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Law and Disorder October 16, 2017


Free Speech on College Campuses

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Tech Freedom on USA Liberty Act of 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Law and Disorder September 11, 2017


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Illegal Preventive War

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

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

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

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

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

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The Bronx 120 and Secor 19

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

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

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

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

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Law and Disorder August 28, 2017


 

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

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

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

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

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

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lordsofsecrecy report1a

Senate Intelligence Committee Torture Report: Attorney Scott Horton

Guantanamo suicides, CIA interrogation techniques, CIA ordered physicians who violate the Hippocratic oath, are topics of some recent articles by returning guest attorney Scott Horton. Last month, he was on Democracy Now to debate former CIA General Counsel John Rizzo on the question of declassifying a Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report about the agency’s secret detention and interrogation programs. His book Lords of Secrecy The National Security Elite and America’s Stealth Foreign Policy will be published January 2015.

Attorney Scott Horton:

  • I think the results flow directly from the media coverage (ABC poll on Torture report)
  • Now major publications and broadcasters that hedged using the word torture have stopped doing that. There are only a handful of media sources that won’t do it. NPR being one of them.
  • The media also presents roughly twice as much time devoted to people justifying the use of torture techniques to those criticizing it.
  • Barack Obama who should lead the push back has gone completely silent. It’s beyond silent he talked about “tortured some folks” making it very casual, and then he said the torturers were patriots.
  • I thought it was electrifying reading. 90 percent of it I’ve heard about before and still when you read them in this clinical, plain, highly factual style and things were developed with a continuous flow with lots of background in decision making in Washington at the top and how all this effected what happened on the ground.
  • As a consumer of Congressional reports this probably the single most impressive Congressional oversight report I’ve ever seen.
  • It’s an excellent example of what the oversight committee should be doing all the time.
  • They’re doing this with respect to a program which was essentially or very largely wrapped up by October 2006.
  • We’re talking about 8 1/2 years ago.
  • They’re only able to do this kind of review in any depth when its historical, not when its real time oversight, that’s disappointing.
  • One thing that emerges from looking at these reports and the military reports is that there is a huge black hole which has never been fully developed and explored and that’s JSOC, its the military intelligence side.
  • That escaped review within the DOD process and it escaped review in CIA process and its clear that there’s a huge amount there.
  • I certainly don’t expect prosecutions to emerge for the next couple of years in the United States, but I see a process setting in that may eventually lead to prosecutions.
  • On the one hand we’re seeing a dangerous deterioration in relations with Russia, is an aggressor, which has seized territory in the heart of Europe, is waging a thinly veiled war on one of its neighbors. That is very unnerving to the major NATO powers.
  • On the other hand there’s never been a period in the history of the alliance when there is so much upset at the United States.
  • That’s come largely from the rise of the surveillance state and the role of the NSA.
  • I was looking at this report, and we know that in 2006, there was an internal review that led the CIA to conclude that these interrogation techniques were ineffective and the CIA internally decided to seek a large part of the authority for EIT’s and operation of black sites rescinded.
  • Another thing that’s very important here from this report, it tells us that Michael Hayden, George Tenant, Porter Goss and other very senior people at the CIA repeatedly intervened to block any form of punishment of people who are involved with torture and running the black sites.
  • That’s important because of the legal document Command Responsibility. The law says when command authority makes a decision not to prosecute and immunize people involved with torture and abuse, that results in the culpability of these crimes migrating up the chain of command.
  • I interviewed CIA agents who were involved in this program, and they told me they’ve all been brought out by legal counsels office and told – they may not leave the country.
  • That means you’ve got roughly 150 CIA agents, including many people near the top of the agency who can’t travel right now.
  • Lords of Secrecy The National Security Elite and America’s Stealth Foreign Policy

Guest – Scott Horton, human rights lawyer and contributing editor to Harper’s Magazine. Scott’s column – No Comment. He graduated Texas Law School in Austin with a JD and was a partner in a large New York law firm, Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler. His new book Lords of Secrecy The National Security Elite and America’s Stealth Foreign Policy.

Law and Disorder August 14, 2017


 

U.S. Employees Agree To Be Microchipped

In 2003, 500 of the largest corporations planned to quietly replace universal product codes or barcodes with tiny Radio Frequency IDentifcation (RFID) microchips, creating the Electronic Product Code or EPC. RFID is a technology that tracks items silently and invisibly by radio waves. Over the years, we’ve reported about how RFID chips embedded in consumer products might be used to track people through the things they wear and carry since radio waves travel right through solid objects and can communicate with reading devices that can be hidden almost anywhere.

