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Law and Disorder October 27, 2014


Updates:

  • Michael Ratner: Obama Could Allow “Torture Light” Interpretation of U.N. Treaty on Torture
  • Michael Smith Returns From Argentina Book Tour, Describes How U.S Attempts To Destabilize Argentina Economy

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The Revictimization Release Act

Last Thursay, the Pennsylvania State Senate in a bi-partisan 37-11 vote, approved The Revictimization Release Act. This last minute controversial law was ignited by Mumia Abu Jamal’s commencement address delivered at Goddard College in Vermont. The law would grant crime victims or prosecutors acting on their behalf to file a civil action against an offender to seek injunctive relief to stop offenders or former inmates from engaging in conduct that would cause “temporary or permanent state of mental anguish” to the victim.

Mumia Abu Jamal is 60 years old. He’s in the general population at Mahanoy State Correctional Institution in Frackville. He has also given speeches at Evergreen State College in Washington and Antioch College in Ohio.

Attorney Bret Grote:

  • The Muzzle Mumia Law as it was called by the Harrisburg Patriot provides a cause of action for a victim of a personal injury crime to sue an offender in state court in Pennsylvania if that offender engages in conduct that “perpetuates” the effect of that crime on the victim. Later on in the statutes, that conduct is defined as including conduct that a temporary or permanent states of mental anguish.
  • It also provides for the district attorney where the conviction was secured or the state’s attorney general to essentially act as the private attorney for the victim in order to bring this suit.
  • It also does encompass not only speech about the crime whether its somebody like Mumia or Lorenzo Johnson or countless others who speak out about being framed up in Pennsylvania, but it doesn’t even make any exceptions for legal proceedings – and obviously people appealing criminal convictions can cause anguish to others.
  • There are standards and no definitions for the conduct that is at issue except in relation to its impact on the victim and to provide some context as I’m sure your listeners know why it was written this way is they needed to write a statute that would sweep so broadly so as to encompass things like Mumia giving a commencement address at Goddard College, which was used as a pretext for whipping up this frenzy at the state legislature.
  • It is a prior restraint on the freedom of speech but its written so broadly that Maureen Faulkner or the district attorney could conceivably go into court under this law.
  • The House Judiciary committee in discussing this law when it was introduced in committee raised the issue of would this allow a court to enjoin what they called third party vessels.
  • It could be Prison Radio, or it could be an individual who is authorized to speak to the media, or make a public statement.
  • It was passed 197-0 in the House Legislature, and 37-11 in the Senate.
  • It just shows you what takes precedence over any kind of adherence of the Constitution of the state or the United States, more than any law is allegiance to power amongst the political class, Pennsylvania politicians, attorney generals, district attorneys, are no strangers to Constitutional violations, its a normative practice for them.
  • Right now, I’m representing Mumia in this and Prison Radio and Robert Holbrook who is a juvenile lifer and Human Rights Coalition member and activist and writer.
  • Its unconstitutional under traditional over breadth analysis, it penalized lawful speech and its void for vagueness.
  • There is probably nothing that would be more traumatizing for an actual victim of a crime then to have to go through this process that they’ve laid out in the Revictimization Release Act.
  • They explicitly and exclusively focused on Mumia.
  • This legislation was introduced by a former member of the Fraternal Order of Police, Mike Verib, who was a former Philadelphia police officer now a state legislator. In the context of Mumia’s case they have been leading a lynch mob literally in the streets to snuff out his voice.
  • For decades the judge that presided over his trial was a Fraternal Order of Police member. They finance and vet the campaigns of every Supreme Court Justice in the state of Pennsylvania, the same with people running for office as governors.
  • Mumia is being used in this context to reestablish the narrative, the Fraternal Order of Police, the police, their political counterparts are righteous protectors of public safety and that they’re beyond question and beyond reproach in trying to reset the propaganda line that has been dislodged in the wake of the rebellions in Ferguson, Illinois.

Guest – Pennsylvania attorney Brete Grote,  a member of the Russell Maroon Shoatz legal team and cofounder and legal director of the Abolitionist Law Center. Bret has worked with the Human Rights Coalition since 2007 as an investigator, organizer, and researcher. He was the Isabel and Alger Hiss Racial Justice Fellow at the Center for Constitutional Rights in 2012. He graduated from the University of Pitt Law School in May 2013 and was recognized as the school’s Distinguished Public Interest Scholar.

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Richard Falk: The Palestinian Future After Gaza

We hear a presentation by Richard Falk titled The Palestinian Future After Gaza. Richard Falk was presenting at the Edward W. Said Memorial Lecture, co-sponsored by Columbia’s Heyman Center for the Humanities. It’s given once a year in honor of the public intellectual and literary critic, Edward W. Said, who taught in the English & Comparative Literature Department at Columbia from 1963 until 2003

Richard Falk is Albert G. Professor of International Law and Practice Emeritus at Princeton where he was a member of the faculty for 40 years. Since 2002 he has been associated with Global & International Studies at University of California, Santa Barbara as a research professor.

He was Special Rapporteur on Occupied Palestine for the UN Human Rights Council since 2008, and served on a panel of experts appointed by the President of the UN General Assembly, 2008-2009. He is Chair of the Board of Directors, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, an NGO located in Santa Barbara.

He is also a member of the editorial board of several journals and magazines, including the American Journal of International Law, Third World Quarterly, Globalizations, The Nation, and The Progressive. Formerly, he was for many years North American Director of the World Order Models Project.

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Law and Disorder October 20, 2014


Updates:

  • Heidi Boghosian Updates Listeners On The Revictimization Relief Act

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Michael Smith Returns From Argentina Book Tour

Early October marks the 47th anniversary of Ernesto Che Guevarra’s capture and assassination in Bolivia. Co-hosts Michael Ratner and Michael Smith have authored the book Who Killed Che? How The CIA Got Away With Murder. Michael Smith has recently returned from a trip to Buenos Aires to promote the Spanish language version of the book. Michael explains how Che was a threat to the United States by helping Cuba take over their own economy and why its important to set the story straight about Che’s death. Review of Who Killed Che?

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Weekend of Resistance: Ferguson, St. Louis Protests and the National Lawyers Guild

Last weekend, thousands of protesters in Ferguson, Missouri just outside of St. Louis demonstrated during a long planned Weekend of Resistance to the militarized suppression of peaceful demonstrations against the the killings of unarmed black teenagers including Michael Brown two months ago. Demonstrators traveled from cites across the country to participate in protests against police violence – including sit ins and vigil marches. Meanwhile, National Lawyers Guild members have been providing legal support, legal observation and felony representation for people arrested during the weekend. We catch up with St Louis Lawyers Guild member attorney Maggie Ellinger-Locke who has been working long hours representing arrested demonstrators. There are 90 municipalities in St. Louis and Maggie also explains the challenges in helping those arrested get processed through a unique court system.

Attorney Maggie Ellinger-Locke:

  • People poured into the streets after the killing of Mike Brown and have pretty much been occupying various locations around the St. Louis area and protesting ever since.
  • We at the National Lawyers Guild have mobilized close to 100 legal observers at this point to come down and do the observing and training people who are local.
  • We’ve also been connecting people who are facing felony charges with representation as well as backing up the Arch City Defenders who are handling the bulk of the ordinance violations and charges.
  • In August there were lots of chemical weapons used, tear gas every night. I was tear gassed multiple times. Other major mobilizations that I’ve been to, they last a couple of days, maybe the duration of a week, but this has been a continued onslaught of less than lethal weapons.
  • There are a lot of difference agencies on the ground for law enforcement. There’s the Missouri Highway Patrol, St. Louis County Police Department, The Sheriff’s Department and of course we have 90 different municipalities in St. Louis County, each with its own police force.
  • This is what it takes to fight back. People are out there every day on the streets.
  • We’ve had NLG members pour in from all over which has really been fun getting to know all these people.
  • Monsanto, which is based in Creve Coeur, Missouri, made a donation recently of a million dollars to various community groups doing work on the ground. On the other hand we’ll have a local pizza company board up and then the owner will train a gun on protesters to intimidate them.
  • The demands have varied depending on the organizations. Indicting Darren Wilson, the officer who shot Michael Brown is at the top of everyone’s list. In order to achieve that you would have to have demand number 2 met which is that Don McCullough, the St. Louis County prosecuting attorney recuse himself from this case. People think that he’s conflicted in that his father was a white police officer who was shot by an African American man and killed.
  • Another big demand is that the many many municipal charges that people are facing be dropped.
  • In addition we desperately need reform of our municipal court system. The structure is insane.
  • We’re hopeful that if we can demand jury trials for all of those arrested, we may in fact be able to crash the system.
  • We have 40 people now who are facing felonies.
  • The Organization For Black Struggle and  Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment.

