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Law and Disorder January 19, 2015

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U.S. Cuban Foreign Policy Changes Strategy: Normalizing Relations

Last year, in a sudden reversal of policy, the United States released the remaining three of the Cuban Five who were imprisoned for arrested in the United States while investigating Cuban exile groups accused of terrorism. The release was part of a prisoner exchange announced on when President Barack Obama ordered the restoration of diplomatic relations with Cuba, that has been isolated by a trade embargo for 54 years.

Sandra Levinson:

  • When you’ve lived through 10 or 11 presidents and you’ve seen how bad our policy can be, and also the disappointment that people like me felt, since Obama had been elected, that almost nothing had been done for improving travel for Cuban Americans.
  • The point at which I cried was when he said he was going to open an embassy in Havana, because once you got over the fact, the 3 political prisoners were coming home, that was sheer joy to realize along with the Cubans, they were crying too. They said we’ve finally been recognized as a government.
  • I think it will be great for the Cuban artists.
  • By the second day the people were saying we have to make sure we keep our culture.
  • We have to be sure we keep our country.
  • Cuba needs help with its infrastructure, it doesn’t need McDonald’s
  • We still have the Helms-Burton law. We still have the embargo. I think our next fight is to get rid of the Helms-Burton law because that has done so much to strengthen the embargo.
  • I think the Cubans will attempt to slow the flow of people from the United States to what they can manage.
  • As we all know the infrastructure for tourism is not sufficient to take care of everyone. I’m surprised they didn’t recognize sooner.
  • Clearly its because of US interest that we are doing this. We are not doing this to finally be nice to the Cuban revolution.
  • /

Guest – Sandra Levinson, President and Executive Director of the Center for Cuban Studies. She was one of the Center’s founders in 1972. In 1991 Levinson spearheaded a lawsuit against the U.S. Treasury Department which resulted in legalizing the importation of original Cuban art.  She is currently directing works at the Cuban Art Space, which she founded in 1999, to properly house and archive the thousands of posters, photographs and artworks which the Center has collected in the past 42 years


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Electronic Communications Surveillance

In the recent Monthly Review, there’s an article titled Electronics Communications Surveillance written by attorney Lauren Regan. The article enumerates the various laws, acts and court cases that have led up to collecting information on millions of citizens such as phone, internet, and email habits, credit card and bank records. Nearly all of our on line activity is subject to being surveilled by the state. Lauren breaks it down from Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986, an extension of the 1968 Federal Wiretap Act, the FISA Act and on to the USA Patriot Act in 2001. The article is grouped into 3 areas,  wiretaps and “electronic eavesdropping,” stored messages, and pen registers and trap-and-trace devices.

Attorney Lauren Regan:

  • The corporations that are engaged in gray intelligence use the term threat assessment.
  • They look at activist communities even individuals and determine what level of threat they pose to the profit making components of their enterprise.
  • I think its important that activists engage in their own threat assessment as well.
  • In the documents (FOIA requests) we learned that the corporations themselves want to maintain clean hands. They don’t want to get caught spying on Mom and Pop holding a banner on a street corner.
  • They devised this scheme where there is this security firm and public relations firm that kind of open up their own shop next door.
  • They’re often former FBI agents for some of these big corporations and industries. They will collect the intelligence and its up to these PR firms to put it into these “terrorist bulletins.”
  • For a long time we knew that corporations often hired by the government itself but also hired by big industry has been going through open source intelligence. So they’ve been monitoring our websites and social media and email lists and press releases and any other public documents they can get their hands on in their 8 hour paid day.
  • They compile all this information into reports and then they sell it to police or other corporations or the government.
  • They call them issue monitoring or trend analysis. In essence it is attempting to both legitimize and make profit of spying on political groups and political activists.
  • In my experience its less important to focus on the name of the corporation because they’re so slippery and constantly changing their names.
  • The animal rights movement has definitely been a significant target for this type of spying.
  • We were working with a number of different organizations who were afraid. Who were thinking of stopping their campaigns, because they were concerned they were going to be put in prison, that they were going to be labeled terrorists.
  • One of the campaigns out of Pennsylvania, consisted of teachers, doctors, people who were once a week going out on street corners and holding a banner opposing fracking and they found themselves in a terrorist bulletin.
  • Especially when you’re talking about giant coal industries, and tar sands industries. These are gazillion dollar corporations. They’re multinational in scope. They’re working together within their industries which means they have more money and resources to put road blocks in front of regular public interest citizens.
  • There are things that you can do to make life more difficult for those that wish to spy upon you.
  • Thor and VPN are ways to use the internet with less ability to be tracked or surveyed.
  • We represent activists for free and we coordinate legal teams around the country to insure that activists have high quality representation, when they choose to risk their liberty for a cause.

GuestLauren Regan, the founder and executive director of the Civil Liberties Defense Center (CLDC), where she serves as our staff attorney as well. Ms. Regan operates a public interest law firm, The Justice Law Group, specializing in constitutional law, civil rights, and criminal defense. She is a founding board member and past president of the Cascadia Wildlands. She also serves as a Lane County Teen Court judge, Oregon State Bar Leadership Fellow, National Lawyers Guild, Eugene co-chair, and volunteers hundreds of hours a year to various progressive causes.


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The Family Jewels: The CIA, Secrecy and Presidential Power

The surveillance and torture programs conducted by agents and contractors of the United States Central Intelligence Agency has a long sordid past. One of the first revelations of the CIA’s illegal activities released to the public was released in December 1974 by the New York Times. Details of surveillance, eavesdropping, detention and interrogation shocked readers. It was also became the foundation for deeper research by our next guest John Prados,  a senior fellow of the National Security Archive in Washington, DC. He’s the author of the book The Family Jewels: The CIA, Secrecy and Presidential Power, where Prados recounts secret operations and how Vice President Richard Cheney played a leading role in intelligence abuses. He joins us today to talk about the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Torture Report and the deeper connections based on his research.

