Law and Disorder Radio

Archive for the 'Surveillance' Category


Law and Disorder January 8, 2017


 

Look for Me in the Whirlwind: From the Panther 21 to 21st-Century Revolutions 

The Black Panther Party was formed by community college students in Oakland California in 1966, the year after Malcolm X was murdered in New York City. It’s original name was the Black Panther Party For Self Defense.

The Black Panther Party set an example by its community programs and courage in declaring that it would defend itself against police brutality. The Black Panther Party spread westward from California to New York where chapters were organized in Brooklyn and Harlem, where Malcolm X was from. The Panthers frightened America’s elite. J Edgar Hoover and the FBI set out to destroy them and eventually succeeded. A great courtroom battle took place place in New York City shortly after the establishment of the chapters. Twenty one Black Panthers were framed up on baseless conspiracy charges.

They spent two years in prison including one year on trial. The jury was out for only one hour and acquitted them totally of all the baseless charges. The collective story of the New York City black panthers and their trial is told in the newly re-issued book Look For Me In The Whirlwind. The book is edited by Dequi Kioni-sadiki and Matt Meyer. It has a forward by Imam Jamil Al-Amin (formerly H. Rap Brown), the former head of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee now in prison for life in Georgia and it contains an afterword by Mumia Abu-Jamal.

Guest – Matt Meyer is a New York City–based educator, organizer, and author who serves as War Resisters International Africa Support Network Coordinator, and who represents the International Peace Research Association at the United Nations Economic and Social Council. A former draft registration resister, Meyer’s extensive human rights work has included support for all political prisoners and prisoners of conscience, solidarity with Puerto Rico and the Black Liberation Movement, and board membership on the A.J. Muste Memorial Institute.

Guest – déqui kioni-sadiki is the chair of the Malcolm X Commemoration Committee and was a leader of the Sekou Odinga Defense Committee, which waged a successful campaign for the release of her husband. A tireless coalition-builder and organizer, déqui is a radio producer of the weekly show “Where We Live” on WBAI-Radio, Pacifica; an educator with the NYC Department of Education; and a member of the Jericho Movement to Free All Political Prisoners.

Guest – Sekou Odinga was a member of Malcolm X’s Organization of Afro-American Unity, a founding member of the New York chapter of the Black Panther Party as well as the Black Panther International Section, and was a member of the NY Panther 21. A citizen of the Republic of New Afrika and combatant of the Black Liberation Army, Sekou was captured in October 1981, mercilessly tortured, and spent the following thirty-three years behind bars—a prisoner of war and political prisoner of the U.S. empire. Since his release in November 2014, he has remained a stalwart fighter for justice and for the release of all political prisoners.

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Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America

The spectacle of President Donald Trump and the palace intrigue in the White House has served daily to distract people from the political strategy and accomplishments of the radical right, which is taking over the Republican Party.

Over time, the GOP has been transformed into operation conducting a concerted effort to curb democratic rule in favor of capitalist interests in every branch of government, whatever the consequences. It is marching ever closer to the ultimate goal of reshaping the Constitution to protect monied interests. This gradual take over of a major political party happened steadily, over several decades, and often in plain sight.

Duke University Professor Nancy MacLean exposes the architecture of this change and it’s ultimate aim. She has written that “both my research and my observations as a citizen lead me to believe American democracy is in peril”.

Guest – Professor Nancy MacLean, whose new book, Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America, has been described by Publishers Weekly as “a thoroughly researched and gripping narrative… [and] a feat of American intellectual and political history.” Booklist called it “perhaps the best explanation to date of the roots of the political divide that threatens to irrevocably alter American government.” The author of four other books, including Freedom is Not Enough: The Opening of the American Workplace (2006) called by the Chicago Tribune “contemporary history at its best,” and Behind the Mask of Chivalry: The Making of the Second Ku Klux Klan,named a New York Times “noteworthy” book of 1994, MacLean is the William H. Chafe Professor of History and Public Policy.

Law and Disorder January 1, 2018


 

Will the 911 Case Finally Go To Trial?