Guest – Attorney Maggie Ellinger-LockeNational Lawyers Guild member and activist, and a partner with Ellinger & Assoc., P.C., a Law Firm in O’Fallon, Missouri.

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Jon Burge, Torturer of Over 100 Black Men, is Out of Prison After Less Than 4Years

Last week former Chicago police commander Jon Burge who was convicted of lying about torturing more than 100 African-American men at Chicago police stations will be released from the Butner Correctional Institution and reporting to a halfway house in Tampa, Florida. This, as many listeners know is an ongoing story that we’ve been reporting on for many years with Attorney Flint Taylor with the People’s Law Office in Chicago who worked on the case representing some of the torture victims. We talk about why Jon Burge was released and his recent article titled Jon Burge, Torturer of Over 100 Black Men, is Out of Prison After Less Than Four Years. Flint reminds listeners that the total in financial damages to taxpayers from the torture of over 100 black men that Burge oversaw, and the ongoing pension payouts to his collaborating officers, exceeds $120,000,000.

 Attorney Flint Taylor:

  • Burge is a now notorious police torturer here in Chicago. He shot from detective up to commander of a police station based on torturing African-Americans suspects into giving confessions and sending many of them to death row and to life in prison.
  • Ultimately, we were, along with community activists, expose this pattern and practice of 100 cases of police torture.
  • This was by electric shock, by bagging people and other kinds of racist brutality.
  • We exposed it and nothing happened for many years. Ultimately the Feds, indicted Burge, several years ago, not for torture because the statute of limitations had run on that, but rather for perjury and obstruction of justice.
  • He was convicted by a predominantly white jury and ultimately sentenced to 41/2 years in the penitentiary.
  • After 31/2 years, he was permitted to go to a halfway house for 6 months.
  • What’s happening now? What’s happening with regard to the men who are still in the penitentiary, decades later, and there are almost 20 of them, based on tortured confessions.
  • How about the men who testified against Burge, who were his victims?
  • Those men, unlike Burge who gets a pension now, and the Illinois Supreme Court has upheld his right, even as a convicted felon to collect that money. These men get nothing, have nothing.
  • There are as many as 90 of those men on the streets now, with no health care, with no treatment for psychological damage.
  • The majority of city council members support at this point reparations for those men. The reparations for those men would be 20 million dollars.
  • The same amount of the money the city spent to defend Burge in the cases of the exonerated men.
  • We’re now at a sensitive stage, where the mayor, Emanuel has had to come out. He’s no friend to the anti-torture forces, and he’s been asked repeatedly on this.
  • He has played both sides against the middle, its time right now where he’s going to have to fish or cut bait.
  • We had the strong support of Karen Louis who was a wonderful challenger and she has now had to withdraw from the (mayoral) race because of “health issues.” She was a strong supporter of the reparations ordinance.

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

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Law and Disorder October 13, 2014


Updates:

  • Mumia Spurs Bill To Block Publicity-Seeking Criminals (Son of Sam Law)
  • Guantanamo Bay Prisoner Files Historic Lawsuit Against Obama Over Force-Feeding

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Lawyers You’ll Like – Charlie Abourezk

As part of our Lawyers You’ll Like series, we talk with attorney Charles Abourezk about his work with the Native American community in South Dakota. Charles is a trial attorney, author and film maker. His documentary A Tattoo On My Heart: The Warriors of Wounded Knee 1973 is a gripping documentation of those American Indian men and women involved in the siege. Charles is the Chief Justice of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe Supreme Court, he’s also member of South Dakota Advisory Committee to U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. He’s the son of James George Abourezk, former Democratic United States Representative and United States Senator where he was generally viewed as critical of US foreign policy in Israel and Palestinian.

Attorney Charlie Abourezk:

  • The Rosebud Sioux Tribe is the second largest tribe in South Dakota. There are nine total tribal governments in the state. It’s where I grew up.
  • I spent most of my adult life on the Pine Ridge Reservation which has been the poorest county in the United States.
  • I went to law school, long after I worked for a number of Indian organizations including a Native American NGO that worked at the UN in Category 2 status.
  • The Pine Ridge Reservation is the second largest reservation in the United States, located in south western South Dakota. It’s a huge land mass, takes about an hour and a half to drive diagonally across the reservation. There’s very little economy. The geography is very poor, it lends itself to cattle grazing but not much in terms of raising crops.
  • Wounded Knee was the site of the 1890 massacre in which almost 300 American Indians from several different tribes were killed by the U.S. Army. They were surrounded and essentially murdered on that spot.
  • So, in 1973, there had been a lot of racial discrimination and racially motivated killings of Indian people, the American Indian Movement returned and joined forces with the traditional people who had long been neglected on the reservation.
  • As a result they decided to engage in a protest. They chose the site of the massacre at Wounded Knee, to stage that protest.
  • They set up sort of a line there, with the government and US Marshalls, along with Dick Wilson’s followers who were armed and were called the goon squad and formed the other side of that line. The siege lasted 71 days.
  • It finally dismantled and number of people were prosecuted as a result of that.
  • At Wounded Knee, two Indian people killed and one Marshall wounded.
  • We set up a recording studio right at the Wounded Knee school, and just took people’s stories. I did the interviews, they were really powerful. There were some stories that didn’t fit with the arc of the film but were incredible. I’m glad I documented it then, because I think of the people in the documentary, 7 or 8 have now passed away.
  • I continue to be a strong advocate for tribal sovereignty, self determination and the rights of individuals especially within the dynamic of racial discrimination which at times in South Dakota have been as bad as the south is toward African Americans.
  • I helped affirm and preserve the boundaries of the Yankton Sioux Reservation, that went up to the Supreme Court twice. I was the lead council when it finally concluded, we were able to win that one.
  • I was a former Supreme Court Justice on the Pine Ridge Reservation for their Supreme Court and I retired from that position.
  • Except for limited jurisdiction the Federal Government had on criminal matters, the civil jurisdiction for incidents which occur within the reservation lie with the tribal court as do criminal misdemeanors for tribal members and non tribal members meaning Indians from other tribes that happen to be living on the reservation.
  • In the Native American view you can’t really have winners and losers, you have to try to restore the harmony or the balance within the tribe.
  • The American government adopted the British style of colonialism as did the Israelis when they began to colonize parts of Palestine. It kind of goes in 4 steps.
  • A disruption of traditional agriculture and food gathering, which out here was done in two ways, killing off the buffalo and secondly constraining them from moving around in a wide arc for hunting and gathering – by putting them on the reservation they stopped that.
  • Transfer commonly owned land into private ownership, to turn land into a commodity that can be bought and sold. They did that through what’s called the Daws Act or the Allotment Act in the late 1800s.
  • Theodore Roosevelt called that act a “might pulverizing machine” with which to break up the tribal mass.
  • The third step was to develop a native ruling elite. In this case they first developed “paper chiefs” then in the 1930s developed modern tribal government.
  • Last step, develop an educated elite. Of course any colonizer anywhere, that’s the step that always back fires.
  • The American Indian Movement was born from the children of the parents who were relocated into cities trained as workers.
  • They were the ones who came back home and joined forces with the traditional people and stood up against racism and in favor of tribal sovereignty and tribal self determination.
  • You see many parallels with that and what’s happening to the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.  Dr William Julius Wilson

Guest – Charlie Abourezk, from Rapid City, South Dakota and is a trial attorney, longtime activist and community organizer in the native American community in South Dakota.   He is also a documentary film maker, his most recent is the feature length documentary “A Tattoo On My Heart: The Warriors of Wounded Knee 1973” which played on public television stations around the United States. He is the current Chief Justice of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe’s Supreme Court and a member of the South Dakota Advisory Committee to the US Commission on Civil Rights. His client base is made up largely of Native Americans, tribal schools and Indian tribal governments, but he also represents plaintiffs in civil rights litigation. He will have a book coming out this next year entitled “A Mighty Pulverizing Machine: The Continuing Colonization of American Indians.”

