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Law and Disorder April 10, 2017


 

The Hundred-Year Walk: An Armenian Odyssey

April 24 marks the 101st anniversary of the Armenian genocide. Until recently, most Americans never heard of the genocide and rarely hear the individual stories of those who survived atrocities at the hands of the Ottoman Turks. Journalist Dawn Mackeen came to learn the personal account of her grandfather Stepan Miskjian after reading notebooks that he had kept a century ago chronicling his story. She then embarked on a multi-year journey, using her research skills to scour newspapers and archives around the globe to recreate, and then actually retrace, his steps taken 100 years earlier through Turkey and Syria.

She has written an eye-opening book, The Hundred-Year Walk: An Armenian Odyssey. It recounts not only her grandfather’s experience, but those of the approximately 1.5 million Armenians who were tortured and killed in the genocide that began in 1915. As many Armenian genocide survivors did, Dawn’s grandfather escaped just before the members of his caravan with were massacred by disguising himself as an Arab.

Guest – Dawn Mackeen is an award-winning journalist who spent nearly a decade researching and writing her grandfather’s story. Previously, she covered health and social issues for Salon, SmartMoney, and Newsday, where her investigative series on assisted living facilities’ poor care helped prompt legislative reform. Her work has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Elle, the Sunday Times Magazine (London), the Los Angeles Times, and elsewhere. She lives in Southern California.

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International Law and the State of Israel: Legitimacy, Exceptionalism and Responsibility

At the request of its member states, the United Nations economic and social commission for Western Asia commissioned a report on Israeli practices towards the Palestinian people and the question of apartheid. Apartheid is a crime against humanity under international law. The report found Israel in violation of three international laws. One of them, the  1998 Rome statute of the international criminal court states that “the crime of apartheid means inhumane acts committed in the context of AN institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over any other racial group or groups and committed with the intention of maintaining that regime.” The commission report concluded that Israel operates in an Apartheid regime against Palestinian citizens of Israel, Palestinians in East Jerusalem, Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, and Palestinian refugees and exiles.The commission made recommendations to dismantle the apartheid regime. In response, Israel and its ally the United States of America had to report rejected and caused the resignation of the head of the commission.

We speak with two anti- apartheid activists. Both have just returned from an important conference on Israel held at the University of Cork, in Cork Ireland.  The conference had twice been prevented by pro Israeli forces.

Guest – Richard Falk is the former UN Special Rapporteur on Palestinian human rights and Professor Emeritus of International Law at Princeton University. Since 2002 he has lived in Santa Barbara, California, and taught at the local campus of the University of California in Global and International Studies and since 2005 chaired the Board of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation.

Guest – Author Joel Kovel, politician, academic, and eco-socialist. He has lectured in psychiatry, anthropology, political science and communication studies. He has published many books including the controversial Overcoming Zionism: Creating a Single Democratic State in Israel/Palestine.

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Partisan Gerrymandering In Wisconsin

In a backlash to the 2008 Obama election victory, two years later, in 2010, the Republican Party of Wisconsin won both houses of the legislature and the governorships. The Republicans then redrew the legislative map making it impossible for the Democratic Party to capture a majority of the legislative seats at any time in the decade,  no matter how many votes they get.  This is called partisan gerrymandering, the process of drawing distorted legislative districts to undermine democracy.  Now, in Wisconsin, instead of voters choosing their legislatures, the legislatures choose the voters. As a consequence people in Wisconsin have had their great university system harmed, right to work laws have been enacted wrecking their unions, and there has been substantial environmental damage.

Guest – Professor William “Bill” Whitford who recently retired as a Law Professor at the University of Wisconsin. He is the lead plaintiff in a federal lawsuit against partisan gerrymandering. His cases is likely to be heard in the Supreme Court. In the case Whitford v Gill 12, Wisconsin voters are challenging the constitutionality of the states Republican drawn legislative maps. Heretofore, the Supreme Court has been unwilling to get involved.  This case may change that and restore a measure of democracy to a broken system  in Wisconsin, and later elsewhere.

