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There was some good news for student borrowers last week. After months of delay due to his own wavering support for the idea, President Biden announced his plan to cancel some student loan debt for eligible borrowers by executive order. Under his plan, the Department of Education will cancel up to $10,000 worth of debt for borrowers making less than $125,000 per year and up to $20,000 for Pell Grant recipients. The plan also includes cutting monthly payments for undergraduate borrowers.

The plan does have its shortcomings. The student debt bubble has reached $1.7 trillion and affects about 44 million Americans. Biden is only scratching the surface of the problem. And there are signs of trouble ahead. As part of its announcement, the White House noted that student loan repayment would restart in the new year.

Still, advocates have praised the White House plan as a first step in a longer fight. In less than a decade, the idea of a president canceling student loan debt went from the fringes to reality. These allies were quick to defend Biden and the administration against detractors from the right, who attacked the idea of loan cancellation altogether. The White House itself got in on the action on Twitter, highlighting the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan cancellations for businesses owned by the Republicans in Congress crying foul at the debt relief.

In other news, the effects of climate change are on full display, highlighting the need for urgent global action. In the Chinese city of Chongqing, the riverbed of the Jialing River has run dry amid a sweltering heatwave. In Pakistan, meanwhile, monsoon rain and flooding have killed more than 1,000 people.

Earlier this month, the Democrats passed the Inflation Reduction Act, signaling a first step to addressing the problem—while also giving sizable handouts to the fossil fuel industry.

Please enjoy this week’s selection of the stories from OptOut’s participating news outlets.

Your Weekly News Roundup from Financially Independent Sources

New in JACOBIN is the story of how student debt cancellation went from utopian ideal to reality.

Student Debt Relief Was Never Supposed to Happen
Student debt forgiveness is about to become official US policy by a stroke of Joe Biden’s pen. It’s a good time to remember that, just a few years ago, the idea was denounced as hopelessly utopian, a left-wing pipe dream — and that was the liberals talking.
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For more analysis, COUNTERPUNCH has a strong rundown of the Biden student debt plan and its shortcomings.

Biden’s Bifurcated Student Debt Cancelation Plan
This week President Biden announced his long-awaited plan to alleviate in part the burden of nearly $2 trillion carried by 45 million American students
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THE NATION has its own take on Biden’s plan and how it should do more.

Joe Biden’s $10,000 Student Debt Cancellation Is a Huge Win—but It’s Not Enough
It’s time to make higher education a true public good, with free-college legislation.
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Did you read our first climate-focused newsletter? OptOut Climate Editor Cristian Salazar rounds up the best independent reporting about climate change, energy, and the environment every other Wednesday.

Monster Climate Deal Is Called Historic; Others Angered by Embrace of Fossil Fuel Industries
The best independent coverage of the climate crisis.
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To get this week's climate newsletter in your inbox, sign into your account and click "Manage" to subscribe to OptOut Climate!

The Pandemic Isn’t Over

With the school year about to begin, doctors are desperately urging parents to vaccinate their children, reports THE CONNECTICUT MIRROR.

CT doctors: Give children COVID-19 vaccine before school year
Connecticut doctors are urging parents to vaccinate their young children against COVID-19 before the 2022-23 school year starts.
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Rights Under Threat

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has made national waves for weaponizing his state government against his perceived enemies, including trans Americans and public school teachers. This week, it was revealed that his election fraud task force probed heavily Democratic areas in his state. The FLORIDA PHOENIX has the story.

Gov. DeSantis’ election security team probed FL voters for fraud in heavily Democratic counties - Florida Phoenix
Following Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis’ new election security office charging 20 Florida residents with felonies connected to alleged voter fraud, state data show those individuals are in Florida’s largest voting strongholds, with about 40 to 48 percent Democrats in five urban counties. So far, the…
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The DAILY MONTANAN published a troubling column this week about the assault on Native American voting rights.

Republicans want to roll back Native American voting rights – Daily Montanan
Columnist Pat Smith says Montana’s Republican Party is back to its old tricks of rolling back voting rights for Native Americans.
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Post-Roe v. Wade America looks pretty grim. PRISM reports on the next phase of criminalizing abortion.