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 From Guantanamo to Wikileaks: Taking on the State In a Post 9/11 World.

Our own Michael Ratner, President Emeritus, Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), past president, National Lawyers Guild; Chair, European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights delivered a talk last week titled ‘From Guantanamo to Wikileaks: Taking on the State In a Post 9/11 World.’  Michael was honored with a PathMaker to Peace Award by the Brooklyn For Peace Organization for his consistent work in litigation against government spying and surveillance of activists including the targeting of Muslims particularly after 9/11.

Law and Disorder Co-host Attorney Michael Ratner,  President Emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), a non-profit human rights litigation organization based in New York City and president of the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) based in Berlin. Ratner and CCR are currently the attorneys in the United States for publishers Julian Assange and Wikileaks. He was co-counsel in representing the Guantanamo Bay detainees in the United States Supreme Court, where, in June 2004, the court decided his clients have the right to test the legality of their detentions in court. Ratner is also a past president of the National Lawyers Guild and the author of numerous books and articles, including the books Who Killed Che? How the CIA Got Away With Murder, The Trial of Donald Rumsfeld: A Prosecution by Book, Against War with Iraq and Guantanamo: What the World Should Know, as well as a textbook on international human rights.

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Please help support Law and Disorder, the show is now a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization. Contributions for the charitable purposes of Law and Disorder must be made payable to Fractured Atlas only and are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.

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Law and Disorder September 15, 2014


 

Updates:

  • Professor Salaita Press Conference Update
  • Michael Ratner: 13th Anniversary of 9-11
  • Michael Ratner: You Can’t Have Imperialism Abroad And Democracy At Home
  • Michael Ratner: Basically . . .It’s Over. The Legal System Is Done For.
  • Michael Ratner: September 11, 1973 Anniversary – Chilean Coup D’état
  • Michael Ratner: September 7, 1971 Anniversary Attica Prison Rebellion

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50 Year Anniversary of the Free Speech Movement

The Free Speech Movement began September 14, 1964, marking the 50 year annivesary this month. It began when the University of California at Berkeley announced that existing university regulations banning political activity on campus would be “strictly enforced.”  The resulting protests, unprecedented in scope, were the harbinger of the student power, civil liberties, and antiwar demonstrations that convulsed college campuses throughout the country for the next decade. American playwright, social activist and author Barbara Garson joins us to talk about the Free Speech Movement and her most famous work MacBird.

Barbara Garson:

  • I was at the University of California at Berkeley and when we got back to campus in 1964 some people from the Freedom Summer in Mississippi, myself working with the farm workers in California . . . we come on to campus and we discover that the area in front of the school that we (all the groups) traditionally used to hand out leaflets about their events and so on, suddenly you couldn’t hand out leaflets there.
  • The reason we were given was trash. That is to say litter.
  • Pretty soon all the groups, I mean all the groups, the Republicans, the Young Republicans, the Democrats and the Anarchists, we all went to the administration and . . . . they dropped that flimsy excuse.
  • They said no, the only thing is you can’t pass out leaflets on campus that advocate action off campus.
  • It was obvious not only to the radicals but all the students that some . . powerful people in Berkeley had become annoyed by the farmworkers boycott and the equal employment picket lines in Oakland and had put pressure on the president of the university.
  • All the groups realized this wasn’t an issue about litter, it was an issue of free speech.
  • Throughout that year of expulsions, arrests, all the groups stood together.
  • They stuck together with a very simple demand, that we be able to exercise the freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution of the First and Fourteenth Amendments on the CAL campus.
  • We won 100 percent.
  • We created a counter force and we stayed with it. I don’t believe in the cult of a personality but Mario Savio really was special.
  • The campus police called the Berkeley Police and the Berkeley Police who are very nice put Jack Weinberg in a police car. Suddenly everybody sat down around the police car. There are dozens of people who claim to be the first person to sit down around the police car.
  • He (Jack) knew immediately not give his name to step up the action.
  • People start getting on the police car to address the crowd. Try to remember back what kind of kids we were. When you look at the pictures we had short hair, we had bright glasses, just really nice kids. (They take off their shoes before getting on police car.)
  • One of the people who gets on the police car is Mario Savio who’s been on a Freedom Summer, that summer. The gift that Mario gave us was his utter sincerity.
  • He (Mario) created that sense, we’ve come here to do something worthwhile with our lives. We were talking lives, not lifestyle.
  • We were very naive and we accept committees to look into the free speech regulations on campus.
  • Over the course of six months it became clear to everyone that there was nothing we could do that we would be betrayed.
  • Many of the students were most radicalized by being lied to.
  • I’m an FSM alumni really, not a Berkeley alumni.
  • It’s just natural, they really did agree with us, who doesn’t agree with the First and Fourteenth Amendments.
  • We literally voted to dissolve the Free Speech Movement. That’s wrong. We saw the same thing happen with Occupy, from a good impulse, not be like them, we haven’t presented any power to fight them.
  • One of the areas where we left no fight, the economic areas which have seen working people beaten down for the 40 years.
  • Now when you go to the University of California Berkeley campus you don’t need regulations about speech when most of the students have mortgage sized debts.
  • When I went to University of California Berkeley my tuition was free.
  • The FSM, well, its in part in sorrow that we meet to figure out how things went this way.
  • FSM.org – Reunion Event

Guest – Barbara Garson, an American playwright, author and social activist known for the play MacBird. She wrote a series of books describing American working lives at historical turning points, including All the Livelong Day (1975), The Electronic Sweatshop (1988) and Money Makes the World Go Around (2001). Her new book, just published, is Down the Up Escalator: How the 99% Live in the Great Recession

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 Louis Tikas and the Ludlow Massacre

Louis Tikas and the Ludlow Massacre is the title of the new documentary film from Greece by Lamprini Thoma and Nickos Ventouras. April 20, 2014 marked the 100th anniversary of the historic attack on workers. In April 1914, the Colorado National Guard and Colorado Fuel and Iron Company Camp Guards began shooting into a tent colony of 1200 striking coal miners and their families in Ludlow Colorado. 39 people were killed including 2 women and 11 children. Among the murdered was Louis Tikas, a Greek immigrant who is remembered in this documentary for his work that helped launch the U.S. labor movement. The story is told through the voices of prominent historians, artists and the descendants of Ludlow miners in Colorado.

Lamprini Thoma:

  • When the situation in Greece . . . we’re not a democracy anymore, you know. When we started losing our working rights, we started having problems with immigrants . . it all became obvious we were back there.
  • Me and Nickos who’s my partner in life and in crime, we did the movie together.
  • We thought that we didn’t have to say anything, that history could say everything, about people like immigrants, like Greeks and how they suffered, and how they fought for their rights.
  • That’s how it became relevant to us now. Not something from history but something from your life, you have to put in your life and you have to say to the other, see this is what happened.
  • We musn’t let it happen again.
  • Palikari, young men in their prime. Louis Tikas his name is Elias Spantidakis. He left from Crete, late 19th century, went to New York and from there Colorado where he got involved with the unions and he started organizing the Greeks and he saw how hard things were especially for the miners.
  • He was a man of peace and of justice I can say.
  • He was murdered brutally by the man of the Rockefellers at the time of the Ludlow massacre.
  • In this work of ours we’re trying to let the people meet him and see how wonderful a man can be.
  • At the time John Rockefeller Sr was passing his power on to John Rockefeller Jr. it was 1914 that the thugs of the Colorado Fuel and Iron Company of the Rockefellers attacked the miners.
  • It was the second day of the Greek Easter, a very important time for Greek immigrants. Louis Tikas was the first to be killed among the union men.
  • It’s a history then that shows how things were and still are in my opinion for the working class.
  • Women were the ones to keep the house, to keep the children fed. To take their place (the men) when they were arrested.
  • When working rights move on, all rights start to move on. They’re connected in a way.
  • Most people think that Rockefeller was the winner. He killed them when the strike was brought. But he was not, history is the judge there . . . and how it survived in memory.
  • They never speak about class war in the United States. They use other phrases.
  • Our premiere will be in the CUNY Grad Center in Manhattan September 19, 2014 and we’re expecting to see you there.
  • Nonorganicproductions.com – Coal is organic.

