The actions of a teenager in Syria have caught the world’s attention today. CNN has just released exclusive video footage of a daring rescue attempt that was carried out by a 17 year-old young man.
In a country that’s been torn apart by a bloody 21-month long battle between President al-Assad’s government and Syrian rebels, acts of heroism usually take place out of sight of the public eye. But the teenager, who is seen slinking across rough pavement on his belly while gunfire erupts all around him, feels that he is not a hero, but simply a Syrian.
The brave teen, who successfully tied a rope around the woman to pull her away from the area of rapid gunfire, used to work in a bakery before the Syrian conflict began. He did not know the woman, but believed that she was still alive, so he tried to save her before she was further harmed. The woman’s son waited nearby, hoping his mother would make it out alive. Unfortunately, the woman died, and the distraught son had to be led away from his mother as she was covered up and transported by paramedics.
On Thursday, Syrian state TV denied accusations that the Syrian government has used Scud missiles against rebel groups. A U.S. official reported that satellite proof confirmed the fact that four Scud missiles were fired into northern Syria during the past few days.
The latest opinion on the status of the Syrian conflict comes from NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen. At a news conference last week, he announced the deployment of two Patriot air defense batteries to Turkey’s border with Syria. He also said the al-Assad government is “approaching collapse.”
The concern over the use of Scud missiles comes on the heels of last week’s indications that the Syrian military was readying chemical weapons for use against rebels. Numerous world leaders quickly warned Syria against using chemical or biological weapons.
The Obama administration will likely be issuing orders to determine the number of Patriot missile batteries and personnel to be sent by the United States, according to a Pentagon spokesman. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and NATO have endorsed the plan.
17-year-old Syrian risks life to rescue
While in Aleppo, Arwa Damon gets exclusive footage of a Syrian during his act of heroism in rescuing a sniper victim.
#CancelMyDebt Trends On Twitter As Debtors Urge Student Loan Default
#CancelMyDebt trends on Twitter as emotional student loan debtors took to the popular micro-blogging website their frustrations on the debts they are still paying and urged the government to pay off their student loans.
Twitter erupts with poignant posts of Americans paying off their student loans and how their debts affected their lives following their graduation. The angered netizens expressed their opinions on the tax plan that granted America’s 1% with a $1.5 trillion tax cuts while the government turns blind eyes over the student loan problem that the youth has been facing.
The apparent hashtag came after U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren encouraged students and graduates to share their stories using the #CancelMyVote hashtag to support her plan to cancel student loan debts of 95% of Americans currently paying for it. Warren’s policy to cover the student loan repayment from an additional tax on top of the top 0.1%.
“I paid off my student loans after 10 years, but it took me getting a six-figure book deal to do it. Folks shouldn’t have to hope for the equivalent of winning the lottery to have a future. #CancelMyDebt” wrote @nkjemisin on Twitter.
President Donald Trump signed the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act” into law on December 2017 and have brought significant tax reforms. “For the wealthy, banks and other corporations, the tax reform package can be considered a lopsided victory given its significant and permanent tax cuts to corporate profits, investment income, estate tax, and more. Financial services companies stand to see huge gains based on the new, lower corporate rate (21%) as well as preferential tax treatment of pass-through companies. Some banks have said that their effective tax rate will drop under 21%.,” Investopedia explained.
As the current tax plan consistently accommodates the rich, student loan debtors remain in limbo as the increasing interest rates and the piling debt are crippling their financial presents and even their futures. Student loans are a form of financial aid used to help students access higher education. Student loan debt in the United States has been snowballing since 2006, rising to nearly $1.56 trillion by 2019. Shockingly, the entire total loan debt of American equals 7.5% of the country’s GDP.
There are approximately 45 million Americans who have an outstanding student loan of $37,172 on average at the time of graduation. On top of that, student loan also appears not to be evenly distributed and is disproportionately concentrated on the for-profit college sector.
Now, student loan debtors are calling for the government to default their debts. They argue that as the outstanding student loan debt totals 1.5 trillion and the tax cut equals the same, the government can afford to pay off all of student loan debts.
People tweeting #CancelMyDebt clarifies, however, that they are not asking for a loan default because they did not owe anything. They said that call was intended for the government to take actions to destroy the systems that allow student loan companies to exploit people with dreams.
