Law and Disorder Radio

Archive for the 'political prisoner' Category


Law and Disorder October 27, 2014


Updates:

  • Michael Ratner: Obama Could Allow “Torture Light” Interpretation of U.N. Treaty on Torture
  • Michael Smith Returns From Argentina Book Tour, Describes How U.S Attempts To Destabilize Argentina Economy

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The Revictimization Release Act

Last Thursay, the Pennsylvania State Senate in a bi-partisan 37-11 vote, approved The Revictimization Release Act. This last minute controversial law was ignited by Mumia Abu Jamal’s commencement address delivered at Goddard College in Vermont. The law would grant crime victims or prosecutors acting on their behalf to file a civil action against an offender to seek injunctive relief to stop offenders or former inmates from engaging in conduct that would cause “temporary or permanent state of mental anguish” to the victim.

Mumia Abu Jamal is 60 years old. He’s in the general population at Mahanoy State Correctional Institution in Frackville. He has also given speeches at Evergreen State College in Washington and Antioch College in Ohio.

Attorney Bret Grote:

  • The Muzzle Mumia Law as it was called by the Harrisburg Patriot provides a cause of action for a victim of a personal injury crime to sue an offender in state court in Pennsylvania if that offender engages in conduct that “perpetuates” the effect of that crime on the victim. Later on in the statutes, that conduct is defined as including conduct that a temporary or permanent states of mental anguish.
  • It also provides for the district attorney where the conviction was secured or the state’s attorney general to essentially act as the private attorney for the victim in order to bring this suit.
  • It also does encompass not only speech about the crime whether its somebody like Mumia or Lorenzo Johnson or countless others who speak out about being framed up in Pennsylvania, but it doesn’t even make any exceptions for legal proceedings – and obviously people appealing criminal convictions can cause anguish to others.
  • There are standards and no definitions for the conduct that is at issue except in relation to its impact on the victim and to provide some context as I’m sure your listeners know why it was written this way is they needed to write a statute that would sweep so broadly so as to encompass things like Mumia giving a commencement address at Goddard College, which was used as a pretext for whipping up this frenzy at the state legislature.
  • It is a prior restraint on the freedom of speech but its written so broadly that Maureen Faulkner or the district attorney could conceivably go into court under this law.
  • The House Judiciary committee in discussing this law when it was introduced in committee raised the issue of would this allow a court to enjoin what they called third party vessels.
  • It could be Prison Radio, or it could be an individual who is authorized to speak to the media, or make a public statement.
  • It was passed 197-0 in the House Legislature, and 37-11 in the Senate.
  • It just shows you what takes precedence over any kind of adherence of the Constitution of the state or the United States, more than any law is allegiance to power amongst the political class, Pennsylvania politicians, attorney generals, district attorneys, are no strangers to Constitutional violations, its a normative practice for them.
  • Right now, I’m representing Mumia in this and Prison Radio and Robert Holbrook who is a juvenile lifer and Human Rights Coalition member and activist and writer.
  • Its unconstitutional under traditional over breadth analysis, it penalized lawful speech and its void for vagueness.
  • There is probably nothing that would be more traumatizing for an actual victim of a crime then to have to go through this process that they’ve laid out in the Revictimization Release Act.
  • They explicitly and exclusively focused on Mumia.
  • This legislation was introduced by a former member of the Fraternal Order of Police, Mike Verib, who was a former Philadelphia police officer now a state legislator. In the context of Mumia’s case they have been leading a lynch mob literally in the streets to snuff out his voice.
  • For decades the judge that presided over his trial was a Fraternal Order of Police member. They finance and vet the campaigns of every Supreme Court Justice in the state of Pennsylvania, the same with people running for office as governors.
  • Mumia is being used in this context to reestablish the narrative, the Fraternal Order of Police, the police, their political counterparts are righteous protectors of public safety and that they’re beyond question and beyond reproach in trying to reset the propaganda line that has been dislodged in the wake of the rebellions in Ferguson, Illinois.

Guest – Pennsylvania attorney Brete Grote,  a member of the Russell Maroon Shoatz legal team and cofounder and legal director of the Abolitionist Law Center. Bret has worked with the Human Rights Coalition since 2007 as an investigator, organizer, and researcher. He was the Isabel and Alger Hiss Racial Justice Fellow at the Center for Constitutional Rights in 2012. He graduated from the University of Pitt Law School in May 2013 and was recognized as the school’s Distinguished Public Interest Scholar.

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Richard Falk: The Palestinian Future After Gaza

We hear a presentation by Richard Falk titled The Palestinian Future After Gaza. Richard Falk was presenting at the Edward W. Said Memorial Lecture, co-sponsored by Columbia’s Heyman Center for the Humanities. It’s given once a year in honor of the public intellectual and literary critic, Edward W. Said, who taught in the English & Comparative Literature Department at Columbia from 1963 until 2003

Richard Falk is Albert G. Professor of International Law and Practice Emeritus at Princeton where he was a member of the faculty for 40 years. Since 2002 he has been associated with Global & International Studies at University of California, Santa Barbara as a research professor.

He was Special Rapporteur on Occupied Palestine for the UN Human Rights Council since 2008, and served on a panel of experts appointed by the President of the UN General Assembly, 2008-2009. He is Chair of the Board of Directors, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, an NGO located in Santa Barbara.

He is also a member of the editorial board of several journals and magazines, including the American Journal of International Law, Third World Quarterly, Globalizations, The Nation, and The Progressive. Formerly, he was for many years North American Director of the World Order Models Project.

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Law and Disorder October 13, 2014


Updates:

  • Mumia Spurs Bill To Block Publicity-Seeking Criminals (Son of Sam Law)
  • Guantanamo Bay Prisoner Files Historic Lawsuit Against Obama Over Force-Feeding

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Lawyers You’ll Like – Charlie Abourezk

As part of our Lawyers You’ll Like series, we talk with attorney Charles Abourezk about his work with the Native American community in South Dakota. Charles is a trial attorney, author and film maker. His documentary A Tattoo On My Heart: The Warriors of Wounded Knee 1973 is a gripping documentation of those American Indian men and women involved in the siege. Charles is the Chief Justice of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe Supreme Court, he’s also member of South Dakota Advisory Committee to U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. He’s the son of James George Abourezk, former Democratic United States Representative and United States Senator where he was generally viewed as critical of US foreign policy in Israel and Palestinian.

Attorney Charlie Abourezk:

  • The Rosebud Sioux Tribe is the second largest tribe in South Dakota. There are nine total tribal governments in the state. It’s where I grew up.
  • I spent most of my adult life on the Pine Ridge Reservation which has been the poorest county in the United States.
  • I went to law school, long after I worked for a number of Indian organizations including a Native American NGO that worked at the UN in Category 2 status.
  • The Pine Ridge Reservation is the second largest reservation in the United States, located in south western South Dakota. It’s a huge land mass, takes about an hour and a half to drive diagonally across the reservation. There’s very little economy. The geography is very poor, it lends itself to cattle grazing but not much in terms of raising crops.
  • Wounded Knee was the site of the 1890 massacre in which almost 300 American Indians from several different tribes were killed by the U.S. Army. They were surrounded and essentially murdered on that spot.
  • So, in 1973, there had been a lot of racial discrimination and racially motivated killings of Indian people, the American Indian Movement returned and joined forces with the traditional people who had long been neglected on the reservation.
  • As a result they decided to engage in a protest. They chose the site of the massacre at Wounded Knee, to stage that protest.
  • They set up sort of a line there, with the government and US Marshalls, along with Dick Wilson’s followers who were armed and were called the goon squad and formed the other side of that line. The siege lasted 71 days.
  • It finally dismantled and number of people were prosecuted as a result of that.
  • At Wounded Knee, two Indian people killed and one Marshall wounded.
  • We set up a recording studio right at the Wounded Knee school, and just took people’s stories. I did the interviews, they were really powerful. There were some stories that didn’t fit with the arc of the film but were incredible. I’m glad I documented it then, because I think of the people in the documentary, 7 or 8 have now passed away.
  • I continue to be a strong advocate for tribal sovereignty, self determination and the rights of individuals especially within the dynamic of racial discrimination which at times in South Dakota have been as bad as the south is toward African Americans.
  • I helped affirm and preserve the boundaries of the Yankton Sioux Reservation, that went up to the Supreme Court twice. I was the lead council when it finally concluded, we were able to win that one.
  • I was a former Supreme Court Justice on the Pine Ridge Reservation for their Supreme Court and I retired from that position.
  • Except for limited jurisdiction the Federal Government had on criminal matters, the civil jurisdiction for incidents which occur within the reservation lie with the tribal court as do criminal misdemeanors for tribal members and non tribal members meaning Indians from other tribes that happen to be living on the reservation.
  • In the Native American view you can’t really have winners and losers, you have to try to restore the harmony or the balance within the tribe.
  • The American government adopted the British style of colonialism as did the Israelis when they began to colonize parts of Palestine. It kind of goes in 4 steps.
  • A disruption of traditional agriculture and food gathering, which out here was done in two ways, killing off the buffalo and secondly constraining them from moving around in a wide arc for hunting and gathering – by putting them on the reservation they stopped that.
  • Transfer commonly owned land into private ownership, to turn land into a commodity that can be bought and sold. They did that through what’s called the Daws Act or the Allotment Act in the late 1800s.
  • Theodore Roosevelt called that act a “might pulverizing machine” with which to break up the tribal mass.
  • The third step was to develop a native ruling elite. In this case they first developed “paper chiefs” then in the 1930s developed modern tribal government.
  • Last step, develop an educated elite. Of course any colonizer anywhere, that’s the step that always back fires.
  • The American Indian Movement was born from the children of the parents who were relocated into cities trained as workers.
  • They were the ones who came back home and joined forces with the traditional people and stood up against racism and in favor of tribal sovereignty and tribal self determination.
  • You see many parallels with that and what’s happening to the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.  Dr William Julius Wilson