John Prados:

  • A semi-notorious document that was known as the family jewels – this was a record of CIA abuses of the 1950s, 60s, and 70s, when they were spying on American citizens. In fact the revelation was so explosive at that time it lead to multiple investigations of the CIA by the Church Committee, the Pike Committee.
  • I think that the CIA has a preoccupation with image. The episode of the “family jewels” is typical because at the time the intelligence agency’s director was Michael Hayden. Hayden, simultaneous with the release of the document gave a speech taking credit for thinking of releasing the “family jewels” themselves.
  • In my book The Family Jewels I have a couple of chapters that documents this kind of activity.
  • We have been waiting 2 years for the appearance of this report.
  • If you look at the website that’s maintained by former director Hayden, and former director Porter Goss and former director George Tenant, you will see that they posted on their website declassified CIA documents, much more lightly redacted that were released as long ago as last summer.
  • These are the first documents I have seen containing direct Whitehouse action and activity on the torture issue.
  • The best piece of this relates to early 2004, where there was the United Nations international day of support for victims of torture. Tenant sends a memo to Condi Rice and requests that the Whitehouse reconfirm Bush Administration support for the torture program.
  • When that was not immediately forthcoming, they did this again.
  • These things were released as part of the argument that was made by former intelligence officials that torture was approved and legal.
  • Not just damage control but the perpetrators, the agency officials responsible for this program,they know its not legal, they know its morally reprehensible. They’re operating under the fig leaf of this presidential authority and this mumbo jumbo Department of Justice legal memo network.
  • If there’s a breath of questioning it all of a sudden, they’re not covered anymore. That’s the reason for the sensitivity and the reason why the CIA suddenly erupted in this effort to reconfirm these authorities.
  • If you delete material from the documents in such a way that the public can’t tell that the material the CIA got was useful, or misleading everybody.
  • The Senate report is so important because it shows on all of these cases, they took the ones twenty ones, the CIA most claims they got information for them. The report shows that in every one of those cases in fact they were getting information without resorting to the torture.
  • I think we have a challenge. I think we need to work to make a wedge for accountability in this country. I do think Americans are shamed and embarrassed by this behavior. This is not what the United States is about.

Guest- John Prados is an author and analyst of national security based in Washington, DC. He is the author of more than twenty books and many articles on topics of current importance, presidential studies, international security; and diplomatic, intelligence, or military history. His current book is The Family Jewels: The CIA, Secrecy, and Presidential Power (University of Texas Press)Newly appearing in paperback are Islands of Destiny: The Solomons Campaign and the Eclipse of the Rising Sun. In addition Prados is author of titles on national security, the American presidency, and other subjects including Vietnam, the Soviet Union, and World War II. He is also a noted designer of boardgames on military strategy, intelligence, and diplomacy.


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Law and Disorder September 22, 2014

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The Legality of War Powers: Michael Ratner

Law and Disorder co-host Michael Ratner explains war powers in the United States and questions the legality of President Barack Obama decision to launch attacks against the Islamic State using the 2001 Authorization To Use Military Force. Michael Ratner and Jules Lobel with the Center for Constitutional Rights have brought a number of cases challenging the decision to go to war including Vietnam, El Salvador and Grenada

Attorney Michael Ratner:

  • I’ve spent as a number of us had a lot of our lives trying to restrain U.S. war powers. The U.S. particularly the president or the Congress together going to war around the world.
  • It’s been a task that has been singularly unsuccessful, starting with Vietnam where we brought case after case. Only at the very end of the war really did Congress finally act to restrict the president after there were secret wars carried out in Cambodia, in Laos, not just Vietnam.
  • Right now the president hasn’t asked for any authority from Congress to either bomb targets in Iraq that he claims are Islamic state targets or presumable if they begun it bombing in Syria, again targets he claims that are Islamic state targets. He’s not asked for any authority.
  • He has of course had to use some funding that Congress I think will approve if he asks for more. That is not considered giving authority by Congress, just because they fund a war.
  • Coming out of Vietnam, Congress did sort of a mea culpa. They said well, the president dragged us into this war, we passed this Gulf of Tonkin Resolution which was this open ended resolution that said the president could do what ever he wanted in Vietnam. He kept fighting the war based on this broad authorization that Congress gave him over a false incident. . .
  • The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution you could liken to the authority Congress gave the president to go to war in Afghanistan called the Authorization to Use Military Force.
  • (Still back to Vietnam) So Congress passes what’s called The War Powers Resolution. Congress said to itself, we don’t want to be in the situation like Vietnam again.
  • The president, yes is required to go to Congress before he can go to war with any country. The framers were very clear, we don’t want a president making war on his own.
  • You get to Vietnam and Congress says we’re going to make a special statute. You still need a declaration of war or a special passage by Congress of a statute authorizing war before you can make war. But in just in case the president goes in to a country without getting a declaration from us or a statute allowing it we’re going to say he can only stay in that country for 60 days.
  • After 60 days he’s required to pull out all troops from that country.
  • There’s never been any compliance with the War Powers Resolution in the history of our country – where after the 60 day clock, the president has pulled out the troops.
  • I’ve litigated that with El Salvador when the U.S. sent in “advisors” into El Salvador, we’ve litigated it in Grenada and other places.
  • We litigate these on 3 bases. Non compliance of the War Powers Resolution, Secondly non-compliance with the U.S. Constitution which is the Congress has to declare war not the president, and third non-compliance with the U.N. Charter which says there can be no use of force by any member state, unless its self defense or the UN Security Council approves it.
  • The problem here isn’t really a problem of law. The problem here is the problem of having a hegemonic imperialist country that dominates the world through force.
  • So that turns us back to where we are right now.
  • Obama has two justifications – one is the original grant of authority to bomb and go and use force and U.S. troops in Afghanistan called the Authorization to Use Military Force passed shortly after 911 in 2001 which basically said the president could use force to go after the perpetrators of 911, those who harbored them or those who aided and abetted them.
  • In the case of the Islamic State they’re at war with has been denounced by al-Qaeda, so they’re certainly not part of a 911 conspiracy at all.
  • There’s no question that he’s illegally bombing the Islamic State in Iraq, illegally bombing them to the extent he is in Syria.

