Category: Americas

  • Human Rights Watch says ill-treatment of some minors arbitrarily held in gang crackdown amounts to torture

    About 3,000 children – including some as young as 12 – have been swept up in El Salvador’s mass detentions since President Nayib Bukele began his crackdown on gangs two years ago, according to a new report from Human Rights Watch (HRW).

    The report, which draws on case files and almost 100 interviews with victims, police and officials, documents the arbitrary detention of children and ill-treatment that in some cases amounted to torture.

    Continue reading…

    This post was originally published on Human rights | The Guardian.

  • Comprehensive coverage of the day’s news with a focus on war and peace; social, environmental and economic justice.

    ap NATO

    The post President Joe Biden welcomed NATO leaders to Washington, celebrating the transatlantic alliance’s stout unity against Russia’s Ukraine aggression and America’s commitment to the alliance – July 9, 2024 appeared first on KPFA.


    This content originally appeared on KPFA – The Pacifica Evening News, Weekdays and was authored by KPFA.

    This post was originally published on Radio Free.


  • This content originally appeared on The Real News Network and was authored by The Real News Network.

    This post was originally published on Radio Free.


  • This content originally appeared on The Real News Network and was authored by The Real News Network.

    This post was originally published on Radio Free.

  • Landmark verdict against Chiquita marks first time major US company held liable for funding human rights abuses abroad

    A Florida court has ordered Chiquita Brands International to pay $38m to the families of eight Colombian men murdered by a paramilitary death squad, after the American banana giant was shown to have financed the terrorist organisation from 1997-2004.

    The landmark ruling late on Monday came after 17 years of legal efforts and is the first time that the fruit multinational has paid out compensation to Colombian victims, opening the way for thousands of others to seek restitution.

    Continue reading…

    This post was originally published on Human rights | The Guardian.


  • This content originally appeared on The Intercept and was authored by The Intercept.

    This post was originally published on Radio Free.


  • This content originally appeared on Democracy Now! and was authored by Democracy Now!.

    This post was originally published on Radio Free.


  • This content originally appeared on Democracy Now! and was authored by Democracy Now!.

    This post was originally published on Radio Free.


  • This content originally appeared on Democracy Now! and was authored by Democracy Now!.

    This post was originally published on Radio Free.

  • Seg3 guestandbook

    We speak with journalist and author Ari Berman about his new book, Minority Rule, which details how the United States has since its founding privileged the rights and interests of a small elite over the needs of the majority. He outlines how, for the first time in U.S. history, five of six conservative justices on the Supreme Court were appointed by Republican presidents who lost the popular vote, and confirmed by senators elected by a minority of Americans. Berman says the court’s makeup is the product of two skewed institutions: how we elect our presidents through the Electoral College and how we appoint U.S. senators — both of which are flawed because they violate one person, one vote, violating the principle of equal representation, and empowering white, rural, conservative and wealthy citizens at the expense of more diverse and progressive parts of the country. “Our institutions are so antiquated, so undemocratic, that we need fundamental reform to change them, to democratize them,” Berman says.


    This content originally appeared on Democracy Now! and was authored by Democracy Now!.

    This post was originally published on Radio Free.


  • This content originally appeared on The Real News Network and was authored by The Real News Network.

    This post was originally published on Radio Free.

  • Historic hearing will receive submissions from people whose human rights have been affected by climate change

    Julian Medina comes from a long line of fishers in the north of Colombia’s Gulf of Morrosquillo who use small-scale and often traditional methods to catch species such as mackerel, tuna and cojinúa.

    Medina went into business as a young man but was drawn back to his roots, and ended up leading a fishing organisation. For years he has campaigned against the encroachment of fossil fuel companies, pollution and overfishing, which are destroying the gulf’s delicate ecosystem and people’s livelihoods.

    Continue reading…

    This post was originally published on Human rights | The Guardian.

  • China is funding the United States’ fentanyl crisis by using tax rebates to subsidize the manufacture and export of raw materials for the drug, a U.S. congressional report found.

