tv Democracy Now PBS December 1, 2016 12:00pm-1:01pm PST
12/01/16 12/01/16 [captioning made possible by democracy now!] amy: from pacifica, this is democracy now! >> with the election of donald trump, it is clear there is an rule, ang neofascist rule of big money, scapegoat to the most vulnerable internally and you prepare for war externally. and that is what fascism is. we have to defend working people, immigrants, mexicans, muslims, gay brothersnd sisters. we have to make sure like folk and blac run poker defendant.
amy: president-elect donald trump is filling his cabinet with bankers and billionaires including many with ties to goldman sachs. wall street celebrating, but what about main street. we will speaking with the leading public intellectual cornel west about the 2016 election. the police killing of keith lamont scott, in charlotte, north carolina, the fight against the dakota access pipeline, the death of fidel castro, and more. the we look at betsy devos, billionaire charter school and education privatization advocate tapped by donald trump to be education secretary. >> all told, together we have helped more than one million kids in private school choice programs and we are just getting started. since we last at, nevada, montana, tennessee, mississippi, arkansas, wisconsin, south carolina, maryland, and south dakota have all passed private school choice programs.
amy: we will speak with former assistant secretary of education diane ravitch, lisa graves, and tawanna simpson. all that and more, coming up. welcome to democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. in charlotte, north carolina, people took to the streets wednesday night to protest the announcement that police officer brentley vinson, who is black, will not face charges for fatally shooting african american father keith lamont scott. at least four people were arrested as protesters marched with signs reading, "how to get away with murder: become a cop." keith lamont scott's killing by police in september sparked massive protests in charlotte and nationwide. scott's family says he was reading a book in his car in the parking lot waiting to pick up his son after school when he was approached by police officers. the dashboard camera video of the interaction, which was released after the protests, shows scott exiting his vehicle and taking steps backwards with
his arms at his sides. in the video, police fire four shots at scott as he falls to the ground. in october, an independent autopsy ruled the shooting was a homicide. but on wednesday, mecklenburg county district attorney andrew murray announced officer vinson will not face charges and that the shooting was justified. murray said the investigation found that scott had a gun at the scene of the shooting, although he admitted there was no evidence that scott actually raised the gun at officers. north carolina is an open-carry state, which means it is legal to carry a gun. in a statement, scott's family members said they are profoundly disappointed by the decision not to charge officer vinson, who has been on paid leave during the investigation. meanwhile, in charleston, south carolina, prosecutors made closing arguments wednesday in the murder trial of white police officer michael slager, who was captured on video fatally shooting african american walter scott in the back as scott ran
-- as walter scott ran away. protests against donald trump and his cabinet are continuing nationwide. today students at colleges and , universities across the country are holding a second day of action to demand their campuses become sanctuary campuses where administrators refuse to share information with immigration authorities, refuse to allow ice agents on campus, and support equal access to in-state tuition and financial aid and scholarships for undocumented students. president-elect donald trump has vowed to immediately deport up to 3 million people upon taking office. more than 100 campuses participated in the first national walkout on november 17, prompting a series of university administrators to agree to designate the schools as sanctuary campuses -- including trump's alma mater, the university of pennsylvania. meanwhile, jewish activists with the group "if not now" held a day of jewish resistance in more than 30 cities to protest trump's pick of stephen bannon as his chief strategist.
bannon, who was the former head of breitbart media, has been called a "champion of white supremacists" by nevada senator harry reid, and has been accused of domestic abuse and making anti-semitic comments. a series of companies have begun to pull their advertising from bannon's former news site, breitbart media, amid increasing scrutiny of the site's openly racist, sexist, homophobic, and xenophobic views. on tuesday, kellogg's company pulled its advertising, saying the site didn't align with the company's values. other companies, including target, car insurance provider allstate, and internet service provider earthlink, have also pulled advertising from the site. in response to kellogg's announcement, breitbart claimed the company was being un-american and demanded a boycott of kellogg's products. president-elect donald trump and vice president elect mike pence are heading to indiana to appear with workers at carriers indianapolis factory.