Guest-Lamprini Thoma has been working as journalist, radio producer and script writer for the last 30 years. She has covered wars in the Balkans, the former Soviet Union and West Africa. She has worked in print, online and broadcast media, including the BBC’s now defunct Greek service. She created the first specialized newspaper column on the Internet in Greece, something which still makes her proud.  Lamprini and Nikos have been working together for the last ten years.

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Law and Disorder September 8, 2014


Updates:

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University of Illinois Chancellor Wise Going Forward With Salaita Appointment To Board of Trustees Vote

Last month, the University of Illinois rescinded the job offer of Professor Steven Salaita who wrote controversial social media posts about the war in Gaza. This raised serious concerns under established principles of academic freedom. Professor Salaita was basically dehired from the American Indian Studies program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign because of his statements on social media criticizing Israel’s conduct of military operations in Gaza. We reported weeks ago on Law and Disorder that scholars from law schools around the country came out with a very strong letter condemning the decision of the University of Illinois to dehire Professor Salaita.  FOIA Email Link

Professor Katherine Franke:

  • Professor Steven Salaita until recently was a tenured professor at Virgina Tech and was well known in English departments across the country and also among scholars who worked in colonialism and post colonialism studies. He developed a really rich body of work thinking about Native American rights, native people’s rights in the United States and connecting them to Palestinian rights in particular internationally.
  • Read Professor Katherine Franke’s second letter here.
  • He was a well sought after scholar and was hired by the University of Illinois in their American Indian Studies program in a process that started last fall.
  • The department unanimously voted him an offer and this summer the university started to get pressure from outside donors, some of their alums and advocacy groups to not finalize the offer because of some tweets Professor Salaita sent out over the summer related to the Israeli attacks in Gaza.
  • The emails to the chancellor were released showing that large six figure donors had seen those tweets or learned of them and said you cannot hire this guy or I will withdraw my future giving to the universities.
  • So, the chancellor let Steven know that she was not going to finalize his offer even though they already negotiated his teaching schedule, he’s already rented an apartment, they had already negotiated his moving expenses.
  • Right now he has no job, no income, no where to live.
  • It’s the most recent iteration of what has been a rather well organized, well financed campaign in the United States in particular to purge the academy of scholars and even graduate students who are doing work that is either sympathetic to the idea of Palestinian sovereignty or rights or critical of Israeli state policy particularly the occupation.
  • It was so obviously a violation of the fundamental right of academic freedom.
  • I’ve only learned of his scholarship as a result of this campaign and his termination from the University of Illinois.
  • I explain to Chancellor Wise in the letter that I sent, that not only will I not come to the university to speak in an official capacity but I will come to Urbana-Champaign and meet off campus with faculty and students, and members of the communities about these issues of academic freedom.
  • Their strategy has been to portray any criticism of Israeli state policy or any criticism of political Zionism as uncivil or as a form of hate speech, but more importantly to appeal to a civility norm. That its not nice. That it creates an unwelcome learning environment for students, particularly jewish students.
  • To see her parroting that language (Chancellor Wise) and for Chris Kennedy to parrot that language says to me that they’ve been reached by these organized operatives from the outside about how to message this termination.
  • I don’t believe there is a civility norm at stake here and I think we actually shouldn’t have one in a university setting. We ought to take on uncivil ideas, ideas that are troubling, that are uncomfortable and unpack them in thoughtful scholarly ways.
  • As these emails are coming out under the Freedom of Information Act Requests over the last few days its quite clear that civility is not what underwrote the decision to terminate him. It was really outside pressure from donors.

Guest – Katherine Franke,  Isidor and Seville Sulzbacher Professor of Law; Director, Center for Gender and Sexuality Law at Columbia University. She was awarded a 2011 Guggenheim Fellowship, and is among the nation’s leading scholars in the area of feminism, sexuality and race. In addition to her scholarly writing on sexual harassment, gender equality, sexual rights, and racial history, she writes regularly for a more popular audience in the Gender and Sexuality Law Blog. Franke is also on the Executive Committee for Columbia’s Institute for Research on Women and Gender, and the Center for Palestine Studies and teaches at a medium security women’s prison in Manhattan. Her legal career began as a civil rights lawyer, first specializing in HIV discrimination cases and then race and sex cases more generally. In the last 25 years she has authored briefs in cases addressing HIV discrimination, forced sterilization, same-sex sexual harassment, gender stereotyping, and transgender discrimination in the Supreme Court and other lower courts.
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The Jihadis Return: ISIS and the New Sunni Uprising

In June of this year, the United States sent more troops to Iraq and carried out airstrikes to stop the advance of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, known as ISIS into the Kurdish capitol Erbil. However, a more complicated situation has developed in Syria. The U.S., Western European, Saudi, and Arab Gulf policy is to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, which is also the goal of ISIS and other jihadis in Syria. ISIS’s membership is between 10 and 17 thousand.  We talk today with veteran Middle East correspondent Patrick Cockburn about his new book The Jihadis Return: ISIS and the New Sunni Uprising, about the origins of ISIS. We’ll also talk about the role of Saudi Arabia in the larger picture and in funding part of the Sunni terrorist groups, which was exposed by Wikileaks.

Patrick Cockburn:

  • The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, which has turned into the new caliphate in western-northern Iraq and western Syria. It has come out of Al-Qaeda in Iraq.
  • This organization that was linked to Al-Qaeda but not formed by Al-Qaeda after the invasion of Iraq in 2003 is very anti-Shia, Sunni fundamentalist is extremely violent.
  • What makes it so effective is its a mixture of religious fanaticism and military efficiency.
  • Some of the senior people of ISIS are former security officers and special republican guard officers from Saddam Hussein’s time.
  • ISIS is led by a core of people who fought the U.S. in Iraq, fought the Iraqi Army, this is after 2003 and then after 2011 fought in Syria.
  • So, it’s quite an experienced group.
  • It had been growing stronger in Iraq over the last 3 years. It launched a series of campaigns, one of which to break its members out of prison.
  • It had taken over quite big territory in Iraq then it had moved into Syria.
  • It’s present in both countries, but its main effort was in Iraq this year.
  • It always had strength in Mosul City, even though the Iraqi Army was in theoretically in charge but it would still levy protection money on people.
  • Maybe 8 million dollars a month. I know contract men there paying half a million dollars a month.
  • It’s final take over was swift and devastating. I can’t think of an example in history when 350 thousand men in the Iraqi Army,  650 thousand police simply disintegrated under an attack from under 3000 ISIS fighters.
  • What really changed in 2011 when you had the uprising in Syria, primarily the Sunni Arabs of Syria, Iraq politicians said it would spill over into Iraq.
  • The U.S. and its allies to a substantial degree were responsible for this. They backed the uprising against Assad. Even when it was apparent in the last 2 years that Assad wasn’t going to go.
  • Wahhabism is the Islamic variant practiced in Saudi Arabia.
  • There’s always been an alliance over the last 300 years between the preachers of this very puritanical, fanatical, violent and bigoted variant of Islam and the House of Saud.
  • What they believe is not that much different from what ISIS believes. It’s very anti-Shia, the Shia seen as heretics worthy of death. It’s anti-Christian, anti-Jewish and deeply intolerant.
  • Without the policies of Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, there wouldn’t have been a 911.
  • Bin Laden was part of the a Saudi elite.
  • Rather amazingly, the Saudis were let off scott-free.
  • Kuwait has been a major financial supporter of the Jihadis, so has UAE, so has Qatar, the gulf monarchies as a whole if you like and so has Turkey.
  • The problem with Obama and the U.S. is they have to decide what side they’re on.  In Iraq, they’re supporting the government against ISIS, they’re supporting the Kurds against ISIS.
  • But in Syria, the main opponent of ISIS is the Assad government but the U.S. policy is to weaken and displace that government.
  • In a way, (the U.S. policy actually assists ISIS)

Guest – Patrick Cockburn is currently Middle East correspondent for The Independent and worked previously for the Financial Times. He has written three books on Iraq’s recent history as well as a memoir, The Broken Boy and, with his son, a book on schizophrenia, Henry’s Demons, which was shortlisted for a Costa Award. He won the Martha Gellhorn Prize in 2005, the James Cameron Prize in 2006, and the Orwell Prize for Journalism in 2009.