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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The People’s Climate March and the United Nations Climate Summit

We hear the voices from the climate march held in New York City, a large-scale activist event to advocate global action against climate change. The march winded through the streets of New York Sunday, September 21, 2014. Initially called by, the environmental organization founded by writer/activist Bill McKibben, the march has been endorsed by nearly 400 organizations, including many international and national unions, churches, schools and community and environmental justice organizations. The action is intended to coincide with the UN Climate Summit this week as U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon invited leaders of government, the private sector and civil society to arrive at a long term solution for climate change.


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 National Immigration Project

Last month the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild and several other groups sued the federal government to challenge its new and unlawful “fast-track” expedited removal policies that are being used against mothers and children detained in Artesia, New Mexico. Artesia is a remote detention center hundreds of miles from the nearest city. Lawyers with the NIP have collected evidence showing the government disregarding and pushing mothers and children through a deportation process making it nearly impossible for them to consult attorneys, prepare claims for asylum or any defenses to deportation. A class action lawsuit was brought by the Northwest Immigration Rights Project challenging the treatment of unaccompanied children in California with the average of 10 years old.

Paromita Shah:

  • Starting in early April the government began to see a surge in arrivals of families – of mothers and children and sometimes children who came by themselves.
  • Predominantly these children and families come from countries Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador.
  • They fled their home countries for a variety of reasons, mostly to escape what was horrific atrocities they experienced.
  • They went to other countries as well, since other countries have seen a 700 percent increase in asylum claims. Costa Rica and Bolivia.
  • The surge is not new. The surge actually began about 5 years ago when people were reporting an exponential increase of children coming across the border and no one knew what to do about it.
  • From the stories we’ve heard from many of our members they are fleeing horrific atrocities and came to the United States to seek refuge here.
  • The National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild and the ACLU and a number of organizations sued the federal government to challenge its policies that denied a fair deportation process to the families and the children who fled this extreme violence.
  • The primary focus of our argument is that these people weren’t given a chance to apply for asylum.
  • We are violating our laws that relate to asylum, that relate to the convention against torture. These are laws not only in the United States but also international treaties that we’ve signed onto.
  • If you fled a country that abused you and injured you, you would come to the United States border. At that point our laws set up a process called expedited removal. It’s a two stage process.
  • The first step includes an interview with asylum officer to evaluate if you have a credible fear. When I say border that’s at any point of entry in the United States.
  • Anywhere within 100 miles of the border (U.S.) because that’s how we define the border.
  • Two thirds of the population of the United States lives within 100 miles of the border.
  • Artesia New Mexico is a federal holding cell for the 672 people who are now detained there.
  • If you’re a child that doesn’t have an adult with them you’re supposed to be treated differently under this process. They are not as a practice supposed to be put into expedited removal because of their age. You will have a chance to apply for asylum ( which is incredibly difficult) because you apply without an attorney.
  • There are children in New Jersey, Washington state, Texas, L.A., and Florida.
  • Children can’t always talk if they were raped or recruited into a gang or brutalized by a gang.
  • J.E.F.M. v. Holder
  • The irony of this whole process is that Artesia is in New Mexico. The immigration court that’s holding these hearings around Artesia is in Arlington, Virginia.
  • They’re conducting these hearings by video.

Guest – Paromita Shah, associate Director of the National Immigration Project. She specializes in immigration detention and enforcement. She is the contributing author and co-presenter of the Deportation 101 curriculum.



Law and Disorder July 4, 2011


  • Food Not Bombs Plans To Sue  Orlando Mayor
  • Pelican Bay Hunger Strike


Supreme Court Decision On Climate Change

Last month the Supreme Court, reaffirmed that it is the job of the Environmental Protection Agency to curb carbon pollution under the Clean Air Act. This was decided in the Connecticut v. American Electric Power case which doesn’t allow states to directly bring a lawsuit against five of the largest power companies to regulate their emissions as a public nuisance. As many listeners may know, power plants are the nation’s biggest climate polluters.  They can pump more than two billion tons of carbon dioxide into the air each year. Other polluters include automobile emissions and housing stock.  Some of the world’s top scientists report that pollution has been linked to climate change.

Law Professor Eleanor Stein:

  • In the 2004 case, the court decided the EPA had to assess any air pollutant and decide whether it endangered public health and welfare and if it found that it did, it would have to set limits on that pollutant.
  • The EPA had refused to do that, this is the Bush era EPA and said we don’t have the authority under the Clean Air Act to do it, and even if we did, this is essentially a problem for the president to solve, and he’s doing a great job.
  • The court found that unsatisfactory and held that the EPA had an obligation to regulate if it found endangerment.
  • This case 2011, reaffirmed the central core of the Massachusetts decision, which is the EPA has the authority and the responsibility to regulate green house gases.
  • The 2nd Circuit in a ringing militant statement on climate, reversed the district court and squarely held that states could bring this lawsuit which is against the five biggest CO2 emitters in the country, under a common law theory of public nuisance.
  • The heart of the petitioners camp were a group of attorneys generals from several states, the fundamental authority of an attorney general is to bring lawsuits in a state against public nuisances of all kinds.
  • So they had this idea to elevated this authority into a federal common law claim.
  • The court endorses no particular view of the complicated issues related to carbon dioxide emissions.
  • For this they cite an article in the New York Times 2 years from Princeton physicist Freeman Dyson who said a lot of climate denier stuff and is kind of a gadfly, who is not a climate scientist.
  • In New York City for example, we burn a great deal of natural gas to heat our houses. #6 heating oil both heavy emitter of CO2
  • We’re creating a layer that is preventing reflection of solar rays back out into space.
  • Much more of it is being trapped into the atmosphere than pre-industrial times.
  • There’s uncertainty about how fast and what kind of changes, but there are some things that are confidently predicted. We’re already seeing tremendously fast melting of ice in Greenland and the polar cap.
  • There’s no question that this is a product of both rapid industrial development, of uncontrolled growth policies, without any consideration of the impacts of growth, especially when you talk about the disparity of impact.

Guest – Law Professor and Attorney Eleanor Stein teaches the Law of Climate Change: Domestic and Transnational at Albany Law School and SUNY Albany, jointly with the Environmental and Atmospheric Sciences Department at SUNY.


Michigan Citizens File Suit Challenging Unconstitutional  Emergency Manager Law

Twenty-eight citizens of Michigan have filed a lawsuit in an effort to bring down the recently signed Emergency Manager Law, claiming it will give Governor Rick Snyder and his appointees vast, unlawful power over financially struggling cities and school districts.  Bill Goodman, an attorney with the Sugar Law Center of Detroit, the firm that filed the lawsuit called it a power grab by Lansing politicians. Goodman also said the law violates the state constitution by giving Snyder powers over cities normally granted to the state Legislature. Those powers include replacing elected officials, nullifying collective bargaining agreements, privatizing public services and dissolving cities. Earlier this year we interviewed Zainab Akbar,  Legal Fellow at the ACLU of Michigan about the same law being used the mostly black community of Benton Harbor.  Democracy Emergency

Attorney John Philo:

  • We think this is an important issue, not just for Michigan but nationally. We think this is so viable to our notion of fundamental constitutional rights that we could not let this pass without a legal challenge.
  • The first constitutional law violation that we see is that it attacks what is known as the democratic form of government. We all believe we have a right to a democratic form of government, that we can elect our officials at the local, state and federal level. This lawsuit is testing, where is that in the Constitution, where is it recognized?
  • We think that people would find it in absurdity that they don’t have that right to vote for their local officials.
  • We have a provision in our constitution that says that can’t pass unfunded mandates. They can’t put costs on a local government without providing some revenue stream or providing some mandatory adjustment.
  • This legislation puts all the costs on the local government that already find to be in distress.
  • In Benton Harbor alone, the salary of the “emergency manager” is running 11 thousand a month.
  • That’s before we even get to the consultants and the financial review people that they bring in, the staff.
  • There are a number of states looking to pass the emergency managers law.
  • This is a nationwide problem that everyone recognizes to regulate banks, and Wall St., and national economic policies that have hit the Midwest hardest and we would say below the belt.
  • What will the law do to pensions? Contract rights and pension funds.
  • There is a provision that says the state treasurer can request the communities to sort of enter into a consent agreement, before they’ve even been found in financial distress.
  • There are citizens, conservation folks, in various places who’ve request the state appoint an emergency manager in their community. This sends the mayor and the city council reeling because they don’t feel they have to.
  • They’re acting to prevent this because of the broad discretion given to treasurer and the governor, whether there is a financial situation where they could appoint a manager.
  • We’re asking for an order of the court that declares the provisions of Public Act 4 unconstitutional and then an injunction that prevents any further implementation.
  • I think people would be shocked if they realize people don’t have a right to elected government.


Tova Perlmutter:

  • We see this litigation as one tool in a broader people’s movement. Here in Detroit we have some phenomenal leaders. The first day we filed was the biggest day in my career.
  • We with a lot of help with allies and friends held seven press conferences in cities across the state.
  • We blanketed the airways and the press, that’s how we got national coverage as well.
  • The Maurice & Jane Sugar Law Center for Economic & Social Justice
  • We’ve been around for 20 years, based in Detroit but we do serve folks nationally, our mission is to use legal and other public advocacy to advance the rights of working people and their communities.
  • One of the cities that has had the most extreme emergency managers is Pontiac.
  • There’s no coincidence here, this is a very clear effort to exert a paternalistic and corporate friendly control over communities that might otherwise be speaking out and exerting autonomy.

Guest – Attorney John Philo -Sugar Law’s Legal Director, is responsible for litigation, legal research, delivery of training, and supervision of all staff and interns working on legal tasks. John is an attorney with over 18 years of experience representing and advocating for workers and other disenfranchised people.

Guest – Tova Perlmutter – Executive Director, has over 20 years experience in administration, communications, fund raising and public education for nonprofit organizations. She obtained professional certification as a Senior Human Resources Professional while working to promote fair employment practices at a major corporation.



Law and Disorder December 27, 2010



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Economic Recovery? Austerity in the US and Abroad

In our previous interview with Professor of Economics, Rick Wolff, we talked about austerity, that is imposing on society a severe regimen of rising taxes, or cut government spending to please and satisfy creditors.  Massive protests erupt against austerity in Greece, Portugal, Ireland and soon maybe Spain, as governments raise college tuition, taxes, retirement ages plus cutting worker benefits and wages. These austerity measures are about to hit the United States. Veiled in the recent tax deal with the Republicans is a decision Americans will need to make. Higher taxes or cut services? With growing debts made worse by Obama’s tax deal, the US moves quickly toward austerity while the political establishment and the media mostly pretend all is well says Rick Wolff.