Sixteen years have passed since the 911 attacks. The truth of who was behind the attacks has come out in a class action lawsuit brought by more than 6500 victims and survivors. The lawsuit alleges that it was elements of the Saudi Arabian government that attacked us on 9/11. The Defendant in the lawsuit is Saudi Arabia.

The Saudi Arabian government hired 15 public relations firms to help them deny responsibility. They hired several Washington white shoe high powered connected law firms. They hid behind the law of sovereign immunity, which had to be overturned by an act of Congress in order for the lawsuit to proceed. They were helped by the US government in the cover-up by the Bush and Obama administrations. But after 16 years the case is now proceeding rapidly through the Federal courts and will either be settled or tried. The object of the lawsuit is to obtain money explained Sharon Pemboli, one of the plaintiffs and leaders of a group of women from New Jersey known as “the Jersey girls” who lobbied to win passage of the law which made the lawsuit possible. She believes that if the Saudi Arabian government is deprived of funds it will not be able to fund Al Qaeda and the extremist Wahhabi clergy responsible for supporting the terrorism of Al Qaeda.

The American public has been led to believe mistakenly that Saddam Hussein and Iraq were behind 911. The attack on Iraq was a war of aggression. At the end of World War II the United States set up the Nuremberg trials to try Nazi war criminals. They wanted to set forth principles that were not merely victor’s justice. At the Nuremberg trials the Germans were found guilty of starting a war of aggression, which was called the greatest of all crimes because it has contained within it all other crimes.

Guest – Andrew Cockburn, the Washington editor of Harper’s magazine. He has written an extremely important article in the October issue titled Crime and Punishment: Will the 9/11 Case Finally Go To Trial? about the class-action law suit brought by the victims of 9/11 against the government of Saudi Arabia.

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U.S. Magdalene Laundries and the Indiana Women’s Prison Researchers

From the 18th to early 20th centuries Catholic institutions known as the Magdalene Laundries in Ireland effectively enslaved unmarried mothers, where infants and mothers were subjected to brutal conditions and died in the hundreds. In 1993, a mass grave containing 155 corpses was uncovered in the convent grounds of one of the laundries. This led to media revelations about the operations of the secretive institutions Investigations into these homes have brought apologies and official compensation by the state of Ireland.

Few realize, however, that these homes also existed in the United States. Reports of the inhumane conditions in these homes has encouraged survivors of U.S. Magdalene Laundries to share their own their experiences. Surprisingly, few religious leaders, journalists and historians have yet to address and speak out about this chapter in our history.

That is, until scholars at the Indiana Women’s Prison began to research Magdalene Laundries, and their impact on girls and young women of all faiths across the United States for over 100 years. They believe that these homes were in effect the first prisons for women in the nation. And their work is being published and helping to spark a national discussion.

In a law review article that they published in the Journal of the Indiana Academy of the Social Sciences, the researchers note that their discovery of the laundries and their role in confining women is ‘stark evidence of historical amnesia.They say that the laundries played an important role in shaping attitudes toward female sexuality, identity, and societal reintegration.

Guest – Kelsey Kauffman, in 2012 she and two friends started a small college program at the Indiana Women’s Prison that has grown to 14 teachers and 80 students. She has worked as a prison officer and has taught in three prisons. Her research, which has taken her to more than 80 prisons on four continents, focuses primarily on the impact prison employment has on officers.

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Law and Disorder December 25, 2017


 

Chris Hedges – Unspeakable

The year 2017 has seen a qualitative acceleration and consolidation of power by the forces on the right which have been accurately described as a form of fascism. Three significant books were published this year addressing this phenomena, where it came from, and how to fight it. We have interviewed Nancy MacLean on her book Democracy in Chains about the origins and organization of the billionaire forces like the Koch brothers who have orchestrated the takeover of 25 state legislatures and who are attacking every institution of what is left of American democracy. We interviewed John Bellamy Foster on his book Trump in the White House about who supports the Trump agenda and why.