he claims he has save 1000 jobs from being shipped to mexico. the parent company of the air-conditioner company's united technologies, multibillion dollar company whose single largest customer is the pentagon. although few details have come out about the deal to keep the jobs in state, sources say it likely had more to do with trump threatening to cut united technologies military contracts. according to the boston herald, carrier is ironically represented by jenny oh strategies, part of a global private consulting firm cofounded by douglas band, top aide to former president bill clinton who worked at the clinton foundation. on capitol hill, house democratic leader nancy pelosi beat back a challenge to her position by ohio congressman tim ryan. pelosi has been the house democratic leader for seven terms already. during wednesday's closed-door ryan won 63 votes, a level of , support many say points to
growing discord and divisions within the democratic party in the wake of donald trump's election. amnesty international is calling on the justice department to investigate the violent police crackdown against native american water protectors and their allies fighting the $3.8 billion dakota access pipeline at standing rock in north dakota. the call comes after amnesty sent a delegation of human rights observers to witness the police crackdown, which has including police using rubber bullets, tear gas, concussion grenades, sound cannons, water cannons in subfreezing temperatures, and other military-style weapons that have injured hundreds of people. on wednesday, the north dakota emergency commission approved an additional $7 million of funding to police the ongoing resistance movement, bringing the total price tag of policing to $17 million.
this comes one day after north dakota officials moved to block new supplies from reaching the water protectors by announcing police will begin stopping people they believe are headed to the camps, and fine them $1000 if they are found with supplies. the sheriff of morton county has said, however, police will not be arresting people in the coming days as the army corps of engineers closes access to the main resistance camps on december 5. meanwhile, deia schlosberg, a filmmaker who faced 45 years in prison for filming a separate pipeline protest in north dakota, has announced on twitter -- social media the prosecution against her has been suspended. a new investigation by marketplace and apm reports has revealed the u.s. environmental protection agency made last-minute changes to a significant study about fracking in order to downplay the drilling practice's threat to u.s. water supplies. documents obtained by the news outlets show that less than two
months before the five-year study's release, epa officials added text into the executive summary saying the researchers , had not found evidence fracking had "widespread systemic impacts" on drinking water, even though earlier drafts of the report had, in fact, highlighted directly how fracking had contaminated the drinking water in more than two dozen places. epa officials went on to use that key phrase claiming a lack of widespread, systemic impacts as the top finding in conference calls with reporters, as well as in the press release accompanying the study's publication. food and water watch said the investigation confirms political meddling by the obama administration. the colombian congress has voted overwhelmingly to approve a revised version of the peace deal with farc rebels aimed at ending the nation's 52-year civil war. colombians narrowly rejected an
earlier version of the peace deal in a nationwide referendum in october. the congressional approval means the deal will not have to be approved by voters. colombian president juan manuel santos, who won the nobel peace prize earlier this year for his work on the peace accords, is slated to speak today about the deal's ratification. in yemen, the number of suspected cholera cases is growing amid the ongoing war between houthi rebels and the ousted yemeni government backed by u.s.-supported saudi-led air strikes. this is u.n. official george khoury. -- cases of --ve amy: in australia, protesters have disrupted parliament for the second straight day to demand the closure of refugee camps on the pacific island nations of nauru and papua new guinea.
australia has threatened to never resettle refugees who arrive by boat, and have instead shipped the refugees off to these camps where they are imprisoned indefinitely. on thursday, activists unveiled a banner in front of australia's parliament house reading -- "close the bloody camps now. justice for refugees." planned parenthood, the mecca and civil liberties union, and the center for reproductive rights have launched three lawsuits to challenge anti-abortion laws in alaska, missouri, and north carolina. the anti-abortion laws include restrictions that have driven -- shuttered all but one abortion clinic out of business in missouri, as well as north carolina's ban on abortions after 20 weeks. this comes as texas is facing backlash after approving new rules that will require fetal remains to be buried or cremated, instead of disposed of in a sanitary landfill, as is the practice will all other forms of biological medical waste. the measures are slated to go into effect in less than three weeks. similar legislation was passed this year in both louisiana and indiana, where it was signed by
indiana governor and vice president elect mike pence. in nicaragua, activists say security forces attacked a campesino caravan heading to the capital managua wednesday. they open fire with both live and rubber bullets and throwing tear gas. the caravan was headed to the capitol to protest the construction of a 50 billion dollar canal linking the atlantic and pacific oceans. they say the project could displace up to 120,000 people. in bolivia, thousands of people poured into the streets to protest water shortages amid bolivia's worst drought in more than a quarter century. the protesters said the water shortages, fueled by climate change, are being worsened by government mismanagement and industrial mining projects. protesters are demanding the resignation of the minister of the environment and water. scientists say the drought is fueled by the retreat of bolivian glaciers as a result of global warming. some bolivians have already fled the country in search of water. this is lisbeth vogensen.