“My reality is paying $1200 a month for my student debt ALONE and working 7 days a week over 4 different jobs. I’m not asking for a “hand out,” I’m asking that we as a country address the insane cost those who are not wealthy have to pay to get higher education #CancelMyDebt,” said @steeltoejilly on a Twitter post.
Another Twitter user also chimed in saying that interest hikes have ballooned her student loan debt even if she’s paying them religiously. “I have four jobs in the education field right now. I graduated in 2005 with $100,000 in student loans. After a decade of payments, undergrad debt is over $200,000 bc of interest rates. I can’t lease a car to get to work, so I walk. I don’t own a bed. #cancelmydebt.”
However, sentiments are polarized. A huge chunk of posts bearing the hashtag talks about their disagreement to Warren’s plans. Most of them argued that student loans are student’s decisions, and the government should not be burdened to pay for their obligations.
“#CancelMyDebt? Uh, no. Nobody forced you to take out student loans. Nobody forced you to major in something that won’t land you a good job. Nobody else is responsible for your debt. It’s your debt; it’s your responsibility.” Joe Walsh tweeted Wednesday.
Kurt Schlichter, a veteran, chimed in saying that Americans can serve in the military and reap the benefits of GI Bill as he did. “Well, you could have served your country and earned GI Bill benefits like I did. But you didn’t. So I’m kind of unclear why you think I owe you anything.#CancelMyDebt? Nah. How about you #PayYourOwnDebt?” /apr
A group of independent researchers has found out that a coordinated black propaganda campaign targeting U.S. President Donald Trump has emerged in the popular social media platform, Instagram, in an effort to derail his reputation through “meme warfare.”
The current political climate and the advent of social networking and its growing popularity in becoming platforms for social discourse created an arena for personality political wars, as seen in recent elections around the world. The camp of President Trump allegedly used the same strategy during the 2016 elections to launch targeted and coordinated personality assassination against presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton in an attempt to sway public opinion against the Democrat standard bearer at that time.
Russians are said to have created spoofed accounts both in Facebook and Instagram and impersonated American citizens to influence public opinion in favor of President Trump. The study published by Italian analytics firm Ghost Data revealed that they had seen similar activities, but now targeting President Trump instead.
The firm said that the U.S. president is experiencing illicit attacks, albeit on a limited scale, with fake profiles impersonating Americal citizens to spread virulent anti-Trump narratives in a coordinated attack to derail the president. The researchers also opened the possibility that while they were able to uncover a small operation, it could also be part of something bigger.
“We have uncovered a small operation that is a very likely part of something bigger,” said Andrea Stroppa, the head of research at Ghost Data. “I get the feeling that someone out there is experimenting. Testing the waters. They know what they are doing.”
Facebook, the owner of Instagram, said to Reuters that they are already investigating the apparent violations of the social network’s Community Standards. They also have removed the profiles uncovered by the researchers. Interestingly, the company has been part of a highly publicized legislative inquiry on its role in the 2016 Russian intervention in the US elections.
The accounts that were removed were said to have violated rules of Instagram, such as using stolen images of other people and acting in tandem with other accounts to spew out vitriolic messages.
A spokesperson for Instagram told Reuters: “We are investigating the accounts in question and have already removed those that we’ve found to violate our policies. Accounts used to manipulate or mislead the public are not allowed on Instagram, and we will take action if we find additional violations.”
The researcher said that they were able to discover 52,000 accounts on Instagram, which were generally anti-Trump, using such hashtags as #impeachtrump. While most of them were genuine accounts owned by actual people, they also have uncovered 350 “suspicious accounts” that’s the main goal is specifically to overturn the U.S. president. Out of these, 19 accounts took the researchers interest by appearing to be interlinked and “waging incessant ‘memetic warfare,’ using multiple images and meme videos to attack Donald Trump and his administration.
There were already a total of 121,000 posts put out by all the 350 suspected account with more than 35.2 million “interactions” since October 2016, when they were first created. The researchers also found similarities and similar identifiable characteristics in the accounts, including their profile pictures. One block of five out of the smaller 19 subsets among all the suspicious accounts found by researchers was discovered to have been created on the same day last August, further supporting the thesis that these accounts are interlinked and could be part of a much bigger destabilization effort against the Republican leader.