Professor Rick Wolff:

  • In order to get anything through, the President had to accomodate the richest people in the United States and the biggest corporations.  I’m going to allow you to pass even more wealth to your children or the people who inherit your estate. Here’s an extra gift, the estate tax.
  • These are the people who did the best over the last 30 years. Wage earners and salary earners went nowhere, but people rich enough to own shares in the stock market made out like bandits.
  • Estate tax, you can earn money for the state to run services we all need by taxing the super-rich so they’re not quite so far ahead. What this last bill does . . rich people in America were already allowed to leave 3.5 million dollars for each person (husband/wife) to their children or anyone else and the federal government wouldn’t touch it.
  • Less than one half percent of Americans who even have this amount of money.
  • This new law raises the amount from 7 million per couple to 10 million per couple. The new tax law also reduces the amount to pay from 45 to 35 percent.  A gift in the millions for the super-rich.
  • Translating into billions of dollars that are now going to be saved by the richest people in the United States.  We’re going to be talking about the difficulties the government has in doing things because it doesn’t have money. The government just gave away the store to richest one half of one percent.
  • What the rich do when they get a break like this, and when you turn to Wall Street, the hottest investments are in other parts of the world. Funding economic development in other parts of the world.
  • Unemployment is as high as it was a year ago. Foreclosures are running at a multi-million dollar clip per year.
  • Last month the Federal Reserve decided to print another 600 million dollars. My view is we’ve got years of unemployment ahead of us, years of a disasterous housing market, very few signs of recovery.
  • The worst has yet to hit. It takes time for states to crumble.
  • The municipal bond market, the debts of cities and towns are going to see significant default.
  • You need organization to act in historic moments that moments where people need action.
  • The flow of jobs from the United States to other parts of the world is continuing. American corporations don’t see the US as a “growth area.” They’re focused elsewhere.
  • We’re becoming a society where large numbers of people are living on the margins. It’s a new experience in this country after a century of being a little different from that.

Guest – Richard D. Wolff is Professor of Economics Emeritus, University of Massachusetts, Amherst where he taught economics from 1973 to 2008. He is currently a Visiting Professor in the Graduate Program in International Affairs of the New School University, New York City. He also teaches classes regularly at the Brecht Forum in Manhattan.


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Two Year Evaluation of  the Obama Administration

There is a long list of items progressive Americans had hoped to accomplish through the Obama Administration. In our interview with Roger Hodge, author of The Mendacity of Hope: Barack Obama and the Betrayal of American Liberalism, Hodge says Obama didn’t fight for anything worth fighting for. With corporate backers such as Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and Citi-Group,  the Obama Administration has been severely compromised. These corporations expect something in return. The Obama Administration has been criticized for expanded the wars abroad from Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen, criticized for continuing the Guantanamo detention policies, the Wall Street bailouts and bargaining with the Healthcare bill as a bailout for insurance companies. In this aftermath of 2010 and we look  back to 2008.

Nellie Hester Bailey:

  • A browner hue of imperialism. The policy of the US government at home and abroad would remain the same. When we look at the platform of then presidential candidate Barack Obama, he made very clear that he was a centrist candidate. In many instances to the right of Hillary Clinton, if one can imagine that.
  • We were never taken in, mesmerized, blinded . . we knew very well who he was.
  • He has proven to be much worse than anticipated. Not for me but for my colleagues who were cautiously optimistic.
  • On January 20th, President Obama is going to deliver his State of the Union Address. Everyone expects this is going to be the prelude for another deadly compromise for the working class.
  • There was a study done in the Guardian newspaper and amazingly African Americans were more optimistic about their economic situation and felt much more secure under Barack Obama’s administration than ever before.  When in fact just the opposite is true.
  • African Americans have lost trillions of dollars in the housing crisis, the mortgage scam.
  • We have to remember it was President Barack Obama that gave the banks a free ride.
  • We have added 9 billion dollars to the deficit with this tax cut deal, that is extending the tax cuts to the 2 percent of the wealthy. We are supposed to believe that he did this for us? The poor and the working class?
  • Unlike the right wing, I believe he will be a one term president.
  • What we need for the working poor and African Americans is the blinders to be pulled off, so people can see what it is that we are dealing with.  When you look at the report from the CDC where have a 50 percent increase in the number of people that are uninsured.
  • The work force is being reduced, we are expected to work longer hours, we are expected to retire later in life, we are being worked to death.  These are the undeniable realities.
  • You can no longer herd the people like sheep into this nightmare of compromise.
  • After 2 years, I think progressives for Obama need to step back and realize their responsibility for building a working class people, multi-racial movement.
  • You have to commit to a movement, you don’t do that as an individual.
  • Open Letter to encourage self-proclaimed left leaders such as Bill Fletcher, Tom Hayden and Barbara Ehrenreich to move from critical support into active opposition of the administrations agenda.
  • I co-host a program with Glen Ford who is the Executive editor of Black Agenda Report.
  • Black Agenda Report, we air on Mondays at 5 PM.

Guest – Nellie Hester Bailey, human rights activist who has worked in peace and justice movements for over forty years. From her early organizing with the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee, to tenant rights and anti-war struggles, to advocacy on behalf of women Bailey has been at the forefront of social justice and social change organizing.   Bailey co-founded the Harlem Tenants Council (HTC) in 1994. She currently serves as Director of the tenant led grassroots organization based on the self-determination tradition of radical activism that provides anti-displacement organizing for poor and working class families primarily in Central Harlem

Bailey is co-founder of Blacks in Solidarity Against the War that in 2005 help stage the largest anti-war demonstration in Harlem since the invasion of Iraq.  A founding member of Cuba Solidarity New York,  Bailey traveled to Cuba on three separate occasions.