Guest – Charlie Abourezk, from Rapid City, South Dakota and is a trial attorney, longtime activist and community organizer in the native American community in South Dakota.   He is also a documentary film maker, his most recent is the feature length documentary “A Tattoo On My Heart: The Warriors of Wounded Knee 1973” which played on public television stations around the United States. He is the current Chief Justice of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe’s Supreme Court and a member of the South Dakota Advisory Committee to the US Commission on Civil Rights. His client base is made up largely of Native Americans, tribal schools and Indian tribal governments, but he also represents plaintiffs in civil rights litigation. He will have a book coming out this next year entitled “A Mighty Pulverizing Machine: The Continuing Colonization of American Indians.”

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 From Guantanamo to Wikileaks: Taking on the State In a Post 9/11 World.

Our own Michael Ratner, President Emeritus, Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), past president, National Lawyers Guild; Chair, European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights delivered a talk last week titled ‘From Guantanamo to Wikileaks: Taking on the State In a Post 9/11 World.’  Michael was honored with a PathMaker to Peace Award by the Brooklyn For Peace Organization for his consistent work in litigation against government spying and surveillance of activists including the targeting of Muslims particularly after 9/11.

Law and Disorder Co-host Attorney Michael Ratner,  President Emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), a non-profit human rights litigation organization based in New York City and president of the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) based in Berlin. Ratner and CCR are currently the attorneys in the United States for publishers Julian Assange and Wikileaks. He was co-counsel in representing the Guantanamo Bay detainees in the United States Supreme Court, where, in June 2004, the court decided his clients have the right to test the legality of their detentions in court. Ratner is also a past president of the National Lawyers Guild and the author of numerous books and articles, including the books Who Killed Che? How the CIA Got Away With Murder, The Trial of Donald Rumsfeld: A Prosecution by Book, Against War with Iraq and Guantanamo: What the World Should Know, as well as a textbook on international human rights.

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Law and Disorder October 6, 2014


Updates:

  • Michael Ratner: Moazzam Begg Freed After Terrorism Charges Dropped
  • Michael Ratner: 149 Inmates In Guantanamo Bay Prison – 79 Approved For Transfer

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U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder Evaluation

Michael Ratner and Heidi Boghosian draw a balance sheet on the record of U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.

  • Holder approved drone killing of American citizen al-Awlaki without due process.
  • Holder failed to prosecute any of the Bush Administration officials who were openly admitted torturers.
  • Holder abrogated the responsibility in holding corporate criminals accountable. Wall Street.
  • Holder settled with HSBC for 2 billion, the bank was caught laundering money for drug cartels yet no prosecution.
  • With-Holder prosecuted whistleblowers, Chelsea Manning, Julian Assange, Edward Snowden, James Risen, Jeremy Hammond, Fox News Reporter,

Law and Disorder Co-host Attorney Heidi Boghosian,  executive director of the A.J. Muste Memorial Institute, a nonprofit charitable foundation providing support to the nonviolent movement for social change. Before that she was executive director of the National Lawyers Guild. She is author of the book “Spying on Democracy: Government Surveillance, Corporate Power, and Public Resistance” (City Lights, 2013) as well as several reports on policing and the First Amendment.

Law and Disorder Co-host Attorney Michael Ratner,  President Emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), a non-profit human rights litigation organization based in New York City and president of the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) based in Berlin. Ratner and CCR are currently the attorneys in the United States for publishers Julian Assange and Wikileaks. He was co-counsel in representing the Guantanamo Bay detainees in the United States Supreme Court, where, in June 2004, the court decided his clients have the right to test the legality of their detentions in court. Ratner is also a past president of the National Lawyers Guild and the author of numerous books and articles, including the books Who Killed Che? How the CIA Got Away With Murder, The Trial of Donald Rumsfeld: A Prosecution by Book, Against War with Iraq and Guantanamo: What the World Should Know, as well as a textbook on international human rights.

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Academic Freedom & Political Dissent: A Conversation with Katherine Franke and the Community

We continue to report on Professor Steven Salaita’s case and the concerns regarding established principles of academic freedom. We hear a presentation by Katherine Franke, Professor of Law at Columbia University. Listeners may recall that Professor Salaita was unhired from the American Indian Studies program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign because of his statements on social media criticizing Israel’s conduct of military operations in Gaza. We reported last month on Law and Disorder that scholars from law schools around the country came out with a letter condemning the decision of the University of Illinois to unhire Professor Salaita. Katherine Franke discussed Salaita’s case at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign late last month.

Speaker – Katherine Franke,  Isidor and Seville Sulzbacher Professor of Law; Director, Center for Gender and Sexuality Law at Columbia University. She was awarded a 2011 Guggenheim Fellowship, and is among the nation’s leading scholars in the area of feminism, sexuality and race. In addition to her scholarly writing on sexual harassment, gender equality, sexual rights, and racial history, she writes regularly for a more popular audience in the Gender and Sexuality Law Blog. Franke is also on the Executive Committee for Columbia’s Institute for Research on Women and Gender, and the Center for Palestine Studies and teaches at a medium security women’s prison in Manhattan. Her legal career began as a civil rights lawyer, first specializing in HIV discrimination cases and then race and sex cases more generally. In the last 25 years she has authored briefs in cases addressing HIV discrimination, forced sterilization, same-sex sexual harassment, gender stereotyping, and transgender discrimination in the Supreme Court and other lower courts.

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Please help support Law and Disorder, the show is now a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization. Contributions for the charitable purposes of Law and Disorder must be made payable to Fractured Atlas only and are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.

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Law and Disorder September 29, 2014


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An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States

In the United States today, there are more than 500 federally recognized indigenous communities and nations comprising nearly three million people. These are the descendants of the 15 million people who once inhabited this land and are the subject of the latest book by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz.  In An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States, Dunbar-Ortiz challenges the founding myth of the United States and shows how policy against the indigenous peoples was genocidal and imperialist—designed to crush the original inhabitants. Spanning more than 300 years, this classic bottom-up history significantly reframes how we view our past. Told from the viewpoint of the indigenous, it reveals how Native Americans, for centuries, actively resisted expansion of the U.S. empire.

Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz:

  • It’s absolutely necessary to know this history of settler colonialism and how it effects consciousness today of U.S. people and in the world because everyone is convinced of this myth of the United States and somehow its always going off the path of this destiny that has never been true in the first place.
  • It’s like a fairy tale except its extremely deadly and dangerous.
  • Other countries have romantic myths as their form of nationalism but they don’t control the world with this ideology.
  • The myth is that it was a birth of settler democracy but we know from apartheid South Africa, we know from colonialism, particularly settler colonialism such as Israel.
  • There are so many parallels with Israel because the Puritans and this became embedded in all settlers, had this idea of the new Jerusalem of Zion. They used that terminology.
  • That God had given them this land to settle, it wasn’t just a right it was a responsibility to destiny, to the world.
  • This made the native farmer and fisherman, ordinary people like other people in the world into savages and monsters, sort of like the Israelis to do the Palestinians today.
  • Throughout the book I have a theme of the militarism and the counterinsurgency that attacks civilians and a food fight they call it, burns the food, supplies, the crops, burns the houses of the people in their towns, creates refugees. This then becomes the pattern.
  • Every generation there is this Indian war. Vietnam looked like an Indian war, even the language they use – indian country for enemy territory, all of the weapons they name after native people.
  • This is not how we think of the United States, supposedly a civilian country, the military is always under control of civilians but that civilian president is commander and chief of the armed forces.
  • There’s also a theory, the Bering Strait the one entrance to the whole continent, which is absurd because all of the people on the coast were great seafaring people.
  • A part of European imperialism say as the beginning of everything that it connected people up. Actually what it did was separate people each other and their tradition.
  • My specialization is the southwest and central Mexico, Central America. I knew there were complex trade routes and roads all over the place, irrigation canals, how they developed agriculture.
  • The first chapter, Follow the Corn, I did just that. I followed out of Mexico, the dispersion of corn agriculture all the way to Tierra Del Fuego to the sub Arctic and coast to coast.
  • What you find in the Americas is when they get to the point of abusing the environment and become dictatorial, there tends to be revolts to overthrow, that was happening when Cortez came to Mexico.
  • The Quetzalcoatl cult that took over the Aztec government became abusive and was doing slave raiding. Had done a wonderful job of dispersing trade routes. Cortez simply allied with the rebels and overthrew the central government.
  • Course they couldn’t know his intentions of simply wiping out their civilization.
  • When British colonialism came to North America with these peculiar characteristics of the puritan ideology settling in. With 2 centuries of settler colonialism they developed this idea of ownership.
  • It went from owning human beings to the idea of owning the land.
  • George Washington was a surveyor and you have to ask why was such a super wealthy – a lowly surveyor?
  • Surveyors got to choose the best land, and got to mark it up. They had already developed this idea of a Platte, creating territories that would then become states once they had a majority settler population.
  • That’s why it took so long for Oklahoma, Oklahoma was the 47th state, New Mexico, Arizona, these places that had a majority native population.
  • It was rough being native in the United States, it still is. I grew up in Canadian county Oklahoma, my dad sharecropped, and was a tenant farmer throughout that area until the depression wiped it out.
  • The people went to California as refugees.
  • I’m cautious about the identity because native nationalism Cherokee or Onondaga or Shawnee or Creek Muskogee
  • There was an instance in 1917, I think its one of the most important moments in US history and hardly anyone knows about it. Jack Womack and I had written about it Monthly Review, it was called the Green Corn Rebellion.
  • That is the main demand, land base, nationhood, the ability to prosper and exist as people, not just as individuals being assimilated out, that’s another form of genocide.

Guest – Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz,  grew up in rural Oklahoma, the daughter of a farmer and half-Indian mother. She has been active in the American Indian Movement for more than four decades and is known for her lifelong commitment to national and international social justice issues. After receiving her PhD in history at the University of California at Los Angeles, she taught in the newly established Native American Studies Program at California State University and helped found the departments of Ethnic Studies and Women’s Studies. Her 1977 book The Great Sioux Nation was the fundamental document at the first international conference on Indians in the Americas, held at the United Nations’ headquarters in Geneva. She is the author or editor of seven books.

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Academic Freedom Case: Professor Steven Salaita

Last Thursday the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Board of Trustees rejected Professor Steven Salaita’s candidacy for a tenured faculty appointment to the American Indian studies program.  Initially we reported here on Law and Disorder that Professor Salaita was essentially dehired from the American Indian Studies program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign because of his statements on social media criticizing Israel’s conduct of military operations in Gaza. Emails within the University revealed under Freedom of Information Act Requests show that it was outside pressure from donors that influenced the University of Illinois Chancellor’s decision to dehire Salaita.

Professor Steven Salaita:

  • I received the job offer at the end of September 2013, the first offer was for me to begin on June 2014 but because of my obligations to Virgina Tech and short time for moving we pushed it back to mid August.
  • Everything was good to go, we set up movers, my classes were ready to teach they had been assigned to me. I ordered my textbooks, on August 2, I received a letter from the chancellor Phyllis Wise, telling me the termination was going to be withdrawn, so it left me scrambling for what to do, because I already resigned my position at Virginia Tech.
  • So all of a sudden I didn’t have a job, at Illinois or Virginia Tech.
  • Publicly released documents indicate that donor pressure played a large role in it.
  • There’s been some consternation about my tweets about Operation Protective Edge, that’s Israel’s recent invasion of the Gaza Strip and I think that had a lot to do with the donor pressure.
  • I think the university is pressing this idea of incivility in social media.
  • I think one of the saddest parts of the whole affair is that I hadn’t had the opportunity to join them and become their colleague and work with them (Professors at the American Indian Studies Department) and they’ve been terrific throughout this entire affair.
  • Academic hiring happens at the level of faculty, it happens at the level of department and search committees within departments will choose the hire, sometimes the entire department has to sign off on it.
  • Then it gets kicked up the dean, then it will get kicked up to the provost or chancellor for their approval, that’s what we call democratic governance on campus.
  • It’s kind of an allegory of the position of American Indian nations in the United States and Canada. They’re seen as not being able to make their own autonomous decisions. They’re not allowed to articulate their own practices of sovereignty without the oversight of authorities above them.
  • The discourse they used in firing me is remarkable. To describe somebody who has been hired by an American Indian Studies Department as uncivil draws on hundreds of years of colonial discourse that I find shocking.
  • It’s an allegory of history and politics that exist in microcosmic form within the framework of the University of Illinois.
  • In this case civility means acquiescence to power, and incivility equates to dissent.
  • In lots of ways my case has become something of an avatar, a flashpoint for people’s grievances.
  • I could really easily be identified with BDS and I think within the past year, 2 things have happened that have caused Zionists to step up their game around this issue. One is the string of boycott resolutions that have been ratified by scholarly organizations by labor unions, by civil rights groups, by churches.
  • I think the response to it is not engage on the issues, not to have conversations or debates about the issues but to shut down our side altogether. They don’t want to have debates, they want a silence.
  • They don’t want to engage in conversation they want the discussion to be unilateral.
  • Support Steven Salaita

 Guest – Professor Steven Salaita,  former associate professor of English at Virginia Tech. He is the author of six books and writes frequently about Arab Americans, Palestine, Indigenous Peoples, and decolonization. His current book project is entitled Images of Arabs and Muslims in the Age of Obama.Steven grew up in Bluefield, Virginia, to a mother from Nicaragua (by way of Palestine) and a father from Madaba, Jordan.  Books by Salaita

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Law and Disorder September 15, 2014


 

Updates:

  • Professor Salaita Press Conference Update
  • Michael Ratner: 13th Anniversary of 9-11
  • Michael Ratner: You Can’t Have Imperialism Abroad And Democracy At Home
  • Michael Ratner: Basically . . .It’s Over. The Legal System Is Done For.
  • Michael Ratner: September 11, 1973 Anniversary – Chilean Coup D’état
  • Michael Ratner: September 7, 1971 Anniversary Attica Prison Rebellion

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50 Year Anniversary of the Free Speech Movement

The Free Speech Movement began September 14, 1964, marking the 50 year annivesary this month. It began when the University of California at Berkeley announced that existing university regulations banning political activity on campus would be “strictly enforced.”  The resulting protests, unprecedented in scope, were the harbinger of the student power, civil liberties, and antiwar demonstrations that convulsed college campuses throughout the country for the next decade. American playwright, social activist and author Barbara Garson joins us to talk about the Free Speech Movement and her most famous work MacBird.

