China’s Girl Stars & Student Loans: VICE News Tonight Full Episode (HBO)

Tonight: Violent homophobia spreads in Indonesia The plot to destroy Obamacare

And… The group that’s redefining the “boy” band More than 30 migrants, most of them toddlers, drowned after a boat carrying close to 500 people overturned off the Libyan coast Several EU and commercial vessels were involved in the rescue effort In the past week, more than 7,000 migrants have been rescued from boats off country’s western coast President Trump had his first face-to-face meeting with Pope Francis, where they discussed health care, education, and assistance for immigrants

The Pope also gave the President a copy of his papal teaching documents on the environment But the two have clashed publicly in the past— during Trump’s campaign, the Pontiff said it was not Christian to build walls instead of bridges, and Trump reacted with an insult, saying it was, quote, “disgraceful” for a religious leader to question his faith Vermont Governor Phil Scott vetoed a bill that would have legalized recreational marijuana He says he’s not, quote, “philosophically opposed” to legalizing pot— but wants stiffer penalties for people who drive when stoned, and sell marijuana to kids Education Secretary Betsy DeVos attempted to defend President Trump’s budget plan, which proposes massive cuts to education initiatives

But DeVos refused to say whether she would block federal funding for private schools that discriminate against students: — States and local communities are best-equipped to make these decisions and framework on behalf of their constituents — I am shocked that you cannot come up with one example of discrimination where you would stand up for students — Taiwan’s top court ruled that barring same-sex unions is unconstitutional The legislature has two years to change the current law, or to create new ones That would make Taiwan the first country in Asia to legalize gay marriage: — In other parts of Asia, legal equality for the LGBT community is moving in the exact opposite direction— towards intolerance and state-sanctioned violence

In Aceh Province in Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim-majority country, Sharia law is now being enforced legally And yesterday, two men arrested for having sex were publicly caned — these 20-year-old men were caned 83 times by three “enforcers,” who took turns lashing them for breaking Islamic law — Human rights advocates compared the beatings to medieval torture, and the echoes are hard to ignore — The couple was arrested in March after neighborhood vigilantes broke into their rented room and recorded them having sex

In Aceh, homosexuality is punishable with up to 100 lashes, 100 months in jail, or with a fine of up to 22 pounds of gold— or about $40,000 It’s the only province in Indonesia where it’s officially criminalized… …currently This man, who identifies as gay, was willing to talk on camera as long as we distorted his voice and obscured his face: — Some politicians in the country have expressed, quote, “concerns about the activism of the LGBT community” Others have called for the criminalization of gay sex in their provinces

And in the capital, Jakarta, on Sunday, 141 men were rounded up for attending what police described as a “gay sex party” The arrests appear to be part of a rising tide of virulent homophobia — In Tripoli today, authorities arrested the father and younger brother of Manchester bomber Salman Abedi Abedi’s brother told officers that the two had joined the Islamic State, which was quick to take responsibility for the blast, and that he was planning an attack of his own in Libya The investigation is likely just beginning, but it looks more and certain that the Manchester bombing was organized and executed by a broader network of ISIS militants

Hind Hassan has more — Police say they’re investigating what they’ve called “a possible network” But what we don’t know is exactly who’s part of that network, and just how strong their links are to ISIS Abedi is said to have returned from Libya, where his parents live, just days before the suicide bombing And now, Arabic media has claimed that hisfather was wanted by the former regime of Muammar Gaddafi for his links to the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group— an affiliate of al-Qaeda

Now, ISIS has taken responsibility for the attack— as it has done with many so-called “lone wolf” attacks that have taken place across Europe over the past two years But the potential link between Salman Abedi’s father and al-Qaeda suggests that Salman could have connections to other extremist groups— not just Islamic State I spoke to Rizwaan Sabir, a lecturer in criminology and an expert in Islamic extremism at Liverpool John Moores University, at one of the memorial sites in Manchester I asked him how the involvement of ISIS changes the calculus of the investigation: — If this does transpire to be an incident which has been directed from a foreign organization in a foreign territory, then I think it does signal a significant shift This would indicate something more centralized, and therefore something more strategic— and I think that’s what really stands this out

— Would this be something different if he did have links to al-Qaeda, rather than to Islamic State? — AQI, or al-Qaeda, and ISIS, this distinction that’s being made between these two groups, I would say, in practice, is not as important as one would probably think Also, I think it’s important to recognize here that, prior to the formation of ISIS in around 2012–‘13, it was actually al-Qaeda, according to its communiqués and propaganda magazines and documentation, that was asking Westerners to also undertake acts of political violence here at home — The critical security levels in the United Kingdom is expected to last a week— but because of the connections to Islamic State, the investigation by the intelligence services could last months, if not years — The Congressional Budget Office released its updated assessment of the American Health Care Act— House Republicans’ Obamacare replacement bill As expected, the bill saves the federal government less money than the first version, and takes coverage away from slightly fewer people

