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Law and Disorder February 8, 2016


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Public Water Crisis Flint Michigan: Attorney Bill Goodman

We take another look at the public water crisis in Flint, Michigan. The legal cases being brought are being litigated at the intersection of environmental racism and capitalist austerity. Flint, a predominantly impoverished African-American city north of Detroit, had an emergency manager imposed on it by Tea Party Governor Rick Snyder. The emergency manager, acting outside of democratic controls, switched the clean water supplied to the city from the Detroit water system to the polluted Flint River claiming this would save money. Chemicals added to the filthy Flint River water caused lead from the supply pipes to leech into the drinking water.  This caused lead poisoning to thousands of children in Flint. Lead poisoning is known to cause irreversible brain damage. FlintWaterClassAction.com

Guest – Bill Goodman is the attorney for a number of victims of water poisoning in Flint, Michigan. He’s a leading civil rights attorney in Michigan and the former Legal Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights.

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Remembering Attorney Michael Kennedy

We speak today with Bernadine Dohrn about the late Attorney Michael Kennedy. Kennedy died two weeks ago in New York City from cancer at the age of 78.  He was one of the great civil rights in criminal law defense attorneys of his generation. Kennedy graduated from law school in California and began his career representing Cesar Chavez and the migrant farm workers. He also represented Black Panther leader Huey Newton and SDS leaders Rennie Davis and Bernadine Dohrn and Native American protesters at Wounded Knee, South Dakota. He later moved to New York and became staff counsel for the National Emergency Civil Liberties Committee where he represented opponents of the war in Vietnam and supporters of the Irish freedom struggle.

Guest – Bernadine Dohrn, former leader of SDS and longtime member of the National Lawyers Guild where she served a student organizer in the late 60s.  Until recently Bernadine Dorh taught law at Northwestern University Law School supporting justice for juveniles.

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Law and Disorder January 25, 2016


Updates:

  • Co-host Michael Smith Makes Presidential Election Prediction

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Mumia Abu-Jamal Health Lawsuit Update

For three days in late December, the 3rd Circuit Federal District Court heard Mumia Abu-Jamal’s lawsuit against the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections for refusal to provide him treatment for Hepatitis C.  Testimony from Dr. Paul Noel, Chief Medical Officer of the Pennsylvania DOC revealed that under the DOC’s new protocols only 5 out of an estimated 5,000 prisoners with chronic Hepatitis C were being treated with the new anti-viral drug beginning this fall – less than 1/10th of one percent.

The trial ended with a stunning revelation that the lawyer representing the DOC had knowingly introduced false evidence. Dr. Noel was the final witness; he stated that an affidavit introduced by defense attorney Laura Neal bearing his signature was NOT his actual testimony. It quickly became evident that the DOC attorney had ignored Dr. Noel’s repeated requests not to insert an erroneous paragraph into the document–in other words, she tampered with the evidence.  This same altered affidavit had been a key piece of evidence used by a PA magistrate judge in September to deny Mumia’s injunction against the DOC.

Guest – Bob Boyle, one of Mumia’s attorneys and a long time National Lawyers Guild member.

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Guantanamo Bay Prison: 14 years

As of January 2016 more than 100 men remain at the U.S. military prison at Guantánamo Bay in Cuba. While our own Michael Ratner was president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, a network of hundreds of lawyers were at the forefront of the legal battle against indefinite detention and torture at Guantanamo. After the Center won landmark Supreme Court cases that established U.S. court jurisdiction over the prison and affirming detainee rights to habeas corpus review, hundreds of Muslim men and boys were gradually released from the offshore prison. Keep in mind the majority of the men at that prison weren’t charged with a crime. Many have been cleared for release yet remain trapped by political inaction or other bureaucracy. The pressure from concerned activist groups, organizations and citizens calling on the president of the United States to close Guantanamo has gained momentum.

Guest – Aliya Hussain, the Advocacy Program Manager for the Guantanamo Global Justice Initiative at the Center for Constitutional Rights.

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Drinking Water Crisis in Flint, Michigan

A severe water crisis in the city of Flint, Michigan is attracting mounting concern from around the country. Politicians, celebrities and even presidential candidates are focusing on the toxic tap water in one of Michigan’s biggest and most troubled cities. When the state took charge of the City’s budget during a financial emergency, it decided to temporarily switch Flint’s water source from Lake Huron to the Flint River to save money until a new supply line to Lake Huron was finished. After the April 2014 changeover, residents complained about water looking, smelling, and tasting odd. Virginia Tech researchers revealed that the water was highly corrosive. A class-action lawsuit alleges the state Department of Environmental Quality failed to treat the water for corrosion, as federal law requires, and because so many service lines to Flint are made of lead, the toxic element leached into the water of the city’s homes. Although the city switched back to the Lake Huron water supply in October, the damage was already done to the lead pipes. The state is now handing out filters and bottled water with the National Guard.