    The U.S. House of Representatives Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party report on Tuesday pointed to China as “the ultimate geographic source of the fentanyl crisis,” where Chinese companies “produce nearly all of illicit fentanyl precursors, the key ingredients that drive the global illicit fentanyl trade.”

    The CCP also holds interests in several of the Chinese companies, the report added.

    The accusation comes as both countries have pledged to co-operate to fight the global trafficking of fentanyl. The U.S. also alleged that China, despite its vast control over the internet, has failed to regulate its online sales of the materials via e-commerce and social media.

    At present, fentanyl kills an average of more than 200 Americans every day, and more than 97% of fentanyl raw materials come from China. 

    “As long as China does not manufacture and export fentanyl and its raw materials, there will be no fentanyl crisis in the United States,” said former U.S. Attorney General William Barr at the congressional hearing.

    “Fentanyl is often distributed in the form of prescription drugs that make people think they are taking the painkiller Percocet, the anti-anxiety Xanax or the stimulant Adderall. These medications are immediately available on social media and online, and even if they are used as opioids, victims are unaware they may contain lethal doses of fentanyl,” Barr said.

    The report pointed out that since 2018, the value-added tax refund implemented by Beijing is equivalent to a subsidy, which has resulted in a significant increase in the export of fentanyl raw materials. These exports involved many state-owned enterprises, such as Gaosheng Biotechnology in Shanghai and Yafeng Biological Technology in Shijiazhuang, Hebei. 

    Earlier this year, the committee found that more than 30,000 Chinese companies were selling illegal drugs on seven e-commerce websites. In addition to guaranteeing consumers that the sales will not be inspected by customs, these Chinese companies also accept cryptocurrencies as payment.

    Ray Donovan, former operations chief at the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration said at Tuesday’s hearing that the findings “regarding Chinese chemical manufacturers, any intermediaries supported by the Chinese Communist Party, and the Chinese government are true, reliable and have conclusive evidence.” 

    He said Mexican transnational drug trafficking groups have always been U.S.’s key target. In the past decade or so, more and more laboratories there have used Chinese raw materials to synthesize drugs, and at the same time, an increased number of Chinese laboratories have emerged. 

    The leaders of the U.S. and China reached a consensus on combating fentanyl in November last year. But several former U.S. officials at Tuesday’s hearing said China has taken no effective action since then.

    David Luckey, a researcher at the RAND Corporation, a US think tank, pointed out that strengthening the review of sea and air containers and goods from China, as well as detecting related chemicals and drug advertisements on the Internet, can effectively disrupt the fentanyl supply chain.

    In this regard, former U.S. Attorney General Barr believes that facts have proven that the United States cannot count on the will or goodwill of the Chinese government. Therefore, the issue of fentanyl must also start from economic and trade policies and introduce punishment and accountability mechanisms.

    Translated by RFA Staff. Edited by Mike Firn.


    This content originally appeared on Radio Free Asia and was authored by By Qiao Qinen for RFA Mandarin.

    This post was originally published on Radio Free.


  • This content originally appeared on VICE News and was authored by VICE News.

    This post was originally published on Radio Free.

  • Western governments could once be confident of protecting their friends. Nicaragua’s case shows those days are gone

    The case brought by Nicaragua against Germany at the international court of justice (ICJ) in The Hague this week is a powerful example of the unprecedented political impact that the Gaza conflict is having around the world. Most obviously, Israel’s continuing assault after the 1,200 brutal murders and about 240 kidnappings by Hamas on 7 October has had a deadly impact on Palestinians. More than 30,000 people in Gaza have been killed, and a famine is now looming. The conflict has also opened up a division between the global north and south in a way not seen before.

