Law and Disorder Radio

Archive for the 'Human Rights' Category


Law and Disorder May 22, 2017


 

Chicago Gang Intervention Programs: BUILD

Attorney General Jeff Sessions recently vowed that the Justice Department has zero tolerance for gang violence. “If you are a gang member, he said, “we will find you,” “We will devastate your networks. We will starve your revenue sources, deplete your ranks, and seize your profits. We will not concede a single block or a street corner to your vicious tactics.” President Trump tweeted his approval of Sessions comments, saying “I promised to get tough and we are!” The administration’s efforts to crack down on gangs will mean more arrests and lengthy incarceration for young persons with little attention being paid to alternatives to detention and programs that will offer productive and meaningful choices.

In Chicago, where gang violence has received a great deal of media attention, one community-based organization has been working in some of the city’s toughest neighborhoods to stem violence before it interferes with young peoples’ potential. In 1969 BUILD began working with gang-affiliated teenagers and now serves nearly 3,000 youth each year offering targeted services designed to prevent kids from joining gangs and also working with gang-involved youth to develop alternatives to this lifestyle. BUILD also works with young persons who are in contact with the justice system to provide alternatives to detention and assist with successful re-entry.

Guest – Martin Anguiano, BUILD’s Manager of Intervention Services . Martin has worked at BUILD since 1994. He oversees BUILD services to young people involved in, or at risk for involvement in, gangs and the juvenile justice system. He is trained in trauma-informed practices and certified in peace circle keeping. Martin holds a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

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Attorney Jim Lafferty On Trump Administration

Donald Trump has been in office now for over 100 days.  His cabinet and closest advisers constitute a group of generals, multimillionaires, and billionaires. It is the richest cabinet in American history.  His closest advisers and members of his family, an organizational set up that more resembles the mafia than past executive office inhabitants. His predecessor, Barack Obama, was a disappointment to many people who supported him eight years ago. He presided over US wars in the Middle East. His government overthrew the government of Libya,  the Ukraine, and Honduras. Domestically he failed to prosecute those guilty of torture, which is illegal under American and International law. He failed to close the offshore prison in Guantánamo, Cuba. He failed to prosecute the bankers who crashed the American economy in 2008.  He deported more people than any other president in American history. Now, with Donald Trump in office, people are asking the question, is he qualitatively different than Obama.  What is the continuity and what is the discontinuity between the Obama and Trump administrations?

Guest – Los Angeles National Lawyers Guild attorney Jim Lafferty. Jim participated as a lawyer during the civil rights movement in Mississippi.  He is a former executive director of the  National Lawyers Guild. He was a central leader in the movement against the war in Vietnam. For the last 30 years he was the head of theLos Angeles National Lawyers Guild, growing it into one of the most active an influential chapters in the United States.

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Lawyers You’ll Like: Paul Gattone

Arizona has long been Ground Zero for immigration controversies. It’s a state with one of the harshest immigration laws in the country, Senate Bill 1070. In the state capitol of Phoenix, immigrant rights groups have dedicated the past two decades to fighting the notorious Sheriff Joe Arpaio, known for racial profiling, late-night raids and a “tent city” outdoor prison. Arpaio was voted out of office in 2016. But the state still has its share of threats to civil rights.

Guest – Attorney Paul Gattone of Tucson, Arizona. A Chicago native, Paul has spent over two decades in Ariona as a criminal defense attorney at the People’s Law Center and now in private practice. A longtime member of the National Lawyers Guild, Paul’s focus is in advancing and defending civil rights. He and his wife Joy also run a radical bookstore called Revolutionary Grounds.

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Law and Disorder May 15, 2017


Silk Road, Kingpin Charge and Ross Ulbricht

In 2015 a jury found that then 29-year-old Ross Ulbricht had created and run an anonymous digital black market for drugs called Silk Road. The case was a high profile one, and Ulbricht had come to be known by some as the face of the Dark Web. He was convicted on seven charges—including a “kingpin” charge—and Judge Katherine Forrest  imposed two life sentences and 40 years without possibility of parole. Prosecutors had not even sought such a long sentence.

