News Roundup 08/30/2019

Youth climate activists held a protest outside of the United Nations headquarters in New York City on Friday. The protestors demanded that governments worldwide take action in order to confront the growing threat of climate change. This comes ahead of a much larger protest planned by youth groups set to take place on September 20th, just before the U.N.’s climate action summit. The young protesters were joined by well-known Swedish youth climate activist, 16-year-old Greta Thunberg. Thunberg gained international notoriety last year when she began skipping classes in order to protest outside the Swedish Parlement building demanding that her own government address climate change. Greta Thunberg arrived in the U.S. on Wednesday sailing aboard a solar-powered boat that departed from southwest England two weeks earlier.

Millennials in the United States are dealing with a burden that no other generation before them has had to bear. The minimum wage has been stagnant for a decade and millennials are earning 20% less than their parents' generation, and student loan debt now sits at $1.5 trillion. As a result of low wages, soaring debt, and skyrocketing housing prices (up 60% in just the last 5 years), millennials are also buying homes at a much lower rate than previous generations. Things may change via the ballot box though, as the number of millennial voters has now eclipsed the number of baby boomer voters and millennial voter turnout has doubled since 2014.

Massive fires in Brazil have been burning huge sections of the Amazon for over 60 days now. Brazil has had an unusually high number of fires this year; so far 87,000 separate blazes have been recorded. The cause of the fires, for the most part, is land-clearing fires set by loggers and cattle ranchers that burn out of control. This land clearing practice had been encouraged by newly elected president Jair Bolsonaro, but for now the government has called for a halt in the practice. The fires have released an estimated 228 megatons of carbon dioxide so far this year, which is the highest level since 2010. Deforestation as a whole was up 50% in the first months of this year as President Bolsonaro has opened up the Amazon to large corporate interests. As a result, indigenous communities are fearing for their survival.

Earlier this month democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders unveiled his sweeping plan for criminal justice reform. The Vermont senator says, if elected, he will begin implementing his plan immediately. Among his reforms is the banning of private prisons. Also in the plan is an end to cash bail which he sees as unfair to poor and low income Americans that cannot afford bail. Sanders is calling for an overhaul in how policing is conducted in America as a whole, and his plan states that police should be accountable to the communities they serve and be under rigorous state and federal oversight. Better specialized training for police as well as national standards for the use of force are also a part of the Sanders plan. More of Sanders' reforms include ending mandatory minimum sentences and improving the public defender systems with the goal of cutting the soaring U.S. prison population in half.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is scaling back the government’s student debt forgiveness program. New policies put in place by Sec. DeVos will make it more difficult for those who have been defrauded by for-profit colleges to receive debt forgiveness. This reversal of protections that were put in place during the Obama administration will result in a $500 million decrease in the amount of student debt relief given out every year and an $11 billion decrease over the next decade. Harvard Law School’s Project on Predatory Student Lending’s legal director Eileen Connor said her organization is filing a suit to challenge DeVos’s new policies in court. Democrats in Washington have blasted the rules, calling it a "give-away" to for-profit colleges.

NewsEric Spencer