Barbara Garson:

  • I was at the University of California at Berkeley and when we got back to campus in 1964 some people from the Freedom Summer in Mississippi, myself working with the farm workers in California . . . we come on to campus and we discover that the area in front of the school that we (all the groups) traditionally used to hand out leaflets about their events and so on, suddenly you couldn’t hand out leaflets there.
  • The reason we were given was trash. That is to say litter.
  • Pretty soon all the groups, I mean all the groups, the Republicans, the Young Republicans, the Democrats and the Anarchists, we all went to the administration and . . . . they dropped that flimsy excuse.
  • They said no, the only thing is you can’t pass out leaflets on campus that advocate action off campus.
  • It was obvious not only to the radicals but all the students that some . . powerful people in Berkeley had become annoyed by the farmworkers boycott and the equal employment picket lines in Oakland and had put pressure on the president of the university.
  • All the groups realized this wasn’t an issue about litter, it was an issue of free speech.
  • Throughout that year of expulsions, arrests, all the groups stood together.
  • They stuck together with a very simple demand, that we be able to exercise the freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution of the First and Fourteenth Amendments on the CAL campus.
  • We won 100 percent.
  • We created a counter force and we stayed with it. I don’t believe in the cult of a personality but Mario Savio really was special.
  • The campus police called the Berkeley Police and the Berkeley Police who are very nice put Jack Weinberg in a police car. Suddenly everybody sat down around the police car. There are dozens of people who claim to be the first person to sit down around the police car.
  • He (Jack) knew immediately not give his name to step up the action.
  • People start getting on the police car to address the crowd. Try to remember back what kind of kids we were. When you look at the pictures we had short hair, we had bright glasses, just really nice kids. (They take off their shoes before getting on police car.)
  • One of the people who gets on the police car is Mario Savio who’s been on a Freedom Summer, that summer. The gift that Mario gave us was his utter sincerity.
  • He (Mario) created that sense, we’ve come here to do something worthwhile with our lives. We were talking lives, not lifestyle.
  • We were very naive and we accept committees to look into the free speech regulations on campus.
  • Over the course of six months it became clear to everyone that there was nothing we could do that we would be betrayed.
  • Many of the students were most radicalized by being lied to.
  • I’m an FSM alumni really, not a Berkeley alumni.
  • It’s just natural, they really did agree with us, who doesn’t agree with the First and Fourteenth Amendments.
  • We literally voted to dissolve the Free Speech Movement. That’s wrong. We saw the same thing happen with Occupy, from a good impulse, not be like them, we haven’t presented any power to fight them.
  • One of the areas where we left no fight, the economic areas which have seen working people beaten down for the 40 years.
  • Now when you go to the University of California Berkeley campus you don’t need regulations about speech when most of the students have mortgage sized debts.
  • When I went to University of California Berkeley my tuition was free.
  • The FSM, well, its in part in sorrow that we meet to figure out how things went this way.
  • FSM.org – Reunion Event

Guest – Barbara Garson, an American playwright, author and social activist known for the play MacBird. She wrote a series of books describing American working lives at historical turning points, including All the Livelong Day (1975), The Electronic Sweatshop (1988) and Money Makes the World Go Around (2001). Her new book, just published, is Down the Up Escalator: How the 99% Live in the Great Recession

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 Louis Tikas and the Ludlow Massacre

Louis Tikas and the Ludlow Massacre is the title of the new documentary film from Greece by Lamprini Thoma and Nickos Ventouras. April 20, 2014 marked the 100th anniversary of the historic attack on workers. In April 1914, the Colorado National Guard and Colorado Fuel and Iron Company Camp Guards began shooting into a tent colony of 1200 striking coal miners and their families in Ludlow Colorado. 39 people were killed including 2 women and 11 children. Among the murdered was Louis Tikas, a Greek immigrant who is remembered in this documentary for his work that helped launch the U.S. labor movement. The story is told through the voices of prominent historians, artists and the descendants of Ludlow miners in Colorado.

Lamprini Thoma:

  • When the situation in Greece . . . we’re not a democracy anymore, you know. When we started losing our working rights, we started having problems with immigrants . . it all became obvious we were back there.
  • Me and Nickos who’s my partner in life and in crime, we did the movie together.
  • We thought that we didn’t have to say anything, that history could say everything, about people like immigrants, like Greeks and how they suffered, and how they fought for their rights.
  • That’s how it became relevant to us now. Not something from history but something from your life, you have to put in your life and you have to say to the other, see this is what happened.
  • We musn’t let it happen again.
  • Palikari, young men in their prime. Louis Tikas his name is Elias Spantidakis. He left from Crete, late 19th century, went to New York and from there Colorado where he got involved with the unions and he started organizing the Greeks and he saw how hard things were especially for the miners.
  • He was a man of peace and of justice I can say.
  • He was murdered brutally by the man of the Rockefellers at the time of the Ludlow massacre.
  • In this work of ours we’re trying to let the people meet him and see how wonderful a man can be.
  • At the time John Rockefeller Sr was passing his power on to John Rockefeller Jr. it was 1914 that the thugs of the Colorado Fuel and Iron Company of the Rockefellers attacked the miners.
  • It was the second day of the Greek Easter, a very important time for Greek immigrants. Louis Tikas was the first to be killed among the union men.
  • It’s a history then that shows how things were and still are in my opinion for the working class.
  • Women were the ones to keep the house, to keep the children fed. To take their place (the men) when they were arrested.
  • When working rights move on, all rights start to move on. They’re connected in a way.
  • Most people think that Rockefeller was the winner. He killed them when the strike was brought. But he was not, history is the judge there . . . and how it survived in memory.
  • They never speak about class war in the United States. They use other phrases.
  • Our premiere will be in the CUNY Grad Center in Manhattan September 19, 2014 and we’re expecting to see you there.
  • Nonorganicproductions.com – Coal is organic.

Guest-Lamprini Thoma has been working as journalist, radio producer and script writer for the last 30 years. She has covered wars in the Balkans, the former Soviet Union and West Africa. She has worked in print, online and broadcast media, including the BBC’s now defunct Greek service. She created the first specialized newspaper column on the Internet in Greece, something which still makes her proud.  Lamprini and Nikos have been working together for the last ten years.

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Law and Disorder September 1, 2014


Updates:

  • Michael Ratner: The Dahiya Doctrine, Wikileaks and Julian Assange
  • Michael Ratner: U.S. Is The Fundamental Supporter Of Israel War Crimes
  • Major Free Speech Court Victory in Brooklyn Bridge Occupy Mass Arrest Class Action
  • Update On H.Rap Brown Health And Treatment

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Labor Day Songs From The Union Makes Us Strong.

Michael Smith and Heidi Boghosian play songs from The Union Makes Us Strong album by Peter Siegel and Eli Smith to honor Labor Day 2014. The historical importance of these songs lie in the role they played in the creation of the union movement in the United States in the first half of the 20th century. They instrumental in propagating the attitudes and ideas the “class consciousness” that led working men and women by the thousands to recognize the need to stand together in solidarity. In short, they shaped a politicized working-class culture based more upon social than individual values.

Songs: There Is Power In the Union / The Preacher And The Slave / The Death of Mother Jones / Song For Bridges.

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Non-GMO Seed Programs Help Poor Farmers In El Salvador Secede From Monsanto Monopoly

When you hear news reports about the mass migration of unaccompanied children coming across the Mexico – U.S. border, you usually don’t hear about the pressures that are driving the emigration. Today we look at some of the economic and agricultural reasons that cause migrations specifically in El Salvador.  One organization helps poor farmers grow and market sees for corn and beans. This program is called the Mangrove Association where the government buys the seeds and distributes them for free to the 400 thousand farmers. However, these are non – GMO seeds, a preference that local communities and the El Salvadoran government had to fight for.