“Their goal seems to be to infiltrate into (social media) networks that are much bigger,” said Stroppa.
U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee, through an independent report published last December, said the Russian government’s Internet Research Agency created some 133 Instagram accounts in the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign and used them to try to propagate dangerous narratives against the U.S. political system.
Stroppa, while being suspicious, said that he had not found any evidence that would link the 19 accounts his team discovered to any form of Russian interference.
“What you can say is that this digital campaign against Trump uses some of the same methods that were used to attack Hilary Clinton in 2016,” he said.
While the study has a very tiny sample size against the total population of a billion Instagram users, Stroppa stressed that even a small number of accounts could destabilize a government structure if they will only be able to amplify their reach and make their messages heard by a lot of people.
South Korea Labor Force Shrinks, Blaming Economic Problems And Increasing Number Of Celibates
According to the research conducted by the Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs (KIHSA), a growing number of South Koreans are declining to get married and are not even interested in dating. One of the possible reasons is because dating is expensive and dangerous.
The Korea Herald reported that last 2015, 90 percent of men and 77 percent of women between the ages of 25 to 29 are celibates. Most South Koreans decided to be single by choice because of economic problems, dating problems, and social issues.
The nation’s overall unemployment rate is 3.4 percent, the highest record yet for 17 years. For the country’s youth between ages 15 to 29, the unemployment rate is 10.8%. The job market in the country is famed to be very competitive. Most individuals spend their free time in schools to improve their professional skills and get certificates, which can help them land their dream jobs.
CNN‘s Sophie Jeong recently interviewed a 24-year-old male student named Kim Joon-Hyup to get to a better idea about the issue and get to know the views/opinions of the country’s younger generation.
Kim is studying full time at Sejong University. But every weekday evening, he also attends another institution to study game design. Kim doesn’t have time to date. If he was in a relationship, he will be sorry for her since he wouldn’t be able to invest time.
For South Korean couples, dating and marriage are both expensive. Duo, a matchmaking industry, estimated that the usual cost per date is 63,494 won (around $55). Individuals who live with minimum-wage paychecks have to work more hours to afford a single date.
Meanwhile, to get married, couples spend an average of $90,000 for the overall wedding expenses, a 2013 survey reported. There is also a wedding tradition in South Korea, which they call “trading wealth.” For example, if a female marries a doctor, her family needs to pay a considerable amount to the groom’s family in exchange for an elite social status.
Dating in South Korea is not only expensive but can also be dangerous too. One of the major societal issues of the nation is sex crimes, illegal recording of sexual acts or voyeurism, and gender discrimination.
The National Police Agency reported a massive increase in sexual violence crimes. Data received from the 2008 sex crime survey revealed that there are 16,000 cases, and in 2017, the number of cases doubled. In most cases, the assault comes from the victims’ lover or date.
Furthermore, dating does not end up in physical abuse. Last 2017, there have been more than 6,400 cases of unauthorized recording. Recently, a viral scandal involving famous K-Pop Star Jung Joon-young circulated on the internet. He was arrested last March and accused of taking videos of women during sex without their consent. Worst case scenario, he shares the said videos on the internet explicitly.
Another possible reason why most South Koreans prefer to be single is that they have a culture which values work and study over relationships. Last 2017 OECD stated that an average South Korean works almost 250 hours more compared to their United States counterpart.
South Korea is known to have the lowest birth rate in the world. Last December, it dropped to 0.95, which means that for every 100 women, only 95 children are born. For the nation to have a steady workforce, the birth rate should be 2.1.
This fact can result in a community mostly composed of older people in the future. Lee Jong-wha, an economist from the Korea University, predicted that by 2030 almost one-third of the South Korean population would be age 65 or older.
South Korean government is aware and have created programs to solve this upcoming labor force problem. Starting in 2005, it allocated 36 trillion won (US$32.1 billion) to lessen the financial burden to families. They offered monthly childcare subsidies and other incentives to young families.
Also, universities in South Korea are offer dating classes. For example, Sejong University offers a gender and culture course which covers topics related to choosing a suitable marriage partner and how to deal with breakups. This move also aims to teach students the idea that dating does not necessarily need to be expensive if one knows how to think creatively.
Nevertheless, to some critics, there are still a lot of things that should be done to make a significant impact to motivate the country.
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