicated case, as we mentioned stretches over a decade. It’s a case that actually outlasted the Iraq War.
  • The next step is in the plea agreement my father unfortunately at the time his back was against the wall, he did end up agreeing to deportation, so now we expect that he will be deported. But as a stateless Palestinian, we don’t know where he’ll be deported.
  • My father’s trial attorneys were Bill Moffet and Linda Moreno.

Guest – Laila Al-Arian,  a writer and producer for Al Jazeera English. She helped produce the network’s Palestine Papers special in January 2011, a four-day program on the largest diplomatic leak in the history of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. She is the co-author of Collateral Damage: America’s War Against Iraqi Civilians She is the daughter of Professor Sami Al-Arian.

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Supreme Court Delivers Blow to Organized Labor

Last week the United States Supreme Court decided on the case Harris v. Quinn ruling that some government employees didn’t have to pay any fees to the unions representing them. The case was brought by 8 Illinois workers who provided home care to Medicaid recipients. Some of the plaintiffs were mothers who were personal assistants to their disabled children and opposed joining the union.  In a 5-4 majority, Justice Samuel Alito Jr.concluded there was type of government employee called a partial public employee who can opt out of joining a union and not be required to pay union fees.

Labor Attorney Bill Herbert:

  • Harris versus Quinn I what the ramifications of it while the court held that the majority held that a statute in in Illinois that provided for requiring employees in a bargaining unit to pay agency fee to union was unconstitutional and therefore struck down a provision of a contract that require those employees to pay a fee for being represented by the union.
  • These are domestic workers who work for people who are ill and who but also that their salaries and the benefits are paid for by the state.
  • These are public employees defined by state law as public employees but it is a background in the National Labor Relations Act which is the Wagner act which was past in 1935 specifically exempts domestic workers in farmworkers from representational rights. These employees if they were just hired by someone to come to their home would not have any rights under the National Labor Relations Act.
  • In 1947 Taft-Hartley was passed, Taft-Hartley allows for states to pass laws which are called right to work laws or referred to as right to work laws.
  • A state can prohibit a contract to provide that people who decide not to join the union still have to pay a fee related to the representation.
  • For public employees there was a case decided in 1977 called Abood which came out of Detroit. In 1977 case public employees it was found  constitutional to establish a procedure where people were not members of the public sector union still have to pay a fee for the representational rights that’s negotiations etc. but don’t have to pay for what is sometimes is ideological work which would be in a political activity such as supporting candidates etc. 
  • There was a procedure created where people can object and they can go in and raise issues and seek to have only monies relevant to collective-bargaining be a part of their fee, so that was Abood.
  • The heart of wages and benefits are something that are set by the state. It’s called joint employer relationship.
  • The court in the Harris v. Quinn case ruled that its unconstitutional for these employees to be required to pay a fee for the benefits they received based on the representation provided by the union.
  • It’s interesting to compare this to Citizens United. In Citizens United, shareholders who are opposed to what a corporation may spend in terms of money for political action in terms of supporting candidates, had no say.
  • The Supreme Court found that in Citizens United the First Amendment gives corporations First Amendment rights and the share holders have no say.
  • In this case the Supreme Court held that these employees don’t have to pay anything for being represented by the union in collective bargaining for the state.
  • Domestic workers are usually low wage employees, very high turn over, people who are generally receiving the low end of the pay scale.
  • What we’re looking at is constitutionalizing this concept which was previously statutory in the private sector and making it such that other statues around the country where states have intervened in providing for representational rights for people excluded from the National Labor Relations Act.
  • These other statutes may now be challenged based on this ground and in the future it’s based on language of the decision. It’s conceivable that this case could at least the verbiage in the majority decision which Justice Kagan referred to is good to as gratuitous dicta about Abood decision and why was wrongfully decided is something then they come back to be utilized in future cases in future challenges against the requiring union members of bargaining you do not union members to pay a fee.
  • In Illinois and in other states domestic workers have been working in the doing a lot of work towards organizing to provide the collective bargaining but for example in New York they don’t have the right to collectively bargain nor farmworkers in other states both farmworkers and domestic workers have rights to unionize.
  • These kind of this decision where depending on the structure that the state’s designs could be subject to build the other statues they subject to challenge legally.
  • One of the ironies in this case is that one of the reasons why these agency fee arrangements have been states have put them into place is to create stability within bargaining is not having multiple unions trying to come in and and try to organize employees or having conflicts between members who are paying for the services against people who are not paying so the legislatures when they pass in Illinois for example they when they passed the statute were seeking to provide stability  in the workplace.  Most “Right to Work” states are in the South.
  • The current time is being described as the new Gilded Age and new Gilded Age is about wage disparity but is also other things including job security and issues involving the pensions.
  • Tenure is under attack pensions are under attack and now there’s an attack upon the idea of having to pay representative to provide you with with representation. A lot of the initiatives that have been enacted in the 20th century are being stripped away and it’s being tied with basically the new Gilded Age.
  • The good news of the decision was that Abood was not overturned.

Guest – William A. Herbert is a Distinguished Lecturer at Hunter College, City University of New York and a former Deputy Chair and Counsel to the New York State Public Employment Relations Board (PERB).  Prior to his tenure at PERB, Bill practiced labor and employment law in federal and state courts, administrative agencies and in arbitration. Bill is one of the editors of the treatise Public Sector Labor and Employment Law, Third Edition and he has written and spoken extensively on public sector labor law and history.

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Law and Disorder June 30, 2014


Updates

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Michael Ratner Marks CCR Case Rasul v Bush: Courage To Stand Up At The Right Time

In early 2002, the Center for Constitutional Rights filed two habeas petitions, Rasul v. Bush and Habib v. Bush. This  challenged the U.S. government’s practice of holding foreign nationals captured in connection with its war on Afghanistan and al-Qaeda in indefinite detention. This is without counsel and without the right to a trial or to know the charges against them.  Michael Ratner then explains the timeline of how the Supreme Court, over the administration’s objections, agreed in November 2003 to hear the cases of the Guantanamo detainees, and also the case of al Odah v. Bush.  This week’s anniversary marks the historic ruling on June 28th, 2004 that detainees have access to U.S. Courts to challenge their detention.

