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House passes $1.9T COVID-19 relief bill

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House passes $1.9T COVID-19 relief bill

House Democrats early Saturday narrowly approved President Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 stimulus bill, overcoming Republican opposition and accusations of waste in the “emergency” package.

The American Rescue Plan Act passed 219 to 212 just before 2 a.m., garnering not one Republican vote.

Two Democrats, Jared Golden of Maine and Kurt Schrader of Oregon, voted against the measure, which gives $1,400 stimulus checks to adults earning $75,000 or less a year.

Republicans have complained that the act was packed with pork unrelated to the pandemic, adding to the national debt and potentially spurring inflation.

But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) had proclaimed at an evening press conference that “this is a spectacular piece of legislation.”

Republicans unsuccessfully proposed removing $140 million for an underground rail line connecting the San Francisco area, which Pelosi represents, to Silicon Valley. A motion failed to reallocate those funds to mental health grants for children that suffered from the pandemic.

The bill includes $1,400 stimulus checks for adults earning up to $75,000 per year, with smaller checks for higher earners and nothing for people who make more than $100,000. For each dependent child, the bill authorizes an extra $1,400 payment.

For parents, it also authorizes a $3,600 annual tax credit per child under age 6 and $3,000 per child up to age 17. Those funds also are phased out for earners over $75,000 or joint filers above $150,000.

A family of four earning less than $150,000 could bank more than $14,000 from the bill, according to an analysis from CNBC.

Other provisions include $350 billion for state and local governments. New York City is expected to receive about $5.6 billion if the bill passes. The state government would get about $12.7 billion, according to estimates released by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY).

The bill contains $129 billion for K-12 schools, but the Congressional Budget Office estimates that about 95 percent won’t be spent in 2021, in part because funds approved for schools last year haven’t been spent.

The bill includes $75 billion for vaccination, testing and other pandemic medical supplies. And it adds $7.2 billion to the Paycheck Protection Program, which gives small businesses forgivable loans for payroll and overhead. The PPP program was replenished in December with $484 billion in new funds.

It authorizes through August a $400-per-week federal unemployment insurance subsidy.

The bill also has a minimum wage hike to $15 per hour, which won’t be allowed in the Senate version of the bill — meaning the House must ratify the bill twice before it reaches Biden’s desk.

The White House and Democrats in Congress argued that the bill could be considered bipartisan, even without much Republican support on Capitol Hill.

Rep. Sean Maloney (D-NY) said, “It’s important not to miss the broad bipartisan support for this package as soon as you step out of the Republican caucus room.”

“It’s not just the Republican caucus that matters — it is the millions of Republican voters who have said they support this legislation, 75 percent of the American public,” Maloney said before the vote.

But House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said that the bill was largely unnecessary, pointing to an estimated $40 billion flowing to California’s government, despite the state recently reporting a $10 billion budget surplus.

“95 percent of the funding in this bill isn’t even scheduled to be spent for another year, creating more uncertainty for families,” McCarthy said on Friday.

“And in fact, less than 9 percent of the bill will be used to fund public health.”

Democrats intend to send the bill to Biden for his signature by mid-March when a $300 weekly unemployment supplement expires. The bill can pass the evenly divided Senate with a bare majority and no Republican votes under special budget reconciliation rules that bypass the ordinary 60-vote supermajority required for bills to pass.

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Small Republican NY county has one of highest vax rates in US

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Small Republican NY county has one of highest vax rates in US

An upstate New York county has one of the highest COVID-19 vaccination rates in the country.

Some 65 percent of Hamilton County residents are fully vaccinated against the virus, way better than the 36 percent of people nationwide and 41.6 percent across the Empire State, according to an ABC analysis of figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The rates fly in the face of polls that say Republicans are less willing to get the shot — in 2020, 68 percent of residents in the county voted for Donald Trump over Joe Biden, the report said.

“We’ve watched nationally, this political fight over COVID,” Bill Farber, chairman of the county Board of Supervisors, told ABC. “We defied the odds, didn’t we?”

The county is New York’s smallest by population, with about 4,800 residents, and is located within Adirondack Park — with no hospital, no pharmacy and bad cellphone service, ABC reported.

Forty-three percent of Republicans polled by Monmouth University had said they wanted to avoid a COVID-19 vaccination. A Monmouth University poll in April said 43 percent of GOP voters wanted to avoid the COVID-19 vaccination.

Hamilton officials told ABC they believed they were able to encourage residents to get jabbed by having word spread by neighbors and volunteers, rather than through political messaging.

Farber thinks this week’s announcement that fully-vaccinated people could go maskless in most circumstances may encourage some holdouts.

“Rather than getting caught up in it being a Republican or a Democrat issue, it really was seen as a community issue,” Farber told ABC. “I think that was our saving grace.”

