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Betsy DeVos’ DOE threatens to cut university funding for positive portrayal of Islam

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The U.S Department of Education threatened to pull federal funding from a Middle East studies course jointly run by Duke University and the University of North Carolina because it portrays Islam too positively.

The DOE ordered the universities to change their program or lose its federal grant money. In a letter to UNC, the department criticized the program, arguing that topics like Iranian art and film have “little or no relevance” to the Middle East studies program. The letter also argues that the program “appears to lack balance” because its programs are not focused on the discrimination faced by “religious minorities in the Middle East,” including Christians and Jews.

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“There is a considerable emphasis placed on the understanding the positive aspects of Islam, while there is an absolute absence of any similar focus on the positive aspects of Christianity, Judaism, or any other religion or belief system in the Middle East,” the letter said. “This lack of balance of perspectives is troubling and strongly suggests that Duke-UNC CMES is not meeting legal requirement that National Resource Centers ‘provide a full understanding of the areas, regions, or countries.’”

The letter appears to reflect the views of new department civil rights chief Kenneth Marcus, The New York Times reported. He has long been a pro-Israel advocate and “waged a years-long campaign to delegitimize and defund Middle East studies programs that he has criticized as rife with anti-Israel bias.”

Palestinian rights groups condemned the letter and accused the Department of Education of trying to intimidate schools into curriculums that are approved by the current administration.

“They really want to send the message that if you want to criticize Israel, then the federal government is going to look very closely at your entire program and micromanage it to death,” Zoha Khalili, an attorney for Palestine Legal, told the Times, adding that the letter “sends a message to Middle Eastern studies programs that their continued existence depends on their willingness to toe the government line on Israel.”

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Henry Reichman, who chairs a committee on academic freedom at the American Association of University Professors, told the Associated Press that the government intervention could set a dangerous precedent.

“Is the government now going to judge funding programs based on the opinions of instructors or the approach of each course?” he asked. “The odor of right wing political correctness that comes through this definitely could have a chilling effect.”

Since Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has taken over, the department has certainly moved far to the right. DeVos kicked off her 2019 “Back-to-School” tour earlier this week by visiting a Catholic school that prohibits trans people from attending classes or working there and claims that gender-affirming medical care is “self-mutilation and therefore immoral.”

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DeVos has also used her position to help big corporations at the expense of students. Her department has created new rules that make it more difficult for federal student loan borrowers to seek debt relief in cases where colleges defrauded them, and has rolled back Obama-era rules intended to protect students from abusive for-profit colleges.

This week, the department admitted in a court filing that it violated a court order barring the collection of student loan payments by borrowers defrauded by Corinthian Colleges, a for-profit institution whose programs DeVos herself described as “worthless.”

The department admitted to trying to collect debts from more than 16,000 student borrowers who had attended programs run by Corinthian Colleges. The department also admitted that hundreds of borrowers had their credit negatively affected by the prohibited efforts to collect and more than 1,800 had their wages or tax refund garnished.

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After violating the May court order, the department promised that it would be “sending such borrowers notices informing them that they will be receiving refunds.”


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Trump polling close friends over whether he should fire Mulvaney: report

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President Donald Trump is considering firing Mick Mulvaney, his acting White House chief of staff and director of the Office of Management and Budget, The Atlantic reported Friday.

"Mick Mulvaney's job was in danger even before his disastrous press conference yesterday, and his equally disastrous attempt to walk that performance back," The Atlantic reported. "The fumble could not have been more poorly timed: According to multiple current and former White House officials, many of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity to relay private conversations, Trump has been steadily souring on Mulvaney for weeks."

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Michael Moore predicts Mick Mulvaney will get into Heaven after confessing Trump’s quid pro quo

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Academy Award-winning filmmaker Michael Moore predicted acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney will ascend to Heaven in the afterlife during a Friday interview on MSNBC's "The Beat" with Ari Melber.

The host played a clip of Mulvaney admitting Trump's quid pro quo while seeking foreign election assistance from Ukraine.

"This man obviously is going to be admitted into Heaven," Moore said. "You know, he told the truth."

"If there was a movie version of this, somebody stuck him with a needle just before he walked out onto the stage there, a truth serum needle, and he just went on and on saying, 'Yeah, that’s what we do. Yeah, of course.' Essentially admitting there is a quid pro quo. In fact, there are many quid pro quos."

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Trump campaign has 12-person ‘War Room’ toiling to fight the impeachment inquiry: report

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While the White House has bragged about refusing to start a "war room" to deal with the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump's administration, his campaign is footing the bill for a 12-person operation, the LA Times reported Friday.

“Some of you have criticized us for not having a war room — OK? — which we don’t by the way,” acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney told reporters.

“You don’t have a war room when you haven’t done anything wrong," he added.

By that logic, Trump's 2020 re-election campaign may fear the president did something wrong.

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