Guest – Sheila Foster, the Albert A. Wash Professor of Law at Fordham Law School and Faculty Co-Director of the Urban Law center at Fordham University.

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Law and Disorder January 11, 2016


Updates:

  • Volkswagen Could Face Up to $80 Billion in Penalties From U.S. Emissions Lawsuit
  • Co-host Heidi Boghosian Reads A Poem By Bill Ayers

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Lawyers You’ll Like: Attorney Abdeen Jabara

Abdeen Jabara is a New York based civil rights attorney and co-founder of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. He was involved in a groundbreaking court case in the 1970s that forced the NSA to acknowledge it had been spying on him since 1967. At the time of the spying, Abdeen was a lawyer in Detroit representing Arab-American clients and people being targeted by the FBI. The disclosure was the first time the NSA admitted it had spied on an American.

He also took on the cases of people harassed by the FBI which had stepped up efforts to surveil Arab activists in the aftermath of the 1967 war, when the U.S. alliance with Israel was solidified. Abdeen was caught up in what was called “Operation Boulder,” a Nixon administration-era program that placed Arabs under surveillance.

Guest – Abdeen Jabara is a member of the legal advisory board for the American Muslim Council, a past president of the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee, a former board member of the Center for Constitutional Rights and former co-counsel with Lynne Stewart for Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman. He is an active member of the National Lawyers Guild.

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Law and Disorder January 4, 2016


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U.S. Pressed on Israeli Settlement Tax Breaks

The U.S. Treasury has long turned a blind eye to as many as 150 nonprofits that funnel up to $1 billion a year to Israeli settlements, according to a federal complaint filed in December. It now finds itself as a defendant in a just filed a lawsuit by Washington DC attorney Mark McMahon. Rather than engaging in “charitable activities,” these nonprofits—supported by US donations—are allegedly fueling land theft, forcible expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their land, demolition of homes and paramilitary activities carried out by armed Israeli settlers against Palestinian civilians. Some of the tax-exempt entities include the Hebron Fund, the Gush Etzion Foundation, American Friends of Ariel and Friends of the Israeli Defense Forces.

Pro bono attorney for the plaintiffs in the case, Martin McMahon, claims that huge tax deductions are being taken that support ethnic cleansing of Palestinians. Proving the allegations could lead the U.S. to designate these entities as “special designated global terrorists,” stripping them of their tax-exempt status and freezing their assets, he says. In addition to entrenching Israel’s occupation of Palestine, the complaint alleges that these organizations have undermined U.S. foreign policy in support of a Palestinian state and helped breed the conditions from which Palestinian violent resistance emerges. It alleges that the Treasury’s “double standard” in enforcing its own regulations has led to the proliferation of the Israeli settlement enterprise, resulting in up to $1 trillion in lost U.S. tax revenue.

Guest – Attorney Martin McMahon, the founding member and managing partner of Martin F. McMahon & Associates. He has extensive experience in the securities industry, civil rights litigation, and has argued in over 10 appellate cases before the D.C. Court of Appeals and Maryland Court of Appeals.

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Islamophobia 2016

After 9/11, and now in response to recent events around the globe, thousands of innocent Muslims continue to be monitored, entrapped, and arrested in the name of subverting radicalized terrorism. Hateful rhetoric from presidential candidate Donald Trump and others have inflamed anti-Muslim stereotypes and led to numerous instances of hate crimes.

Joining us to discuss law enforcement ideologies and strategies, as well as the general public’s perceptions of Muslims, is Arun Kundnani, author of the 2014 book The Muslims Are Coming! Islamophobia, extremism, and the Domestic War on Terror.

Guest – Arun Kundani – Born and bred in London, Arun moved to New York in 2010 on a fellowship with the Open Society Foundations. He lives in Harlem. He is also the author of The End of Tolerance: Racism in 21st Century Britain, selected as a New Statesman book of the year in 2007. A former editor of the journal Race & Class, he attended Cambridge University, holds a PhD from London Metropolitan University, and teaches at New York University.