In a 2016 appeal, defense attorneys outlined a litany of improprieties and abuses in the investigation and trial. Perhaps most serious was that the court procluded information about two corrupt federal agents investigating Silk Road who are now both serving prison sentences for corruption.

The defense team maintains that the convictions for Ulbricht should be vacated and that a new trial should be ordered or that he receive re-sentencing before a different judge.

A new book by Nick Bilton called  “American Kingpin: The Epic Hunt for the Criminal Mastermind Behind Silk Road” has received glowing reviews but presents what the Ulbricht family, his legal team, and supporters describe as a fictionalized version of the government’s narrative of the case, It is said that in many instances the author relied on claims that were not charged in trial.

Guest – Ross’s mother, Lyn Ulbricht. Lyn is working to help her son and directs those who want to learn more about her son’s case to the site Free Ross Ulbricht.

 

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Williams v. Pennsylvania: Mumia Abu-Jamal

In  2016 the Supreme Court in Williams v. Pennsylvania held that a prosecutor involved in seeking the death penalty should recuse himself if asked to judge an appeal in the capital case. Two months later, Mumia Abu-Jamal filed an appeal based on that decision, calling into direct question the validity of his criminal conviction, and the denial of his appeals. Ronald Castille, the same prosecutor in the Williams case, was a senior district attorney while Mumia’s case was being tried. He was also the District Attorney of Philadelphia during Mumia’s direct appeals. While serving on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court Castille rejected a recusal motion filed by Mumia’s defense.

On April 24, Mumia’s 63rd birthday, his lawyers were back in court arguing that a Motion for Discovery should be granted to determine the particulars of Castille’s personal involvement in Mumia’s prosecution and appeals.

Judge Leon Tucker ruled in favor of Mumia’s demand for discover and for the DA’s files. The records must be turned over to Mumia’s attorneys by May 30, 2017.

Guest – Attorney Judy Ritter, Professor of Law and Director of the Criminal Defense Clinic at Widener’s Delaware campus. She argued in 2011 before the Third Circuit that the instructions given to the sentencing jurors were unconstitutional. The so-called Mills claim argument succeeded and Mumia, as our listeners know, no longer faces a sentence of death.

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Anatomy of Innocence: Testimonies of the Wrongfully Convicted

Capital punishment has made news headlines over the past few months, as the state of Arkansas rushed to execute six men in a span of several days. For many years, the issue of state sanctioned killings has not received much attention. News of exonerations of innocent men and women are rare.

A new book, Anatomy of Innocence: Testimonies of the Wrongfully Convicted, presents the true stories of 15 exonerees who were wrongfully convicted and thrown into the complex criminal justice system before being among the few to be exonerated.

Edited by Leslie Klinger and Laura Caldwell, the book is unusual in that each exoneree is paired with a high-profile mystery and thriller writer (including Lee Child, Sara Paretsky, Laurie King, Brad Parks and others) to present their narratives. Barry Scheck of the Innocence Project and author Scott Turow also provide commentary.

The book also includes a letter from playwright Arthur Miller, believed to be the first and only unpublished piece since his death. Kirkus Reviews called the compilation “a unique collection of 15 wrongful conviction sagas bound to shake faith in the American criminal justice system.”

Guest – Attorney and author Leslie Klinger, co-editor of Anatomy of Innocence and widely considered to be one of the world’s foremost authorities on Sherlock Holmes, Dracula, H. P. Lovecraft, and 19th-century genre fiction.

