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Apartheid Education/Gas Station Heroin

Legendary public school reform advocate, Jonathan Kozol, joins us to discuss his latest book “An End To Inequality: Breaking Down the Walls of Apartheid Education in America.” Then, we do a deep dive into the scourge that is kratom, the dangerous so-ca…

Legendary public school reform advocate, Jonathan Kozol, joins us to discuss his latest book “An End To Inequality: Breaking Down the Walls of Apartheid Education in America.” Then, we do a deep dive into the scourge that is kratom, the dangerous so-called pain relief supplement our guest, lawyer Matt Wetherington, calls “gas station heroin.”

Jonathan Kozol is a leading advocate for equality and racial justice in our nation’s schools, and he travels and lectures about educational inequality and racial injustice. Mr. Kozol is the author of nearly a dozen books about young children and their public schools, including Death at an Early Age (for which he received the National Book Award), Savage Inequalities, and The Shame of the Nation. His latest book is An End to Inequality: Breaking Down the Walls of Apartheid Education in America.

I still give [Jonathan Kozol’s book Death at an Early Age] out to people to show them what indignant writing backed by irrefutable evidence is like. There's too much cool writing in America today about ghastly situations.

Ralph Nader

The Brown decision is now like the Ghost of Christmas Past.  Most school officials have pretty much turned their back on the legacy of Brown and the dream of Dr. King, who was very explicit in his condemnation of segregated schools. I find it particularly heartbreaking that segregation is now at its highest level since the early 1990s. And many of the schools I visit are far more deeply segregated than the one that I described in Death in Early Age.

Jonathan Kozol

We hear a lot about the “school-to-prison pipeline,” but this is a case where the prison is already there. It's right there. They don't have to wait 20 years. Children get a taste of our racist penal system when they're barely out of diapers.

Jonathan Kozol

The excuse, of course, we always hear in the big cities is that finances are scarce— “We would love to make these corrections. We would love to build new buildings. We would love to clean out the lead. But we just don't have enough resources to do this.” I call it the myth of scarcity. It's starvation funding for minority children in one of the richest nations in the world.

Jonathan Kozol

I'm always asked, “Why don't you come up with upbeat suggestions?” I always say I'm not going to be forced into a phony optimism to please my critics. The fact is, right now, we have a racist and autocratic education system teed specifically to the historic victims of American society. And it's not gonna change until teachers can expand their reach politically to the parents of their children, to the surrounding communities, to the unions—not only the teacher unions, but other unions of all sorts—in order to transform the political leadership of this nation.

Jonathan Kozol

Matt Wetherington is ​​a nationally-recognized lawyer focused on high-stakes cases involving personal injury, wrongful death, and class actions. He currently represents plaintiffs in a wrongful death lawsuit against more than a dozen defendants, including manufacturers, distributors, and retailers of Kratom products.

Under the guise of safety, the [American Kratom Association] have tricked legislatures— and now they're trying to do it on the federal level—into making a product that is dangerous, deadly, and has absolutely no proven medicinal purpose, de facto legal.

Matt Wetherington

The kratom industry is trying to put the burden on safety advocates to prove that kratom is unsafe. Rather than going through the normal model that literally every other drug has gone through, which is to prove a medicinal purpose before it can be sold anywhere. They've put the cart ahead of the horse here by saying, until you can prove that it's unsafe, you can get this heroin-like drug at any gas station. So I reject the premise that we have to be the ones that come out and prove that this is unsafe. And the reality is that they have the burden of proving that it has a medicinal purpose.

Matt Wetherington

In Case You Haven’t Heard with Francesco DeSantis

News 3/19/24

1. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat from New York, delivered a watershed speech on the Senate floor last week calling for the United States to use its influence to rein in the Israeli government as it continues to commit genocidal atrocities in Gaza. Listen to Michigan highlighted an excerpt of Senator Schumer’s speech, wherein he said “if Prime Minister Netanyahu...continues to pursue dangerous and inflammatory policies that test existing U.S. standards for assistance, then the United States will have no choice but to play a more active role in shaping Israeli policy by using our leverage to change the present course.” While a mere baby step, this movement of the Overton Window – allowing even the discussion of conditioning military aid to Israel – is a radical departure from decades of unquestioning U.S. assistance and co-belligerency in Israel’s wars. This is also undeniable evidence that the massive protest movement against U.S. support for Israel’s genocidal campaign, including the “Uncommitted” electoral campaign, has worked. In other words, keep it up, they are feeling the heat.

2. Schumer’s speech comes amid a growing realization from the Biden campaign that this issue is not going away. A raft of media reports suggest that the president has been “incensed to the point of shouting and swearing,” per Business Insider, over his low poll numbers in critical swing states, attributed to his handling of the slaughter in Gaza. And just this week, Palestinian-American as well as other Arab- and Muslim-American leaders refused to meet with senior White House officials in Chicago, instead publishing a letter via CAIR stating “There is no point in more meetings. The White House already knows the position of the aforementioned groups and our allies across the nation…They know because we have made it abundantly clear, including in prior meetings with the White House, but also in press statements, letters to our elected leaders, media interviews, and enormous street action within earshot of the Oval Office.” According to the Huffington Post, “The rejection comes after a string of refusals across the country from Arab and Muslim groups over longstanding frustrations over the war in Gaza…Several members of the Palestinian American community refused to meet with Secretary of State Antony Blinken last month in Washington…[and] In Michigan, Arab and Muslim community leaders canceled a listening session in February with…Biden’s campaign manager, Julie Chavez Rodriguez.”