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Law and Disorder September 1, 2014


Updates:

  • Michael Ratner: The Dahiya Doctrine, Wikileaks and Julian Assange
  • Michael Ratner: U.S. Is The Fundamental Supporter Of Israel War Crimes
  • Major Free Speech Court Victory in Brooklyn Bridge Occupy Mass Arrest Class Action
  • Update On H.Rap Brown Health And Treatment

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Labor Day Songs From The Union Makes Us Strong.

Michael Smith and Heidi Boghosian play songs from The Union Makes Us Strong album by Peter Siegel and Eli Smith to honor Labor Day 2014. The historical importance of these songs lie in the role they played in the creation of the union movement in the United States in the first half of the 20th century. They instrumental in propagating the attitudes and ideas the “class consciousness” that led working men and women by the thousands to recognize the need to stand together in solidarity. In short, they shaped a politicized working-class culture based more upon social than individual values.

Songs: There Is Power In the Union / The Preacher And The Slave / The Death of Mother Jones / Song For Bridges.

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Non-GMO Seed Programs Help Poor Farmers In El Salvador Secede From Monsanto Monopoly

When you hear news reports about the mass migration of unaccompanied children coming across the Mexico – U.S. border, you usually don’t hear about the pressures that are driving the emigration. Today we look at some of the economic and agricultural reasons that cause migrations specifically in El Salvador.  One organization helps poor farmers grow and market sees for corn and beans. This program is called the Mangrove Association where the government buys the seeds and distributes them for free to the 400 thousand farmers. However, these are non – GMO seeds, a preference that local communities and the El Salvadoran government had to fight for.

Professor of Law Eleanor Stein:

  • My primary work over the last 10 years has been centered on climate change and what can be done to reverse that trend and to change the political climate in which those decisions get made.
  • I was interested in this project in El Salvador because I understood that it was based in some local community groups in a very poverty stricken rural area in the southwestern part of the country and they were using very creative methods to develop more of a sustainable agriculture and also to take measures related to adaptation of their region as a result of climate change.
  • CAFTA is a trade treaty which the U.S. and Central America are parties and the Dominican Republic and it governs very much like NAFTA. It governs the requirement for procurement of goods and services by governments in those regions.
  • El Salvador is a very poor country. It’s still living with the results of a civil war that went from 1979 to 1992 that resulted in the death of almost 80 thousand people.
  • When I say a civil war, that doesn’t really capture the full involvement of the U.S. government fully supporting the right wing counter insurgency forces.
  • They (Salvadoran government) have put in place a seed program that began in 2012 that was meant to deal with tremendous problems in food insecurity, agricultural non-sustainability and poverty and lack of economic opportunity that exist in the rural areas.
  • They’re cooperatives that produce seeds. They’re locally grown, they’re non-GMO and they are apparently more successful than the Monsanto varieties.
  • They have a higher germination rate, and they’re much more hardy in their conditions of growth in El Salvador.
  • Until fairly recently, Monsanto had been procuring almost all of its seeds from a Monsanto subsidiary in the region and from very few other producers and were arguable in violation of CAFTA because this was a direct procurement without bidding.
  • The Millennial Challenge Corporation is a U.S. government agency which is basically a dispenser of aid in the form of grants to countries that have been defined as emerging potential democracies by the State Department.
  • This aid package for every country it has been offered has been conditioned on the local government making certain changes. Legislative changes to bring the economy of the recipient country more in line with the neo-liberal trade policies.
  • For example, they tried to get the El Salvadoran legislature to privatize water in their country.
  • This is one of few places in the world where a region has been able to secede from the Monsanto monopoly.
  • Mangrove Association.There were able to provide for free to more than 400 thousand farmers these very high quality seeds. This is a concrete effective local program that is really combating hunger and food insecurity and its at a time when tens of thousands of children from El Salvador are trying to emigrate to the United States because of not only violence but poverty and lack of opportunity in El Salvador.
  • Both the violence and the poverty and the lack of economic development are rooted in the war in the history of El Salvador and the history of the U.S. role in that war.
  • I think the underlying condition not only for the emigration but for the violence itself is the lack of infrastructure, the lack of development, the lack of opportunity that continues to haunt this country that was under the rule of an oligarchy for 60 or 70 years.
  • We didn’t meet a single family that had indoor plumbing. People are living under really difficult conditions.
  • www.eco-viva.org

Guest – Eleanor Stein, teaches a course called the Law of Climate Change: Domestic and Transnational at Albany Law School and SUNY Albany, in conjunction with the Environmental  and Atmospheric Sciences Department at SUNY. Eleanor Stein is teaching transnational  environmental law with a focus on catastrophic climate change. For ten years she served as an Administrative Law Judge at the New York State Public Service Commission in Albany, New York, where she presided over and mediated New York’s Renewable Portfolio Standard proceeding, a collaboration and litigation of over 150 parties, authoring in June 2004 a comprehensive decision recommending a landmark state environmental initiative to combat global warming with incentives for renewable resource-fueled power generation.

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Law and Disorder August 25, 2014


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Ali Abunimah On Gaza, His New Book The Battle For Justice in Palestine and Censorship

ElectronicIntifada co-founder Ali Abunimah is the author of new book The Battle For Justice in Palestine. He shares with hosts the recent news of what’s happening in Gaza, the resistance around the world, as well as on campus and in the United States. Ali was scheduled to speak at the Evanston Public Library in early August. The library later sent an email telling him he couldn’t be allowed to speak without an Israeli speaker to ensure balance. Neighbors for Peace an organization of antiwar activists based in the Chicago suburb of Evanston, Illinois who initially brought Abunimah to speak suspected the library’s director was pressured to censor the event. The event was canceled the following day and after some activism and demonstration, the presentation was rescheduled. Ali spoke about his recent book The Battle For Justice In Palestine, the event was packed.  Last year at Brooklyn College a similar controversy erupted when Palestinian BDS advocate Omar Barghouti and University of California Berkeley philosopher and BDS supporter Judith Butler we’re scheduled to speak.

Ali Abunimah:

  • The situation has gotten considerably worse (in Gaza) over the past year because of the coup in Egypt.
  • The current regime in Egypt is very closely aligned with Israel. They’ve made it just impossible for 1.8 million people to live in Gaza.
  • The demands from Palestinian civil society is lift the siege, open the crossing, allow farmers to farm, allow fishermen to fish, allow factories to function, allow travelers to travel, students to go to their universities, patients to reach their hospitals, allow medicines to come in, allow books to come in.
  • You mentioned my book The Battle for Justice in Palestine. Well, there’s no way to get that book into Gaza.
  • It’s also a siege on human contact, culture, education and nourishment. They killed now more than 2000 people in Gaza which is 1 out of every 1000 residents in Gaza.
  • Entire families have been wiped out, nobody feels safe. This massacre Israel thought would break people’s will and get them to accept and go back under siege.
  • But Israel won’t (lift the siege) it’s a matter of pride for them, it’s a matter of colonial control.
  • The most frightening statement about where they’re (Israel) going was made more than 10 years ago. I wrote about this recently in an article called The Gaza Massacre Is The Price of Living In A Jewish State.
  • At that time you hearing fantasy about Gaza becoming the new Singapore on the Mediterranean. The Israelis were saying to themselves that Gaza was going to become a giant holding pen for human beings who are not Jewish.
  • If we’re going to wait for government to do the right thing or the UN to get its act together, then we’re doomed.
  • Despite the multiple levels of complicity by this government in this country, and governments in Europe and the Arab world, something is happening.
  • We’re not starting from zero we have a really important and sustained Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement.
  • They’re firing artillery, mortar shells that are designed to be indiscriminate into populated areas of Gaza with the intended consequence of causing widespread destruction.
  • We have to go after the weapons manufacturer, we have to after the people who approve these sales from around the world and its because of public pressure that the UK announced last week that they will suspend armed exports to Israel if significant hostilities resume.
  • Well now they have resumed, let’s see what they do.
  • Look what’s happening just this week, an Israeli cargo ship was prevented from unloading for 4 days in Oakland because solidarity activists and unionized port workers have been working together to prevent that.
  • Israel can only maintain its dominance over Palestinians through brute force and use of violence against Palestinians there, and through attempts to suppress debate, suppress political action on behalf of Palestinians in the United States and around the world.
  • Mainstream media is more closed to Palestinian voices than what I’ve seen in 20 years. I used to get on CNN, I used to get on MSNBC.
  • The librarian let me know that the event was canceled until they could get a pro-Israel speaker.
  • There was such an uproar, it was amazing. They did a U-turn pretty quickly.
  • As Israel and its apologists lobbies lose control of the narrative, lose control of the politics in this country, there is a more blatant resort to outright repression such as what is going on now at the University of Illinois and other institutions around the country.
  • In that chapter I site an organization called the David Project, which is a Zionist group that’s been working for ten years attacking and targeting professors.

