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Law and Disorder April 24, 2017


NYTimes Armenian Gen

Speaking In Turkish: Denying the Armenian Genocide

To commemorate this, the first genocide of the 20th century, Law and Disorder co-host Heidi Boghosian presents a 60-minute documentary special titled “Speaking In Turkish: Denying the Armenian Genocide.”

Around the world, April 24 marks the observance of the Armenian Genocide. On that day in 1915 the Interior Minister of the Ottoman Empire ordered the arrest and hangings of Armenian intellectuals and community leaders in Constantinople. It was the beginning of a systematic and well-documented plan to eliminate the Armenians, who were Christian, and who had been under Ottoman rule and treated as second class citizens since the 15th century.

The unspeakable and gruesome nature of the killings—beheadings of groups of babies, dismemberments, mass burnings, mass drownings, use of toxic gas, lethal injections of morphine or injections with the blood of typhoid fever patients—render oral histories particularly difficult for survivors of the victims.

Why did this happen? Despite being deemed inferior to Turkish Muslims, the Armenian community had attained a prestigious position in the Ottoman Empire and the central authorities there grew apprehensive of their power and longing for a homeland. The concerted plan of deportation and extermination was effected, in large part, because World War I demanded the involvement and concern of potential allied countries. As the writer Grigoris Balakian wrote, the war provided the Turkish government “their sole opportunity, one unprecedented” to exploit the chaos of war in order to carry out their extermination plan.

As Armenians escaped to several countries, including the United States, a number came to New Britain, Connecticut in 1892 to work in the factories of what was then known as the hardware capital of the world. By 1940 nearly 3,000 Armenians lived there in a tight-knit community.

Pope Frances calls it a duty not to forget “the senseless slaughter” of an estimated one and a half million Armenians by the Ottoman Turks from 1915 to 1923. “Concealing or denying evil is like allowing a wound to keep bleeding without bandaging it,” the Pope said just two weeks before the 100th anniversary of the systematic implementation of a plan to exterminate the Armenian race.

Special thanks to Jennie Garabedian, Arthur Sheverdian, Ruth Swisher, Harry Mazadoorian, and Roxie Maljanian. Produced and written by Heidi Boghosian and Geoff Brady.

 

Law and Disorder April 17, 2017


Update:

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US Bombs Syria

Donald Trump made two important promises during his presidential campaign: he vowed to not get involved in the Syrian Civil War where jihadist groups have been trying to overthrow the government of Assad for six years and the second promise he made during his campaign was to better relations with Russia which is a supporter of Assad and a strategic ally. Syria borders Russia to the south and has a warm water Mediterranean port.

Both these promises were broken on April 4, 2017 when President Trump illegally ordered the bombing by 54 Tomahawk missiles of the Shayrat Air Base in eastern Syria. The missile strike violated the United Nations charter, the convention against the use of chemical warfare, and United States law called the War Powers Act, not to mention Article 2 of the US Constitution. In support of his unilateral decision to bomb a sovereign nation with whom the United States is not at war,  President Trump claimed that he was motivated by learning of the horrible death of several children in the farm village of Khan Shaykhun.  The children died of an alleged poison gas attack which Trump claimed was carried out by the Assad government, which denies the charge. Without an impartial objective investigation required by The Chemical Weapons Convention,without going to the United Nations Security Council, and without any evidence, President Trump claimed that sarin, a poisonous nerve gas, was used by the Assad government.

Trump’s former critics who sprung to his defense included Hillary Clinton, Senate Minority Leader Democrat Chuck Schumer, and Republican leaders John McCain and Lindsey Graham, the entire mass media including the New York Times, Washington Post, MSNBC, and CNN.  Television reporter Brian Wilson use the word “beautiful” three times to describe the tomahawk missile explosions. Why did Trump reversed his position of not getting involved in the Syrian civil war? Why did he all the sudden take on Russia, to whom he had pledged better relations?

Guest – Phyllis Bennis directs the New Internationalism Project at IPS, working as a writer, activist and analyst on Middle East and UN issues. She is also a fellow of the Transnational Institute in Amsterdam. In 2001 she helped found and remains active with the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation. She works with many anti-war organizations, and writes and speaks widely across the U.S. and around the world as part of the global peace movement. She has served as an informal adviser to several top UN officials on Middle East and UN democratization issues.

