March 2010
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Month March 2010

This charming car

Tourists cruised Havana's seafront, El Malecón, in a 1952 Cadillac, a pleasure that few Americans have experienced in decades.

Tourists cruised Havana’s seafront, El Malecón, in a 1952 Cadillac, a pleasure that few Americans have experienced in decades.

Why pamper life’s complexity / when the leather runs smooth on the passenger seat?

The Wall and the Times

The New York Times has published another editorial again criticizing the Israeli government’s settlement policy in East Jerusalem. (Editorial, Mr. Obama and Israel, New York Times, Mar. 27, 2010, at A18). Somewhat more substantive than many of the articles to appear over the past two weeks (which refer to mainly the new settlement construction announced that “embarrassed Mr. Biden and complicated efforts to restart peace negotiations” as “an affront,” “an insult” and so on) with the online counterpart to the print edition carrying this map showing just how serious the settlement issue is:

(Click photo for larger image)

Explaining a Gaza atrocity

Norman Finkelstein speaks at Harvard Law School tonight about the Goldstone Report. A teaser:

I was rereading the Israeli Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center’s 350-page response to Goldstone: Hamas and the Terrorist Threat from the Gaza Strip: The main findings of the Goldstone Report versus the factual findings. It is such an embarrassment that you almost — I said almost — begin to feel sorry for the authors. If you have read the Goldstone report, you will recall the harrowing passages [Paragraphs 1112-26] of Palestinians forced to kneel blindfolded and handcuffed in sandpits surrounding Israeli tanks that are firing away or moving back and forth.

So, listen to what this Israeli report conjures up: “Hamas operatives would position innocent civilians near IDF tanks to prevent IDF soldiers from shooting at them” (p. 196). You get it: a “Hamas operative” drags a Palestinian civilian in front of an Israeli tank and then says: “You stand right here to make sure the Israeli tank squad doesn’t fire at us.” No doubt the tank squad obliged and stood idly by.

(via Mondoweiss)

Indigent Defense: Caseload Standards

Professor Steven Zeidman (director of the Defenders Clinic at CUNY School of Law) has an op-ed in today’s New York Law Journal on the “series of seemingly unconnected events” (renewed legislative and executive interest, and an opportunity for the judiciary to intervene in Hurrell-Harring, et al. v. State of New York) that “has created a historic opportunity” for New York to more fully actualize the constitutional right to counsel in criminal cases almost 50 years ago in Gideon v. Wainwright, 372 U.S. 335 (1963):

Given this historic convergence of attention and opportunity regarding indigent defense, any attempt to create standards for ensuring effective indigent representation must be carefully scrutinized…. Numbers should not be the only, nor primary, way to assess defense attorney effectiveness. Imposing numerical standards is not a magic elixir that will suddenly transform the state of indigent defense practice. The problems run deep and can only be addressed through searching inquiry into the nature of indigent defense practice.

What are the component parts of quality defense lawyering? What are the institutional norms and loyalties that impact public defenders? What are the prevailing attitudes of public defenders toward their clients, their work and what is means to be a zealous advocate? What do the accused, the consumers of indigent defense services, have to say about their lawyers? What is it that should make us confident that public defenders will provide dramatically better representation simply by virtue of having 10, 20 or 50 fewer cases in a year?

Steven Zeidman, Indigent Defense: Caseload Standards, N.Y. Law Journal, Mar. 24, 2010.

Holidays in the sun

(via Yimmys Yayo)

NYT: At CUNY Law School, Questions on Costly Move

The New York Times has run a story on CUNY School of Law’s proposed move from Flushing, Queens to Long Island City, Queens. Ferd A. Bernstein, Some At CUNY Law School Question Cost of a Move, N.Y. Times, Mar. 22, 2010, at A21:

The City University of New York School of Law trains students to be public interest lawyers — the kind who battle bureaucracies and fight injustice.

But now, some of its teachers and students are taking aim at their own administration. At issue is the school’s plan to move from its current home, a former junior high school in Flushing, Queens, to a newer, sleeker building in Long Island City that Citigroup completed in 2007.

Dean Michelle Anderson wrote a public response for alumni addressing CUNY Law’s mission and the new space, the cost, and other advantages of the 2 Court Square location.

New York’s “inadequate” public defense system

William Glaberson has another article in today’s New York Times on the upcoming class action lawsuit at the Court of Appeals arguing against New york state to overhaul its indigent defense system (William Glaberson, The Right to Counsel, N.Y. Times, Mar. 21, 2010, at LI1). Today’s piece is the “story of this one defendant and her public defender, assembled through interviews and court records. . . about a woman who was barely making it before the legal system helped shove her off track.”

CUNY Radio: Presidential Secrets

This lecture is great, and there are funny asides to boot: “… I went to Abilene, Kansas. Now I have one other piece of advice for those of you who want to do graduate studies. Make sure you know where the research center is before you go there. Because, Abilene, Kansas in the heart of the country was dry. Which meant you couldn’t even get wine with dinner. Imagine that!”

Listen [mp3]

Lectures, Interviews, and News from CUNY Radio

As chair of the Fund for Open Information and Accountability, Blanche Wiesen Cook helped draft the Presidential Records Act of 1978, which permitted public access to presidential records through the Freedom of Information Act, but also allowed Presidents to invoke restrictions. “When Ronald Reagan became President, he reclassified most of the controversial documents,” said Prof. Cook, a distinguished professor of history and women’s studies at John Jay College and the Graduate Center. “Some of that secret insanity remains today, a legacy of the George W. Bush era, under which no presidential papers will ever be released.” The author of the New York Times best-seller “Eleanor Roosevelt: A Biography,” and “The Declassified Eisenhower,” Prof. Cook spoke about the importance of transparency in government, as part of the “Justice and Injustice in 1950s America” lecture series at John Jay College.

Wash. Post: Discord at the ‘End of the Earth’

I had a short exchange with Ray Acheson and Bruce Gagnon today, regarding the Washington Post report that there is discord in Afghanistan (Rajiv Chandrasekaran, Marine unit gone rogue, or leading the way?, Wash. Post, Mar. 14, 2010, at A1). I haven’t been following really the strategic elements of the Obama escalation, but this article suggests that operations in Delaram are “far from a strategic priority for senior officers at the international military headquarters in Kabul. One calls Delaram, a day’s drive from the nearest city, ‘the end of the Earth.’ Another deems the area ‘unrelated to our core mission’ of defeating the Taliban by protecting Afghans in their cities and towns.” However,

Texas Conservatives Approve Changes to School Curriculum

Democracy Now: Texas Conservatives Approve Changes to School Curriculum

Conservatives on the Texas Board of Education have approved a series of major changes to the state’s social studies curriculum. The new curriculum stresses the superiority of American capitalism, questions the separation of church and state, and presents Republican political philosophies in a more positive light.