Attorney Michael Ratner:

  • We won that in June 28, 2004. We won it in a 6-3 decision. The Center for Constitutional Rights was the only human rights organization on the case. The only one willing to take that case.
  • Many of my colleagues, not me, thought that would be the end of Guantanamo (Bay Prison)
  • There are still 149 people left in Guantanamo, over half of them have been cleared for release. The reason I want to mark this is because it talks about a struggle that in some ways was successful and in some ways not successful.
  • It also talks about the courage of these lawyers that started these cases in the thick of the most anger in the country and . . . fears that we would lose our fund raising.
  • We thought at that time, as I said some of our friends, said that we would close Guantanamo. But since that time there’s been incredible stubborn resistance by all 3 branches of government.
  • Bush first, then Obama, despite promises has failed to live up to them, promises to close Guantanamo. The courts are therefore useless now in this.
  • Congress is going retrograde at a speed unimaginable, trying to ban every transfer for the rest of our days from Guantanamo.
  • Within 2 months of the 911 attacks, President Bush issued Military Order Number 1. It’s November 13, 2001 Military Order, I thought a coup de tat happened in the country. It said the president had the authority to pick anyone, anywhere in the world. Hold them indefinitely, incommunicado and abolish habeas corpus.
  • We tried to get other human rights organizations to do it. No one else to their shame would come aboard with the Center for Constitutional Rights.
  • The Center for Constitutional Rights could’ve gone under for this. Let me be clear. It was a much smaller institution. It didn’t have that much funding. There was a high risk that we were going to get cut off completely.
  • January 11, 2002, they take the people, the first plane load to Guantanamo.
  • We never expected the Supreme Court to take the case in 2003. When it finally did, it accepted the case. It was argued in April 2004. It was decided in our favor on June 28.
  • We then put out a call for other lawyers to join us. Over a hundred lawyers joined us immediately. 600 within a year or two. We then created what I call a mass movement of lawyers to fight this.
  • As a result of the 2004 ruling, our first attorney went down (to Guantanamo) Gita Gutierrez. The big thing that Gita’s visit represented is that we found out about torture at Guantanamo.
  • You begin to understand when a government does incommunicado detention in an offshore facility that doesn’t have any court review, there’s a reason, and the reason is almost entirely torture.
  • There’s been no prosecution. Obama has given them all a huge pass unfortunately. It’s really damaging because what it has done for torture is its saying, torture isn’t necessarily illegal, Obama claims it’s illegal but he didn’t prosecute anybody.
  • So, next time we have another “scare” like this people will say it’s a political issue, we can torture, it works, etc.

Guest - 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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Israel Increases Rate of Palestinian Home and Structure Demolition

In the past few months, the Israeli government has stepped up its campaign of Palestinian home demolitions, specifically in the E1 area between Jerusalem and the Maale Adumim settlement. United Nations reports show 231 Palestinians had been displaced from their homes in early 2014. This is at a much quicker pace than 2013. Remember the demolishing of homes include livestock pens, fences, water reservoirs, schools, all vital to the livelihood and communal life of Palestinians. The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions estimates since 1967, nearly 29 thousand Palestinian homes and livelihood structures were demolished in the Occupied Territories. However, at the same time the Israeli government has announced the construction of thousands of homes and buildings in the settlements of the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Dr. Jeff Halper:

  • This is an area called E1, that’s the planner’s jargon.
  • The significance of E1 is that it closes the last north south corridor the Palestinians have from the north of west bank to the south since they can’t come through Jerusalem.
  • Even the United States say if Israel build in E1 and closes that corridor that’s the end of the two state solution.
  • This guy Irwin Moskowitz who is a big casino out in California gives millions to the settlements. He bought for the Israeli government a 10 million dollar state of the art police station. It’s the main police headquarters for all the West Bank that is in the E1.
  • There’s a whole infrastructure of roads leading to Jerusalem, but Israel has still refrained from actually building. The plan is to build 3,500 housing units that absolutely, thickly closes that corridor to Palestinians.
  • The 2 state solution is gone but this (building of E1 area) would be an absolute measure of the ending of the 2 state solution.
  • We’re trying to mobilize international civil society against the occupation. The occupation is not going to end because the Israeli public rise up and end it.
  • They’re living the good life, they’re profiting from the occupation especially from the point of view of testing and developing and selling weapons systems tested on Palestinians.
  • And the governments of the world aren’t doing their job. Governments manage conflicts, they don’t resolve conflicts.
  • So I’m here in the United States to try to speak to activist groups, church groups because the churches here have a very strong moral voice.
  • We’re dependent on the Palestinians for leadership on where to go next. Not  being Palestinians, we can’t tell them what the solution is.
  • I think its urgent we formulate a one state solution. A one democratic bi-national state.
  • I think there has to be a bi-national component in which both peoples have a sense of self expression and limited self determination within the common country.
  • You have to create structures of sharing power.
  • I think the Palestinians would have the ability to achieve a fair amount of parity with Israel within a short amount of time if we create this consociational type of state.
  • Israel is beginning to be more and more of an albatross around the American’s neck.
  • Operation My Brother’s Keeper had nothing to do with these kids who disappeared. It was a stand alone operation that used the disappearance as a trigger for being launched. The whole idea was to crack down on Hamas, to weaken the PA to keep it dependent on Israel.
  • I think what’s happening is we’re in the midst of collapse.
  • Jeff@ICAHD.org

Guest – Dr. Jeff Halper, co-founder and Director of ICAHD, the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions. He was born in 1946 in Minnesota and emigrated to Israel in 1973. Since then he has been a tireless advocate for justice and civil rights for all Israelis and Palestinians. He spent ten years as a community worker in Jerusalem aiding low-income Mizrahi families. He co-founded ICAHD in 1997 to help resist Israel’s strategy of house demolitions in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. He is the author of three books, ‘Between Redemption and Revival: The Jewish Yishuv in Jerusalem in the Nineteenth Century’, ‘An Israeli in Palestine: Resisting Possession, Redeeming Israel’, and ‘Obstacles to Peace: A reframing of the Palestinian – Israeli Conflict’. In 2006 Dr. Halper was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, citing ICAHD’s work “to liberate both the Palestinian and the Israeli people from the yoke of structural violence” and “to build equality between their people by recognizing and celebrating their common humanity.”
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Law and Disorder June 23, 2014


Updates:

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The 2 Year Anniversary of Wikileaks Julian Assange At The Ecuadorian Embassy

We mark the two year anniversary of Julian Assange being in custody at the Ecuadorian embassy. Our own Michael Ratner, cohost of this show is Julian Assange’s attorney. Michael describes the conditions Julian Assange is living in at the embassy, he explains the legal reasons why Julian is still there and lists the recent significant  accomplishments of Wikileaks.