>> i did not want to leave la paz. i have lived there for the last four years. my family and i were very happy there. believing was a decision we had to make for the well-being and health of our family. it was against our will, but we were lucky to come to peru where there is still water. amy: and today is world aids day. around the world, groups are holding protests and demonstrations to call attention to the disease, including in washington, d.c., where activists plan to gather at the capitol hill lawn at noon to protest house speaker paul ryan's proposed budget cuts, which they say will slash funding for programs like global hiv research and prevention. the world health organization says aids-related illnesses killed more than 1 million people worldwide last year. and those are some of the headlines. this is democracy now, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. nermeen: and i'm nermeen shaikh. welcome to all of our listeners and viewers from around the country and around the world. "wall street wins again as trump chooses bankers and billionaires."
that was the headline in piece by bloomberg on wednesday shortly after donald trump tapped former goldman sachs executive steven mnuchin to be his treasury secretary and billionaire investor wilbur ross to head the commerce department. this comes as politico is reporting trump is also considering goldman sachs president gary cohn for a top post. the two met at trump tower on tuesday. trump's chief strategist steve bannon is also a former goldman sachs vice president who went on to head the right-wing breitbart news site. amy: wall street has celebrated the news. on wednesday, goldman sachs stock jumped 3.6% to an eight-year high. this all comes after trump campaigned on an anti-establishment message often publicly criticizing his opponents for their ties to goldman sachs. here's trump speaking about ted cruz 10 months ago. mr. trump: he wanted to say, i
will protect you from goldman sachs. i will protect you from citibank. i'mi will protect you -- robin hood and i'm this wonderful senator and i'm going to protect you from these banks, then he is sparring for the banks. his personal guarantees. low interest loans. he got low-interest loans. now he is going to go after goldman sachs? it doesn't work that way. samples tohs own remember that, folks. nermeen: on wednesday, democratic senator sherrod brown of ohio, the ranking member of the senate banking committee, criticized donald trump for picking former goldman sachs executive steven mnuchin to be treasury secretary. brown said -- "president-elect trump campaigned against big money's power in washington and accused wall street and hedge funds of getting away with murder. but now he has picked a hedge-fund manager whose wall street ties couldn't run deeper to lead the treasury department, which is exactly what this election showed the american people don't want. this isn't draining the swamp,
it's stocking it with alligators." the words of senator sherrod brown. amy: well, to talk more about the election of donald trump, his cabinet picks, and much more, we are joined by cornel west, professor emeritus at princeton university. during the democratic primary, he endorsed bernie sanders. after hillary clinton won the nomination, west made headlines when he endorsed green party presidential candidate jill stein. welcome back to democracy now! it is great to have you with us. >> i just thank god for democracy now! because journalism is a must dead as we move into this neofascist age. they got you are still willing to tell the truth. amy: your response to the election of donald trump and now the cabinet he is appointing around him? >> well, i think he is already betrayed working people in terms of making sure, in his view, that wall street is in the driver's seat. what i mean by that is that in an emerging neofascist moment,
you have the rule of big business, which is big banks and big corporations. you scapegoat the most vulnerable. it could be muslims, mexicans, gay brothers, indigenous people ,jews, and so on. you also have militaristic orientations around the world. so you see the extension of the repression apparatus, as those of us who hit the streets, those of us who have been willing to go to jail we've had to recognize we will have more the trumpus under administration. the crucial thing is, he had talked about his connection with working people. it is clear the 1% are still running things. nermeen: you have said, dr. west, his administration will be neofascist. could you explain? what do you mean by that kind of fascist as opposed to fascist? >> neofascist is an american style of fascist. we've had neoliberal rule from
carter to obama. that left in place a national security state, left in place massive surveillance, left in place the ability of the president to kill an american citizen with no due process. that is obama. that was the culmination of the neoliberal era. now you get someone who is narcissistic, which is to say how to control psychologically, who is ideologically confused -- which is to say, in over his head -- and who does he choose? the most right wing reactionary zealots which lead for the arbitrary deployment of law, which is what neofascism is, but to reinforce corporate interests, big bank interest, and to keep track of those of us who are people of color, women,jews, muslims, mexicans,
and so forth. so this is one of the most frightening moments in the history of this very fragile empire and fragile republic. amy: i want to talk about some of the fix of donald trump them alike president-elect donald trump's treasury secretary, steven mnuchin, deep ties to wall street including working as a partner for goldman's ex, where his father worked. his hedge fund played a role in the housing crisis after he scooped up the sale in 2008.rnia bank indymac in under his ownership, if were closed on 36,000 families, particularly elderly residents trapped in reverse mortgages. people would go to steven mnuchin's home to protest outside as they were foreclosed out of their own homes. mnuchin was accused of running a foreclosure machine. a bank was also accused of racially discriminatory practices. he sold a day for $3.4 billion, $1.8 billion more than he
