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Law and Disorder August 24, 2015


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Julian Assange And Chelsea Manning Update

Attorney Carey Shenkman joins co-host Heidi Boghosian to discuss the latest developments in Julian Assange’s case. Carey also provides updates on Wikileaks whistleblower Chelsea Manning. Chelsea was accused of having contraband in her cell, that included a copy of the US Senate Torture Report, a Vanity Fair magazine and toothpaste. Manning received 21 days of recreational restrictions limiting access to the gym, library and outdoors. The maximum punishment she could have faced was indefinite solitary confinement.

Guest – Carey Shenkman  is a First Amendment and human rights attorney working for Michael Ratner, President Emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR). Formerly at CCR, Carey worked on litigation on behalf of the press in the court-martial of whistle-blower Chelsea Manning. Carey holds two degrees in mathematics, and is an alumnus of NYU Law School, where he was an editor on the NYU Law Review. He can be reached on Twitter @CareyShenkman

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Structural Integrity At Question During TransCanada’s Keystone XL Permit Renewal Hearing 

The structural integrity of the TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline has been called into question. Newly released evidence and testimony points to potentially serious environmental risks.  During a recent permit renewal hearing in that state, evidence submitted by the grassroots citizens group Dakota Rural Action reveals faulty construction that has the potential to cause pitting and ultimately lead to environmental disasters. The newly documented evidence suggests that the risk to water sources and agricultural lands near the proposed oil export pipeline is too high. The current export pipeline stretches across the US-Canada border and runs parallel with the Mississippi River.

Guest – Attorney Robin Martinez of the Dakota Rural Action group is working to stop the permit. Documents he submitted during the legal discovery process reveal that the corrosion occurred on the existing pipeline dangerously close to the Mississippi River near St. Louis.

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1971

On March 8th 1971, a group of anonymous individuals calling themselves the Citizen’s Commission to Investigate the FBI, broke into an FBI field office in Media, Pennsylvania. They stole thousands of government documents. Among the documents was proof that the FBI under J. Edgar Hoover, was spying on law abiding citizens. The program is known as COINTELPRO and it was used to monitor, manipulate and disrupt social and political movements in the United States. The Citizens’ Commission to Investigate the FBI has been documented recently in a highly acclaimed film titled 1971, directed by Johanna Hamilton.

Johanna Hamilton:

  • I consider myself to have the good fortune to have known Betty Medsger, the author of the Burglary, for many years.
  • She and I had a personal relationship that long predated our professional collaboration.
  • Over time she came to share the outlines of the story with me and it sounded completely remarkable.
  • She introduced me to a few members of the Citizens Commission to Investigate the FBI. The 40th anniversary was approaching.
  • They wanted the story, which was so little known, to have a larger life.
  • To be clear, Betty worked many years on the book. She’s done remarkable and profound research and I joined much later and was the net beneficiary of so much of her research.
  • There were four years where we worked in tandem.
  • When I showed the film to the Citizens Commission, while the credits rolled, Keith (Keith Forsyth – the lock picker) especially, he got up and said, good job.
  • It’s a period of history I’ve been fascinated with since I was a teenager. It was the story of these extraordinary ordinary individuals who had put everything on the line and taken such great personal risk to benefit democracy.
  • They trained themselves for one night of crime. They steal all the documents in the office, leak them to the press. They send them to major newspapers, and to a couple politicians. In the end, the Washington Post is the only newspaper that decides to publish the first stories.
  • Those first stories reveal with out question illegal government spying on citizens who are going about their daily lives and exercising their First Amendment rights.
  • Betty wrote the first stories in the Washington Post and the story fades a little from the headlines. The Pentagon Papers explode 3 or 4 months later. Daniel Ellsberg is on the scene.
  • Then our story picks up again.
  • It seems inconceivable now but Hoover had been director for over 50 years, and that’s no longer possible.
  • Some people who seen the film before say they were really moved by the Church Committee hearings.
  • Attorney David Kairys is a huge figure in Philadelphia and yes back in the day he was contacted by two members of the Citizens Commission. He didn’t know what they had done, but if they got caught, they could call him day or night.
  • We were reaching the tail end, or we thought we were reaching the tail end of the film when the Snowden revelations happened.
  • The Snowden revelations were one thing, absolute bombshell, but prior to that we had a couple of other instances. Back in 2011, September, there were raids all across the country, animal rights activists, environmental groups. One night Brian Williams introduced the news and described these raids and said you know its reminiscent of Hoover back in the 1970s.
  • We had whole scenes cut together with that footage and debated and deliberated on that. In the end erred on the side of excluding it.
  • It’s opening here in New York City and will start rolling out across the country. If you check our website we update the cities that it will show at. It will be on PBS, Independent Lens at the end of May. 1971Film.com