    Nicaragua’s case focuses on Germany’s supply of arms to Israel – the country supplied more than €326m (£258m) last year, which equated to more than a quarter of Israel’s military imports. It also calls on Germany to restore Gaza funding to Unrwa, the UN agency that provides Palestinians with humanitarian aid. Nicaragua says the arms sales mean Germany is “facilitating” genocide. On Monday, it accused Germany of doing “business as usual – or better than usual” because of its burgeoning weapons sales.

    Continue reading…

    This post was originally published on Human rights | The Guardian.

  • Western governments could once be confident of protecting their friends. Nicaragua’s case shows those days are gone

    The case brought by Nicaragua against Germany at the international court of justice (ICJ) in The Hague this week is a powerful example of the unprecedented political impact that the Gaza conflict is having around the world. Most obviously, Israel’s continuing assault after the 1,200 brutal murders and about 240 kidnappings by Hamas on 7 October has had a deadly impact on Palestinians. More than 30,000 people in Gaza have been killed, and a famine is now looming. The conflict has also opened up a division between the global north and south in a way not seen before.

    Nicaragua’s case focuses on Germany’s supply of arms to Israel – the country supplied more than €326m (£258m) last year, which equated to more than a quarter of Israel’s military imports. It also calls on Germany to restore Gaza funding to Unrwa, the UN agency that provides Palestinians with humanitarian aid. Nicaragua says the arms sales mean Germany is “facilitating” genocide. On Monday, it accused Germany of doing “business as usual – or better than usual” because of its burgeoning weapons sales.

    Continue reading…

    This post was originally published on Human rights | The Guardian.

  • Eleven found guilty of crimes against humanity after trial that heard testimony on torture, rape and forced disappearances

    A court in Argentina has convicted 11 former military, police and government officials of crimes against humanity committed during the country’s last dictatorship in a sprawling trial that heard, for the first time, about atrocities suffered by trans women.

    The three-year case focused on the forced disappearances, torture, rapes and homicides that occurred at or were connected to three clandestine detention and torture centres located in police investigative units on the outskirts of Buenos Aires. They were known as the Banfield pit, the Quilmes pit and “El Infierno” – or “hell” – by the officials who worked there.

    Continue reading…

    This post was originally published on Human rights | The Guardian.


  • This content originally appeared on ProPublica and was authored by ProPublica.

    This post was originally published on Radio Free.


  • This content originally appeared on The Real News Network and was authored by The Real News Network.

    This post was originally published on Radio Free.

  • Salvatore Mancuso was taken into police custody and is expected to cooperate with investigation into war crimes in 1990s and 2000s

    A Colombian warlord found responsible for more than 1,500 murders and cases of forced disappearance has been returned to his native country after serving a drug-trafficking sentence in the United States and being denied several requests to be sent to Italy, where he also has citizenship.

    Salvatore Mancuso arrived in Bogotá’s El Dorado airport on a charter flight that also carried dozens of Colombians who had been deported from the US after illegally crossing the southern border. Mancuso was quickly taken into police custody, wearing a green helmet and a bulletproof vest.

    Continue reading…

    This post was originally published on Human rights | The Guardian.

  • Fears Maduro government is trying to shut down scrutiny after lawyer is arrested and UN human rights office shut down

    Human rights groups are calling for the Venezuelan government to halt a crackdown on civil society after it jailed a prominent lawyer and then banished a UN human rights office from Caracas for criticising her arrest.

    The arrest of the 57-year-old lawyer and military expert Rocío San Miguel has shocked observers, who say Venezuela is entering a darker phase of state oppression intended to crush government opposition in the lead-up to elections expected later this year.

    Continue reading…

    This post was originally published on Human rights | The Guardian.

  • Foreign minister claims local office of UN high commissioner for human rights supported impunity for coup plotters

    Venezuela’s government has ordered the local UN office on human rights to suspend operations, giving its staff 72 hours to leave, after accusing the office of promoting opposition to the South American country.

    The foreign affairs minister, Yván Gil, announced the decision at a news conference in Caracas on Thursday. Gil’s announcement came on the heels of the detention of the human rights attorney Rocío San Miguel, which set off a wave of criticism inside and outside Venezuela.

