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TheProle

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Gender: Male
Hometown: TX
Home country: USA
Member since: Thu Jul 23, 2020, 07:05 PM
Number of posts: 624

Journal Archives

Student loan borrowers will get help after an NPR report and years of complaints

Source: NPR

The U.S. Department of Education says it will retroactively help millions of federal student loan borrowers who have been hurt and held back by its troubled income-driven repayment (IDR) plans, calling the plans' longstanding flaws and mismanagement "inexcusable."

Tuesday's announcement comes after years of complaints and lawsuits and, most recently, an NPR investigation that revealed that these IDR plans, which promise affordable monthly payments as low as $0 and loan forgiveness after 20-25 years, have been badly mismanaged by the department and the loan servicing companies it employs.

"Today, the Department of Education will begin to remedy years of administrative failures that effectively denied the promise of loan forgiveness to certain borrowers enrolled in IDR plans," U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said in a statement.

The department estimates that the changes will result in immediate debt cancellation for at least 40,000 borrowers who will now qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness. In addition, several thousand borrowers will now qualify for debt cancellation under IDR.

Read more: https://www.npr.org/2022/04/19/1093310151/student-loans-income-based-repayment

Ukrainian Battalion Accuses Russia of Using Chemical Weapons on Civilians

Source: Newsweek

A Ukrainian battalion said Monday that Russia has used chemical weapons against Ukraine's military and citizens, causing victims to develop respiratory failure and other illnesses.

The Azoz Regiment, a unit of the National Guard of Ukraine, said the chemicals were of an "unknown origin" and dropped via an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) on civilians in the southeastern city of Mariupol.

"About an hour ago, Russian occupation forces used a poisonous substance of unknown origin against Ukrainian military and civilians in the city of Mariupol, which was dropped from an enemy UAV," the Azoz Regiment posted on Telegram on Monday. "The victims have respiratory failure, vestibulo-atactic syndrome. The consequences of using an unknown substance are being clarified."

NATO has warned that the use of chemical weapons could prompt further action from the West. Late last month, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said that using chemical weapons is a "blatant violation of international law with far-reaching consequences."

Read more: https://www.newsweek.com/ukrainian-battalion-accuses-russia-using-chemical-weapons-civilians-1697052

Two COVID Variants Just Combined Into a 'Frankenstein' Virus

Source: Daily Beast

The first subvariant of Omicron, the latest major variant of the novel coronavirus, was bad. BA.1 drove record cases and hospitalizations in many countries starting last fall.

The second subvariant, BA.2, was worse in some countries—setting new records for daily cases across China and parts of Europe.

Now BA.1 and BA.2 have combined to create a third subvariant. XE, as it’s known, is a “recombinant”—the product of two viruses interacting “Frankenstein”-style in a single host.

With its long list of mutations, XE could be the most contagious form of the coronavirus yet. “From the WHO reports, it does appear to have a bit more of an edge in terms of transmissibility,” Stephanie James, the head of a COVID testing lab at Regis University in Colorado, told The Daily Beast.

Read more: https://www.thedailybeast.com/two-omicron-variants-just-combined-to-make-xe-a-frankenstein-covid-virus

New York Times updates Twitter policy for reporters

Source: The Hill

The New York Times is updating its policies for how its journalists use Twitter, and is emphasizing that use of the social media platform is optional given the dangers of online harassment.

In a memo to employees on Thursday shared with The Hill, Dean Baquet, the newspaper’s top editor, announced what he called a “reset in our approach,” handing down new guidance dictating that “maintaining a presence on Twitter and social media is now purely optional for Times journalists.”

Baquet wrote that he has been hearing from staffers about “the challenges that Twitter presents,” writing that staffers at the leading national newspaper often “can rely too much on Twitter as a reporting and feedback tool.”

Such feedback, Baquet wrote, can be harmful to the Times’ journalism when “our feeds become echo chambers.”

Read more: https://thehill.com/news/3261482-new-york-times-updates-twitter-policy-for-reporters/

NBC News journalists vexed by MSNBC's move to hire White House press secretary Jen Psaki

Source: CNN

New York (CNN Business)NBC News journalists are troubled by and have expressed dismay to network executives about MSNBC's intention to hire White House press secretary Jen Psaki when she exits the Biden administration, people familiar with the matter told CNN.

Noah Oppenheim, the NBC News president, even held an impromptu phone call Friday so that he could address the matter with vexed staffers from the Washington bureau, some of whom have complained to their superiors that the tentative hiring tarnishes the NBC News brand.
Oppenheim, attempting to quell the anger, reaffirmed the distinction on the call between NBC News and MSNBC's opinion programming, some of the people familiar with the matter said.

Oppenheim, who does not oversee MSNBC, told the journalists that NBC News did not have a role in hiring Psaki. And he noted to those on the phone that they work for the NBC News brand and that the hires made for MSNBC's opinion arm should be viewed as unrelated to their work, the people said.

Read more: https://www.cnn.com/2022/04/06/media/jen-psaki-nbc/index.html

After Gridiron Dinner, a covid outbreak among Washington A-list guests

Source: Washington Post

It was supposed to be an evening of lighthearted political satire and bipartisan fellowship among an elite cadre of politicians, journalists and public officials, just as it has been for much of the past 137 years.

Instead, the annual Gridiron Dinner in Washington on Saturday appears to have been notable for a potential coronavirus outbreak among its A-list guests.

As of Wednesday morning, Reps. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) and Joaquin Castro (D-Tex.) and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo had announced they had received positive results on coronavirus tests after attending the dinner at the downtown Renaissance Washington Hotel. On Wednesday afternoon, Attorney General Merrick Garland announced that he, too, had tested positive.