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A Chicago Cop is Accused of Framing 51 People For Murder

Fifty years ago the great comedian Lenny Bruce used to crack that “Chicago is so corrupt it’s thrilling.” It has become known as “the conviction capital of the USA.” Today retired Chicago detective is accused of framing at least 51 people for murder, most of them from Humboldt Park in Chicago, a working class predominately Puerto Rican neighborhood. He was on the force from the 1980s through the early 2000’s. Guevara’s alleged misconduct sent 48 men and one woman to be sentenced to a total of more than 2300 years in prison. Three were acquitted. Five received life sentences. Three were sentenced to death, but spared when in 2003 Governor George Ryan, disturbed by a rash of wrongful convictions, commuted all of the death sentences to life in prison or less. Two men died behind bars.The initial work in uncovering Guevara’s misconduct fell by default to a group of women, mostly working class mothers, aunts, and sisters with limited English and limited familiarity with the law.

As investigative reporter Melissa Segura has written in BuzzFeed, “armed with nothing more than dining room tables full of transcripts, police  reports, and post it notes, marking the cracks in cases against their love ones, together they identified patterns running through Guevara’s cases.” They achieved some victories.  They gave information to civil rights attorneys at the Loevy and Loevy Chicago law firm which helped free Juan Johnson who later went on to receive a record $21 million and a judgment against the city of Chicago because of Guevara’s misconduct. So far six men have had their convictions overturned, 12 others have been released, 29 say they were framed remade in prison. Detective Guevara’s Witnesses by Melissa Segura

Guest – Attorney Tara Thompson is the founder of the Exoneration Project at Loevy and Loevy. Following law school Tara worked as an associate in Mayer Brown’s Chicago office, where she represented clients in a variety of litigation matters, including a significant commitment to pro bono representation. She left Mayer Brown in 2006 to clerk for Judge Elaine Bucklo of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. After completing her clerkship, she joined Loevy & Loevy in 2007.

Guest – Attorney Anand Swaminathan, is litigating the civil damage cases arising from the work of Guevara’s frame ups and which have demonstrated a pattern and practice of police misconduct. Since joining the firm, Anand has worked on a broad range of constitutional and civil rights cases, including wrongful convictions, the denial of medical care to inmates and detainees in jails and prisons, and retaliation for exercising free speech rights. Anand also works extensively on False Claims Act litigation, in which he represents whistle-blowers alleging military and other government contractor fraud, Medicare and Medicaid fraud, construction/contractor (MBE/DBE) fraud, bid-rigging, and tax fraud. Anand also represents whistleblowers in financial fraud cases under the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill, and in complex fraud cases under other federal and state statutes.

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Carl Messineo Consent Decrees and Policing in the U.S.

During the Obama administration, the Justice Department has sought to reform police practices considered discriminatory by using a statutory tool little known by the public and even less well understood. So-called “consent decrees” were established after the Los Angeles Rodney King riots, and allow the Department’s Civil Rights Division to sue local police forces that have been found to have “a pattern and practice” of using excessive force or violating individuals’ rights.

The DOJ launches an investigation into a police department’s operations, frequently after a high-profile incident – such as the 2014 shootings of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO, and Laquan McDonald in Chicago. If the feds find that the departments operate with an ongoing pattern of abuse, they sue, in essence forcing the law enforcement groups to settle the cases and undergo a change to their culture to a degree deemed sufficient by the court and the DOJ.

Some of the more recent agreements, like those with the Baltimore and Ferguson Police Departments, are better known to the public, but others are not and many haven’t yet seen a resolution. Out of 19 investigations carried out since 2010, six are considered “ongoing.”

Jeff Sessions said in 2008 that “One of the most dangerous, and rarely discussed, exercises of raw power is the issuance of expansive court decrees. Consent decrees have a profound effect on our legal system as they constitute an end run around the democratic process.” The new Attorney General has threatened to do away with them.

Guest – Attorney Carl Messineo, co-founder of The Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, a nonprofit progressive legal organization based in Washington DC. The organization focuses on cases regarding free speech and dissent, domestic spying and surveillance, police misconduct, government transparency, and educating the public about their rights. In the “Founders Message,” the organization states, “As we look to the future, the Partnership will continue to be at the forefront of legal struggle, using the law to defend and create room for the peoples’ movement for progressive social change.”

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Law and Disorder April 10, 2017


 

The Hundred-Year Walk: An Armenian Odyssey

April 24 marks the 101st anniversary of the Armenian genocide. Until recently, most Americans never heard of the genocide and rarely hear the individual stories of those who survived atrocities at the hands of the Ottoman Turks. Journalist Dawn Mackeen came to learn the personal account of her grandfather Stepan Miskjian after reading notebooks that he had kept a century ago chronicling his story. She then embarked on a multi-year journey, using her research skills to scour newspapers and archives around the globe to recreate, and then actually retrace, his steps taken 100 years earlier through Turkey and Syria.

She has written an eye-opening book, The Hundred-Year Walk: An Armenian Odyssey. It recounts not only her grandfather’s experience, but those of the approximately 1.5 million Armenians who were tortured and killed in the genocide that began in 1915. As many Armenian genocide survivors did, Dawn’s grandfather escaped just before the members of his caravan with were massacred by disguising himself as an Arab.