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Law and Disorder April 3, 2017


Trial Judge Rules Against 69 Year Old Palestinian Activist Rasmea Odeh

In 1969, when she was a 21 year old college student in Ramallah in the Israeli occupied territories on the West Bank,  Rasmea Odeh, a Palestinian woman, was arrested for killing two Israeli University students with a bomb placed in a supermarket.  She confessed to the crime and served 10 years in prison, getting out in a prisoner swap. She came to United States 20 years ago, obtained citizenship, and settled in Chicago as a community organizer of immigrant Arab women.  Odeh was criminally charged two years ago by the federal government with “unlawful procurement of naturalization.” In her application, she omitted mention of the crime for which she was convicted in Israel. In her defense, she said that she could not remember, that she had post traumatic stress disorder as a result of being tortured in jail for 25 days and forced to sign a false confession. Her expert witness was not allowed to testify as to the PSTD and the torture.  The trial judge’s ruling on this was overturned by a Federal Court of Appeals. Last week she agreed to a plea arrangement where she would be stripped of her citizenship and deported rather than face a 5 to 7 year prison sentence and indefinite detention by ICE. She is 69 years old and does not know where she will be sent inasmuch as she cannot go home.

Guest – Attorney Michael Deutsch  had represented Rasmea Odeh. He is a partner at the Peoples Law Office in Chicago and a former legal director at the  Center for Constitutional Rights. 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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New York City Titanpointe National Security Agency Protest

There is a massive 550 foot tall gray granite and cement NSA spying hub hidden in plain sight in a windowless skyscraper in downtown Manhattan. At noon on April 15 an action is planned by a group called the Quiet American. It is an arts and politics journal based in Ridgewood, Queens, New York. They will perform a rite of exorcism on the building in order to, as their press release states, “to metaphysically purge the edifice of the data it hoards and to invoke a less maniacal version of citizen-government relations.”

The building is located at 33 Thomas Street where the action will take place. It is a windowless monolith that people say is “creepy as hell” and “a monument to the bottomless fear that locks us in permanent war”. The building was designed to withstand a nuclear assault and sustain its employees working there for two weeks.

Guest –  Eli Smith, a musician and activist from Brooklyn, who has helped organize the event. Eli Smith is also a folklorist and music producer who organizes the annual “Brooklyn Folk Festival”, a huge weekend music gathering now in its ninth year, and coming up at the end of April.

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Lawsuit Forces EPA Head To Release More Emails Exposing Fossil Fuel Ties

Donald Trump’s nominee to head the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, was recently sued by the Center for Media and Democracy to force the release of emails exposing ties with fossil fuel backers and the Oklahoma Office of Attorney General.

The suit, filed on behalf of the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD), seeks an emergency injunction to prevent Pruitt from destroying any documents relevant to the group’s open records requests before his confirmation hearing. Since 2015, CMD filed seven records requests with Pruitt’s office seeking communications with Koch Industries and other coal, oil, and gas corporations as well as the corporate-funded Republican Attorney General’s Association.

Pruitt has yet to turn over a single document, despite acknowledging that his office has 3,000 emails and other documents relevant to CMD’s initial request. The Oklahoma Open Records Act provides that “the people are vested with the inherent right to know and be fully informed about their government . . . so they may efficiently and intelligently exercise their inherent political power.”

The act also mandates that a public body “must provide prompt, reasonable access to its records.” With Pruitt seeking confirmation to become EPA administrator, these public records are essential for the U.S. Senate to do its job.

“There is no valid legal justification for the emails we received last night not being released prior to Pruitt’s confirmation vote other than to evade public scrutiny,” said Arn Pearson, general counsel for CMD. “There are hundreds of emails between the AG’s office, Devon Energy, and other polluters that Senators should have been permitted to review prior to their vote to assess Pruitt’s ties to the fossil fuel industry.”

Guest – Arn Pearson, General Counsel and Policy Advisor from the Center for Media and Democracy. He previously served as the Vice President for Policy and Litigation at Common Cause. Arn has worked for more than 20 years developing federal and state policy and legal strategies around campaign finance reform, government ethics, corporate accountability, and tax reform.

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Law and Disorder November 7, 2016


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More FDNY Lawsuits

Two years ago the New York Fire Department settled a racial discrimination suit brought by the Center for Constitutional Rights and the United States Department of Justice on behalf of the Vulcans, black fire fighters organization. The court awarded $100 million in back pay and benefits to fire fighters who had been discriminated against and to applicants who’s efforts to join the department had been stymied by what the court ruled was institutional bias. Two weeks ago a second lawsuit was filed by Brooklyn attorney Greg Smith on behalf of 10 African American civilians who work in the non-uniform part of the New York Fire Department. The suit alleges pay discrimination, retaliation for complaints, and harassment of black people working at the fire department.

