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Mexican Youth Protests Swells As Presidential Race Looms; Bush Backs ‘GE’ Rule for For-profits

Bush Met With Silence After Defending For-Profit College Regulations. Members of the largest group of for-profit colleges, the Association of Public Sector Colleges and Universities greeted former President, and keynote speaker, George W. Bush with silence after he told the group that the federal government had the right to ask for results from the industry. For-profit colleges have been called out by groups like the Republic Report, for taking $32 billion a year in taxpayers’ money in federal financial aid, which makes up 90 percent of some schools’ revenues. “Any time you reform, it sparks controversy,” Bush told the group. “My attitude all along is that you’ve got to measure…If government spends money, doesn’t it makes sense for government to ask, are there results? I think it does.” The for-profit college market has come under fire recently, after the Department of Education released their Gainful Employment Rule findings, which threatened to cut federal funding for 93 colleges not in compliance with the program’s guidelines. [Huffington Post]

 Rhode Island Passes Homeless Persons Bill of Rights. The state of Rhode Island passed a bill aimed at helping the homeless contingent escape discrimination from police or homeowners. The bill, which some people say goes further than any similar bill proposed throughout the nation, attempts to ensure that the less fortunate get the same civil protections as everyone else. “Today, in Rhode Island, hatred, bigotry, and discrimination is not accepted,” said John Joyce, who co-founded the Rhode Island Homeless Advocacy Project. According to Heather Johnson, a civil rights attorney with the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, the increase in laws aimed towards criminalizing homeless persons has increased drastically, which she says is in direct violation of their civil rights as American citizens. “We’ve seen a lot of egregious examples lately,” Johnson said. “People are having their civil rights violated every day in cities across the country.” The bill comes as a wave of major cities including Denver, Dallas and Berkeley, debate and enact laws limiting the rights of the homeless. Recently displaced Rhode Islander Michelle St. Pierre lost her home after being evicted from her apartment, forcing her to live in shelters, or with friends. She has also been forced to sleep on the street and says police have threatened her with arrest upon her refusal to leave immediately. “He said, ‘I’ll give you five minutes to get out of here and then I’m going to arrest you,’” she said. “Where do they want me to go? We don’t have enough shelters.” [Huffington Post]

 Youth Play Vital Role in Mexican Presidential Election. Mexico’s youth demographic – the so-called “Lost Generation” – have taken the country by storm, as they have used social media to make their voices heard in the war-torn country. So far, the youth movement has shot videos that have garnered mass attention via YouTube, and organized a Presidential debate attended by the four main contenders. “It’s like a storm, getting stronger,” said 26-year-old graduate student Luis Sosa, who has marched in the nation’s capital, Mexico City. “It’s the first time in a long time that young people have raised their voices.” The disillusioned youth deal with rampant corruption and violence due to the ongoing drug war that has torn apart the country. It is estimated that millions of Mexican youth neither study nor work, because they are left with little incentives or hope for their future job prospects thanks soaring unemployment rates. “Being young, poor and living in the wrong place ads up to a death sentence,” said scholar Alberto Aziz in a 2010 column for El Universal. Currently, over 100 government-sponsored programs are aimed at keeping Mexico’s troubled youth off the streets, and out of the drug market. A recent study by Metropolitan Autonomous University sociology professor Enrique Cuna found that Mexico’s youth face a host of issues, beyond high unemployment and drugs.  “Mexico’s youth are the most affected not just by unemployment, but also by the lack of health care coverage, discrimination, violence and the fight against organized crime.” The challenges of Mexican youth have received international attention; even the Occupy Wall Street website expressed, “solidarity with the Mexican Spring.” On a more local level, Ibero, the main group of Mexican youth, and key organizers of the reformist activities, gained the support of Democratic Revolution Party candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who said of the movement, “The role you are playing is fundamental,” he added. “Because young people have been sacrificed all this time.” [CNN]

Christopher Boan is a journalism intern with Campus Progress.

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