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Law and Disorder December 28, 2015


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Mumia Abu-Jamal Lawsuit Update

Mumia Abu-Jamal has gone to federal court in Scranton, Pennsylvania to get an order compelling the state of Pennsylvania to provide him with medical care for Hepatitis C.  Mumia has suffered symptoms of slurred words, elephants skin, scales and bloody cracks in his skin on 90 percent of his body. Other symptoms include extreme weakness, swelling of his limbs and loss of mental acuity. Mumia Abu-Jamal is being represented by Bret Grote of the Abolitionist Law Center and by Robert Boyle a National Lawyers Guild lawyer and prisoner’s rights advocate.

Guest – David Lindorff, is an American investigative reporter, a columnist for CounterPunch, and a contributor to Businessweek, The Nation, Extra! and Salon.com. His work was highlighted by Project Censored 2004, 2011 and 2012. Born in 1949, Lindorff lives just outside Philadelphia. He currently writes for ThisCantBeHappening.

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The General’s Son, Journey of an Israeli in Palestine

Miko Peled is an Israeli writer and activist living in the US. He was born and raised in Jerusalem. His father was the late Israeli General Matti Peled. Driven by a personal family tragedy to explore Palestine, its people and their narrative. He has written a book about his journey from the sphere of the privileged Israeli to that of the oppressed Palestinians. Peled speaks nationally and internationally on the issue of Palestine. He supports the creation of a single democratic state in all of Palestine, and a firm supporter of BDS.

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Trotskyists on Trial: Free Speech and Political Persecution Since the Age of FDR

The American war against Iraq, originally called Operation Iraqi liberation, (O.I.L.) was not fought, as we can clearly see now, to bring freedom and democracy to Iraq. But what about World War II, often called “the good war”?  There were socialists indicted tried and convicted for opposing the American government’s aims in World War II, which they said was an imperialist war for markets and territories. They were falsely accused of conspiracy to overthrow the American government by force and violence,  a thought crime,  and imprisoned in Minnesota before the American government got involved in the war, that is, during peacetime.  This was accomplished by the Roosevelt government, urged on by J Edgar Hoover and the FBI.  The indictments and convictions were secured under the recently passed alien and registration act, known as the Smith Act, named after its sponsor Howard K Smith, a southern anti-labor racist democratic senator.  Back then in 1941 fear was marshaled against socialists union liters who were called subversives just as fear is used now against Muslims and terrorists.

Guest – Professor Donna Haverty-Stacke, is an Associate Professor of History and Roosevelt House Faculty Associate at Hunter College, CUNY where she teaches courses in U.S. cultural, urban and labor history.  She received her BA in American Studies from Georgetown University in May 1994.  As the recipient of the Joseph L. Allbritton Scholarship she studied at Brasenose College, Oxford University where she earned an MSt in Historical Research in 1995 and an MLitt in Modern History in 1997.  She then attended Cornell University, where she graduated with a PhD in History in May 2003.

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Law and Disorder December 21, 2015


Updates:

  • Co-host Attorney Michael Smith Reflects On The Anti-Union Oppression In Detroit And Wisconsin In The Late 50s

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Trumbo

In the late 1930s and early 40s, many artists, writers, and intellectuals who sympathized with the poor, the labor movement, and the fights against racism and fascism aligned themselves with the Communist Party – which was then following the Stalinist policy of the “popular front”.  Hence, when the governments anti-Communist witch-hunt got underway soon after the end of the second world war in 1946, many in Hollywood were placed under suspicion. Lists of names were drawn up, and those named were subpoenaed by the house committee on un-American activities (HUAC). Novelist and screenwriter Dalton Trumbo had joined the Communist Party in 1943, and he was on that list. In 1947, when called to testify before the HUAC, Trumbo refused to testify on the basis of freedom of association and freedom of thought, both supposedly guaranteed by the First Amendment to the constitution known as the Bill of Rights.  Trumbo spent 11 months in federal prison in Kentucky. He was blacklisted and couldn’t get a job in Hollywood for 13 years, but won Oscars is for two movies that came out under other names. The movie Trumbo starring Bryan Cranston does an effective job of showing the fear of communism that was generated in those dark times and how it decimated Hollywood and was used for thought control.