Corporations have already started embedding RFID microchips into consumer products for many reasons including shipping, inventory and marketing. Some companies have also been very interested in embedding RFID microchips into human flesh.

Years ago, Applied Digital Solutions tried to sell its “Verichip” human implant as a way to store medical information in people–and even to track senior citizens and corpses. Concerned citizens decried the privacy and security issues, forcing name changes and even the selling off of its human chipping business.

Microchip companies with new names and marketing angles are at it again. Recently, fifty employees with the snack kiosk company Three Square Market in Wisconsin agreed to have a microchip embedded into their flesh.

Guest – Liz McIntyre, a consumer privacy expert who is coauthor of a series of books about the societal implications of microchip tracking technology, including Spychips: How Major Corporations and Government Plan to Track your Every Purchase and Watch Your Every Move. She also promotes privacy as a consultant with the search engine StartPage.com

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PTSD Therapy For Human Trafficking Survivors

Nearly all survivors of human trafficking are affected by post traumatic stress syndrome and have difficulty assimilating back into the society. Most have managed to silently cope with the emotional and physical trauma of their past. The New York-based organization Crossing Point Arts was created help survivors heal through the arts, including singing, creative art and poetry.

The group provides free art workshops supervised by Creative Arts Therapists. The strategy is based on providing learn long-term coping mechanisms and better manage their PTSD symptoms.

Crossing Point Arts has reached nearly 2,000 survivors in art workshops. The workshops are held on the premises of local anti-trafficking agencies as part of a comprehensive program for survivors, which includes housing, legal and medical assistance, traditional therapy, educational guidance and a range of emotional support.

Guest – Anne Pollack is the Crossing Point Arts founder and executive director. Anne is a musician, visual artist, writer, student of dance and an activist. YourFluteWorks

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Law and Disorder August 7, 2017


Update:

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Fair Punishment Project: Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Efforts

Controversial and antiquated civil forfeiture procedures across the nation are causing many, including the country’s poorest, to have assets seized by law enforcement agencies to fill department coffers.

In 2016 the manager of a Burmese Christian Rock Band had just completed a five-month tour across the country, raising over $50K for an orphanage in Thailand and a college in Burma, when police pulled him over for a broken tail light. A routine traffic stop soon turned into a months-long nightmare.

After a drug dog allegedly “alerted” to the car, police searched it, but found no evidence of drugs. They did, however, seize the cash donations as supposed “drug proceeds.” After interrogating the band manager for six hours, the police eventually let him go, but kept the cash. Within a month, the Muskogee County District Attorney filed a civil-forfeiture action to keep the money for good.

In light of Attorney General Session’s announcement that he plans to increase the use of civil forfeiture, we can expect many more cases like this one.

Guest – Josie Duffy Rice is a lawyer and writer in New York. Josie is research director of the Fair Punishment Project.

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Venezuela: Media Distortion And Analysis

The great Latin American historic figure Simon Bolivar, known as the liberator, famously said that “the United States seems destined by Providence to plague America with misery in the name of the liberty.” The current situation in Venezuela seems to be a case and point. That country’s Foreign Minister Samuel Moncada and Carlos Ron, an official at the Venezuelan embassy, have recently accused Florida Senator Marco Rubio and CIA director Mike Pompeo of secretly conspiring to overthrow the democratically elected government of Nicholas Monduro.

The United States has a history of causing regime change to governments in Latin America. These include the governments of Guatemala, Brazil, the Dominican Republic , Bolivia, Grenada, Chile, Panama, Argentina, Nicaragua, and Cuba where “regime change” is written into American law. There has recently been a wave of violence in Venezuela including assassinations, violence at demonstrations, and distruction of property.

Guest – Gregory Wilpert has lived in Caracas,Venezuela, and is now based in Quito, Ecuador. He is the author of Changing Venezuela by Taking Power: The History and Policies of the Chavez Government. As a journalist, he is the founder of VenezuelaAnalysis.com. He is married to Carol Delgado Arria, who has served the Venezuelan government as ambassador to Ecuador and consul general in New York. He is currently visiting Caracas and joins us from there.