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Law and Disorder May 8, 2017


Aging Prisoners and the Law Of Parole

The United States of America imprisons a higher proportion of its population than any other country in the world. Today America holds 2.3 million people behind bars. This has been called “mass incarceration.”  Part of the reason for mass incarceration is the system of parole, which many consider to be broken, especially in New York State. The purpose of incarceration is punishment. It is also rehabilitation. And third, it is an opportunity for a person to come to terms with what she did, and gain skills. This is why prisons are called “correctional facilities.” When a person has repaid society for her crime, has been rehabilitated, and does not pose a threat to the community they are supposed to be paroled.  But it actuality, this is not the way it works. In many cases, especially when the applicant for parole had committed a violent crime the sole criteria that the parole board examines is the nature of the crime that was committed. Something that convict cannot change. The latest example is the denial last month of parole to 67 year-old New York Prisoner Judy Clark who has been behind bars for 35 years for her role and driving the getaway car in the bungled 1961 Brinks armored car robbery which left to Nyack New York police officers and then I’m a truck driver dead. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, in granting Judy Clark clemency so she would be eligible for parole, said “It was a hard political decision.”

I could hear Jimmy Breslin’s voice saying “she made a mistake – we all do. She learned, she paid the price, she spent her life in a cage, and she is now different. Jesus would pardon her. Who the hell made you better than Jesus? ”  A prominent local police chief Joseph Sinagara commented that “I don’t care what kind of model prisoner she was.”  Ms. Clark’s daughter, Harriet, said she understood the seriousness of the crime but believed the decision by the board was an injustice. “My mother did not kill anyone, and it’s hard for me to understand who is served by making her die in prison, which is what decisions like this eventually amount to.”

Guest – Professor Steven Zeidman is the Director of the Criminal Defense Clinic at CUNY School of Law.  A graduate of Duke University School of Law, he is a former staff attorney and supervisor at the Legal Aid Society. Professor Zeidman is a member of American Bar Association’s Criminal Justice Section Council, and serves on the Board of Directors of Prisoners’ Legal Services and an Advisory Council created to help implement the remedial order in the Floyd v. City of New York stop-and-frisk litigation. He has served on several statewide commissions, including the Commission on the Future of Indigent Defense Services.

Guest – Laura Whitehorn , a former political prisoner who served 14 years for the distruction  of government property in connection with a 1983 bombing at the US Capitol where no one was injured. She was released in 1999. Laura Whitehorn is a leader in the Release Aging People in Prison Organization and has been active in challenging the New York state parole board’s intransigence.

Check the RAPP Events Page

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Lynne Stewart’s Memorial

Many attended Lynne Stewart’s memorial including Glen Ford, Hon. Charles Barron, Jeff Mackler, Pam Africa, Father Lawrence Lucas, Ralph Schoenman, Jess Sundin, Rev. Allison, Lamis Deek, Sara Flounders, Bob Lederer, Janine Otis Ensemble, Nat Turner – Poet, Atiba Wilson – Drummer, Dr. Patrice Turner and many more. We hear an impassioned speech by Chris Hedges.

Lynne Stewart: A Revolutionary Life Well-Lived – A Biographical Glimpse

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Law and Disorder May 1, 2017


Death Penalty Focus

The state of Arkansas had plans to execute 8 men in 11 days this April, rushing to do so before the expiration date of one of the drugs used for the lethal injections. The executions have been temporarily stayed by several court orders. Arkansas’s unseemly rush has raise anew questions about the efficacy, humanity, cost, and morality of the death penalty.  Statistically, it has an discriminatory impact on non-white, intellectually deficient, and poor people. The United States along with Saudi Arabia and China is one of the few countries in the world still using the death penalty.

Guest – Mike Farrell, actor and activist and the president and founder in 1988 of the San Francisco based organization Death Penalty Focus. DPF views the death penalty as an ineffective, cruel, and inappropriate response to the serious problem of violent crime. The organization provides information to the public, conducts media campaigns and is a resource to lawyers and educators across the country.

