Leid Stories Stories and news that affect us all

September 16, 2014  

Rules of Engagement: International Law and Obama’s War on Terrorism

The United States yesterday intensified its airstrike campaign in Iraq against the Islamic State, widening the theater of war to the southwest of Baghdad, where IS forces were said to be holed up.

Since Aug. 8, at least 162 U.S. airstrikes have been conducted in Iraq, according to reports—most of them in the north and west, near the Kurdish capital of Irbil, the dams of Mosul and Haditha, and the Sinjar mountain region.

When President Obama declared war against the IS on the eve of the 13th anniversary of the al-Qaeda-linked Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the United States—the war that is now intensified in Iraq--questions arose about the legality of his action based on U.S. constitutional law. But was he also flouting international law on why and when even how countries may go to war?

Our guest, Michael Newton, a professor of law at Vanderbilt University and an expert on terrorism and counterterrorism, transnational justice and conduct-of-hostilities issues, discusses the president’s action in the context of international law. He has published more than 80 books, articles and book chapters in his areas of specialty, and currently serves as senior editor of the Terrorism International Case Law Reporter.

September 15, 2014  

Detroit Bankruptcy Trial: Judge to Seal Creditor’s Sweet Deal

Independent’s Day?: Sen. Bernie Sanders ‘Thinking’ of Running’ for President

After calling a time-out Sept. 10 in Detroit’s bankruptcy trial so that bond insurer Syncora Guarantee, a major creditor and opponent of the city’s bankruptcy-exit plan, could come to settlement terms with the city, Judge Steven Rhodes is expected to sign off on a sweet deal Syncora landed over the weekend when court reconvenes today.

Another bond insurer, Financial Guaranty Insurance Co.—the largest creditor, with more than $1 billion owed—and more than 600 individuals are contending in court papers that the city’s plan is neither fair nor feasible.

Abayomi Azikiwe, who has been Leid Stories’ correspondent on Detroit’s bankruptcy, reports on Judge Rhodes’ decision on Syncora; whether FGIC, too, is in line for a similar sweet deal; and whether individual petitioners will get their day in court.

Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, the longest-serving Independent in Congress in U.S. history, yesterday confirmed on NBC’s “Meet the Press” yesterday that he’s “thinking of running” for president in 2016. By the time the program aired, he’d made a two-day foray in Iowa—in Waterloo, Dubuque and Des Moines—“to find out what kind of support there is for a progressive agenda.”

Leid Stories explores with listeners their perceptions of the Democratic Socialist and the impact they think his candidacy could have—on the presidential race and on American political discourse. 

September 12, 2014  

Free Your Mind! Make Your Speech About the President’s Speech!

It’s “Free Your Mind” Friday on Leid Stories, when listeners usually take the conversation wherever they want it to go.

Today, though, we’re focusing on President Obama’s address to the nation on Sept. 10, in which he explained his “strategy” for dealing with the rising insurgency of the Islamic State (formerly the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria  (ISIS) and the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in the Middle East and in other parts of the world.  

As world-class experts on deciphering speeches, we tackle the significance of Obama’s 14-minute, prime-time message, paying particular attention to what was not said (and there was a lot that was not said).

Put your thinking cap on, get your notes in order, and call in with your speech about the president’s speech. Be focused and insightful; the entire world is listening to you, waiting to hear your considered opinion.

Call 888-874-4888 and be part of the consciousness-raising collective!

September 11, 2014  

Detroit Bankruptcy Trial: Judge Grants Delay So Bond Insurer Could Ink Sweet Deal with the City

The nation today marks the 13th anniversary of a national tragedy. For Detroiters, it’s the day after yet another tragedy hit home. The federal judge they were hoping would agree that the city’s declared bankruptcy was contrived and that its $18-billion debt claim is superinflated instead appears to be going along with the plan to “re-imagine” Detroit.

Judge Steven Rhodes yesterday announced a delay in the trial until Monday so that bond insurer Syncora Guarantee, one of the city’s largest creditors, could work out a sweet deal with the state-imposed city manager, Kevyn Orr. The deal would significantly reduce opposition to Orr’s draconian bankruptcy-exit plan and encourage approval by the court.

Tom Barrow, former chairman of Michigan’s State Board of Accountancy and CEO of the largest minority-owned firm in the Midwest, was among the first to publicly raise questions about Orr’s debt calculations and his insistence, endorsed by the state, that bankruptcy was Detroit’s only way out.

He joins Leid Stories today with “a heavy heart,” he says, about what’s happening to Detroit. Judge Rhodes’ action is a harbinger of more unwarranted miseries to come, he says.

September 10, 2014  

After Sharpton’s Big Bang In Ferguson, No Answer to Key Question

A Speech As History: Obama’s Date with Destiny (Part 2)

A month since the Rev. Al Sharpton and a coterie of civil-rights “leaders” came to Ferguson, Missouri, to take charge of the incendiary shooting death of college-bound Michael Brown, 18, by Officer Darren Wilson of the local police department, there is neither movement nor an answer to a major—and basic—question: Why has Wilson not yet been arrested?

This was central to a raucous meeting last night, in which residents of the predominantly African American town faced off with an almost all-white City Council holding its first official meeting since the killing of Brown on Aug. 9.

Leid Stories again points up Sharpton’s disturbing pattern of “leadership” in high-profile cases (including, most recently, the police chokehold death of Eric Garner in Staten Island, N.Y., on July 17), in which political accommodation appears to trump the quest for justice.

And President Obama addresses the nation tonight on his plans for military action against the Islamic State. On many levels, it’s his date with destiny—his presidency and legacy, and author of the role of the United States in the world community of nations—and, in a very real sense, our own.