Guest – Chris Hedges, Pulitzer-Prize winning author and journalist. He was also a war correspondent, specializing in American and Middle Eastern politics and societies. His most recent book is ‘Death of the Liberal Class (2010). Hedges is also known as the best-selling author of War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning (2002), which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction. The recent book Unspeakable consists of talks with David Talbot about the most forbidden topics in America. Chris Hedges teachers at two prisons in New Jersey. He was active in the Occupy movement, writes a weekly column for Truthdig and is also the author of American Facism: The Christian Right and the War on America.

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Absolute Madness by Catherine Pelonero

The new book Absolute Madness details the true story of a serial killer in New York whose targets were African American males. A young, white Joseph Christopher struck fear into the residents of Buffalo and New York City in the 1980s. This former Army private, who was dubbed both the .22-Caliber Killer and the Midtown Slasher, murdered at least 17 men in a four-month spree across the state.

Christopher, suffered from paranoid schizophrenia, had tried to admit himself to the Buffalo Psychiatric Center in September 1980, but was told he was not a danger to himself or others so could not be admitted. Two weeks later, the killings began.

Noted FBI profiler John Douglas assisted in the investigation that drew national attention and criticism from Jesse Jackson and other civil rights leaders. When the killer was finally found, he seemed on the surface to be an unlikely person to have held New York in such a grip of terror.

But Douglas’s capture would not be the end of the story. Racial discontent heightened during a series of prosecutions and judicial rulings that prompted cries of a double standard within the criminal justice system. Absolute Madness also chronicles one vulnerable man’s descent into madness and how the United States mental health system ignored his many pleas for help.

Guest – Catherine Pelonero, true crime author and commentator. Her book Kitty Genovese: A True Account of a Public Murder and Its Private Consequences was a New York Times bestseller. She is a contributing writer for Investigation Discovery’s CrimeFeed and has appeared on episodes of A Crime to Remember and Fox Files, among others. She lives in Los Angeles, California.

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Law and Disorder December 4, 2017


Law and Disorder Editorials:

  • Jared Kushner Middle East Policy Advisor

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Free Press: New FCC Rules On Net Neutrality

The Federal Communications Commission recently released a plan to do away with landmark regulations ensuring equal access to the Internet. They pave the way for Internet service companies to charge the public higher rates to see certain content and to even deny access to some websites.

The proposal was made by the FCC chairman, Ajit Pai, an opponent to regulation in general. Pai is the former Associate General Counsel for Verizon Communications, Inc.

The proposal is expected to be approved in mid-December. In his first year Pai, who was appointed by Donald Trump, has already eliminated numerous regulations. The agency has stripped down rules governing TV broadcasters, newspapers and telecom companies designed to protect the public interest. In addition to the net neutrality rollback, the chairman announced a plan to eliminate a rule limiting any corporation from controlling broadcasts that can reach more than 39 percent of American homes.

In a broad brushstroke, the new proposal repeals rules put in place by the Obama administration that prohibit high-speed internet service providers, or I.S.P.s, from slowing down or even stopping the delivery of websites. The Obama rules prevent companies from charging customers extra fees for high-quality streaming and other services. These former rules were drafted to preserve the principle commonly known as “net neutrality” and to prevent practices that would created tiers of access to the Internet.

The plan to repeal existing rules that were passed in 2015 would reverse a hallmark decision by the agency to consider broadband a public utility, as essential to modern lives as phones and electricity. The earlier decision created the legal foundation for the current rules and underscored the importance of high-speed internet service.

Guest – Attorney Gaurav Laroia, Policy Counsel at Free Press. Before joining Free Press, he worked at the Government Accountability Project protecting the rights of national security whistleblowers.

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The Sentencing Project

The United States of America imprisons more of its citizens both in absolute numbers and as a percentage of the population than any other country in the world. Only China comes close. On any given day 2,300,000 Americans are in jail or prison, 70% of them are non-white.

Former Alabama senator Jefferson Beauregard Sessions wants these numbers to rise. He has instructed federal prosecutors to prosecute people for the most serious possible crime and to demand the longest possible sentence.

