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Vox Sentences: New York's (not quite) free for (not quite) all college plan

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Yes, United Airlines really is that bad (and other news).

How is Trump’s war going?

Demonstrators Protest Over President Trump's Airstrikes In Syria
Antiwar protests outside the White House.
Eric Thayer/Getty Images
  • Syria's two most powerful international backers are fuming after President Donald Trump ordered US military strikes against the country on Friday. Russia and Iran have both condemned American attacks last week on a Syrian airbase in sharp language that warned against future US incursions. [New York Times / Neil MacFarquhar]
  • But the White House seems willing to further antagonize the two foreign powers. On Monday, press secretary Sean Spicer said that US forces would be compelled to again strike Syria if it drops more barrel bombs on civilians. Barrel bombs are already dropped over Syria approximately 36 times a day, so nobody was exactly sure if Spicer meant what he said. [Vox / Zack Beauchamp]
  • Russia had already gone as far as to suspend all cooperation with American military forces in Syria. That means Russian and American forces won’t communicate ahead of flight operations, increasing the odds of a direct collision between their aircraft, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters. [CNN / Matthew Chance]
  • Iran stopped short of granting Russia full access to its airbase to launch operations in Syria. But that's what analysts see as Iran’s possible next response to another US attack in Syria — a move that would also increase the risk of a confrontation. [New York Times / Thomas Erdbrink]
  • Domestic support for Trump's attack seems strong. A new poll found 51 percent of Americans say they approve of the strike on the Syrian airbase — with just 32 percent saying they oppose it. [The Hill / Rebecca Savransky]
  • Support is even stronger in Congress, where a big bipartisan group of senators is also leading an effort to provide assistance to form a military tribunal over Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad’s use of chemical weapons. [Just Security / Beth Van Schaack]
  • (By the way, if you're looking for a big-picture explanation to get you up to speed on all the twists of the Syrian conflict, there's no better place to start than with this piece by Vox's Zack Beauchamp.) [Vox / Zack Beauchamp​]

Tuition-free* college (*many exceptions apply)

Andrew Cuomo and Bernie Sanders rally for tuition-free college. Gov. Andrew Cuomo
  • It’s official: New York will be the first state in the country to make public two-year and four-year universities free for working and middle-class in-state residents, after lawmakers approved a higher education scholarship in a $7.5 billion higher education budget package Sunday night. [NBC / Mary Emily O’Hara]
  • But there are big limits to the program. The Excelsior Scholarship, which will be rolled out over three years, initially will be limited to students of families making less than $100,000 in 2017. In 2018, the income cap will be raised to $110,000 and then will sit at $125,000 from 2019 forward. Students will be required to be enrolled full time and meet a certain GPA threshold to maintain the scholarship. The income caps, however, aren’t adjusted for household size. [Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office]
  • In other words, this isn’t quite the Bernie Sanders plan for free higher education that progressives rallied behind in the presidential primaries. It’s more like Hillary Clinton’s vision for free higher education meant to target middle-class and lower-income families. (Remember, she didn’t believe the government should pay for Donald Trump’s kids to go to college.) [New York Times / Stephanie Saul, Matt Flegenheimer]
  • Nevertheless, Sanders has signed on to this New York model, and even called it “revolutionary.” But other progressives are holding their ground and arguing there shouldn’t be income caps to free college at all. [The New Republic / Graham Vyse]
  • It’s the similar argument to that of Rhode Island’s Gov. Gina Raimondo. She has a plan that would offer two tuition-free years for full-time students enrolled in public higher education programs, with no income cap. But both her plan and Cuomo’s are “last dollar” proposals that only kick in after other state and federal aid programs, like Pell Grants, have been exhausted. [Inside Higher Ed / Scott Jaschik]
  • Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposed New York’s plan in January. But education policy experts have already pointed out some holes in the program — for one thing, college expenses extend past tuition, meaning students under this system could still graduate with debt. [The Atlantic / James S. Murphy]
  • Unsurprisingly, New York Republicans and private college advocates concerned with a possible drop in enrollment have been speaking out against the plan, making the case that the focus on funding public universities detracts from school choice. [New York Times / Vivian Yee​]

