- Donald Trump nominates Betsy DeVos to be his Secretary of Education. We discuss the topic with Diane Ravitch.
- News or Propaganda? What is happening to the news and what is the “Countering Foreign Propaganda and Disinformation Act” about? We discuss the topic with Rick Sterling.
Diane Ravitch is an historian of education and Research Professor of Education at New York University. She was born in Houston, Texas, attended the Houston public schools from kindergarten through high school, and graduated from Wellesley College in 1960. She received her Ph.D. in the history of American education in 1975. She lives in Brooklyn, New York. Ravitch is author of many 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. She served as Assistant Secretary of Education and Counselor to the Secretary of Education from 1991-1993 under the George H. W. Bush administration. She now blogs at dianeravitch.net
Quote: “Betsy DeVos should not be approved by the Senate committee or confirmed by the Senate as U.S. Secretary of Education. She has no experience or qualifications for the job. She is a lobbyist for alternatives to public schools. Eighty-five percent of the students in the U.S. attend public schools. Her only plan is to weaken and destroy them by diverting public money to charter schools and vouchers for religious schools. DeVos is a billionaire who has never worked in a public school, never attended a public school, never sent her own children to public school. She has lived in a billionaire bubble of privilege. She has no understanding of the needs of our nation’s public schools, and she is in fact actively hostile to them. This is unacceptable. She is unacceptable. Our public schools are one of the cornerstones of our democracy. We have never had a Secretary of Education who was opposed to public schools. We should never have one.”
Rick Sterling is a retired electronics / aerospace engineer turned independent investigative journalist. He just wrote the piece “The War Against Alternative Information” for ConsortiumNews.com — which states: “The U.S. establishment is not content simply to have domination over the media narratives on critical foreign policy issues, such as Syria, Ukraine and Russia. It wants total domination. Thus we now have the ‘Countering Foreign Propaganda and Disinformation Act’ that President Obama signed into law on Dec. 23 as part of the National Defense Authorization Act for 2017, setting aside $160 million to combat any ‘propaganda’ that challenges Official Washington’s version of reality. The new law mandates the U.S. Secretary of State to collaborate with the Secretary of Defense, Director of National Intelligence and other federal agencies to create a Global Engagement Center ‘to lead, synchronize, and coordinate efforts of the Federal Government to recognize, understand, expose, and counter foreign state and non-state propaganda and disinformation efforts aimed at undermining United States national security interests.’ The law directs the Center to be formed in 180 days and to share expertise among agencies and to ‘coordinate with allied nations.’The new law is remarkable for a number of reasons, not the least because it merges a new McCarthyism about purported dissemination of Russian ‘propaganda’ on the Internet with a new Orwellianism by creating a kind of Ministry of Truth — or Global Engagement Center — to protect the American people from ‘foreign propaganda and disinformation.’ As part of the effort to detect and defeat these unwanted narratives, the law authorizes the Center to: ‘Facilitate the use of a wide range of technologies and techniques by sharing expertise among Federal departments and agencies, seeking expertise from external sources, and implementing best practices.’ (This section is an apparent reference to proposals that Google, Facebook and other technology companies find ways to block or brand certain Internet sites as purveyors of ‘Russian propaganda’ or ‘fake news.’) Justifying this new bureaucracy, the bill’s sponsors argued that the existing agencies for ‘strategic communications’ and ‘public diplomacy’ were not enough, that the information threat required ‘a whole-of-government approach leveraging all elements of national power.’ The law also is rife with irony since the U.S. government and related agencies are among the world’s biggest purveyors of propaganda and disinformation…”
On The Monitor this week:
- Are we allergic to food or what’s been done to it? An interview with Robyn O’Brien
- Turkey’s invasion of Syria. An interview with Michael Beer
More about this week’s guests:
Robyn O’Brien is a former financial and food industry analyst. She has been called “food’s Erin Brockovich” by Bloomberg and the New York Times. She is the author of The Unhealthy Truth published in May 2009 by Random House, which reveals the alarming relationship between the manipulation of our food and both the increase in dangerous allergies in our children as well as the increase in cancers in our families—and offers a road map to healthy living.
From a conservative Texas family, Robyn earned an MBA on a full scholarship, graduating as the top woman in her class before going to work as a financial analyst that covered the food industry. For ten years, she has led a food awakening among consumers, corporations and political leaders. Armed with data and analytics, food companies now responding to Robyn’s work include Bloomberg, Compass Food Group, Kraft, Coca Cola, Burger King, Chipotle, Nestle, Target and others. She sheds light on how the changing landscape of food and health are impacting the food industry and our economy. You can follow her on Twitter here: @
Michael Beer has been the Executive Director of Nonviolence International since 1998. Michael is a global activist for human rights, minority rights and against war and casino capitalism. He has trained activists in many countries, including Burma, Kosovo, Tibet, Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia, India, USA and Zimbabwe. He is a frequent public speaker on nonviolence and has been broadcast on CSPAN, CNN, and other major media. Michael is the co-parent of two children along with his life partner, Latanja.s the director of Nonviolence International.
Quote: “Turkey has invaded Syria without the support of the Assad government nor the United Nations nor the Arab League. This is another damaging blow to international laws meant to prevent war. Given hundreds of years of Turkish/Ottoman dominion over Arabs, this Turkish invasion is unlikely to gain much support in Syria or the Arab world. The timing is remarkable just as the vice president of the U.S. arrived in Turkey. The U.S. cooperated, in part, because the U.S. already has troops in Syria in violation of international law and the U.S. constitution and has no credible platform to protest. International protest has been slow to emerge: No attempt to bring this to the UN; the media refusing to label this an invasion/violation of international law. European governments support it, and the Iranians refuse to release a public statement. We are seeing more and more countries follow the U.S. and Russia’s example of using military force outside of international law. This is a dangerous direction for the future security of planet earth.”
On The Monitor this week:
- Presidential Debates, Cable News, and the Miseducation of the American Public – an interview with Jeff Cohen
- Assessing Putin and Obama in Syria and Ukraine – an interview with Joe Lauria
More about this week’s Guests:
Jeff Cohen is the director of the Park Center for Independent Media at Ithaca College and author of Cable News Confidential: My Misadventures in Corporate Media. He is also is cofounder of RootsAction.org, founder of the media watch group FAIR.
From his recent article:
At the CNN-sponsored Republican Party debate last month at the Reagan presidential library, one of the three panelists CNN selected to question the candidates was conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt, affiliated with the proudly right-wing Salem Radio Network. But at Tuesday’s upcoming Democratic Party debate, CNN is not planning to include a single progressive advocate among its panel of four questioners.
It’s clear that who gets to pose questions has impact on the tenor of the debate. For example, Hewitt used September’s Republican debate to declare that President Obama’s “knees buckled” over Syria and that every Republican candidate was “more qualified than” Hillary Clinton. Hewitt pressed Jeb Bush from the right over his comment about making sure guns are not in the hands of the mentally ill: “Where does it go from what you said last week, how far into people’s lives to take guns away from them?”
Along with Hewitt, the panel at CNN’s GOP debate was composed of two journalists CNN presents as neutral or objective: CNN anchor Jake Tapper and CNN correspondent Dana Bash. (Hewitt’s appearance was reportedly part of an agreement by which CNN and the right-wing Salem Media company are teaming up on three GOP presidential debates.)
At CNN’s upcoming Democratic debate, the panel is to be composed of four journalists CNN presents as neutral: CNN’s Bash and three CNN anchors (Anderson Cooper, Don Lemon, and Juan Carlos Lopez of CNN en Espanol.) Glaringly missing from this proposed lineup is an unabashed progressive advocate.
There are many qualified journalists for this seat — from respected progressive media institutions that haven’t taken sides in the Democratic primaries (like The Nation or Mother Jones, to name just two).
Today, the online activism group RootsAction.org (which I cofounded) launched a one-sentence petition to CNN: “For the sake of basic fairness and balance, you should add to your panel an unapologetic progressive for Tuesday’s debate.”
CNN’s Double-Standards on Debates (10/9/15)
26,000 Petition Bernie Sanders to Tackle US Militarism (8/31/15)
Bernie Trumped By Mainstream Media (8/18/15)
Memo to Media: Ask Trump If He’s a ‘Serial Racist’ (7/4/15)
Will Bernie Be the Beginning of a Revolution? (6/2/15)
Joe Lauria is an international affairs correspondent specializing in the United Nations, Lauria just wrote the piece “Obama’s Self-Deceit” for ConsortiumNews.com. Lauria writes: “There was stunned silence in the General Assembly Hall on Monday as U.S. President Barack Obama warned leaders against falling back to pre-United Nations days, in which strong nations imposed their will by force against the weak. There was apparent disbelief as he said it was Russia and China that wanted a ‘return to the rules that applied for most of human history and that pre-date this institution.’ …
“He didn’t mention the documented U.S. orchestrated coup against a democratically-elected president in Kiev, which eastern Ukrainians have resisted. …
“At heart is either Obama’s willful ignorance of Ukraine, a clumsy attempt at disinformation, or as Vladimir Putin suggested in his U.N. speech a half hour later, a big measure of self-deception.
“Obama said Ukrainians favor the West. That may be true of most western Ukrainians but not the whole country. Then, he said the U.S. has ‘few economic interests’ in Ukraine. That’s woefully ignorant or a blatant lie. Monsanto has a big interest. Then there’s Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, and a John Kerry family friend joining the board of Burisma Holdings, Ukraine’s largest private gas producer, just after the coup.
“And the country’s finance minister is an American, Natalie Jaresko, who was given Ukrainian citizenship on the day she began the job. Why put an American government official in charge of the treasury of a foreign country? …
“On Syria, Obama (and his junior partners in Europe) insist that President Bashar al-Assad must leave office, as though that would make ISIS lay down its arms. …
“Putin argues that Assad’s military is the most effective ground force (along with the Kurds) against the monstrous group and that all nations who want ISIS defeated should work with Assad. …
“‘The Islamic State itself did not come out of nowhere,’ Putin told the Assembly. ‘It was initially developed as a weapon against undesirable secular regimes.’ …”