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Law and Disorder December 4, 2017


Law and Disorder Editorials:

  • Jared Kushner Middle East Policy Advisor

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Free Press: New FCC Rules On Net Neutrality

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Sentencing Project

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

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

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

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

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


Follow Heidi Boghosian on Twitter – @HeidiBoghosian

Law and Disorder November 27, 2017


Defend J20: First Protestors

Last January, at Donald Trump’s Inauguration, over 230 people—some protesters, some not—were trapped and arrested by police. Federal prosecutors charged them with a crime that actually doesn’t exist in DC: “felony rioting.” Armed with secret warrants, prosecutors then probed deeply into the defendants’ personal lives.

Charges were dropped for some arrestees, including journalists and legal observers. Over 200, however, saw their charges increased to felony rioting, felony incitement to riot, conspiracy to riot, and property-damage crimes related to broken windows. Each defendant is facing over 60 years in prison.

Prosecutors obtained warrants focused on anti-Trump organizers. Warrants sought a list of visitors to a protest-related website and the Facebook friends and related communications of two organizers, the host of a coalition Facebook page, and those who had “liked” that page.

This prosecution follows a change in local law enforcement’s response to protest that we covered years ago on Law and Disorder. The mass arrests and harsh charges are precisely what new DC policies were designed to avoid. A 2002 mass-arrest and subsequent lawsuit by the Partnership for Civil Justice resulted in the District paying over $10 million in settlements and changing its crowd control policies.

Trials for the inauguration protesters begin mid-November and are expected to continue for a year.

Guest – Yael Bromberg,  Yael is a supervising attorney and teaching fellow with the Institute for Public Representation at the Civil Rights Clinic of Georgetown University Law Center. defendj20resistance.org

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October Song: Bolshevik Triump, Communist Tragedy 1917-1924

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution of October, 1917. The revolution changed the course of history and determined world politics internationally and in the United States of America for most of the 20th century, until finally, under the unrelenting onslaught of the west and principally the USA, the revolution was overthrown in 1991 when capitalism was restored to that country.

Before the revolution, Russian was a feudal monarchy, headed up by a czar in a country where most of the population were peasants working the land under near slave-like conditions.

World War I started in 1914 and Russia allied with France and Great Britain against Germany and other countries. It was a war for foreign markets, resources, and colonies. By 1917, 30 million people have been killed. In one week alone 250,000 soldiers died.

The Russian revolution was nearly bloodless and nonviolent. The first thing the revolutionary government did was to end their country’s participation in the war, which ultimately ended the war.

The second thing they did was to redistribute the land to the peasants who worked it. Then they nationalized industry under control of the workers in the plants. Thus, the 1% of the Russian elite were dispossessed and the 99% took control of the institutions of their country and ran them through councils of workers and peasants and soldiers, which had been organized prior to the revolution and which were led by socialists.

The Russian revolution inspired the hopes of humankind throughout the industrial and under-developed colonial world. The peasants were given land, women gained equal rights and the right to vote and to get an abortion. Homosexualty was made legal. Minority rights were guaranteed. Education, the arts, and culture received government support. For a period Russia was the most democratic country on the planet.

We speak today with history professor Paul LeBlanc about the Russian revolution and the lessons it teaches for social change activists in America today.

Guest – Professor Paul LeBlanc is the author of the just published book October Song: Bolshevik Triumph, Communist Tragedy, 1917-1924. He is the author of a number of widely read studies including Lenin and the Revolutionary Party and Marx, Lenin, and the Revolutionary Experience. He teaches at Laroche college in Pittsburgh.


Follow Heidi Boghosian on Twitter – @HeidiBoghosian

Law and Disorder November 20, 2017


Law and Disorder Editorials:

  • FDA Approves Digital Pill by Heidi Boghosian

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Release Aging People in Prison Campaign

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

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

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

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

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

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Perpetual Line Up: Unregulated Police Face Recognition In America

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

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

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

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

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

Law and Disorder November 13, 2017


Law and Disorder Editorials:

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Lessons From The Greensboro Massacre

Thirty eight years ago, on November 3, 1979, 35 heavily armed members of the Ku Klux Klan and the American Nazi party drove nine vehicles through the city of Greensboro, North Carolina, and opened fire on a multi-racial group of demonstrators who were gathering at a black housing project in preparation for an anti-Klan march.