Law and Disorder November 16, 2009




Capitalism Hits the Fan: The Global Economic Meltdown and What to Do About It (THE BOOK)

Today we welcome back Rick Wolff, Professor of Economics at the University of Massachusetts to discuss his new book titled Capitalism Hits the Fan: The Global Economic Meltdown and What to Do About It.  In his book, Rick takes the reader back to 2005 and step by step reveals how policies, economic structures and wage-to-profit systems led to a global economic collapse.

Rick Wolff will give us an update on why the media claims the recession is over, he also tells us if there be another leg down as predicted in the September 21st interview. Another leg down meaning, will the economy continue to drop? This was mentioned because of the way people were investing, investing in a way that expected the market to drop.

Rick Wolff:

  • The origin of the economic crisis goes deep into history. It’s one of the key things that people don’t understand or want to face. Roots of a System’s Crisis
  • We were a country founded by foreigners coming here, they got rid of the indigenous population. They established a mix system. Capitalism on one hand, with employers and employees, and then self employed farmers and small crafts people, and in the Southern US, slavery.
  • When the dust cleared, capitalism came through, it destroyed slavery and suboridinated the self employed to be small and on the margins.
  • For 150 years – 1820-1970 the growth of capital was outrunning the available labor supply. Laborers had options, could go West.
  • For 150 years, the goods and services a person could buy from an hour of their wages kept going up. It produced a strange and unusual notion that you were blessed, if you worked hard you would make more money.
  • That Americans could have a dream like that. . their children could have a better life and deliver on the promise.
  • It drew millions of immigrants from all over the world etc.
  • Then after the 1970s capitalism reminded us that it is not a guarantee that if you work hard you will be rewarded.
  • In the last 30 years wages have not anymore gone up. It’s a sea change in our culture’s history.
  • Wages stayed the same for these reasons:
  • The arrival of the computer that substituted people for machines on a mammoth scale
  • The movement of corporations to other parts of the world to take advantage of cheaper labor.
  • Women and immigrants moving into the paid labor force. This plunged the US economy into a disaster zone.
  • The end of rising wages. Americans today work 20 percent more hours a week, than their counterparts in France, Germany or Italy.  They are exhausted physically. The families are in disarray.
  • Then to consume more, live the American dream, they borrowed on credit, the likes of which no working class in the history of the world has ever done.
  • The average debt  of US family in the 1920s equaled about 1/3 of its annual income. In 2007, the level of debt equaled 125 percent of annual income.  At the same time, the last 30 years have been greatest boom of profitability of American corporations.
  • Where did the money come from to lend unprecedented amounts?  The money came from the boom in profits made possible by there no longer being a rise in wages.  You not only get the profitability of a flat wage situation but you get the added income from the interest that comes from lending.
  • The reforms and regulations we’ve seen, don’t work.  The only thing that got Americans working again after a 10 year depression – 1929-1939, was not economic reform and regulation, it was something called WWII.
  • Corporations used their profits to weaken reform laws, buy politicians, create army of Lobbyists.
  • The American people MUST demand different responses to this crisis than what there was in the past.
  • Handing corporations the citizen’s tax money as bail out is folly.
  • We have 15 million adults looking for work, 10 million more are discouraged and have given up.
  • The first thing this government should do is provide work for the unemployed.
  • Not bailing out the banks. The private sector has failed in the United States.
  • The government should support enterprises that workers run them, form them as their own enterprises in a collective way that is different from capitalist corporations
  • Let workers choose if they want to work for an enterprise run by workers or capitalists. Let us as consumers choose from good and services produced in a non-capitalist way alongside the capitalist.

Guest – Rick Wolff, Professor of Economics at University of Massachusetts at Amherst. In his new book Capitalism Hits the Fan: The Global Economic Meltdown and What to Do About, Rick takes the reader back to 2005 and step by step reveals how policies, economic structures and wage to profit systems led to a global economic collapse.


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Amy Goodman: Breaking the Sound Barrier.

Today, we’re very pleased to talk with award-winning investigative journalist and syndicated columnist, author and the host/executive producer of Democracy Now! Amy Goodman. Her new book titled Breaking the Sound Barrier is a collection of wide-ranging articles reminding the reader of what true independent journalism can do. Amy’s style of journalism breaks through the corporate media noise with stories from community organizers in New Orleans to the brave soldiers resisting war in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Truthout

Author and journalist Chris Hedges writes : “Amy Goodman is one of the most important voices in America. She defies the noise and clamor of celebrity gossip. She challenges the manipulation of information and dissemination of lies by the power elite. She refuses to pander to a culture where news is seen as another form of entertainment designed to bolster corporate profits. She holds steadfast to the core values of our trade. Her integrity and honesty remind us that a culture that cannot distinguish between illusion and reality dies.”

Amy Goodman:

  • Picasso’s famous anti-war painting Guernica in front of the UN Security Council.  When Colin Powell went to the UN and they had a press conference, this painting was the backdrop and so they shrouded it in a blue curtain. We have to rip that shroud every which way, we have to tear it, because that’s what journalism is all about.
  • Most of the voices in these columns are the people we interview on Democracy Now. The media is ahistoric, it whites out history.  How are young people supposed to figure out what to do when they have no sense of what came before? What are the models, what works, what doesn’t work?
  • Look at the money shifting from those who least have it to those who most have it, whether we’re talking about the economic meltdown.  Obama surrounding himself by the Goldman Sachs folks.
  • The model of community organizing has to be adopted by people all over the country.
  • It’s not going to happen because there’s one person in the white house.
  • The people with money and power walking the halls of the west wing, whispering in the commander in chief’s ear, and he says, if I do that, they will storm the Bastille.
  • If there’s no one out there that he’s pointing at, we’re all in very big trouble.
  • Breaking the Sound Barrier is the name of the column I do every week and the column appears in more than a hundred newspapers around the country. I think it is very important for people who consider themselves activists in this country hold their leaders accountable.
  • It’s the right for people to conduct their lives in this country without being spied on or infiltrated.

