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Archive for the 'Human Rights' Category


Law and Disorder September 26, 2016


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Zachary Sklar: Snowden

National Security Director James Clapper was questioned by Congress. The media was there. He looked at the camera, right in our eyes. The question was: Does the NSA spy on Americans?  He Answered “not wittingly”. This was a lie. The NSA was spying on every computer keystroke and telephone conversation made by every American. Edward Snowden blew the whistle on this totalitarian practice that turned democracy upside down. Instead of the government serving the people the government was spying on the people it should serve.  He has been indicted under the 1917 Espionage Act and is presently living in Russia, stripped of his passport, unable to come home where he faces decades in prison or worse. Oscar-winning film director Oliver Stone’s just released movie tells Edward Snowden’s story.

Guest – Zachary Sklar is a screenwriter, journalist, author, and editor. He is best known as co-writer (with Oliver Stone) of the Academy Award-nominated screenplay for the film JFK. Sklar has edited numerous non-fiction books about U.S. intelligence, including the number-one-bestselling On the Trail of the Assassins by Jim Garrison, from which the film JFK was adapted; Profits of War: Inside the Secret U.S.-Israeli Arms Network by former Israeli intelligence operative Ari Ben-Menashe; and Deadly Deceits: My 25 Years in the CIA by former CIA case officer Ralph McGehee.

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Dakota Pipeline Protests: Legal Update

With winter settling in in North Dakota the construction of the Dakota Access pipeline has been temporarily halted pending governmental reconsiderederation. Representatives of over 100 Native American tribes and several thousand supporters Are camped near the Missouri River, which the pipeline, if it breaks after it is constructed under the river, would pollute ruining the drinking water up to 20 million people who depend on it. The DAPL Company and its parent Texas company have secured some 3 1/2 billion dollars in financing from Goldman Sachs, UPS, the Chase Manhattan Bank, and other banks. The financing may not be forthcoming if the project is stalled too long. In the meantime camp protesters, who call themselves “water protectors ”  are preparing to stay through the upcoming predictably severe North Dakota winter.

Guest – National Lawyers Guild Attorney Jeff Haas, has just returned from living at the North Dakota encampment with thousands of Native Americans and climate change activists who gathered in solidarity with the Standing Rock Indian tribe in North Dakota to protest the pipeline construction. Jeff Haas was a founding partner of the Peoples Law Office in Chicago. He victoriously represented the family of Fred Hampton, the chairman of the Chicago Black Panther Party and proved that Hampton was assassinated by the FBI and Chicago Police Department. He’s also author of the book The Assassination of Fred Hampton.

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Encrypted Client Communications

As the general public becomes increasingly aware of the value of using open source encrypted communications, several groups of professionals may be among the first to regularly use it in their work. Members of the press already provide open source whistleblower submission systems, such as Secure Drop, to protect the anonymity of anonymous sources. But how do attorneys protect their privileged client communications? Jonathan Stribling-Uss founded Constitutional Communications to teach attorneys, activists and others to use open source encryption for all their communications. The group is aptly named given that “Our current system of Internet communication is not constitutional, especially with respect to attorney/client communications,” according to Stribling-Uss who is also a member of the National Lawyers Guild. The group has already provided intensive training sessions on digital security domestically and internationally for nearly 300 civil society leaders from dozens of countries.

Guest – Attorney Jonathan Stribling-Uss, director of Constitutional Communications, a nonprofit organization that specializes in information security for professionals and civil society organizations. He has led trainings and accredited CLEs (Continuing Legal Education) for hundreds of attorneys and law students on cybersecurity, professional ethics, international law, and attorney-client communications with the NYCLA (New York County) Bar Association, Law For Black Lives, and the Continuing Legal Resource Network at CUNY (City University Of New York). He has also trained journalists, foundations, activists, and technologists from more then 40 countries at the Center for Constitutional Rights, Thoughtworks global corporation, the International Development Exchange, the Legal Clinics of the CUNY School of Law, and The Florestan Fernandes National School in Brazil.