Guest – Zachary Sklar, Oscar-nominated co-screenwriter of Oliver Stone’s film JFK, and author of the book JFK: The Book of the Film. He’s a journalist, and a professor at the Columbia School of Journalism. He was also a contributor to The Lies of Our Times, a monthly journal dedicated to exposing the truth behind the mainstream media. Zach collaborated with director Oliver Stone on the screenplay of the movie “JFK” and was editor of Jim Garrison’s book “On the Trail of the Assassins.”

Outgoing song – “Nothing” by the Fugs, performed by the Down Hill Strugglers

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Climate Change Conference COP21

The meeting on controlling climate change by reducing greenhouse gases produced by fossil fuels concluded in Paris last week and involved representatives from every nation in the world. The agreement that came out a Paris is widely believed by climate change activists to be not nearly enough; That we need more reductions or our very existence is threatened. Critics of the talks say that it fell short because there were no timetables and no targets and no binding commitments.

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 December 14, 2015


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Drug Policy Alliance Looking Forward

In slow yet incremental steps, progress is being made toward establishing more sensible and humane drug policies in the United States.

The past half century has been characterized by politically-motivated hysteria around the so-called War on Drugs, resulting in harsh sentencing laws, and a subsequent soaring of mass incarceration rates. Half of the federal prison population is in for drug offenses, and the result has been highly detrimental to families and communities.

Two years ago former Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the Justice Department would begin to reassess the draconian mandatory minimum sentences on non-violent drug offenders that disproportionately target young African American and Latino males. Such public pronouncements, along with continued grassroots organizing, and heightened public awareness that the War on Drugs has been an abysmal failure, are helping to shift the tide in drug policies. The Drug Policy Alliance has made measurable strides in criminal justice reforms such as in helping to  decriminalize marijuana in Colorado and Washington.

Guest – Ethan Nadelmann, founder and executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, the leading organization in the United States promoting alternatives to the war on drugs. Nadelmann received his B.A., J.D., and Ph.D. in Political Science from Harvard as well as a Masters’ degree in International Relations from the London School of Economics, and taught at Princeton University for seven years. He has authored two books – Cops Across Borders and (with Peter Andreas) Policing The Globe – and his writings have appeared in most major media outlets in the U.S. as well as top academic journals.

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Radicals In America: The US Left Since The Second World War

Radicals in the United States, often controversial and frequently dismissed by the status quo, have nonetheless played a significant role in mobilizing social justice movements.  In the recently published book “Radicals in America: The U.S. Left since the Second World War,” authors Christopher Phelps and Howard Brick have compiled
a comprehensive history of radicalism that includes the 1999 WTO protests in Seattle through the Occupy Wall Street movement.

The list of accomplishments by the Left is significant, including: racial integration, desegregation of the armed forces, the maintenance of labor unions for nearly 50 years until the election of President Ronald Reagan, the rise of feminism, abortion-rights, and the American withdrawal from Vietnam. The authors of Radicals in America explain how successive generations join movements of dissent, face political setbacks and repression and yet still have succeeded in sparking the imagination among mass movements.

Guest – Christopher Phelps, historian of modern American political and intellectual life. Born near Washington, D.C., he has taught at universities in five countries: Britain, the United States, Poland, Hungary, and Canada. He is author of the intellectual biography Young Sidney Hook (Cornell, 1997; 2d ed., Michigan, 2005) and Radicals in America (Cambridge, 2015), a comprehensive history of the American left since the Second World War co-authored with Howard Brick.

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Law and Disorder November 30, 2015


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Lawyers You’ll Like – Attorney  Carol Sobel

As part of our Lawyers You’ll Like series, we’re joined today by civil rights attorney Carol Sobel. Attorney Sobel has spent more than 2 decades working in various positions for the ACLU, including as Senior Staff Attorney. She also chaired the National Lawyers Guild mass defense committee for many years helping coordinate a nationwide defense of Occupy protesters and marshaling legal defense at several Democratic and Republican National conventions.

Carol has been involved in numerous significant cases in federal and state courts including on behalf of homeless individuals on Los Angeles’ skid row. She has been involved in numerous significant cases in federal and state courts. She served as local counsel for the Center for Constitutional Rights in Humanitarian Law Project v. Ashcroft and served on the Rampart Blue Ribbon Panel investigating police corruption in California. A graduate of the Peoples College of Law, since 2002, Carol has been named as one of Los Angeles’ Super Lawyers for Civil Rights.