In the last 30 years the number of people in jail and in prison have skyrocketed by factor of five. Prosecutors are increasingly demanding life sentences without the possibility of parole. Judges have lost their discretion with the implementation of maximum minimum sentencing. The long-term impact of mass incarceration has been devastating, especially to black communities.

Attorney General Sessions has stated that there is “a dangerous permanent rise”
in violent crime, despite FBI data showing a sharp decline in the last 20 years. He has falsely charged that crime increases have been caused by immigrants and that prosecutorial policy under Obama caused crime to increase.

Guest – Marc Mauer, the Executive Director of the Sentencing Project and a central figure in the justice reform movement. The Sentencing Project is a Washington DC based research and advocacy group working to reduce the use of incarceration in the United States and to address racial disparities in the criminal justice system.


Follow Heidi Boghosian on Twitter – @HeidiBoghosian

Law and Disorder November 20, 2017


Law and Disorder Editorials:

  • FDA Approves Digital Pill by Heidi Boghosian

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Release Aging People in Prison Campaign

The number of persons 50 years and older in New York State has risen more than 98% since 2000; it now exceeds 10,000—nearly 20% of the total incarcerated population. This reflects a national crisis in the prison system and the extension of a culture of revenge and punishment into all areas of our society.

The organization Release Aging People in Prison, or RAPP, works to end mass incarceration and promote racial justice by getting elderly and infirm people out of prison.

Led by Mujahid Farid, a 2013 Soros Justice Fellow who was incarcerated for 33 years in New York before his release in 2011, RAPP focuses on aging people in prison, many of whom are long-termers convicted of serious crimes. Many of these human beings have transformed their lives and developed skills and abilities they lacked before incarceration. They could be released from prison with little or no threat to public safety. Yet many are denied release, often for political reasons, and they needlessly remain imprisoned into old age. These elders could return to their communities if current mechanisms such as parole and compassionate release were correctly utilized. We also support legislation in New York to correct the parole system and increase the number of releases.

Guest – Mujahid Farid co-founded the Prisoners AIDS Counseling and Education program and helped design prison-based sociology and theology courses that allowed others to earn college-credited in prison. He also earned four college degrees and other certifications while incarcerated, including his paralegal certificate, NYS Department of Labor Certificate in Human Development Counseling, and NYC Department of Health Certificate in HIV/AIDS Counseling.

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Guest – David George, Associate Director of RAPP. In the last few years Dave has organized with and on behalf of currently and formerly incarcerated people, including at the Osborne Association and Correctional Association of New York.

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Perpetual Line Up: Unregulated Police Face Recognition In America

The presence of surveillance cameras across the United States has enabled targeted facial recognition surveillance at essentially any place and any time. Each day law enforcement puts in place more and more cameras, including CCTV cameras, police body cameras, and cameras on drones and other aircraft. The FBI’s Next Generation Biometric Identification Database and its facial recognition unit, FACE Services, can search for and identify nearly 64 million Americans, either from its own databases or through access to state DMV databases of driving license photos.

It’s likely that government agencies will soon be able to pinpoint your location and even with whom you’ve been, just by typing your name into a computer.

The release of Apple’s IPhone X has drawn scrutiny to this technology. Despite civil liberties and privacy concerns, there are few limits on facial recognition technology. In March 2017 Congress held a hearing to discuss the risks of facial recognition surveillance. There is concern that facial recognition can be used to get around existing legal protections against location tracking, opening the door to unprecedented government monitoring an logging of personal associations, including protected First Amendment-related activities. Knowledge of individual’s political, religious and associational activities could lead the way to bias, persecution and abuse.

As with many technological advances, there are benefits, too. Facial recognition can assist in locating missing persons or for other public safety purposes.

Guest – Clare Garvie, Clare is a Law Fellow at the Georgetown Law Center on Privacy and Technology. Her research with the Center is on face recognition use by law enforcement and the disparate impact of payday lending on vulnerable communities. She worked on the Center’s 2016 report on facial recognition technology.