bought it for. >> this is what you call spiritual blackout. there is a level of callousness, a level of indifference toward poor and working people. preoccupation with greed and most importantly, lack of accountability. doing anything they can do unless they get caught by the law -- of course, oftentimes they have already disproportionately influenced those who apply the laws, those who are supposed to be regulating them. so this is another instance of wall street run amok. very critical of timothy geithner, summers, the crowd straight on wall street when brother barack obama moved into the white house. amy: you knew summers because he was president harvard when you were there and got into an altercation with him. >> you can see wall street is
still in the driver seat under neoliberal rule. we were hoping with brother bernie sanders that we can bring the neoliberal era to a close. i mean, when you see a social problem, you financialize, privatize, and militarized. mass incarceration on the one hand, privatize schools -- i know sister diane ravitch in this regard will talk about this later -- and then you militarized, which is to say drop bombs on seven muslim countries and then wonder why muslims are upset. you drop bombs on innocent children with u.s. drones and then wonder why the gangsters, the fascists coming out of the muslim world, are organizing. of course, we have to be anti-fascist across the board. but this is going to be the most trying of times in our lifetime. there's no doubt about it. at 63 years old, i am thoroughly
fortified for this fight. i will tell you that. nermeen: given the people who voted for trump and continuing with what you said, many have questioned how trump, who after all is a billionaire born into a wealthy family, how did he become a working class hero so widely perceived among the people who voted for him as someone outside of the american economic and political elite class? >> a significant number of those who voted for trump were actually working people, midd-class people, who are looking for a way out given the fact there are losers under neoliberal globalization. they marginalized bernie sanders and ask, the democratic party. he is the pseudo-populist billionaire with these narcissistic sensibilities and fascist -- neofascist proclivities and he presented
himself as caring for their situation. insecurity,c economic neglect is very real. no doubt about that. disproportionate white brothers and sisters, their suffering. it was a cry of the heart. unfortunately, given the right-wing populist and the authoritarian orientation of trump, he uses that kind of anguish to scapegoat mexicans, muslims, and others rather than confront the most powerful -- 21% of those who voted for trump do not like cam, but they feel like they had no alternative. 42% of our fellow citizens did not go to the polls at all. already given up on the system, you see. so the system itself is now in such a chronic crisis -- we said before the election that trump will be a neofascist catastrophe. it is very clear from his picks that he is moving in that direction. amy: i want to turn to bernie sanders. we had first extensive hour with
bernie after the election. i spoke to him monday night at the free library. we played it tuesday. he spoke about how yields to reform the democratic party as the new chair. it is a new position called the outreach position, now the senate democratic leadership. an independent socialist. this is bernie sanders. sen. sanders: the new approach, i think, is due, a, create a 50 state strategy. that means we start playing ball in states that the democrats have conceded decades ago. that more importantly, we create a kind of grassroots party where the most important people in the party are not just wealthy campaign contributors, but working people, young people, people in the middle class who are going to come in and start telling us what their needs are and give us some ideas as to how we go forward. i accept this responsibility as outreach chair with a lot of
trepidation, but also with excitement. i will be going around the country to try to do everything i can to create a party which represents working people and not just the 1%. amy: a lot of questions. and he encourage people to watch the full hour at democracynow.org. you were a big supporter of bernie sanders. you served on the democratic platform committee on behalf of bernie sanders. do you think he is right to work on reforming the democrats rather than focus on building a new party? he is leading a movement called our revolution. he has said we have to work with donald in different ways. he says to the people who supported him. elizabeth warren in the last day has said she is not so clear she will be working with donald trump. when barack obama came in, mitch mcconnell made it clear they will not work with obama at all. what are your thoughts on all of
this, the inside/outside strategy? >> i think there's going to be a lot of different responses. i have a deep lovend respect for bernie sanders and i always will. i don't always agree with him. i'm not convinced the democratic party can be reformed will stop i think it still has a kind of allegiance to a neoliberal orientation and still has allegiance to wall street, the very victory of nancy pelosi is a sign that neoliberalism is still in the party. i hope that keith ellison is able to present a challenge to it. amy: as -- if he makes it is head of the democratic national committee. the democraticis party has something run out of gas. this is a party that could not publicly oppose tpp will we debated that in the platform committee. that is just one small example. good not vote to stop fracking. so tied to big money. amy: even though hillary clinton had changed her position? >> right there in the debate,