Guest – Ali Abunimah a Palestinian American journalist who has been described as “the leading American proponent of a one-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. A resident of Chicago who contributes regularly to such publications as The Chicago Tribune and The Los Angeles Times, he has also served as the Vice-President on the Board of Directors of the Arab American Action Network, is a fellow at the Palestine Center, and is co-founder of The Electronic Intifada.

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Top Legal Scholars Decry Chilling Effect of Dehiring Professor Steven Salaita

The University of Illinois has rescinded the job offer of the professor who wrote controversial social media posts about the war in Gaza. Professor Steven Salaita was essentially dehired from the American Indian Studies program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign because of his statements on social media criticizing Israel’s conduct of military operations in Gaza. This has raised serious concerns under established principles of academic freedom. Those principles are enshrined in Illinois law, in the U.S. Constitution, and in the written principles of the American Association of University Professors. Recently, scholars from law schools at Columbia, Cornell, Berkeley, Georgetown, and other universities have come out with a very strong letter condemning the decision of the University of Illinois to dehire Steven Salaita. Read letter here.

Professor Katherine Franke:

  • Professor Salaita was made a tenured offer of appointment at the University of Illinois in their American Indian studies program last year. He accepted it and negotiated the terms of the offer. Then during the most recent assault on Gaza, he was active on twitter expressing his views on the Middle East and colonialism.
  • The University of Illinois came under a tremendous amount of pressure to revoke the offer of employment to Professor Salaita.
  • The offer wasn’t finalized, there’s usually a rubber stamp process where the department and the head of the university have to take appointment to the Board of Trustees.
  • The chancellor of the university Phyllis Wise informed Professor Salaita that she would not be bringing his appointment to the Board of Trustees and was unwilling to finalize his appointment.
  • He had already resigned his position at Virgina Tech and was getting ready to move. He’s a well known scholar, not only of American Indian studies but of colonialism more generally and has connected up the struggle for sovereignty and analysis of genocide and occupation in the United States to the struggles that the Palestinians have suffered in the Middle East.
  • He certainly didn’t depart from views he expressed before but I think they, in the heat of the moment of this recent assault on Gaza, the university basically buckled and withdrew the offer, and he’s now without a job and an income.
  • It’s because of his speech on the issue of war crimes that may have been committed by Israel in the assault on Gaza.
  • His tweets have been rather even across the board I think in terms of criticizing the critics of Israel when they’ve overstepped but also criticizing Israel itself.
  • He’s a firey guy with strong opinions and rigorous academic critiques of colonialism and colonial violence.
  • I thought it would be useful to add constitutional and legal analysis of the problem, situated historically in threats to free speech on campus. I drafted a letter for Constitutional law professors, not in which they would agree to boycott universities . . . more offering a constitutional analysis of retaliation against unpopular speech.
  • The law in this area has been made by faculty and sometimes students.
  • I brought it back to Urbana-Champaign and their own history of threats to free speech both during the McCarthy period when bills were introduced in Springfield to punish or purge people who had back then what they call Communist sympathies when working in public universities. In 1960, there was a professor in the biology department at Urbana-Champaign that had written and spoke about human sexuality and premarital sex, and had actually endorsed premarital sex.
  • There are a couple of principles that are at stake here, one has to do with the state punishing any citizen for speaking on an unpopular topic and particularly punishing for the viewpoint they take.
  • There’s another faculty member at the University of Illinois Kerry Nelson who has been a rather enthusiastic advocate of Israel’s right to attack Gaza. He said things that are quite inflammatory, he’s not been fired. He’s not been punished for the positions he’s taken on the Middle East.
  • Viewpoint discrimination, that’s the first point. The second point is academic freedom. Universities are the primary bastion of protection. A domain where we protect the pursuit of unpopular ideas, controversial ideas, of ideas that might even be frightening.
  • That is the commitment that we make as part of the academic endeavor. The point of that concept of academic freedom is that we don’t want to have a kind of orthodoxy or an official version of the truth.
  • Dr. Wise comes out of a somewhat corporate background. She, I think is the poster woman if you will for the executive that is now leading universities and thinks of universities as a business.
  • The presidents are making an economic calculation, that they can pay off someone like Salaita and satisfy their donors.
  • We can’t just agree to do nothing which what a boycott is. In a way it’s the easiest thing to do.
  • I would say I have a lot of faith in students.

Guest – Katherine Franke,  Isidor and Seville Sulzbacher Professor of Law; Director, Center for Gender and Sexuality Law at Columbia University. She was awarded a 2011 Guggenheim Fellowship, and is among the nation’s leading scholars in the area of feminism, sexuality and race. In addition to her scholarly writing on sexual harassment, gender equality, sexual rights, and racial history, she writes regularly for a more popular audience in the Gender and Sexuality Law Blog. Franke is also on the Executive Committee for Columbia’s Institute for Research on Women and Gender, and the Center for Palestine Studies and teaches at a medium security women’s prison in Manhattan. Her legal career began as a civil rights lawyer, first specializing in HIV discrimination cases and then race and sex cases more generally. In the last 25 years she has authored briefs in cases addressing HIV discrimination, forced sterilization, same-sex sexual harassment, gender stereotyping, and transgender discrimination in the Supreme Court and other lower courts.

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History Of Police Brutality And The Militarization of Local Law Enforcement

In the days since the uproar over the police shooting and killing of unarmed teenager Michael Brown, state and local law enforcement have been cycling through different approaches demonstrators in Ferguson, Missouri. They rolled out armored vehicles, while police in riot gear deployed tear gas, stun grenades and shotguns. Another decision permitted the Missouri State Highway Patrol to march with protestors. The National Guard was also ordered in.  We examine the history and consequences of militarizing local law enforcement with Baruch College Civil Rights Professor Clarence Taylor.

Professor Clarence Taylor:

  • We can’t talk about a post civil rights era. These issues are still with us today.
  • It’s the people on the ground, who have gone through this, that are fed up.
  • It’s not just arguing for a black face in a high place.
  • There is no requirement of the police of Ferguson to live in that community.
  • Having black officers would change the nature of the investigation.
  • This is something that’s been argued going back in the 1930s and the 1940s and people were organizing against police brutality.
  • We should not take our eyes off the racial component of this.
  • Police brutality would still go on without the militarization of the police.
  • You throw all these new toys at the police department and once you have a big enough hammer, everything looks like a nail.
  • Diversifying police departments is very very important and emphasizing more community policing.

Guest – Professor Clarence Taylor, His research is in modern civil rights, black power movements and African American religion. He’s the author of many books including co-editor of Civil Rights Since 1787: A Reader in the Black Struggle. He’s currently writing a history of police brutality in New York City from the 1930s to the 1960s. In 1991, Clarence received his PhD in American history and began teaching at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, New York. He reworked his dissertation into a book, The Black Churches of Brooklyn from the 19th Century to the Civil Rights Era, and it was published by Columbia University Press in 1994. In 1996, Clarence became a member of the history department and the African-New World Studies Program at Florida International University.
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Law and Disorder August 4, 2014


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Folk Music, Labor Movements and Radical Politics

Especially in times of revolution or crisis, the role of music has been a defining element in telling the stories of labor movements, against the war in Vietnam and civil rights. Folk musician Eli Smith gave a presentation at the Left Forum this year on satirical songs of the IWW including the work of Joe Hill and many others. The early works of Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie are a great place to start along with the lesser known work of John L. Handcox, and the Southern Tenant Farmers Union. It was the first racially integrated union in the South that used indigenous folk music to fight for the rights of sharecroppers.