Guest – Dawn Mackeen is an award-winning journalist who spent nearly a decade researching and writing her grandfather’s story. Previously, she covered health and social issues for Salon, SmartMoney, and Newsday, where her investigative series on assisted living facilities’ poor care helped prompt legislative reform. Her work has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Elle, the Sunday Times Magazine (London), the Los Angeles Times, and elsewhere. She lives in Southern California.

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International Law and the State of Israel: Legitimacy, Exceptionalism and Responsibility

At the request of its member states, the United Nations economic and social commission for Western Asia commissioned a report on Israeli practices towards the Palestinian people and the question of apartheid. Apartheid is a crime against humanity under international law. The report found Israel in violation of three international laws. One of them, the  1998 Rome statute of the international criminal court states that “the crime of apartheid means inhumane acts committed in the context of AN institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over any other racial group or groups and committed with the intention of maintaining that regime.” The commission report concluded that Israel operates in an Apartheid regime against Palestinian citizens of Israel, Palestinians in East Jerusalem, Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, and Palestinian refugees and exiles.The commission made recommendations to dismantle the apartheid regime. In response, Israel and its ally the United States of America had to report rejected and caused the resignation of the head of the commission.

We speak with two anti- apartheid activists. Both have just returned from an important conference on Israel held at the University of Cork, in Cork Ireland.  The conference had twice been prevented by pro Israeli forces.

Guest – Richard Falk is the former UN Special Rapporteur on Palestinian human rights and Professor Emeritus of International Law at Princeton University. Since 2002 he has lived in Santa Barbara, California, and taught at the local campus of the University of California in Global and International Studies and since 2005 chaired the Board of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation.

Guest – Author Joel Kovel, politician, academic, and eco-socialist. He has lectured in psychiatry, anthropology, political science and communication studies. He has published many books including the controversial Overcoming Zionism: Creating a Single Democratic State in Israel/Palestine.

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Partisan Gerrymandering In Wisconsin

In a backlash to the 2008 Obama election victory, two years later, in 2010, the Republican Party of Wisconsin won both houses of the legislature and the governorships. The Republicans then redrew the legislative map making it impossible for the Democratic Party to capture a majority of the legislative seats at any time in the decade,  no matter how many votes they get.  This is called partisan gerrymandering, the process of drawing distorted legislative districts to undermine democracy.  Now, in Wisconsin, instead of voters choosing their legislatures, the legislatures choose the voters. As a consequence people in Wisconsin have had their great university system harmed, right to work laws have been enacted wrecking their unions, and there has been substantial environmental damage.

Guest – Professor William “Bill” Whitford who recently retired as a Law Professor at the University of Wisconsin. He is the lead plaintiff in a federal lawsuit against partisan gerrymandering. His cases is likely to be heard in the Supreme Court. In the case Whitford v Gill 12, Wisconsin voters are challenging the constitutionality of the states Republican drawn legislative maps. Heretofore, the Supreme Court has been unwilling to get involved.  This case may change that and restore a measure of democracy to a broken system  in Wisconsin, and later elsewhere.

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Law and Disorder April 3, 2017


Trial Judge Rules Against 69 Year Old Palestinian Activist Rasmea Odeh

In 1969, when she was a 21 year old college student in Ramallah in the Israeli occupied territories on the West Bank,  Rasmea Odeh, a Palestinian woman, was arrested for killing two Israeli University students with a bomb placed in a supermarket.  She confessed to the crime and served 10 years in prison, getting out in a prisoner swap. She came to United States 20 years ago, obtained citizenship, and settled in Chicago as a community organizer of immigrant Arab women.  Odeh was criminally charged two years ago by the federal government with “unlawful procurement of naturalization.” In her application, she omitted mention of the crime for which she was convicted in Israel. In her defense, she said that she could not remember, that she had post traumatic stress disorder as a result of being tortured in jail for 25 days and forced to sign a false confession. Her expert witness was not allowed to testify as to the PSTD and the torture.  The trial judge’s ruling on this was overturned by a Federal Court of Appeals. Last week she agreed to a plea arrangement where she would be stripped of her citizenship and deported rather than face a 5 to 7 year prison sentence and indefinite detention by ICE. She is 69 years old and does not know where she will be sent inasmuch as she cannot go home.

Guest – Attorney Michael Deutsch  had represented Rasmea Odeh. He is a partner at the Peoples Law Office in Chicago and a former legal director at the  Center for Constitutional Rights. After clerking for United States Court of Appeals Judge Otto Kerner, Mr. Deutsch went into private practice, joining People’s Law Office in 1970 where he has represented political activists and victims of police and government civil rights violations. His advocacy has taken him all around the world, including to hearings in the United Nations. He has tried many civil and criminal cases in federal and state courts, and has written and argued numerous appeals, including several in the United States Supreme Court.