they got the word from the white house, did not want to embarrass the president. and there's the president -- embarrass the president? what about the people who are suffering? is that less important? i pushed and pushed. can't even talk about the israeli occupation. the president uses language in 2009 and they cannot use it in the platform. why? 're tied to the lobby, tied to apec. when you have those kinds of restraints on you, this albatrosses around your neck, how are you going to be a party for the people? working people, poor people, for those brothers and sisters in yemen who are dealing with u.s.-supported troops and bombs killing them, mediating with saudi arabian government? the israeli occupation? the expansion of effort on a --frikom? there has to be more consistency. conversely, the democratic party
strikes me as stopping able to meet that challenge. i will work with brother bernie sanders and others both out of love and because i know in his heart he is a certain deep commitment to working people. it even as an independent socialist, he is behaving as a neoliberal. amy: what does that mean? >> that means he is -- well, democratic socialist is a radical who is critical of the system. a new deal liberal works within the system and does not want to bring massive critique for structural change. i can understand it because he is inside. and those of us who are outside and free, we are going to tell the truth. we are going to be honest. we will have spiritual integrity. no matter how marginal that makes us, we're not going to become whether justice to this injustice -- well-adjusted to this injustice. and make a weird one to a break and come back with what happened in north carolina and then you're headed to north dakota. we will talk about that. dr. cornel west is professor
amy: this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman with nermeen shaikh. nermeen: in charlotte, north carolina, people took to the streets wednesday night to protest the announcement that police officer brentley vinson, -- will not face charges for fatally shooting african american father keith lamont scott. at least people were arrested as four protesters marched with signs reading, "how to get away with murder: become a cop." >> hands up!
>> don't shoot! >> don't kill us dead in the street. amy: keith lamont scott's killing by police in september sparked massive protests in charlotte and nationwide. scott's family says he was reading a book in his car in the parking lot waiting to pick up his son after school when he was approached by police officers. the dashboard camera video of the interaction, which was released after the protests, shows scott exiting his vehicle and taking steps backwards with his arms at his sides. in the video, police fire four shots at scott as he falls to the ground. in october, an independent autopsy ruled the shooting was a homicide. nermeen: but on wednesday, mecklenburg county district attorney andrew murray announced officer vinson will not face charges and that the shooting was justified. >> after a thorough review, given the totality of the circumstances and credible evidence in this case, it is my opinion that officer vinson acted lawfully when he shot mr. scott.
he acted lawfully. amy: mecklenburg county district attorney andrew murray went on to say the investigation found that scott had a gun at the scene of the shooting, although he admitted there was no evidence that scott actually raised the gun at officers. north carolina is an open-carry state, which means it is legal to carry a gun. in a statement, scott's family members said they are profoundly disappointed by the decision not to charge officer vinson, who has been on paid leave during the investigation. to talk more about the shooting of keith lamont scott and police brutality, we're still joined by cornel west, professor emeritus at princeton university who is headed to harvard university to be teaching in january. your response to the lack of an indictment? >> we see it again. it is harder to send a policeman who kills an innocent civilian for a camel it is to go to the eye of a needle. i was just in court in white plains. same thing.
sitting there watching all of the witnesses. here comes the jury and the judge. the death of our dear brother kenneth chamberlain, senior, no justice. amy: people should go to our website to see the extensive work we did on that, but that was a man who was an army alert necklace will stop somehow an he was sleeping, rolled over on it. the medical people called. this was not a police interaction. called for support for him that woke him up when people were knocking at the door. said he was ok and did not want to open the door, not to worry. they knocked down the door and killed him. >> and then dragon with the thed -- dragged him with bloodstains shown on the door. we see this over and over again. what it generates, though, and this is something that is a sign of hope, that we have a younger
generation that is on fire for justice. they are tired of this callousness and indifference toward the vulnerable. it is multiracial, multi gendered, multisectoral orientational for religion and non-religion. that is a positive thing. what neofascist elites are counting on is conformity and complacency. look at mitt romney. he is phony. -- it is worse than a diploma from trump university. yesterday, "he strikes me as wise and i think it would be an honor to work with them." just no integrity at all. this is not just the mitt romneys, yet to watch the democrats. you watch these neoliberals more and more been, they start rationalizing what ought to be called into question.
we have to draw some lines in the sand. that does not mean we demonize others, but you have to have some principles. there has to be some back home. thank god we have some young folks who understand that. amy: yet this case in north carolina at the same time charleston, south carolina, prosecutors made closing arguments in the murder trial of the white police officer michael slater who was captured on video , just a bystander who happened to see this happen, shooting african american walter scott in the back as scott ran away. he was stopped at an autozone parking lot where he was going for his car. this police officer shot him dead. now, he was in the same jail as dylan roof, who now is going on trial and supposedly representing himself. >> he kills black folk in the ame church, is taken for a hamburger on the way to jail because he is hungry. i mean, this is the depths of
more bankruptcy and spiritual blackout that i'm talking about, you see. of course, breitbart, what do they do? they put the confederate flag up after these black people are killed and act as if somehow that is some disinterested, nonpartisan act. we know the confederacy is neo-nazi in the core terms of its hatred of black people in defense of slavery. we have to be very clear. we have to have plain speech, frank speech, and we have to have people who are willing to put bodies on the line. this is the kind of moment in which we live. this is not a moment for the lukewarm and the faint of heart and the half-truths and the attempts to rationalize something that they think is so complicated when it is very clear, yet we have to do it in such a way -- john cole train's "love supreme." you have to be full of rage
because you hate the injustice, but you cannot be hating people. you have to hate the injustice and keep love at the center. that is wonderful about what you did in north carolina. you were there because you have a love for precious indigenous brothers and -- amy: north dakota. >> north dakota. the measure of american civilization has always been, how do you treat indigenous brothers and sisters? slavery was not the first original sin of america. the first original sin was the dispossession of our brothers and sisters -- amy: you are headed to north dakota this weekend, which is a major weekend because december 5 is the date that the army corps of engineers set, saying that people must leave the area -- although, the state authorities even the local authorities, has said they're not going to move in on the land to arrest people. it is a very complicated message
coming out right now. isarly, president obama involved with this. he visited the standing rock that is 2014 -- and rare for an american president to go for reservation -- so he knows his case well. he was the one to issue the three agency order from interior saying theyarmy will hold off on granting the permit. where do they stand now? they have not said they will not grant this permit. >> president obama, he specializes in the symbolic gestures because he gets pretty speeches. he's very brilliant comic charismatic. it when it comes time to implement and execute on the there's aten times deficit. we will see. amy: what are you going to do their? >> to show my love and solidarity.
i was honored to be invited by the elders. this is the biggest coming together since the 19 entry for indigenous peoples struggles. i come as a brother, as a comrade to be in solidarity with them and i go there and follow instructions. i want to be a force for good there in the context. amy: after that, january, you will be teaching back at harvard. what will you be teaching? >> professor of the practice of public philosophy. it is amazing. it is very kind of them to invite me back. nermeen: explain what that means. >> it means simply to engage in truth telling and an analysis of structures of the two shins, and try to shape souls and characters of young people so they are willing to take stands on issues that has as much to do the destiny of both this nation and the world. it is a robust, uninhibited dialogue. you have all types there, but i will be teaching with the law
school and the divinity school. --nk others were invited to i got they were kind enough to invite me back. i know you know whole lot about -- amy: in this last-minute, fidel castro? >> yet, brother castro. good god, the solidarity with struggles in africa. amy: did you ever meet him? >> i never met him. i went to cuba and i was characterized as a revolutionary with a smile because i called for the rotation of the leads. i believe leaders ought to rotate. i called for rotation the common to the palace. they said, this is a critique. but at the same time, i salute the health system in education and salute the fact he stood up in the face of american imperial after assassination
attempts, fought back against the bay of pigs and affirmed, most importantly, the greatness of the cuban people. suffered under batista. they did suffer under castro in terms of his repression of dissenting voices. it it the same time, they now emerge powerful again. i think it is a magnificent history of the cuban people. castro was always, for me, a fascinating figure, heroic figure. still, i was very critical of the repression and not rotating, not having the kind of turnover in leadership that i would have liked. that he is one of the great revolutionary communists of the i loventury and now -- him. amy: on that note, i want to thank you for being with us. dr. cornell west professor , emeritus at princeton university. thank you for joining us. when we come back, we will look
amy: this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman with nermeen shaikh. nermeen: donald trump has tapped conservative billionaire betsy devos to serve as education secretary. devos is the former chair of the michigan republican party and a longtime backer of charter schools and vouchers for private and religious schools. in response, american of teachers president
randi weingarten said -- "in nominating devos trump makes it loud and clear that his education policy will focus on privatizing, defunding and destroying public education in america." if confirmed by the senate, devos could become the most into public school education secretary since the office of education was established in 1867. the "new york times" notes devos helped turn her home-state of michigan into one of the nations biggest school choice laboratories -- and the result was disastrous. amy: the devoses have bankrolled their school deregulation and privatization efforts through a dark money group called, american federation for children -- a major contributor to the right-wing corporate education movement. they have also pushed controversial anti-union state legislation known as right-to-work, dealing a major blow to the labor movement, including teachers unions, in michigan. since 1970, the devoses have invested at least $200 million in various right-wing causes. devos's father-in-law is the co-founder of amway and her brother is erik prince, founder of the mercenary firm blackwater.
for more, we're joined by three guests. in detroit, michigan, we're joined by tawanna simpson, an elected member of the detroit board of education. in madison, wisconsin, we're joined by lisa graves. she is the executive director of the center for media and democracy. her new piece is titled, "5 things to know about billionaire betsy devos, trump education choice." and here in new york we're joined by diane ravitch, assistant secretary of education under president george h.w. bush. historian of education and best-selling author of over 20 books, including "reign of error: the hoax of the privatization movement and the danger to america's public schools," and "the death and life of the great american school system: how testing and choice are undermining education." we welcome you all to democracy now! do you thinkwhat are the five most important things to understand about president trump -- president-elect trump's education pick? >> i think it is perhaps the most unqualified person he could for this position. publican enemy of
schools. she is someone who has used her inherited wealth and the well she is married into to try to distort and reshape our laws to advance her personal views -- which i that we should basically redefine public education to meet our tax dollars should be going to fund private schools, that advanceools her worldview. she did not even sent her against a public school. she basically has devoted her wealth to attacking our campaign finance laws, attacking labor laws, and attacking the very idea of having universal public education for all students that is truly public. she is someone who is unqualified. i think it is going to be enormous battle nationally and in our state to protect our public schools, which is one of the greatest innovations of america in the past century to have universal public education, truly public schools for all and really invest in those schools. putting her in charge of the
department of education really is an insult to all of the many teachers and educators and principles and 70 americans who have come to our public schools, have had the chance and is economy to make it in their lives in part due to this commitment of public schools which we need to invest more versus the alternatives that betsy devos has pushed, including charter schools that have sucked billions out of our public education system and resulted in hundreds of millions of dollars of fraud full nermeen: diane ravitch devos supports values -- vouchers in public schools. what vouchers are an with the key differences are between public schools and charter schools because some say that charter schools enable more choice. >> they do enable choice, but they're not necessarily better schools. what they basically are privately managed, privately run
and in many cases, for-profit schools. michigan has many charter areols and 80% of them running for profit. these are privately owned schools. is the first step toward privatization. they are schools that are open to students -- which students can choose -- but very often, they are worse than the public school they are leaving. a voucher, the other hand, is a plan to give the money directly to the family -- although, they never see the money, they're just told "you now have a voucher worth $5,000, $6,000 -- whatever it is worth" and you can go to a commercial school or charter or a religious school. this breaks the long history of separation of church and state because most of the vouchers that are used in the states that have vouchers offer religious schools. and most of them are not going
-- it is not enough money to go to an elite school or the best school, it is usually, like in the south, it is back with cinnamon a list schools that have uncertified staff. amy: what is your assessment of her educational background? >> i agree with lisa, she is the most unqualified person ever to be nominated for this. more than that, she represents the religious right. she is unusual in that she is a representative of the religious right with billions of dollars behind her. her american federation for children has used its strategic giving to promote vouchers all over the country. there are many states -- about half the states now have some form of voucher. but the important thing to know, vouchers and charters, neither of them has ever been approved popular vote. the devos family, betsy devos in particular, launched a referendum in michigan in the year 2000 and was rejected by 69% to 31%.