Using semi automatic rifles, shotguns and pistols the Nazis and Kukluxers fired 1000 projectiles in 88 seconds killing five march leaders and wounding seven other demonstrators.

Most of the victims were associated with the Communist Workers Party, a multi racial group which had been organizing in the south for workers rights in the cotton mills and against the Ku Klux Klan.

The Greensboro police, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation were all aware of the planned attack. Four TV stations captured the massacre on video. A reluctant local district Attorney obtained six indictments under pressure from the Greensboro Justice Fund which had been organized by the windows of the victims, and the public outcry. A six-month trial resulted in the acquittal of all six defendants.

Then a reluctant Reagan administration Department of Justice tried nine of the Klansmen and Nazis on civil rights conspiracy charges. After a three-month trial all nine were acquitted.

A year after the massacre a civil rights suit was brought on behalf of the 16 victims. It expose d the depth and contours of official involvement.

After an extraordinary dramatic 10 weeks civil trial a southern jury finally convicted a good number of the actors in the massacre. The verdict was national news.

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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Lawyers You’ll Like: Anne O’Berry

As part of our Lawyers You’ll Like series we’re joined by attorney Anne O’Berry, she’s the Vice President of the Southern Region of the National Lawyers Guild and the author of The Law Only As An Enemy:  The Legitimization of Racial Powerlessness Through the Colonial and Antebellum Criminal Laws of Virginia. While in law school, she served as Director of the Women in Prison Project at Rikers Island, where she taught incarcerated women how to prevent termination of their parental rights.

Anne clerked for federal judges in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, including Judge A. Leon Higginbotham, Jr. of the U.S. Court of Appeals in Philadelphia, with whom she co-authored an article on the law as a tool of oppression against slaves and free blacks in pre-Civil War Virginia and taught civil rights and South African apartheid law at the University of Pennsylvania.  She later taught Race and the Law at St. Thomas University Law School in Miami, Florida.

In the last 12 years, Anne has served as counsel at a Florida law firm that specializes in class action litigation, particularly in the areas of securities, consumer and economic fraud, as well as some environmental and privacy rights litigation.

Attorney Anne O’Berry:

  • We did a lot of historical research in terms of racism and the law back in pre-civil war Virginia.
  • We focused on Virginia because it was a paradigm for slavery basically in the slave laws that were in place.
  • We wrote an article for publication, it was published in the University of North Carolina law review. The Law Only As An Enemy:’ The Legitimization of Racial Powerlessness Through the Colonial and Antebellum Criminal Laws of Virginia.
  • Depending on your status, if you were a free white person or a slave, you were treated differently by the law.
  • As an overall theme, depending on the race of the victim was that would effect what your sentence would be.
  • For example, if a black woman was raped, that was not considered a crime.  If you were a black person and you stole something, you would be put to death.
  • It was ironic for the slave owner because if their slave was put to death, they would have to be compensated by the state.
  • If the victim was black, the crime was treated less seriously than if the victim was white.
  • I started out working at a firm in New York, a large prominent, Wall Street type.
  • Among some people I was known as the pro-bono queen.
  • I was there for 2 and a half years and the first pro-bono case was a death penalty case.
  • The court ruled back then (1990s) that it was ok to execute the mentally retarded.
  • I was so moved by that experience that I gave up my cushy job in New York and go do death penalty work full time.
  • I ended up at the Federal Resource Center doing death penalty work in Tallahassee Florida.
  • I worked for the Battered Women’s Clemency Project in Florida.
  • More recently the Supreme Court did rule that it is unconstitutional to execute people who were juveniles at the time of the offense and unconstitutional to execute people who are mentally retarded.
  • I believe in my lifetime we will see the end of the death penalty in this country.
  • It’s just an amazing system that we have where the courts will say – yes you’ve got compelling evidence of innocence but we’re not going to hear your case.
  • I would say what got me through was the victories.
  • Presently,  I’m working with an attorney Jim Green, who’s a prominent civil rights attorney in West Palm Beach,  kind of a legend down here.
  • I also some volunteer work with El Sol. It’s a day laborer center in Jupiter, Florida.