    Continue reading…

    This post was originally published on Human rights | The Guardian.

  • China’s economy may never surpass the size of America’s, with long-running predictions of a flip at the top of the world pecking order repeatedly pushed back, a White House official said Tuesday.

    With “the strongest post-pandemic recovery and among the lowest inflation of any leading economy in the world,” the United States has been “showing its capacity for resilience and reinvention” while China struggles, U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said.

    The comments came days after a Hong Kong court ordered the liquidation of Chinese real estate giant Evergrande – which still owes more than US$300 billion to investors – and amid broader problems, with official youth unemployment figures recently as high as 20%.

    Speaking at a Council on Foreign Relations event in Washington on the future of U.S.-China relations, Sullivan said he rejected the notion that “the East was rising and the West was falling” and that China’s annual gross domestic product was destined to overtake America’s.

    ENG_CHN_JakeSullivan_01312024.2.jpg

    “For years, economists were predicting that the PRC would overtake the United States in GDP, either in this decade or the next,” Sullivan noted, using an acronym for the People’s Republic of China. 

    “Now those projections are moving further and further out,” he said. It was becoming possible that “that moment may never come,” he added, with the Chinese economy facing “its own set of challenges.”

    U.S. annual GDP currently stands at approximately $28 trillion, compared with China’s roughly $18.5 trillion, according to International Monetary Fund figures. America’s economy last year also grew at a rate of about 6.3% in nominal terms – that is, not accounting for inflation – which unexpectedly outpaced China’s growth of 4.6%.

    However, China’s economy has grown at a far greater rate than the U.S. economy over the past 35 years: In 1990, China’s economy was less than 10% of the size of America’s, according to the IMF.

    ‘An armchair analyst’

    Despite his comments, Sullivan said he did not want to “get myself in trouble” or “make news” by hamfistedly evaluating China’s economy, noting that many experts differed markedly in their analyses.

    “I just don’t see a huge amount of upside in the U.S. national security adviser kind of holding forth as an armchair analyst on China’s economy,” he said. 

    He said he just wanted to reject “the conventional wisdom about relative trajectories of the U.S. and the PRC.”

    The idea that China could only rise and that the United States was destined to recede had been “openly proclaimed” in Beijing until recently, Sullivan explained, but President Joe Biden had long stressed this was not a fundamental characteristic of ties.

    “The president didn’t accept that, I didn’t accept that and our team did not,” he said. “We continue to push back against this idea.”

    The U.S. national security adviser also defended a slew of policies intended to shore-up national security by reducing America’s trade reliance on China and by subsidizing key industries such as microchip manufacturing, which Beijing has said is economically damaging.

    Sullivan said he discussed that with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Bangkok last week, with both sides offering views about where “the boundary between economics and national security” should lie.

    But he acknowledged they did not have “completely converging perspectives” on the issue, or even who was most at fault.

    “For a very long time, the PRC has taken measures on explicit grounds of national security that have had an adverse impact on American workers, American businesses, and the American economy,” he said. “So this cannot be a one-way street of a conversation.”

    Edited by Malcolm Foster.


    This content originally appeared on Radio Free Asia and was authored by By Alex Willemyns for RFA.

    This post was originally published on Radio Free.

  • Human Rights Watch’s annual report highlights politicians’ double standards and ‘transactional diplomacy’ amid escalating crises

    Human rights across the world are in a parlous state as leaders shun their obligations to uphold international law, according to the annual report of Human Rights Watch (HRW).

    In its 2024 world report, HRW warns grimly of escalating human rights crises around the globe, with wartime atrocities increasing, suppression of human rights defenders on the rise, and universal human rights principles and laws being attacked and undermined by governments.

    Continue reading…

    This post was originally published on Human rights | The Guardian.