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Republicans Propose Medical Malpractice House Bill Limiting Damages Award

The Republicans in the House of Representatives recently introduced a bill to limit medical malpractice lawsuits brought by low income people on Medicaid and elderly people on Medicare. It would do so by limiting the amount they could recover for their pain and suffering caused by, for example, getting infected bedsores in a nursing home, a medication mixup, malnutrition, dehydration, or being the victim of a egregious medical errors such as when a foreign body is left inside a patient. More examples include when a baby’s brain is damaged, or when surgery is performed on the wrong body part.  The bill has the support of the American Medical Association, the American Hospital Association, and the American Healthcare Association, a trade group for nursing homes.

The bill has several provisions that closely resemble legislation introduced by Tom Price,  President Trump’s Secretary of Health and Human Services.  When he was a House member from Georgia, Price, an orthopedic surgeon, championed legislation that would set limits on damages and make it easier for doctors to defend themselves and medical malpractice lawsuits.  For decades, Republicans have charged that there is a medical malpractice lawsuit crisis brought about by frivolous lawsuits.

Guest – Attorney Steven Pegalis, a trial attorney who represents patients and medical malpractice claims.  Attorney Pegalis is the author of the three volume textbook The American Law of Medical Malpractice.  He teaches the subject at New York Law School and is codirector of the New York Law School Health Law and Patient Safety Project.  Attorney Pegalis is the founding partner of Pegalis and Erickson and one of the nations foremost medical malpractice trial attorneys. He has practiced law for over 50 years.

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Law and Disorder April 24, 2017


NYTimes Armenian Gen

Speaking In Turkish: Denying the Armenian Genocide

To commemorate this, the first genocide of the 20th century, Law and Disorder co-host Heidi Boghosian presents a 60-minute documentary special titled “Speaking In Turkish: Denying the Armenian Genocide.”

Around the world, April 24 marks the observance of the Armenian Genocide. On that day in 1915 the Interior Minister of the Ottoman Empire ordered the arrest and hangings of Armenian intellectuals and community leaders in Constantinople. It was the beginning of a systematic and well-documented plan to eliminate the Armenians, who were Christian, and who had been under Ottoman rule and treated as second class citizens since the 15th century.

The unspeakable and gruesome nature of the killings—beheadings of groups of babies, dismemberments, mass burnings, mass drownings, use of toxic gas, lethal injections of morphine or injections with the blood of typhoid fever patients—render oral histories particularly difficult for survivors of the victims.

Why did this happen? Despite being deemed inferior to Turkish Muslims, the Armenian community had attained a prestigious position in the Ottoman Empire and the central authorities there grew apprehensive of their power and longing for a homeland. The concerted plan of deportation and extermination was effected, in large part, because World War I demanded the involvement and concern of potential allied countries. As the writer Grigoris Balakian wrote, the war provided the Turkish government “their sole opportunity, one unprecedented” to exploit the chaos of war in order to carry out their extermination plan.

As Armenians escaped to several countries, including the United States, a number came to New Britain, Connecticut in 1892 to work in the factories of what was then known as the hardware capital of the world. By 1940 nearly 3,000 Armenians lived there in a tight-knit community.

Pope Frances calls it a duty not to forget “the senseless slaughter” of an estimated one and a half million Armenians by the Ottoman Turks from 1915 to 1923. “Concealing or denying evil is like allowing a wound to keep bleeding without bandaging it,” the Pope said just two weeks before the 100th anniversary of the systematic implementation of a plan to exterminate the Armenian race.

Special thanks to Jennie Garabedian, Arthur Sheverdian, Ruth Swisher, Harry Mazadoorian, and Roxie Maljanian. Produced and written by Heidi Boghosian and Geoff Brady.

 

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Law and Disorder April 17, 2017


Update:

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US Bombs Syria

Donald Trump made two important promises during his presidential campaign: he vowed to not get involved in the Syrian Civil War where jihadist groups have been trying to overthrow the government of Assad for six years and the second promise he made during his campaign was to better relations with Russia which is a supporter of Assad and a strategic ally. Syria borders Russia to the south and has a warm water Mediterranean port.