Guest – Anne O’Berry, National Lawyers Guild’s Regional Vice President for the Southern Region and a member of the Guild’s South Florida chapter.  She obtained her undergraduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1983 and her law degree from New York University Law School in 1986.  While in law school, she served as Director of the Women in Prison Project at Rikers Island, where she taught incarcerated women how to prevent termination of their parental rights.  She was a member of the law school’s civil rights clinic and an editor on one of the law school’s journals, and authored a law review article on prisoners’ rights.  During and after law school, she clerked for federal judges in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, including Judge A. Leon Higginbotham, Jr. of the U.S. Court of Appeals in Philadelphia, with whom she co-authored an article on the law as a tool of oppression against slaves and free blacks in pre-Civil War Virginia and taught civil rights and South African apartheid law at the University of Pennsylvania.  She later taught Race and the Law at St. Thomas University Law School in Miami, Florida.

Law and Disorder October 30, 2017


 

 

Cuban US Embassy Sonic Weapons Scare

The Trump administration is considering closing the recently reopened US Embassy in Havana after several unexplained incidents that allegedly hurt American diplomats in Cuba. Some lawmakers are calling for the ouster of all Cuban diplomats from the US in addition to the 15 they’ve kicked out of the country. Its a move that would have significant diplomatic implications.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson made these suggestions recently. His comments were the strongest indication yet that the US might mount a major diplomatic response, potentially jeopardizing the historic restart of relations between the Cuba and US governments. The two reopened embassies in Washington and Havana in 2015 after roughly a half-century of estrangement.

Of the 21 medically confirmed US victims, some have permanent hearing loss or concussions while others have suffered nausea, headaches and ear-ringing. Some are having problems with concentration or common word recall.

Some victims felt vibrations or heard loud sounds mysteriously audible in only parts of rooms, leading investigators to consider the possibility of a sonic attack. Others heard nothing but later developed symptoms.

The US State Department has emphasized that the US still does not know what has occurred. Cuba has denied any involvement and has said that it wants to help the US resolve the matter.

Investigators have explored the possibility of an electromagnetic weapon, or an advanced spying operation gone awry. The US has not ruled out that a third country or even a rogue faction of Cuba’s national security services may be involved.

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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Trump in the White House: Tragedy and Farce

The great issues of our times are the return of fascism to the United States and Europe, climate change, and the stagnation of the world capitalist economy. These great issues are pressing and interconnected.

We used to think that the experience of World War II guaranteed that no politician would ever advocate the ideas of fascism.

But the election of Donald Trump a year ago has caused a serious reconsideration of fascism and it’s relationship to capitalism and to democracy.

The neoliberals paved the way for Trump. Now he and the forces aligned with him have put our democratic institutions under attack in order to protect the rule of the wealthy. The attacks include the right to vote, labor unions, public education, an independent news media, independent public universities, the privatization of much of traditional governmental functions and making it almost impossible to launch a new political party.

The election of Trump is a political development that for concrete sociological reasons allows us to see it for what it is, as a type of neo-fascism. Only by identifying the phenomena correctly can we effectively fight it.

Jack London wrote a century ago in his famous book The Iron Heel that “There is a shadow of something colossal and menacing that even now is beginning to fall across the land. Call it the shadow of an oligarchy, if you will; it is the nearest I dare approximate it. What is nature may be I refuse to imagine. But what I want to say was this: You are in a perilous position.”

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.

Law and Disorder October 23, 2017


Updates:

  • Co-host Attorney Heidi Boghosian Discusses Robert “Sugar Bear” Lark Case
  • Government Targeting Black Resistance Groups

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Victory In Al Shimari v CACI

President Trump told us during the campaign that he was in favor of torture because “it works.“ The Center for Constitutional Rights recently won a significant round in a case against a private military contractor, CACI who had tortured three of its clients at the infamous Abu Graib prison in Iraq in 2003 and 2004.