Guest – Johanna Hamilton, director of the film 1971. She also co-produced Pray the Devil Back to Hell, which won Best Documentary at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2008 and was shortlisted for an Academy Award. Johanna has produced nonfiction programs for PBS, The History Channel, National Geographic, A&E, Discovery Channel, and The Washington Post/Newsweek Productions, including September’s Children, a documentary for PBS exploring how children around the world are affected by terrorism and war.

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Law and Disorder August 10, 2015


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Lawyers You’ll Like : Attorney Linda Backiel

As part of our Lawyers You’ll Like series today we speak with attorney Linda Backiel. She’s a lawyer and poet living in San Juan, Puerto Rico. She’s played an instrumental role in defending independentistas in the fight against colonialism in Puerto Rico. As part of that struggle she defended those who were ultimately successful in kicking the military out of Vieques. A small island near Puerto Rico. For 40 years of law practice, she devoted much of her energy to the defense of political prisoners often with her friend and mentor, Lenny Weinglass. A Poem For Lenny Weinglass.

Guest – Attorney Linda Backiel, a criminal defense attorney and poet living and practicing law in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Here is Linda Backiel’s transcript  from the talk she gave at the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Criminal Justice Act.

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Rubin “Hurricane” Carter 1937-2014

In April of this year, celebrated boxer and prisoner-rights activist Rubin “Hurricane” Carter died at the age of 76. He had become an international symbol of racial injustice after his wrongful murder conviction forced him to spend 19 years in prison. Carter was arrested for a triple murder in his hometown of Patterson, New Jersey. He said he was innocent, was convicted by an all white jury, and sentenced to three consecutive life sentences. In 1976, the New Jersey State Supreme Court overturned his conviction on grounds the authorities withheld material evidence from the defense. But Carter was convicted again in a second trial in 1976. In 1985, that conviction was overturned by a U.S. district court judge, who concluded the state made an unconstitutional appeal to racial prejudice. In 1988, the Passaic, New Jersey, Prosecutor’s Office dropped all charges against Carter.

Attorney Myron Beldock:

  • He was a defendant in a criminal case in New Jersey involved the triple shooting and three murders of 3 people in the Lafayette bar in Patterson, New Jersey.
  • He and his co-defendant John Artis were represented at the first trial and they lost, (convicted) and Rubin started his campaign to get out of jail and wrote his book the 16th Round.
  • He was charismatic and powerful, a great thinker, very very intellectually strong person as well as being spiritually strong.
  • Almost a typical case, high profile case, where you get people who are vulnerable and easily manipulated because of their need for their own benefits to falsely testify.
  • We set aside the convictions when we learned about the benefits that were given to the witnesses.
  • We went again to trial in 1975. At that time the atmosphere had changed. There was a new prosecutor, they came up with a theory that it was actually a racial revenge killing.
  • Earlier that night, a white former bar owner had shot and killed the black purchaser of the bar from him.
  • That was always known and there was no motives attributed to the killings in the first trial but the second trial really based on speculation and bias, they argued persuasively to the jury that this was a racial revenge killing.
  • Mr. Bellow who was the supposed eye witness who testified, there were two of them in the first trial, was being questioned by me on the stand as to why he recanted his recantation. The prosecutor persuaded him to again tell the story he told at the first trial, identifying Rubin and John and I was trying to establish that they had falsely manipulated him when I was pulled into the chambers along with my co-counsel Louis Steele who represented John Artis and told that if I question him further, the jury would learn that he passed the lie detector test, supporting what he said at the first trial. Supporting his identification (of Rubin Carter)
  • We did have that test. It seemed like that was the result because that’s the way it was written. In fact that was a fraud.
  • The polygraph results were completely opposite of what they were purported to be.
  • The prosecutors in that case, two of them became judges, rewarded for what they did.
  • Rubin was not a popular person, he had been an outspoken civil rights person.  It was a cesspool of rumors without any evidentiary basis.
  • The entire community there almost in Passaic New Jersey treated us like we were the devil.
  • It was the coldest community reception I ever encountered in any place.
  • Rubin would call every year (from Canada) on the anniversary of his release.  He got a group of Canadian do-gooders and free thinkers to join him in fighting to set aside convictions for people who were wrongly convicted in Canada.
  • He would vet the briefs that we sent. He was a very unusual client.
  • Rubin refused to act as a prisoner because he wasn’t anyone who was guilty he said.
  • So, he didn’t eat prison food, he didn’t take prisoner assignments, he didn’t wear prison clothes and somehow or other he was able to pull that off.
  • People think of it as being another time, I’ve been practicing law long enough and I don’t think anything changes.
  • The same kind of bias runs deep throughout the community its just masked somewhat differently.
  • You make your luck in these cases, you have to forge ahead.
  • His insistence on being an innocent person and will not compromise with the system is the kind of inspiration that pushes us on as lawyers.