Both these promises were broken on April 4, 2017 when President Trump illegally ordered the bombing by 54 Tomahawk missiles of the Shayrat Air Base in eastern Syria. The missile strike violated the United Nations charter, the convention against the use of chemical warfare, and United States law called the War Powers Act, not to mention Article 2 of the US Constitution. In support of his unilateral decision to bomb a sovereign nation with whom the United States is not at war,  President Trump claimed that he was motivated by learning of the horrible death of several children in the farm village of Khan Shaykhun.  The children died of an alleged poison gas attack which Trump claimed was carried out by the Assad government, which denies the charge. Without an impartial objective investigation required by The Chemical Weapons Convention,without going to the United Nations Security Council, and without any evidence, President Trump claimed that sarin, a poisonous nerve gas, was used by the Assad government.

Trump’s former critics who sprung to his defense included Hillary Clinton, Senate Minority Leader Democrat Chuck Schumer, and Republican leaders John McCain and Lindsey Graham, the entire mass media including the New York Times, Washington Post, MSNBC, and CNN.  Television reporter Brian Wilson use the word “beautiful” three times to describe the tomahawk missile explosions. Why did Trump reversed his position of not getting involved in the Syrian civil war? Why did he all the sudden take on Russia, to whom he had pledged better relations?

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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A Chicago Cop is Accused of Framing 51 People For Murder

Fifty years ago the great comedian Lenny Bruce used to crack that “Chicago is so corrupt it’s thrilling.” It has become known as “the conviction capital of the USA.” Today retired Chicago detective is accused of framing at least 51 people for murder, most of them from Humboldt Park in Chicago, a working class predominately Puerto Rican neighborhood. He was on the force from the 1980s through the early 2000’s. Guevara’s alleged misconduct sent 48 men and one woman to be sentenced to a total of more than 2300 years in prison. Three were acquitted. Five received life sentences. Three were sentenced to death, but spared when in 2003 Governor George Ryan, disturbed by a rash of wrongful convictions, commuted all of the death sentences to life in prison or less. Two men died behind bars.The initial work in uncovering Guevara’s misconduct fell by default to a group of women, mostly working class mothers, aunts, and sisters with limited English and limited familiarity with the law.

As investigative reporter Melissa Segura has written in BuzzFeed, “armed with nothing more than dining room tables full of transcripts, police  reports, and post it notes, marking the cracks in cases against their love ones, together they identified patterns running through Guevara’s cases.” They achieved some victories.  They gave information to civil rights attorneys at the Loevy and Loevy Chicago law firm which helped free Juan Johnson who later went on to receive a record $21 million and a judgment against the city of Chicago because of Guevara’s misconduct. So far six men have had their convictions overturned, 12 others have been released, 29 say they were framed remade in prison. Detective Guevara’s Witnesses by Melissa Segura

Guest – Attorney Tara Thompson is the founder of the Exoneration Project at Loevy and Loevy. Following law school Tara worked as an associate in Mayer Brown’s Chicago office, where she represented clients in a variety of litigation matters, including a significant commitment to pro bono representation. She left Mayer Brown in 2006 to clerk for Judge Elaine Bucklo of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. After completing her clerkship, she joined Loevy & Loevy in 2007.

Guest – Attorney Anand Swaminathan, is litigating the civil damage cases arising from the work of Guevara’s frame ups and which have demonstrated a pattern and practice of police misconduct. Since joining the firm, Anand has worked on a broad range of constitutional and civil rights cases, including wrongful convictions, the denial of medical care to inmates and detainees in jails and prisons, and retaliation for exercising free speech rights. Anand also works extensively on False Claims Act litigation, in which he represents whistle-blowers alleging military and other government contractor fraud, Medicare and Medicaid fraud, construction/contractor (MBE/DBE) fraud, bid-rigging, and tax fraud. Anand also represents 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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Carl Messineo Consent Decrees and Policing in the U.S.

