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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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Law and Disorder April 6, 2015


 

Updates:

  • Attorney Heidi Boghosian Tells Of How She And Johanna Fernandez Found Out Mumia Abu-Jamal Was Rushed To Local Health Facility
  • Campaign To Bring Mumia Home
  • Attorney Michael Ratner: Hobby Lobby State Religious Freedom Acts
  • Attorney Michael Ratner: Palestine Joins The ICC
  • Attorney Michael Ratner: Obama Issues Executive Order On Hackers

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Why The Rise Of Fascism Is Again The Issue

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

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

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Law and Disorder March 30, 2015


Updates:

  • FBI: If You Give Us Assata Shakur, We’ll Free The Cuban Five
  • Michael Ratner: Massive CIW March St. Petersburg, Florida 2015
  • Alliance For Fair Food

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War Tax Resistance

As April 15 draws near, some Americans engage in the practice of war tax resistance, refusing to pay some or all of their federal income tax. It’s an act of civil disobedience with a proud history in this country. Notable war tax resisters included Henry David Thoreau who refused to pay his poll tax during the Mexican-American war. In the 1960s and 70s, many Vietnam war protesters engaged in the practice, including Norman Mailer, Howard Zinn, James Baldwin and Joan Baez. While individuals refusing to pay war taxes cite the refusal as a moral imperative-even citing international law to bolster this assertion—it’s not surprising that the Internal Revenue Service considers the refusal to pay such taxes as illegal.

Ruth Benn:

  • In war tax resistance we tend to use the War Resisters League chart where your income tax money really goes and the calculations from the War Resisters League over the years have been around 50 percent.
  • About 27 percent is current military so that’s paying for the wars and its buying the weapons for the next wars and all of those things that the Pentagon does.
  • The “past military” is mainly for the debt and then the money that’s set aside for veterans.
  • The nuclear weapons program which they are increasing over the coming 10 years, modernizing weapons and modernizing delivery systems. Obama is increasing that money for the nuclear weapons. That’s in the Department of Energy.
  • We have the Department of Homeland Security. That is a lot of armed people also. The TSA, the militarization of the border. Homeland Security is giving those grants to local communities in the U.S. that are getting these military weapons.
  • We have 500 billion this year for veterans and past military. That’s only going to add up.
  • Basically, (war tax resistance) is similar to conscientious objection in terms of people who refuse to go into the military or refused the draft. So this is a refusal to have my tax dollars drafted. A refusal to pay income taxes that go into this pie of the military budget.
  • There was a particular tax put on people in WW2. A stamp that people had to buy that was on their cars that supported war.
  • (Famous tax resisters) We tend to go back to Henry David Thoreau of course with his one dollar that resulted in on the duty of civil disobedience.
  • I always say going throughout history taxes first tend to be put on people because somebody wants to fight somebody. A government wants to go to war, that’s centuries back.
  • The Vietnam War of course was the biggest time for tax resistance when it really was a strong part of the peace movement.
  • The campaign during Vietnam to resist the telephone tax. A tax that was put on and raised during Vietnam. It was put on to 10 percent just to pay for the wars.
  • People would owe 7.00 dollars in phone tax and some of them had their houses seized, some had their bicycles and cars seized.
  • Within the network of war tax resisters and I hesitate to call it a movement these days, there are people who do a whole range of things. There are people who live on a very low income which is a legal way to do it. The cut off for filing and owing taxes is around 10 thousand dollars for a single person.
  • There are people who are more adept at using credits and deductions to lower their taxable income.
  • I think in ’87 I started very consistently filing and refusing to pay. You get a lot of letters. I have files and files of collection letters, of course they add up interest and penalties.
  • Now I’m self-employed, the IRS can do things like garnish salaries. Over the years I figured out how to live in a way that makes it harder for them to collect. Not that they couldn’t make my life difficult.
  • Mostly the IRS would like to get the money than prosecute people.
  • I got active in the peace movement with the American Friends Service Committee. I’m not a Quaker myself but war tax resistance tends to known pretty well in the Quaker community.
  • Usually you’ve been active (in peace movement) for a while and then you go . . oh, I’m paying for this. I’m paying for what I’m fighting against.
  • nwtrcc.org
  • War Tax Resisters Guide – The Book.