Law and Disorder November 6, 2017


 

Special Prosecutor Mueller Indictments

Paul Manafort, who had been Donald Trump’s campaign manager, was indicted last week by special prosecutor Mueller for 12 counts of money laundering involving at least $18 million, setting up a secret overseas bank accounts through which $75 million flowed, lying to federal authorities and operating as an unregistered foreign agent for the president of the Ukraine, tax evasion, and conspiracy. Also indicted was his colleague Rick Gates.

Manafort was a Washington insider. He graduated from Georgetown Law School and went on to work for Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan. He then became, by his own description, an influence peddler. He was a political adviser to the vicious dictatorships of Marcos in the Philippines and Mobuto in Zaire helping them avoid trouble with the United States. He made millions of dollars advising the elected head of the government of Ukraine before he was overthrown in a coup approved and supported by the United States, in particular Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who held that position under the Obama administration before she ran for president.

Along with the indictments, it was disclosed that George Papadopoulos, a former volunteer adviser to Trump during his campaign, had pled guilty to lying to the FBI about having ties with the Russians and was cooperating with the prosecution. He had urged Trump to meet with Russian officials.

Guest – Ray McGovern, an alumnus of Fordham and was a high-ranking CIA analyst for 27 years. His expertise was Russia and he had one on one briefings daily with President George Bush. He broke with the government under George W. Bush over the cooked intelligence used to rationalize America’s illegal war of aggression against Iraq and helped form the organization Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity.  His group issued a memorandum to President Obama which demonstrated that the Russians did not hack into the computers of the Democratic Party or Hillary Clinton and did not therefore influence the American election.  http://raymcgovern.com/

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41s1YjDN5-L Sen. John F. Kennedy, (left), and Allen W. Dulles, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) director, walks towards newsmen on the lawn of the Democratic presidential candidates in Hyannis Port, MA., home on July 23, 1960. The two men held a news conference after Senator Kennedy was briefed by Dulles on international affairs. (AP Photo/WCC)

The Devil’s Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the CIA, and the Rise of America’s Secret Government

The assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy on November 22, 1963, 54 years ago, was a turning point in American and world history. The official story has been put forward in the Warren Commission Report. It stated that Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone assassin and that there was no conspiracy. The official story has been widely debunked: it is not believed by some 60% of the American people.

Oliver Stone’s 1991 movie JFK led to the reopening of the investigation by a Committee of the US House of Representatives. The committee concluded that there was a conspiracy. They passed a law, signed in 1992 by President George HW Bush, which called for the release of all remaining intelligence files on the assassination by October 26, 2017. Last week some of the remaining documents were released. Those documents must be released within six months unless President Trump decides not to. The intelligence agencies have a say in what further documents will be released but it is President Trump’s decision. It is not believed that the release of the documents will contradict the official story that Lee Harvey Oswald was the loan assassin and there was no conspiracy.

James R. Douglas wrote the definitive book on the Kennedy assassination, demonstrating conclusively that was the work of the CIA. Why? Because the intelligence agency wanted to stop Kennedy from withdrawing American troops from the Vietnam war and he wanted and was working towards a peaceful resolution of the cold war with respect to American policy towards both the Soviet Union and Cuba.

Guest – David Talbot, the author of the New York Times bestseller Brothers: The Hidden History of the Kennedy Years and the acclaimed national bestseller Season of the Witch: Enchantment, Terror, and Deliverance in the City of Love. He is the founder and former editor in chief of Salon, and was a senior editor at Mother Jones and the features editor at the San Francisco Examiner. He has written for The New Yorker, Rolling Stone, Time, The Guardian, and other major publications. Talbot lives in San Francisco, California.

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Law and Disorder October 16, 2017


Free Speech on College Campuses

Last week an invited lawmaker was shut down form addressing Texas Southern University after protesters stormed the room calling him a racist. House Representative Briscoe Cain was asked to speak to the Thurgood Marshall School of Law by the Federalist Society about the recent legislative special session. But as he uttered a few words, he was shut down by students and then the University’s President claimed it was an unapproved event. It’s ironic that the school is named for the Supreme Court justice known for his exemplary record of protecting First Amendment rights.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions also recently spoke–uninterrupted–at Georgetown University about free speech on American college campuses. He said, “The right of free speech does not exist only to protect the ideas upon which most of us agree at a given moment in time,” and encouraged students to: “make your voices heard, [and] to defend the rights of others to do the same.” Sessions joins a bipartisan chorus of public officials expressing support for free speech in academic institutions.