When he was president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, Michael Ratner maintained that if the torturers were not  prosecuted, the practice of torture would be repeated. In fact none of the architects were held accountable in court. That is why the this recent procedural victory by CCR, in the case of Al Shimari is so important.

Guest – Attorney Katherine Gallagher is a Senior Staff Attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights. She works on universal jurisdiction and international criminal law cases involving U.S. and foreign officials and torture and other war crimes, and cases involving private military corporations and torture at Abu Ghraib. Her major cases include Al Shimari v. CACI, the international U.S. torture accountability cases, and Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) v. Vatican, seeking accountability for the crimes against humanity of sexual violence by clergy and cover-up.

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International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms: North Korea

Not since the Cuban missile crisis of 1962, 55 years ago, has the prospect of nuclear war seemed so frightening. President Donald Trump, who alone can commence a nuclear attack, has threatened North Korea with “fire and fury.“ North Korea has a population of 25 million people.

Gabriel Sherman writing recently in the magazine Vanity Fair said that the situation with Trump has gotten so out of control that Trump’s Chief of Staff, General John Kelly, and his Secretary of Defense, General Jim Mattis, have discussed ways to stop Trump should he order a nuclear attack.

Obviously, the solution to winding down the escalating confrontation needs to be one of diplomacy. But when Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, the chief diplomat in America, attempted to do just that President Trump said publicly that “you are wasting your time.“

Guest – Peter Weiss, distinguished international lawyer and President Emeritus of the International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms and its US affiliate, the Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy. He helped draft their October 10th, 2017 statement North Korea: Solution or Disaster. Peter Weiss was a founder of the Center for Constitutional Rights and its former Vice President.

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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 October 9, 2017


The Rape Of Recy Taylor: A Film By Nancy Buirski

The number of women raped in the Jim Crow south we’re staggering. Because of the danger to their lives and the futility of getting justice most women didn’t report the crimes and their stories when unknown.

Recy Taylor’s story was not part of this hidden history. As a 24 year old she was gang raped by six white man in 1944 in a small rural Alabama town. Mrs. Taylor spoke up and bravely identified her rapists.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the NAACP, sent Rosa Parks, later of the 1955 Montgomery Alabama bus boycott fame, down to investigate and build a movement to shine a public spotlight on the crime.

She rallied support and triggered an unprecedented outcry for justice. It ultimately was a failed effort. Despite widespread publicity in the black press including newspapers in New York City, Detroit, and Philadelphia plus a massive letter writing campaign which put pressure on the Alabama Governor, two grand juries failed to indict the rapists and an Alabama assistant attorney general issued a report exonerating the criminals.

This is the focal point of a new film titled The Rape of Recy Taylor, written, directed and produced by Nancy Buirski. It recently had its North American premiere at the New York Film Festival.

Guest – Nancy Buirski joins us in the studio. The film won an award at the 74th Venice International Film Festival. Nancy has directed, written, and produced a number of award-winning films and is a member of the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. First look at Nancy Buirski’s documentary. Nancy’s Facebook page. Here is the Facebook documentary link

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Puerto Rico Hurricane Aftermath – Natasha Lycia Ora Bannan

Puerto Rico is the only remaining U S. colony in the western hemisphere. 3.5 million people live on the island. They lack representatives in Congress and the population is barred from voting in the US presidential elections. Although it is $73 billion in debt to American banks,by law it is unable to declare bankruptcy and restructure its debt. President Donald Trump said that the impact of Maria was partly the fault of Puerto Rico falling into a giant amount of debt that it has not repaid. With an already stressed out infrastructure the island in the past three weeks was hit by two extremely powerful hurricanes. Electricity and cell service are down, people are drinking water out of creeks, they have little fuel, little food, and the mayor of San Juan Carmen Yulin Cruz is sleeping on a cot. The mounting death toll is presently at 34.

President Trump accused the San Juan mayor of “poor leadership“ after she criticize the American government for not helping Puerto Rico enough after Hurricane Maria. He said she was “a politically motivated ingrate.” Then he barred her from participating in a group phone call to talk about relief, telling her she could listen but not speak. He accused the Puerto Rican people of being lazy, saying that “they want everything done for them.”