Professor of Law Eleanor Stein:

  • My primary work over the last 10 years has been centered on climate change and what can be done to reverse that trend and to change the political climate in which those decisions get made.
  • I was interested in this project in El Salvador because I understood that it was based in some local community groups in a very poverty stricken rural area in the southwestern part of the country and they were using very creative methods to develop more of a sustainable agriculture and also to take measures related to adaptation of their region as a result of climate change.
  • CAFTA is a trade treaty which the U.S. and Central America are parties and the Dominican Republic and it governs very much like NAFTA. It governs the requirement for procurement of goods and services by governments in those regions.
  • El Salvador is a very poor country. It’s still living with the results of a civil war that went from 1979 to 1992 that resulted in the death of almost 80 thousand people.
  • When I say a civil war, that doesn’t really capture the full involvement of the U.S. government fully supporting the right wing counter insurgency forces.
  • They (Salvadoran government) have put in place a seed program that began in 2012 that was meant to deal with tremendous problems in food insecurity, agricultural non-sustainability and poverty and lack of economic opportunity that exist in the rural areas.
  • They’re cooperatives that produce seeds. They’re locally grown, they’re non-GMO and they are apparently more successful than the Monsanto varieties.
  • They have a higher germination rate, and they’re much more hardy in their conditions of growth in El Salvador.
  • Until fairly recently, Monsanto had been procuring almost all of its seeds from a Monsanto subsidiary in the region and from very few other producers and were arguable in violation of CAFTA because this was a direct procurement without bidding.
  • The Millennial Challenge Corporation is a U.S. government agency which is basically a dispenser of aid in the form of grants to countries that have been defined as emerging potential democracies by the State Department.
  • This aid package for every country it has been offered has been conditioned on the local government making certain changes. Legislative changes to bring the economy of the recipient country more in line with the neo-liberal trade policies.
  • For example, they tried to get the El Salvadoran legislature to privatize water in their country.
  • This is one of few places in the world where a region has been able to secede from the Monsanto monopoly.
  • Mangrove Association.There were able to provide for free to more than 400 thousand farmers these very high quality seeds. This is a concrete effective local program that is really combating hunger and food insecurity and its at a time when tens of thousands of children from El Salvador are trying to emigrate to the United States because of not only violence but poverty and lack of opportunity in El Salvador.
  • Both the violence and the poverty and the lack of economic development are rooted in the war in the history of El Salvador and the history of the U.S. role in that war.
  • I think the underlying condition not only for the emigration but for the violence itself is the lack of infrastructure, the lack of development, the lack of opportunity that continues to haunt this country that was under the rule of an oligarchy for 60 or 70 years.
  • We didn’t meet a single family that had indoor plumbing. People are living under really difficult conditions.
  • www.eco-viva.org

Guest – Eleanor Stein, teaches a course called the Law of Climate Change: Domestic and Transnational at Albany Law School and SUNY Albany, in conjunction with the Environmental  and Atmospheric Sciences Department at SUNY. Eleanor Stein is teaching transnational  environmental law with a focus on catastrophic climate change. For ten years she served as an Administrative Law Judge at the New York State Public Service Commission in Albany, New York, where she presided over and mediated New York’s Renewable Portfolio Standard proceeding, a collaboration and litigation of over 150 parties, authoring in June 2004 a comprehensive decision recommending a landmark state environmental initiative to combat global warming with incentives for renewable resource-fueled power generation.

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Law and Disorder August 25, 2014


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Ali Abunimah On Gaza, His New Book The Battle For Justice in Palestine and Censorship

ElectronicIntifada co-founder Ali Abunimah is the author of new book The Battle For Justice in Palestine. He shares with hosts the recent news of what’s happening in Gaza, the resistance around the world, as well as on campus and in the United States. Ali was scheduled to speak at the Evanston Public Library in early August. The library later sent an email telling him he couldn’t be allowed to speak without an Israeli speaker to ensure balance. Neighbors for Peace an organization of antiwar activists based in the Chicago suburb of Evanston, Illinois who initially brought Abunimah to speak suspected the library’s director was pressured to censor the event. The event was canceled the following day and after some activism and demonstration, the presentation was rescheduled. Ali spoke about his recent book The Battle For Justice In Palestine, the event was packed.  Last year at Brooklyn College a similar controversy erupted when Palestinian BDS advocate Omar Barghouti and University of California Berkeley philosopher and BDS supporter Judith Butler we’re scheduled to speak.

Ali Abunimah:

  • The situation has gotten considerably worse (in Gaza) over the past year because of the coup in Egypt.
  • The current regime in Egypt is very closely aligned with Israel. They’ve made it just impossible for 1.8 million people to live in Gaza.
  • The demands from Palestinian civil society is lift the siege, open the crossing, allow farmers to farm, allow fishermen to fish, allow factories to function, allow travelers to travel, students to go to their universities, patients to reach their hospitals, allow medicines to come in, allow books to come in.
  • You mentioned my book The Battle for Justice in Palestine. Well, there’s no way to get that book into Gaza.
  • It’s also a siege on human contact, culture, education and nourishment. They killed now more than 2000 people in Gaza which is 1 out of every 1000 residents in Gaza.
  • Entire families have been wiped out, nobody feels safe. This massacre Israel thought would break people’s will and get them to accept and go back under siege.
  • But Israel won’t (lift the siege) it’s a matter of pride for them, it’s a matter of colonial control.
  • The most frightening statement about where they’re (Israel) going was made more than 10 years ago. I wrote about this recently in an article called The Gaza Massacre Is The Price of Living In A Jewish State.
  • At that time you hearing fantasy about Gaza becoming the new Singapore on the Mediterranean. The Israelis were saying to themselves that Gaza was going to become a giant holding pen for human beings who are not Jewish.
  • If we’re going to wait for government to do the right thing or the UN to get its act together, then we’re doomed.
  • Despite the multiple levels of complicity by this government in this country, and governments in Europe and the Arab world, something is happening.
  • We’re not starting from zero we have a really important and sustained Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement.
  • They’re firing artillery, mortar shells that are designed to be indiscriminate into populated areas of Gaza with the intended consequence of causing widespread destruction.
  • We have to go after the weapons manufacturer, we have to after the people who approve these sales from around the world and its because of public pressure that the UK announced last week that they will suspend armed exports to Israel if significant hostilities resume.
  • Well now they have resumed, let’s see what they do.
  • Look what’s happening just this week, an Israeli cargo ship was prevented from unloading for 4 days in Oakland because solidarity activists and unionized port workers have been working together to prevent that.
  • Israel can only maintain its dominance over Palestinians through brute force and use of violence against Palestinians there, and through attempts to suppress debate, suppress political action on behalf of Palestinians in the United States and around the world.
  • Mainstream media is more closed to Palestinian voices than what I’ve seen in 20 years. I used to get on CNN, I used to get on MSNBC.
  • The librarian let me know that the event was canceled until they could get a pro-Israel speaker.
  • There was such an uproar, it was amazing. They did a U-turn pretty quickly.
  • As Israel and its apologists lobbies lose control of the narrative, lose control of the politics in this country, there is a more blatant resort to outright repression such as what is going on now at the University of Illinois and other institutions around the country.
  • In that chapter I site an organization called the David Project, which is a Zionist group that’s been working for ten years attacking and targeting professors.

Guest – Ali Abunimah a Palestinian American journalist who has been described as “the leading American proponent of a one-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. A resident of Chicago who contributes regularly to such publications as The Chicago Tribune and The Los Angeles Times, he has also served as the Vice-President on the Board of Directors of the Arab American Action Network, is a fellow at the Palestine Center, and is co-founder of The Electronic Intifada.

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Top Legal Scholars Decry Chilling Effect of Dehiring Professor Steven Salaita

The University of Illinois has rescinded the job offer of the professor who wrote controversial social media posts about the war in Gaza. Professor Steven Salaita was essentially dehired from the American Indian Studies program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign because of his statements on social media criticizing Israel’s conduct of military operations in Gaza. This has raised serious concerns under established principles of academic freedom. Those principles are enshrined in Illinois law, in the U.S. Constitution, and in the written principles of the American Association of University Professors. Recently, scholars from law schools at Columbia, Cornell, Berkeley, Georgetown, and other universities have come out with a very strong letter condemning the decision of the University of Illinois to dehire Steven Salaita. Read letter here.

