tv Democracy Now PBS March 30, 2018 12:00pm-1:01pm PDT
03/30/18 03/30/18 [captioning made possible by democracy now!] amy: from pacifica, this is democracy now! >> this is not a privatization of the va. this is not diluting the impact of the va. every day i'm or more convinced that veterans and america need a strong va. it is essential for national security and to honor our commitment. amy: months after veterans affairs secretary david shulkin comes out against privatizing the va, he is fired by president trump. will his firing help the koch brothers fulfill their dream of privatizing healthcare for veterans?
the $200 billion agency is the second-largest in the government. we will speak to longtime health care journalist suzanne gordon. then we looking at the stunning remarks made by former republican presidential candidate rick santorum about the parkland, florida, students who organized the march for our lives. ofhow about kids instead looking to someone else to solve their problem do something about maybe taking cpr classes? amy: we will speak to dr. eugene gu about santorum's comments as well as why he is suing president trump for blocking him on twitter. then the funeral for the groundbreaking physicist stephen hawking will be held on saturday. >> we are close to where global warming becomes irreversible. trump's action to push the earth bridge with the temperature of 250 degrees and raining sulfuric acid. amy: we will speak to kitty
ferguson, author of two biographies on stephen hawking. all that and more, coming up. welcome to democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. the trump administration is poised to radically weaken fuel efficiency and emissions standards on u.s. automobiles in the latest blow to efforts to curb catastrophic climate change. the planned changes by environmental protection agency head scott pruitt would roll back obama-era rules meant to limit greenhouse gas emissions from tailpipes, including a requirement that u.s. cars average more than 50 miles per gallon by 2025. many u.s. states, led by california, have promised to challenge the rollback. the lowered emissions standards come as the climate scientists have accused the epa of making misleading statements about global warming. a leaked internal epa email sent to communications staff by a senior official provides talking
points to others at the agency, including -- "while there has been extensive research and a host of published reports on climate change, clear gaps remain including our understanding of the role of human activity and what we can do about it." in fact, some 97% of scientists who have written articles for peer-reviewed journals have concluded climate change is real, caused by human activity and has already caused devastating problems. lede mails come as "the washington post" reports scott pruitt pay just $50 a night to live in a capitol hill condo link to a prominent washington lobbyist whose firm represents a roster of fossil fuel companies. meanwhile, sheldon whitehouse wrote a letter to the epa's inspector general that prewitt used his security detail in on official trips to disneyland, a football game at the rose bowl, and the university of kentucky basketball game. north korean leader kim jong will meet hisouth korean counterpart president moon jae-in, in a face-to-face
gathering next month at the so-called truce village in the demilitarized zone separating the two koreas. thursday's announcement of the planned summit, which comes amid a thaw in tensions on the peninsula, was welcomed thursday by u.n. secretary general antonio gutteres. >> i am very encouraged by the recent developments, encouraged by the announcement of the inter-korean summit's. and i believe where so many problems seem not to have a solution, i think there is an opportunity for a peaceful solution to something that a few months ago was looked at as the biggest danger we are facing. amy: russia on thursday ordered the u.s. to close its embassy in st. petersburg, and said it would expel 60 american diplomats in the latest escalation of tensions over russia's alleged poisoning of russian spy sergei skripal and his daughter in salisbury, britain, earlier this month. russia denies carrying out the nerve-agent poisoning. president trump, who defied the advice of his aides and congratulated russian president
vladimir putin on his recent reelection, has made no mention of the poisoning. and on thursday, trump did not mention the expulsion of u.s. diplomats during a campaign rally in ohio. in the gaza strip, a farmer was killed and a second man wounded overnight after an israeli tank opened fire near the town of khan younis. the pair had reportedly wandered near the wall separating the besieged palestinian territory from israel. the death came as gaza residents built a tent city near the wall, as part of a planned six-week-long protest kicking off today, which is known as land day. the annual event marks the anniversary of the 1976 killing of six palestinians protesting the israeli confiscation of arab land. in egypt, former military general abdel fattah el-sisi has been declared the winner in a reelection campaign blasted by critics as a farce. initial returns show sisi claimed 92% of the vote with a turnout of just over 40% of eligible voters. all but one of sisi's challengers were barred from running, leading to wide-scale voter ambivalence toward this week's election. this is yasmin madbouly, who declined to cast a ballot.
>> honestly, i won't vote. i see many others already voting and the result has already been known from the first day. what difference will my vote make? by parents voted and they tell me i must, but i won't go. amy: president donald trump has embraced president abdel fattah el-sisi as an ally, even as he has continued a wide-ranging crackdown against human rights activists across egypt, with reports of torture, enforced disappearances, mass arrests, and extrajudicial killings. the pentagon said today to members of the u.s. led coalition fighting in area were killed and another five wounded after they set off an improvised explosive device. a spokesperson declined to identify the nationalities of the been wounded. the rp committee after president trump a campaign rally in ohio u.s. is preparing to pull out of syria. ofknocking me hell out crisis. that the other people take care of it now. very soon. very soon.
are going to have 100% of the caliphate, say call it, sometimes referred to as land, we're taking it all back quickly. we're going to be coming out of there rl soon. we're going to get back to our country where we belong, where we want to be. amy: earlier this month, secretary of state rex tillerson announced u.s. troops will remain indefinitely in syria. trump's, thursday appeared to catch administration officials by surprise. department state spokesperson. >> sigrid not aware of any policy or determination to pull all u.s. out of syria? >> i am not. >> so the president is speaking off-the-cuff? >> i don't know. i refer you back to the white house. incoming national security advisor met at the pentagon thursday with defense secretary jim mattis. the first time they have met face-to-face as they walked past reporters, he was overheard joking -- "it's good to finally meet you,
since i've heard that you're actually the devil incarnate." >> thank you for coming. to do finally meet you. i have heard the your absolute the devil incarnate. amy: john bolton is known for his ultra hawkish views and openly backed war against both iran and north korea, calling for a preemptive strike. he was a prominent supporter of the u.s. invasion of iraq. the trump administration ended a policy exempting pregnant women from being jailed by immigrant and customs enforcement, ice, says i new policy will see agents decide whether to release pregnant women on a case-by-case basis, with most women in their third trimester released. in a statement, the american civil liberties union said the ice needs more, not less, transparency and accountability, adding -- "this new policy further exposes the cruelty of trump's detention and deportation force by endangering the lives of pregnant immigrant women." advocates say many women enter the u.s. seeking to escape
domestic violence, with many reporting they became pregnant after surviving rape and sexual assault. the head of the north carolina state prisons has ordered an end to a policy allowing pregnant women prisoners to be shackled while in labor. at least eight u.s. states have no laws preventing the practice, while many other states have loopholes that allow it. in 2010, the american medical association condemned the practice, writing -- "the use of shackles to restrain a pregnant woman during the birthing process is a barbaric practice that needlessly inflicts excruciating pain and humiliation." fox news host laura ingram apologized thursday for mocking high school student david hogg, who survived last month's school shooting in parkland, florida, which left 17 people dead. on wednesday, ingraham tweeted -- "david hogg rejected by four colleges to which he applied and whines about it."
her comment prompted hogg to call on his more than 600,000 twitter followers to boycott advertisers who sponsor ingraham's show. so far at least four companies -- tripadvisor, nestle, wayfair, and nutrish -- have ended their sponsorship of ingraham's program. in massachusetts, and outspoken prisoner at the state's largest prison has gone on hunger strike after he was placed in solitary confinement for attempting to distribute clean water to other prisoners. wayland coleman, a prisoner at the mci norfolk prison, was placed in solitary after guards discovered 15 cases of bottled water in his cell. coleman had collected the water from the prisocanteen after a group called the deeper than water coalition raised funds to distribute it to prisoners, who are otherwise forced to drink foul-tasng, tea-colored water full of sediment from the prison's aging plumbing. coleman's supporters say he's
stopped eating food in protest of his treatment as he enters his 10th day in a solitary confinement cell. in sacramento, california, hundreds of mourners scattered thursday -- gathered thursday for the funeral of stephon clark, an unarmed african-american man who was shot by police officers 20 times in his grandmother's backyard. among those eulogizing clark was the reverend al sharpton. presidentsy the pressary desk president's secretary said this is a local matter. no, this is not a local matter. they have been killing young black and all over the country and we are here to say that we are going to stand with stephan clark and the leaders of his family. we are putting aside our differences. it is time for preachers to come out of the pulpit.
it is time for politicians to come out of their office. it is time for us to go down and stop this madness. sentencedxas, a judge a woman from the dallas, fort worth, area to five years in prison wednesday on charges of illegally voting after she cast a ballot in the 2016 presidential election. crystal mason, who's african-american, said she cast a provisional ballot in good faith after she arrived at her usual polling place and was told her name was not on the rolls. mason was on supervised release from a 2011 felony fraud conviction at the time, making her ineligible to vote under texas state law. she was sentenced to five years in prison by state district judge ruben gonzalez after she waived her right to a jury trial. according to the sentencing project, almost a half-million texans were disenfranchised in 2016 due to felony convictions. in oklahoma, public school teachers say they will remain on strike one day after governor mary fallin signed a bill
bringing them a $6100 pay raise and other benefits. the oklahoma education association says the measure is welcome but doesn't go far enough to improve the lives of its nearly 40,000 members. a recent report by the bureau of labor statistics shows teachers in oklahoma have the lowest average wages of any u.s. state. and in new york city, supporters of aura hernandez, a guatemalan woman who has taken sanctuary in a manhattan unitarian church, gathered outside trump international hotel and tower on thursday for a jericho walk, blasting the administration over its crackdown on immigrants and calling an end to ice's bid to deport hernandez. she is the mother of two u.s. born children, 10-year-old victor daniel and 14-month-old camilla guadalupe. she entered sanctuary a few weeks ago to keep her family united as she continues to fight
for them aggression case. she says in 2005 when she first entered the united states, she was sexually abused while detained by the border patrol in texas. yesterday i spoke with hernandez at the fourth universalist society new york where she has taken sanctuary. what is it me to have your feet washed by the clergy? like there are people that see us as important because we are fighting for peace within families. amy: to see our extended aserview with aura hernandez she holds her sleeping baby in her arms in sanctuary at the fourth universalist society new york on the upper west side, go to democracynow.org. and those are some of the headlines. this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. we begin today's show looking at the turmoil in the department of veterans affairs. on wednesday, president trump fired secretary of veterans affairs david shulkin and said
he'd replace him with white house physician, dr. ronny jackson, a rear admiral in the navy. dr. jackson has no experience running a large agency. the department of veterans affairs is the federal government second-largest agency, with 360,000 employees. shulkin had been facing criticism for various ethics violations, including using taxpayer money to pay for his wife's airfare during a trip to europe last summer. but shulkin says he's actually being ousted because of his opposition to privatizing the va which runs 1700 hospitals and clinics. in a piece for "the new york times," shulkin wrote -- "they saw me as an obstacle to privatization who had to be removed. that is because i am convinced that privatization is a political issue aimed at rewarding select people and companies with profits, even if it undermines care for veterans." the push to privatize the va has been led by a group called concerned veterans for america which is funded by the billionaire conservative koch
brothers. but other veterans groups, including the veterans of foreign wars and the american legion, have opposed the privatization plans. on sunday, senator bernie sanders of vermont tweeted -- "the struggle at the va is about trump's desire to privatize the va and his belief that shulkin is not moving fast enough in that direction. the senate veterans committee, on which i serve, must stand with the veterans of our country and oppose all efforts to privatize the va." we are joined now by two guests. -- we're joined now by suzanne gordon, an award-winning healthcare journalist. her recent piece for the american prospect is titled, "studies show private-sector providers are not ready to care for veterans." gordon is the author of "the battle for veterans' healthcare: dispatches from the frontlines of policy making and patient care." her forthcoming book is titled, "wounds of war: veterans' healthcare in the era of privatization." this story certainly up your alley, suzanne gordon can you start off by responding to the
firedhat president trump dr. david shulkin? of course, he didn't actually toe him himself, he spoke shulkin, had an extended conversation with shulkin on wednesday, according to dr. shulkin. he did not know he was being fired. and then hours later, he tweeted that dr. shulkin was fired. suzanne gordon, your response? >> that is par for the course for donald trump. fired.ts that you are he does not do it in person. --hink the issue here really dr. shulkin, sadly, gave some ammunition to those who wanted to get rid of him because they felt that he wasn't privatizing the veterans health administration, which is really what this was all about. it is the second-largest agent -- the va is the second-largest agency in thunited states and
runs the largest health care system in the united states, which is the veterans health administration which serves the needs of 9 million of america's 22 million veterans. 2014 has been a move since mostly promoted by the conservative koch brothers to use the v.a. to discredit government and to try to privatize the v.a. and send more veterans to private-sector doctors and hospitals. secretary shulkin was not doing this quickly enough. he was doing a partially, but he was not doing it quickly enough. his ringing defense of the v.a. in "the new york times" is reporting to read. i am said he did not articulate that kind of defense earlier in the many hearings that he was in and other public statements, but the fact he is doing it now is really to be commended. there is a huge threat to privatize the v.a. by people like the koch brothers, by the
infamous hedge fund insider trader stephen cohen, who is try to set up an alternative mental health system to compete with the v.a. this is a very serious moment for the v.a. amy: i want to turn to david shulkin who appeared last night on msnbc. >> there was clear evidence, though, the political appointees inside v.a. were working against leadership team because they felt that we were trying to strengthen the v.a. rather than move it towards privatization. amy: and then i want to turn to the man that president trump is nominating to replace dr. david shulkin posted yes, donald trump has tapped white house physician ronny jackson to head the department of veteran's affairs. dr. jackson, a naval officer, served as white house physician under presidents george w. bush and barack obama. he received some criticism for his enthusiastic report about trump's physical condition after
trump's exam in january. health is his excellent. his cardiac performance was very good. he continues to enjoy the significant, long-term cardiac in overall health benefits that come from a lifetime of abstinence from tobacco i now call. all clinical data indicates the president is very healthy and he will remain so for the duration of his presidency. amy: the doctor was the question about trump's diet of hamburgers and i is soda and he said it is all in the genes, he has good genes. suzanne gordon, talk about dr. ronny jackson, the president's doctor who he wants to make the head of this $200 billion agency, as you said, the second largest in government. the doctor has no administrative experience. he has very limited clinical experience. he was a combat military doctor
in iraq. he is familiar with military medicine, which is basically get them up, get them out quickly, get them in line, get them fighting again. the v.a. medicine is entirely different. it is dealing with veterans with multiple complex, chronic conditions. , as idical experience said, within the white house with largely well-to-do people who probably eat right with the exception of the president, and maybe get enough exercise and so one. but the veterans affairs -- the veterans health administration, which he will be administering, is dealing with older, sicker, poor veterans who bear no resemblance to the kind of patience one treats in the white house. , jackson is just a doctor. that is his qualification. he curried favor with trump i
minimizing trump's weight related and diet related problems, but i think he will be vhappet that will put the and the v.a. on a starvation diet rather than putting the president on a much-needed diet that he should have been on a long time ago. amy: i want to turn to an ad from the koch-backed concerned veterans for america criticizing wisconsin democratic senator tammy baldwin and veterans affairs. >> i worked at the v.a. for nine years. i was there as a staff nurse and a was a vet getting care. they kept giving me meds. at one point, i was on seven different medicines. their idea of treating the vet is to throw more pills of them. enabling these guys to become addicts. we know for a fact that tammy baldwin editor rp that show the things going on. tammy baldwin had information and did nothing with it. that's were dying.
they are committing suicide full's top amy: this ad from concerned veterans for america, not to be confused with the american legion or veterans for foreign wars. koch-backed organization pushing hard for privatization. suzanne gordon? >> the koch brothers amplifies every tiny problem or significant problem in the v.a. to make it seem like it is a systemic problem. the problem of opiate use in toma was a problem, yes, but it was a problem in one facility. the v.a. has been acting nationwide doubt veterans get off opioid narcotics and manage pain with integrative treatments. this is never reported in the media. it is not reported in "the new york times" or "the washington post." the opioid crisis is simplified. i mean, all over america when
the v8 started prescribing opioids, there was a criticism of doctors for not treating pain more effectively. this was also pushed by big pharma. it, toma was a problem, but was a small problem in a large system that is doing a tremendous amount to try to deal with the horrible chronic pain problems that veterans leave the military with. no one talks about where these problems begin. it is not the v.a. that creates pain problems and the kind of ptsd that leads veterans to want to kill themselves, it is the military and it is the wars that we collectively get into -- which for people in harms way. try desperately to fix these problems, but not every single one of these problems is fixable because people are so damaged by war and sometimes even by the exposures and occupational injuries that they have in military service,
and they don't even have to leave the country to have them. amy: suzanne gordon, talk about what a privatized v.a. looks like. the v.a. is really socialized medicine. is that right? >> the v.a. is really the nation's only single payer system. it treats everyone who is eligible, and not all of the 22 billion veterans in this country are eligible. you have to have some sort of service-connected problem, ptsd, orange, diabetes. have income have to requirements. v.a. really cherry picks the oldest, sickest, and poorest veterans. there's still other health care system that has so many old, sick, poor veterans or patients. the v.a. really functions as an integrated system to take all of their problems. it integrates primary and mental-health care.
it has probably the best mental-health system in the country because our mental health system in the private sector is a disgrace. it has the best geriatric care in the country. it has incredible end-of-life care. it has amazing rehabilitation services. blind real bill attention centers. stroke centers. spinal cord injury centers. and these do not just treat veterans who have been in combat. whoow a gentleman in boston was 78 years old, in a mighty professor. he suffered a catastrophic injury, quadriplegic. he was kicked out of the mass general hospital in spalding and told to basically go home and he would never walk again. they discovered he was a veteran. they sent him for four month as an inpatient rehabilitation. a rehabilitation for a year and a half. he is now walking a mile with a walker.
this is the kind of thing out private sector to her system never does -- private sector system never does. if i back had a problem, god forbid, i will never get the kind of care that he got at the boston v.a. this is true all over the country. the private sector system is just not ready to care for the kind of complex problems, multiple problems that veterans have. it is unprepared to do that. amy: often what is raised when you talk about privatizing the v.a., the issue of a vet who has hundreds of miles away from one of the v.a. hospitals or clinics and once you see a doctor. the very reasonable be to maybe work with the local, private doctor. but that is that what privatization v.a. of the is about. talk about what it would look like, what are the koch brothers plans? >> they would like the v.a. to be like tri-care, which is the military insurance program.
an insurance provider that pays for care, not delivers care. the v.a. has great health outcomes. it is important for people to understand in every single study -- and they keep coming out day after day after day -- every single scientific study shows that the v.a. in most areas is equal or superior to the care delivered at -- in the private sector for much lower cost. so if we were to privatize veterans would lose integrated care. now, it is true that many areasns who live in rural have to travel to get to facility where they can have surgery, but this is true for anybody in a rural area. ,hen they study the problem they found that they probably would not get better care just because of the doctors and
specialists. onyou look at the stats mental health care, 55% of american counties come all of have no psychologist or social worker. excess capacity to take care veterans. in san francisco during flu season, a hospital had people stacked up in the er waiting for 60 hours for a bed because there wasn't enough capacity. imagine adding 100,000 veterans who now are cared for in veteran facilities to those people in those ers and flu season. it would be a disaster. the whole idea of privatization h what they this myt really want is they don't want to take these hospitals and the koch brothers in the hospital chains that are fighting for
more veterans, they don't want people with chronic illnesses and mental-health problems in primary care. they don't have enough people to take care of the patients they are already on their books. what they want is they want to do the colonoscopy, the high cost colonoscopy or the hip replacement. but that would cost more money and veterans would not get integrated care. amy: do you think the firing of shulkin is the beginning, who knows if dr. jackson will be approved by the senate as one republican lobbyist on capitol hill, when he heard said the words "harriet miers," a woman who did not quite make it through in confirmation hearing. because he is no express and running a large organization, it is kind of like the word is that trump wants to put his private pilot as head of the faa. >> exactly. amy: it means he is a blank slate on these issues and that he could be heavily influenced,
as opposed to shulkin, however much he was criticized for even going in any privatization direction, he saw himself as a bulwark against that privatization. anyonny jackson, under other president, would never be considered for a position like secretary of the v.a. become as one representative tommy, the perfect puppet because he will owe this job to the president. he has no experience. he will probably do what the president and his very archconservative advisors, you know, he will do their bidding is now elevated position, if confirmed. i think it is up to the senate to oppose this. it is up to them to oppose privatization.
amy, the really frightening thing about all of this is it is not just the republicans. there are many democrats in the house and in the senate who really are not standing tall enough about the issue of opposing what i call still privatization -- stealth privatization. pretty soon you have nothing left. and democrats have to really stand firm on this issue. john caster of montana as the cosponsor of a bill that would really increase the pace of privatization. they claim it is not privatization, but it is creeping privatization. and when he people a say, no, fix the v.a. not 35,000 unfilled positions in the v.a. there is need for more exam space and clinical space and infrastructure repair. in the past four years or three years we have spent 49% more money on private-sector care,
and we gave the v.a. 9% more for its own clinical care. outwe are sending veterans into a private sector that is not ready to serve them. the rand corporation just did a study of new york state physicians under strictest in her's and mental-health providers, and it found that 2%, according to its criteria, 2% of providers in a state that serves the fifth-largest population of veterans, have the capacity and the readiness to serve and deal with veterans problems. 2%. amy: you talk about those thousands of positions that have not been filled at the v.a., and now the top one is open because president trump has fired dr. david shulkin. suzanne gordon, zinke for being with us award-winning journalist , and author. we willing to your piece "studies show private-sector providers are not ready to care for veterans." gordon is the author of "the battle for veterans' healthcare: dispatches from the frontlines
of policy making and patient care." when we come back, we will speak with a resident physician at the v.a. in nashville, not only about dr. shulkin's firing, but also about a former senators comments, pennsylvania senator rick santorum, recommending to the kids rather than lobbying on capitol hill and fighting for gun control and the white all they do something worthwhile, he says, like learn cpr? stay with us. ♪ [music break]
amy: "zealots" by the fugees. this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. doctors across the country are slamming former republican senator rick santorum for arguing that young people protesting for gun control would be better served by learning cpr. >> how about kids instead of looking to someone else to solve their problems, do something
about maybe taking cpr classes? amy: that was former pennsylvania senator rick santorum, speaking on cnn sunday. he accepted thousands of dollars from the nra during his time in office. in 2011, during his failed presidential bid, he staged a photo op wearing an orange nra hat and hunting pheasants with a shotgun. medical professionals roundly refuted santorum's suggestion that cpr could help save the life of someone shot by a military-style assault rifle. among them, our guest dr. eugene gu of vanderbilt university medical center, who tweeted -- "as a surgeon, i've operated on gunshot victims who've had bullets tear through their intestines, cut through their spinal cord, and pulverize their kidneys and liver. rick santorum telling kids to shut up and take cpr classes is simply unconscionable." well, for more, we continue our conversation with dr. gu. he's joining us from los
angeles, though he works in nashville. dr. gu, can you respond to senator -- former senator rick santorum? >> yes, and thank you so much for having me on your show. i think former senator santorum's comments were very reminiscent of the queen of france paris and 21 she said "the starving peasants, let them need cake." it is unconscionable. cpr is not necessarily helpful for victims of penetrating trauma. oftentimes, there is bleeding around the heart or there is a collapsed lung that could be causing a cardiac arrest. doing chest compressions is just counterproductive at that point. many of these patients are bleeding and that is the source of why they are in such distress and doing cpr is just not going to help them. his comments just really reminded me of a patient that came into the hospital when i was on call.
there was a man who had multiple gunshot wounds to his abdomen. when he came into the trauma bay, his blood pressure was very low. his heart rate was through the roof will stop we do not have enough time to get a ct scan. we rushed him immediately to the operating room as a level one trauma. as we opened up his abdomen, there was an immediate rush of blood that spilled on the floor. we packed all four quadrants of his abdomen to temporarily stop the bleeding. when we examined each quadrant, i saw that his liver, a large laceration in the rice had of his liver causing a lot of the labor as well as his right kidney was completely shattered. we had to spend a lot of time removing his kidney, taking out the section of the liver that was damaged, and then turned our attention to the abdomen where there was a bunch of stool and feces contaminating the area because the bullet has ripped through his intestines. never remove a large amount of
bells and create an ostomy which is essentially a bag that contains the fecal material on the outside of the abdomen. after we spent many hours in the operating room to the vestry could to repair his injuries, we sent him to the intensive care room intubated and sedated. he was clinging to life for about a week and he finally, unfortunately, passed away. he was only 20 years old. when i hear rick santorum telling these kids literally marching for their lives, protesting against the gun violence that happens in their schools, when he tells them "don't do that, what if you learn cpr instead," it outrages me and many other medical professionals as well. like i said, it is simply unconscionable comment to make. alreadyliticians are not doing anything to help these children, but they are going out of their way to tell these children not to protest. amy: i also wanted to ask you, dr. gu, about what is happening
at the department of veterans affairs. on wednesday, president trump foreign secretary veterans affairs dr. david shulkin and said he would replace him with his white house physician dr. ronny jackson, rather admiral in the navy. dr. jackson has no experience running a large agency. this is the second-largest in government, $200 billion agency. dr. shulkin says he was ousted toause of his opposition privatizing the v.a., which runs 1700 hospitals and clinics. so this is president trump at a rally in ohio on thursday. pres. trump: i have passed the act, andunt ability for our vets we say you are fired, get out of here. get out. amy: we can only imagine he is just getting dr. david shulkin's
name as he talks about jim. dr. eugene gu, you have worked at the local v.a. and national -- in nashville. your thoughts? >> a lot of this is a consequence of what it means to have elected a reality tv show guy who stuck qualified to be president, who is now hiring all of these people were not qualified to be secretary of education like betsy devos or now the secretary to the v.a. ronny jackson. earlier, he had even tried to appoint his personal pilot to be head of the faa. ronny jackson, who has no experience running a large federal agency, i think earlier in your segment you talked about how the v.a. is the second-largest federal agency with a 200 billion dollar budget. ronny jackson has no experience running that. as a resident who has worked at the v.a., another benefit of having a single provider, national integrated system in
which to care for all of our veterans. when we have a veteran coming from miami to nashville, i can plug all of his records because there's a standardized medical system or we can look at all of the veterans imaging, medical records will stop we do not have to call another hospital and figure out what procedures he had done. it is very convenient and effective for us. have veryrans specific injuries. oftentimes we can have a young 20-year-old veteran who has hearing loss that you would not expect to see in a 20 euro because of all of the loud gunshots that he has been having to hear. we can consult an audiologist. we can have an ent position see him. having an integrated system is extremely important and cost-efficient for these veterans. been aseen -- there is hybrid push to see what privatization looks like by having a v.a. choice system.
this choice system is where if a veteran cannot get the care he needs at our v.a. within 30 days, he can be choiced out or sent to another private hospital . what i've seen with a choice system is it degrades the level of care we have at our v.a. for example, at the nashville v.a., the sterilizers were broken for quite some time. so the operating room's were actually at limited capacity because we do not have clean surgical tools to operate on our veterans, which is a travesty. because of this "choice" system which allows us to send veterans to other hospitals, was honest like a crutch we used to say, ok, we don't really have to have that much of emphasis to fix these broken sterilizers. we can just choice these veterans out to other local private hospitals and they can soak in. i had a patient come in in the middle of the night we needed
emergency surgery. because our sterilizers were not working, we do not have clean tools so we had to choice him out or send him to another hospital. that delayed his care. i think that is just one example of what can happen with privatization of the v.a. another example is -- we saw the horrible response to the disaster relief in puerto rico after hurricane maria. when fema tried to privatize disaster relief. they gave this contract to a one-woman company, i believe tiffany brown, and she was contracted to provide 30 million meals to these starving puerto ricans who just suffered this major disaster. it turned out that she only provided 50,000 meals out of the 30 million she was contracted to provide. so they paid all of this money to this lady who just pocketed
the money for herself. amy: dr. gu, i went to ask about another issue. you are one of seven twitter users who has filed a lawsuit against president trump after being blocked from his personal account. -- very is titled quickly, can you talk about what this is about? >> definitely. one day a tweeted to trump -- he made a tweet about how he was in so well and the resolution poll. a tweeted to him because recently -- at that time he made a comment about a typo calledcofefe, which many people did not know what it was. i wrote in response, graffiti, the man who controls our country's nuclear codes, does not proofread his twitter account. he blocked me. the president of the united states uses his personal twitter account to make actual national policy announcements and
references from he fired rex tillerson through his twitter account, fired david his twitterugh account. this is important information for me as an american citizen to see. it is not necessarily his personal twitter account as he is using it in the capacity as president of the united states to amounts major personnel changes. amy: we just have 30 seconds, but dr. gu, you tweeted a photo of yourself taking a knee and raising a fist with the caption "i'm an asian-american doctor and today i take the knee to fight white supremacy." dr. gu, you are placed on paid a ministry to believe after the mother of one of your patients complained about that photo. very quickly, your response? >> i took the need to fight white supremacy because when i was an intern general surgery resident at vanderbilt, i was racially and physically attacked
in the parking garage by white supremacist. he stopped me of nine flights of stairs at the hospital and grabbed me by my name badge, nearly choking me. when i saw the nfl players like colin kaepernick and michael bennet taking the knee to fight police brutality and white supremacy, a resonated very much with me. wearing the same hospital white coat and scrubs that i had worn the day i was racially and physically attacked, i took the knee to fight against the very racism that i was a victim of. it was a very personal thing for me to be attacked like that. i wanted to do a peaceful protest to fight what happened to me. i was punished for it. amy: i want to thank you for being with us, dr. eugene gu, general surgery resident at vanderbilt university medical center in nashville, tennessee and a healthcare columnist for the hill. dr. gu has also worked at the local v.a. as a resident physician for the last two-and-a-half years. when we come back, stephen is tomorrow inal
britain. we will remember this remarkable, groundbreaking scientist. stay with us. ♪ [music break] amy: from the score from the film "a brief history of time." this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. on saturday, members of the scientific community life and fans alike will gather to remember the life and legacy of groundbreaking physicist stephen hawking. dr. hawking died on march 14 at
his home in cambridge, england, at the age of 76. for decades, he enchanted both scientists and science-lovers by making groundbreaking discoveries about the origins of the universe, and then translating these ideas for millions of non-scientists worldwide. his 1988 book, "a brief history of time: from the big bang to black holes" has sold more than 10 million copies. his career and life itself have been celebrated as a medical miracle. born in oxford, britain, in 1942, he was diagnosed with a neuromuscular disorder known as lou gehrig's disease at the age of 21. doctors said he had only a few years to live. instead, he went on to live for more than half a century, traveling the world in his motorized wheelchair and communicating through a custom-made computerized voice synthesizer. his only complaint was that the synthesizer gave him an american accent. dr. hawking also protested against u.s. wars, including the u.s. war in vietnam and the u.s. invasion of iraq. physics professor michio kaku of the city university of new york
said -- "not since albert einstein has a scientist so captured the public imagination and endeared himself to tens of millions of people around the world." this is stephen hawking, speaking at the white house in 1998. amy: that's physicist, professor, and bestselling author stephen hawking speaking in 1998 at the white house. despite hawking's avowed atheism, his funeral saturday is scheduled to be a traditional church of england service. well, for more, we're joined by stephen hawking biographer kitty ferguson. she is the author of two books about hawking, "stephen hawking:
an unfettered mind" and "stephen hawking: quest for a theory of everything." welcome to democracy now! your thoughts on stephen hawking's passing, a man you have worked with for many years? >> well, we have, for many years, known this could happen at any time. we have had him much longer than we ever expected to. nevertheless, to hear he had died was a shock. no,y part, i thought, stephen doesn't die. we'll is here he might, but he doesn't. isviewing is that the world just an ugly empty place without lty place without him. amy: you worked with him on your biographies. he reviewed the scientific aspects of what you wrote? initially he gave me a
lot of material, pictures of his childhood, and his own recollections that he had written out but when he first discovered he had his disease. off and said, go ahead and write it. and i did. and then i brought back -- he thenot ask to see paragraphs about his life, he asked to see the scientific paragraphs, the scientific pages. so we sat there in his office and he read them and i turned the pages for him so he could read them. he approved of all of those. when he wrote his book "the universe in a nutshell," i was asked to come in and help him make it simpler, more understanding -- more understandable to what he calls ordinary people. that is like you and i. anyone who is not a their radical physicist. at that time, i sat in his office. twomember so clearly the screens in front of us, the one
with his communication systems and the other with the book, with the manuscript of his book. i would scroll down and say, "stephen, i think that passage is too difficult. you have to make it simpler." "it seemsply was perfectly clear to me." of course, i thought, oh, dear, this is going to be a problem. at that i looked at him and i saw his wonderful smile and he was having me on. that was a smile i had described as a smile that would light the universe. amy: last your -- >> in the last few months of his life, the last few months, no longer smile like that. only his eyes good smile. they could smell to light the universe, but not the whole phase. this is sad. it is sad to lose impulsive amy: last year stephen hawking said that president trump's decision to withdraw from the paris climate change agreement will cause a desk avoidable if our
of controversy when he joined academic boycott against israel. can you explain his position there, kitty ferguson? >> well, he had been in israel previous to this. i don't have the date that hand exactly. he had asked to also speak to palestinian audience, which he did. and then the next time he was invited to go, his first reaction was, good, this will give me another chance to speak out to the palestinians. within colleagues, and i think some of his palestinian physicist friends, set a boycott would probably be more effective. and that -- at that point he decided not to attend anymore conferences there. as far as i know, he has turned out to invitations, maybe more. coming from the president of israel. this has been a very strong cause for him. i have to say he has been accused of boycotting things in israel and not boycotting things in other countries that also have civil rights problems, such as china.
i have said, never in all my years detected anything anti-semitic about him. so i think any kind of accusations on those grounds are unfounded. i personally would not write about anybody who was vocally anti-semitic. amy: can you talk about how he dealt with his motor narrow -- with lou gehrig's disease and really normalizing living with difficulties like this, enormous physical challenges for so many people around the world? >> first of all, the first time i met him him a when i went into his office and met him for the first time when i was proposing to write my first book about him, i was shocked. he just seemed so much worse off than i had ever been led to expect, even in pictures that led me to expect. of his slowness communication seemed so frustrating. but i soon realized, this is his way of communicating.
he is not frustrated by it. this is his way of dealing with things and i have got to learn to accept it that way, too. that i think one important point that has been brought out by nearlyher similar or similar handicapped people since his death, really, is that it is not quite right to talk about his doing all he did in spite of his illness. partly he did it because of his illness. if you read some of his writing about the time when he was just beginning to deal with it, he says himself, "everything i've done since then, i would probably not have done had i not had this illness." we can't really know that is so, that he would not have done it, at he was sort of at sea that time. he was not focused. the onus and his marriage to jane wilde focused him in a way that could we have expected that
otherwise? amy: kitty ferguson, we want to thank you. we will do part two of this discussion. we will post it online at democracynow.org. kitty ferguson, the author of stephen hawking, including "stephen hawking: an unfettered mind" and "stephen hawking: quest for a theory of everything." stephen hawking will be remembered tomorrow at his funeral in britain. a very happy birthday to mike burke! breaking news out of gaza. the palestinian health ministry says at least five people have been killed by israeli soldiers and some 350 others injured, many of them by live bullets. the deaths come as gaza residents built a tent city near the wall as part of a planned six-week long protest kicking off today, which is known as land day. democracy now! is looking for feedback from people who appreciate the closed captioning. e-mail your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail them to democracy now! p.o. box 693 new york, new york 10013. [captioning made possible by democracy now!]