Category Archives: Civil Rights

‘Good First Step’ as DeVos Forced to Cancel $150M in Student Loan Debt for Thousands Scammed by For-Profit Schools


“It’s disappointing that it took a court order to get Secretary DeVos to begin providing debt relief to students left in the lurch by predatory for-profit colleges.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 12-14-2018

Photo: CNN screenshot

After a federal judge struck down billionaire Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ attempt to gut protections for students scammed by for-profit colleges, the Department of Education announced on Thursday that—because of the court mandate—it is canceling $150 million in student loan debt for around 15,000 defrauded borrowers.

“The Department of Education illegally delayed implementation of the 2016 borrower defense rule, but because our clients in Bauer v. DeVos were willing to fight back, 15,000 students are finally getting the relief they are owed,” said Toby Merrill, director of the Project on Predatory Student Lending, which represented the students leading the legal fight against DeVos. Continue reading

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‘For Taking Great Risks in Pursuit of Greater Truths,’ Journalists Under Attack Named TIME Magazine’s Person of the Year

“They are representative of a broader fight by countless others around the world…who risk all to tell the story of our time.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 12-11-2018

Jamal Khashoggi and some of the Capital Gazette staff were included in TIME magazine’s Person of the Year issue, which honored journalists who have been killed, imprisoned, and attacked in the past year. (Photo: TIME Magazine)

Capping off a year marked by accusations of “fake news,” hurled at journalists by President Donald Trump and other global threats to press freedom, TIME magazine selected as Person of the Year journalists who have spent the past year fighting increased hostility toward their work—including those who lost their lives as a result of their reporting.

Calling journalists under attack “guardians” of the truth, the  magazine announced the selected Tuesday as it prepared to release four covers of the yearly issue. Continue reading

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‘We Gonna Rise Up, Rise Up ‘Til It’s Won!’: 140+ Arrested at Pelosi and Hoyer Offices as Youth-Led Protests Demand Green New Deal on Capitol Hill

More than 1,000 young Americans joined the youth-led group’s demonstration on Capitol Hill

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 12-10-2018

More than 1,000 young protesters lined the halls of Congress and lobbied at congressional offices on Monday to demand that their elected representatives back the Green New Deal. (Photo: @skenigsberg/Twitter)

Before presumptive House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) even appeared at her office to hear from young Americans who had traveled from all over the country to urge her to back a Green New Deal, Capitol police arrived Monday and arrested more than 60 of the protesters. As of this writing, at least 143 demonstrators had been arrested as they lobbied in 50 congressional offices.

More than 1,000 young people and allies flooded the Capitol Hill hallways and offices of Democratic representatives to demand that elected officials listen to their youngest constituents—as well as some of the world’s top scientists—and back the bold proposal to shift the U.S. to a zero-carbon energy system by 2050 in order to save the planet from an irreversible climate catastrophe. Thanks to efforts spearheaded by the youth-led Sunrise Movement, the number of Democratic lawmakers now supporting a Select Committee on a Green New deal has now swelled to 23. Continue reading

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More Than a Thousand Arrested as Yellow Vests Protests Over Economic Frustration Rage on Across France

“The Gilets Jaunes that you see in the streets,” said one organizer, “they’re being bled dry financially. The wealth gap is getting wider, and we’ve reached a point where there are the very rich and the very poor.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 12-9-2018

Some 1,220 people were arrested in France on Saturday as more than a hundred thousand took to the streets—leading to a lockdown and armored vehicles pouring into Paris—as part of the “Yellow Vests” or “Gilets Jaunes” movement that initially came as a response to French President Emmanuel Macron’s attempt to raise taxes on gasoline and diesel, which critics warn would primarily impact the working- and middle-class.

The movement’s name comes from many supporters wearing the yellow high-visibility vests that all drivers in France are required to keep in their vehicles. Although Macron’s centrist administration announced last week that it was suspending fuel and electricity hikes for six months, outrage over growing inequality across the country has continued to produce massive protests. Continue reading

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In Another Blow to Keystone XL, Judge Rules TransCanada Can’t Conduct Pre-Construction Work

Indigenous and environmental groups as well as locals landowners celebrated the court victory, denouncing the proposed tar sands pipeline as “reckless and risky.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 12-8-2018

Opponents of the Keystone XL pipeline have succeeded in blocking construction on the tar sands project for the past decade. (Photo: Elvert Barnes/Flickr/cc)

Opponents of TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline—from indigenous and environmental groups to local farmers and ranchers—celebrated a win in court after a federal judge ruled on Friday that the fossil fuel giant cannot conduct pre-construction work on the pipeline until the full environmental review ordered last month is complete.