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Law and Disorder September 19, 2016


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Attorney Jeff Haas: Bakken Pipeline Construction Temporarily Halted

Last week the US government announced that the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline under the Missouri River in North Dakota near Sioux Indian lands had been voluntarily suspended. In a joint statement the Department of the Interior, which interacts with Native Americans, the Department of Justice,and the Army Corps of Engineers, which had granted the permit for construction, announced that a reconsideration of the process whereby the US government receives input from  Native Americans was under examination.  So, the fight about water and human rights continues.

Guest – National Lawyers Guild Attorney Jeff Haas, has just returned from living at the North Dakota encampment with thousands of Native Americans and climate change activists who gathered in solidarity with the Standing Rock Indian tribe in North Dakota to protest the pipeline construction. Jeff Haas was a founding partner of the Peoples Law Office in Chicago. He victoriously represented the family of Fred Hampton, the chairman of the Chicago Black Panther Party and proved that Hampton was assassinated by the FBI and Chicago Police Department. He’s also author of the book The Assassination of Fred Hampton.

Sacred Stone Camp Legal Defense – Lawyers wanting to support the Sacred Stone Camp, contact Attorney Robin Martinez –  robin.martinez@martinezlaw.net

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U. S. Commission on Civil Rights: Peaceful Coexistence

Recently the U. S. Commission on Civil Rights issued a report called “Peaceful Coexistence:  Reconciling Non-discrimination Principles With Civil Rights  “.
The report discusses how religion is used to deny others’ equality.  The commission’s chairman Martin Castro wrote that the phrases “religious liberty”  and “religious freedom ” are code words hypocritically employed to support discrimination, intolerance, racism, sexism, homophobia, and Christian supremacy.

Guest – Columbia Law Professor Attorney Katherine Franke about the commission’s findings and recommendations and the objections to the reports conclusions. Katherine Franke is the chair of the board of the Center for Constitutional  Rights.  She is the Sulzbacher Professor of Law at Columbia Law School, and also the Faculty Director of the Public Rights/Private Conscience Project, a think tank that brings legal academic expertise to bear on the multiple contexts in which religious liberty rights are in tension with other fundamental rights to equality and liberty. Her book is titled “Wedlocked:  The Perils of Marriage Equality”.

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Ray McGovern: Surveillance, Terrorism, CIA, Manufactured War

Fifteen years have passed since the criminal attack on September 11, 2001.  Today we’ll take a look at some critical changes this country has undergone since. Believing he was doing God’s will, President George W. Bush ordered airstrikes against Afghanistan and then, with intelligence cooked up to fit the plan, brought shock and awe to the people of Iraq,  killing and and displacing more than 1 million people.  The authorization to use military force that he procured from a frightened Congress is still used as a rationale for overseas war. Obama is the only president in American history that has fought  wars for the entire eight years of his presidency. Currently the United States is at war in seven different countries.  At home, draconian legislation such as Patriot Act was quickly passed even though it wasn’t read by most members of Congress. The surveillance budget of the CIA and the NSA tripled. Every keystroke we make on our computers and every phone call we make, are spied on by our own government. We live in a culture of manufactured fear of terrorism, even though more people were killed by toddlers with pistols then terrorists.

Guest – Ray MacGovern, former senior CIA analyst, who was for 27 years an analyst with the CIA giving the first President George Bush his daily intelligence briefing.  He is the cofounder of Veteran Intelligent Professionals for Sanity.  Ray McGovern works for Tell the World, the publishing an arm of the Ecumenical Church of the Savior in the Inner City of Washington DC.

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Law and Disorder September 12, 2016


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Legal Support For The Dakota Access Pipeline Resistance

The Dakota Access Pipeline, LLC seeks to build it’s pipeline across the Missouri River in North Dakota. If allowed, the 30 inch 1172 mile pipeline would carry more than 500,000 barrels of crude oil a day from the Bakken Shale in western North Dakota to the Midwest.  A breach in the integrity of that pipeline would likely contaminate the Missouri River, a source of water for at least 20 million people. The pipeline itself threatens the water in traditional lands of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe. The pipeline was redirected towards the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe so that it would not go through white non-native lands and community.