Guest – Ginger Adams Otis  has been writing about New York City and local politics for more than a decade. She is a staff writer at the NY Daily News. Otis started covering City Hall and the Fire Department when she worked for The Chief-Leader, from there she moved to staff position at the NY Post. She’s also been a radio and print freelancer for WNYC, the Associated Press, BBC, National Public Radio, The Village Voice and national magazines such as The Nation and Ms. She lives in Harlem, NY.Ginger Otis. She’s the author of the book Firefight The Century-Long Battle to Integrate New York’s Bravest. Ms. Otis works as a staff writer for the NY Daily News.

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Anti-SLAPP Legislation

If you have ever left a less than favorable comment on a website such as Yelp or TripAdvisor you should know that some businesses or doctors are suing consumers for their negative reviews. Patients writing about botched surgical procedures or doctors’ billing practices have been sued in small claims court saying the bad reviews cost their practices thousands of dollars.

Two pending federal laws are designed to protect consumers from legal retaliation when they express opinions online.

The Consumer Review Fairness Act, dubbed the “Right to Yelp Act,” would bar companies from including gag clauses in agreements they ask consumers to sign. And the Speak Free Act would create a legal weapon for defendants in lawsuits over their publicly expressed thoughts. Such cases are called SLAPP (strategic lawsuits against public participation). Someone brought into court over their words can invoke the bill’s anti-SLAPP motion to get the case dismissed quickly and force the plaintiff to pay attorney’s fees.

Yelp is among some 40 companies and nonprofits backing the bills, which also have bipartisan support in Congress, where they are expected to move forward this fall. Some, however, find the bills unconstitutional as they might impose barriers to civil rights and public interest litigation.

Guest – Evan Mascagni, policy director at the Public Participation Project. The Project assists individuals and organizations working to pass anti-SLAPP legislation in the states while educating the public regarding SLAPPs and their consequences.

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How the CIA Killed Che: The Murder of A Revolutionary

The Cuban revolution of 1959 was a historical turning point. It ended American corporate and political control of the island’s economy and government and it demonstrated to other Latin American and Caribbean peoples that they could do the same. The American response was quick and deadly.  They overthrew any governments that did not oppose the Cuban revolution. This included Brazil, Argentina, the Dominican Republic, Bolivia and most spectacularly, in 1971, in an effort involving US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, the democratically elected socialist government of Chile. Che Guevara failed in his attempt to defend the revolution in Cuba by extending it. He started in Bolivia with a band of international revolutionary guerrilla fighters and was quickly discovered, surrounded, and assassinated by Bolivian soldiers trained and organized by the CIA in an operation that was directed right out of the White House. The economic blockade of Cuba by the United States is still in effect.  Left leaning governments in Argentina, Brazil, and Honduras have been replaced by neoliberal capitalists under the favored hand of the American government.

Guest –  Professor Greg Grandin  wrote the introduction to the recently published book by our own Michael Ratner and Michael Steven Smith called “How the CIA Killed Che. Grandin is the author of a number of prize-winning books, including most recently “The Empire of Necessity: Slavery, Freedom, and Deception in the New World,” which won the Bancroft Prize in American History and was shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize in the UK. NPR’s Maureen Corrigan on Fresh Air named The Empire of Necessity as the best book of 2014, both non-fiction and fiction. “Fordlandia: The Rise and Fall of Henry Ford’s Forgotten Jungle City” was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in History, as well as for the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award and was picked by the New York Times, New Yorker, Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune and NPR for their “best of” lists, and Amazon.com named it the best history book of 2009.

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Law and Disorder October 31, 2016


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Green Party Vice Presidential Candidate Ajamu Baraka

Here on Law and Disorder we continue our interviews with candidates other than the two major parties. This week we talk with Green Party Vice Presidential Candidate Ajamu Baraka.

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

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The Connecticut Four

More than ten years ago four librarians in Connecticut fought back after FBI agents handed them National Security Letters seeking library records under the PATRIOT Act, and warned them it was a criminal offense to discuss it with anyone. The letter demanded that the librarians identify patrons who had used library computers online at a specific time a year earlier. Four librarians challenged the legality of the request in a lawsuit, represented by the ACLU. A year later the government withdrew the demand for information and the gag order. The media dubbed them “the Connecticut Four.”

Recently they have reunited to draw attention to attempts by the U.S. Senate to expand the amount and kinds of information that the government may compel libraries and others to divulge. It could force librarians to give the FBI transaction records, such as email metadata, links clicked on to access other websites and the length and time of Internet search sessions.