Guest – Eli Smith, a banjo player, writer, researcher and promoter of folk music living in New York City. Eli is a Smithsonian Folkways recording artist and produces two folk festivals annually, the Brooklyn Folk Festival in the Spring and Washington Square Park Folk Festival in the Fall.  He has appeared as a guest on terrestrial radio stations such as WBAI, WNYC, WKCR and WDST in New York and KPFA, KPFK and KUCI in California. Eli has presented panels and discussions on folk music at the Left Forum conference at Cooper Union and at the Podcamp podcasting conference in New York City. He has performed and recorded with his old time string band The Down Hill Strugglers, Peter Stampfel, John Cohen and Sam Shepard. The Down Hill Strugglers were recently featured on the soundtrack album to the Coen Brothers’ film “Inside Llewyn Davis,” which was produced by T Bone Burnett.

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Terrorization of Dissent: Corporate Repression, Legal Corruption, and the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act

Terrorization of Dissent: Corporate Repression, Legal Corruption, and the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act is a collection of essays by lawyers, scholars and activists that includes interviews with those who suffered from the AETA’s conspiracy provisions. Editors Jason Del Gandio and Anthony Nocella have compiled essential information to document how the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act is a clear violation of the First Amendment. Specifically, the book documents how corporations and the U.S. Government conspire under this law to prosecute animal rights activists and acts of civil disobedience involving environmental issues under the specter of terrorism. Right now, according to Nocella and Del Gandio, corporate profit determines what can or can’t be done to animals and the environment.

Anthony Nocella:

  • The importance of this act has really shaped how the government looks at one of the larger movements in the United States.
  • The animal advocacy, animal rights, animal liberation movements have been demonized and stigmatized as terrorists, through the media and the government through this particular act.
  • What are the effects of this law? Who influenced this act to be pushed into law? It wasn’t really government.
  • There were main organizations that pushed this law into effect. The Animal Enterprise Protection Coalition, The Animal Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) The Center for Consumer Freedom.
  • Any logical CEO of a corporation will say I don’t want anything to threaten my product.
  • That product in the case of animals is any where from circuses to sea world, to clothing, from leather to fur, to also eating.
  • We can do away with circuses and fur and a lot of different clothing, but one thing we can’t live without is food.
  • We have to look at the real conflict and that’s between food.
  • Do we want people to have a plant based diet or an animal based diet?
  • There are hundreds of billions of dollars protecting that paradigm of people eating meat, fish and chicken.
  • If anyone threatens that industry, under the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, you’re deemed a terrorist.
  • To wash away all the rhetoric that is what this law is specifically speaking about. That’s why it was expanded from the Animal Enterprise Protection Act to the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act.
  • CCR Condemns Terrorism Indictment for Activists Freeing Mink from Fur Farms
  • The point is – regarding the book, law schools, political science departments, think tanks, need a text that comes from a variety of viewpoints specifically looking at the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act.
  • I think we have understand the difference between how corporations are influencing laws and literally writing the bills into laws and into effect, while political repression is really law enforcement and senators influencing laws.
  • We’re not criminalizing activists like we did in the 70s and 80s, now we’re labeling them as terrorists.
  • National Weekend of the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act – Sept 5-6-7, 2014
  • Website – The Institute For Critical Animal Studies

Guest – Anthony Nocella II, Ph.D., an intersectional academic-activist, is Senior Fellow of the Dispute Resolution Institute at the Hamline Law School, co-founder and Director of the Institute for Critical Animal Studies, and editor of the Peace Studies Journal. He has published more than sixteen books including Terrorists or Freedom Fighters?: Reflections on the Liberation of Animals (2004), Call to Compassion: Religious Perspectives on Animal Advocacy (2011), and Defining Critical Animal Studies: An Intersectional Social Justice Approach for Liberation (2014).

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Law and Disorder July 28, 2014


Updates:

  • Palestine Center For Human Rights: Current War Statistics On Palestinian Death Toll
  • Two Laws Under Geneva Conventions: First All Attacks Have To Distinguish Between Military Objectives and Civilian Objectives. Second: You Can’t Just Kill Civilians Who Aren’t Participating in A War
  • Michael Smith: Cultural Ethnicide – Keep Expanding Until Israel Takes Over
  • Cultural Genocide Case: Illan Pappe – Ethnic Cleansing Of Palestine
  • Naomi Wolf Walks Out of Synagogue When Nothing Is Said About Gaza
  • Demonstrations Against The Murder and Violence Against Palestinians
  • Michael Ratner Admonishes JFRED Jews For Racial and Economic Justice and Other GroupsTo Step Forward
  • Michael Ratner Pulls Apart NY Times Article: Crises Cascade and Converge, Testing Obama

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Michael Ratner Discusses 3 International Crimes That Can Be Attributed To Israel’s Actions Against Palestinians: Genocide, Apartheid and Crimes Against Humanity.

Attorney Michael Ratner:

  • First International Crime: Genocide - There are two elements,  one is the mental element, what you’re thinking, and the mental element is intent to destroy in whole or in part. Then it defines who you want to destroy. A national group which would be the Palestinians. An ethnical group, which has a common cultural heritage, racial or religious group. Second is physical, it includes killing members of the group, serious body or mental harm to members of the group. Inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.
  • A key term when I say in whole or in part is important.
  • It says the perpetrators, the Israelis in this case need not intend  to destroy the entire group.
    Destruction of only part of a group, members living in one region is also genocide. They tried to get rid of all the educated people. They tried to get rid of the leaders. It pretty clearly fits the legal definition. So we have the crime of genocide and genocide of course can be prosecuted in the International Court of Justice.
    That can be prosecuted by states who have their own universal jurisdiction.
    If an Israeli general or politician travels to a country that will actually enforce its genocide laws that person can be prosecuted under the Genocide Convention and the laws that flow from it.
  • Second International Crime: Apartheid – It’s defined as inhuman acts committed for the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group of persons over any other racial group of persons and systematically oppressing them.
  • Third International Crime: Crimes Against Humanity – It includes any of the following acts committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population. They include, murder, deportation or forcible transfer of population, imprisonment, enforced disappearance of persons, the crime of apartheid other inhumane acts of a similar character intentionally causing great suffering or serious bodily or mental injury.

Law and Disorder Co-host Attorney Michael Ratner,  President Emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), a non-profit human rights litigation organization based in New York City and president of the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) based in Berlin. Ratner and CCR are currently the attorneys in the United States for publishers Julian Assange and Wikileaks. He was co-counsel in representing the Guantanamo Bay detainees in the United States Supreme Court, where, in June 2004, the court decided his clients have the right to test the legality of their detentions in court. Ratner is also a past president of the National Lawyers Guild and the author of numerous books and articles, including the books Who Killed Che? How the CIA Got Away With Murder, The Trial of Donald Rumsfeld: A Prosecution by Book, Against War with Iraq and Guantanamo: What the World Should Know, as well as a textbook on international human rights.

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Western Media Coverage of Israel Gaza Violence

Last week we interviewed Phil Weiss of Mondoweiss and talked about the media’s role in reporting facts and detailing the history around the escalating violence against Palestinians by the Israeli military. Specifically in the discussion, Phil believed that what he considered better media analysis of the Middle East situation and some other factors, might prevent a ground assault against Gaza. Michael Ratner and Michael Smith both disagreed with Phil believing that it wasn’t just about media coverage or a little better media coverage but the question of a ground assault went to a much deeper issue. 3 hours later unfortunately Michael Smith and Michael Ratner were proven correct.