This summer, Senators Bernie Sanders and Mitch McConnell condemned efforts to shut down different viewpoints at schools. And in 2015, Barack Obama more than once defended the importance of free speech on campus. “I don’t agree that you, when you become students at colleges, have to be coddled and protected from different points of view,” he said at a September 2015 town hall.

The recent Sessions talk comes amid an uptick (1) in efforts to dis-invite controversial speakers of all ideological persuasions, (2) use of bias response teams to monitor unpopular speech, and (3) in unprecedented violence aimed at silencing off-campus speakers.

These are some of the findings from a recent study produced by The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. The comprehensive survey on students’ attitudes about free speech measured responses to questions about hate speech, guest speakers on campus, self-expression and reactions to expression of other students.

Guest –Will Creeley, Senior Vice President of Legal and Public Advocacy at the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. FIRE is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to defending liberty, freedom of speech, due process, academic freedom, legal equality, and freedom of conscience on America’s college campuses.

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Tech Freedom on USA Liberty Act of 2017

Americans whose data is inadvertently swept up while the government monitors foreign intelligence, risk having their information used for non-national-security related purposes.

Two weeks ago draft legislation was introduced to address this, but a broad coalition of civil liberties organizations say it doesn’t go far enough. They are calling on the House to close the so-called “back-door search” loophole by requiring a warrant based on probable cause for any search of information about U.S. citizens and residents.

Similar to the USA Freedom Act of 2015, which ended the practice of bulk surveillance of American citizens under Section 215 of the 2001 PATRIOT Act, the current USA Liberty Act of 2017 would overhaul surveillance that is supposed to be limited to targets outside the U.S. but actually affects Americans. Section 702 expires at the end of December, which is why Congress is reassessing the program.

Currently, FISA surveillance is conducted under a warrant issued annually by the FISA court for a list of foreign intelligence targets. But law enforcement can access, and can use, Americans’ communications swept up in FISA surveillance with no warrant at all. This is even though U.S. persons’ communications require constitutional protections not afforded to foreigners.

The USA Liberty Act adds a warrant-like ‘probable cause’ requirement before law enforcement can search the database, but also includes a sweeping, vague exception for “foreign intelligence information” and does not stop law enforcement from using that information for criminal prosecutions. This is a glaring violation of the Fourth Amendment.

Guest – Austin Carson, Executive Director of TechFreedom joins us to talk about this legislation, and the state of surveillance generally. Tech Freedom is a non-profit, non-partisan technology think tank launched in 2011 that focuses on issues of Internet freedom and technological progress.

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Law and Disorder September 25, 2017


35th Anniversary of Palestinian Mass Slaughter in Lebanon Refugee Camps

This month marks the 35th anniversary of the mass slaughter of civilian Palestinians by Lebanese fascists in their Lebanon refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila. The Palestinians who lived in the camps had been driven out of their villages in the Galilee by Israel. They had lived there for hundreds of years until the Zionist colonialists expelled them in 1948. The Israeli Army aided in the 1982 slaughter. The 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon, which preceded the massacre, was given the greenlight by the United States. Up to 1982, the Palestine Liberation Organization, known as the PLO, had its headquarters in Beruit, Lebanon. This Israeli Army invaded Lebanon and succeeded in driving the PLO out. The United States gave written commitments to the PLO about protecting the civilian population in order to secure the PLO’s evacuation from Beruit the month before the slaughter at Sabra and Shatila camps.

Israeli Defense Minister Ariel Sharon falsely asserted that there were 2000 terrorists in the camps. US Envoy to Lebanon Morris Draper did not dispute this falsehood. Sharon told Draper that ” We will kill them. They will not be left there. You are not going to save them.” Sharon sent Lebonese fascists into the refugee camps. They silently killed hundreds of Palestinians and Lebanese, mostly women and children and old men, using knives and bayonets. The Israeli Army lit up the killing fields with flares. There was such a worldwide outcry that Israel was forced to set up a commission of inquiry. That commission found that Sharon bore “personal responsibility” for the massacre and recommended that he be dismissed from his post as Defense Minister.