  • Lt Col Carlos Luis Malatto fled Argentina in 2011 and will be tried in Rome for premeditated killing of eight people in last military dictatorship

    A judge in Rome has ordered Lt Col Carlos Luis Malatto, a former Argentine army officer accused of murder and forced disappearances during Argentina’s 1976-83 military dictatorship, to stand trial in Italy for the premeditated killing of eight people.

    The former military officer is accused of crimes against humanity in Argentina, but he fled the country in 2011 and had been living in a tourist village in the province of Messina, Sicily. In a letter to the court of appeal in the Argentine state of Mendoza, Argentine prosecutors alleged that Malatto “actively participated in various detention procedures and is one of the most infamous perpetrators” of the dictatorship “for his participation in interrogations under torture”.

    Continue reading…

    This post was originally published on Human rights | The Guardian.

  • Héctor Oesterheld and his family were murdered under the military dictatorship. As Netflix adapts his beloved El Eternauta, his literary legacy is dragged into the culture wars

    The story tells of a masked figure who joins an isolated band to mount a seemingly hopeless resistance against sinister forces which have seized control of planet Earth.

    The eponymous hero of Héctor Oesterheld’s comic serial El Eternauta – the traveller through eternity – fights in a world where humans have been turned against each other, and grapples with his own doubts that individuals can make any difference in the face of inhuman horrors.

    Continue reading…

    This post was originally published on Human rights | The Guardian.

  • Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada and former defence minister agree to pay for 2003 violence in which 60 protesters were killed

    A former Bolivian president and his defence minister have agreed to pay damages to the families of people killed by the military during their government, in a landmark settlement that sets a precedent by which other foreign leaders could face accountability for human rights abuse in US courts.

    The settlement concerns events in 2003, when massive protests broke out over then president Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada’s plan to export Bolivia’s natural gas. The army was sent to clear blockades in the largely Indigenous and working-class city of El Alto, killing more than 60 protesters and injuring hundreds.

    Continue reading…

    This post was originally published on Human rights | The Guardian.

  • “Just as in the 1930s,” Shawn Fain reminded his fellow auto workers, “we’re living in a time of stunning inequality throughout our society.” Back then, in those 1930s, UAW members began a generation-long struggle that put a significant dent in that “stunning inequality.” By the early 1960s, auto worker struggles and sacrifices had helped give birth — in the United States — to a mass middle class. A majority of a major nation’s households, after paying for life’s most basic necessities, actually had money left over. More

    The post America’s Auto Workers: On Strike Against Inequality. Again. appeared first on CounterPunch.org.

    This content originally appeared on CounterPunch.org and was authored by Sam Pizzigati.

  • Image Source: DonkeyHotey – CC BY 2.0

    Six Republicans on the Supreme Court just killed President Biden’s student loan debt forgiveness program.

    Republicans, predictably, are giddy, celebrating another Supreme Court victory in which, on behalf of their neofascist billionaire owners, they’re again “owning the libs.”

    They’re ecstatic that poor and working class people — particularly Black women who, as ABC News noted, “hold nearly two-thirds of the nearly $2 trillion outstanding student debt in the U.S.” — will find it ever harder to climb into the middle class, which increasingly requires a college degree.

    When you search on the phrase “student debt forgiveness” one of the top hits that comes up is a Fox “News” article by a woman who paid off her loans in full.

    “There are millions of Americans like me,” the author writes, “for whom debt forgiveness is an infuriating slap in the face after years of hard work and sacrifice. Those used to be qualities we encouraged as an American culture, and if Biden gets his way, we’ll be sending a very different message to the next generation.”

    This is, to be charitable, bullsh*t.

    Forgiving student debt is not a slap at anybody; it’s righting a moral wrong inflicted on millions of Americans by Ronald Reagan and his morbidly rich Republican buddies.

    Student debt is evil.

    It’s a crime against our nation, hobbling opportunity and weakening our intellectual infrastructure. It maintains and in many cases rigidifies the racial and class caste systems today’s Americans inherited from our eras of slavery and indenture.