In April of this year, researchers at the University of Michigan found that the Bakken oil field is emitting about 2% of the worlds methane, about 250,000 tons per year into the air, directly affecting air-quality across North America. These emissions, combined with combustion of Bakken oil, are major contributors to the global climate crisis that threatens the well-being of our environment, future generations, and planet Earth. The resistance started with 35 people, there are now more than 2000 people and Native American representatives from over 100 native nations gathering in North Dakota to block the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Guest – Attorney Jeff Haas is one of the National Lawyers Guild members representing the Camp of the Sacred Stones in North Dakota.  They are seeking to block construction of the oil pipeline. Jeff Haas was a founding partner of the Peoples Law Office in Chicago. He victoriously represented the family of Fred Hampton, the chairman of the Chicago Black Panther Party and proved that Hampton was assassinated by the FBI and Chicago Police Department. He’s also author of the book The Assassination of Fred Hampton.

Sacred Stone Camp Legal Defense – Lawyers wanting to support the Sacred Stone Camp, contact Attorney Robin Martinez –  robin.martinez@martinezlaw.net

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DeeDee Halleck: New York State Otisville Training School

Long before the state correctional facility Otisville was established in Mount Hope, NY, it was a tuberculosis sanitarium, a training school for boys, and a drug abuse treatment center. After the TB Hospital closed in 1955 the State Division for Youth purchased the sprawling property and renamed it the New York State Otisville Training School. It housed boys aged 14-17 from across the state for periods up to 18 months and functioned as a boys’ training school. Many were Persons in Need of Supervision who’d had fights with their parents or been truants from school. Others were there for drugs, robbery and even homicide.

Before the training school closed its doors in 1972, a special 16 mm film program launched in the late 60s tapped the creativity of the boys there.

Guest – DeeDee Halleck is hoping to re-connect with any listeners who may have attended this. film project. DeeDee is among the top media activists, and co-founder of Paper Tiger Television and also the Deep Dish Satellite Network, the first grass roots community television network. She is Professor Emerita in the Department of Communication at the University of California at San Diego.

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Bernardine Dohrn: Juveniles In The Criminal Justice System

Juveniles in the U.S. criminal justice system are not afforded the same protections as adults. They are often not allowed to have a lawyer when they are arrested or interrogated  and often see a lawyer only for the first time at their trial.  When under interrogation, the police use deceptive methods to secure confessions, sometimes false ones.  Comparitively, the protections afforded juveniles in Europe are more fair. They include the provision of an attorney when the child is first taken into custody as well as later, through trial, and revocation of parole or probation.  We know from medical science and adolescent behavioral development that children’s brains are not the same as adults. The reasoning and decision-making abilities of a child are different. Moreover, children of color are not treated the same as white children in the United States of America.

Guest – Attorney Bernardine Dohrn is a retired professor and founder/former director of the Children and Family Justice Center and the Bluhm Legal Clinic. She is also former leader of SDS and longtime member of the National Lawyers Guild where she served a student organizer in the late 60s.  Until recently Bernadine Dorhn taught law at Northwestern University Law School supporting justice for juveniles.

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Law and Disorder September 5, 2016


Updates:

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Federal Judges Often Let Bad Cops Slide

In examining the root causes of police violence across the nation, few people consider the role that federal judges play in contributing to this epidemic. According to one of the authors of Police Misconduct: Law and Litigation, a principal cause of police brutality is a widespread unwillingness of federal judges to hold officers accountable for instances of misconduct.

The problem even extends to the US Supreme Court, where Justice Kagan has shown deference to two reckless officers who shot and nearly killed a mentally ill woman in her own apartment rather than waiting for backup.

Guest – Professor Michael Avery, former president of the National Lawyers Guild, and co-author of the police misconduct treatise for attorneys on civil rights cases, Michael has reviewed thousands of such cases over several decades. His op-ed in the Baltimore Sun, “Federal Judges Often Let Bad Cops Slide,” asserts that judges’ failure to hold officers accountable for abuse of authority is a central cause of police brutality in this country.