3. More suspicious details have emerged regarding the death of Boeing whistleblower John Barnett. Yahoo Finance reports that Barnett was planning to drive home to Louisiana following his deposition on Friday March, 8th. Boeing lawyers then asked him to stay an extra day to finish his testimony, and Barnett was found dead the morning of March 9th. Additionally, ABC News 4 in Charleston reports that shortly before his death – allegedly by suicide – Barnett told a close family friend “I ain't scared, but if anything happens to me, it's not suicide.’”

4. In more Boeing news, the New York Times reports “The company failed 33 of 89 audits during an examination conducted by the Federal Aviation Administration,” following the Alaska Airlines door plug incident. The Times piece goes on “The F.A.A. said it could not release specifics about the audit because of its active investigation into Boeing in response to the Alaska Airlines episode. In addition to that inquiry, the National Transportation Safety Board is investigating what caused the door panel to blow off the plane, and the Justice Department has begun a criminal investigation.”

5. A disturbing NBC story chronicles how the Center for Autism and Related Disorders (CARD) – a nationwide group of clinics which effectively helped autistic children to “cope, learn and communicate” – was purchased and deformed by the Blackstone Group, resulting in abuse of the children in their facilities. The founder of CARD is quoted in this article saying “[under Blackstone’s ownership] the company added costly executives, increased CARD’s debt and struck expensive contracts with third-party providers. The new CEO had no experience in autism services…he had run a kidney dialysis company.” This story has a bit of a happy ending – after running CARD into the ground, Blackstone actually sold the company back to the founder who is setting things right. As she says in the piece “You have to watch over the company…It is an entity, not an endless bank account.” This story highlights the human cost of private equity gobbling up the economy while regulators are overwhelmed or asleep at the wheel.

6. In some positive news, Nikkei Asia reports “Japan's largest labor confederation [The 7 million-member Japanese Trade Union Confederation, or Rengo] said Friday that its [771] member unions won an average 5.28% increase in wages this year, the biggest raise since 1991.”

7. In more positive labor news, CNN reports that the United Auto Workers (UAW) has filed for a union election for the over 4,000 workers at the Chattanooga, Tennessee Volkswagen facility. This is the first major test of UAW’s campaign to unionize autoworkers at foreign-owned plants in the United States. The union intends to organize workers at BMW, Honda, Hyundai, Mazda, Mercedes, Nissan, Subaru, Toyota, Volvo and Volkswagen as well as the non-union EV companies like Tesla, Rivian and Lucid. UAW has previously said that they would not file for an election until they had won 70% support among the workers, with this filing implying they have reached that threshold. President Biden has publicly come out in support of this campaign, issuing a statement on March 18th reading “I congratulate the Volkswagen autoworkers in Chattanooga who filed for a union election with the UAW. As one of the world’s largest automakers, many Volkswagen plants internationally are unionized…I believe American workers, too, should have a voice at work.”

8. Senator Bernie Sanders has introduced a bill to establish a standard 32-hour workweek. In a press release, Sanders wrote “Today, American workers are over 400 percent more productive than they were in the 1940s. And yet, millions of Americans are working longer hours for lower wages than they were decades ago…The financial gains from the major advancements in artificial intelligence, automation, and new technology must benefit the working class, not just corporate CEOs and wealthy stockholders on Wall Street. It is time to reduce the stress level in our country and allow Americans to enjoy a better quality of life.” This legislation was announced ahead of a HELP Committee hearing on the same topic, featuring Shawn Fain, President of the UAW and Dr. Juliet Schor, Professor of Sociology at Boston College and Lead Researcher for Four Day Week Global Trials.

9. A story in the American Prospect has to do with a study by the Center for Working Class Politics. This study looked at all 966 Democratic candidates who ran in House or Senate primaries in 2022. What did they find? “Candidates who used economic populist rhetoric won higher vote shares in general elections, especially in working-class, rural and small-town districts.” In other words, broad-base, left-wing economic populism. It works.

10. Finally, NBC reports that the DNC is assembling an anti-third party squad in an attempt to force voters into a binary choice between Biden and Trump in November. This team will be led by the infamous political operator Lis Smith, who helped cover up Andrew Cuomo’s serial sexual harassment. Another prominent member is Pat Dennis, president of Democratic opposition research firm American Bridge, who is quoted saying “A lot of people, including me, regret that we didn’t go after [Jill Stein] further,” blaming Stein for costing Hillary Clinton states in the midwest despite numerous missteps by the Clinton campaign – like not visiting Wisconsin in the entire course of the general election. Yet to figures like Smith and Dennis, the Democratic Party cannot fail, it can only be failed.

This has been Francesco DeSantis, with In Case You Haven’t Heard.

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This content originally appeared on Ralph Nader Radio Hour and was authored by Ralph Nader.

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