Guest – Attorney Myron Beldock, graduated from Erasmus Hall High School in 1946, Hamilton College in 1950 and Harvard Law School in 1958. He served in the U.S. Army from 1951 to 1954 and as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Eastern District of New York from 1958 to 1960. After several years as an associate with a small New York City firm and as a single practitioner, he brought together two friends and former Assistant U.S. Attorneys, Elliot Hoffman and Larry Levine, to form Beldock Levine & Hoffman in 1964. He is best described, by his own definition, as an old-time general practitioner. He concentrates on trial and appellate litigation, in state and federal courts, in defense of criminal charges and in pursuing plaintiffs’ civil rights actions based on police and prosecutorial misconduct and employer and governmental discrimination. He regularly consults and defends charges of professional discipline. He represents plaintiffs and defendants in a wide variety of personal and business related matters, working with others in the firm’s various practice areas.

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Law and Disorder July 27, 2015


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Cuban Embassy Reopens in Washington DC After 54 Years

The Cuban Embassy had closed down in 1961. It reopened on Monday July 20, 2015. The Cuban flag was flown in front of the three-story building in Washington D.C. Our own Michael Ratner and Michael Smith were there and report back. Let Cuba Be Cuba: An Embassy Re-Opens In Washington by Michael Steven Smith.

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.

Law and Disorder Co-host Michael Steven Smith is the author, editor, and co-editor of many books, mostly recently Imagine: Living In A Socialist U.S.A. and “The Emerging Police State,” by William M. Kunstler. He has testified before committees of the United States Congress and the United Nations on human rights issues. Mr. Smith lives and practices law in New York City with his wife Debby, where on behalf of seriously injured persons he sues insurance companies and occasionally the New York City Police Department. Michael Smith has also organized and chaired the Left Forum.

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Greece Economic Crisis, More Austerity And The Plan Moving Forward

Two weeks ago we spoke with Dan Georgakas, a regular columnist for the Greek American newspaper the National Herald. Dan is the co-author of the book Detroit, I Do Mind Dying. He joins us for an update.

Guest – Dan Georgakas, regular columnist for the National Herald, the leading Greek American weekly newspaper co-author of Detroit: I Do Mind Dying and co-editor of Solidarity Forever: An Oral History of the IWW.  He was a frequent contributor to now defunct Journal of the Hellenic Diaspora and the Journal of Modern Hellenism. Dan has taught at NYU, CUNY, Van Arsdale Labor College, Columbia University and University of Oklahoma.

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Susan Rosenberg, An American Radical Discusses President Obama’s Record Of Pardons And Commutations

Using his presidential pardon power sparingly, President Barack Obama recently ordered the release of 46 nonviolent drug offenders. Despite his calls for reducing the size of the nation’s prison population, and despite making history as the first president to visit a federal prison, his record on pardons and commutations is not great. According the U.S. Department of Justice which has recorded clemency statistics since William McKinley presidency, Obama has granted the least number of pardons in history. President Obama also has the 4th lowest number of recorded commutations.