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Law and Disorder July 31, 2017


Update:

  • Rev Billy And The Stop Shopping Choir: Radical Ritual At Trump Tower

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

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

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

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

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

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Tuskegee Syphilis Study Aftermath

The Tuskegee Syphilis Study was a biomedical clinical study conducted by the US Public Health Service for four decades between 1932 and 1972. Its purpose was to observe the natural progression of untreated syphilis in rural African-American men in Alabama under the guise of receiving free health care from the government.

It collaborated with the historically black Tuskegee University in Alabama. Investigators enrolled a total of 600 impoverished African American sharecroppers from Macon County, Alabama. Of these men, 399 had previously contracted syphilis before the study began, and 201 did not have the disease. They were given free medical care, meals, and free burial insurance for participating in the study. After a cure for syphilis was discovered in penicillin, the study still continued without informing the men they would never be treated. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the men were told they were being treated for “bad blood,” a local term for various illnesses that include syphilis, anemia, and fatigue.

Guest – Professor Susan Reverby is Marion Butler McLean Professor in the History of Ideas and Professor of Women’s Studies at Wellesley College. She is editor of Tuskegee’s Truths: Rethinking the Tuskegee Syphilis Study.

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Law and Disorder July 10, 2017


Law and Disorder Outtakes: Disorderly Bloopers

We first began recording Law and Disorder in 2004, the same year the Republican National Convention—and large protests—were held in New York City. When we started, we had four hosts—Dalia Hashad and Michael Ratner along with Michael Smith and Heidi Boghosian.

After a few years, Dalia moved to California, leaving us with three hosts. In late spring 2016 we lost Michael Ratner to cancer. Now there are just two of us.

It is our special pleasure to share with listeners our first segment of The Disorderly Bloopers, behind-the-scenes audio outtakes from the first years we were on the air.

Law and Disorder was created during the George W. Bush administration to cover what we thought would be some of the darkest days in the nation’s history. As part of our special summer episode we thought these studio snippets might provide a few minutes of much-needed levity.

It’s important to take a few minutes to laugh at ourselves, and to look back at the hundreds of fun days that we here at Law and Disorder have had over the years.This has also been a trip down memory lane for Heidi and Michael as we hear hilarious interchanges with Dalia and Michael Ratner.

As we covered some of the most serious topics in the news, and amidst the enormous respect we had for all of our guests, the four of us wholeheartedly enjoyed a special relationship, along with our longstanding producer Geoff Brady. It’s a relationship that comes from working closely together and respecting each other as colleagues and friends.

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Hosts Read Some of the Best Courtroom Transcripts

Q: Doctor, before you performed the autopsy, did you check for a pulse?
A: No.
Q: Did you check for blood pressure?
A: No.
Q: Did you check for breathing?
A: No.
Q: So, then it is possible that the patient was alive when you began the autopsy?
A: No.
Q: How can you be so sure, Doctor?
A: Because his brain was sitting on my desk in a jar.
Q: But could the patient have still been alive nevertheless?
A: It is possible that he could have been alive and practicing law somewhere.

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The Relevant Lawyer: Reimagining the Future of the Legal Profession

Hosts alternate in reading part of a chapter on Attorney Charles Garry in the book The Relevant Lawyer: Reimagining the Future of the Legal Profession by Paul A. Haskins. Haskins is senior counsel in the American Bar Association Center for Professional Responsibility and lead counsel for the Standing Committee on Professionalism.

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Law and Disorder July 3, 2017


 

Jeremy Corbyn Labour Party Victory

One of the bright and hopeful developments in world politics was the wide support that Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the British Labor Party got in that country’s recent elections. Corbyn ran on an unabashedly left platform. His party recruited tens of thousands of young people before and after the election. Although the conservative Government of Prime Minister Teresa May is still in power this is not likely to last long. To speak with us today about these developments in Great Britain and their relevance to the United States where we saw a similar phenomenon with the rise of Bernie Sanders, is Colin Robinson.

Guest – Colin Robinson is from Liverpool England and he lives in New York City. He’s the publisher of OR Books. Colin Robinson worked as a senior editor at Scribner and was previously managing director of Verso Books and publisher of The New Press. Among the authors he has published are Tariq Ali, Noam Chomsky, Alexander Cockburn, Mike Davis, Norman Finkelstein, Eduardo Galeano, Eric Hobsbawm, Lewis Lapham, Mike Marqusee, Rigoberta Menchú, Matt Taibbi and Jann Wenner.