Leid Stories picks up the conversation from where we left off yesterday, about Obama’s –and our own—point of reckoning. Things are about to change again. Are we ready?

September 9, 2014  

A Speech As History: Obama’s—and Our—Date with Destiny

President Obama briefs congressional leaders today on his plans for military action against the Islamic State—a leadup to his much-anticipated speech to the nation (and to the world) tomorrow on the same subject.

Numbed as we’ve been by Obama’s political speeches, we’re inclined to think this will be yet another of his droll addresses, heavy on cadence and light on content. But we’d be wrong. For, whatever the content of Obama’s speech, its historicity and the gravity of its impact will be most important. The nation and the world dramatically will be changed by it.

Leid Stories focuses our attention on the context of Obama’s speech, with listeners providing a broad understanding of the moment we’re in and how, in a visceral way, his address brings us all to a definitive, intertwined, unavoidable point of reckoning.

Sounds esoteric, but it’s good old-fashioned political theory and analysis.

September 8, 2014  

Motown’s Katrina: The Secret Bankruptcy Plans for Detroit’s Public Schools

A trial to determine whether the City of Detroit will be given official clearance under federal bankruptcy laws to proceed with its draconian restructuring plan enters its second week. It’s the final phase of legal wrangling over whether Kevyn Orr, the state-imposed emergency manager for the city, has proven a purported $18 billion in debt, has worked out agreements with creditors on how much they will be paid and terms of payment, and has a credible plan for putting the city back on solid, long-term fiscal footing.

Detroit’s bankruptcy, the largest for a municipality in U.S. history, has drawn national and international attention, because it was the world-renowned center of U.S. automobile manufacturing.

Two guests on Leid Stories today will discuss a major intended consequence of Detroit’s bankruptcy—the evisceration of its public school system, which is already in progress. Hurricane Katrina was used to shut down New Orleans’ public schools (charter schools now are fully in charge of education there); bankruptcy is being used to shutter Detroit’s schools, they say.

Elena Herrada, a member of the Detroit School Board and an activist with Detroiters Resisting Emergency Management, says that school properties have already been turned over to real estate interests and are a key part of the city’s “rebirth” plan. Shutting down and selling off public schools “is how they’re emptying neighborhoods,” she says.

Dr. Thomas C. Pedroni, associate professor of curriculum studies and policy sociology at Wayne State University and director of the Detroit Data and Democracy Project, predicted Detroit’s schools’ “Katrina moment” years ago. The race-based changes in education in post-Katrina New Orleans and now-bankrupt Detroit cannot be ignored, he says.

September 5, 2014  

So Soon After Labor Day—Another “Free Your Mind” Friday!

Time flies when you have a short week after Labor Day. Before you know it, it’s another weekend, and another “Free Your Mind” Friday to usher it in!

This short week was long on major news issues and developments. Surely a few have taken hold of your brain and won’t let go. Here’s your chance to dislodge and dispatch those little monsters.

Call in to the world’s best open forum and share your opinions and ideas. Get them out of your head, and into other people’s! Your brain will thank you by making you stress-free and truly available to those you love this weekend.

Can peace of mind really be achieved by calling 888-874-4888? Oh yes, dear friend, oh yes. And it’s good at least until Monday.

September 4, 2014  

Detroit Bankruptcy Trial: All Sides Are Telling It to the Judge

Department of Justice Still Thinks Police Killings Are A ‘Civil-Rights’ Issue

More than a year after the City of Detroit, under state-imposed emergency management, filed for municipal bankruptcy to discharge $18 billion in debts, a high-stakes federal trial, the final phase of the bankruptcy process, is set to determine whether the city’s plan is fair to all interested parties seeking to protect their financial interests.

The trial started Tuesday (Sept.2) with a bang. Lawyers for the city said its bankruptcy-exit plan is workable and has broad approval. But yesterday, lawyers for New York-based bond insurer Syncora Guarantee Inc., one of the largest creditors with $400 million owed, told Judge Steven Rhodes they will not accept 10 cents on the dollar, as the city has proposed.

Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of Pan-African News Wire, who has been Leid Stories’ correspondent on Detroit’s bankruptcy and related matters, gives us a comprehensive overview of what’s at stake in the trial for Detroiters, who the major players are, and what they want from the court.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announces today that he will launch a comprehensive civil-rights investigation into the Ferguson Police Department in Missouri. It’s where Officer Darren Wilson, who shot and killed Michael Brown on Aug. 9 works, and the department that brought to national attention the increasingly militarized police response to civil protest.

In a commentary, Leid Stories contends that while Holder’s action may satisfy political considerations, it continues the sorry legacy of the Justice Department regarding the killing of African Americans a “civil-rights” matter, and not a mandate for vigorous criminal prosecutions.

September 3, 2014  

Commander in Grief: President Obama and the Wars of the World

His eighth trip to Europe as head of state, President Barack Obama arrives in Estonia today to assure Baltic-region leaders of U.S. military fidelity (specifically against Russian aggression), and then heads to Wales for this year’s NATO summit.

But even as Obama affirms center-stage rights for the United States on the world stage, it’s becoming increasingly clear, both at home and abroad, that many question his and his administration’s prowess at foreign-policy leadership.

Leid Stories updates its July 30 discussion on Obama’s foreign policies, especially in areas of the world beset by war and conflict—and U.S. involvement.

Our guest, once again, is scholar and prolific author Dr. Gerald Horne, who teaches graduate courses in diplomatic history and is the John J. and Rebecca Moores chair of history and African American studies at the University of Houston.

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