“Somehow TransCanada still hasn’t gotten the message that Keystone XL is a lost cause,” observed Sierra Club senior attorney Doug Hayes. “We’ve held off construction of this dirty tar sands pipeline for a decade because it would be a bad deal for the American people, and [Friday’s] ruling is yet another reminder that it will never be built.” Continue reading

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In ‘Craven’ Bait-and-Switch Attack on Workers, Michigan GOP Guts Minimum Wage and Sick Leave Proposals

“Imagine hating working-class people this much.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 12-5-2018

Michigan voters—joined by a “lame duck”—gathered to watch in Michigan’s capital as Republican lawmakers gutted a minimum wage hike and paid sick leave protections. (Photo: @LindsayVanHulle/Twitter)

Three months after ensuring that Michigan voters would not have a say in proposals to hike the state’s minimum wage and provide sick leave to workers, the state’s Republican-led Senate pushed through major changes to the initiatives on Tuesday, effectively gutting legislation that hundreds of thousands of Michigan residents had demanded.

Under the original minimum wage proposal, the state’s minimum wage would have gone up from $9.25 to $12 per hour by 2022—but workers will have to wait until 2030 under the GOP’s version of the bill. Tipped workers’s wages will go up to only $4 from $3.52 per hour by that time under the Republican proposal. Continue reading

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Emergency Protests Planned to Stop Scott Walker and Wisconsin GOP’s “Shocking and Naked Power Grab”

“This is straight out of a banana republic and should be a huge national story.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 12-3-2018

“Warning to our friends across the country: what happens in Wisconsin doesn’t stay in Wisconsin,” MoveOn.org Washington director Ben Wikler wrote. (Photo: Indivisible Madison)

As Wisconsin’s GOP-controlled legislature and outgoing Republican Gov. Scott Walker seek to thwart the will of voters by ramming through a sweeping slate of legislation that would drastically curtail Democratic governor-elect Tony Evers’ authority and ability to implement his agenda, progressive advocacy groups announced emergency rallies on Monday to fight back against the GOP’s latest “shocking and naked power grab.”

“This is straight out of a banana republic and should be a huge national story,” Mother Jones reporter Ari Berman said of the GOP plan, which would strip Evers’ power to approve decisions by the newly elected Democratic state attorney general and hand this authority over to the Republican legislature. Continue reading

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‘Shameful and Cowardly’: CNN Fires Marc Lamont Hill for Daring to Denounce Oppression of Palestinians

The firing of the cable news contributing analyst called “a major defeat for the right to advocate for Palestinian rights, to freely critique the Israeli government, and for the ability of journalism and public discourse in the U.S. generally to accommodate dissent.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 11-30-2018

“I support Palestinian freedom. I support Palestinian self-determination. I am deeply critical of Israeli policy and practice,” Hill wrote in a series of tweets after he was fired by CNN. (Photo: CNN/Screengrab)

In a move decried by critics as blatant suppression of dissent and an attack on all who advocate for the rights and dignity of the Palestinian people, CNN on Thursday fired contributor Marc Lamont Hill for daring to denounce the oppression of Palestinians and endorse “a single secular democratic state for everyone” over the failed two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict.

CNN terminated Hill just 24 hours after he delivered a speech at a meeting of the U.N.’s Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People in New York, in which he expressed support for Palestinians’ resistance against brutal Israeli occupation, denounced Israel for actively depriving Palestinians of basic human rights, and called for a “free Palestine from the river to the sea.” Continue reading

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Media Mum as Congress Readies Largest Foreign Military Aid Package in US History

The “aid” package gives $38 billion to Israel over the next ten years, which amounts to $7,230 per minute, or $120 per second, and equals about $23,000 for each Jewish Israeli family of four.

By Alison Weir. Published 11-29-2018 by MintPress News

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

In an astounding case of media negligence, U.S. news media are failing to tell Americans that Congress is about to enact legislation for the largest military aid package to a foreign country in U.S. history.

This aid package would likely be of interest to Americans, many of whom are cutting back their own personal spending.

The package gives $38 billion to Israel over the next ten years, which amounts to $7,230 per minute to Israel, or $120 per second, and equals about $23,000 for each Jewish Israeli family of four. A stack of 38 billion one-dollar bills would reach ten times higher than the International Space Station as it orbits the earth. Continue reading

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‘The Whole Internet Is Watching’: As Deadline Nears, Day of Action Takes Aim at House Members Still Standing Against Net Neutrality

“Will you vote to restore net neutrality and help save the free and open internet? Or will you go down in history as one of the politicians who helped hasten its death?”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 11-29-2018

“We have an opportunity to show the entire world which elected officials are willing to fight for net neutrality, and which ones decide to sit on their hands and let big telecom companies take control,” Fight for the Future deputy director Evan Greer declared in a statement. (Photo: Fight for the Future)

With the Dec. 10 deadline for the House of Representatives to reverse the FCC’s deeply unpopular repeal of net neutrality rapidly approaching, a coalition of websites, prominent celebrity activists, and advocacy groups representing millions of Americans are participating in an internet-wide day of action on Thursday to pressure members of Congress to back the legislative effort to restore net neutrality protections before it’s too late.

During the day of action and in the week leading up to the final deadline, advocacy groups are urging supporters of the free internet to flood the phone lines of their representatives and sign on to their open letter to Congress demanding that they act to save net neutrality. Continue reading

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