    Combine this decision with the six Republicans on the Court ending affirmative action and legalizing discrimination this term and it’s clear this is exactly what the rightwing billionaires who put them on the Court and support their lavish vacations and lifestyles want.

    Many, if not most, of the people in today’s billionaire class have supported — and fought for — such a caste system since the founding of America, and in every other country around the world, since time immemorial. It’s literally the history of western civilization from ancient Greece and Rome, the stories of kings and conquistadors, and the “Robber Barons” of America’s gilded age.

    They really don’t care about improving the lives of everyday Americans; their philosophy is, “I got mine; screw you.” Educated themselves, they’ve always worked to “pull up the ladder” behind them and thus maintain their elite status.

    As history shows, this harms countries in real and measurable ways.

    Every nation’s single biggest long-term asset is a well-educated populace, and student debt diminishes that.

    Every other advanced democracy on the planet understands this.

    That’s why student debt at the scale we have in America literally does not exist anywhere else in the rest of the developed world.

    American students, in fact, are going to college for free right now in Germany, Iceland, France, Norway, Finland, Sweden, Slovenia, and the Czech Republic, because pretty much anybody can go to college for free in those countries and dozens of others.

    “Student debt?” The rest of the developed world doesn’t know what you’re talking about.

    Student debt also largely didn’t exist in modern America before the Reagan Revolution. It was created by Republicans here in the 1980s — intentionally — and if we can overcome Republican opposition we can intentionally end it here and join the rest of the world in once again benefiting from an educated populace.

    Forty years on from the Reagan Revolution, student debt has crippled three generations of young Americans: over 44 million people carry the burden, totaling a $2+ trillion drag on our economy that benefits nobody except the banks earning interest on the debt and the politicians they pay off.

    But that doesn’t begin to describe the damage student debt has done to America since Reagan, in his first year as governor of California, ended free tuition at the University of California and cut state aid to that college system by 20 percent across-the-board.

    After having destroyed low income Californians’ ability to get a college education in the 1970s, Reagan then took his anti-education program national as president in 1981.

    When asked why he’d taken a meat-axe to higher education and was pricing college out of the reach of most Americans, he said, much like Ron DeSantis might today, that college students were “too liberal” and America “should not subsidize intellectual curiosity.”

    It was the 1980s version of today’s “war on woke.”

    On May 1, 1970, Governor Reagan announced that students protesting the Vietnam war across America were “brats,” “freaks” and “cowardly fascists,” adding, as The New York Times noted at the time:

    “If it takes a bloodbath, let’s get it over with. No more appeasement!”

    Four days later four were dead at Kent State, having been murdered by national guard riflemen using live ammunition against anti-war protesters.

    Before Reagan became president, states paid 65 percent of the costs of colleges, and federal aid covered another 15 or so percent, leaving students to cover the remaining 20 percent with their tuition payments.

    It’s why when I briefly attended college in the late 1960s — before Reagan — I could pay my tuition working a weekend job as a DJ at a local radio station and washing dishes at Bob’s Big Boy restaurant on Trowbridge Road in East Lansing.

    That’s how it works — at a minimum — in most developed nations, although in many northern European countries college is not only free, but the government pays students a stipend to cover books and rent.

    Here in America, though, the numbers are pretty much reversed from pre-1980 as a result of Reaganommics, with students now covering about 80 percent of the costs. Thus the need for student loans here in the USA.

    As soon as he became president, Reagan went after federal aid to students with a fanatic fervor.  Devin Fergus documented for The Washington Post how, as a result, student debt first became a thing across the United States during the early ‘80s:

    “No federal program suffered deeper cuts than student aid. Spending on higher education was slashed by some 25 percent between 1980 and 1985. … Students eligible for grant assistance freshmen year had to take out student loans to cover their second year.”

    It became a mantra for conservatives, particularly in Reagan’s cabinet. Let the kids pay for their own damn “liberal” educations.