The blowback from these events in Lebanon 35 years ago still echo today in the wars America is conducting in Syria and Iraq.

Guest – Rashid Khalidi, Edward Said Professor of Arab Studies at Columbia University. He is the author of “Under Siege: PLO Decision Making During the 1982 War”. and most recently “Brokers of Deceit: How the US Has Undermined Peace in the Middle East.” Professor Khalidi recently had an article on the Sabra and Shatila massacre in The Nation magazine.

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Community Votes

The Queensbridge House public housing project in Long Island City Queens is the largest such complex in the country. With more than 7,000 residents, it’s a community with little faith in civic engagement. Like other public housing communities, and low-income neighborhoods in general, poor people vote at considerably lower rates than wealthier ones. Many feel apathetic, that the system is rigged, and that their votes don’t matter.

One nonprofit in NYC is using innovative partnerships with community-based social service organizations to conduct nonpartisan voter mobilization so more underrepresented citizens participate in our democracy.

Community Votes is trying to change the culture and mindset of large nonprofit social service agencies so they integrate into their day-to-day operations civic engagement activities. These activities include promoting awareness of elections and issues and encouraging voting and other participation in federal, state, and city policy making. A few years ago Community Votes partnered with the Jacob Riis Neighborhood Settlement, a longtime provider of social services in the Queensbridge Houses, to engage in personalized messaging to mobilize voters. The results were a considerably higher rate of voter turnout in the 2014 midterm elections.

Guest – Louisa Hackett is the director of Community Votes. Louisa founded Community Votes in 2013. Through her work at Community Resource Exchange providing consulting services to New York City nonprofit organizations, she recognized the assets direct service organizations have to turn more citizens into voters.

 

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Law and Disorder September 18, 2017


 

Anthropomorphic Climate Disruption

Devastation caused by hurricanes Harvey and Irma have provided ample opportunity for Democrats to press Republicans on climate change — with the catastrophic storms and wild fire giving tens of millions of Americans an up-front glimpse of the types of devastation we are facing.

Oddly, there’s been little talk in the nation’s capital. Aside from a handful of outliers like Hawaiian Sen. Brian Schatz, leading Democratic politicians have been slow to use the tropical storms to denounce President Donald Trump, who has dismissed climate change as a “hoax.”

That’s a contrast from past storms like 2012’s Hurricane Sandy, when Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo called the disaster a sign that “climate change is a reality.” Even then-New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, an independent, cited the storm and climate change at the time among his reasons for endorsing Barack Obama’s reelection as president.

Democrats appear to be heeding the warnings of Trump appointees like EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, who said last week that it’s “very, very insensitive to the people in Florida” to talk about climate change now.

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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John Brennan Named Distinguished Fellow for Global Security At Fordham Univerity’s Law School

Labor Day brought an unwelcome surprise to students and alumni of what the Jesuits proudly call The Jesuit University in the City of New York. Fordham University’s Law School announced that it had named former CIA Director John Brennan Distinguished Fellow for Global Security.

Brennan was a senior official in the CIA during the Bush -Cheney administration. The official record shows he was knee-deep into their programs of secret offshore prisons, torture, and kidnapping.

In fact, in late November 2008, when President-elect Obama was about to appoint Brennan director of the CIA, a category-five hurricane of protest made that politically impossible. For example, the American Psychological Association publicly appealed to Obama not to appoint Brennan because of his role in torture.

So, instead, Brennan played the role of national security adviser – a role in which Obama and he worked together, meeting every Tuesday to draw up lists of who would be killed the following week by missiles from drones.

By 2008, Congress had become so inured to such things that Brennan sailed through confirmation and became CIA director for Obama’s second term.

That Fordham has succumbed to what Jesuits like Dan Berrigan call the “celebrity virus” is abundantly clear in Brennan’s appointment. Fordham is proud to claim him as a college alumnus. And without a hint of shame, its law school is also proud to give him a prestigious appointment.