But the CBO still estimates that 23-million more Americans would be uninsured in 10 years, compared to the current system But Republicans don’t need to wait for the replacement to start killing off Obamacare Alexandra Jaffe explains — A few years ago, Republicans found a key vulnerability in the struggling Affordable Care Act, and seized on it They zeroed in on a wonky part of the law, called “cost-sharing reduction subsidies,” or, CSR subsidies

Obamacare requires insurance companies to offer cheaper plans to lower-income individuals, and, in return, the government pays these CSR subsidies to the insurance companies to help out The subsidies allow insurers to offer cheaper copays and lower deductibles CSR payments are a relatively small part of Obamacare But take them away, and the system edges toward a “death spiral”— which, of course, is exactly what Republicans want, because it gives them a reason to scrap it President Trump has repeatedly threatened to stop making the payments

And already, the mere possibility that the government could stop paying CSRs is badly damaging the system Here in Delaware, for example, Aetna has already said they’re pulling out of the state’s Obamacare exchanges in 2018, leaving it with only one insurer — What’s happening with the Affordable Care Act is, when the funding is not in place, and when all of the procedures they had in place to make sure that companies would remain solvent, would be able to remain on the exchange, and be able to offer affordable insurance, when that’s pulled away, the funding is going to die That’s what’s going to happen with the ACA — Is that affecting insurers? Just the possibility that this could happen? — Of course it is

Again, this is why Aetna left the marketplace— because they simply don’t know And what they were asking for was in excess of a 50% rate increase, assuming that the CSRs were in place

So, I’ve seen studies that indicate that, if they are not in place, you’ll see an additional 15 to 25%, in addition to the rate increase — You’ve described a pretty dire situation Would you say, then, Obamacare is in a “death spiral” that we hear a lot about? — We’re optimistic that, maybe in the 11th hour, that a compromise will be made We do believe that the ACA will be around for at least another year We’re simply running out of time

— Since 2007, more than half-a-million Americans have enrolled in a program called PSLF, or Public-Service Loan Forgiveness, which guarantees that anyone who dedicates 10 years of their career to public service will have their student loans forgiven The Trump administration’s budget threatens to gut the program But for some people who signed up for PSLF, the promise has already been broken — Hey, good morning I love working here

Every day I get to wake up and help those that served our country — Kelsey Yoon has worked as an attorney at Vietnam Veterans of America for three years The VVA provides free legal services to disabled veterans — Hey, Alec! So tell me about the case you’re working on — She has over $200,000 in student debt

When she accepted the job at VVA, she was told that it qualified for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, or PSLF So after 10 years, her debt would be cleared — Do you think, if the program didn’t exist, that you would have gone a different route after law school? — Definitely When I first interviewed for this position, here at Vietnam Veterans of America, in my interview, it was actually discussed that VVA qualified for PSLF And when they offered me the position, they used that as a recruitment tool

To be honest, had I known at the time that VVA may not apply, I probably would not have accepted this position — Kelsey’s loans are overseen by FedLoan Servicing, a company the Department of Education uses to administer loans Last year, FedLoan sent her a letter that contradicted everything she had been told before — So, when I first started working at VVA, I submitted my qualifying employer form and they immediately approved me About a year later, I resubmitted to re-certify— even though I didn’t have to, but just to check-in

And they approved me, and then, a couple of months later, I received this letter: “We recently informed you that your employer” “is an approved public service organization” “We determined that Vietnam Veterans of America is not for-profit,” “but they do not provide a qualifying public service,” “and, therefore, does not qualify for PSLF” — But that wasn’t even the worst part The letter also said that Kelsey’s years at VVA wouldn’t count toward the 10-year public service requirement: quote, “Please accept our apology for any inconvenience this error may have caused

” — Honestly, when I first opened the letter, I thought, “Oh, they’re mistaken” — Jamie Rudert recruited Kelsey to VVA when he worked as an attorney there He told her that they qualified, and that he was relying on the loan forgiveness program, too — Once I got on the program and I started working at Vietnam Veterans of America, it was actually my 30th birthday So, I was looking forward to having my student loans forgiven at the age of 40