Guest – Attorney Natasha Lycia Ora Bannan, Puerto Rican President of the National Lawyers Guild. She has recently returned from Cuba, which also suffered severely from hurricane Maria, but responded in a much more effective way. Support Puerto Rico to drive donations to the Hurricane Maria Relief and Recovery Fund at www.mariafund.org, set up by Puerto Rican attorney, Xiomara Caro.

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Law and Disorder October 2, 2017


Puerto Rico Disaster Recovery, The Jones Act And Federal Aid

The devastation to Puerto Rico from Hurricane Maria has been likened to the impact of an atomic bomb, destroying the U.S. territory, and leaving nearly 3.5 million U.S citizens without power, limited access to food and water, and a collapsed infrastructure. Donald Trump was quick to blame the island nation for its problems, even highlighting its financial debt to Wall Street.

Puerto Rico has a history of struggling for federal aid for natural disasters contrasted with those on the mainland. The White House response to much-needed funding post-Maria is to wait for a “full assessment” and “fact-finding” process. Early reinforcements from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) are appalling, if nonexistent: Diesel fuel for generators is scarce. Towns outside metro areas are unreachable. Hospitals can’t treat patients. Streets are flooded, looting is rampant, highways destroyed. The National Guard, FEMA, Red Cross or federal vehicle have yet to be spotted on the island. None of this is new.

In 1989, when Hurricane Hugo hit South Carolina, Puerto Rico and the USVI, the elder President Bush was criticized for not responding quickly enough. More relief for the Caribbean was added to a bill initially designed to address earthquake damage in California. And when Hurricane Georges pounded Puerto Rico in 1998, it took half a year for the federal government to act on a long-term plan for the island.

A central reason for this is the Jones Act, a century-old shipping law often accused of stifling the Puerto Rican economy. Among other things, the Act requires that domestic shipping be conducted by U.S.-owned, U.S.-made ships staffed by American crews. That means, for example, that all food from the mainland—and Puerto Rico imports 85 percent of what it consumes—must be brought in U.S. ships.

Nydia Velázquez, the Puerto Rico–born congresswoman who represents parts of New York City, says she will ask Congress for a one-year waiver to Jones Act requirements for the territory. That might test Washington’s willingness to change its approach to Puerto Rico and to see if Puerto Ricans’ status as citizens without full rights is really working.

Guest – Carlito Rivera, co-editor of the Old and New website, active with the Campaign to Bring Mumia Home, and a Former member of the Young Lords. CONTACT: El Maestro – Community Center and Boxing Gym in the Bronx, Puerto Rican Nationalist Party Headquarters 646-299-6507.

Since the recording of this interview, President Trump agreed to waive the Jones Act, which will temporarily lift shipping restrictions and allow the people of Puerto Rico to receive necessary aid.

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Burns and Novick: Masters of False Balancing

Ken Burns and Lisa Novick have made an influential documentary called “The Vietnam War” whose 10 episodes have been running on PBS.  Burns said that his film “will inspire our country to begin to talk and think about the Vietnam war in an entirely different way.” Novak said that “we are all searching for some meaning in this terrible tragedy.”

The United States took over the war in 1954 from the defeated French who failed despite massive American support to recolonize Vietnam after World War II. The United States left Vietnam 1975 when they were forced to withdraw troops in the teeth of massive Vietnamese resistance, a huge antiwar movement at home, and the refusal of GIs in Vietnam to continue to fight.

At least 3 million Vietnamese were murdered. 58,200 American soldiers were killed. 19 million gallons of toxic defoliants, 7.5 million tons of bombs, including 400,000 tons of napalm were dropped on the Vietnamese. Without a Navy or Air Force, the Vietnamese resistance lived in tunnels or hid in the jungle.

The CIA’s infamous operative in Vietnam, Colonel Edward Lansdale, who helped install the US supported dictator Diem, quoted Robert Tabors The War of the Flea saying “there is only one means of defeating an insurgent people who will not surrender, and that is extermination. There is only one way to control a territory that harbors resistance, and that is to turn it into a desert.”