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New York City Titanpointe National Security Agency Protest

There is a massive 550 foot tall gray granite and cement NSA spying hub hidden in plain sight in a windowless skyscraper in downtown Manhattan. At noon on April 15 an action is planned by a group called the Quiet American. It is an arts and politics journal based in Ridgewood, Queens, New York. They will perform a rite of exorcism on the building in order to, as their press release states, “to metaphysically purge the edifice of the data it hoards and to invoke a less maniacal version of citizen-government relations.”

The building is located at 33 Thomas Street where the action will take place. It is a windowless monolith that people say is “creepy as hell” and “a monument to the bottomless fear that locks us in permanent war”. The building was designed to withstand a nuclear assault and sustain its employees working there for two weeks.

Guest –  Eli Smith, a musician and activist from Brooklyn, who has helped organize the event. Eli Smith is also a folklorist and music producer who organizes the annual “Brooklyn Folk Festival”, a huge weekend music gathering now in its ninth year, and coming up at the end of April.

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Lawsuit Forces EPA Head To Release More Emails Exposing Fossil Fuel Ties

Donald Trump’s nominee to head the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, was recently sued by the Center for Media and Democracy to force the release of emails exposing ties with fossil fuel backers and the Oklahoma Office of Attorney General.

The suit, filed on behalf of the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD), seeks an emergency injunction to prevent Pruitt from destroying any documents relevant to the group’s open records requests before his confirmation hearing. Since 2015, CMD filed seven records requests with Pruitt’s office seeking communications with Koch Industries and other coal, oil, and gas corporations as well as the corporate-funded Republican Attorney General’s Association.

Pruitt has yet to turn over a single document, despite acknowledging that his office has 3,000 emails and other documents relevant to CMD’s initial request. The Oklahoma Open Records Act provides that “the people are vested with the inherent right to know and be fully informed about their government . . . so they may efficiently and intelligently exercise their inherent political power.”

The act also mandates that a public body “must provide prompt, reasonable access to its records.” With Pruitt seeking confirmation to become EPA administrator, these public records are essential for the U.S. Senate to do its job.

“There is no valid legal justification for the emails we received last night not being released prior to Pruitt’s confirmation vote other than to evade public scrutiny,” said Arn Pearson, general counsel for CMD. “There are hundreds of emails between the AG’s office, Devon Energy, and other polluters that Senators should have been permitted to review prior to their vote to assess Pruitt’s ties to the fossil fuel industry.”

Guest – Arn Pearson, General Counsel and Policy Advisor from the Center for Media and Democracy. He previously served as the Vice President for Policy and Litigation at Common Cause. Arn has worked for more than 20 years developing federal and state policy and legal strategies around campaign finance reform, government ethics, corporate accountability, and tax reform.

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Law and Disorder February 20, 2017


 

The Deep State: The Fall Of The Constitution And The Rise Of The Shadow Government

A century ago, Ferdinand Lundberg wrote the classic book “America’s 60 Families” describing them, their interconnections and the powerful role they played in American governance.  This was in 1965 when the great sociologist C. Wright Mills wrote “The Power Elite” and then William Domhoff wrote “Who Rules America?” Now, Mike Lofgren has made a significant contribution in describing the workings of the American ruling elite with his book The Deep State: The Fall Of The Constitution And The Rise Of The Shadow Government.

Guest – Mike Lofgren worked in Congress for 28 years, 16 of them as a senior analyst at the House and Senate Budget Committees.  He held a top security clearance. He now represents no political party, no business interest, and no ideology. His previous book The Party Is Over was a New York Times bestseller.

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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

As director of the CIA, from 1952 until Kennedy fired him, Allen Dulles has been said to exemplify unbridled authority at the height of the Cold War. Under his leadership the CIA became a lawless force domestically and internationally that engaged, with impunity, in covert acts such as the assassination of foreign leaders including Patrice Lumubo in the Congo and overthrowing the government led by Jacobo Arbenz in Guatemala.

As an attorney for the law firm Sullivan and Cromwell in the 1930s, Dulles protected and promoted Nazi-controlled cartels. He wielded his influence in the Office of Strategic Services during World War II and then in the CIA to shield former Nazis from prosecution for war crimes in the ’40s and ’50s. David Talbot writes in book The Devil’s Chessboard, ” over the final months of the JFK presidency, a clear consensus took shape within the American “deep state” Kennedy was a national security threat. For the good of the country he must be removed and Dulles was the only man with the stature, connections and decisive will to make something of this enormity happen. so he could enlist them to fight communists. In addition to assisting with the assassination of Congo leader Patrice Lumumba, he organized the Bay of Pigs invasion and tried repeatedly to murder Fidel Castro.