    Reagan’s college educated Director of the Office of Management and Budget, David Stockman, told a reporter in 1981:

    “I don’t accept the notion that the federal government has an obligation to fund generous grants to anybody who wants to go to college.  It seems to me that if people want to go to college bad enough then there is opportunity and responsibility on their part to finance their way through the best way they can. … I would suggest that we could probably cut it a lot more.”

    After all, cutting taxes for the morbidly rich was Reagan’s first and main priority, a position the GOP holds to this day. Cutting education could “reduce the cost of government” and thus justify more tax cuts.

    Reagan’s first Education Secretary, Terrel Bell, wrote in his memoir:

    “Stockman and all the true believers identified all the drag and drain on the economy with the ‘tax-eaters’: people on welfare, those drawing unemployment insurance, students on loans and grants, the elderly bleeding the public purse with Medicare, the poor exploiting Medicaid.”

    Reagan’s next Education Secretary, William Bennett, was even more blunt about how America should deal with the “problem” of uneducated people who can’t afford college, particularly if they were African American:

    “I do know that it’s true that if you wanted to reduce crime,” Bennett famously said, “you could — if that were your sole purpose, you could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down.”

    These doctrines became an article of faith across the GOP and remain so to this day, as we saw last week with the Republicans on the Supreme Court ending affirmative action.

    Reagan’s OMB Director David Stockman told Congress that students were “tax eaters … [and] a drain and drag on the American economy.” Student aid, he said, “isn’t a proper obligation of the taxpayer.”

    This was where, when, and how today’s student debt crisis was kicked off in 1981.

    Before Reagan, though, America had a different perspective.

    Both my father and my wife Louise’s father served in the military during World War II and both went to college on the GI Bill.  My dad dropped out after two years and went to work in a steel plant because mom got pregnant with me; Louise’s dad, who’d grown up dirt poor, went all the way for his law degree and ended up as Assistant Attorney General for the State of Michigan.

    They were two among almost 8 million young men and women who not only got free tuition from the 1944 GI Bill but also received a stipend to pay for room, board, and books.  And the result — the return on our government’s investment in those 8 million educations — was substantial.

    The best book on that time and subject is Edward Humes’ Over Here: How the GI Bill Transformed the American Dream, summarized by Mary Paulsell for the Columbia Daily Tribune:

    “[That] groundbreaking legislation gave our nation 14 Nobel Prize winners, three Supreme Court justices, three presidents, 12 senators, 24 Pulitzer Prize winners, 238,000 teachers, 91,000 scientists, 67,000 doctors, 450,000 engineers, 240,000 accountants, 17,000 journalists, 22,000 dentists and millions of lawyers, nurses, artists, actors, writers, pilots and entrepreneurs.”

    Free education literally built America’s middle class.

    When people have an education, they not only raise the competence and vitality of a nation; they also earn more money, which stimulates the economy.  Because they earn more, they pay more in taxes, which helps pay back the government for the cost of that education.

    In 1952 dollars, the GI Bill’s educational benefit cost the nation $7 billion.  The increased economic output over the next 40 years that could be traced directly to that educational cost was $35.6 billion, and the extra taxes received from those higher-wage-earners was $12.8 billion.

    In other words, the US government invested $7 billion and got a $48.4 billion return on that investment, about a $7 return for every $1 invested.

    In addition, that educated workforce made it possible for America to lead the world in innovation, R&D, and new business development for three generations.

    We invented the transistor, the integrated circuit, the internet, new generations of miracle drugs, sent men to the moon and reshaped science.

    Presidents Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln knew this simple concept that seems so hard for Reagan and generations of Republicans since to understand: when you invest in young people, you’re investing in your nation.

    Jefferson founded the University of Virginia as a 100% tuition-free school; it was one of his three proudest achievements, ranking higher on the epitaph he wrote for his own tombstone than his having been both president and vice president.

