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NRA's LaPierre Criticizes College Campuses

National Rifle Association Executive Vice President and CEO Wayne LaPierre speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference at National Harbor, Md., Feb. 22, 2018.

College campuses are ignoring the Constitution and spreading communist manifestos, said the National Rifle Association's Wayne LaPierre in an impassioned speech Thursday to a conservative group in Washington.

"The U.S. Constitution is ignored" at U.S. universities, LaPierre, the NRA's chief operating officer, said to the Conservative Political Action Conference. "On college campuses, a communist manifesto is one of the most frequently assigned texts. … Karl Marx is the most assigned economist."

Marxist theory espouses socialism and communism, and is opposed to capitalism, on which the American economy is based.

LaPierre's fiery speech, which preceded a speech by Vice President Mike Pence, accused "Democrats, liberals, European socialists and intellectual elites" of using the mass shooting at a Florida high school where 17 were killed last week as a "shameful politicization of tragedy."

NRA Executive Vice President and CEO Wayne LaPierre watches an NRA promotional video while speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at National Harbor, Maryland, Feb. 22, 2018.
NRA Executive Vice President and CEO Wayne LaPierre watches an NRA promotional video while speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at National Harbor, Maryland, Feb. 22, 2018.

Since that shooting, in which students and teachers were slain by a 19-year-old former student with a semiautomatic assault weapon, high school students have rallied across the country to find solutions to gun violence in the U.S. The U.S. leads the world in mass shootings and gun possession, according to sources including the Gun Violence Archive.

LaPierre said the U.S. should "immediately harden our schools" and protect "open soft targets for anyone bent on mass murder."

In a meeting later in the day, President Donald Trump backed up LaPierre and the NRA.

"We have to harden our schools, not soften them," the president said. "I really think the NRA wants to do what's right. I mean, they're very close to me, I'm very close to them, they're very, very great people."

But he dismissed the idea of having armed security officers filling the hallways of high schools.

"You would have 100, 150 security guys," Trump said. "Who wants that many security guards standing all over the place, loaded up with guns? But you could have concealed [weapons] on the teachers, they wouldn't know the people, nobody would know who they are, and it is a tremendous threat."

Those teachers would receive bonuses, the president said.

On social media, teachers across the country responded with the hashtag #ArmMeWith to reply to those suggestions.

"#ArmMeWith enough counselors and social workers to meet the social and emotional needs of all students," read one placard on the Teach and Shine page on Facebook.

"ArmMeWith well-funded schools that allow for smaller class sizes and more resource experts," said another, pointing to limited school funding in many school districts across the U.S.

"OK. So the answer to regular mass murders at American schools is to arm the teachers," tweeted Michael Moran, observing from London with 27,000 followers. "But how are they going to pay for guns if they can't even afford pencils?"

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Former US Congresswoman Liz Cheney Urges Graduates Not to Compromise With the Truth

Former U.S. Congresswoman Liz Cheney, a Republican who represented Wyoming, delivers the commencement address at Colorado College, in Colorado Springs, Colorado, May 28, 2023.

Former U.S. Congresswoman Liz Cheney implored new college graduates to not compromise when it comes to the truth, excoriating her House Republican colleagues for not doing enough to combat former President Donald Trump's lies that the 2020 election was stolen.

In a commencement speech at Colorado College, the Wyoming Republican repeated her fierce criticisms of Trump but steered clear of talking about his 2024 reelection campaign or her own political future.

Cheney, who graduated from Colorado College in 1988, recalled being a political science student walking into a campus building where a Bible verse was inscribed above the entrance that read, "Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free."

"After the 2020 election and the attack of January 6th, my fellow Republicans wanted me to lie. They wanted me to say the 2020 election was stolen, the attack of January 6th wasn't a big deal, and Donald Trump wasn't dangerous," Cheney said Sunday in Colorado Springs, connecting her experiences as a student to her work in the U.S. House of Representatives. "I had to choose between lying and losing my position in House leadership."

In three terms in office, Cheney rose to the No. 3 GOP leadership position in the House, a job she lost after voting to impeach Trump for the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the Capitol and then not relenting in her criticism of the former president.