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.

Law and Disorder December 5, 2016


Update:

  • Hosts Remember Cuban Prime Minister Fidel Castro

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Remembering Cuban Prime Minister Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz

When the American supported military dictator of Cuba Fulgencio Batista fled Cuba in January 1959 and the revolutionary government led by Fidel Castro marched into Havana they passed three laws.  The first lowered the age so that Fidel could be prime minister. He was 33 years old.  The second made Che Guevara a citizen of Cuba, he was Argentinian.  And the third was the great agrarian reform law. It took land from the large plantations, owned mostly by American corporations, and distributed it to the people who worked it. The Cuban government had a right to do this under international law. They offered compensation.

The Cuban government said they would reimburse the mostly American corporate land owners the amount that they listed as the value of the land for tax purposes. The corporations would not agree. Instead the American owned oil refinery refused to refine oil.  This would have shut down the Cuban economy. The Cubans responded by nationalizing the oil refinery. Then they nationalized the telephone company, the nickel mines, the automobile assembly plant and so on. The Cuban state took control of their own economy. This became what is known as the historic Cuban socialist revolution. United States policy from that day till now has been to overthrow this revolution and reinstall capitalism.  For 47 years Fidel Castro led the Cuban government in its resistance to American counterrevolutionary activity.

Guest – James Cockcroft, a retired professor and lifelong supporter of the Cuban revolution. A bilingual award-winning author of more than 50 books on Latin America, US hidden history, culture, migration, and human rights,  including most recently “Cuba In My Blood. ”  He has traveled to Cuba many times, has been active in Cuba solidarity work, and has called Fidel Castro a personal friend.  A bilingual poet, three-time Fulbright Scholar, and Honorary Editor of Latin American Perspectives, he serves on the Coordinadora Internacional de Redes en Defensa de la Humanidad, the International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban Five, and civil society’s Benito Juárez Tribunal (vice-president, 2005) that judged U.S. terrorism against Cuba and International Tribunal of Trade Union Freedom (2009-10) that judged Mexico for its violations of labor and human rights. A Canadian immigrant, he is a member of the UNESCO-sponsored World Council of the José Martí World Solidarity Project, la Table de Concertation de Solidarité Québec-Cuba, la Société Bolivarienne du Québec, la Base de Paix Montréal, le Comité Fabio Di Celmo pour les 5, and the Canada-Cuba Literary Alliance.

Guest – Ike Nahem – A longtime anti-war, socialist, and labor activist Ike Nahem is the coordinator of Cuba Solidarity New York and a founder of the July 26 Coalition. Nahem is an Amtrak Locomotive Engineer and member of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, a division of the Teamsters Union. He participated in a panel on Latin American politics at the 2011 Left Forum.

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Dakota Access Pipeline: Dispatch #8: UPDATE-Army Will Not Grant Easement For DAPL Crossing

At the time of our weekly dispatch from Standing Rock North Dakota, at least two major developments were unfolding: (1) Governor Jack Dalrymple had recently enacted an emergency evacuation order, citing public safety due to the frigid weather and (2) as many as 2,000 veterans are planning to gather there next week to serve as “human shields” for protesters who have for months clashed with the police over the pipeline construction.

The evacuation order was issued to the hundreds of Dakota Access Pipeline protesters camping on U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ land near the Missouri River. It was given as a winter storm left least a half foot of snow throughout the central part of the state. It followed an order by the corps that the land will be closed to the public earlier this week. Law enforcement officials have said they would begin blocking supplies, including food, from entering the main protest camp.

The order means that emergency services will not be made available to people at the camp except on a case-by-case basis. The order will remain until he rescinds it.

Standing Rock Tribal Chairman Dave Archambault II called the order “a menacing action meant to cause fear and is a blatant attempt by the state and local officials to usurp and circumvent federal authority.” The Veterans effort is planned as a nonviolent intervention to defend demonstrators from what the group calls “assault and intimidation at the hands of the militarized police force.”

Water Protectors Legal Collective – NLG

Guest – National Lawyers Guild Attorney Jeff Haas, recently returned from living at the North Dakota encampment with thousands of Native Americans and climate change activists who gathered in solidarity with the Standing Rock Indian tribe in North Dakota to protest the pipeline construction. Jeff Haas was a founding partner of the Peoples Law Office in Chicago. He victoriously represented the family of Fred Hampton, the chairman of the Chicago Black Panther Party and proved that Hampton was assassinated by the FBI and Chicago Police Department. He’s also author of the book The Assassination of Fred Hampton.