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The War ISIS Wants: Nafees Hamid

Today we take a look into the psychology of terrorist recruitment and mindset in the wake of the coordinated attacks in Paris carried out by the Islamic state. We also look at the profound allure of the propaganda bringing young Muslims in to join ISIS and become a Mujahid. The transition from regular person to a warrior willing to die for the revolution happens quickly. In the article titled Paris: The War ISIS Wants by Scott Atran and Nafees Hamid, the ISIS movement is described as a trans-national movement, a sub state that doesn’t depend on an infrastructure of a state system. That and ISIS’s unitary message and appeal has created a big problem for the west using military action and ramped up mass surveillance to combat and intercept terrorist acts.

Guest – Nafees Hamid, Social Psychologist Nafees Hamid of University College London, researcher, actor and author of many articles including The War ISIS Wants.

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Law and Disorder November 16, 2015


Updates:

  • University of Illinois Reaches Tentative Settlement With Professor Steven Salaita

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Wedlocked: Law Professor Katherine Franke

While the movement for marriage equality by the LGBT rights community has been a leading civil rights issue of the 21st century, it’s not the first movement seeking the right to marry. Slaves who were freed in the 1860s also organized for, and ultimately won, the right to marry at the end of the Civil War. As Professor Katherine Franke argues in her new book, WEDLOCKED: The Perils of Marriage Equality: How African Americans and Gays Mistakenly Thought the Right to Marry Would Set Them Free, tying the definition of free and equal citizenship so intimately to the institution of marriage presents its own set of problems.

In Wedlocked, Professor Franke meticulously compares firsthand accounts of African Americans’ struggle for freedom and civil rights with lessons for today’s marriage equality movement. This association offers two lessons: first, be careful what you wish for, as the backlash against new rights holders may set back the larger cause for equality; and second, the two movements for marriage rights may help expose the differences between racism and homophobia.

Guest – Professor Katherine Franke is the Isidor and Seville Sulzbacher Professor of Law at Columbia Law School, where she directs the Center for Gender and Sexuality Law. She is among the nation’s leading scholars in the area of feminism, sexuality and race.

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Remembering Attorney Liz Fink

Civil rights and criminal defense attorney Liz Fink was remembered last week at the Union Theological Seminary in New York City.  She was best remembered for the work she began as a young woman when prisoners rioted and took over a part of Attica Prison in 1971. Liz got involved when Senator Nelson Rockefeller, who was running for president and didn’t want anything unseemly to happen in his state, ordered the retaking of the Attica Prison. Forty-three people were killed including a number of prison guards.

Liz Fink was on the defense team for those charged with crimes and then she brought an offensive civil suit against Rockefeller and the other state and prison officials who were responsible for these murders. Three decades later the suit was settled for $12 million. Liz Fink was also a long time member of the National Lawyers Guild. We hear selected speeches from the event remembering Attorney Liz Fink.

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Law and Disorder November 2, 2015


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Tapping In To The Flow: NSA Global Surveillance

We spoke with the director of the Library Freedom Project about a New Hampshire library standing its ground by using the TOR browser to protect the anonymity of its patrons from DHS surveillance. A victory yes, but also another stark reminder of what society now confronts while under a total surveillance state. Government spying technology has quietly built up its networks and invisible webs of surveillance. It’s mostly unseen, data passing through the air, cables behind walls, in the ground and underwater.  Trevor Paglen brings these images and concepts into the public consciousness in his recent exhibit at a New York City Chelsea gallery.

Guest – Trevor Paglen has photographed and written about drones, military black sites and satellites. He’s an artist, image maker, journalist and engineer. He holds a PhD in experimental geography and contributed research and cinematography to the Academy Award-winning film Citizen Four.

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National Lawyers Guild Convention 2015

Natasha Bannan is the president of the National Lawyers Guild, as well as a human rights lawyer and Associate Counsel at LatinoJustice PRLDEF. At that national civil rights organization she works with low-wage Latina immigrant workers, and on the domestic implementation of human rights norms. Previously, she worked in the International Women’s Human Rights Clinic at CUNY School of Law and at the Center for Reproductive Rights. While attending CUNY School of Law, she was Editor-in-Chief of the CUNY Law Review and a Fellow at the Center for Latino and Latina Rights and Equality.

Guest – Natasha Lycia Ora Bannan, president of the National Lawyers Guild has advocated before international and regional human rights bodies on issues including colonialism, sexual violence in armed conflict, reproductive rights violations and hate crimes.  She has written several articles and reports, specifically on gender and human rights. Natasha also co-chairs the National Lawyers Guild’s Subcommittee on Puerto Rico.

 

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