In addition, about a half-dozen journalists as well as members of the White House and National Security Council staffs said they tested positive after the event. Their names are being withheld because they have not announced their status publicly.

Read more: https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/after-gridiron-dinner-a-covid-outbreak-among-washington-a-list-guests/ar-AAVVSko

Post Office Cops Used Social Media Surveillance Program Illegally

The United States Postal Inspection Service, the law enforcement arm of the post office, was “not legally authorized” to conduct blanket keyword searches of social media for terms such as “protest,” “attack,” and “destroy,” an inspector general investigation found, because it is only supposed to investigate cases with some connection to the post office or the mail.

The USPSIS is the oldest police agency in the country, called the United States Postal Inspection Service, or USPIS. Its job is to police the mail and crimes related to the mail such as mail fraud. USPIS dates back to a time when the postal service was the largest and most significant branch of the federal government and the USPIS was its only national policing power.

Of course, the federal government has many policing and law enforcement arms nowadays, which is one of the reasons that a Yahoo News report from April 2021 was so surprising to many Americans. Yahoo reported the agency’s Internet Covert Operations Program, better and somehow not satirically known as iCOP, was monitoring social media for “inflammatory” postings associated with protest movements on both the Left and the Right. This puzzled First Amendment watchdogs and security experts since the federal government has no shortage of agencies to monitor social media for inflammatory posts, yet for some reason postal cops were doing it. Yahoo News also reported that iCOP included use of Clearview AI, the highly controversial facial recognition system that is built on a database of images scraped from social media.

As a result of that investigation, the House of Representatives asked the USPS Office of Inspector General to investigate this program. The USPSOIG has just published that report which found iCOP used “proactive searches” that “did not include any terms with a postal nexus,” meaning they had nothing to do with the post office. The USPIS did not immediately respond to a Motherboard request for comment on the report.

https://www.vice.com/en/article/n7nmaz/post-office-cops-used-social-media-surveillance-program-illegally

New Mutant "XE" Omicron Variant May Be The Most Transmissible Version Of Covid Yet, According To WHO

The CDC announced this week that the BA.2 Omicron variant, which is reportedly 30% more transmissible than the original BA.1 Omicron strain — has become dominant among new cases sequenced in the United States. That’s a startling rise for a variant that was less than 1% of all sequences as recently as January. But, just as Americans are hearing about BA.2, there’s already a newer, even more transmissible variant on the rise.

There are actually three new variants that have been given designations. According to a recently-released report from the UK Health Services Agency, the two being called XD and XF are combinations of Delta and BA.1, or so-called “Deltacron” strains, which have been talked about for months but made no significant inroads in any country.

XD is present in several European countries, but has not been detected in the UK, according to the report. XF caused a small cluster in the UK but has not been detected there since February 15. The variant of greater concern, it seems, is the one dubbed XE.

Like the other two new arrivals, XE is a recombinant strain, meaning it is made up of two previously-distinct variants. But it is not a Deltacron mix. XE is actually made up of the original Omicron (BA.1) and the newer Omicron (BA.2) which has taken over in the U.S.

https://deadline.com/2022/03/new-xe-covid-variant-omicron-most-transmissible-1234992060/

Biden Says to Expect 'Real' Food Shortages Due to Ukraine War

Source: Bloomberg

(Bloomberg) -- President Joe Biden said that the world will experience food shortages as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and production increases were a subject of discussions at a Group of Seven meeting on Thursday.

“It’s going to be real,” Biden said at a news conference in Brussels. “The price of the sanctions is not just imposed upon Russia. It’s imposed upon an awful lot of countries as well, including European countries and our country as well.”

Ukraine and Russia are both major producers of wheat, in particular, and Kyiv’s government has already warned that the country’s planting and harvest have been severely disrupted by the war.

Biden said that at the G-7 summit in Brussels earlier that he and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau both discussed increasing their nation’s agricultural production to try to make up for shortfalls. Biden said he’s also urging all nations including those in Europe to drop trade restrictions that could restrict exports of food.

Read more: https://finance.yahoo.com/news/biden-says-expect-real-food-175308088.html

The far right's obsession with fitness is going digital

It appears the far right has taken advantage of pandemic at-home fitness trends to expand its decade-plus radicalization of physical mixed martial arts (MMA) and combat sports spaces.

Earlier this month, researchers reported that a network of online “fascist fitness” chat groups on the encrypted platform Telegram are recruiting and radicalizing young men with neo-Nazi and white supremacist extremist ideologies. Initially lured with health tips and strategies for positive physical changes, new recruits are later invited to closed chat groups where far-right content is shared.

Physical fitness has always been central to the far right. In “Mein Kampf,” Hitler fixated on boxing and jujitsu, believing they could help him create an army of millions whose aggressive spirit and impeccably trained bodies, combined with “fanatical love of the fatherland,” would do more for the German nation than any “mediocre” tactical weapons training.

In more modern times, far-right groups have launched mixed martial arts and boxing gyms in Ukraine, Canada and France, among other places, focused on training far-right nationalists in violent hand-to-hand combat and street-fighting techniques. It’s caught the attention of intelligence authorities, especially in Europe, where various reports have noted the role of combat sports and MMA in radicalizing and promoting far-right violence. A series of collaborative efforts between governments, national sports associations, and local gyms in places such as Germany, Poland and the United Kingdom have introduced intervention and prevention programs.

https://www.msnbc.com/opinion/msnbc-opinion/pandemic-fitness-trends-have-gone-extreme-literally-n1292463?cid=sm_npd_ms_tw_ma


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