Monthly Archives: May 2019

‘A Burning Indictment of Our Higher Ed System’: Commencement Speaker Pays Off $40 Million in Student Debt

Billionaire’s gift to nearly 400 graduating seniors of Morehouse College earned him praise—but also sparked criticism of the cost of education

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-19-2019

Morehouse College commencement speaker and billionaire Robert F. Smith announced Sunday he is wiping out an estimated $40 million in student debt for nearly 400 graduates. (Photo: Morehouse College/Twitter)

Commencement speaker Robert F. Smith garnered widespread praise Sunday when the billionaire investor announced he will wipe out an estimated $40 million in student debt for Morehouse College’s nearly 400 graduating seniors—but the move also sparked intense criticism of the cost of higher education in the United States.

“Two things are simultaneously true about this story: 1. This is a very cool thing to do,” tweeted Current Affairs editor Sparky Abraham. “2. That this is so cool and necessary and has such a huge impact on the students’ lives is a burning indictment of our higher ed system.” Continue reading

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‘Unfathomable Evil Recognizing Unfathomable Evil’: Trump’s Possible Pardons of War Criminals Provoke Outrage

“If you were to make a list of ‘top notorious U.S. war crimes of the post-9/11 era’ it would look a lot like the president’s pardoning plans.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-18-2019

President Donald Trump addresses armed forces members at Joint Base Andrews, Md., Sept. 15, 2017. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Delano Scott)

Progressives, human rights advocates, and journalists responded with outrage on Saturday to a New York Times report that President Donald Trump “has requested the immediate preparation of paperwork needed to pardon several American military members accused or convicted of war crimes.”

Unnamed U.S. government officials told the Times that on or around Memorial Day, Trump may pardon multiple servicemembers involved with “high-profile cases of murder, attempted murder, and desecration of a corpse.” Continue reading

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Texas State Bill Would Make Protesting Pipelines a Felony on Par With Attempted Murder

“This needs to be a nation-wide story.”

By Eoin Higgins, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-17-2019

Activists in North Dakota confront pipeline construction activities. A Texas bill would impose steep penalties for such protests. (Photo: Speak Freely/ACLU)

A bill making its way through the Texas legislature would make protesting pipelines a third-degree felony, the same as attempted murder.

H.B. 3557, which is under consideration in the state Senate after passing the state House earlier this month, ups penalties for interfering in energy infrastructure construction by making the protests a felony. Sentences would range from two to 10 years. Continue reading

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Venezuelan Government Denounces US Seizure of Embassy, Arrest of Peace Activists as Violation of Vienna Convention

“We do not authorize any of the coup leaders to enter our embassy in Washington D.C.,” said deputy foreign minister on behalf of Maduro government

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-16-2019

Peace activists lived at the Venezuelan Embassy in Washington, D.C. for more than a month in hopes of blocking the Trump administration from turning it over to supporters of an effort to oust the country’s elected president. (Photo: Jeremy Bigwood)

Venezuelan Deputy Foreign Minister Carlos Ron on Thursday urged the Trump administration not to hand over the country’s embassy in Washington, D.C. to leaders of an attempted coup after U.S. law enforcement forcibly removed peace activists who have lived there since last month as guests of President Nicolás Maduro’s government.

“We denounce these arrests, as the people inside were there with our permission, and we consider it a violation of the Vienna Conventions,” Ron said in a statement. Continue reading

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Despite Christchurch Massacre and Others, Trump Refuses to Join ‘Unprecedented’ Global Effort to Tackle Racist Extremism Online

“To be honest, I do not understand the United States,” said New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-15-2019

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and French President Emmanuel Macron this week launched the Christchurch Call, a global initiative to combat online extremism. (Photo: @JaneCoombsNZ/Twitter)

The White House announced Wednesday it will not join a global initiative, launched in the wake of a massacre in New Zealand two months ago, to tackle racist and extremist online content.