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Policing the Planet: Why the Policing Crisis Led to Black Lives Matter

The policing strategy called “broken windows” was first established in New York City under Police Commissioner William Bratton. It is a doctrine that has vastly broadened police power the world over and to deadly effect. The underlying concept of broken windows policing is deceptively simple: to stop major crimes from occurring, police must first prevent small signs of “disorder” from proliferating, such as graffiti, litter, panhandling, the sale of untaxed cigarettes and so forth. Disorder in the form of minor violations is presumed to breed larger disorder. Broken windows policing has functioned as an urban strategy enabling the gentrification of cities – a class project that has displaced the urban multi-racial working class worldwide.  It has led to widespread invasive police practices, racial profiling, police brutality, and many deaths.  We now have in America a crisis of authority and legitimacy for US policing.

Guest – Professor Christina Heatherton, coeditor with Jordan T. Camp of the recently published book Policing the Planet: Why the Policing Crisis Led to Black Lives Matter. Heatherton is an American studies scholar and an historian of antiracist social movements. She teaches at Trinity College in Connecticut.

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Brazil Government Coup Illegitmate Says International Tribunal

An international tribunal has declared the impeachment of Brazil’s President and head of the workers party Dilma Rousseff an illegitimate coup.  The Tribunal for Democracy in Brazil convened in Rio de Janeiro  two months ago.  It was organized by social movements in Brazil to analyze and render a judgment on what they described as a break in the democratic process and a new type of coup.

Guest – Attorney Azadeh Shahshahani former member of the tribunal. She recently wrote an article on its findings for the nation magazine. Attorney Shahshahani is the Legal and Advocacy Director with Project South and a past president of the National Lawyers Guild.

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Law and Disorder August 29, 2016


Updates:

  • Swedish Police To Question Julian Assange At Ecuadorian Embassy

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Comedian Lenny Bruce Life And First Amendment Trial Remembered

The great 1950s comedian and rebellious social satirist Lenny Bruce died 50 years ago this month accidently from a morphine overdose. He was certainly driven to death by the various trials prosecutors put him through said Martin Garbis, the young attorney who in 1964 unsuccessfully represented him in a crucial obscenity trial in New York City. Bruce was a groundbreaker, transcending the conventional subjects for humor at every opportunity. He was concerned with vanguard ideas in the mid 50s black power, prison reform, the rights of convicts, the plight of Native Americans, religious and political frauds like Billy Graham and his friend President Richard Nixon, and the right to abortion. He was not taken in by US Cold War ideology. He thought Cuba, that the United States Navy,at the better claim to Guantánamo Bay. He refused to support radio free Europe, thinking it hypocritical given the racism and corruption in America. And he said – the ultimate heresy – that of communism cooked for you “solid”.  Richard Kuh, who as an assistant District Attorney in Manhattan prosecuted Bruce for obscenity in 1964 thought that  Bruce crystallized rebellion. He provided not only bone searing talk, but fanfare and a rallying point.

Lenny Bruce was indeed the spiritual father of the cultural radicalization of the 60s. New York Governor George Pataki pardoned Lenny Bruce in 2003 stating that his decision, nearly 4 decades after the conviction, was “a declaration of New York’s commitment to upholding the First Amendment.

Guest – Attorney Martin Garbus represented Lenny Bruce. Martin is one of the country’s top trial lawyers, as well as an author and sought-after speaker. Time magazine called him “legendary” and “one of the greatest trial lawyers in the country”. The Guardian, declared him “one of the worlds finest trial lawyers”. An expert at every level of civil and criminal trial, and litigation, he has appeared before the United States Supreme Court in leading First Amendment cases, and his cases have established precedents there and in other courts throughout the country. A case he filed, Goldberg v. Kelly, that resulted in a favorable 5-4 Supreme Court opinion was described by Supreme Court Justice William J. Brennan as “arguably the most important due process case of the 20th Century”. Martin Garbus has written seven books, hundreds of articles, and has taught that the law schools at Columbia and Yale Universities.
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Immigrant Children Forced To Act As Their Own Lawyers

Each year, thousands of children are forced to act as their own lawyers in United States immigration courts with no one to explain the chargest against them.. They are thrust against trained federal prosecutors in seeking asylum or other types of relief in proceedings that most adults find often impossible to understand much less navigate effectively.