Guest – George Christian, executive director of the Library Connection and one of the four Connecticut librarians gagged by the FBI. The four librarians, members of the Library Connection, sought help from the ACLU after the FBI demanded patron records through a National Security Letter.

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The Bronx 120

Just before 5 in the morning on April 27, 700 law enforcement officers conducted the largest gang raid in NY history in the Williamsbridge section of the North Bronx. Prosecutors used the 1970 RICO Act, and 78 young men averaging 24 years in age were arrested and indicted 120 on conspiracy charges. All are being detained collectively for 8 murders and firearms and drug charges dating back two decades. In one apartment, more than a dozen police threw flash-bang grenades and broke down the front door with assault weapons aimed at Paula Clarke and her two daughters, then forced them to crawl down their hall on all fours toward the officers.

At a press conference, police characterized the young men as “the epitome of organized crime today.” Cooperating federal agencies included the DEA, the ATF, the US attorney general, and ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations. Community members question this portrayal, saying the young men were not highly organized gangsters terrorizing a community; they lacked money and weapons and were living at home with their parents.

Critics claim that applying RICO to to street gangs has racist implications. Under RICO, individuals can be found guilty by association. Despite gang-related crime accounting for less than 2 percent of city crime, two weeks after the raid, James O’Neill, now NYPD Commissioner, promised 20 more raids before July 4.

The department quadrupled its gang division by launching Operation Crew Cut in 2012. A 2014 initiative has spent over $64.6 million on surveillance cameras and singled out 15 projects as high-crime zones; at least ten of those projects have experienced police raids.

Guest – Cindy Gorn is a former teacher of Urban Studies at Hunter College and a member of the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee.

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Law and Disorder October 17, 2016


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Women’s Boat To Gaza: 2016

When the Zionist settlers colonized Palestine they removed 750,000 natives in 1948 and more in the 1967.  Many Palestinians fled to Gaza where 1,900,000 people live in a 5 x 25 mile strip of land in the Mediterranean Sea south of Israel. Gaza is completely blockaded by the Israeli army, Air Force and Navy. The 25 mile stretch of land has been called the largest open air prison.  In 2012 the Israeli Army and Air Force attacked Gaza killing several thousand people, including more than 500 children and destroyed many buildings and the infrastructure of the area like hospitals, schools and the water purification plant. Because of the Israeli blockade, Gaza has yet to be rebuilt.

Ann Wright was on the boat Zaytouna-Oliva as part of the women’s boats to Gaza project. It sailed 1,715 miles from Barcelona Spain to Corsica to Sicily and on towards Gaza. However, the boat was seized by the Israeli Navy on October 5, 2016. They were in international waters 34 miles from Gaza when they were illegally apprehended by the Israeli Navy, taken to Israel, and deported. On board were 13 women from various countries whose mission was to bring hope to the people of Gaza and show they are not forgotten. Ann joins us today to talk about this courageous endeavor of hope and peace. She’s a retired Army Colonel and diplomat who resigned after the beginning of the war on Iraq.  She has since devoted herself to the peace movement.

Guest – Ann Wright is a 29-year US Army/Army Reserves veteran, a retired United States Army colonel and retired U.S. State Department official, known for her outspoken opposition to the Iraq War. She received the State Department Award for Heroism in 1997, after helping to evacuate several thousand people during the civil war in Sierra Leone. She is most noted for having been one of three State Department officials to publicly resign in direct protest of the 2003 Invasion of Iraq. Wright was also a passenger on the Challenger 1, which along with the Mavi Marmara, was part of the Gaza flotilla. She served in Nicaragua, Grenada, Somalia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Sierra Leone, Micronesia and Mongolia. In December, 2001 she was on the small team that reopened the US Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan. She is the co-author of the book “Dissent: Voices of Conscience.” She has written frequently on rape in the military.

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Jeff Mackler : U.S. Presidential Campaign Gains Support

Law and Disorder will be broadcasting interviews with candidates other than the two major parties. We check in with Jeff Mackler who is the National Secretary of Socialist Action and their 2016 presidential candidate. Jeff Mackler is the author of 25 books and pamphlets on a range of key social, economic and political issues. He’s a lifelong anti-war and anti-racist activist and a leader of the United Anti-War Coalition.

Guest – Jeff Mackler, is the National Secretary of Socialist Action and Socialist Action’s candidate for president in 2016. Mackler is the author of some 25 books and pamphlets on a range of key social, political and economic  issues, a lifelong antiwar and anti-racist activist, a leader of the United National Antiwar Coalition and founder of the Northern California Climate Mobilization.