Guest – Amy Goodman, host and executive producer of Democracy Now!, a national, daily, independent, award-winning news program airing on over 800 TV and radio stations in North America. Time Magazine named Democracy Now! its “Pick of the Podcasts,” along with NBC’s Meet the Press.

Goodman is the first journalist to receive the Right Livelihood Award, widely known as the ‘Alternative Nobel Prize’ for “developing an innovative model of truly independent grassroots political journalism that brings to millions of people the alternative voices that are often excluded by the mainstream media.” She is also one of the the first recipients, along with blogger Glenn Greenwald, of the Park Center for Independent Media’s Izzy Award, named for the great muckraking journalist I.F. Stone.



Law and Disorder July 28, 2008


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House Judiciary Committee Hears Impeachment Resolution.

For nearly eight years, President Bush and Vice President Cheney have manipulated and lied to the U.S., and not without the help of Congress and the mainstream media. Here on Law and Disorder we’ve been with listeners during 4 of those 8 years, chronicling the injustices of the “global war on terror.” Now, in this late stage of the Bush/Cheney administration, Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich is pushing for impeachment. Last week the house voted 238 to 180 to send a single article of impeachment to the Judiciary Committee. The same committee that stopped Kucinich’s impeachment effort is allowing a hearing on Bush’s reasoning for taking the country to war in Iraq. In Kucinich’s words it is quote “deceiving Congress with fabricated threats of Iraq WMDs to fraudulently obtain support for an authorization of the use of military force against Iraq.” Kucinich: citizen petition.

If this article of impeachment is tabled, Kucinich says he would then begin to propose other articles. There are 35 articles of impeachment, among them are:

  • Misleading Congress and the American People About Threats from Iran, and Supporting Terrorist Organizations Within Iran, With the Goal of Overthrowing the Iranian Government
  • Falsifying Accounts of US Troop Deaths and Injuries for Political Purposes,
  • Illegal Detention: Detaining Indefinitely And Without Charge Persons Both U.S. Citizens and Foreign Captives, 4. Violation of the Posse Comitatus Act,
  • Rendition: Kidnapping People and Taking Them Against Their Will to “Black Sites” Located in Other Nations, Including Nations Known to Practice Torture

House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers Jr. told Congressional Quarterly, “We’re not doing impeachment, but he can talk about it.” Kucinich says holding George W. Bush and Dick Cheney accountable now, could prevent an attack on Iran.

  1. Conyers Tries To Kill Impeachment Hearings Before They Start.
  2. Impeachment Hearing? – Do Not Accuse, Do Not Name Names, Do Not Say Impeach.
  3. CSPAN Coverage: Watch Impeachment Hearings.

Guest – Ohio Congressman, Dennis J. Kucinich

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The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder.

Members of the Bush administration may soon be questioning if they will be prosecuted for war crimes. George W. Bush and other senior officials have enjoyed years of immunity from criminal lawsuits but, once out of office, they can be held accountable.

Bugliosi: Will U.S. State Attorney Generals and District Attorneys do the right thing?

In his latest book, The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder, Vincent Bugliosi lays out the legal framework of a meticulously researched case that puts George W. Bush on trial in an American courtroom for the murder of nearly 4,000 American soldiers fighting the war in Iraq.

One strategy in The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder is to establish jurisdiction in the cases for Attorney Generals in each state and also the approximately 900 district attorneys in the counties of those states. Bugliosi says it’s not unreasonable to believe that at least one prosecutor will be courageous enough to step up. Bugliois says, one of the key pieces of evidence to prosecute George W. Bush is the Manning Memo from January 31, 2003.

Manning Memo: In March 2003, Bush said that if Saddam Hussein did not give up his weapons of mass destruction, Iraq would face war. But earlier, in a January 31 closed-door meeting, Bush told his British buddy Tony Blair that the attack would take place even if no WMDs were found. Indeed, George and Tony candidly conceded that the discovery of such weapons was unlikely. This deliberate deception is revealed in a confidential five-page memo written by David Manning, Blair’s top foreign-policy advisor, who was at the meeting. Manning records that both Bush and Blair were uptight that the WMDs were not going to be found, so George W offered another fabrication to give them an excuse to attack. He suggested that the U.S. would paint one of our own surveillance planes in the colors of the United Nations and fly it over Iraq, hoping that Saddam would be provoked into shooting it down. Then the U.S. and Brits could invade, claiming that they were retaliating for Saddam’s attack on the UN.

Bugliosi: Points To Consider

  • While young soldiers age 18, 19, who never had a chance to live out their dreams, were getting blown to pieces in Iraq. Bush was having a lot of fun and enjoying life to the very fullest.
  • George Bush took 908 days off / about 36 percent of his presidency.
  • Juxtaposing Hussein with 9/11 – then saying later Hussein was involved in a terrorist relationship with Al-Qaeda. Al Qaeda was trained in Iraq in making bombs and poison.
  • You have troops over there in Iraq fighting thinking that its payback time … so you have this grotesque spectacle.
  • The white paper that congress saw never had the intelligences of the 16 US agencies, that Hussein was not an imminent threat. Opinons were changed into facts while dissenting opinions deleted.

Guest – Vincent Bugliosi, former prosecutor and bestselling author of many books including The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder.