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Raymond Nat Turner

Poem: Low Regard

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SCOTUS on CCR CASE

Just a few weeks ago the Supreme Court reversed a federal appeals court ruling that former high-level Bush administration officials may be sued for their roles in the post-9/11 profiling and abuse of Muslim, Arab, and South Asian men.

After the 9/11 attacks, hundreds of non-citizens were rounded up solely on the basis of their race, religion, ethnicity, and immigration status. They were held in extremely restrictive confinement and physically and psychologically abused. The Court held that high-level government officials who implement and create clearly unconstitutional policies alleged to be based on national security are nonetheless shielded from liability.

However, the Court did allow plaintiffs the chance to prove their case against Warden Dennis Hasty, finding that complaint’s allegations, “plausibly show the warden’s deliberate indifference” to the abuse plaintiffs suffered while they were held at the MDC. The claims against the Warden will be sent back to the lower courts for an opportunity to show that prison administrators are not entitled to the same immunity given to high-level officials in this case.

Guest – Senior Managing Attorney Shane Kadilal from the Center for Constitutional Rights. His cases there include challenges to the indefinite detention of men at Guantánamo and domestic immigration sweeps. He has been counsel in major CCR cases challenging the material support statute, the low rate of African-American firefighter hiring in New York City, and the NSA’s warrantless surveillance program.

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Law and Disorder June 26, 2017


 

This is Not Populism : John Bellamy Foster

Is Trump a neofascist? Thoughtful analysts on the left like Cornell West, Noam Chomsky, and Judith Butler think he is. But mainstream liberal commentators refuse to associate the Trump phenomena with fascism. They call him a right wing populist. What is neofascism? Right wing Populism? Does it really matter what Trump is called? The great German playwright and political thinker who lived in Germany during Hitler’s reign, Berthold Brecht, asked in 1935: “How can anyone tell the truth about fascism, unless he’s willing to speak out against capitalism, which brings it fourth?” We speak today with John Bellamy Foster, the editor of the venerable magazine “Monthly Review”. He wrote the lead article in the current June 2017 issue titled “This Is Not Populism.”

Guest – John Bellamy Foster is editor of Monthly Review and professor of sociology at the University of Oregon. He has written widely on political economy and has established a reputation as a major environmental sociologist. He is the author of Marx’s Ecology: Materialism and Nature (2000), The Great Financial Crisis: Causes and Consequences (with Fred Magdoff, 2009), The Ecological Rift: Capitalism’s War on the Earth (with Brett Clark and Richard York, 2010), and The Theory of Monopoly Capitalism: An Elaboration of Marxian Political Economy (New Edition, 2014), among many others.

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US Normalization of Relations With Cuba Reversed

On June 15th President Donald Trump traveled to Miami to condemn Cuba for gross human rights violations while he signed an executive order aimed at reversing the process of normalization of relations between Cuba and the United States that has been going on since December 2014.

Trump spoke to a dwindling base of hardened reactionaries in Miami. He accused Cuba of “spreading violence and instability “as justification to increase restrictions on the travel of Americans to Cuba and to double down on the blockade by eliminating any business dealings with Cuban state run enterprises administered by the Cuban military.

Now, for an American citizen to go to the small island 90 miles from Florida they must go in a group with a minder and report everywhere they travel and with whom they meet.

Since the success in 1959 of the Cuban revolution the United States government has been trying to reverse it and restore capitalist property relations on the island of 11 million people.

The Cuban revolution truly was a revolution and not in the Madison Avenue sense. It was not superficial but profoundly fundamental. The 99%; poor peasants, city workers, and intellectuals overthrew the 1%; the super rich, the large landowners, the owners of the utilities in mines, and their American partners – the United States and trained and supplied army and the police. The 99% took back their own country and the 1% largely move to Miami. 50,000 Cubans died in their struggle.

From then until now the policy and practice of the United States government has been to take Cuba back, change the regime, and re-introduce capitalist property relations by any means necessary.

At first, US backed terrorist torched sugar crops because land was taken from the rich and redistributed to the peasants. The US supported the assassination of teachers during the hugely successful literacy drive. The CIA introduced dengue fever and swine flu killing children and livestock awake. They supported a full-scale military invasion in 1962 known as the Bay of Pigs. It failed. The US initially succeeded and isolating Cuba politically, diplomatically, and economically.