Professor Katherine Franke:

  • Professor Salaita was made a tenured offer of appointment at the University of Illinois in their American Indian studies program last year. He accepted it and negotiated the terms of the offer. Then during the most recent assault on Gaza, he was active on twitter expressing his views on the Middle East and colonialism.
  • The University of Illinois came under a tremendous amount of pressure to revoke the offer of employment to Professor Salaita.
  • The offer wasn’t finalized, there’s usually a rubber stamp process where the department and the head of the university have to take appointment to the Board of Trustees.
  • The chancellor of the university Phyllis Wise informed Professor Salaita that she would not be bringing his appointment to the Board of Trustees and was unwilling to finalize his appointment.
  • He had already resigned his position at Virgina Tech and was getting ready to move. He’s a well known scholar, not only of American Indian studies but of colonialism more generally and has connected up the struggle for sovereignty and analysis of genocide and occupation in the United States to the struggles that the Palestinians have suffered in the Middle East.
  • He certainly didn’t depart from views he expressed before but I think they, in the heat of the moment of this recent assault on Gaza, the university basically buckled and withdrew the offer, and he’s now without a job and an income.
  • It’s because of his speech on the issue of war crimes that may have been committed by Israel in the assault on Gaza.
  • His tweets have been rather even across the board I think in terms of criticizing the critics of Israel when they’ve overstepped but also criticizing Israel itself.
  • He’s a firey guy with strong opinions and rigorous academic critiques of colonialism and colonial violence.
  • I thought it would be useful to add constitutional and legal analysis of the problem, situated historically in threats to free speech on campus. I drafted a letter for Constitutional law professors, not in which they would agree to boycott universities . . . more offering a constitutional analysis of retaliation against unpopular speech.
  • The law in this area has been made by faculty and sometimes students.
  • I brought it back to Urbana-Champaign and their own history of threats to free speech both during the McCarthy period when bills were introduced in Springfield to punish or purge people who had back then what they call Communist sympathies when working in public universities. In 1960, there was a professor in the biology department at Urbana-Champaign that had written and spoke about human sexuality and premarital sex, and had actually endorsed premarital sex.
  • There are a couple of principles that are at stake here, one has to do with the state punishing any citizen for speaking on an unpopular topic and particularly punishing for the viewpoint they take.
  • There’s another faculty member at the University of Illinois Kerry Nelson who has been a rather enthusiastic advocate of Israel’s right to attack Gaza. He said things that are quite inflammatory, he’s not been fired. He’s not been punished for the positions he’s taken on the Middle East.
  • Viewpoint discrimination, that’s the first point. The second point is academic freedom. Universities are the primary bastion of protection. A domain where we protect the pursuit of unpopular ideas, controversial ideas, of ideas that might even be frightening.
  • That is the commitment that we make as part of the academic endeavor. The point of that concept of academic freedom is that we don’t want to have a kind of orthodoxy or an official version of the truth.
  • Dr. Wise comes out of a somewhat corporate background. She, I think is the poster woman if you will for the executive that is now leading universities and thinks of universities as a business.
  • The presidents are making an economic calculation, that they can pay off someone like Salaita and satisfy their donors.
  • We can’t just agree to do nothing which what a boycott is. In a way it’s the easiest thing to do.
  • I would say I have a lot of faith in students.

Guest – Katherine Franke,  Isidor and Seville Sulzbacher Professor of Law; Director, Center for Gender and Sexuality Law at Columbia University. She was awarded a 2011 Guggenheim Fellowship, and is among the nation’s leading scholars in the area of feminism, sexuality and race. In addition to her scholarly writing on sexual harassment, gender equality, sexual rights, and racial history, she writes regularly for a more popular audience in the Gender and Sexuality Law Blog. Franke is also on the Executive Committee for Columbia’s Institute for Research on Women and Gender, and the Center for Palestine Studies and teaches at a medium security women’s prison in Manhattan. Her legal career began as a civil rights lawyer, first specializing in HIV discrimination cases and then race and sex cases more generally. In the last 25 years she has authored briefs in cases addressing HIV discrimination, forced sterilization, same-sex sexual harassment, gender stereotyping, and transgender discrimination in the Supreme Court and other lower courts.

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History Of Police Brutality And The Militarization of Local Law Enforcement

In the days since the uproar over the police shooting and killing of unarmed teenager Michael Brown, state and local law enforcement have been cycling through different approaches demonstrators in Ferguson, Missouri. They rolled out armored vehicles, while police in riot gear deployed tear gas, stun grenades and shotguns. Another decision permitted the Missouri State Highway Patrol to march with protestors. The National Guard was also ordered in.  We examine the history and consequences of militarizing local law enforcement with Baruch College Civil Rights Professor Clarence Taylor.

Professor Clarence Taylor:

  • We can’t talk about a post civil rights era. These issues are still with us today.
  • It’s the people on the ground, who have gone through this, that are fed up.
  • It’s not just arguing for a black face in a high place.
  • There is no requirement of the police of Ferguson to live in that community.
  • Having black officers would change the nature of the investigation.
  • This is something that’s been argued going back in the 1930s and the 1940s and people were organizing against police brutality.
  • We should not take our eyes off the racial component of this.
  • Police brutality would still go on without the militarization of the police.
  • You throw all these new toys at the police department and once you have a big enough hammer, everything looks like a nail.
  • Diversifying police departments is very very important and emphasizing more community policing.

Guest – Professor Clarence Taylor, His research is in modern civil rights, black power movements and African American religion. He’s the author of many books including co-editor of Civil Rights Since 1787: A Reader in the Black Struggle. He’s currently writing a history of police brutality in New York City from the 1930s to the 1960s. In 1991, Clarence received his PhD in American history and began teaching at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, New York. He reworked his dissertation into a book, The Black Churches of Brooklyn from the 19th Century to the Civil Rights Era, and it was published by Columbia University Press in 1994. In 1996, Clarence became a member of the history department and the African-New World Studies Program at Florida International University.
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Law and Disorder August 18, 2014


Updates:

  • Police Reform Urged By Anonymous
  • Prof. Johanna Fernandez Brings Suit To Obtain NYPD Files On The Young Lords
  • Heidi Boghosian Leaves National Lawyers Guild After 15 Years And Is Now Executive Director of the AJ Memorial Muste Institute

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International Humanitarian Law and Israel’s War Crimes

Since the July 8th launch of intense bombing and the ground invasion by Israel against the occupied Palestinian territory’s Gaza Strip. There’s growing evidence that Israel’s leaders and commanders have committed the following crimes, war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity as defined in the Rome statute of the International Criminal Court. U.S. military aid has aided and abetted and assisted the commission of these crimes by providing Israel with the military means to commit them. We discuss today violations of International Humanitarian Law with the Center for Constitutional Senior Staff Attorney Maria LaHood.

Attorney Maria LaHood:

  • It has been reported that Israel has killed almost 2000 people in Gaza, including 460 children over the last month.
  • A few thousand children alone, have been injured and they’ve displaced almost half a million people, that’s more than a quarter of the population of Gaza.
  • That’s not to mention the widespread destruction of homes, schools, hospitals, mosques, UN shelters, critical infrastructure for civilian population and the power plant in Gaza.
  • Then you think about the trauma that the population is subjected to, especially the children.
  • What Israel has done, violates the laws of war, which is intended to protect civilians.
  • There’s international humanitarian law that governs armed conflict. The basic principles are distinction and proportionality.
  • Parties to a conflict have to distinguish between military objectives which can be attacked, and civilians and civilian property and infrastructure which can never be targeted under any circumstances.
  • Grave and serious breaches of these laws are war crimes.
  • Willful, indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks on civilians or civilian objects, like homes, the attacks on medical staff, and ambulances, and hospitals, which are specifically protected.
  • There has also been the extensive destruction of property that hasn’t been justified by military necessity.
  • The attacks and Israel’s closure on Gaza also are collective punishment. They punish people for offenses that they didn’t commit.
  • All state parties to common Article 1 of the Geneva Convention are required, including the United States, are required to insure respect for the conventions under any circumstances.
  • The United States has laws to prohibit funding and arms sales to foreign governments or specific units that are engaging in human rights violations.
  • For example the Leahy Law bars the U.S. from funding foreign military units and individuals if there’s credible information that they took part in gross human rights violations.
  • We found out recently, the U.S. doesn’t track which Israeli units are receiving U.S. military assistance.
  • More than half of our foreign military funding goes to Israel.
  • Even over the course of this latest onslaught on Gaza, the U.S. has sold munitions to Israel.
  • As far as I’m concerned the U.S. is aiding and abetting Israel’s war crimes.
  • I think the most important thing that’s going on right now is the global movement in support of Palestinian human rights.
  • Look at the U.K. recently, 100 thousand turned out for a protest. A foreign officer minister resigned over the government’s policy. Now the government announced it will suspend military export licenses if the fighting resumed.
  • Frankly, I’m not sure what could stop Israel while it has the U.S. government’s support.
  • That’s our responsibility to change.
  • It’s our right to talk about what Israel is doing, it’s our duty to do something about it.
  • At every chance the U.S. government protects Israel.
  • Its difficult in U.S. courts. It’s difficult when the U.S. government is protecting Israel in every way it can.
  • It’s not just in U.S. courts, its in the U.N. It’s basically pressuring Abbas, not to ratify the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court so that Israeli officials can’t be liable there.
  • It pressures the Human Rights Council at every turn not to condemn Israel, not to have fact finding missions into Israel’s crimes, not to permit accountability for Israel.
  • The United States has exercised its veto over 40 times to protect Israel from any accountability – (In UN Security Council)
  • Basically the Rome Statute permits that states who aren’t parties can accept the court’s jurisdiction on an ad hoc basis.
  • The ICC could accept jurisdiction of these crimes and should.
  • There is a very serious argument that Israel’s mass killings of civilians in Gaza, repeated several times in recent years, in the context of Israel’s 47 years of occupation and absolute suffocation of Gaza over the last several years, and treatment of Palestinians more broadly, not to mention the horrible genocidal statements that top officials have been making in recent weeks, that that constitutes genocide.
  • Genocide is a crime that the ICC has jurisdiction over.
  • I began doing civil rights work as an attorney, and I was so troubled by what was going to be happening post 9-11, that I really wanted to get more involved in international human rights.
  • I’m Lebanese-American, so I do feel impacted by what’s happening, but it is really truly I think my status as a responsible party as an American that makes me want to fight this.