    Lincoln was equally proud of the free and low-tuition colleges he started. As the state of North Dakota notes:

    “Lincoln signed the Morrill Act on July 2, 1862, giving each state a minimum of 90,000 acres of land to sell, to establish colleges of engineering, agriculture, and military science. … Proceeds from the sale of these lands were to be invested in a perpetual endowment fund which would provide support for colleges of agriculture and mechanical arts in each of the states.”

    Fully 76 free or very-low-tuition state colleges were started because of Lincoln’s effort and since have educated millions of Americans including my mom, who graduated from land-grant Michigan State University in the 1940s, having easily paid her minimal tuition working as a summer lifeguard in her home town of Charlevoix, Michigan.

    Every other developed country in the world knows this, too: student debt is rare or even nonexistent in most western democracies. Not only is college free or close to free around much of the developed world; many countries even offer a stipend for monthly expenses like our GI Bill did back in the day.

    As mentioned earlier, thousands of American students are currently studying in Germany at the moment for free. Hundreds of thousands of American students are also getting free college educations right now in Iceland, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Sweden, Slovenia, and the Czech Republic, among others.

    Republican policies of starving education and cranking up student debt have made US banks a lot of money, but they’ve cut America’s scientific leadership in the world and, since the institution of trickle-down Reaganomics, stopped three generations of young people from starting businesses, having families, and buying homes.

    The damage to working class and poor Americans, both economic and human, is devastating. Even worse for America, it’s a double challenge for minorities.

    And now the Supreme Court has essentially told our young people who weren’t members of the “Lucky Sperm Club” with wealthy or legacy parents that they’re simply out of luck. And, as noted, the GOP is celebrating.

    Which raises the question: how gullible do these Republicans think their voters are?

    Marjorie Taylor Greene wrote on Twitter that student loan forgiveness was “completely unfair.” She’s the same Republican congresswoman who had $183,504 in PPP loans forgiven, and happily banked that government money without a complaint.

    Republican members of Congress, in fact, seem to be among those in the front of the debt-forgiveness line with their hands out, even as billionaires bankroll their campaigns and backstop their lifestyles.

    As the Center for American Progress noted on Twitter in response to a GOP tweet whining that, “If you take out a loan, you pay it back”:

    Member —— Amount in PPP Loans Forgiven
    Matt Gaetz (R-FL) – $476,000
    Greg Pence (R-IN) – $79,441
    Vern Buchanan (R-FL) – $2,800,000
    Kevin Hern (R-OK) – $1,070,000
    Roger Williams (R-TX) – $1,430,000
    Brett Guthrie (R-KY) – $4,300,000
    Ralph Norman (R-SC) $306,250
    Ralph Abraham (R-AL) – $38,000
    Mike Kelly (R-PA) – $974,100
    Vicki Hartzler (R-MO) – $451,200
    Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) – $988,700
    Carol Miller (R-WV) – $3,100,000

    Every single one of these Republican members of Congress has echoed Greene’s criticism of student debt relief or supported efforts to block it. Every one eagerly welcomed forgiveness of their Covid-era debts.

    So, yeah, Republicans are complete hypocrites about forgiving loan debt, in addition to pushing policies that actually hurt our nation (not to mention the generations coming up).

    Ten thousand dollars in student debt forgiveness would have been a start, but if we really want America to soar, we need to go away beyond that.

    Just like for-profit health insurance, student loans are a malignancy attached to our republic by Republicans trying to increase profits for their donors while extracting more and more cash from working-class families.

    If Democrats can regain control of the House and hold the Senate and White House in 2024, they must not only zero-out existing student debt across our nation but revive the post-war government support for education — from Jefferson and Lincoln to the GI Bill and college subsidies — that the Reagan, Bush, Bush, and Trump administrations have destroyed.

    Then, and only then, can the true “making America great again” begin.

    This article was produced by Economy for All, a project of the Independent Media Institute.


    This content originally appeared on CounterPunch.org and was authored by Thom Hartmann.

    This post was originally published on Radio Free.


  • This content originally appeared on The Laura Flanders Show and was authored by The Laura Flanders Show.

    This post was originally published on Radio Free.