“By not standing alongside other world leaders to fight hate,” said the Southern Poverty Law Center in response, “President Trump has shown once again that he doesn’t understand the importance of white supremacy in fueling terrorism.” Continue reading

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Objections by Nielsen and Others to Trump Plan for Mass Arrests Were ‘Logistical and Technical,’ Report Shows, Not Moral or Ethical

“To be clear, the heads of DHS/ICE had no issue with the depravity of the plan, they just wanted it to be better organized.”

By Eoin Higgins, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-14-2019

Then-Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen visiting the south Texas border on November 14, 2018. (Photo: Customs and Border Protection, Flickr)

In the weeks before they were fired, top officials in the Trump administration reportedly raised concerns about a White House plan to deport whole families in a proposed show of force against migrants in the country—not for ethical reasons, but because such a plan could raise logistical and technical difficulties.

Former Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and former Acting Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Ronald Vitiello both found the administration’s plan unworkable and stopped the plan due to what reporting from The Washington Post described as a “lack of preparation” and “the risk of public outrage and worries that it would divert resources from the border.” Continue reading

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Fears for Roe V. Wade After Supreme Court Issues Decision Overruling a 40-Year Precedent

“Today’s decision can only cause one to wonder which cases the Court will overrule next,” wrote Justice Bryer in dissent

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-13-2019

“Hard not to read this as a veiled warning about Roe v. Wade,” tweeted law professor Nicholas Bagley of the new ruling. (Photo: Phil Roeder/Flickr/cc)

The U.S. Supreme Court’s liberal justices sounded alarm on Monday after the court issued a ruling overturning a four decades-old precedent.

“Today’s decision can only cause one to wonder which cases the Court will overrule next,” Justice Bryer wrote in his dissent (pdf), in which Justices Ginsburg, Sotomayor, and Kagan joined.

Some observers expressed fear one of the those cases could be Roe v. Wade. Continue reading

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Lawsuit by 44 States Accuses Pharma Giants of ‘Multi-Year Conspiracy’ to Hike Drug Prices by Over 1,000%

“We have hard evidence that shows the generic drug industry perpetrated a multi-billion dollar fraud on the American people.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-12-2019

Pfizer World Headquarters – New York City. Photo: Norbert Nagel/CC

A far-reaching lawsuit filed Friday by the attorneys general of more than 40 states accused some of the nation’s largest generic drug manufacturers of conspiring to inflate prices, in some cases by over 1,000 percent.

“We have hard evidence that shows the generic drug industry perpetrated a multi-billion dollar fraud on the American people,” Connecticut Attorney General William Tong, whose state led the probe into the companies’ practices, said in a statement. Continue reading

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In Show of ‘Breathtaking Cruelty,’ Trump White House Unveils Plan That Would Evict Tens of Thousands of Children From Public Housing

“Another despicable action by the Trump administration to disrupt communities and separate families.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-10-2019

The Maria Isabel Housing project, in the Bronx. Photo: Jim Henderson (public domain)

Using the federal agency that oversees public housing to wage its latest attack on immigrants, the Trump administration has proposed a rule that critics warn would result in tens of thousands of children being evicted from their homes.

Weeks after announcing it would tighten restrictions on undocumented immigrants who live in public housing, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) unveiled a proposal on Friday which would take away all housing aid from families with at least one member who is an undocumented immigrant. Continue reading

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Trump’s “Deal of the Century” Will Use Sanctions, Military Threats to Force Palestinian Acceptance

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By Whitney Webb. Published 5-8-2019 by MintPress News

President Donald J. Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel at the United Nations General Assembly. Photo: White House

The Israeli newspaper Israel Hayom, owned by top Trump donor Sheldon Adelson, has published in Hebrew a leaked draft of the Trump administration’s “Deal of the Century” for the Israel-Palestine conflict. The draft was given to the newspaper by an official from Israel’s Foreign Ministry, which is currently headed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The plan, which has been drafted by President Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt, is expected to be released this June after the conclusion of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, according to Mondoweiss.

The draft plan published by Israel Hayom, while in keeping with many of the details that have been leaked to the press in past weeks and months, contains several new and troubling claims, including the Trump administration’s plan to force Palestinian leadership to accept the plan through threats of economic strangulation and military force. Continue reading

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