In contrast to individuals charged with criminal offenses, such as homicide or kidnapping, the government has no obligation to provide court-appointed legal defense for those who cannot afford an attorney in civil cases. Many children in immigration court hail from Central America where they escaped poverty and especially perilous conditions.

Having an attorney can mean the difference between being deported—often putting their lives at risk—and remaining in this country. One survey found that more than half the children representing themselves were deported, contrasted with only one in 10 who were provided legal representation.

A class action lawsuit filed by the ACLU and other civil rights groups is challenging this gross systemic failure.

Guest – Attorney Lauren Dasse, Executive Director of The Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project. Lauren has been representing young people facing deportation for years, and last year gave 7,500 know-your-rights presentations to children in Arizona shelters. Lauren Dasse grew up in Phoenix, Arizona and earned her B.A. in Latin American Studies and Sociology from the University of Arizona. She received her J.D. from the City University of New York School of Law, where she was Editor-in-Chief of the CUNY Law Review. She has interned with the Center for Constitutional Rights and Make the Road New York,  and participated in the International Women’s Human Rights Clinic at CUNY Law.

 

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Law and Disorder August 22, 2016


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The Movement For Black Lives

In response to the ongoing violence by police against Black communities across the United States, more than 50 organizations have come together to express a common vision and agenda for change. The Movement for Black Lives has issued a call to end the war against Black people that includes ending the criminalization, imprisonment and killing, not only of Black individuals, but all oppressed people. Broad areas for reform include economic justice, ending the war on Black people, reparations, invest-divest, community control and political power.

Guest – Donna Murch, Professor of History at Rutgers University and author of Living In The City: Migration, Eduation and the Rise of the Black Panther Party. She also contributed an article to the forthcoming verso press book “False Choice: The Faux Feminism of Hillary Clinton.

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U.S. – Saudi Arabia Arms Deal

Last month Congress narrowly approved the sale of cluster bombs to Saudi Arabia. They are being used in the Saudi war against Yemen and are dropped on civilians. The bombs are manufactured by the General Dynamics Corporation, part of the American military Industrial complex. Now a second arms sale, this one involving tanks and armored personnel carriers, is up for Congressional approval.  A number of peace groups including human rights watch have come out against it. Last week a New York Times editorial stated that “Congress should put the arms sales on hold and President Obama should quietly inform Riyadh that the United States will withdraw crucial assistance if the Saudis do not stop targeting civilians and agree to negotiate peace. ” The Saudi Arabian Monarchy  has been a long time ally of the United States and provides a significant amount of oil to United States as well as being a major purchaser of American corporate made weapons.  They are used in Yemen and illegal under American law.

Guest – Phyllis Bennis directs the New Internationalism Project at IPS, working as a writer, activist and analyst on Middle East and UN issues. She is also a fellow of the Transnational Institute in Amsterdam. In 2001 she helped found and remains active with the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation. She works with many anti-war organizations, and writes and speaks widely across the U.S. and around the world as part of the global peace movement. She has served as an informal adviser to several top UN officials on Middle East and UN democratization issues.

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Bush

George W. Bush is now 70 years old and retired on his ranch outside of Crawford Texas.  Many Americans remember him as a clueless figure on the morning of September 11, 2001 reading My Pet Goat to a classroom of children. They think of Bush as a hands-off leader who turned over the reins of power to his Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and the head of the CIA George Tenet.  But the major decisions after the attacks on September 11, 2001, including the bombing of Afghanistan, the opening of the Guantánamo offshore prison camp, torture, and the introduction of the Patriot Act, and the war on Iraq were made by George W. Bush, who denominated himself as “the decider.” He had “and unnerving level of certitude” –  as Jean Edward Smith, author of the recent expansive biography called “Bush” has written.  Smith writes that Bush “firmly believed that he was the instrument of God’s will.”