The Burns-Novik film’s opening sentence says that the war was started “in good faith by decent people out of fateful misunderstandings, American overconfidence and cold war misunderstandings.” Noam Chomsky, who came to prominence in 1967 as a critic of the war, and who was not interviewed in the film, wrote that the US “went to war in Vietnam for a very good reason. They were afraid Vietnam would be a successful model of independent development and that it would have a virus effect – if that others who may try to follow the same course.”

Guest – Jerry Lembcke, Professor Emeritus of Sociology at Holy Cross College.
Professor Lempke is recognized for work on post-Vietnam War American culture, studies of how we continue to process the war through film, literature, folklore, and of course television documentaries. He is the author and editor of many books, most notably his 1998 book “The Spitting Image: Myth, Memory and the Legacy of Vietnam”. He served as a chaplain’s assistant in Vietnam and is a member of Vietnam Veterans Against the War.

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Law and Disorder September 4, 2017


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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Confederate Monuments and The Meaning of the Civil War

The American Civil War fought from 1861 to 1865 killed more Americans than all other wars combined. 600,000 Americans died in a war that was fought over whether slavery was to be abolished in the United States. The Confederate General, Robert E Lee, had only an 1100 acre plantation in Virginia and 60 slaves. The value of a slave was about $30,000 in today’s dollar. Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederacy, owned a 1400 acre cotton plantation in Mississippi.

The institution of slavery was enormously profitable and led to the establishment of America as a leading capitalist power in the world. Slavery was supported in the south not just by the slave owners themselves but by many white persons who by virtue of their skin color saw themselves as superior to blacks. It was widely believed that black people were inferior to white people, both intellectually and morally. Lincoln issued the revolutionary Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, freeing southern slaves. They began taking up arms and fighting against the slaveowners. In the wake of the Civil War biracial democratic institutions were established in the south. This was overthrown shortly thereafter when the Northern capitalists and politician made a deal with the ex-slave owners in the south. Union troops which were supporting the black population were withdrawn.

Thereafter a system of Jim Crowe segregation was instituted and blacks were nearly reenslaved and used as landless sharecroppers or prison laborers. Segregation was reestablished and enforced by massive terror by whites against blacks. The Ku Klux Klan was founded and thousands of lynchings were undertaken, carried out before the white public who assembled in crowds for the event.

Statues of southern generals like Robert E Lee and monuments to the confederacy were erected, not after the Civil War, but many years later to reinforce Jim Crowe and combat the civil rights movement.

Guest – Bruce Carlin Levine – Civil War historian and University of Illinois Professor Emeritus. His latest book titled “Fall of the House of Dixie” is widely appreciated as one of the best books on the Civil war. “Bruce Levine has taught history at the University of California and the University of Illinois. He has written four books on the Civil War, including The Fall of the House of Dixie (Random House, 2005). He’s now writing a book for Simon & Schuster about the radical Republican leader during the Civil War era, Thaddeus Stevens.”

 

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Joe Aripao, Sheriff of Maricopa County Pardoned By President Trump

Last week President Trump pardoned, without him even requesting it, the infamous Joe Aripao, Sheriff of Maricopa County, which includes the heavily Latino community of Phoenix. Arizona. Sheriff Joe was in office for 26 years. Observers have called it a “reign of terror.”

He himself called his jail a “concentration camp.” He kept prisoners outside in tents with temperatures ranging from 40° to over 100°. Prisoners died at an alarming rate, often without explanation. He paraded hundreds of Hispanic prisoners in chains dressed in black and white stripes through the streets of Phoenix. Another time he force them to wear pink underwear.

He was pardoned by President Trump, who praised him lavishly, after a federal judge found him in contempt of court for ordering his department to arrest people soley because they looked Latino and ignoring a court order to stop. Arpaio was about to be sentenced when Trump stepped in and overrode the judge.

Guest – Professor Ellen Yaroshefsky, she teaches ethics at the law school at Hofstra University. She is a former staff attorney and later board member at the Center for Constitution Rights and a leader of the National Lawyers Guild.

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