Joe Biden, Student Loan Freeze, Debt
Photo credit: © Shawn Thew - Pool Via Cnp/CNP via ZUMA Press Wire

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Biden Has Extended the Long Student Loan Freeze — But What’s Up With Debt Forgiveness? (DonkeyHotey)

The author writes, “Americans who were worried about the return of federal student loan payments got a big gift from President Joe Biden just before Christmas. He announced that the pandemic’s long student loan freeze for roughly 42 million borrowers would be extended yet again, this time through May 1, 2022. Loan payments, interest and collections would remain on hold until then. They had been scheduled to resume in February. [What should borrowers do?]”

After 2021 Tumult, Here’s What It Will Take to Protect American Democracy (DonkeyHotey)

The author writes, “For those of us who care about protecting democracy, 2021 has at times resembled the sort of nightmare where you see a friend standing on a train track but your screams about the looming danger can’t be heard. The runaway train of illiberalism continues to bear down on American democracy, and the need to act could not be more urgent. In truth, this nation avoided the worst that many anticipated might happen during and after the 2020 presidential election. Notwithstanding the ‘Big Lie’ promoted by former President Trump and his cronies, the election, in fact, went off properly, and the candidates who received the most votes were allowed to assume their offices.”

5 Takeaways From Pennsylvania’s Ongoing, Landmark School-Funding Trial After One Month (Dana)

From The Philadelphia Inquirer: “Over more than four weeks of testimony, the landmark trial in the challenge to Pennsylvania’s school-funding system has featured superintendents and teachers from rural, urban, and suburban communities describing cash-strapped schools — including Delaware County’s William Penn district — that struggle to meet state academic standards. Republican lawmakers who are defendants in the lawsuit have questioned the validity of the tests measuring those standards, the value of imposing them — and whether the districts suing the state are as resource-deficient as they claim. At issue are arguments that Pennsylvania’s method of funding public education — which relies heavily on local property taxes, resulting in wide gaps in spending between rich and poor communities — is so inadequate and inequitable that it violates the state constitution.”

Two California Teachers Were Secretly Recorded Speaking About LGBTQ Student Outreach. Now They’re Fighting for Their Jobs (Reader Steve)

From the San Francisco Chronicle: “This fall, a pair of middle school teachers from the Salinas Valley traveled to Palm Springs for the California Teachers Association’s annual LGBTQ+ Issues Conference. There, on a Saturday afternoon, Lori Caldeira and Kelly Baraki spoke to a few dozen people about a subject they knew well: the difficulty of running a GSA, or gay-straight alliance, in a socially conservative community. … Shortly after the October conference, a surreptitious recording of the presentation was handed to a conservative writer known for asserting that transgender adolescents are part of a dangerous ‘craze.’ She published a story Nov. 18 headlined ‘How Activist Teachers Recruit Kids,’ criticizing Caldeira and Baraki for actions they had seen as proper: keeping club members’ identities confidential from parents and finding a couple of potential members by viewing their online activity in class.”

Scary Drones (Sean)

From Wall Street International: “Are drones already conquering the world? Hi-tech is exponentially and rapidly changing our lives. We are observing the rise of AI technology in all sectors of society. A large number of industries, including both the military and commercial sectors, governments and recreational users are all adopting the technology of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) — or drones. These can be controlled remotely by pilots or via pre-programmed paths or automated systems which enable them to fly autonomously. An UAV (drone), is controlled by someone on the ground and includes a communication system with the UAV. Essentially, it is a flying robot.”

A Grim, Long-Hidden Truth Emerges in Art: Native American Enslavement (Dan)

The author writes, “On a bitter, windy day, a long-overdue reckoning took place in the commandant’s quarters at Fort Garland Museum & Cultural Center, a former military outpost. For most of its history, the museum has celebrated the frontiersman Christopher (Kit) Carson, who briefly commanded this far-flung garrison built during American westward expansion to protect settlers from raids by tribes. But now the museum was telling a far different story in an exhibition titled “Unsilenced: Indigenous Enslavement in Southern Colorado” — one of the first dedicated to highlighting details of the little-known and centuries-old system of Indigenous bondage that the historian Andrés Reséndez called ‘the other slavery’ in his landmark 2016 book.”

McDonald’s Testing Exercise Bike Seats at Two Locations in China (Dana)

The author writes, “McDonald’s China confirmed the company is testing in-store exercise bikes after video taken inside one of the eateries went viral online. Footage emerged recently on social media showing a woman sitting on a stationary bike while eating a hamburger at McDonald’s, and the company confirmed the bikes have been installed as seats at locations in Guangdong and Shanghai. McDonald’s China said the bike seats are part of the company’s ‘Upcycle for Good’ initiative, which aims to promote sustainability. The company said the exercise bikes generate electricity that customers can use to charge their cellphones and other devices.”

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