Guest – Professor Jean Edward Smith, is ean Edward Smith is the author of twelve books, including highly acclaimed biographies of Chief Justice John Marshall, General Lucius D. Clay, and Ulysses S. Grant (a 2002 Pulitzer Prize finalist). A graduate of Princeton and Columbia Universities, Smith taught at the University of Toronto for thirty-five years before joining the faculty at Marshall University where he was the John Marshall Professor of Political Science.

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Law and Disorder August 15, 2016


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Denied Parole 10 Times, John Mackenzie Found Dead In Cell After 41 Years In Prison

On Thursday morning August 4th 70-year-old John Mackenzie was found dead in his prison cell at the Fishkill Correctional Facility in New York State. Nine days earlier in a two to one decision the parole board denied parole for McKenzie for the 10th time in the past 16 years since he became eligible. More information at RAPP Campaign.

In 1975, when he was 29 years old, Mackenzie was sentenced to 25 years to life for the shooting of a police officer during a burglary. He spent 41 years in prison. Each time Mackenzie appeared before the parole board it held that his crime showed “a serious disrespect for the law. ” It further stated that granting him parole would “undermine respect for the law.” In 2011 pursuant to a New York state executive law the parole board was required to consider not just the nature of the crime, but also factors such as participation in rehabilitation programs, release plans and the risk of recidivism.

His attorney Kathy Manley sued and got a favorable decision from state Supreme Court judge Maria Rosa vacating the 2014 denial of parole and ordering a new parole hearing. The new hearing ruled, again, that he should be denied based on the nature of the crime.

On May 16, 2016 Judge Rosa again ordered a new hearing. This time she said that the parole board members who had ruled against Mackenzie the two other times should not be allowed to sit on the parole board. Judge Rosa also said that a new hearing had to be held immediately and that the parole board would be fined $500 a day until it had a new hearing. “I was optimistic but he couldn’t stand it anymore” said attorney Manley when she learned of his death. Manley practices criminal defense law in Albany New York.

Guest – Attorney Kathy Manley graduated from the State University at Albany in 1988, and spent several years teaching at the Albany Free School. In 1996 she entered Albany Law School, and completed one year there. Kathy then took the unusual step of pursuing a Clerkship with Kindlon Shanks & Associates rather than staying in law school. She completed the three year Clerkship in 2000, successfully passed the bar exam and was admitted as an attorney in 2001.

Kathy’s main interests are criminal defense and constitutional rights. She concentrates on appeals and motions, and has written many winning briefs before the NYS Appellate Division, Third Department and other courts. She has also written many suppression motions successfully challenging illegal searches and seizures. Kathy was involved with a local same sex marriage case, the Aref case (which, among other issues, challenged the NSA warrantless wiretapping program), and is currently involved with cases challenging sex offender residence restrictions and other sex offender issues.

Long an advocate for peace and social justice, Kathy is involved in a number of groups, including the Muslim Solidarity Committee, Project SALAM and the National Coalition to Protect Civil Freedoms (NCPCF). She is also Vice President of the Capital Region chapter of the New York Civil Liberties Union.

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Lawsuit Strategy Over Flint Water Crisis Alleges Federal Racketeering

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, high-ranking former members of his staff and others are the target of a federal racketeering lawsuit over the city of Flint’s water crisis. The lawsuit, which also targets the city, alleges that the officials tried to balance the City’s budget through a pattern of racketeering activity. It claims they committed mail fraud by continuing to mail water bills to Flint residents, which they allege fraudulently misrepresents that the city is providing safe, clean water to its residents.

A group of 15 citizens filed the lawsuit seeking financial compensation for property damage, loss of business and financial losses and damages for future medical care attributed to the water crisis.

It alleges that officials misrepresented the suitability of the Flint River water as the city’s drinking water source for approximately two years and billed Flint residents at rates that were the highest in the nation for unusable water, yielding $3.3 million surplus and resulting in the city’s budget deficit being reversed.

The lawsuit alleges the defendants committed wire fraud by allowing residents to pay their water bills online or with credit cards despite knowing the water was toxic. RICO lawsuits require attorneys to prove that wrongdoing was part of an ongoing enterprise. If successful, it allows treble damages.