Guest – Susan Rosenberg is a human rights and prisoners rights advocate, adjunct lecturer, communications consultant, award-winning writer, public speaker and a formerly incarcerated person.  Her memoir, An American Radical, details her 16 years in federal prison as well as her conclusions about her prison experience and her past She was released from prison in 2001 through executive clemency by then President Bill Clinton. Upon her release she worked at American Jewish World Service for 12 years beginning as a writer then becoming the director of communications. Post-AJWS Susan has worked extensively in the nonprofit communications field with a focus on human rights and international development.. She is the founder of Sync It Communications, a communications-consulting group working on strategic communications with an emphasis on international human rights and criminal justice. She is also an adjunct lecturer at Hunter College and a member of the prison writing committee of PEN America. Susan has spoken widely at conferences and universities on prison issues. She is working on another book as well as other creative projects.

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Law and Disorder June 29, 2015


Updates:

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UN Human Rights Report Finds Israel Committed War Crimes and Unprecedented Devastation in 2014 Gaza War

Recently the United Nations issued a report on Israel’s attack on Gaza in the summer of 2014. The results were devastating again for Israel. The report also covered illegal Israeli settlements as well as house demolitions. Another section dealt with rockets that came from Gaza and went into Israel. What can we expect the result of this report to be? Will it be like the other ones, simply good reading or bad reading and shelved again? Will the UN act to do something with it? Will it go to the International Criminal Court? Again, we don’t know.

Guest – Diana Buttu,  a Palestinian-Canadian lawyer and a former spokesperson for the Palestine Liberation Organization. Best known for her work as a legal adviser and a participant in peace negotiations between Israeli and Palestinian organizations, she has since been associated with Stanford University, Harvard University, and the Institute for Middle East Understanding (IMEU).

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ICE Detention Center Standards Improve, Being Released is Now More Difficult

When women and children from Central America seek asylum and are captured at the US border, some are arrested and sent to a detention center in Artesia, New Mexico. Run by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, there are no legal services providers in the state funded to represent persons in detention. The Obama administration has made clear that immigrants’ cases must be processed as quickly as possible, and that most should be deported, increasing the likelihood that detainees are deprived the chance to exercise their rights.

To help ensure that women in detention get legal help in navigating a complex and difficult-to-understand process, a small group of volunteer attorneys organized by the American Immigration Lawyers Association works at the center 12 hours a day.  The court process in Artesia has been described as a “s#%*show” where judges refuse to let lawyers speak during hearings, detainees clearly worthy of asylum are denied, and no one will articulate the legal basis for judges and asylum officers’ decisions. Most women in detention do not understand that they can ask for time to locate an attorney or that they cannot be deported without having an opportunity to present their case.

Guest – Attorney Laura Lichter, former president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. (“AILA”), the premier bar association of immigration lawyers and law professors in the U.S. She has been an elected member of AILA’s national leadership for over a decade and has served as the association’s top liaison to the key immigration enforcement bureaus of the Department of Homeland Security and Department of Justice, including Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which is responsible for immigration investigations, prosecution, detention and removal operations, and the Executive Office of Immigration Review (EOIR), which oversees the nation’s immigration court system. Ms. Lichter is AILA’s liaison to the American Bar Association’s Commission on Immigration and serves on the Federal Bar Association’s Immigration Law Section Advisory Board. Ms. Lichter recently served on the Homeland Security Advisory Council (HSAC) Task Force on ICE’s Secure Communities program, reporting to findings on the ICE enforcement initiative to DHS Secretary Napolitano. Based in Denver, she is the former Chair of AILA’s Colorado Chapter. Ms. Lichter’s practice focuses on the representation of foreign nationals in removal proceedings, contested family and naturalization applications, administrative appeals, and related federal district and appellate court litigation.

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Law and Disorder June 8, 2015


Updates:

  • Ireland Same Sex Marriages
  • DOJ Reaches Settlement With Cleveland Over Police Excessive Use Of Force
  • Inquiry to Examine Racial Bias in the San Francisco Police
  • Wyoming Criminalizes Sharing Photos And Citizen Science

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Understanding The Cuban Reality: Michael Ratner

Our own Michael Ratner returns from Cuba and dispatches this update. The United States officially takes Cuba off the terrorist list. Cuba was placed on the terrorist list years ago along with  Iran, Syria and Sudan. Getting to Cuba is easier now that travel restrictions are decreased. Michael explains the importance in how Cuba maintains its fundamental economic rights in a non-capitalist government structure. Cuba also represents solidarity with the oppressed around the world and shares his personal experiences at Revolution Square in the early 70s. As the economic embargo continues to impact many facets of life for the people of Cuba, Michael Ratner points out the specific trade lifted by the Obama Administration were goods going from the United States to Cuba and not Cuba selling to the United States. The goal of every U.S. administration was to choke off and kill the Cuban Revolution. Lastly, Michael asserts that Cuba won’t become a U.S. neo-colony with IMF austerity plans privatizing state run enterprise.