Guest – Ruth Benn, Coordinator of the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee. Along with Ed Hedemann, she co-edited the fourth and fifth editions of the book “War Tax Resistance: A Guide to Withholding Your Support from the Military, published by the War Resisters League.”

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familykhantumani pict12

Life After Guantanamo: A Father And Son’s Story

In the weeks after September 11, 2001, the United States gave bundles of cash to Afghan war lords and the Pakistan government to assist in capturing suspected Taliban and Al-Qaeda fighters. Hundreds of men were turned over to U.S. custody often without evidence. This was an unfortunate starting point of how human lives were destroyed to as some suggest, justify an illegal war launched by the Bush Administration. Center for Constitutional Rights, senior staff attorney Pardiss Kebriaei’s Harper’s Magazine article titled Life After Guantanamo: A Father and Son’s Story traces the human toll of how her clients were wrongly imprisoned. After being picked up in Pakistan, sent back to Afghanistan, detained in Kandahar, Abdul Nasser Khantumani and his son Muhammed were interrogated by the United States and sent to Guantanamo Bay Prison in Cuba.

Attorney Pardiss Kebriaei:

  • I started in 2007 and it took me year to be able to go down to the base. I went to down in mid 2008, that was the first time I met Muhammad.
  • Muhammed was the son, he was a teenager and he was taken into U.S. custody. By the time I met him, he had been at Guantanamo for 6 years. 6 years without charge.
  • What I say in the piece is he started breaking down, really kind of cracking in 2005.
  • He was saying things like – I don’t care if I’m here another 5 years, another 10 years, I’m never getting out.
  • He’d been held in solitary confinement for 2 years at that point, and there was this additional aspect of the way his relationship with his father was used to traumatize him.
  • They were captured together, transferred to Guantanamo together but then, pretty much held apart in prison.
  • In November of 2008 we met then in December he cut his wrists.
  • He doesn’t call it suicide because he didn’t want to die. He just didn’t know what to do.
  • We filed an emergency motion with the court, asking the court to move him out of solitary to get him close to his father, to do something.
  • The latest hunger strike in 2013, they denied it was happening.
  • Muhammed was young and he was really vocal and loud about his torture. I remember hearing him yell and scream.
  • Abdul Nasser, his pain was quieter. There was a different kind of pain that left a wife behind or children behind. Abdul Nassar thought a lot about the rest of his family.
  • We know that the CIA was paying millions of the dollars to the Pakistani government and Afghani war lords to profile and turn people over, basically sell them into U.S. custody.
  • They came into U.S. hands because they profiled and unilaterally deemed by President Bush and Rumsfeld to be enemy combatants without any real evidence of wrongdoing.
  • We know that happened and its not just groups like CCR saying that.
  • The way that decisions are made and people are transferred (from Guantanamo Bay Prison) is such a lottery.
  • I think Abdul Nassar appeared to be more of a burden frankly to them, because he was older and in ill health. They didn’t take him. They wanted a younger guy who they thought would be easier to resettle.
  • Part of the point of the story was to shed light on just what life is like after Guantanamo.
  • Abdul Nassar has not seen his wife since 2001. He hasn’t seen his other children since 2001. He hasn’t seen Muhammed since that day in 2009.
  • http://ccrjustice.org/reunificationafterguantanamo

Guest – Pardiss Kebriaei, Senior staff attorney with the Center for Constitutional Rights, which she joined in 2007.  Her work focuses on challenging government abuses post-9/11, including in the areas of “targeted killing“ and unjust detentions at Guantanamo and in the federal system.  She is lead counsel for CCR in Al-Aulaqi v. Panetta, which seeks accountability for the killing of three American citizens in U.S. drone strikes in Yemen, and was counsel in Al-Aulaqi v. Obama, which challenged the authorization for the targeting of an American citizen placed on government “kill lists.”  She represents men currently and formerly detained at Guantanamo in their efforts for release and reintegration, and represented the families of two men who died at the base in their lawsuit for accountability, Al-Zahrani v. Rumsfeld.  She also represents Fahad Hashmi, who pled to material support for terrorism after years in pre-trial solitary confinement and Special Administrative Measures, in his efforts to challenge his continuing solitary confinement in a federal “supermax” prison.

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