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U of California to nix SAT, ACT in settlement with minority students

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U of California to nix SAT, ACT in settlement with minority students

The University of California agreed to no longer consider SAT or ACT scores when making admissions and scholarship decisions under a settlement finalized Friday in a 2019 lawsuit filed on behalf of low income students of color and students with disabilities. 

The 10-campus system, which has more than 280,000 students statewide, decided not to continue fighting a judge’s injunction issued last fall that barred it from considering the scores for admission even when submitted voluntarily, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. Students may still elect to submit SAT or ACT scores to satisfy the entry level writing requirement or for placement in courses. 

The lawsuit argued that low income students of color were at disadvantage because standardized test questions often contain inherent bias that more privileged children are better equipped to answer and wealthier students often take expensive prep course to boost scores that others cannot afford. It also argues the students with disabilities could not easier travel to exams and class sites.  

The settlement, reached earlier this month, “ensures that the university will not revert to its planned use of the SAT and ACT — which its own regents have admitted are racist metrics,” Amanda Savage, an attorney representing the students, said in a statement obtained by the Chronicle. 

The UC Board of Regents voted last year to drop the SAT and ACT tests as admission requirements through 2024 and eliminate them for California residents after that. Incoming students this fall didn’t submit SAT or ACT scores. However, regents had said applicants for fall 2021 and 2022 could submit the scores voluntarily. The new settlement will “provide certainty for students and their families, counselors, and high schools,” the school said.

College Board, which produced the SAT, rejected the notion that their standardized tests were inherently racist – though it did recognize inequities in the education system. 

“Real inequities exist in American education, and they are reflected in every measure of academic achievement, including the SAT,” College Board’s executive director for communications, Zach Goldberg, said in a statement obtained by the New York Times. “The SAT itself is not a racist instrument. Every question is rigorously reviewed for evidence of bias and any question that could favor one group over another is discarded.”

Under the agreement, SAT and ACT scores won’t be considered for admission for students applying for entry between fall 2021 and spring 2025. However, the scores that are submitted voluntarily can be used for course placement after a student is admitted.

FairTest, a Massachusetts-based nonprofit group that is generally opposed to standardized testing, announced last month that more than 1,400 accredited colleges and universities that grant bachelor’s degrees won’t require students applying for fall 2022 admission to submit test scores. That is more than 60% of the undergraduate institutions in the United States, the group said.

The University of California announced on Jan. 28 that the system received the highest number of undergraduate applications in its history for the fall 2021 admission, which included surges among African American and Chicano/Latino students. California Community College transfer applications also grew by an impressive margin, the university system said. 

Campuses saw significant growth of freshman applications from African American students, with an increase of 1,505 applications or 21.8 percent, as well as Chicano/Latino students, with a jump of 5,250 or 12.2 percent, the university system said. 

“The makeup of this year’s applicants already show that students are no longer deterred from applying based on their inability to access standardized testing,” Marci Lerner Miller, another attorney representing the students, said in a statement about the settlement. “We’re confident that this settlement will lead to students demonstrating their abilities, rather than their disabilities, in the application process.” 

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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Pregnant OnlyFans star Carla Bellucci plans to livestream birth for money

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Pregnant OnlyFans star Carla Bellucci plans to livestream birth for money

Carla Bellucci, a pregnant British OnlyFans star has been leveraging her growing child for cold hard cash, the Daily Star reports.

Interest in her pregnancy has become so intense, Carla Bellucci, who hails from Hitchin, Herts, which lies north of London, has received a $14,000 offer to livestream her birth on OnlyFans.

Pregnant with her fourth child, Carla Bellucci, 39, rocketed to fame and then to OnlyFans stardom after sneakily getting the UK’s National Health Service to cover her nose job.

“I have been offered £10,000 from one of my OnlyFans to live-stream my birth – and you know what, why not?” she announced.

“I am going to give fans the chance to live-stream my birth for £10,000.

Pregnant mum to live-stream birth on OnlyFans for £10k and has offers to sell breastmilk

“I mean, people give birth on that programme One Born Every Minute and I can’t see the difference,” Carla Bellucci, the pregnant OnlyFans star, reasoned.

“I’m sure they don’t even get paid!”

As her pregnancy advances, Carla Bellucci says she is ready to deal with any haters who try and drag her for giving birth on OnlyFans livestream.

Indy100 reports that as soon as she got pregnant, Carla Belllucci saw her OnlyFans fanbase swell right along with her belly.

The OnlyFans subscription service allows users to make money from shared content that usually stars themselves and is often adult in nature.

Pregnant OnlyFans star is planning to live-stream birth to subscribers for £10,000

“I know people are going to go crazy but I’m a businesswoman and I need to make money,” Carla Bellucci told the Daily Star of her plans to livestream the culmination of her pregnancy on OnlyFans.

“I am my business,” the influencer noted, according to the Daily Record.

“I am nervous about live-streaming my birth but at the end of the day it’s a lot of money to refuse.”

Since first announcing her pregnancy, