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Betsy DeVos Has a Few Words to Say to Her Protestors

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New Education Secretary Says Protests Were Not ‘Spontaneous’ or ‘Genuine’

Betsy DeVos has been busy since making history last week by becoming the first cabinet nominee to ever have so few Senators supporting her she needed a tie-breaking vote cast by the vice president. The remarkably unqualified yet newly-confirmed anti-public schools Secretary of Education was temporarily prevented from entering a Washington, D.C. area public school last week – possibly the first time she had ever been in one – by parents, teachers, and activists protesting her visit. She responded by saying she will not be deterred.

But DeVos now has a few words to share with her opponents.

In an interview published Thursday at Town Hall with the far right wing political commentator Cal Thomas, DeVos calls the protests that surrounded her nomination not “spontaneous” or “genuine,” but instead insists they were “sponsored and very carefully planned.”

Some of the most important protests this nation has ever seen were not spontaneous and were carefully planned (Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom comes to mind) but that certainly does not make them not genuine. (Do these photos from an anti-DeVos rally in DC last month look like the protestors are not genuine?)

DeVos also says protestors “want to make my life a living hell.”

Well, given that’s what her policies will do to this nation’s children’s futures, can you blame them?

She adds, “They also don’t know what stock I come from. I will not be deterred from my mission in helping kids in this country.”

Unless those kids own stock in for-profit education companies, she’s not going to be “helping kids in this country.”

How do we know?

In a separate interview published Friday with Axios, the new right-leaning news site founded by Politico’s co-founders, DeVos revealed she sees higher education as vocational training, something people do in order to get a job, rather than embracing education and learning for their own sake. There’s no mention of teaching people to think or analyze.

“She and Trump believe many students aren’t well served by four-year college degrees, and they want to promote vocational training as a means of preparing them for work and reducing student debt,” Axios says. There’s nothing wrong with vocational training, just with many of the for-profit “schools,” like, say, Trump University, that defraud students who often are poor and find themselves robbed of their life savings, or run up credit card balances thinking they’re investing in their futures.

DeVos also says that during her tenure on the job, “I expect there will be more public charter schools. I expect there will be more private schools. I expect there will be more virtual schools. I expect there will be more schools of any kind that haven’t even been invented yet.”

The Washington Post notes, “The one thing she said she didn’t expect more of was traditional public schools.”

And she says she would be fine if some day the Dept. of Education was entirely dismantled, if it no longer existed. 

Does she think the federal government should have any role in education?

“I think in some of the areas around protecting students and ensuring safe environments for them, there is a role to play,” she told Axios. “I mean, when we had segregated schools and when we had a time when, you know, girls weren’t allowed to have the same kind of sports teams — I mean, there have been important inflection points for the federal government to get involved.”

But are there any remaining issues like that where the federal government should intervene? “I can’t think of any now,” she replied.

So, LGBTQ students and families should expect no help from DeVos’ Education Dept., not that that is any surprise.

And no other minority students or families should expect help from DeVos either. Apparently, as far as protecting children and ensuring they are in safe environments that help ensure learning, all the work the federal government needs to do has been done. 

Including defending the Obama administration’s guidance to help protect transgender students, which Attorney General Jeff Sessions refused to do last week.

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Image by Ted Eytan via Flickr and a CC license 

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THIS IS FASCISM

‘A Coup in the Making’: Voting and Civil Rights Expert Says ‘No Mandate’ for Nomination of Amy Coney Barrett

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Ari Berman, a civil and voting rights expert is speaking out against President Donald Trump’s nomination Saturday of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Berman is a Mother Jones senior reporter and a former senior contributing writer for The Nation magazine. He is seen as one of the country’s top voting rights experts.

He’s calling Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination a “coup in the making,” and a “farce,” and explains why there is “no mandate” for it.

“This is such a farce,” Berman tweeted just moments before President Trump stepped into the Rose Garden with Judge Barrett Saturday afternoon. “GOP blocked Merrick Garland 237 DAYS before election but rushing to confirm Barrett 38 days before Nov 3. Entire process is illegitimate. It’s a coup in the making & should be treated as such.”

“If Barrett is confirmed a majority of SCOTUS justices will have been appointed by GOP presidents who lost popular vote. Truly staggering,” Berman observes.

He goes on to say there is “Absolutely no mandate” for Barrett’s nomination or confirmation.

“866,000 people have already voted in 2020 elections,” Berman concludes. “Millions will have voted by the time Barrett hearings begin. Absolutely no reason to confirm her before election except for Trump to ensure she throws out enough votes to keep him in office.”

 

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'DEEP STATE'

Federal Agencies Tapped Phones of Portland’s Racial Justice Protestors to Prove They’re Terrorists

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Two current officials from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) have confirmed that the DHS and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) teamed up with the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) during this summer’s racial justice protests in Portland, Oregon for a covert operation focused on “extracting information from protester’s phones.”

The officials told The Nation that a DHS colleague with expertise in electronic surveillance was sent to Portland as part of “an interagency task force” using a classified cell phone cloning attack to “intercept protesters’ phone communications.”

“Cell phone cloning involves stealing a phone’s unique identifiers and copying them to another device in order to intercept the communications received by the original device,” The Nation explains. It’s a tactic conducted to better understand your target, their network and their planning. The DEA is believed to have had a “special key” to help carry out the surveillance.

While it’s unclear who specifically was targeted by the surveillance, “They were abusing people’s rights,” one official said. The DHS hasn’t responded to congressional calls to explain the program either.

The officials quoted in The Nation’s article say that colleagues from the DHS were asked to “volunteer” to participate in the program, something departments do to conduct operations outside of the department’s official and legal capacity.

The overall goal, the officials state, was to substantiate thin claims by Attorney General William Barr that Antifa (anti-fascist) activists are receiving foreign sponsorship, something that is a necessary criterion to formally designate the group as a terrorist organization, something Trump vowed to do as recently as yesterday.

Considering that the U.S. has a long history of surveilling, harassing and possibly even killing racial justice activists since before the Civil Rights era, this newest program is hardly surprising, albeit still frightening.

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'CAN'T WE END THIS ALREADY?'

“Armed Militias to Intimidate Voters”: Donald Trump Jr.’s New Ad Recruits GOP “Army” to “Secure” Election

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Donald Trump Jr.

The president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., appears in a social media video ad asking people to join an “army” to stop the “radical left” and their plan to “steal” the election. Nevermind, that Trump Sr. has already refused to ensure a peaceful transfer of power if he loses and has also said he can only lose if the vote is rigged.

Here’s the ad itself:

In the ad, Trump Jr. says:

“The radical left are laying the groundwork to steal this election from my father, President Donald Trump. They are planting stories that President Trump will have a landslide lead on election night but will lose when they finish counting the mail-in ballots. Their plan is to add millions of fraudulent ballots that can cancel your vote and overturn the election. We cannot let that happen.”

“We need every able-bodied man and woman to join Army for Trump’s election security operation at defendyourballot.com. We need you to help us watch them, not just on Election Day but also during early voting and at the counting boards. President Trump is going to win. Don’t let them steal it. Go to defendyourballot.com and enlist today.”

While the actual website DefendYourBallot.com is just a Trump campaign get out the vote effort that doesn’t actually instruct supporters to monitor polling places or post offices, one tech culture website said the “ads incite armed militias to intimidate voters.” Keep in mind, Trump Sr. has already promised to deploy thousands of law enforcement officials to polling places on Election Day, a move that will discourage voting by people with a distrust of police.

Considering the numerous armed protesters at anti-lockdown rallies during the start of the COVID-19 epidemic and Trump Sr.’s repeated lie that Democrats want to abolish the 2nd Amendment right to bear arms, it’s easy to see how Donald Jr.’s appeal could inspire right-wing gun nuts to “monitor” polling places and post offices by scaring voters, poll workers, and postal delivery people by challenging anything that looks even remotely suspicious to them.

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