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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US-Cuba Relations: What does “Normalization” Mean?

In December, Presidents Barack Obama and Raul Castro announced that the United States and Cuba would restore diplomatic ties and the remaining three of the Cuban Five were freed. This panel, with leading US-Cuba experts,will look at what’s behind the new policy, what it means on a political and economic level as well as for people-to-people relationships, political prisoners in Cuba, and Cuban support in the African Diaspora.

Speaker – Sandra Levinson, founder and Executive Director of the Center for Cuban Studies in New York City and Director of the Center’s Cuban Art Space who has traveled to Cuba more than 300 times, often as consultant to major news organizations. Sponsored by the National Lawyers Guild, NYC and NYU Chapters and International Committee.

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Law and Disorder June 1, 2015


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Firefight The Century-Long Battle to Integrate New York’s Bravest

It has taken nearly a century of well-orchestrated grassroots organizing to squarely address rampant racial discrimination in the New York City Fire Department. In 1919 Wesley Williams became the first African American firefighter. Yet by the beginning f the 21st Century, and with a population 2 million African Americans, the department still had only about 300 black firefighters, lagging far behind other uniformed departments like the police. And overt racism still plagued the FDNY.  Although women and African Americans had sued the FDNY’s hiring practices—and prevailed in court—the fire department never enacted steps to eradicate hiring inequities. A court battle ultimately ensued between Mayor Bloomberg and the well organized Vulcans, the Society of Black Firefighters.

Finally in 2014, the City settled a $98 million discrimination lawsuit mandating changes to the qualifying test for firefighters and to hiring practices in the Fire Department.

The new book “Fire-fight: The Century-long Battle to Integrate New York’s Bravest” lays out the compelling story of this hard fought quest to break through a tightly knit culture in which whites and predominantly Irish exerted a hold on who entered the fire department.

Guest – Ginger Adams Otis has been writing about New York City and local politics for more than a decade. She is a staff writer at the NY Daily News. Otis started covering City Hall and the Fire Department when she worked for The Chief-Leader, from there she moved to staff position at the NY Post. She’s also been a radio and print freelancer for WNYC, the Associated Press, BBC, National Public Radio, The Village Voice and national magazines such as The Nation and Ms. She lives in Harlem, NY.
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Supporters Fight to Reinstate Teacher Who Allowed Students To Send Mumia Get Well Cards

Third grade elementary school teacher Marilyn Zuniga was recently fired from her job for allowing her students to write get well cards to the gravely sick Mumia Abu-Jamal who is in prison in Pennsylvania. We speak today with Larry Hamm, the founder and chairman of the New Jersey civil rights organization Peoples Organization for Progress.

Send a letter care of :

Orange New Jersey Public Schools
c/o Orange Public School Board Secretary Adekunle O. James
Patricia Arthur
451 Lincoln Avenue
Orange, NJ 07050

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Supporters are asked to contact the Orange School system at:

Orange Superintendent of Schools, Ron Lee
Email: leeronal@orange.k12.nj.us
Phone #: 973 677-4040

Forest Street School Principal, Yancisca Cooke
Email: cookeyan@orange.k12.nj.us Phone # 973.677.4120

Board Secretary, Adekunle James
Email: jamesade@mail.orange.k12.nj.us

Orange Brd of Ed phone #: 973 677-4000

Guest – Lawrence Hamm, civil rights activist and advocate for African-American people and the cause of human rights for more than 30 years. Raised in Newark New Jersey, he attended public schools and emerged at age 17 as a forceful and articulate spokesperson for the educational needs and aspirations of Newark students and the community. He was appointed to the Newark Board of Education, making him the youngest school board member in the United States. While at Princeton University (Larry received his Bachelor’s degree there in 1978) Larry distinguished himself during the anti-apartheid movement by organizing student protests and calling attention to Princeton’s financial investment in apartheid South Africa. These protests, and the rising tide of public indignation, resulted in Princeton University’s divestment in the apartheid South African economy. Larry Hamm’s impact as a student activist at Princeton is chronicled in the documentary film, “Blacks at Princeton.” After graduation, Hamm returned to Newark and became active in local politics. He served as district leader and president of the 24th District Assembly. Larry was the founder and director of the People’s Energy Cooperative, a community fuel oil cooperative. He served as the Director of the Community Organization Program for the United Church of Christ Commission For Racial Justice.