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Law and Disorder June 20, 2016


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¡Michael Ratner Presente!

We hear excerpts from Michael Ratner’s public memorial held in the Great Hall at Cooper Union in Manhattan, New York.  It would have been Michael’s 73rd birthday on June 13, 2016.

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¡Michael Ratner Presente! was co-sponsored by Cooper Union, the Center for Constitutional Rights, Democracy Now!, National Lawyers Guild, The Nation Institute, Nation Magazine, Haymarket Books, and Voices of a People’s History of the United States.

Michael Ratner’s Politics – By Michael Smith

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Law and Disorder March 14, 2016


Update: Co-host Michael Smith’s Parrot Charlie Turns 25

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Green Party 2016 US Presidential Candidate Dr. Jill Stein

Jill Stein is a physician and activist who is seeking the Green Party’s 2016 presidential nomination. She ran for the White House as the Green Party’s candidate in 2012, winning nearly half a million votes.  Stein is a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Medical School.

Her campaign website urges: It’s time to build a people’s movement to end unemployment and poverty; avert climate catastrophe; build a sustainable, just economy; and recognize the dignity and human rights of every person. The power to create this new world is not in our hopes; it’s not in our dreams — it’s in our hands.

Guest – Dr. Jill Stein, was the Green Party’s 2012 candidate for president of the United States. She is an organizer, physician, and pioneering environmental-health advocate. She has led initiatives promoting healthy communities, local green economies and the revitalization of democracy – addressing issues such as campaign finance reform, green jobs, racially-just redistricting, and the cleanup of incinerators, coal plants, and toxics. She was a principal organizer for the Global Climate Convergence for People, Planet and Peace over Profit. Dr. Jill Stein is a mother, physician, longtime teacher of internal medicine, and pioneering environmental-health advocate. She is the co-author of two widely-praised reports,  In Harm’s Way: Toxic Threats to Child Development, published in 2000, and Environmental Threats to Healthy Aging, published in 2009.  The first of these  has been translated into four languages and is used worldwide. The reports promote green local economies, sustainable agriculture, clean power, and freedom from toxic threats.

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Department of American Indian Studies at the University of Illinois Reduced From Nine To Zero

Professor Robert Warrior is the departing chairman of the Department of American Indian Studies at the University of Illinois. Warrior is a member of the Osage Indian tribe of Oklahoma. He was the chairman of the department that help recruit Professor Steven Salaita to the University of Illinois in 2014. Salaita gave up his tenure in Virginia and was moving to University of Illinois when he was openly critical of the Israeli bombing of Palestinians in Gaza. For this, his tenured position at the University of Illinois was revoked. In the wake of Salaita’s firing, the Department of American Indian Studies at the University of Illinois had dwindled down to zero people from the nine it had just two years ago.

Guest – Professor Robert Warrior is Director of American Indian Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he is Professor of American Indian Studies, English, and History. An enrolled member of the Osage Nation, he is the author of The People and the Word: Reading Native Nonfiction, American Indian Literary Nationalism (with Craig Womack and Jace Weaver), Like a Hurricane: The Indian Movement from Alcatraz to Wounded Knee (with Paul Chaat Smith) and Tribal Secrets: Recovering American Indian Intellectual Traditions. He is also a member of the Native Critics Collective, which published Reasoning Together, a collection of essays focused on Native literary criticism.

Members of the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association selected both The People and the Word and Reasoning Together for its list of the ten most influential books in Native and Indigenous studies in the first decade of the twenty-first century. He and the coauthors of American Indian Literary Nationalism were the inaugural recipients of the Beatrice Medicine Award for Scholarly Writing from the Native American Literature Symposium, and Warriorhas also received awards from the Gustavus Myers Foundation, the NativeAmerican Journalists Association, the Church Press Association, and others.

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Law and Disorder February 1, 2016


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CCR Human Rights Group Returns From Israel

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

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

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American Exceptionalism And The Proto-Fascist State

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

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

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Law and Disorder January 18, 2016


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NYC Teacher Fired For Lessons About The Central Park Five

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Saudi Arabia, Wahhabism and Middle East Geopolitics

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

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

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Law and Disorder November 23, 2015


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A Good American

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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photo credit Jake Ratner - Geraldo photo credit Jake Ratner

CIW Farmworkers Protest Wendy’s Board Chairman Nelson Peltz

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

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

(photo credit: Jake Ratner)

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