Despite being legal in most states, self-managed abortion is being criminalized
Reproductive rights advocates are reminding people that “the law still matters,” regardless of recent attempts to criminalize self-managed abortions
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On a new episode of THE MAJORITY REPORT, Emma Vigeland interviews Dr. Heather Berg, professor of women, gender, and sexuality studies at Washington University in St. Louis and author of Porn Work, about sex work in America.

The Majority Report
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LGBTQ+ with Liana!

Today we begin a new recurring newsletter section! Journalist Liana DeMasi, OptOut’s new LGBTQ+ researcher, rounds up some of the week’s important happenings in LGBTQ+ news, events, ideas, and happenings.

COUNTERPUNCH dives into the pervasive and abhorrent fascism of Hungary’s prime minister, Viktor Orbán, and what that means for marginalized communities as Ron DeSantis and the rest of America’s far right continue to mimic Orbán’s tactics and messaging.

DeSantis is an especially dangerous politician who echoes Orbán’s embrace of a radicalized notion of white Christianity, a regressive notion of family values, and the use of the state to punish groups, corporations, and institutions that he views as a threat to his power.
The Scourge of Fascist Politics and the Rise of White Nationalism from Orbán to DeSantis
Orbán has declared war on liberal democracy and in doing so appeals not only to anti-communists, right-wing Christians, nativists, and homophobes, he also provides a model of Christian nationalism for those conservatives in the United States such as Donald Trump, Tucker Carlson, and Ron DeSantis who…
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Alex Masse speaks to their gender journey through the lens of online bullying and exploitation for TRANSLASH.

Streaming to Be Demeaned: My Addiction to Gender-Affirming Misogyny
If I can help at least one trans kid not hurt themself online, I’ll have done a good job. No trans person should have to find euphoria in cruelty.
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VIRGINIA MERCURY reports that monkeypox vaccine eligibility is expanding in the state and will now “be available to people of any sexual orientation or gender who have had anonymous or multiple sexual partners in the past two weeks, sex workers of any orientation or gender, and staff of any sexual orientation or gender at establishments where sexual activity occurs.” This is due to the fact that monkeypox is spread through extremely close contact, which happens most often during sexual encounters. It can, however, spread through other types of physical touch.

Virginia expands monkeypox vaccine eligibility - Virginia Mercury
VDH: New monkeypox vaccine administration method “allows for more people at intermediate or high levels of exposure risk to be protected.”
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It is important to note that, while the original outbreak was in the gay community, the monkeypox virus can impact and infect anyone. It’s crucial that the currently affected population receives medical care; equally important is acknowledging that we cannot report on or speak about this crisis the same way we did with HIV/AIDS. If we do, we run the risk of a graver medical situation, as well as widespread discrimination and misinformation. —Liana

Inequality in America

Highlighting a gap in the national discourse about criminal justice, SCALAWAG published a new piece about women who go through America’s criminal justice system.

As women’s incarceration rates skyrocket, prison data is all about men.
Almost all of the data that exists about prison is based on the experiences of men.
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Years after Hurricane Katrina, the legacy of destruction lives on in the privatized education system in New Orleans. NEXT WORLD, the podcast of Partners for Dignity and Rights, reports on the ongoing struggle.

Listen: Seventeen Years After Hurricane Katrina, Still Organizing for Education Justice - Partners for Dignity & Rights
Seventeen years after Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast and the federal government abandoned the people of New Orleans, we still mourn, and we still organize. On the latest episode of The Next World podcast from Partners for Dignity & …
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In Other News

White nationalism is on the rise and fueling domestic terrorism. ARIZONA MIRROR released a breakdown of the issue, including its history and implications.

White nationalism, fueled by social media, is on the rise and attracting violent young white men
White nationalists keep showing up in the hearings of the U.S. House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection. Evidence is mounting that white nationalist groups who want to establish an all-white state played a significant role in the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol that left five…
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As the number of classified documents found in Trump’s possession tops 700, the former president is in crisis management mode. RING OF FIRE has a fun recap of his Truth Social meltdown.

Thanks as always for following the work of OptOut’s 150+ independent news outlets! See you soon.

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