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Law and Disorder May 18, 2015


Updates:

  • Michael Ratner: This Year Marks Three Years Julian Assange In The Ecuador Embassy
  • Michael Ratner: Assange Is In Embassy Pending Extradition to Sweden Regarding Allegations. No Charges. It’s Essentially Indefinite Detention.
  • Michael Ratner: Wikileaks Posts The BND Transcripts (Germany Holding Inquiry Into NSA Spying) and Searchable Database of Sony Hacked Emails
  • Michael Ratner: Julian Assange Has Strong Proportionality Argument That Could Dismiss Allegations From Sweden.
  • Michael Ratner: The British Have Said If Julian Leaves the Embassy He Will Be Arrested.
  • Michael Ratner: CIA’s Jeffrey Sterling Sentenced to 42 Months for Leaking to New York Times Journalist

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May 8 1945 – End of World War II

Our own Michael Ratner has been in Europe, specifically in Berlin in his capacity as the President of the European Center for Constitutional Human Rights. May 8 is an important day in Europe, because its the day the Nazis were defeated 70 years ago. Michael Ratner was at a celebration during this historic event. We also hear part of a famous poem titled September 1, 1939. That’s the day the Nazis invaded Poland. It’s the day that WWII started. The Nazis had vowed they were going to destroy Poland and destroy Russia. They threw everything they had into it. 150 divisions moving east toward Russia and W.H. Auden, the great poet was sitting in bar on 52nd Street and he reflected on that historic day.

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ECCHR: Bush Torture Team Travel Restriction

Today we can say with some surety that members of the torture team from Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, the lawyers and scores if not hundreds of CIA agents are unwilling and afraid and fear going to the European Union and countries in Europe. Why? Because they’re are afraid they’ll be subpoenaed and arrested or otherwise forced to testify about what they did when they were part of the torture team. That result is in large part due to an organization in Europe called the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights. It along with the Center for Constitutional Rights and others have brought numerous cases throughout Europe to make sure the torture team will be indicted and certainly at a minimum some 12 years later, that they can’t travel to Europe. The ECCHR does other work as well. It litigates and brings cases against corporations involved in labor abuses throughout the world particularly in Pakistan and Bangladesh where sweatshops have killed hundreds of workers.

Guest – Attorney Wolfgang Kaleck, founded the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) together with other internationally renowned lawyers in Berlin in 2007. ECCHR is an independent organization that works with lawyers and groups around the world to take legal proceedings against state and non-state actors for their roles in crimes against international law. ECCHR also uses legal instruments to combat inhumane working conditions and other issues in the area of business and human rights. Wolfgang Kaleck has served as General Secretary of the organization since its foundation. Kaleck previously worked as a criminal law attorney at law firm Hummel.Kaleck.Rechtsanwälte, which he co-founded in 1991. Since 1998 he has been an advocate for the Koalition gegen Straflosigkeit (Coalition against Impunity) which fights to hold Argentinian military officials accountable for the murder and disappearance of German citizens during the Argentinian dictatorship. Between 2004 and 2008 he worked with the New York Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) to pursue criminal proceedings against members of the US military, including former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

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Law and Disorder May 11, 2015


 

Updates:

  • Heidi Boghosian: Attorneys Make United Nations Urgent Appeal Request For Mumia Abu-Jamal

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FiSaraha International Film Festival

Co-host, attorney Michael Ratner recently attended the 11th FiSaraha International Film Festival in Africa’s Western Sahara Desert. He bring us up to date on the festival and the larger issue of Sahrawi refugee camps in Southwestern Algeria. He also reminds about the anniversary of the United States’ contra torture and murder of Ben Linder in Nicaragua.