Co-host Attorney Michael Ratner:

  • He’s sitting in the embassy with political asylum. It’s an apartment on the ground floor with about 6 or 8 rooms. He has one of those rooms. It’s small. There’s no outside space.
  • He has a sun lamp.
  • There are police outside, there are police out front when you walk in. They’re at every window. There’s a couple big police vans outside picking up every one of your conversations. That’s where Julian has been for two years.
  • Julian has been in pretty good shape in there. He’s been functioning. Wikileaks has been functioning. A key thing that people have to understand is Wikileaks, Sarah Harrison, Julian and others saved Edward Snowden from going to prison in the United States.
  • Remember he was in Hong Kong (Snowden). The U.S. issued a criminal complaint against him. Two counts of espionage, one count of theft of documents. There was an extradition request by the U.S. Hong Kong being part of China. The likelihood is at 90, 95 or 100 percent that Edward Snowden would have wound up in a U.S. jail.
  • Instead of that, Wikileaks helped him gain asylum where he eventually did in Russia. Sarah Harrison accompanying him on the plane to Moscow.
  • Another story we’ve covered, the Trans Pacific Partnership, that’s the trade agreement they’re trying to impose on countries particularly in the far East.
  • What the U.S. just admitted,  filed a brief in April 2014 in federal court. It was a brief in which they refuse to give up documents on a FOIA case. The claim was they couldn’t give them up because there’s a continuing investigation going. It was documents EPIC sought around Wikileaks.
  • The Department of Justice said (in that brief) there’s an ongoing criminal national security investigation into Wikileaks and Julian Assange, its multi-subject and its ongoing.
  • It’s been 4 years since the allegations of sexual misconduct have been made against Julian Assange by two women, but by particular, the prosecutor who seems to have vengeance to carry this out.
  • Remember, they’re allegations, not charges. They’ve asked to extradite Julian Assange based on those allegations.
  • Allegations from a prosecutor from another country are not sufficient to get someone extradited. We have the UK having changed the law so he can no longer be extradited.
  • Ecuador has been extremely supportive of Julian.
  • There’s a letter that will be sent in the next two days to our Attorney General Eric Holder by at least 30 human rights groups around the world.
  • That letter wants to hold him to his words (Holder) that journalists and editors will not be subject to prosecution.
  • It starts off with a demand to close all criminal investigations of Wikileaks and its Editor in Chief Julian Assange. It says they have to stop harassing and persecuting Julian and Wikileaks for publishing. FreeAssangeNow.org

Guest - 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 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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Shocking: California Court Rules Teacher Tenure Violates Student’s Right To Quality Education

David Welch, a Silicon Valley tech millionaire has been funding the movement and legal suit that led to the Vergara decision two weeks ago when a California court struck down a series of laws that grant tenure and other protections to public school teachers. Students Matter, an education reform group had sued on behalf of nine students arguing protections for substandard teachers have a disproportionate impact on children of color and low-income families. The decision that has identified teacher tenure as the cause of underachievement within inner city schools could have a larger influence in other states. Many see this decision as part of a strategy to transform the public education system into a major profit center. Examples include No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top, Common Core Curriculum, Charter Schools.

Brian Jones:

  • The court ruled in California that teacher tenure is a violation of students’ right to a quality education.
  • The ramifications are . . if we find students who are not doing well in school that the remedy is to remove that teacher and get a new teacher and anything that stands in the way of removing that teacher is therefore a violation of that student’s rights.
  • Its actually going to have very negative consequences.
  • We already have a problem holding on to great teachers. We have a problem holding on to teachers.
  • Half of the teachers in this country leave the profession within five years. We’re literally bleeding teachers.
  • A lot of wealthy people have taken an interest in transforming public schools in this country.
  • Their idea that schooling should be run more like a business with more authority, power and decision making concentrated at the top with the workers, parents and students having little or no say on what goes on. Their job is to accomplish the task laid out before them by the millionaires and billionaires.
  • One of the worst examples of course is Bill Gates who has been effectively setting education policy for the nation for several years now.
  • You have this Silicon Valley millionaire who created a “parent group” and bringing this lawsuit you have a bunch of parents whose children are in charter schools and private schools arguing that their rights are being violated.
  • They use their wealth to effect the changes that they want.
  • They bypass any democratic process or debate or discussion about what our schools should be like.
  • This is a famous ploy by the corporatizers is to wrap themselves in the robes of the civil rights movement and claim they’re getting justice on behalf of children.
  • We have to remember that the civil rights movement was pro-union was very involved in unions.
  • The corporate reformers want us to believe that we can get justice for kids by beating up on adults.
  • If we can attack the union we can then get justice for the young people.
  • That’s the tenure attack is eliminating an obstacle for anyone to speak back, to talk back.
  • Without tenure, without unions, without those kinds of protections the people working in a school can never speak back, can never express themselves, can never protest or try to assert some other idea.
  • Let’s talk about what its going to take to improve the teaching profession. Let’s talk about what its going to take to improve the conditions of teaching and learning.
  • Teachers feel under attack. The things we’re putting on teacher’s shoulders right now are insane.
  • We (teachers) were already suffering under Bush’s No Child Left Behind, then Obama doubled down on it and made it even worse. He raised the stakes of those high stakes tests even higher. Our whole platform is available at HowieHawkins.org

Guest - Brian Jones, taught elementary grades for nine years in New York City’s public schools, and is currently pursuing a PhD in Urban Education at the City University of New York Graduate Center. He is Green Party’s 2014 candidate for Lieutenant Governor of New York. Brian co-narrated the film, The Inconvenient Truth Behind Waiting for Superman, and has contributed to the book Education and Capitalism: Struggles for Learning and Liberation. He is a member of the Movement of Rank and File Educators: the social justice caucus of the United Federation of Teachers. Brian has also lent his voice to several audiobooks, including The John Carlos Story: The Sports Moment That Changed the World and Howard Zinn’s one-man play, Marx in Soho. Brian is the recipient of a 2012 Lannan Cultural Freedom Fellowship.

