India assassination plot against US citizen breaches international order

In a federal indictment this week, Manhattan U.S. Attorney Damian Williams unveiled an indictment against Nikhil Gupta, an alleged Indian narcotics trafficker who prosecutors say had attempted to hire a hitman— who turned out to be an undercover federal agent — to assassinate Sikh separatist leader Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, a U.S. citizen. The feds say Gupta, who was arrested in the Czech Republic, was directed by a senior Indian government official.

America’s high schoolers are running out of time

America’s high schools face a growing crisis: Millions of students who entered ninth grade in the fall of 2020, at the height of the pandemic, are set to graduate this spring, with little hope of recovering from the learning loss incurred while schools were shut. Simply put, they’re running out of time. Since the start of the pandemic, the academic performance of high school students has been abysmal. In 2022, average scores on the ACT exam were the lowest in 30 years; this year’s results were even worse. Barely 20% of students met college-readiness benchmarks in all four areas tested — English, math, reading and science — and 43% met none, up from 35% in 2018. Other data show broad declines in reading and math proficiency, while the number of students receiving failing grades has soared. In Houston, the country’s eighth-largest public school district, as many as half of high school students have flunked at least one course since the start of the pandemic, compared to one-third in 2019.

White House green slush fund throwing around cash

It’s holiday season, and the Biden administration is in full Santa Claus mode. Never mind the $33 trillion national debt clock whirring upward, the White House is making liberal use of a massive green slush fund to dole out taxpayer-funded goodies to favored special interests.

Guilty plea of Highland Park shooting suspect’s father should be a wake-up call for parents

Robert Crimo Jr.’s guilty plea to reckless conduct for helping his son obtain authorization to own firearms three years before Robert Crimo III allegedly opened fire on Highland Park, Illinois, paradegoers should be a wake-up call to everyone: If you hear or see things about potential violence, you must alert the authorities. And if you do things that could potentially enable it, you will face legal consequences.

The demise of liberal arts? Students lose when colleges trade humanities for STEM

Socrates would weep. The great philosopher of ancient Athens was among the first teachers of critical thinking, you might say, and he died for doing so. And now, college philosophy departments — along with the other humanities and the social sciences— are shrinking, with reduced fields of study, smaller teaching staffs and fewer courses.

The Right against rights: Far-right victories should concern us all

A shock result in Dutch elections handed the largest number of the country’s parliamentary seats to the party of extreme right, isolationist, anti-immigrant and Islamophobic longtime political gadfly Geert Wilders last week. He vowed that the country would be “returned to the Dutch.”

Saving the world by changing what’s on our plates

At the U.N. Climate Change Conference (COP28) this year, decision-makers won’t just talk about change. They’ll taste it. COP28 (Nov. 30–Dec. 12) will offer a predominantly vegan menu, reflecting a growing awareness of how meat, eggs and dairy contribute to the climate catastrophe. Let’s hope this mounting understanding will inspire everyone to go vegan — before it’s too late.

Are pandas headed back to California to work their diplomatic magic?

They are not typical diplomatic envoys. They spend their time eating, snoozing, lollygagging in the grass and rolling in the snow. But the giant pandas that have roamed a few select U.S. zoos for the last half century have captivated visitors who flocked to exhibits and lined up to see the debut of panda cubs and marvel at what seemed like plush toys come to life.

Censorship only leaves us more vulnerable

New Yorkers were shocked and appalled when some social media personalities rediscovered a 2002 “Letter to America” in which Osama Bin Laden, dripping with antisemitism, criticized U.S. foreign policy, suggesting it painted a more compelling picture of the terrorist. While the rehabilitation of the dead jihadist behind 9/11 may have been overstated, the Guardian, which had hosted a version of the letter, pulled it from its site.