Guest – Ray McGovern, an alumnus of Fordham and was a high-ranking CIA analyst for 27 years. His expertise was Russia and he had one on one briefings daily with President George Bush. He broke with the government under George W. Bush over the cooked intelligence used to rationalize America’s illegal war of aggression against Iraq and helped form the organization Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity.  His group issued a memorandum to President Obama which demonstrated that the Russians did not hack into the computers of the Democratic Party or Hillary Clinton and did not therefore influence the American election.  http://raymcgovern.com/

Law and Disorder September 11, 2017


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Illegal Preventive War

Sixteen years ago today two hijacked planes flew into the twin towers and another one into the Pentagon. Fifteen of the 19 attackers were Saudi Arabians. They were funded by elements of the Saudi Arabian government. Osama bin Laden, a Saudi Arabian fundamentalist from a wealthy Saudi family took responsibility for the attack. He said he did it for three reasons: The American support of Israel against the Palestinians; the presence of US bases near the Saudi Arabian holy cities of Mecca and Medina; and the US economic and trade sanctions against Iraq which killed 600,000 children.

When the attack occurred, the feckless and unpopular George W. Bush had been in office less than a year. He told his national security advisor to figure out a way to blame the attacks on Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. A lie was propounded by Bush , his vice president Dick Cheney, and his secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld that Iraq had contact with Osama bin Laden and that Iraq was developing nuclear weapons, weapons of mass destruction. First, Afghanistan was bombed, even though it’s leaders offered to turn over Osama bin Laden. Then an illegal war was launched against Iraq initiated with horrific bombings called “shock and awe.” In the following years 1 million people were killed in that country. Half of the population are refugees or internally displaced.

In the wake of the 911 attacks, the Patriot Act was hastily pushed through Congress bringing an American police state closer into being. The war on terror was declared even though terror is a tactic and war is traditionally had been fought against other countries. This has given it a permanent character. A campaign of fear was whipped up. Torture and kidnapping by the CIA was instituted. Eventually the United States under President Obama was fighting six were simultaneously in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, Libya, and Somalia. Trump continues this aggression.

Guest – Ajamu Baraka, a member of board of directors of Cooperation Jackson, in Jackson Mississippi, editor and contributing columnist for Black Agenda Report, and National Organizer for the Black Alliance for Peace. He recently ran for vice president on the Green party ticket. He is a former board member at the Center for Constitutional Rights and a leader of the United National Anti-war Coalition.

U.S. Antiwar Leaders Call for Actions to Oppose the Escalation of the Afghanistan War During the Week of the 16th Anniversary of the Invasion, October 2 – 8.

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The Bronx 120 and Secor 19

A year ago we reported on the largest gang raid in NY history. It took place, pre-dawn, in the Williamsbridge section of the North Bronx, with 700 law enforcement officers arresting 120 young men  indicted on conspiracy charges using the 1970 RICO Act. In one apartment, more than a dozen police threw flash-bang grenades and broke down the front door with assault weapons aimed at a mother and her two daughters, then forced them to crawl down their hall on all fours toward the officers.

At that time, police held a press conference and characterized the young men as “the epitome of organized crime today.” Cooperating federal agencies included the DEA, the ATF, the US attorney general, and ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations. Community members question this portrayal, saying the young men were not highly organized gangsters terrorizing a community; they lacked money and weapons and were living at home with their parents.

Critics claim that applying RICO to street gangs has racist implications. Under RICO, individuals can be found guilty by association. Despite gang-related crime accounting for less than 2 percent of city crime, two weeks after the raid, James O’Neill, now NYPD Commissioner, promised more raids.

He came through with that promise this past April. Multiple arrests were made at the Boston Secor Houses in the Bronx, and federal charges were brought against 19 young persons. They have been charged with racketeering conspiracy, narcotics conspiracy, robbery conspiracy, extortion, and firearms offenses. We’re joined today by a FAMILY MEMBER of one of the young men arrested.

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