Sacred Stone Camp Legal Defense – Lawyers wanting to support the Sacred Stone Camp, contact Attorney Robin Martinez –  robin.martinez@martinezlaw.net

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Law and Disorder November 26, 2016


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The Trump Administration And The Current Police State Apparatus

The movement for social change in the United States has been growing and accelerating in the last five years with the Occupy Movement, Black Lives Matter and now the large encampment and protest of Native Americans and their allies protecting our water in North Dakota. Half of American young people under the age of 29 say they would prefer Socialism. Bernie Sanders, running as a democratic socialist, had received more than 13 million votes. It is a time of great possibilities and simultaneously a time of great danger with the election of Donald Trump. What is the state of democratic rights as we go into the Trump era? Because of the policies of George W. Bush and Barack Obama  Americans are the most spied upon people in the history of the world with government surveilling every keystroke on their computers, social media,  and every email they send.  The ancient right of habeas corpus has been compromised allowing for indefinite detention of American citizens, military commission trials, and imprisonment offshore in Guantánamo Cuba. Extra- judicial assassinations are a regular practice, with American citizens being targeted and killed by drone strikes. Torture carried out by the CIA and private contractors has gone unpunished. The Posse Comitatus Act has been abolished and now the US military will be allowed to perform police functions inside United States.  The police force itself has been militarized and given military grade weapons.  What can the movement for social change expect from the Trump administration?

Guest – Attorney Baher Azmy, Legal Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights. He directs all litigation and advocacy around issues related to the promotion of civil and human rights. At CCR, he has litigated cases related to discriminatory policing practices (stop and frisk), government surveillance, the rights of Guantanamo detainees, and accountability for victims of torture. Baher is currently on leave from his faculty position at Seton Hall University School of Law, where he taught Constitutional Law and directed the Civil Rights and Constitutional Litigation Clinic.

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DAPL Protests Attacks: Oceti Sakowin Encampment

A week ago Sunday the water protectors numbering in the thousands including members of more than 100 Native American tribes at Standing Rock, North Dakota were brutally attacked for over six hours by police and  private security.   They have been camped in the freezing North Dakota weather attempting to halt the construction of a 1200 mile oil pipeline that is scheduled to go through sacred Indian lands and beneath the Missouri River and then through South Dakota, Iowa, and into Illinois. Pipelines frequently break and if and when this one does it will contaminate the water supply of some 15 million people.  Water from the river was sprayed on the protesters in 26° weather causing many of them to get life threatening hypothermia.  Rubber bullets were also shot at the protesters. A long-range sound cannon was employed to disorient them and mace was sprayed in their faces. Several hundred people were injured and more than 100 were arrested.  Although President Obama could stop the pipeline he has so far put off ruling on it’s legality or safety.  The 3.8 billion-dollar pipeline is owned by the energy transfer partners company, an outfit in which  Donald Trump has a large investment. The Norwegian government bank  has recently  pulled out of the project and if the pipeline is not completed soon other investors may bail jeopardizing the entire project. Oectisakowincamp.org

Guest – Angela Bibens, an attorney from Denver, Colorado, Angela practices criminal, juvenile and family law with a specialty in the Indian Child Welfare Act.  She earned her law degree from the University of Denver Sturm College of Law in 2006.  She is a wife and mother of three.  Angela has been the ground coordinator for the Water Protector Legal Collective at Oceti Sakowin Camp near the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe for the past three months.

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Campaign to Bring Home Mumia Abu-Jamal & Inside the Activist Studio 

The New York-Based activist group, the Campaign to Bring Mumia Home, is filming the second episode of an innovative project, Inside the Activist Studio on December 6 at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. Inspired by the popular television series, Inside the Actors Studio, its inaugural show featured a profile of Sekou Odinga.

The second episode features an interview with longtime activist Ramona Africa, of the MOVE Organization. Ramona was the only adult survivor of the police bombing of the MOVE home in West Philadelphia on May 13, 1985. The bombing caused a fire that the fire department initially allowed to burn and that killed 11 MOVE members, including five children. It devastated the 6200 block of Osage Avenue, destroying 61 homes and damaging many others.

Guest –  Professor Johanna Fernandez, is a native New Yorker. 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. She has previously taught at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburg, PA and Trinity College in Hartford, CT and is, most recently, the recipient of a Fulbright Scholars grant to the Middle East and North Africa that will take her to Jordan in spring 2011, where she will teach graduate courses in American History.

Guest – Ramona Africa, Minister of Communication for the MOVE organization.

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Law and Disorder November 14, 2016


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Uprooting Entrenched Systems of Power: Chris Hedges

On the morning after the US presidential election, we spoke with Chris Hedges. Chris has written several best-sellers including Wages of Rebellion, The Moral Imperative of Revolt, Empire of Illusion, Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt and War Is A Force That Gives Us Meaning.  In this interview, Chris provides an analysis of entrenched systems of power and shares his thoughts on how we all move forward to challenge a new series of repressive measures.