Guest – Attorney Bill Goodman. Bill is the former Legal Director at the Constitutional Rights and a past president of the National Lawyers Guild. He’s also the attorney for a number of victims of water poisoning in Flint, Michigan.

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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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Law and Disorder August 8, 2016


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Civil Disobedience Ordinance and Home Rule In Grant Township, PA

In what is perhaps the nation’s first law that legalizes direct action, Grant Township in Indiana County PA, passed an ordinance permitting nonviolent direct aimed at stopping local frack wastewater injection wells.  Pennsylvania General Energy Company has sued the Township to overturn a local democratically-enacted law that prohibits injection wells. In 2013, residents in Grant Township learned that PGE was applying for permits that would legalize the injection well. Despite hearings, public comments, and permit appeals demonstrating widespread residents opposition to the project, the federal Environmental Protection Agency issued a permit to PGE. In response, the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, Grant Township Supervisors passed an ordinance the next year establishing rights to clean air and water, and the right to local community self-government.

If a court fails to uphold citizens’ right to stop corporate activities threatening the community’s well-being, the ordinance provides that, “any natural person may then enforce the rights and prohibitions of the charter through direct action.” It also says that any nonviolent direct action to enforce their Charter is protected from any legal actions brought by private or public entities.

Guest – Chad Nicholson, the statewide Pennsylvania Organizer for the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF). The work keeps him on the road constantly, working with communities facing industrial threats in all corners of the Keystone State. Recent work has, included CELDF’s role in defending two communities in federal court (including Grant Township) facing toxic injection wells; multiple communities pursuing Home Rule campaigns to increase community control over harmful corporate projects; and work with dozens of other communities fighting harms that range from corporate herbicide spraying to factory farms to sewage sludge spreading to fracking to massive energy corridors.  With colleague Ben Price, Chad has co-authored the Pennsylvania Community Rights Cookbook, a 700-page volume on the history of people’s movements, and the tragic rise of corporate power, in Pennsylvania. The Cookbook serves as the curriculum for 2-day Community Rights Workshops, which have graduated hundreds of PA residents who are asserting their community’s rights over corporate control.

Chad began rights-based organizing in Spokane, WA, in 2009, coordinating Envision Spokane’s first campaign attempting to amend the city’s Home Rule charter to recognize expanded rights for residents on issues that ranged from healthcare, affordable housing, worker protections on the job, and environmental rights.

Guest – Stacy Long,  lives in East Run, Pennsylvania with her husband, Mark.  Two male kittens will be joining them in mere days.  A graphic designer by trade, she’s also president of the East Run Hellbenders Society and is a board member of the PA Community Rights Network.  She currently serves as  vice-chair on the board of supervisors in Grant Township. She likes to make and eat soup and she likes flying around on broomsticks.”

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Voting Restrictions Overturned In North Carolina By Federal Court

The great Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s gave rise to the 1967 Voting Rights Act. It protected black citizens. Many of them were poor, when they sought to exercise their constitutional right to vote. Last month the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit invalidated voting restrictions in North Carolina that were described as targeting African Americans with almost surgical precision. In June of 2013, the Supreme Court removed a part of the Voting Rights Act ruling that states with the longest histories of voting discrimination no longer needed to approve their voting changes with the federal government. Within a month of that decision North Carolina passed the country’s most restrictive voting laws. Those restrictions were recently overturned in violation of the Voting Rights Act and the 14 amendment.

Guest – Julie Ebenstein, staff attorney with the ACLU Voting Rights Project. Julie is actively involved in litigating voting rights matters around the country, with cases in Kansas (challenging the state dual registration system), Iowa (challenging the state’s felon disenfranchisement laws), North Carolina (challenging cutbacks to early voting and the elimination of same-day registration) and Ferguson, Missouri (challenging at-large school board elections).

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Successful Defense Against Entrapment Case In Canada

A Canadian couple who faced life in prison for hiding what they believed were pressure cooker bombs outside British Columbia legislative building in 2013 were freed last month after a judge ruled they were entrapped by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. John Stuart Nuttall and Amanda Marie Korody were the victims of an elaborate police sting. Justice Catherine Bruce of the Supreme Court of British Columbia found that the police had initiated the terrorist plot and coerced the couple.