Latin American and Caribbean governments were overthrown by the CIA if they didn’t go along with this policy. Only Mexico held out. But this tactic didn’t work. Cuba overcame the isolation. The US itself became isolated for its hostility. Then in 2014 the organization of American states told the United States that unless it allowed Cuba to re-join the United States itself was unwelcome.

So the USA, led by President Obama, changed tactics, but not its goal to restore capitalism to Cuba. In July 2015 Cuba was recognized. Embassies were opened in Havana in Washington. Trade and travel restrictions were eased.

Guest – Sandra Levinson, President and Executive Director of the Center for Cuban Studies. She was one of the Center’s founders in 1972. In 1991 Levinson spearheaded a lawsuit against the U.S. Treasury Department which resulted in legalizing the importation of original Cuban art.  She is currently directing works at the Cuban Art Space, which she founded in 1999, to properly house and archive the thousands of posters, photographs and artworks which the Center has collected in the past 42 years.

Contact the Center for Cuban Studies at 212.242.0559.

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Law and Disorder June 19, 2017


Sex Trafficking Lawsuit Against Philadelphia Motel

Prosecutors have dubbed a Northeast Philadelphia motel the city’s “epicenter of human trafficking.” Recently, a lawsuit was brought against the Roosevelt Motel for the pimping of a teenage girl in one of its rooms for a period of two years. It’s the first lawsuit under a 2014 state law permitting victims of sex traffickers to sue hotels and motels where abuse occurs. The suit was filed on behalf of a 17-year-old girl known as M.B., who was sold into sexual slavery at the Northeast Philadelphia motel at age 14. The lawsuit alleges that she was prohibited from leaving and was forced to commit sex acts with approximately 1,000 men. The hotel is known by the District Attorney as the site of most trafficking investigation. The National Human Trafficking Hotline says that 7.5 thousand human trafficking cases were reported in 2016, including 151 in Pennsylvania and 193 in New Jersey. Almost three-quarters of those involve sex trafficking and nearly a third of sex-trafficking cases occurred in hotels and motels.

Guest – Attorney Nadeem Bezar of the law firm Kline & Specter in Philadelphia. His practice concentrates on medical negligence, catastrophic personal injury, and cases involving child abuse and human trafficking, sexual assault and Title IX violations on college and university campuses.

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Whistle-blower Protections: FBI Director James Comey

Nearly 20 million television viewers tuned in to hear former FBI Director James Comey testify before Congress on June 8, and explain that he recorded his conversations with President Trump because he did not trust him. Despite the Trump administration’s assertions to the contrary, most legal experts say that former FBI Director James Comey’s sharing the memos about his interactions with Donald Trump is perfectly legal. Several whistleblower attorneys are among those asserting that Comey’s handing over memos to a friend to be leaked to the press violated no laws. The information, they say, was neither classified nor secret as a matter of a federal law. And Comey revealed a matter of public interest and had a right to expose these facts anonymously.

Guest – Louis Clark, Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Government Accountability Project in Washington, DC. The G.A.P. is the nation’s leading whistleblower protection and advocacy organization. It litigates whistleblower cases, helps expose wrongdoing to the public, and promotes government and corporate accountability. For four decades, GAP has assisted more than 6,000 whistleblowers.

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Politics, Influence And Journalism: Attorney Dave Saldana

For many, the word Watergate is synonymous with political corruption. The scandal was revealed when five burglars were caught by Washington police in the Democratic National Committee’s office on Jun 17, 1972, and ended with the resignation of President Nixon in 1974. Richard Nixon was the first American president who felt compelled to resign because of the severity of the situation. The role of the press was critical in the episode, beginning with the Washington Post’s front page reporting. At first, the role of the television—with the notable exception of CBS, was scant.

The credit of responsible reporting goes largely to Washington Post editor Katherine Graham, and the Co-editor, Ben Bradlee as well as reporters Woodward and Bernstein. They covered the story at great threat to their lives and their families. The president and his staff in the White House made every possible effort to resist and downgrade the true news stories of the reporters. The Nixon staff had threatened the journalists with verbal attacks. It also created the Washington Star to counter the Washington Post and anti-government reporting. Nixon also sought the help of Federal Communication Commission to ban two TV channels in Florida. The presidential administration had devised such plans that the government officials began to avoid meeting Woodward and Bernstein.

Guest – Attorney Dave Saldana is an award-winning journalist and attorney, and longtime member of the National Lawyers Guild.

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