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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ACLU Lawsuit To Make Catholic Groups Provide Abortions To “Illegal” Immigrants

After hearing reports that Catholic bishops are prohibiting Catholic charities from allowing undocumented immigrant teenagers in their care to access contraception and abortion services—even in cases of rape—the ACLU recently filed a lawsuit to obtain federal government records. The group seeks documents related to reproductive healthcare policy for unaccompanied immigrant children in the care of federally funded Catholic agencies, which do not believe in abortion.  Nearly 60,000 unaccompanied minors illegally crossed over from Mexico border in 2014. Approximately one third were young girls, an astonishing 80% of whom were victims of sexual assault.

The government contracts with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to care for those children until they can either reunite with a relative or face an immigration hearing. In total the Conference has received $73 million overall from the government—with $10 million allocated for the care of unaccompanied minors in 2013 alone.

The Conference has objected to a regulation proposed by the Obama administration mandating that contractors provide abortions to immigrants who have been raped. In response to the ACLU’s request, the Conference asserts that they are within their rights to exercise religious freedom while taking care of the minors.

Guest – Brigitte Amiri, Senior Staff Attorney at the ACLU’s Reproductive Freedom Project.  Brigitte is currently litigating multiple cases, including a challenge to South Dakota’s law that requires women seeking abortion to first visit a crisis pregnancy center before obtaining an abortion, a restriction on Medicaid funding for abortion in Alaska, and a law in Texas that has forced one-third of the abortion providers to close their doors.  Brigitte is also heavily involved in the challenges to the federal contraception benefit, and was one of the coordinators for the amicus briefs in the Supreme Court.  Brigitte is an adjunct assistant professor at New York Law School, and has been an adjunct assistant professor at Hunter College.

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 Proposal To Award Chicago Police Torture Victims Reparations

Victims of police torture under former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge will share $5.5 million, receive an apology and have their story taught in school under a reparations package proposed recently. The proposal is expected to pass when the council votes on it this month.

More than 100 people who accused Burge and officers under his command of torture—from cattle-prod shockings, phone book beatings prods, and suffocation with bags until false confessions were given—over nearly two decades ending in 1991. While some have already settled for thousands or millions of dollars, the remaining dozens can each receive up to $100,000 under the proposed ordinance. More than $100 million has already been paid over the years in court-ordered judgments, settlements and legal fees. Amnesty International USA lauded the proposal, which it said was unlike anything a U.S. municipality has ever introduced.

Besides a provision that calls for teaching the Burge torture cases to 8th and 10th graders in public school history classes, the ordinance includes a formal apology from the City Council, and psychological counseling and other benefits such as free tuition at community colleges. In recognition that the torture, and in many cases wrongful convictions and lengthy prison sentences, has impacted victims and their families, the ordinance extends some benefits to victims’ children or grandchildren.

Burge, 67, was fired from the Chicago Police Department in 1993. He was never criminally charged with torture, but was convicted in 2010 of lying about torture in a civil case and served 4.5 years in federal custody. Still drawing his pension, he was released from a Florida halfway house in February.

Guest – Attorney  G. Flint Taylor, a graduate of Brown University and Northwestern Law School, is a  founding partner of the People’s Law Office in Chicago, an office which has been dedicated to litigating civil rights, police violence, government misconduct, and death penalty cases for more than 40 years

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Law and Disorder May 4, 2015


Updates:

  • Heidi Boghosian:The Committee To Save Mumia Abu-Jamal Places Ad In New York Times – “Mumia Abu-Jamal Is Dying In Prison From Medical Neglect”

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Listen Yankee: Why Cuba Matters

As relations between the United States and Cuba are radically changing, Tom Hayden’s new book Listen Yankee! Why Cuba Matters is especially timely. It offers thoughtful analysis and insights into the efforts of intellectuals, social justice activists and politicians that helped bring about normalization efforts.

Listen Yankee is both a historical account and personal memoir of Hayden as a revolutionary student leader and SDS founder whose own early work to spur poetical change mirrored the transformation going on in Cuba. His book is based in part on conversations with Ricardo Alarcon, one of the leaders of the revolution,. UN representative and a former guest of Law and Disorder.