Guest – Chris Hedges,  author and journalist, who publishes weekly on Truthdig. He’s written 11 books, including New York Times best seller “Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt” (2012), which he co-authored with the cartoonist Joe Sacco. Other books include “Death of the Liberal Class” (2010), “Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle” (2009), “I Don’t Believe in Atheists” (2008) and the best selling “American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America” (2008). He’s a former war correspondent, specializing in American and Middle Eastern politics and societies.

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Syrian Proxy Wars 2016

The horrific situation in Syria is something that the American people don’t know much about. Anti-war movement activists suffer from a lack of decent reporting. Some of the issues we’ll examine are – Is it a proxy war between Middle Eastern governments? Can Isis be reigned in? Should Assad go? Is that any of “our” business? Finally, should the American peace movement be promoting the goal of a weapons of mass destruction free Middle East?

Guest – Phyllis Bennis directs the New Internationalism Project at IPS, working as a writer, activist and analyst on Middle East and UN issues. She is also a fellow of the Transnational Institute in Amsterdam. In 2001 she helped found and remains active with the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation. She works with many anti-war organizations, and writes and speaks widely across the U.S. and around the world as part of the global peace movement. She has served as an informal adviser to several top UN officials on Middle East and UN democratization issues.

Protesters demonstrate against the Energy Transfer Partners' Dakota Access pipeline near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in Cannon Ball, North Dakota standing-rock-r-lederman

Attorney Jeff Haas: Dakota Access Pipeline Dispatch #5

Construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline continues. Two weeks have passed since we last spoke with Attorney Jeff Haas who has been representing the Native Americans and the protesters at Standing Rock. A lot has happened. The company is hellbent in getting that pipeline done and they’ve built it all the way up to the river, even though they don’t have a permit for going under the river yet.

The pipeline goes from North Dakota to South Dakota to Iowa. Winter is setting in. There are 5000 people encamped there. On October 27, 2016 with a huge military force. The governor and the armored police tried without success to roll things back.

Guest – National Lawyers Guild Attorney Jeff Haas, recently returned from living at the North Dakota encampment with thousands of Native Americans and climate change activists who gathered in solidarity with the Standing Rock Indian tribe in North Dakota to protest the pipeline construction. Jeff Haas was a founding partner of the Peoples Law Office in Chicago. He victoriously represented the family of Fred Hampton, the chairman of the Chicago Black Panther Party and proved that Hampton was assassinated by the FBI and Chicago Police Department. He’s also author of the book The Assassination of Fred Hampton.

Guest – Lyla June Johnston, a writer, a Dine, Chayenne and Scandinavian poet

Sacred Stone Camp Legal Defense – Lawyers wanting to support the Sacred Stone Camp, contact Attorney Robin Martinez –  robin.martinez@martinezlaw.net

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Law and Disorder November 7, 2016


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More FDNY Lawsuits

Two years ago the New York Fire Department settled a racial discrimination suit brought by the Center for Constitutional Rights and the United States Department of Justice on behalf of the Vulcans, black fire fighters organization. The court awarded $100 million in back pay and benefits to fire fighters who had been discriminated against and to applicants who’s efforts to join the department had been stymied by what the court ruled was institutional bias. Two weeks ago a second lawsuit was filed by Brooklyn attorney Greg Smith on behalf of 10 African American civilians who work in the non-uniform part of the New York Fire Department. The suit alleges pay discrimination, retaliation for complaints, and harassment of black people working at 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.Ginger Otis. She’s the author of the book Firefight The Century-Long Battle to Integrate New York’s Bravest. Ms. Otis works as a staff writer for the NY Daily News.

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Anti-SLAPP Legislation

If you have ever left a less than favorable comment on a website such as Yelp or TripAdvisor you should know that some businesses or doctors are suing consumers for their negative reviews. Patients writing about botched surgical procedures or doctors’ billing practices have been sued in small claims court saying the bad reviews cost their practices thousands of dollars.

Two pending federal laws are designed to protect consumers from legal retaliation when they express opinions online.

The Consumer Review Fairness Act, dubbed the “Right to Yelp Act,” would bar companies from including gag clauses in agreements they ask consumers to sign. And the Speak Free Act would create a legal weapon for defendants in lawsuits over their publicly expressed thoughts. Such cases are called SLAPP (strategic lawsuits against public participation). Someone brought into court over their words can invoke the bill’s anti-SLAPP motion to get the case dismissed quickly and force the plaintiff to pay attorney’s fees.

Yelp is among some 40 companies and nonprofits backing the bills, which also have bipartisan support in Congress, where they are expected to move forward this fall. Some, however, find the bills unconstitutional as they might impose barriers to civil rights and public interest litigation.