Guest – Maria LaHood, Senior Staff Attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights, which she joined in 2003.  She specializes in international human rights litigation, seeking to hold government officials and corporations accountable for torture, extrajudicial killings, and war crimes abroad.
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International Peace Movement Gains Traction

There is a growing movement among Americans and Jewish Americans who are organizing for justice in Palestine. They’re calling for an end to the occupation, a restoration of the lands and homes of the Palestinians who were evicted years ago and an end to the siege in Gaza. Recent actions by a grassroots national organization called Jewish Voice for Peace have targeted companies that profit from the occupation, congressional leaders and Jewish institutions that rally behind Israel’s violence against civilians.

Donna Nevel:

  • It’s part of a long pattern, and a long history of brutality against the Palestinian people and the people of Gaza and going right back to the Nakba and since then.
  • The organizing that has been going on has been definitely stepping up. We’ve all seen the photos of protests around the world. London had a huge one, and South Africa and this country.
  • Netanyahu recently held a press conference that was translated from Hebrew, that there cannot be a situation in which we relinquish security control of the territory west of the river Jordan.
  • If we look at what happened in 1948, with the Nakba, what happened in 67 when Israel occupied more territory and displaced thousands upon thousands more Palestinians. Palestinians have been arrested more systematically, increased colonization of land, including during the supposed peace process.
  • I’m one of many many people and groups that are doing organizing and as you know I’ve chosen to do my activism with a number of different groups.
  • One of them Jewish Voice For Peace, Jews Say No and have also become part of a project, The Nakba Education Project, specifically because we think there is a great need in the American Jewish community and more broadly for the Nakba to be front and center which also addresses issues of the right of return.
  • For our organizing, I think that the Palestinian led movement, for Boycott Divestment and Sanction at this particular moment becomes more important than ever as we’re protesting the brutality of the Israeli government.
  • Jewish Voice For Peace – we hold ourselves accountable as a Jewish group that needs to do our work within the Jewish community and at the same time be a very respectful, responsible and responsive partner to the Palestinian led movement for BDS and for justice in Palestine.
  • There are so many ways to connect.
  • Now, you can be an Alternet, a Mondoweiss, an ElectronicIntifada, really wonderful places that speak the truth.
  • There are organizations like the IMEU, The Institution For Middle East Understanding.
  • JVP alone has had 50 thousand new people at least who asked to be on their mailing list. I’m pretty sure that’s happened with lots of groups across the country.
  • The Israeli propaganda machine is so strong buttressed by the US government propaganda.
  • Demonstrations have been huge . . . and the acts of civil disobedience.
  • My background is that I grew up with deeply committed Jewish parents who taught me to stand up for justice whenever and wherever and to be proud of who I was and never think I was better than another human being.
  • That was the framing through which I grew up. I thought I was going to connect to Israel and at first connected to what was called the Marxist-Zionist movement, which I understand is rather an oxymoron.
  • I think what I hadn’t looked at was the Nakba. In 1989 I was involved with the Road to Peace Conference which was held at Columbia University between Knesset members and PLO officials and it was illegal for Israeli Knesset members to meet with PLO officials so Edward Said arranged for us to be at Columbia.
  • I had been told there’s no group to talk with on the other side meaning the Palestinian side. Every group within Palestinian civil society and Palestinian political life showed up at the conference.
  • There are increased BDS actions that are taking place. BDS Initiatives Grow Around The World
  • BDSmovement.net / Endtheoccupation.org / JewishVoiceForPeace.org / Adalah.org / Contact  – JewsSayNo@gmail.com /

Guest – Donna Nevel is a member of the board of Jewish Voice for Peace.  She’s also a community psychologist and educator, coordinates the Participatory Action Research Center for Education Organizing (PARCEO) in partnership with the Educational Leadership Program at NYU Steinhardt, where she teaches PAR. She has been a long-time organizer for equity and racial justice in public education. She has been involved with Palestine/Israel peace and justice work since the 1970’s and is also part of groups to challenge Islamophobia and anti-Arab racism.

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Law and Disorder August 11, 2014


Updates:

  • Attorney Michael Smith Remembers 69th Anniversary of U.S. Dropping A-Bombs On Japan
  • Atomic Diplomacy: Hiroshima and Potsdam: The Use of the Atomic Bomb and the American Confrontation with Soviet Power

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The Logic of Israeli Violence

Ongoing reports of Israel engaging in senseless cruel violence against Palestinian people in Gaza throughout Operation Protective Edge is not a random bombing campaign but a strategic war experiment in colonial management as Greg Shupak explains in his recent article The Logic of Israeli Violence.  Shupak points out the attacks on civilians fleeing for shelter, the bombing of the medical infrastructure, fishing boats and wheat mills, killing Arab speaking journalists are in the larger plan of ethnicide and to render the Palestinian people dependent. His article reminds readers that there is a measured plan of attack to systematically erase the historic memory of the Palestinian society.

Greg Shupak:

  • There’s good reason to believe according to some reporting by 97 Magazine and Max Blumenthal that the Israeli security forces knew quite perfectly well the teens were almost certainly killed as soon as they were abducted and yet they carried on this charade of pretending that they could be rescued in some way.
  • Rocket fire from Hamas didn’t start until after Israel carried out strikes within Gaza, and carrying out various forms of killing Palestinian civilians and or people they described as militants.
  • The rockets were a response to Israeli violence.
  • Israeli propaganda has insinuated that these tunnels have in fact been used to kill Israeli civilians or that they may well be, but that simply has not happened.
  • If the aim was to destroy tunnels, Egypt which is being ruled by a brutal regime, in its own right, was able to get rid of these tunnels without killing huge numbers of civilians.
  • Israel’s aim vis a vis Gaza is to isolate Palestinians there from the outside world render them dependent on external benevolence and at the same time absolve Israel of responsibility toward them.
  • The thesis I put forth about the current violence of Operation Protective Edge, is that one way Israel is attempting to achieve that goal, that goal of Jewish supremacy in historic Palestine with as much land as possible and as few Palestinians as possible is to aim to obliterate Palestinians as a people with the capacity to live independently in their homeland.
  • The pattern of Israeli violence . . . is not only to kill and maim Palestinians but to impede their capacity to live autonomously in historic Palestine.
  • It’s a settler colonial project.
  • This is part of a longer term pattern. If you look at the work of Dr. Sarah Roy of Harvard she has documented extensively what she calls the deliberate de-development of the Gaza Strip economy.  She has warned that Gazans are at risk for mass starvation.
  • Five hospitals have been shut down. 24 health facilities have been damaged.
  • We also that there’s been direct strikes on hospitals from Israeli fire.
  • The ability of Palestinians to care for themselves has very much been undermined.
  • Two thirds of Gaza’s wheat mills are inoperative, 3000 of its herders are in need of animal feed. We’ve seen fishermen attacked, we’ve seen attacks on agricultural sites, these are all part of those processes that Sarah Roy has talked about in the longer term.
  • If religion is way for a cultural group to understand its identity then attacking the cultural institutions of that religion are ispo facto an attack on the people to have an identity.
  • When you attack an educational institution you undermine the ability of a people to educate their young, to train them for future work, to train them to think critically, to develop artists, and inventors and so on.
  • This to me is a very significant way for stifling a cultural groups independent existence.
  • At its simplest, Israel can be seen as a giant military base for the United States.