there have now been six or eight state elections since 1990. they have been turned down by 35%,- 65 percent, overwhelmingly in every state where they have been tried, were the vouchers have been before they have been turned down. in the election this year, two states, massachusetts and georgia, overwhelming majorities opposed charter school expansion. there has never been popular expression saying we want to get rid of our public schools and replace them with privately managed charters or vouchers that you can take to any place. amy: let's go to michigan where betsy --betsy devos lives. tawanna simpson, you're an elected member of the board of education. can you share your response when you heard that president-elect donald trump had tapped michigander betsy devos to be the secretary education? >> i was very disappointed and disheartened. we have worked so hard in the
grassroots here in detroit to save our traditional public schools. we worked to ensure that the legislator accepted the debt they created in our traditional public schools. we worked very hard in advocating and lobbied for them to appropriate money to our traditional public schools. and we stop the legislator from chartering our entire school district. i found it very disheartening that after all of the hard work fromt into it, you know, the federal level, it can be changed. amy: let's turn to betsy devos in her own words speaking on fox business network. >> the reality is, most charter schools in this country take the kids that are doing poorly in the schools they were assigned to an all of the parents want is greater choice for their children also the more choices we have, the more competition we have, but also the better product for the better learning
opportunity for the kids. amy: that is betsy devos speaking on fox. tawanna simpson, what is your experience of working with betsy devos? what effect has she had on the detroit schools where you are a board member? >> you know, her and her family provide lots of money to the legislator to make sure -- to assure laws go the way they wanted to have, corrupt charter schools and unmandated schools in our city. listen to her statement. it is the opposite. charter schools come to our traditional public schools and cherry pick the best students. they don't take those who need the most help because it makes no economic sense for charter schools because it would cost more money to educate students that have other needs -- additional educational needs. amy: this is another clip of betsy devos speaking at the american federation for children summit earlier this year. >> all told, together we have
helped more than one million kids in private school choice programs, and we are just getting started. since we last met, nevada, montana, tennessee, mississippi, arkansas, wisconsin, south carolina, maryland, and south dakota have all passed private school choice programs. amy: so that is betsy devos. diane ravitch, it all comes down to what is best for children. what are the records on these different schools and what will it mean who is secretary of education -- how will she compare, for example, to arne duncan, also a supporter of charter schools? >> i have to say, somewhat echoing a little bit of cornel west that the obama administration and education lay the groundwork for trump and betsy devos because they were big supporters of charter schools. i have been arguing for years that charter schools are the first step toward full privatization. amy: you did not always think that. you were a big proponent of
charter schools. >> the charter school idea started in 1988. it was just an idea then. in 1992, the first -- 1990, the first charters open wisconsin, the first one. they began slowly to spread. at the time i thought, it is an interesting experiment. , whater, head of the aft of the original proponents. in 1988, he said, this is a great idea, we should try this. by 1993, he said, charters are no different from vouchers because they both open the door to corporations coming in running public schools. what we have today -- i changed my mind and i wrote a book in 2010 saying charters, choice, and testing are killing education in this country. which i still believe. when he renounced charters, he recognized there was increasing corporate interest in moving
into the schools. today we have corporate chains -- some are nonprofit come although they do taken a lot of money -- and we also have for-profit chains run by non-educators. we a people like andre agassi, high school dropout, creating a chain even though his own school is one of the lowest performing schools in the state of nevada. we have a sector called the charter industry, which people invest in equity investors putting money into it. wall street is one of the biggest rackers of charter schools these days because they are investing -- there's something called the new markets tax credit where they get -- juan gonzalez wrote about this -- they are able to make tremendous return on their investment in charters because of the write off on federal taxes by investing in charters. people from out of the country can get green cards by investing in charter school construction.
there are all kinds of deals. the biggest and sleaziest of all is the charter operators, the for-profit operators in particular, who by visa property and rent it to themselves at a rental that is 3, 4, 10 times the market rate. they make tons of money, not on the school, but on the leasing. nermeen: he said the first one opened in wisconsin in 1990, the charter schools. or their response to failing public schools? >> actually, it was minnesota, not wisconsin, the first one and it is still there. the original ideas they would taken kid that the public schools were not able to help. they were bringing in drop outs, bringing in kids who had lost motivation in school and trying to find different ways. that was the shanker idea. charter schools would fill in the need public schools had been healthy public schools, whatever they learned, they would return to the public schools. he never could see them as competition where they would cherry pick their students, as
the board member from detroit mansion. they cherry picked the best students. they kicked out kids who do not have high scores. they exclude kids who are english language learners. they exclude kids with disabilities. they take the mildest form of disabilities like a learning disability advocates who have profound disabilities are left to the public schools, which now have less money to educate. amy: and the attitude of teachers unions towards betsy devos? >> their very frightened because betsy devos is antiunion. she sponsored and been active in the promoting right to work laws. she at her family helped to turn michigan from being a very strong union state to being a right to work state. she and her husband put money into right-wing groups like focus on the family, which believes in conversion therapy and sponsors anti-gay activity and legislation. her mother put $500,000 into the ballot in california, which was
an effort to remove protections for gay rights. all of these issues, which are kind of the righwing catalog of horrible of gay rights, of labor union protections, are focused around her. but her main focus is school privatization. school privatization was or has been tried in chile and sweet and the results have been very clear -- the first and most important product is hyper segregation. everybody goes off to be with people just like themselves. amy: have to leave it there, diane ravitch, served as assistant secretary of education under president george h.w. bush. we've also been pointed -- joined by tawanna simpson and lisa graves. that does it for our show. join us december 5 for our 20th anniversary. visit democracynow.org for information.
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