Guest – Evan Mascagni, policy director at the Public Participation Project. The Project assists individuals and organizations working to pass anti-SLAPP legislation in the states while educating the public regarding SLAPPs and their consequences.

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9781510711013-frontcover Photo by Michael Ratner

How the CIA Killed Che: The Murder of A Revolutionary

The Cuban revolution of 1959 was a historical turning point. It ended American corporate and political control of the island’s economy and government and it demonstrated to other Latin American and Caribbean peoples that they could do the same. The American response was quick and deadly.  They overthrew any governments that did not oppose the Cuban revolution. This included Brazil, Argentina, the Dominican Republic, Bolivia and most spectacularly, in 1971, in an effort involving US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, the democratically elected socialist government of Chile. Che Guevara failed in his attempt to defend the revolution in Cuba by extending it. He started in Bolivia with a band of international revolutionary guerrilla fighters and was quickly discovered, surrounded, and assassinated by Bolivian soldiers trained and organized by the CIA in an operation that was directed right out of the White House. The economic blockade of Cuba by the United States is still in effect.  Left leaning governments in Argentina, Brazil, and Honduras have been replaced by neoliberal capitalists under the favored hand of the American government.

Guest –  Professor Greg Grandin  wrote the introduction to the recently published book by our own Michael Ratner and Michael Steven Smith called “How the CIA Killed Che. Grandin is the author of a number of prize-winning books, including most recently “The Empire of Necessity: Slavery, Freedom, and Deception in the New World,” which won the Bancroft Prize in American History and was shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize in the UK. NPR’s Maureen Corrigan on Fresh Air named The Empire of Necessity as the best book of 2014, both non-fiction and fiction. “Fordlandia: The Rise and Fall of Henry Ford’s Forgotten Jungle City” was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in History, as well as for the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award and was picked by the New York Times, New Yorker, Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune and NPR for their “best of” lists, and Amazon.com named it the best history book of 2009.

Law and Disorder October 31, 2016


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Green Party Vice Presidential Candidate Ajamu Baraka

Here on Law and Disorder we continue our interviews with candidates other than the two major parties. This week we talk with Green Party Vice Presidential Candidate Ajamu Baraka.

Guest – Ajamu Baraka is a longtime activist, veteran of Black Liberation Movement, Human Rights defender, Former founding director of US Human Rights Network, currently Public Intervenon for Human Rights with Green Shadow Cabinet, member of Coordinating Committee of Black Left Unity Network and Associate Fellow at IPS.  He’s on a long time board member of the Center for Constitutional  Rights and a human rights defender whose experience spans three decades of domestic and international education and activism, Ajamu Baraka is a veteran grassroots organizer whose roots are in the Black Liberation Movement and anti-apartheid and Central American solidarity struggles. Black Agenda Report

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The Connecticut Four

More than ten years ago four librarians in Connecticut fought back after FBI agents handed them National Security Letters seeking library records under the PATRIOT Act, and warned them it was a criminal offense to discuss it with anyone. The letter demanded that the librarians identify patrons who had used library computers online at a specific time a year earlier. Four librarians challenged the legality of the request in a lawsuit, represented by the ACLU. A year later the government withdrew the demand for information and the gag order. The media dubbed them “the Connecticut Four.”

Recently they have reunited to draw attention to attempts by the U.S. Senate to expand the amount and kinds of information that the government may compel libraries and others to divulge. It could force librarians to give the FBI transaction records, such as email metadata, links clicked on to access other websites and the length and time of Internet search sessions.

Guest – George Christian, executive director of the Library Connection and one of the four Connecticut librarians gagged by the FBI. The four librarians, members of the Library Connection, sought help from the ACLU after the FBI demanded patron records through a National Security Letter.

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The Bronx 120

Just before 5 in the morning on April 27, 700 law enforcement officers conducted the largest gang raid in NY history in the Williamsbridge section of the North Bronx. Prosecutors used the 1970 RICO Act, and 78 young men averaging 24 years in age were arrested and indicted 120 on conspiracy charges. All are being detained collectively for 8 murders and firearms and drug charges dating back two decades. In one apartment, more than a dozen police threw flash-bang grenades and broke down the front door with assault weapons aimed at Paula Clarke and her two daughters, then forced them to crawl down their hall on all fours toward the officers.

At a press conference, police 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 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 20 more raids before July 4.

The department quadrupled its gang division by launching Operation Crew Cut in 2012. A 2014 initiative has spent over $64.6 million on surveillance cameras and singled out 15 projects as high-crime zones; at least ten of those projects have experienced police raids.

Guest – Cindy Gorn is a former teacher of Urban Studies at Hunter College and a member of the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee.

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