News·4 min read

Daily Skimm: Harvard, Germany, and Megan Fox

A general view of Harvard University campus is seen on April 22, 2020 in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Getty Images
April 26, 2022


The Story

Harvard University is trying to make amends.

For what?

Slavery. In 2019, university president Lawrence Bacow called for a formal review of the school's racist past. Now, we’re getting the findings: staff and faculty enslaved more than 70 people in the 17th and 18th centuries. For years, a large part of Harvard’s funding came from men who enslaved people. Some Harvard scholars also promoted “race science” and eugenics into the 1900s.

What’s Harvard doing about this?

Writing a $100 million check. Bacow says the university has a “moral responsibility” to address its past. The money will be used to address the report’s recommendations, including providing educational and other support to descendants of those affected. The report also suggested more collaboration — like student exchange programs — with historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs).

And how does this stack up against other schools?

Brown University was the first Ivy League school to acknowledge its ties to slavery. And about 90 schools — including William & Mary and UVA — are members of a group dedicated to researching and atoning for it. Georgetown even set up a fund to provide reparations — the first private university to do so.


The US was built in part on the backs of slaves. And its legacy has left a stain for more than 400 years — including in higher education. Now, Harvard and others are trying to right their wrongs.

And Also...This

What just had a major policy shift…

Germany. Yesterday, the country announced it’s sending anti-aircraft tanks to Ukraine. It’s a major U-turn for the country, which at first only offered Ukrainians protective helmets to fend off Russia. Germany has for decades had a policy of not getting involved in conflicts, for obvious reasons. The country also has major economic ties to Russia, dependent on it for 25% of its oil and 40% of its gas. Now, that could change. After pressure from the EU, Germany’s giving 50 tanks to Ukraine. And is even saying it could handle a ban on Russian oil. The about-turn is a major policy shift from Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who’s been trying to fill Angela Merkel’s shoes since he was sworn in last year. But in an escalation with the West, Russia says it cut off natural gas to Bulgaria and Poland. Meanwhile, in Ukraine…

  • Mariupol: Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed “in principle” to evacuating people from the port city. But Ukrainians say ‘don’t believe him’ and accuse the country of attacking a humanitarian corridor.

What's on the rise...

Antisemitism. Yesterday, an Anti-Defamation League (ADL) report found that antisemitic incidents in the US reached a record high last year. The Jewish civil rights org counted more than 2,700 incidents in 2021 — including assault, vandalism, and harassment. It marked a more than 30% increase from 2020 and the highest number of attacks in its decades-long history. The org noted that the largest surge in attacks happened during last year's 11-day conflict between Israel and Hamas. And that attackers blamed Jewish Americans for the violence in the region.

Where trans rights are being restricted…

Oklahoma. Yesterday, Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) signed a bill banning nonbinary gender markers on state birth certificates. The move comes as states across the country have been moving to restrict LGBTQ and abortion rights. Many states already only offer male or female gender options on birth certificates, but Oklahoma is reportedly the first to prohibit a nonbinary option. The law is apparently set to go into effect immediately. Republicans say the law's purpose is to bring “clarity and truth” on official state documents. While Dems reportedly say the passing of the law is a “grotesque” power move.

What's taking off...

Changes at Delta Air Lines. This week, the company said it’ll pay flight attendants during their actual working hours. Flight attendants usually work 12- to 14-hour days. But they’re not considered on the clock until after the boarding doors close. Now, Delta has a new idea taking flight: paying attendants during boarding — a first for a US airline. The new pay starts in June — just in time for booming vacation flights after pandemic-level lows. The decision could help the airline make a smooth landing as it faces increasing calls to unionize.

PS: Labor unions have made a comeback during the pandemic. Here's why.

What's giving Angelina Jolie in the early '00s...

Megan Fox and MGK.

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