Cheney's speech touched on themes similar to those she has promoted since leaving office in January: addressing her work on the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol and standing up to the threat she believes Trump poses to democracy. She also encouraged more women to run for office and criticized one of the election-denying attorneys who worked for Trump after the 2020 election for recent remarks about college students voting.

"Cleta Mitchell, an election denier and adviser to former President Trump, told a gathering of Republicans recently that it is crucially important to make sure that college students don't vote," Cheney said. "Those who are trying to unravel the foundations of our republic, who are threatening the rule of law and the sanctity of our elections, know they can't succeed if you vote."

In an audio recording of Mitchell's presentation from a recent Republican National Committee retreat, she warns of polling places on college campuses and the ease of voting as potential problems, The Washington Post reported.

Most students and parents in the audience applauded throughout Cheney's remarks, yet some booed. Some students opposing the choice of Cheney as speaker turned their chairs away from the stage as she spoke.

Cheney's busy speaking schedule and subject matter have fueled speculation about whether she may enter the 2024 GOP presidential primary since she left office. Candidates ranging from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley have calibrated their remarks about Trump, aiming to counter his attacks without alienating the supporters that won him the White House seven years ago.

Though some have offered measured criticisms, no declared or potential challenger has embraced anti-Trump messaging to the same extent as Cheney. She did not reference her plans on Sunday but has previously said she remains undecided about whether she wants to run for president.

Though she would face an uphill battle, Cheney's fierce anti-Trump stance and her role as vice chairwoman of the House committee elevated her platform high enough to call on a national network of donors and Trump critics to support a White House run.

A super PAC organized to support of her candidacy has remained active, including purchasing attack ads on New Hampshire airwaves against Trump this month.

After leaving office and being replaced by a Trump-backed Republican who defeated her in last year's primary, Cheney was appointed to a professorship at the University of Virginia and wrote "Oath and Honor," a memoir scheduled to hit shelves in November.

Two of Cheney's five children as well as her mother are also graduates of the liberal arts college.

Cheney's speaking tour appears to be picking up. She is scheduled to appear Thursday at the Mackinac Policy Conference in Michigan.

How Are Girls in Afghanistan Continuing Their Education?

FILE - Afghan university students chant slogans and hold placards during a protest against the ban on university education for women, in Quetta, Pakistan, Dec. 24, 2022.

After the Taliban retook power in Afghanistan in 2021, they severely limited access to education for girls. Yet a club founded in the U.S., Flowers for the Future, helps Afghan girls keep learning through Zoom meetings with U.S. students. Two students, one Afghan, one American, describe their journey with the program and what it's taught them about grit, resilience and the importance of learning. Read the essays by Mahsa Kosha and Emily Khossaravi in the Hechinger Report. (May 2023)

Could Your International Degree be Financed by Goldman Sachs?

FILE - The logo for Goldman Sachs is seen on the trading floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, Nov. 17, 2021.

Quite possibly, since the elite U.S. investment bank has been investing millions in educational startups. Students from countries like India, Nigeria and Indonesia have long struggled to finance their U.S. degrees due to limited access to loans, but these new startups could disrupt that. For example, in just the first quarter of 2022, one startup, Prodigy Finance, reported a 98% increase in the number of Indian loan applicants. Nick Cuthbert of the PIE News breaks down the financial projections. (May 2023)

How Do College Sports Bring Together American and International Students?

FILE - People play ultimate frisbee on the beach, April 11, 2018, in Santa Barbara, California.

The game of Ultimate Frisbee has no referees and isn't governed by the official association for U.S. college sports. But it is intensely competitive, and students from Australia, China and elsewhere travel to the U.S. to play for the best schools. Andrew Smith of VOA Learning English reports on how college athletics can forge international friendships outside the classroom. (May 2023)

Is It Possible for Vietnamese Universities to Find Ways to Attract American Students to Study Abroad?

FILE - An aerial photograph of Hanoi, Vietnam, Nov. 6, 2021.

Vietnamese students now make up the fifth-largest group of foreign students in the U.S., according to the 2022 Institute of International Education’s (IIE) annual Open Doors report. The report found 20,713 Vietnamese students studied in the U.S. in the 2021-2022 academic year.

But now some Vietnamese universities have recently begun trying to attract U.S. students to study in Vietnam, a goal that is challenging, some education experts told VOA’s Khanh An. (May 2023)

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