Law and Disorder April 30, 2007


Heidi Boghosian Returns From Cuba

Co-host Michael Smith talks with our own Heidi Boghosian about her recent trip to Cuba and involvement with the defense of the Cuban Five. Heidi will be writing about her meetings with those in Cuba also working on the defense and support of the Cuban Five. An effort to counter the media blackout on this important story. Michael and Heidi also mention the recent news about the release of alleged terrorist Posada Carriles.

Cuban Five background: Five courageous men who uncovered information about plans by anti-Cuban terrorists to commit acts of violence against that island nation. After the Cuban government turned over voluminous documentation of such plans, the five were indicted and tried in Miami on unfounded charges of conspiracy to commit espionage all without one page of evidence to corroborate such charges. The Cuban Five have been imprisoned for 8 years in maximum security facilities spread out across the United States. They’re in such remote locations that even visits from their attorneys are difficult.


The Iroquois Confederacy

In the National Lawyer’s Guild quarterly magazine, Guild member Cynthia Feathers and her sister Susan, put together a collaborative work describing how the system of the Great Law within the Iroquois Confederacy is a blueprint of the current two houses of US government. The Feathers sisters describe that between 1000 and 1450, the Cayuga, Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, and Seneca Nations came together to become the Iroquois Confederacy, and in the early 18th century they were joined by the Tuscaroras.

If the two houses agreed, the Onondaga would implement the unanimous decision, unless they disagreed with the decision and referred the matter back to the Council. Sound familiar? By 1988, the 100th U.S. Congress passed a concurrent resolution acknowledging the contribution of the Six Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy to the development of the U.S. government.

Guest – Robert Odawi Porter, Professor of Law at Syracuse University and director of the Center for Indigenous Law, Governance & Citizenship.


The Most Important Fish in the Sea: Menhaden in America.

Here on Law and Disorder we have focused a lot of attention to civil liberties and human rights. Today we’re going to look at pending ecological catastrophe from over-fishing. We have with us author and professor Bruce Franklin, author of many books including The Most Important Fish in the Sea: Menhaden in America. In this Island Press publication, Franklin details how critical this fish is to the survival marine ecosystems.


The Menhaden, a tiny silvery fish is the basic link in the web of food chains for many other fish, mammals and seabirds. The Menhaden also filter the waters of the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, playing an essential dual role in marine ecology perhaps unmatched anywhere on the planet. As their numbers have plummeted from overfishing, their disappearance has caused toxic algae blooms and dead zones that have begun to choke our bays and seas.

Guest – Author H.Bruce Franklin tells us about how the Omega Protein Company is over-fishing this important fish.

Omega Newsletter encouraging consumption. Greenpeace article.


Law and Disorder February 26, 2007

Download/Listen to this show [40 MB]

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Global Warming Litigation – 3 Main Cases

Since 1947, the Doomsday clock has been used as a symbolic reference to measure the degree of nuclear threat. On January 27th of this year it was set to five minutes to midnight. It was advanced by two minutes on January 17, 2007 by experts assessing the dangers posed to civilization from catastrophic climate change.

Meanwhile the Bush administration continues to play down the threats of extreme weather and dramatic shifts in climate. Last May Law and Disorder aired speeches from the Catastrophic Climate Change Forum at Albany Law School including speakers such as Dr. James Hansen, director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies . Hansen cited hard evidence – building the case that global climate change is at a tipping point and emissions from power plants and vehicles are mainly to blame.

Of the main contributors to this one percent tipping point of greenhouse gases are utility companies, automobile emissions and housing stock. This one percent of man made emissions that can be regulated say attorneys involved in 3 major climate change cases.

Guest – Eleanor Stein Adjunct Professor of Law Albany Law School at Union University


Soul of Justice: Thelton Henderson’s American Journey

A film documentary that chronicles one man’s influence on the American judicial system. The first black attorney in the Civil Rights Division of the Kennedy Justice Department, Thelton Anderson was later appointed by President Jimmy Carter as one of the first African American federal judges in the United States. His decisions have been informed by a profound sense of fairness, distinguished also by his tenacity in seeing that they are enforced even in the face of great political opposition. Soul of Justice includes rare archival footage, and interviews with lawyers and a Supreme Court justice.

Guest – Abby Ginzberg, an award winning filmmaker producing films for the last 22 years. Her films focus on race, equality of opportunity and model programs for at-risk youth.

Soul of Justice – NYC screenings: Monday Feb 26, Columbia Law School 116th St. & Amsterdam Ave, 6pm, Rm 107

Tuesday Feb 27, NYU Law School, Tishman Auditorium in Vanderbilt Hall at 40 Washington Square. doors open at 5:30, film at 6pm


Law Students for Government Accountability

LSGA was created out of the Student Hurricane Network run by law students (with some assistance by various attorneys, experienced lobbyists, an international strategy consulting firm, and an international PR firm). Its purpose is 1) to continue to educate the public about the causes and costs of the hurricanes Katrina and Rita to the Gulf Coast region and the nation at large, 2) to obtain the support of the 110th Congress for a Statement of Principles to ensure that such a disaster never happens again on the Gulf Coast through providing its necessary rebuilding and renewal, or any American soil through a comprehensive federal catastrophe prevention and response plan, and 3) work in partnership and solidarity with the thousands of voices advocating for those directly harmed by this disaster to ensure that the legislation passed by Congress provides a clear and coherent plan to prevent this from ever happening again.

Right now, LSGA is working on recruiting 1000 law students to participate in a March 14 National Lobbying Day in DC, to get their representatives to sign the Statement of Principles, guaranteeing wetland restoration, Category 5 levee and flood prevention, improvement of the management of the Mississippi River that would facilitate the restoration of the land and ensure ecological and economic security, the full recovery of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, and address the underlying issues of poverty and racism.

Guest – Andrew Doss – LSGA Board Member

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