Law and Disorder Radio – Vinie Burrows on Lynne Stewart Sentencing – Mountaintop Removal Activists Arrested in Virginia – Hosts: Heidi Boghosian, Michael Steven Smith & Michael Ratner – Produced by Geoff Brady


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Michael Lynne Heidi vinieburrowsLynne Stewart Heard a Death Sentence Today

As many listeners know, Judge John G. Koeltl sentenced defendant Lynne Stewart to 120 months incarceration in the Danbury Federal Correctional Institution in Connecticut, on five counts to be served concurrently. Lynne Stewart is 70 years old; she’s a breast cancer survivor with other pending health issues. We’re joined by Vinie Burrows today. She is the UN representative for the Women’s International Democratic Federation and the founding member of the Granny Peace BrigadeVinie Burrows made powerful statements in her article titled Lynne Stewart Heard a Death Sentence Today, that calls terrorism by its real name under the draconian Patriot Act.

Vinie writes, “over and over again in his remarks leading up to the sentencing, Judge Koeltl used the term ‘terrorist enhancement.'” Those warning words bring up the specter of some of the nastiest aspects of the Cold War and its present re-incarnation in the Patriot Act, which by expanding law enforcement’s surveillance and investigative powers represents a significant threat to civil liberties. Read the official text… “Uniting and Strengthening America by providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism.”

Vinie Burrows:

  • Being at Lynne Stewart’s court hearing was useful to see the judge, to see the players, the two prosecuting lawyers, and to see Lynne Stewart, who made a marvelous opening statement. It was one of the great speeches before the bar.
  • I felt as he was reading, Judge Koeltl was responding to each dictate of the appellate court.
  • We have to define terror. We can’t go by what the legislative, judicial and now executive define as terror. We’re looking in the wrong places for terror. A single mother with three children living in a shelter, she knows terror. When she doesn’t know where her next meal is coming from, that’s terror.
  • When her home is foreclosed on, that’s terror, and of course our banks are the biggest terror of all.
  • We can’t even think of Lynne Stewart when we talk of terror; she is a human rights defender. She’s been deprived of the ability to defend human rights.
  • I think we have to go to “who are the terrorists?” Who are the victims of terror?
  • We have to talk about the state, the state is usually the perpetrator of human rights violations.
  • The state must recognize that poverty is a weapon of mass destruction.
  • I think we need to talk about the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a legal basis to mount some sort of appeal.
  • Michael Ratner: This is the Time of the Toad (A Study of Inquisition In America)
  • Lynne Stewart has another appeal against this severe sentence.

Guest – Vinie Burrows is an award-winning Broadway actress. She has been active at the United Nations Economic and Social Council on the issues of the status of women and Southern Africa. Burrows won the Paul Robeson Award in 1986. She appeared in a show titled Sister! Sister! at the University of Delaware in Newark in November 1991. She was a panelist in the 2000-2001 African Diaspora lecture series at the Center for Ideas and Society in Riverside, California.

Image: © Jay Mallin

Mountaintop Removal Activists Arrested for Direct Action In Virginia (Updated)  Last week 4 activists with Climate Ground Zero and Mountain Justice were arrested for using direct action to shut down a coal mining mountaintop removal effort in Virginia. Two of the 4 activists locked themselves to heavy machinery in the coal mining pit and were later arrested. The activists say they are drawing public attention to the dangers associated with the Brushy Fork Sludge Impoundment, which contain up to 8 billion gallons of toxic coal waste. The area is unstable; Brushy Fork’s foundation is built on a honeycomb of abandoned underground mines. If the foundation were to collapse, as others have, the toxic slurry could engulf communities nearly 14 miles away, according to Marfork Coal Company’s emergency warning plan. Meanwhile, one of the activists, Jimmy Tobias, was still in jail during this interview and is now released.

Dea Goblirsch:


  • Mountaintop removal is a destructive form of coal mining that uses explosives that blow up the tops of mountains to get to the coal seams beneath. It’s cheaper and more efficient than underground mining; it also employs fewer miners.
  • So far there have more than 800 miles of peaks flattened. They also take the rubble from the tops of mountains and dump it into nearby valleys. They are called valley fills. The creation of the valley fills cover up the headwater streams.
  • A lot of these valleys feed into water systems that supply water to the Eastern United States.
  • Brushy Fork is the largest earthen dam in the Western Hemisphere.
  • Coal River Mountain was the highest elevation in the area that hadn’t been mountaintop-removal mined.
  • You can’t always see mountain top mining from the roadside; they tend to keep a veil of trees.
  • The work we’re doing is primarily civil disobedience and direct action. Tree sits within the blast range. Bails and sentencing are widely uneven.
  • Community groups to start sustainable energy initiatives in Appalachia, we see this happening in Kentucky, and Virginia and other parts of the coal mining  region.
  • A woman publicly slapped Judy Bonds, the director of Coal River Mountain Watch.
  • A strip miner threatened to slit the throat of a child

Katie Huscsza:

  • We attached ourselves to the high wall miner (equipment) for 4 hours.
  • Me and Colin were charged with trespassing, conspiracy and obstruction.
  • There are around 30 people this summer actively working to stop mountain top removal.
  • We I first learned about it (MTR) I almost didn’t believe that something so awful and destructive could be taking place.

Guest – Dea Goblirsch and Katie Huscsza with Climate Ground Zero. Katie locked herself to high wall coal mining machines, was arrested and released on bail.

Music interludes in this segment by Canton Becker.