United we loathe

United planes at O’Hare. Richard Derk/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images
  • So there was an incident on United Express Flight 3411, from Chicago to Louisville, on Sunday evening. [Audra D. Bridges]
  • The flight was overbooked due to United employees needing seats at the last minute, so United randomly picked passengers to remove. And "remove" is really the right word: They had security staff forcibly drag away one man, who was a doctor who needed to be in the hospital by morning. [Courier-Journal / Lucas Aulbach]
  • This was, naturally, captured on multiple cellphone videos that leaked immediately. [Jayse D. Anspach]
  • Videos released slightly later were even more disturbing. The man’s face is bloody, and he can be seen saying, “Just kill me,” and, “I want to go home.” [Gizmodo / William Turton]
  • United's reaction has been tone-deaf to say the least, with CEO Oscar Munoz releasing a statement apologizing "for having to re-accommodate these customers." The statement did not mention that United security staff physically assaulted a man and bloodied his face. [United]
  • Chicago police blamed the incident on the man, saying in a statement, "Aviation Officers arrived on scene attempted to carry the individual off of the flight when he fell." [Bradd Jaffy]
  • The airline did try to settle the issue with money initially, offering $400 (later increased to $800) and a hotel stay for passengers who agreed to wait. They could've gone all the way up to four times the ticket price, or $1,350; the higher of the two is the maximum payment allowed under federal regulations. But when cash wasn’t enough, United resorted to force. [Vox / Timothy B. Lee]
  • Involuntary bumping is pretty rare, because airlines have gotten very good at predicting no-shows and only overbooking flights by enough to compensate for people who don't turn up. AirTran, the airline with the highest involuntary bumping rate, only bumps 1.28 passengers out of 10,000. Some airlines, like JetBlue, have a policy to never bump. [Bloomberg / Justin Bachman]
  • All that is little solace to the man brutalized on the United flight. What’s worse, he might not have legal recourse, due to airlines' broad discretion to remove passengers, and their ability to claim that anyone who refuses to exit has "become belligerent" and poses a security risk. [Bloomberg / Justin Bachman]
  • Wall Street doesn’t seem to care, as United’s stock price actually went up nearly 1 percent after the incident. [CNBC / Lauren Thomas​]



  • “My companion winces. ‘It’s like eating a condom that’s been left lying about in a dusty greengrocer’s,’ she says.” [The Guardian / Jay Rayner]
  • “The government's analysis at this point indicates that discrimination against women in Google is quite extreme, even in this industry.” [Janet Herold to the Guardian / Sam Levin]
  • “What is ‘lunch shaming?’ It happens when a child can’t pay a school lunch bill. In Alabama, a child short on funds was stamped on the arm with ‘I Need Lunch Money.’ In some schools, children are forced to clean cafeteria tables in front of their peers to pay the debt. Other schools require cafeteria workers to take a child’s hot food and throw it in the trash if he doesn’t have the money to pay for it.” [NYT / Bettina Elias Siegel]
  • “And having Skip Marley do the music doesn’t make a difference. Even if you had Migos do the soundtrack. Even if Offset had written the soundtrack, purely out of love for Pepsi, it wouldn’t have worked.” [Anonymous to NY Mag / Dayna Evans]
  • “Because the men in the study felt they were outside of ‘normal,’ they were more likely to challenge traditional ideas. They were also more likely to want to equally share parenting, so they often made hands-on fathers and much more sensitive domestic partners. Some women said things like, ‘After being with a bisexual man, I would never go back to being with a heterosexual man in a relationship.’” [Maria Pallotta-Chiarolli to Vice / Jessica Pan]

Watch this: The algorithm that could help end partisan gerrymandering

We’re living in the age of the algorithm. So why not apply data science to a decades-old issue? [Vox / Carlos Waters]

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