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Law and Disorder June 16, 2014


Updates:

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The Electronic Privacy Information Center, The NSA, FOIA Requests, And Wikileaks

The Electronic Privacy Information Center or EPIC is among a handful of organizations trying to reveal the massive surveillance of the National Security Agency. We talk about a few of EPIC’s most important cases being litigated that you may not have heard about. EPIC had filed a massive FOIA request on behalf of Wikileaks to the Criminal and National Security Divisions of the Department of Justice, and to the FBI asking for multiple records including any individuals targeted for surveillance for support for or interest in WikiLeaks. We talk about that and their lawsuit involving the NSA not being subject to FOIA requests plus a victory involving the Department of Homeland Security’s ability to deactivate wireless communications networks in a crisis.

Attorney Marc Rotenburg:

  • The FOIA requests we made five years ago for the NSA Cybersecurity Authority was a request that we sent to the NSA, litigated in the district court and on appeal in the DC Circuit last Friday just a few days before the government’s brief was due, they contacted us and said they were disclosing to us the document we had been trying to obtain.
  • This is National Security Presidential Directive 54 and that outlines all the cyber security authorities for the federal agencies.
  • The scope of our work is very much driven by our mission. Our mission is to focus public attention on emerging privacy and civil liberties issues.
  • The FBI wants to put together the next generation identification system which will be the largest biometric database in the world and we think the implications for privacy and freedom are just staggering.
  • Google also retains everybody’s search histories.
  • We also do a lot of open government litigation so people can learn about these issues and we do a lot of amicus briefs.
  • In our organization there’s actually deep division about Wikileaks. Some people think Julian Assange is a hero and some people would like to see him arrested.
  • What was interesting to us about the Wikileaks case – we did see a persons of expressions of support for Wikileaks as core First Amendment speech.
  • We became very interested through the FOIA with how the federal government was apparently intervening with private companies, bank payment companies, cloud service providers and others to try to chill the ability of Wikileaks supporters to contribute to the organization, to get access to hosted documents.
  • We simply believe it was wrong for the government to simply discourage people their support or even their opposition.
  • With the FOIA, one of the things you’re trying to do is get information out to the public and hope that others find that its useful.
  • We think its a fundamental obligation for any internet company that collects personal data to stand up to the government when there are court orders.
  • Our other case in the DC Circuit – this concerns a technique used in San Francisco basically to shut down cell phone service among people who had gathered at a protest to object to the police conduct that I think resulted in the death of a person on the BART system.
  • Pursuant to a secret policy known as Standard Operating Protocol 303, somehow the Department of Homeland Security got the local telephone service to shut down cell phone service in the region and people couldn’t communicate and the protest was effectively stopped.
  • Our FOIA request was for the policy which we think has to be made public. You can’t have a secret procedure that so deeply implicates First Amendment freedoms.
  • We went laser focused after that one document and the DHS was throwing up all these law enforcement exemptions, 7E and 7F involving techniques and methods saying this was vitally important to protect public safety which was an interesting argument too.
  • Submit FOIA requests – if a government agency has a reason to withhold a record, the burden is on the agency to justify the reason for the withholding.

Guest – Attorney Marc Rotenburg, Executive Director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) in Washington, DC. He teaches information privacy law at Georgetown University Law Center and has testified before Congress on many issues, including access to information, encryption policy, consumer protection, computer security, and communications privacy. He testified before the 9-11 Commission on “Security and Liberty: Protecting Privacy, Preventing Terrorism.” He has served on several national and international advisory panels, including the expert panels on Cryptography Policy and Computer Security for the OECD, the Legal Experts on Cyberspace Law for UNESCO, and the Countering Spam program of the ITU.

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Hundreds of California Prisoners in Isolation to Join Class Action Lawsuit

Last year we spoke with attorney Jules Lobel about his lawsuit challenging long term solitary confinement in California prisons. Recently, a federal judge in Oakland California ruled to agree to consider as part of that lawsuit if long term isolation violates a prisoners’ Eighth Amendment rights. Prisoners in prolonged solitary confinement at Pelican Bay prison can spend 22 to 24 hours a day in a cramped, concrete windowless cell. Mostly, they’re there for their alleged connection to gangs and their refusal to become government informants.

Attorney Jules Lobel:

  • Pelican Bay is a prison that holds over 1000 prisoners. It’s located on one of the most isolated sections of the United States coast line border between California and Oregon.
  • It was deliberately placed there because most of the prisoners are from Los Angeles.
  • It’s very hard for their friends and family to visit them.
  • They spend virtually their whole day in an 80 square foot cell with no window.
  • They virtually get no visitors, they can’t make any phone calls. They’re fairly isolated from the outside world and from each other.
  • Many of my clients have been in this kind of cell for over a decade.
  • California estimates there are about 225 that have been there for over a decade.
  • A number of my clients have been there for over 2 decades.
  • California puts them there not because they’ve done anything violent in prison, or in some cases they haven’t done anything violent outside of prison . . mainly drug offenses . . . but because they have an association could be very loose, could be because of having a tattoo or a piece of art work which suggests you’re in some way associated with a gang.
  • The only way out was to become an informant and then you and your family were in grave danger of being killed or assaulted by the gang.
  • Recently in California after 3 hunger strikes, pressure from the lawsuit, pressure from the legislature, has instituted some reforms so there are for some of the people a way at least to another solitaire prison or the general population.
  • They come up for review once every six years in the system that’s currently in place.
  • The Ninth Circuit court has said anything over 1 year is too long for reviews.
  • There have been hundreds of law suits challenging various aspects of this situation in Pelican Bay, from the due process to they’re not given any chance to prove that they can get to its cruel and unusual punishment to keep people in there for 10-15-20 years.
  • Now for the first time the judge has said I’m going to take this as a class action which means I’m going to look at the general policies that California is instituting and if we were to win, try to change the system.
  • Our argument is that these conditions are cruel and unusual to keep people in for this long of time.
  • We said we need to meet with all of our clients all together. We can’t meet with one individual then another individual.
  • The state said that’s impossible, these people are so dangerous you can’t possibly meet with them all together, but the judge ordered it.
  • We got a meeting, if you can imagine the cell that Hannibal was in? They put 10 of these cages side by side, and they put us in a big conference room. They mandated that we had to wear flak jackets. We were seated at a table with Marine outfits.
  • What it really is is to force these guys to become informants, to make it as cruel as possible and the only way out is to become an informant.
  • It essentially alters your personality. You die a social death.
  • Our case, if we were to win would be the beginning of the death knell of solitary confinement in this country.
  • 80 thousand prisoners as we speak are in some form of solitary in this country.
  • One of the things about this case is that it requires substantial funding and we’re always looking for people to help with funding the case.