Jim Naureckas:

  • I think the first thing you have to say of this issue is that the loss of human life has been overwhelmingly on one side.
  • I think that needs to be clear in the coverage.
  • What you’re getting is a coverage on the whole attempts to that treats both sides evenly as if the trauma is equally split between the two sides.
  • The latest figure is 161 children killed in Gaza.
  • And to treat the worries of Israelis as important or more important than the death of 161 kids I think is revolting.
  • There was a poll a while back showing that when people heard the word “occupied territories” a lot of people think that the Palestinians are occupying Israeli territory because the media so rarely explain what’s going on.
  • They’re not explaining what the situation is between Gaza and Israel and so you get coverage of the rockets as if they are the main problem.
  • It’s really a cockeyed way of viewing the situation I think.
  • We were talking about the headline that was changed in the New York Times after the beach massacre when Israel bombed kids playing soccer on the beach and killed 4 boys.
  • The original headline was “Four Young Boys Killed Playing On Gaza Beach” which I might note leaves out the active subject of that sentence it doesn’t say who killed them.
  • By the time it made it to print, the headline had been changed to “Boys Drawn To Gaza Beach And Into Center of Mideast Strife.”
  • You see the underlying bias in these examples.
  • Another is 13 Israeli soldiers, 70 others killed. A lot of readers are going to read that and when you say 13 soldiers and 70 others, you’re going to read that as 70 other Israelis who weren’t soldiers were killed.
  • On MSNBC there was a contributor, a Palestinian American, Rula Jebreal, who was discussing this case and the coverage in general of MSNBC, and was critical of the amount of air time given to Israeli officials versus the amount of time given to Palestinians to discuss the conflict.
  • After making these criticisms, within hours, she had her contract canceled by MSNBC.
  • She was actually brought back on not as an MSNBC contributor but as a Palestinian journalist to talk to Chris Hayes, and Chris Hayes defended her firing.
  • In this particular conflict 100 U.S. Senators voted to declare their support for Israel with no mention of the Palestinians who are dying.
  • Michael Smith: 100 to zero. What does that say about democracy?
  • I think its safe to say there’s more dissent in U.S. media than in U.S. government about the attack on Gaza.
  • I think that the rise of social media has effected the coverage.
  • When you’re doing a story about people treating war as a spectator sport and don’t mention that people are dying in the war, you are really treating war as a spectator sport.
  • We’re writing about this daily on our blog FAIR.org. You can also hear us talking about these issues on Counterspin.

Guest – Jim Naurekas Extra! Magazine Editor Since 1990, Jim Naureckas has been the editor of Extra!, FAIR’s monthly journal of media criticism. He is the co-author of The Way Things Aren’t: Rush Limbaugh’s Reign of Error, and co-editor of The FAIR Reader: An Extra! Review of Press and Politics in the ’90s. He is also the co-manager of FAIR’s website. He has worked as an investigative reporter for the newspaper In These Times, where he covered the Iran-Contra scandal, and was managing editor of the Washington Report on the Hemisphere, a newsletter on Latin America. Jim was born in Libertyville, Illinois, in 1964, and graduated from Stanford University in 1985 with a bachelor’s degree in political science. Since 1997 he has been married to Janine Jackson, FAIR’s program director.

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Law and Disorder July 21, 2014


Updates:

  • Swedish Judge Denies Assange Lawyers Request To Set Aside 2010 Arrest Warrant On Sexual Misconduct Allegations
  • Torture Memo Author John Yoo Awarded Endowed Faculty Chair At University of California Berkeley School Of Law
  • Michael Ratner: The Trial of Donald Rumsfeld

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Israel’s Continued Disproportionate Use Of Force Against Palestinian Civilians

In a slow escalation of violence in the Gaza Strip, the Israeli Army responded earlier this month by launching “Operation Protective Edge” as Israeli jets dropped hundreds of bombs on the impoverished coastal enclave of nearly 2 million Palestinians. At this time, more than 200 Palestinians have been killed and more than 1400 injured. According to the United Nations, 77 percent of those killed are civilians and yet the massacre sadly continues. The vicious attacks are framed as a mutual conflict or exchange of fire. The reality is that the low quality rockets hitting Israel are not comparable to Israel’s powerful military strikes.

Phil Weiss:

  • In a nutshell I think Israel is trying to destroy the unification agreement between Hamas and Fatah. They don’t want diplomacy they want to end that unification deal.
  • It’s a great danger to Israel that the Palestinians are united, they want them divided.
  • They’ve used any pretext they can in the last month including the horrifying abduction and killing of these Israeli teens on the West Bank. They’ve used any pretext they can to break up, to try to break up that understanding.
  • The goals of a unified Palestinian government are to achieve some type of Palestinian freedom.
  • They would go on to International Criminal Court, International bodies and say hey, this occupation has been going on nearly 50 years . .. are you finally going to give us a state, sovereignty? If we can’t get sovereignty we’ll move to an equal rights struggle. .
  • I think the good thing that they show is there’s no green line. Israel operates with impunity, with complete autonomy all over historic Palestine. Netanyahu has said we’re never giving up the West Bank. It’s sort of an announcement to the world, this is one state.
  • The legal response and the one you demonstrated (Michael Ratner) against Cast Lead was this is Internationa Humanitarian Law and Human Rights law apply here and Israel should be brought up before International bodies for violating those laws.
  • The one form of progress is there’s no ground invasion this time. (this is what he thought at the time)
  • Michael Ratner, you and I have a somewhat different relationship to the mainstream press in that I used to be part of it and now and then I have fantasies of getting back in.
  • With that proviso, I think there has been a little bit of progress in the mainstream so you have on NBC news, you have words opening that report saying these people are trapped, they have no where to go and its a lopsided conflict.  I didn’t hear that around Cast Lead.
  • I’m not trying to defend the mainstream so much to say that I feel that there is some real shift going on.
  • Michael Ratner: Here’s a question about half-full. Do you want me to call the family that lost 17 kids in the same household in Gaza? That’s not half-full. That’s empty.
  • You’re putting me in the position of saying what I’m about to say which is the slaughter of 200 people is different from the slaughter of 500 people.
  • Michael Ratner: We’re still counting Phil.
  • The Jewish American community is highly responsible for this behavior, for this conduct that’s going on there.
  • How useful was that aircraft carrier (Israel) when we were occupying Iraq and we were invading Afghanistan? It wasn’t at all useful to us.
  • I think its a burden (Israel) I think it’s a millstone around our necks because it says the United States stance is slaughtering brown people.
  • You look at J Street, this great liberal Zionist organization. They’re justifying everything Israel is doing now.
  • There’s only a couple of Jewish organizations that stood up and said this is wrong. Jewish Voices For Peace and Jews Say No.
  • I think there’s an implicit understanding around the world now about why these people are firing rockets.
  • One of things you hear in Israel is the existential threat, in that people are delegitimizing us and I think that’s great news.
  • I see more voices talking about this conduct as just beyond the pale. I feel that the world is regarding this as a central human rights issue.

Guest – Philip Weiss,  founder of Mondoweiss, longtime journalist and regular contributor to the Nation and a fellow at the Nation Institute.  Philip is the author of two books a political novel, Cock-A-Doodle-Doo, and American Taboo, an investigative account of a 1976 murder in the Peace Corps in the Kingdom of Tonga.  Weiss is one of the editors of The Goldstone Report: The Legacy of the Landmark Investigation of the Gaza Conflict.

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Andrew Kadi:

  • I don’t necessarily know that Israel has any real goals that will benefit Israeli society other than possibly the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in Gaza, forcing them to move out.
  • They’re leaving Gazans in deplorable conditions. They have unilaterally absolved themselves of their legal obligation under International law to the population in Gaza and have instead declared something that I think nobody else recognizes that Gaza is somehow a hostile territory or an enemy territory.
  • It’s counter-productive if your belief that the goal or the end goal for the Israeli government is peace.
  • The majority of these rocket attacks are pretty small projectiles as anyone who has seen them knows has no chance of actually injuring anyone or causing damage. Some of them are as small as a Coke can.
  • Hamas has deployed larger rockets in last 4 years that can fire through a building. ‘
  • By and large these attacks are being carried out by other groups round the clock. The ones that Israel is referring to are usually other groups that have nothing to do with Hamas.
  • I would say the rocket attacks are a cry for help from Gaza.
  • In the end, Gazans are isolated, there’s a siege, a blockade that Israel’s carrying out. I think that Gazans don’t want to be subject to it anymore.
  • They want to be able to live like any other population.
  • The American Foreign Services committee published a list of American companies directly involved and complicit in the attacks on Gaza.
  • Those companies include Boeing, Hewlitt Packard, Elbit Systems, Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, General Electric, Northrup Grumman, Raytheon.
  • In 2005, Palestinian civil society called for a Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel until it complies with the 3 tenets of International law.
  • The end of the occupation, equality for the Palestinian citizens of Israel and the right of refugees to return to their homes.
  • Other companies that folks can boycott, Sodastream, Ahava cosmetics, Strauss Group, Osem – Tribe Hummus, Sibeon Company.

Guest - Andrew Kadi, a human rights activist and digital media specialist currently serving on the Steering Committee of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation. He’s contributed to the Guardian’s Comment is Free, The Electronic Intifada, Mondoweiss, Left Turn and other publications.

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