fresh voices from the front lines of change








Jeff Bryant

Wait, It Gets Worse: Eli Broad's School Corruption Legacy

Billionaire charter-school boosters like Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Eli Broad and have turned school leadership into a cartel system focused on advancing careers and enriching businesses. One can see, in the track record of Broad-infused school leaders like John Covington, the workings of this cartel. Covington’s efforts to advance the interests of education-related businesses, while disrupting the community and accomplishing little on improving academic achievement, are recurring themes of many Broad network school leaders. Public school districts will continue to be vulnerable prey for businesses and education reform careerists like Covington as long as “markets are still viewed as a good thing,” said Thomas Pedroni, associate professor of curriculum studies at Wayne State University in Detroit. “Education is still viewed as a gold mine,” he stated, and even when companies have horrible results, they still reap huge profits because education reform advocates believe for-profit corporations have the secret sauce for school improvement. It doesn’t help that the latest version of school reform federal law, the Every Student Succeeds Act, enables businesses to have even more power over public schools.

This is the second of a two-part article produced by Our Schools, a project of the Independent Media Institute. To read the first part, click here.

U.S. Army Whistleblower Testifies In Impeachment

White House official who reported Ukraine call to testify. CBS: "A White House official and decorated Army officer who listened to President Trump's now-infamous call with the Ukrainian president was so alarmed by what he heard that he reported it to a top national security lawyer, according to his prepared testimony. Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, the director of European affairs at the National Security Council (NSC) who received a Purple Heart for his service in Iraq, plans to tell the House committees leading the impeachment inquiry that he "did not think it was proper" for the president to insist that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky open investigations into his political opponents. He said he reported his concerns to the lead counsel at the NSC. Vindman is scheduled to be deposed on Capitol Hill on Tuesday. On Monday, House Democrats said they're preparing a resolution establishing the groundwork for the next stage of the impeachment inquiry. The House Rules Committee will introduce the resolution "to ensure transparency and provide a clear path forward" as the inquiry approaches its 'public-facing phase,' the committee said. The committee will mark up the resolution Wednesday."

Judge Kicks Impeachment Lawsuit Into High Gear

Judge kicks newest impeachment lawsuit into high gear. CNN: "A federal judge hearing arguments in a potentially critical impeachment inquiry case wants to hear from lawyers for the Trump White House, the House of Representatives and from impeachment witness Charles Kupperman on Thursday after Kupperman filed a lawsuit asking the federal court to decide whether he would need to testify. Kupperman's House testimony had been set for Monday, but Kupperman didn't show up, citing White House and Justice Department reasoning that he was immune from testifying because of his previous work on the National Security Council. Leon will meet the parties in court at 3 p.m. on Thursday, 'due to the time-sensitive nature of the issues raised in this case,' Judge Richard Leon of the DC District Court wrote Monday night. Kupperman, who served until last month as deputy national security adviser at the White House, was listening in on the July 25 phone call when, according to a White House transcript, Trump pressed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden. Kupperman's lawsuit raises additional questions about possible testimony from former national security adviser John Bolton, as Kupperman's lawyer Charles Cooper also represents Bolton."

CDC Scrubbed 'Climate Change' From Reports

CDC whistleblower says he was told not to use phrase "climate change" after Trump elected. CBS: "There's a new government whistleblower targeting the Trump administration, this time at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A top scientist there, who was its public face of climate science and its effects on diseases, tells CBS News the agency backed away from its fight against climate change, including even using the phrase 'climate change,' over fears of antagonizing the administration. The whistleblower is Dr. George Luber, who worked at the CDC for 17 years, and was the head of its climate and health program until last year, when he was reassigned. In late 2016 Luber was organizing a climate change conference. Al Gore was to be the keynote speaker. But right after Donald Trump was elected president, Luber's boss called him in. America's new president had a dim view of Luber's science, referring to climate change as a hoax, 'created by and for the Chinese.' Dr. Luber said his boss wanted something else: 'Just don't say 'climate change.' Can you call it 'extreme weather?' Can you call it something else?' CBS correspondent Mark Strassmann asked Luber, "You're saying that the Centers for Disease Control was suddenly afraid to use the term 'climate change'?' 'Yeah. Absolutely. I was told to use a different term,' he said. In March 2018 the CDC revoked Dr. Luber's badge, phone and credentials. The CDC dismantled his climate and health program, which the agency denies."

ICE Rushes To Open For-Profit Detention Centers

ICE Is Rushing to Open For-Profit Detention Centers. Mother Jones: "Five days after California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a strict ban on for-profit prisons and immigrant detention centers, Immigration and Customs Enforcement quietly posted a solicitation notice for three new detention facilities in California—a move that advocates are calling a discreet attempt to open up new privately run facilities before the law goes into effect at the start of next year. ICE is asking for 'turnkey ready' facilities near San Francisco, San Diego, and Los Angeles for “the exclusive use of ICE and the ICE detainee population,” according to documents posted on the Federal Business Opportunities (FBO) website on October 16. (When ICE seeks a new contract, the search has to go through a public bidding process.) The facilities would be used to “provide housing, medical care, transportation, guard services, meals, and the day to day needs for ICE detainees,” the documents say. As the Palm Springs Desert Sun first reported, ICE is looking to house up to 6,750 detainees in the facilities. In the notice, ICE clarifies that it will not accept proposals for constructing new facilities. The notice also includes specific requirements, like being a set distance from ICE field offices and having a certain number of beds. And since California passed a law last year banning any city or county from entering into contracts with ICE or for-profit prison companies to detain immigrants, the only existing facilities that would comply with ICE’s requirements for this contract would be the ones already owned by private prison companies."

Trans Migrants Face Perils At Border

For transgender migrants fleeing death threats, asylum in the U.S. is a crapshoot. LATimes: "As has happened so often in her life, Mayela Villegas once again faced the threat of violence. It was a late afternoon in September and she was alone. Hundreds of other asylum seekers camped at the foot of the U.S.-Mexico border bridge were resting before volunteers arrived with dinner. Suddenly, a fellow Central American migrant appeared at her tent, growling threats. 'I don’t want any problems,' said Villegas, a slight figure with long brown hair and red lipstick. 'What problems?' the woman said. 'The only problem would be how to take a knife and gut you. You wouldn’t be the first or the last. You’re worthless — annoying. You’ll never compare to me because I have a vagina and you don’t.' Villegas is transgender. She had stayed at the bridge in hopes of obtaining asylum in the United States to escape such threats. The Honduran woman threatening her was dating a member of a Mexican drug cartel. Villegas tried to appease the woman by acknowledging she had powerful friends, even as Villegas secretly recorded their encounter on a cellphone. 'Yes,' the woman snarled before leaving for her nearby tent. 'You know how this is going to end.' Studies show LGBTQ migrants are among the most vulnerable, more likely to be assaulted and killed: 88% were victims of sexual and gender-based violence in their countries of origin; two-thirds suffered similar attacks in Mexico, according to a 2017 study by the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees. Non-Mexican migrants seeking asylum must now await U.S. immigration court hearings south of the border under the Trump administration’s Remain in Mexico program. A Homeland Security spokeswoman said asylum seekers may be removed from the program and allowed into the U.S. if they are 'more likely than not to face persecution or torture in Mexico.' Some transgender migrants have indeed been released or placed in detention in the U.S. But many more LGBTQ asylum seekers have been placed on waiting lists or returned to Mexico for months. Dozens of LGBTQ asylum seekers in Ciudad Juarez, Matamoros and Tijuana said in interviews that U.S. immigration officials told them they were not exempt from Remain in Mexico."

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