During the Obama administration, the Justice Department has sought to reform police practices considered discriminatory by using a statutory tool little known by the public and even less well understood. So-called “consent decrees” were established after the Los Angeles Rodney King riots, and allow the Department’s Civil Rights Division to sue local police forces that have been found to have “a pattern and practice” of using excessive force or violating individuals’ rights.

The DOJ launches an investigation into a police department’s operations, frequently after a high-profile incident – such as the 2014 shootings of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO, and Laquan McDonald in Chicago. If the feds find that the departments operate with an ongoing pattern of abuse, they sue, in essence forcing the law enforcement groups to settle the cases and undergo a change to their culture to a degree deemed sufficient by the court and the DOJ.

Some of the more recent agreements, like those with the Baltimore and Ferguson Police Departments, are better known to the public, but others are not and many haven’t yet seen a resolution. Out of 19 investigations carried out since 2010, six are considered “ongoing.”

Jeff Sessions said in 2008 that “One of the most dangerous, and rarely discussed, exercises of raw power is the issuance of expansive court decrees. Consent decrees have a profound effect on our legal system as they constitute an end run around the democratic process.” The new Attorney General has threatened to do away with them.

Guest – Attorney Carl Messineo, co-founder of The Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, a nonprofit progressive legal organization based in Washington DC. The organization focuses on cases regarding free speech and dissent, domestic spying and surveillance, police misconduct, government transparency, and educating the public about their rights. In the “Founders Message,” the organization states, “As we look to the future, the Partnership will continue to be at the forefront of legal struggle, using the law to defend and create room for the peoples’ movement for progressive social change.”

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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 March 27, 2017


Updates:

  • Michael Smith : Supreme Court Justice Nominee Neil Gorsuch
  • NY Governor Cuomo Proposes Visitation Reduction For Inmates At Max Security Prisons
  • Call Governor Cuomo 518-474-8390 / Contact Information Link

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The Politics Behind ‘Russia-gate’

We are in the midst of what has been referred to as “Russia-gate”. The Democrats with their neoconservative allies and most of the major media are alleging, with no proof, that President Trump has been in collusion with Russia and specifically that Russia helped tilt the election in his favor.  Mainstream journalist and New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman has for example compared the alleged Russian hacking of the Democratic Party emails to be another Pearl Harbor or 911.  This hysteria is extraordinarily dangerous inasmuch as Trump may be put into a position in confronting Russia, the other major nuclear power in the world.

Guest – Robert Parry is a Washington DC investigative journalist and co-founder of Consortium News.  He has covered Washington for nearly 4 decades. One of the many important stories he broke was on the Iran-Contra scandal. His latest book is America’s Stolen Narrative: From Washington and Madison to Nixon, Reagan and the Bushes to Obama.

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Electronic Devices Seized And Data Requested From Inauguration Arrestees

At the Trump inauguration protests earlier this year over 200 people were mass-arrested and charged under the Felony Riot Act, punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $25,000 fine. Those picked up in the sweep — including journalists, medics and legal observers — had their phones, cameras and other personal belongings confiscated as evidence. Law enforcement is compelling Apple, Facebook and Google to hand over the personal information of many of those arrested. The tech giants appear to be complying, or are willing to comply with these data-mining requests. Several of the persons arrested have been contacted by Facebook and Apple and notified that their personal information has been requested by the United States Attorney’s Office. An Apple customer notice to one noted that: “Apple will be producing the requested data in a timely manner as required by the legal process.” An NLG attorney representing several of the protesters, Mark Goldstone, has said that one of his clients will fight vigorously to prevent the data from being handed over as the phone was not even present at the demonstration.

