Tag Archives: workers’ issues

‘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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‘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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With Power to Kneecap Bold Demand, Incoming Democratic Tax Committee Chair Says Medicare for All ‘Not Realistic’

“Two decades of generous donations apparently gets you a powerful congressman willing to throw up roadblocks in front of universal healthcare.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 12-6-2018

Ranking member of the House Ways and Means Committee Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.) speaks during a news conference on Republican plans to end the state and local tax deduction, on Capitol Hill, October 12, 2017 in Washington, D.C. Photo: C-SPAN screenshot

As progressive House Democrats strategize and push for a vote on Medicare for All legislation as soon as possible, surging congressional and grassroots momentum for single-payer could soon run into a serious obstacle in the form of incoming Ways and Means Committee chair Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.), who has denounced Medicare for All as “not realistic” and will soon be in a position to tank healthcare plans that are unacceptable to his insurance industry donors.

“Neal will have near total control over what tax-related policies come to the House floor, including legislation that would create a Medicare for All healthcare system,” noted investigative reporter Eoin Higgins in a piece for Sludge on Wednesday. “Having Neal at the helm of the committee, rather than a more progressive member, makes it much less likely that the House of Representatives will vote on universal healthcare measures.” 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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Wildfire smoke is becoming a nationwide health threat

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An image from the International Space Station captures plumes of smoke from California wildfires on August 4, 2018. NASA

Richard E. Peltier, University of Massachusetts Amherst

The impacts of recent forest fires in California reach well beyond the burned areas. Smoke from the Camp Fire created hazardous air quality conditions in San Francisco, more than 170 miles to the southwest – but it didn’t stop there. Cross-country winds carried it across the United States, creating hazy conditions in locations as far east as Philadelphia.

As an air pollution exposure scientist, I worry about the extreme levels of air pollution that rise from these fires and affect many people across great distances. They can create unhealthy conditions in far-flung locations where residents probably never think about wildfires. But since major wildfires are becoming increasingly common, I believe it is important for all Americans to know some basics about smoke hazards. Continue reading

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Hospital Letter Urging Patient to Start ‘Fundraising Effort’ to Pay for Heart Treatment Seen as Yet Another Reason America Needs Medicare for All

“‘You can’t have a heart unless you do GoFundMe for 10K’ is not a just system.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 11-24-2018

Photo: USAF

As progressive lawmakers and healthcare experts have frequently pointed out in recent months, few growing trends have laid bare the fundamental immorality and brokenness of America’s healthcare system quite like the rise of GoFundMe and other crowdfunding platforms as methods of raising money for life-saving medical treatments that—due to insurance industry greed and dysfunction—are far too expensive for anyone but the very wealthiest to afford.

Providing the latest example of this horrifying trend, a Michigan woman seeking a heart transplant publicized a letter she received from the Spectrum Health Richard DeVos Heart and Lung Transplant Clinic—named after the late father-in-law of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos—informing her that she is “not a candidate” for the procedure “at this time” because she needs a “more secure financial plan” to afford the required post-operation immunosuppressive medication. Continue reading

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Here’s the Dire Climate Report the Trump White House Didn’t Want You to See

“The decision to release this damning report when families are beginning to celebrate the holidays and newsrooms are short-staffed is a brazen attempt to bury the truth.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 11-23-2018

The Carr Fire burned in Shasta and Trinity counties during the summer of 2018. Photo: BLM/flickr

In a move environmentalists and journalists denounced as a blatant effort to bury facts that conflict with the president’s denialism and pro-fossil fuel agenda, the Trump administration used the Friday after Thanksgiving to quietly release Volume II of the Fourth National Climate Assessment (NCA4), which warned “Earth’s climate is now changing faster than at any point in the history of modern civilization” and concluded that “greenhouse gas emissions from human activities are the only factors that can account” for planet-threatening warming.

“The decision to release this damning report when families are beginning to celebrate the holidays and newsrooms are short-staffed is a brazen attempt to bury the truth from the public that we must act now to move off fossil fuels and stabilize the climate,” Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch, said in a statement. Continue reading

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Warnings of ‘Destructive and Irreversible Impacts’ as Greenhouse Gases Hit Highest Levels in 3-5 Million Years

“The science is clear,” says the head of the World Meteorological Organization. “The window of opportunity for action is almost closed.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 11-22-2018

Atmospheric concentrations of planet-warming gases have hit record highs, according to a leading U.N. climate agency. (Photo: Tony Webster/Flickr/cc)

As communities most impacted by the climate crisis ramp up demands for urgent global action, atmospheric concentrations of the top three greenhouse gases driving global warming have hit record high levels, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) out Thursday.”

Last year, as the latest WMO Greenhouse Gas Bulletin (pdf) details, average concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide all rose—with CO2 hitting 405.5 parts per million (ppm), its highest level in a few million years.

The report also noted that there was a “resurgence of a potent greenhouse gas and ozone-depleting substance”—called trichlorofluoromethane, or CFC-11—likely tied to “increased emissions associated with production of CFC-11 in eastern Asia.” Continue reading

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