Guest – Attorney Jules Lobel, has litigated important issues regarding the application of international law in the U.S. courts. In the late 1980’s, he advised the Nicaraguan government on the development of its first democratic constitution, and has also advised the Burundi government on constitutional law issues.  Professor Lobel is editor of a text on civil rights litigation and of a collection of essays on the U.S. Constitution, A Less Than Perfect Union (Monthly Review Press, 1988). He is author of numerous articles on international law, foreign affairs, and the U.S. Constitution in publications including Yale Law Journal, Harvard International Law Journal, Cornell Law Review, and Virginia Law Review. He is a member of the American Society of International Law.

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Law and Disorder June 9, 2014


Updates:

  • Michael Ratner: Guantanamo Bay Prisoner Exchange
  • Five Taliban In Exchange For A U.S. Prisoner Held In Afghanistan
  • 149 Detainees Left In Guantanamo Prison – 88 Cleared For Release
  • Michael Smith Reports Back On Highlights At the 2014 Left Forum

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9/11 Memorial Museum Protests

There were many protests during the official opening of the 911 Memorial Museum. Muslim communities and other groups have voiced concern about the film in the musuem titled  “The Rise of Al-Qaeda” and how it fails to adequately discern between Al-Qaeda and those of the Islamic faith. Meanwhile, the museum’s official response is that the film is objectively telling the story of what happened.

Donna Nevel:

  • We came together because of a concern about a video they were showing called The Rise of al-Qaeda. It’s a 7 minute documentary and the concern is about the problematic language that its using. It makes it seem as if the acts of 9-11 are equated with Islam.
  • Our feeling is that the film needs to be edited and could exacerbate an already anti-Muslim climate.
  • Quoting criticism – The film in its current state presented risks that visitors would assign collective responsibility for September 11th to Islam and all Muslims.
  • There’s a historian Todd Fine who says its an inconsistent array of terminology that gets carelessly thrown around with little concern for the harmful impact it can have on people.
  • The video didn’t do enough to separate al-Qaeda from Islam and from mainstream Islam. It’s reckless.
  • Despite the fact that the own museum’s own advisory board was instantly concerned when they saw the film and said it should be reviewed and edited – despite the fact that 400 scholars wrote letters saying it contains problematic and contested terminology that conflates terrorism with Islam – and despite the fact that leaders from so many different inter-faith communities have spoken out about this – that the museum continues to stand by its decision not to edit the video – is astonishing.
  • I was doing a little research on her (Debra Burlingame-on 911 Memorial Museum Board of Directors) and there’s a high number of racist quotes she’s said. “Islam’s a transnational threat.”
  • Millions and millions of people will be going to this museum and museums can have a big impact.
  • We have to remember that this is in the context not of a society that welcomes and embraces the Muslim community but one that’s surveilling the Muslim community.
  • It’s feeding into this notion that all Muslims are responsible for the acts of a few individuals.
  • This video also feeds into police surveillance because what do they say? After 911 we have to be more vigilant and that means surveilling an entire community.
  • Communities are coming together and speaking out, including about this video.
  • We have to change the structures that enable this to happen. The Islamophobes are really problematic and have connections to some of the institutions.
  • We have to make sure our institutions are fomenting Islamophobia.
  • Book – Islamophobia and Israel by Elly Bulkin and Donna Nevel
  • We wanted to analyze the intersection of Islamophobia and Israeli politics and to look at the way the “war on terror” impacts both. Also to raise an issue that’s basically taboo in the Jewish community as well as outside the Jewish community.
  • We have 4 different areas that we look at. Our lengthiest area is “follow the money” where you basically see how connected the Islamophobes are with right-wing Israel crowd, the settlement movement and others as well.
  • Jews Against Islamophobia / Jews Say No / Jewish Voices For Peace / Jews For Racial and Economic Justice
  • Contact Donna Nevel – denevel(at)gmail(dot).com

Guest – Donna Nevel, a community psychologist, educator, and writer whose work is rooted in Participatory Action Research (PAR) and popular education. Co-author with Elly Bulkin of Islamophobia and Israel.  She has been involved with a wide range of organizing efforts to challenge segregation and inequality and further equity and racial justice in public education. She has also been a long-time organizer for Palestinian-Israeli peace and justice and works with groups to challenge Islamophobia and anti-Arab racism.

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Free Flow of Information Act (Journalist Shield Law)

Current shield laws for journalists in the United States have broad exceptions for national security. This means that a prosecutor can override the law by showing how the information sought would “materially assist” the government in “preventing” or “mitigating” an act of terrorism. Initially, the shield law is set up to provide a confidentiality privilege for journalists so a police officer or FBI agent can’t get that information even with a court order unless there is an unusually strong justification for it. The latest version of the shield law as of September 2013 has a clause telling judges that it only covers legitimate news gathering. This of course makes very easy to declare any kind of news gathering you don’t like as illegitimate, and therefore the sources are not protected. Last month, the House of Representatives voted to approve an amendment to an appropriations bill barring the Justice Department from compelling reporters to testify about confidential sources.

Carey Shenkman:

  • We are going to get a shield law but its going to be one that doesn’t protect any journalists or sources.
  • It’s a lot easier for the FBI and the DOJ to just skip the investigation and go straight to the reporters. Why do they have to any work when they have the journalist getting all the sources for them.
  • They subpoenaed records from the Associated Press last summer, they subpoenaed the source for James Risen who wrote a book and that actually appeared before the 4th Circuit of Appeals and was turned down by the Supreme Court for review.
  • There’s been a push to try and pass a shield law before but Obama back in 2009 said he wouldn’t let any shield law pass that didn’t have a big national security exemption.
  • What happened back in September is that there was a massive compromise with 2 Senators, Diane Feinstein from California and Dick Durbin from Illinois. They wouldn’t let this law go through unless it contained a big national security exception. Meaning any reporter covering national security would have to disclose their sources, and second it had a big exclusion for wikileaks and other organizations that published leaks.
  • There’s actually a balancing test as part of this law that tells judges to consider if a journalist is engaged in legitimate news gathering. This is problematic because anyone can be a journalist, this has been the case since the founding of this country.
  • They’re trying to put into law the fact that some journalists are legitimate and some are illegitimate.
  • The internet has brought this country back to the time of its founding in terms of journalism because when the “press clause” in the First Amendment were passed, anyone could be a journalist.
  • The “press clause” was defined as the right to publish.
  • I believe we do need shield laws, but not this shield law.
  • I think there is a big push by the institutional media to keep journalism as a profession, but that’s not what journalism is. Now with the internet, anyone can publish. As long as anyone as the intention to disseminate information, they should be protected as a journalist.
  • When it helps the government the definition of the media is very broad.
  • It’s going to be political suicide if Holder or anyone from the Obama administration pushes to send James Risen to jail.
  • The DOJ argued in an affidavit that James Rosen was aiding and abetting his source.
  • More and more, we’re seeing this administration trying to frame the news gatherer and the source, not as a journalist and a source but as criminals in a conspiracy.
  • I was a radio journalist for 3 years. I used to work at the Center for Constitutional Rights where I met Michael Ratner and was involved with Chelsea Manning’s trial.

Guest – Carey Shenkman, has worked with several legal teams including Chelsea Manning’s defense, and legal research defining  the protection of new media under the Bill of Rights and The U.S. Constitution.  

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Law and Disorder June 2, 2014


Updates:

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Remembering Dr. Vincent Harding

Last month pioneering historian, theologian and civil rights activist Dr. Vincent Harding had died at the age of 82.  Harding was a close adviser to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and wrote King’s famous antiwar speech, “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break the Silence.” King delivered the address at Riverside Church in New York City on April 4, 1967.

After King was assassinated, Harding became the first director of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Center and of the Institute of the Black World.  He later became  Professor of Religion and Social Transformation at Iliff School of Theology in Denver.  After serving in the Army for several years Harding became a pacifist and later served as co-chairperson of the social unity group the Veterans of Hope Project.  He’s the author numerous books including There Is A River and Wade in the Water: The Wisdom of the Spirituals.

Dr. George Tinker:

  • Vincent was sometimes called by black activists across the continent, the gentle giant.
  • Giant, not because of his physical size but because of intellectual stature.
  • Last summer we did a conference together speaking to a national conference of Quakers.
  • He was an incredibly soft-spoken and gentle person, yet could be so absolutely incisive in his quiet comments.
  • He was so persuasive that everyone had to pay attention to him.
  • On campus he was either in the midst of a student group trying to quietly cajole them into activism themselves or once the students became activists, he was one of the few faculty that was right there with students walking them through that activism.
  • Every thing in that speech (Beyond Vietnam) is a part of what Vincent lived every day.
  • He was in the Army during the Korean War and became a convert to Gandhi and non-violence theory.
  • His participation to bringing me to Iliff was a clear signal that he was one of those civil rights warriors who was not satisfied with interpreting the civil rights struggle as a black and white issue.
  • When we engaged in protest on the streets of Denver, beginning around 1989, getting ready for the 1992  Columbian Quinscentenary, we had Iliff students who would come out with the American Indian Movement of Colorado to help us protest what we always framed as state supported hate speech.
  • We were never against Italians celebrating their heritage but its the fact that Columbus Day is a federal holiday. It’s a federal celebration then, of the genocide of Indian people.
  • About a year and a half ago he joined Jewish activists and African American activists on a trip to Palestine, the West Bank. He came back deeply affected.
  • He immediately began to see the deep deep connection between the Palestinian struggle for freedom and American Indians on this continent.
  • We’re seeing it still today, US foreign policy is characterized by violence and the threat of violence and if not military violence, economic violence.
  • Vincent and Dr. King were men of conscience who once they understood the truth in Vietnam could not help but speak to it.
  • 18 year old kids don’t have the clear reading of history to fall back on their decision making. (military)
  • His passing is a passing of an era marked by the passing of Maya Angelou. It deeply deeply saddened me because I was hoping this next month to have lunch with him.

Guest – Dr. George Tinker, a colleague of Dr. Vincent Harding at the IIliff School of Theology.  Dr. Tinker. He teaches courses in American Indian cultures, history, and religious traditions; cross-cultural and Third-World theologies; and justice and peace studies and is a frequent speaker on these topics both in the U.S. and internationally. teaches courses in American Indian cultures, history, and religious traditions; cross-cultural and Third-World theologies; and justice and peace studies and is a frequent speaker on these topics both in the U.S. and internationally. His publications include American Indian Liberation: A Theology of Sovereignty (2008); Spirit and Resistance: Political Theology and American Indian Liberation (2004); and Missionary Conquest: The Gospel and Native American Genocide (1993). He co-authored A Native American Theology (2001); and he is co-editor of Native Voices: American Indian Identity and Resistance (2003), and Fortress Press’ Peoples’ Bible (2008).

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Law and Disorder May 26, 2014


Updates:

  • NSA Collecting MetaData And Content On Five Countries
  • Julian Assange-Glenn Greenwald Twitter Storm
  • Host Discussion On NSA Ubiquitous Data Collecting

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USvsPvtChelseaManning_Spread_3 USvsPvtChelseaManning_Spread_1

The United States vs. Private Chelsea Manning

Last year our own Michael Ratner made many trips to Fort Meade to attend the very secretive Private Chelsea Manning trials. Michael had also explained in past shows about how he heard Chelsea testify as to why he released each set of documents such as the Iraq war logs, the Afghanistan war logs, State Department cables and more.  She said her decision to release the documents were done as an act of conscience. Our guest Wikileaks activist and artist Clark Stoeckley was also at this historic trial. His recent graphic novel titled The United States vs. Private Chelsea Manning is a collection of his vivid sketches from inside the court room.  He joins us to talk about his work as an activist and his experiences producing the book. Welcome to Law and Disorder.