Cellebrite-Mobile Forensics

Guest –  Stephanie Lacambra, a criminal defense staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Stephanie is a long-time indigent criminal defense trial attorney and immigration defense activist who graduated from UC Berkeley’s Boalt Hall School of Law in 2004. Before coming to EFF, she worked as a Deputy Federal Defender for two years at the Federal Defender’s Office of San Diego trying federal felony cases ranging from illegal entry into the US to drug and alien smuggling.  Then she spent the next decade working at the San Francisco Public Defender’s office trying dozens of cases ranging from robbery to attempted murder. She continues to speak truth to power by protecting individual privacy rights from government overreach as part of the Civil Liberties Team at the EFF.

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Law and Disorder March 20, 2017


Update:

  • Michael Smith Attends Lynne Stewart’s Wake In New York City

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Law and Disorder co-hosts look at the seeds of fascism within the Trump Administration and Attorney Michael Smith references excerpts of the recent article A Short History of the Trump Family by Simon Blumenthal, including the below paragraph.

“Reckoning with Trump means descending into the place that made him. What he represents, above all, is the triumph of an underworld of predators, hustlers, mobsters, clubhouse politicians and tabloid sleaze that festered in a corner of New York City, a vindication of his mentor, the Mafia lawyer Roy Cohn, a figure unknown to the vast majority of enthusiasts who jammed Trump’s rallies and hailed him as the authentic voice of the people.”

October 2006: If It’s Not Facism, What Is It? Who Benefits & Why Now?

There appears to be a major transformation in progress. Bourgeois democracy, however limited and constricted it has been, is being revamped. The separation of powers, first enunciated by the founders, hardly exists any more. The Executive branch has overpowered Congress and the Judiciary. Neither the corporate media, the two party system, nor the unions provide much of a countervailing force. With the defeat of the Soviet Union and the “Socialist Block” imperialism has launched wars to consolidate capitalism and oil control in Yugoslavia, Afganistan, Iraq and Lebanon. Panelists: Mark Crispin Miller, Heidi Boghosian, Bertell Ollman, Moderated by Michael Steven Smith.
The standard of living for the American working class and middle class is being rolled back quickly; only profit margins of the large corporations and the top one per cent are expanding. Democracy is not an abstraction, but a tool and an aspect of the class struggle. Thus we are experiencing a consolidational of wealth and power that is historically qualitatively transformative. Understanding what is going on is the first step in fighting it. We hear an excerpt from Bertel Ollman , professor of politics at NYU, and has written and edited over a dozen books, including Alienation: Marx’s Conception of Man in Capitalist Society, Social and Sexual Revolution: Essays on Marx and Reich, Dialectical Investigations, How to Take an Exam and Remake the World, and most recently Dance of the Dialectic: Steps in Marx’s Method.

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Why The Rise Of Fascism Is Again The Issue

Fascism has taken on many forms through the rise and fall of empires. One aspect of modern day fascism can seen as propaganda, lies and deceit used as political leverage to eventually absorb sovereign states. Our guest John Pilger lays out the swath carved by fascism in the last 70 years in his recent article Why The Rise Of Fascism Is Again The Issue. Using the word carefully, Pilger describes a new kind of fascism, centered in America but based on the big lie of war and aggression. Pilger documents key events from the Holocaust to Libya to Serbia, to Yugoslavia, to Afghanistan in the 1970s, to Vietnam and up to the current revival of fascism in the heart of Europe. We get a historic perspective from John Pilger, going all the way back to the second world war. If you think the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yugoslavia, Libya and now the Ukraine occur by happenstance, you are mistaken says Pilger, an Australian-British journalist based in London. These are part of the American effort to become the global power.

Guest – John Pilger, an Australian-British journalist based in London. John has worked in many facets of journalism, including a correspondent in the Vietnam War, the Middle East Desk for Reuters in London, a documentary film maker, and a producer for the Independent Television Network in London. Pilger is known for his conscience, bravery and acute historical insight.   His articles appear worldwide in newspapers such as the Guardian, the Independent, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times.

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