— But then, last April, Jamie received the same letter — You’re much more calm, I think I would’ve had an emotional breakdown and just started panicking — I did have a lot of sleepless nights and a lot of anxiety And I also had to decide, do I wanna— should I continue to rely on this? Should I try to find another way to pay this off? — You said you went looking for answers from Fedloan, or the Do

E What sorts of answers have they given? — I contacted Fedloan Servicing and tried to appeal the decision internally, and just repeatedly got very generic answers that the organization does not qualify, but no explanation of why — Under the program, government organizations and most nonprofits automatically qualify, but VVA is a private non-profit So the Department of Education decides whether it counts as a public-service organization — On the phone, they would just say, “This is the Department of Education’s decision

” But there’s really nobody at the Department of Education that you can get in touch with — You know, I feel like that worked out really well — Rohit Chopra is a former Department of Education employee He also oversaw student loans at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau — So how is it possible that FedLoan Servicing can issue an employment certification form, only to have the Department of Education come in a year or two later and say, “Actually, that certification was meaningless?” — Well, this is one of the many reasons our student loan system is so badly broken

Loan servicers are the ones who are supposed to be able to give you clear and accurate information about the status of your loan — Now Jamie, along with three other people and the American Bar Association, are suing the Department of Education They argue the certification process is arbitrary, and that the government can’t just retroactively decertify places like the VVA In its response to the lawsuit, the Department of Education denied that it ever acted retroactively, and says the certifications Jamie and Kelsey received from FedLoan were never valid VICE News contacted FedLoan, who referred us to the Department of Education— and the Department of Education declined to comment

— If you’re enrolled in a loan forgiveness program, you should be able to rely on them— that they are giving you the right information and telling you the truth — With Asian pop acts dominating charts around the world, a new band called FFC-Acrush hopes to be China’s answer to K-pop Their spiky hair and suggestive dance routine make them the platonic ideal of the boy band, with one exception: they’re girls — The five members of China’s hottest boyband, FFC-Acrush, prefers to be referred to as maeshaonian, or “handsome youths” The “A” in Acrush is for “Adonis,” and with their short hair, dropcrotch pants and sneakers, they look more like Bieber clones than “Fifth Harmony

” — Acrush is the brainchild of Wang Tianhai, the 34-year-old Svengali who formerly made internet movies Wang’s 7-month-old company, Zhejiang Huati, is funded in-part by the $255-billion Chinese tech giant, Tencent Wang hopes to create China’s popstar-industrial complex Acrush is their first act, but he’s churning out two more in rapid succession — Why do you think the world is ready for C-pop now? — 2,000 women competed to be in Wang’s pop groups

Trainees are split into four levels— A, B, C and D, that dictate how close you are to enlistment New hairstyles and clothes are assigned, and vocal and dance trainers from the pre-established world of K-pop are flown in — But there’s one skill they haven’t imitated: daily football practice The FFC in their name stands for “Fantasy Football Confederation”— as in, soccer It’s unorthodox for a pop group, but China’s President, Xi Jinping, is a huge fan, and there’s a collective effort to attract interest in the sport

— Few of the 30 trainees have played before, and the former soccer professional-turned FFC coach has a highly improbable task — Soccer, gender fluidity, pop hooks and choreography seems like a scattershot play for universal appeal, but Wang isn’t taking any chances The next two groups, FFC-Ncrush and FFC-Ecrush, stand for “nymph” and “elfin” For their debut, Acrush travels from popstar school in Jinhua to Beijing It’s the first time they’re performing for fans and expectations are high

— It seems Wang’s efforts are paying off Acrush has fans months before their debut release — Asked what would happen if they don’t like the songs, the fans are adamant in their devotion: — Western press has hyped the visibility of a queer-seeming pop group, but androgyny isn’t new in China Li Yuchun, aka Chris Lee, the makeup-free, short-haired trailblazer, won an American Idol-type contest a decade ago, singing love songs to girls And as trendy as the unisex look is, talk of sexuality is verboten— begging the question of how much progress this actually is

There’s a deliberately vague quality to their discussion of fans: — So, are you guys allowed to date anyone? — And while FFC-Acrush follows the classic boyband formula, there’s the baby, the crooner, the leader, the rapper, and the real musician— don’t expect a rebellious phase Each Tencent Park trainee costs Wang $1,700 to enlist— and they are all replaceable Understudies are rampant, which is why the event seems more like a shareholder’s meeting than a concert: — Your band is debuting in just a few short hours How do you feel about that? — Despite the fanfare and hoopla, Huang decided at the last minute to pull the plug on a show Acrush was deemed not ready for a live performance— but I got a sneak preview

— That’s VICE News Tonight for Wednesday, May 24th

Source: Youtube

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