Guest – Attorney Marilyn Sandford about the case and the involvement of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service. Marilyn Sandford works in private practice in Victoria, BC. She represents clients facing criminal charges and advancing civil constitutional claims.

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Law and Disorder August 1, 2016


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Voices of Dissent At the Democratic National Convention 2016

Last week Eli Smith attended the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. We go now to hear several on the street interviews with activists attending demonstrations, activities in and outside the convention hall and evening discussions centered on the collective next steps. Link to video footage by photographer Ernesto Gomez

Eli Smith (host/producer) is a banjo player, writer, researcher and promoter of folk music living in New York City. Eli is a Smithsonian Folkways recording artist.  Eli organizes two folk festivals annually, the Brooklyn Folk Festival in the Spring and Washington Square Park Folk Festival in the Fall. Above photos by Eli Smith and Ernesto Gomez.

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Chicago Police Accountability Task Force Report

A recent report by a police accountability task force in Chicago makes the stunning claim that “police have no regard for the sanctity of life when it comes to people of color.”

Three-quarters of persons shot by Chicago police in a seven-year period, from 2008 to 2015, were black, although they comprise just a third of the city’s population.

The nearly 200-page report, however, does not lay blame entirely on the Chicago Police Department.  It cites generations of poverty as contributing factors including an  “alarming lack of jobs” in certain neighborhoods, and a lack of basic community services and support networks such as good schools, day care, churches, community centers, parks and even grocery stores.

Guest – Professor Nirej Sekhon is from Georgia State University Law School. He has analyzed all shootings by Chicago police over several years, finding a complex relationship between race, policing, and violence.

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Law and Disorder July 25, 2016


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The End of the Republic and the Delusion of Empire

Are we approaching “peak America”, where the Republic has failed, and the Empire which put paid to it cannot be achieved? For the first time, the goal of socialism has been raised in the presidential primaries, backed by tens of millions of voters. Not since the New Deal, nearly a century ago, have class relations come into sharper confrontation. The U.S. presidential elections are everything abnormal with both major parties arousing popular revulsion. Not since World War II have the US and Russia drawn closer to the possibility of mutual annihilation through nuclear war due to US empire building. Who rules America and who sets the military agenda in the most contentious regions of the Middle East is in open dispute.

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

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Black Lives Matter, the Left Movements and Law Enforcement

In the last two weeks the police have killed 41 people.  Five police were killed in Dallas and three in Baton Rouge by two military veterans.  BLM, a non-violent nationwide group seeking to abolish police abuse has been attacked by the police and politicians
as facilitating terrorism.

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 is 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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Journalist Arun Gupta At the Republican National Convention

The goings on in Cleveland, Ohio at the RNC with the delegates, media and the protesters is something truly to behold. We catch up with Arun Gupta to get his impressions on what its like to be in Cleveland during the notorious Republican National Convention.

Guest – Arun Gupta, founding editor of the Indypendent magazine and was a founding editor of the Occupy Wall Street Journal. He is working on a book about the decline of the American empire.

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Legal Defense Action At the Republican National Convention 2016

As we record today, the Republican National Convention is winding down. There’s been an overwhelming police presence there. (Police on horses, police on bicycles, police on foot, police in trucks. 1900 police are living on the campus of Case Western Reserve. The militarized police were supplied with Army surplus weapons, even artillery.

Guest – Kris Hermes is a Bay Area–based activist who has worked for nearly thirty years on social justice issues. Organizing with ACT UP Philadelphia in the late 1990s spurred his interest in legal support work and led to his co-founding and years-long involvement with R2K Legal. Since 2000, Hermes has been an active, award-winning legal worker-member of the National Lawyers Guild and has been a part of numerous law collectives and legal support efforts over the years. In this capacity, he has organized dozens of press conference and spoken at numerous community meetings, political conferences, book fairs, and other similar events across the U.S. Hermes has written extensively in his professional career as a media worker and as a legal activist.

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