Guest – Greg Shupak, a writer, activist and PhD candidate at the University of Guelph’s School of English and Theatre Studies. He teaches Media Studies at the University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada.
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The National Security State: The End of Separation of Powers

Retired Professor of Law from Duke University Michael Tigar joins hosts to talk about his recent article The National Security State: The End of Separation of Powers published in the latest Monthly Review Magazine.  Michael has explained how the Executive branch of government has come to dominate both the Judicial and Legislative branches of the United States government.  Attorney Michael Tigar has been working on social issues for many years, his books include Law and The Rise of Capitalism, Fighting Injustice, and Thinking About Terrorism: The Threat To Civil Liberties In Times of National Emergency.

Attorney Michael Tigar:

  • The basic principle of constitutional government that is established in our Constitution is that the actions of the legislative and executive branches, particularly the executive branch, are always reviewable by independently appointed judges and that the legality of whatever the executive branch does harms any protected interest, citizen or otherwise ought to be reviewable in the courts of the United States.
  • The main thing about this is the harm to the judicial branch is in a real sense a self inflicted wound.
  • That is to say judges confronted with assertions of executive power have proven inadequate to the task of restraining exercises of executive power
  • We recall the massive illegality of the Japanese relocation at the beginning of the Second World War.
  • It is now been shown that the premise upon which that relocation took place confining Japanese-Americans in concentration camps was false.
  • At the time the Constitution was being debated Patrick Henry opposed the adoption of the Constitution on the ground that the ideal that independent judiciary could act as an effective check upon the exercise of executive power particularly military power was bound to be dis-proven in history.
  • Law is legal ideology. That is to say its erected around social relations. In every time of recorded history there is a sense in which the formal guarantees that rules of law make about individual rights are simply lies the regime tells the people in order to sustain itself.
  • That was the burden of book I wrote called Law and The Rise of Capitalism.
  • The ideal that you rally people to the cause of social change by promising them liberty is also not new.
  • The Cherokee people of Georgia read the Constitution and they said Aha, the Constitution guarantees that any group or individual can exercise certain social rights.
  • So they drafted a Constitution for their nation and set up institutions then they brought suit against the state of Georgia to enforce these rights, that the letter of the American Constitution guaranteed that.
  • What did Chief Justice Marshall say? What a minute, these are inferior and subject people. When the Constitution gives the right to all people, persons, citizens whatever, to bring lawsuits under Article 3 and to bring them to us, it wasn’t talking about these people.
  • Michael Ratner you and others, courageous lawyers who have been struggling to get reviewablility of unlawful executive action should not give up the fight.
  • The kinds of effort you make deserve support and turn out in historic context to be important.
  • Historically the role of lawyers has been to articulate people’s claims for justice.
  • What Edward Snowden and Julian Assange have done is reveal to the world fundamental defects in the way that the American political society has been operating and yet rather than saying thank you in some form of another, the government is hell-bent on prosecuting them.

Guest – Michael Tigar, a research professor of law. He holds expertise in Constitutional Law; Supreme Court; French legal system; criminal law and procedure; human rights. He is fluent in French. Tigar represented Terry Nichols in the Oklahoma City bombing trial. One of the most renowned lawyers in the country today, he has argued seven cases before the U.S. Supreme Court and more than 100 appellate cases. Tigar has written extensively about litigation, aspects of trial practice, criminal law, the death penalty, and the role of the criminal defense lawyer. His books include Fighting Injustice (ABA, 2002); Federal Appeals: Jurisdiction and Practice; and Examining Witnesses. In addition, he has written several plays about famous trials. Throughout his career, Tigar has been active in pro bono cases, the American Bar Association, continuing legal education programs, and international human rights. During the apartheid period, he went to South Africa to train black lawyers. Prior to joining AU, Tigar served as a professor at the University of Texas Law School.

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Law and Disorder August 4, 2014


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Folk Music, Labor Movements and Radical Politics

Especially in times of revolution or crisis, the role of music has been a defining element in telling the stories of labor movements, against the war in Vietnam and civil rights. Folk musician Eli Smith gave a presentation at the Left Forum this year on satirical songs of the IWW including the work of Joe Hill and many others. The early works of Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie are a great place to start along with the lesser known work of John L. Handcox, and the Southern Tenant Farmers Union. It was the first racially integrated union in the South that used indigenous folk music to fight for the rights of sharecroppers.

Guest – Eli Smith, a banjo player, writer, researcher and promoter of folk music living in New York City. Eli is a Smithsonian Folkways recording artist and produces two folk festivals annually, the Brooklyn Folk Festival in the Spring and Washington Square Park Folk Festival in the Fall.  He has appeared as a guest on terrestrial radio stations such as WBAI, WNYC, WKCR and WDST in New York and KPFA, KPFK and KUCI in California. Eli has presented panels and discussions on folk music at the Left Forum conference at Cooper Union and at the Podcamp podcasting conference in New York City. He has performed and recorded with his old time string band The Down Hill Strugglers, Peter Stampfel, John Cohen and Sam Shepard. The Down Hill Strugglers were recently featured on the soundtrack album to the Coen Brothers’ film “Inside Llewyn Davis,” which was produced by T Bone Burnett.

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Terrorization of Dissent: Corporate Repression, Legal Corruption, and the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act

Terrorization of Dissent: Corporate Repression, Legal Corruption, and the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act is a collection of essays by lawyers, scholars and activists that includes interviews with those who suffered from the AETA’s conspiracy provisions. Editors Jason Del Gandio and Anthony Nocella have compiled essential information to document how the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act is a clear violation of the First Amendment. Specifically, the book documents how corporations and the U.S. Government conspire under this law to prosecute animal rights activists and acts of civil disobedience involving environmental issues under the specter of terrorism. Right now, according to Nocella and Del Gandio, corporate profit determines what can or can’t be done to animals and the environment.

Anthony Nocella:

  • The importance of this act has really shaped how the government looks at one of the larger movements in the United States.
  • The animal advocacy, animal rights, animal liberation movements have been demonized and stigmatized as terrorists, through the media and the government through this particular act.
  • What are the effects of this law? Who influenced this act to be pushed into law? It wasn’t really government.
  • There were main organizations that pushed this law into effect. The Animal Enterprise Protection Coalition, The Animal Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) The Center for Consumer Freedom.
  • Any logical CEO of a corporation will say I don’t want anything to threaten my product.
  • That product in the case of animals is any where from circuses to sea world, to clothing, from leather to fur, to also eating.
  • We can do away with circuses and fur and a lot of different clothing, but one thing we can’t live without is food.
  • We have to look at the real conflict and that’s between food.
  • Do we want people to have a plant based diet or an animal based diet?
  • There are hundreds of billions of dollars protecting that paradigm of people eating meat, fish and chicken.
  • If anyone threatens that industry, under the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, you’re deemed a terrorist.
  • To wash away all the rhetoric that is what this law is specifically speaking about. That’s why it was expanded from the Animal Enterprise Protection Act to the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act.
  • CCR Condemns Terrorism Indictment for Activists Freeing Mink from Fur Farms
  • The point is – regarding the book, law schools, political science departments, think tanks, need a text that comes from a variety of viewpoints specifically looking at the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act.
  • I think we have understand the difference between how corporations are influencing laws and literally writing the bills into laws and into effect, while political repression is really law enforcement and senators influencing laws.
  • We’re not criminalizing activists like we did in the 70s and 80s, now we’re labeling them as terrorists.
  • National Weekend of the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act – Sept 5-6-7, 2014
  • Website – The Institute For Critical Animal Studies

Guest – Anthony Nocella II, Ph.D., an intersectional academic-activist, is Senior Fellow of the Dispute Resolution Institute at the Hamline Law School, co-founder and Director of the Institute for Critical Animal Studies, and editor of the Peace Studies Journal. He has published more than sixteen books including Terrorists or Freedom Fighters?: Reflections on the Liberation of Animals (2004), Call to Compassion: Religious Perspectives on Animal Advocacy (2011), and Defining Critical Animal Studies: An Intersectional Social Justice Approach for Liberation (2014).

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