Guest – Tom Hayden was a leader in the student, antiwar, and civil rights protests in the 1960s. He took up the environmental cause in the 1970s, leading campaigns to shut down nuclear power plants and serving as California’s first solar energy official. He was elected to the California legislature in 1982, serving for eighteen years. He continues to write as an editor for The Nation, and has taught at many campuses from Harvard’s Institute of Politics to UCLA’s labor studies

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Baltimore and the Human Right to Resistance: Rejecting the framework of the Oppressor

Events continue to unfold within Baltimore, Maryland in response to the police murder of Freddie Gray. Today we examine how stereotypes are perpetuated of the rebels in the streets. The mainstream press, pundits and elected officials black and white call them thugs.

Guest – Ajamu Baraka is a human rights activist, organizer, geo-political analyst and editor and contributing columnist for the Black Agenda Report. Baraka serves as the Public Intervenor for Human Rights as a member of the Green Shadow Cabinet and coordinates the International Affairs Committee of the Black Left Unity Network. An Associate Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) in Washington, D.C., Baraka’s is also a contributor to “Killing Trayvons: An Anthology of American Violence” and Imagine: Living in a Socialist USA.

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Law and Disorder April 13, 2015


Updates:

  • Michael Ratner: Edward Snowden Bust On Brooklyn War Memorial Replaced By Hologram

 

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Mumia Abu-Jamal Health Crisis Update

Journalist and political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal continues to be in serious medical condition at SCI Mahanoy in Frackville, Pennsylvania. He has lost over 50 pounds and his body is covered with a hard, painful layer of jet-black skin that is both bloody and itchy. Last week his blood sugar registered in the mid 200s and continues to fluctuate, with doctors injecting a double shot of insulin right before he was brought out in a wheelchair to see visitors. As of that visit he had not been seen by a diabetes specialist, and there is concern that the insulin injections may result in an overdose or cause organ damage.

Mumia is so weak that when he tried to go to the infirmary’s bathroom, he could not sustain himself on his feet. He slid down to the floor and waited there, helplessly and unable to call for assistance, for 45 minutes until he was found by a doctor and another prisoner.

Support and demands for medical attention and an improved diet continue to pour in from around the globe. Two teachers delivered letters that their students had written to Mumia; one batch from a third grade class taught by Ms. Marylin Zuniga in Orange, New Jersey; the other from a group of high school students in the Philadelphia Student Union, which fights for school reform and is led by Mr. Hiram Rivera.

ACTION: Please call Secretary of Pennsylvania Corrections John E. Wetzel – 717-728-4109. Demand is that Mumia be allowed to see a team of specialist chosen by his family and supporters to assess and evaluate his condition.

Article: A Slow Death for Mumia Abu-Jamal and Thousands of Prisoners in America by Johanna Fernandez and Heidi Boghosian

Guest – Johanna Fernandez, assistant professor of history at Baruch College and an active member of the Campaign to Bring Mumia Home. She received a PhD in History from Columbia University and a BA in Literature and American Civilization from Brown University. Professor Fernández teaches 20th Century U.S. History, the history of social movements, the political economy of American cities, and African-American history.

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Palestinian Refugees in Syria

In a situation the United Nations has described as “beyond inhumane,” last week an estimated 300 ISIS extremists converged on Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp in Damascus after three days of fighting. Humanitarian aid has failed to reach starving residents there, even as ISIS members, many of whom appear to be Syrian, portrayed the attack as a liberation of the camp’s residents. In fact the residents –3,500 of whom are children—have been under siege and starvation tactics for two years.

Syrian forces control all entrances to the north and east of Yarmouk and have largely resisted pleas by UNRWA for parcels of food and water to be allowed in. Jaysh al-Islam, one of the main Islamist opposition groups fighting against Isis in the camp, reported to the Guardian that 80 ISIS militants had been killed in a period of two days and some of its positions had been seized. Yarmouk, the largest Palestinian camp in Syria, has been a frequent battle zone, pitting regime forces against mainstream and Islamist rebels. Approximately 16,000 residents remain in the settlement, a decrease from 200,000 prior to the war.

Most inhabitants fled to Lebanon where they now live in overcrowded refugee camps. Many are refugees for the second time, having fled what is now Israel in 1967 or 1948. Some have attempted to flee on migrant boats to Europe and Egypt.

Guest – Salim Salamah, the head of the Palestinian League for Human Rights-Syria, and a former Yarmouk resident who fled in October 2012. He’s exiled in Sweden since February 2013 – spokesperson of the Palestinian League for Human Rights/Syria, a grassroots refugee and youth-led human rights collective.

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