Clark Stoeckley:

  • As I understand the transcripts are still under seal.
  • Those sketches took a little bit longer, ones that where full court room where I drew a lot of people.
  • I would work in pencil and draw as quickly as I could everything that I saw in the court room and then I would come back and fill it in with color and hard outlines.
  • What she was doing was offering up 20 years of her life, accepting full responsibility and that takes a lot of courage and bravery to do that -  being the smallest person in the court room and being noble about it.
  • Unfortunately the media wasn’t there to catch the pre-trial. They only showed up on the first day and then the sentencing and the verdict.
  • I remember how the court room fell to a complete silence when that video came on and the tears, and the blank stares on the prosecutions’ faces.
  • I’m looking through the book right now, I see you, you’re in the picture there Michael Ratner, in the background sitting behind Chelsea.
  • 35 years was the sentence and that’s going to be appealed. As I understand the appeal will start as early as December.
  • They didn’t like that we’re holding vigils every week and holding large protests there. They shut down the road and they had to re-route traffic. It was the largest protest Ft. Meade had every seen.
  • Just a heads up to anyone who wants to correspond with Chelsea, you know have to use the name Chelsea when addressing envelopes. http://www.chelseamanning.org/
  • I just started putting them in libraries today.
  • CHELSEA E. MANNING     89289 / 1300 NORTH WAREHOUSE ROAD / FORT LEAVENWORTH, KANSAS 66027-2304

Guest – Clark Stoeckley,  is an artist and author of the book The United States v. Private Chelsea Manning. He’s also the owner of truck with the WikiLeaks logo emblazoned on it. Stoeckley’s vivid sketches from inside the court and beyond, together with carefully selected transcripts of the proceedings, trace the arguments as they move back and forth between the defense and the prosecution.

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Net Neutrality – The Time Warner/Comcast Merger and New Rules Proposed By The FCC

In our last interview with attorney Matt Wood, policy director at Free Press, we talked about the 45 billion dollar Comcast -Time Warner merger and its implications to net neutrality. This proposed merger would unite the nation’s largest cable TV and internet service provider with the second largest cable company. If combined, these companies would offer service to two thirds of U.S. households. We get an update on the merger and we also discuss the new rules proposed by the FCC about net neutrality.  Net neutrality essentially means preventing unreasonable discrimination against content on the internet. The Free Press maintains that the new FCC rules would kill rather than protect net neutrality and allow rampant discrimination online.

Attorney Matt Wood:

  • What the court said was that you can’t treat broadband providers as common carriers – not as some insurmountable conclusion but simply based on the way the FCC has decided to treat them up to this point.
  • So the FCC up to this point has tried to deregulate and yet tried to maintain some of the protections we all need from our communications.
  • Though its in the FCC’s discretion according to the majority and according to the DC circuit, what the courts have said, the FCC has made this decision in the past. They still haven’t reversed it, they still want to say that broadband is not a common carrier service and therefore the FCC can’t adopt common carrier or common carrier like obligations for broadband.
  • There’s obviously a grave concern to government secrecy and censorship especially when it comes to whistle-blowers and the kind of information that Edward Snowden brought to all of us.
  • If you used the phone to commit a crime whether that is wire fraud or you’re talking to your co-conspirators about how to conduct the crime. It is not the telephone company’s place and either say you can or can’t make that call.
  • Net neutrality is a way of insuring that the carrier of our speech (that’s typically a private company) doesn’t have a role or not in deciding whether that speech goes through.
  • If and when the government steps in and says hey we want to tap that line because we’re actually conducting an investigation or if and when there’s a punishment for the activity that you used the phone to plan that’s obviously a very important legal debate.
  • Net neutrality is not a way for the government to control our speech. It is a way to insure that our cable and phone companies do not control our speech.
  • The FCC in its current mode is basically saying well even if we’re required to allow these two tiers or multiple tiers of service, we can still step in and protect you and provide a basic level of service.
  • This isn’t just about big internet companies on one side and big telephone and cable companies on the other side, its about that we all use the internet especially in a cloud based system. We’re using it not just to watch movies which is an important cultural activity but to back up our files, to send educational videos.
  • What the cable and telephone companies want to do is charge you extra to reach their customers and they want to charge in both directions.
  • If you want to reach them at all Netflix or Google, Law and Disorder, you also have to pay us now.
  • Its no secret that FCC Chairman Wheeler headed not just one but two telecommunication lobbies.
  • The FCC has this proceeding that it will be running over the summer. What Chairman Wheeler has proposed we think is not good enough but its not a done deal either so the FCC will take comments not only from companies and groups like ours but members of the public.

Guest – Attorney Matt Wood helps shape the policy team’s efforts to protect the open Internet, prevent media concentration, promote affordable broadband deployment and prioritize a revitalized public media. Before joining Free Press, he worked at the public interest law firm Media Access Project and in the communications practice groups of two private law firms in Washington, D.C. Before that, he served as editor-in-chief for the Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review, worked for PBS, and spent time at several professional and college radio and television stations. Matt earned his B.A. in film studies from Columbia University and his J.D. from Harvard Law School.
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Law and Disorder May 17, 2014


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Chicago Torture Update And Another Chicago Cover Up

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We follow up on the Chicago torture cases and the aftermath. Listeners may recall the sentencing of former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge in 2011 which helped  created a model within Chicago criminal courts in seeking justice for crimes of torture.  The Civil Rights Act was used to litigate the Chicago torture cases, specifically the Anti Klu Klux Klan Act and now, the People’s Law Office is working to get a statute passed making torture a federal crime. In our last interview with attorney Flint Taylor he questioned how the Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel will handle the hundreds of ongoing torture cases of African American men. The type of torture that was involved include electric shock, bagging, beating and burning to get confession. The city continues to fund Burge’s defense paying private lawyers millions to date. Meanwhile, a recent unraveling of a murder cover up involving former Mayor Daley’s nephew makes headlines.

Attorney G. Flint Taylor:

  • This is a scandal that’s gone on for 20 years now. Burge came back from Vietnam and he was quickly made a detective on the South side of Chicago in the early 70s. He started to use electric shock, bagging people to suffocate them, mock executions – all the torture techniques you hear about in third world and that kind of thing.
  • He tortured over the next 20 years, we now document more than 120 African American men.
  • Those men, many were sent to the penitentiary, some to death row. Many of them gave false confessions, all of them confessed under the torture techniques and during this 20 year period, Burge was promoted from detective, to sergeant, to lieutenant, to commander.
  • During this period of the time the prosecutor was Richard M Daley who went on to be mayor of course. This evidence was presented to him early on by the superintendent of police and they decided to cover it all up rather than pursue Burge.
  • Because of that, the torture went on for another 10-15 years.
  • Burge was fired in the 90s but was never prosecuted until the critical mass of evidence reached a peak in the mid-2000s. Burge was convicted and sent to a penitentiary where he’s now serving a four and half year sentence with Bernie Madoff down in Butner.
  • The city of Chicago has paid over 20 million dollars to defend Burge and his co-horts.
  • Another 20 million has gone out to pensions. Burge now still gets his pension down in the penitentiary. There’s another 65 million that paid out to the men who were fortunate enough to have lawsuits who were wrongfully convicted by Burge and his associates.
  • You add it all up and you get 125 million dollars in taxpayer money that’s been spent in this scandal.
  • There are still men behind bars after all these years, based on tortured confessions.
  • We were appointed recently a special master to find men in the penitentiary who haven’t had the ability to have a hearing to have their case re-litigated based on the torture evidence.
  • There’s an ongoing battle to try and take Burge’s pension away.
  • David Koschman was a 21 year old college student from the suburbs who had the misfortune of being on Rush street in Chicago late at night, and getting into a verbal altercation with a group of thugs that included the mayor’s nephew.
  • A man by the name of Venecko. Venecko was 6″3′, 230lbs and he punched David square in the face. Koschman went down, hit his head against the curb, went into a coma and died 12 days later.
  • The mayor’s nephew ran from the scene so they didn’t know who it was. Somehow through back channels they let the highest officials in the police department know that it was the mayor’s nephew was involved and so a massive cover up went on in the police department and at the state’s attorneys office – to make Koschman 5″5′ 120lbs into the aggressor.

Guest – 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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Goliath: Life and Loathing In Greater Israel: Max Blumenthal Speech In Brooklyn

We hear part of speech by award winning journalist and author Max Blumenthal delivered at a Brooklyn For Peace meeting. Operation Cast Lead in 2008, is a starting point in the book Goliath: Life and Loathing In Greater Israel where award winning journalist and author Max Blumenthal shows the reader how a right wing government in Israel rose to power.  His book takes hard look at Israeli authoritarian politics through a cross section of interviews from the homes of Palestinian activists to the political leaders behind the organized assault against civil liberties.

Speaker – Max Blumenthal,  an award-winning journalist and bestselling author whose articles and video documentaries have appeared in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Daily Beast, The Nation, The Guardian, The Independent Film Channel, The Huffington Post, Salon, Al Jazeera English and many other publications. He is a former Puffin Foundation Writing Fellow for The Nation Institute. His book, Republican Gomorrah: Inside The Movement That Shattered The Party, is a New York Times and Los Angeles Times bestseller.

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 blackwater ukraine-mariupol-women

The Kiev Putsch: Rebel Workers Take Power in the East

In his recent article The Kiev Putsch: Rebel Workers Take Power In the East, returning guest Professor Jim Petras describes the immense complexity and shifting outcomes within the NATO, US and European violent seizure of the Ukraine. He asserts that the US-EU power grab in the Ukraine is part of a strategic goal to place neo-liberal political proxies in power in Moscow. In order to do this, one objective is to undermine Russia’s military capability. However, things have not gone according to plan. There’s growing opposition to the Ukraine power grab in the EU, and Russia. Professor Jim Petras asserts that the real struggle is not between the US and Russia, it’s between the NATO-imposed junta composed of neo-liberal oligarchs and fascists – that’s on one side, and on the other side is the industrial workers, their local militias plus democratic councils.

Professor James Petras:

  • Ukraine had kind of an oligarchical electoral system where competing oligarchs competed in the electoral arena. One set of oligarchs was closer to the NATO powers and one set was closer to Russia, more or less pursuing a non-alignment policy.
  • This came to a head recently. I believe in February.
  • The opposition backed by NATO overthrew the government and a coup seized power  and the U.S. under the Secretary of Foreign Affairs Victoria Newland appointed the president and the prime minister who then formed a coalition government with neo-fascists openly embracing the heritage of the Nazi collaborators.
  • These people then tried to impose a different kind of policy, and different kind of orientation to the country essentially aligning it to NATO and trying to undercut any pluralism or diversity that existed up til then.
  • They moved ahead and outlawed the pro-Russian speaking minority and that provoked people in the east who were long time critics of centralism and the imposition of policies from the west (Kiev).
  • The Kiev junta sent military groups out there to repress them, culminating with the neo-fascists going to Odessa and incinerating 40 people who were taking refuge in a trade union center.
  • You have to realize the dynamic of the sectors in the east. There’s the steel, coal. The most productive sector of the country. They pay a disproportionate amount of taxes and get very little in return.
  • So there is a regional hostility here, and the issue has nothing to do with being pro-Russia. It’s a question of people in the east opposing a military take over, a junta. They oppose a government appointed by foreign powers.
  • They oppose the outlawing of bilingualism.
  • The authoritarians in the east want to break with Russia. It has nothing to do with the so called transition government. The west’s account is absolutely bizarre.
  • The cover up (in western press) of the massive incineration is comparable to Nazi press when Hitler was incinerating Jews, telling people they were just taking showers.
  • The western press has lined up in the most . . I would compare it to the worst part of McCarthyism in Cold War. I would say 1950-51.
  • The Kiev dictatorship can’t even count on its own troops. They send troops over there and they fraternize with their own people. So they have to send special forces and they recently got a big inflow of mercenaries from what used to be called Blackwater. They call themselves the Academi now.
  • There were over 400 of them that were shipped in to the eastern part of the country to do the dirty work.
  • I think this is an indication of how isolated this government is and how much the demands for democracy, maintaining industry and resisting the IMF, how much fear they have of the contagion, the democratic self determination agenda of the east resonates with the west.
  • There’s no great wall of China separating the east and west when it comes to economic improvement and democratic representation.
  • Essentially their idea is to turn Russia into a vassal state.
  • The same thing with China, they’re encircling China with bases all over the Pacific, provoking conflict.
  • They don’t want a powerful competitive economy that’s displacing them in Latin America and Asia.
  • What happened to the peace movement that went into the Democratic Party to support Obama?

Guest - Professor James Petras, author of more than 62 books published in 29 languages, and over 600 articles in professional journals, including the American Sociological Review, British Journal of Sociology, Social Research, and Journal of Peasant Studies. He has published over 2000 articles in nonprofessional journals such as the New York Times, the Guardian, the Nation, Christian Science Monitor, Foreign Policy, New Left Review, Partisan Review, TempsModerne, Le Monde Diplomatique, and his commentary is widely carried on the internet.

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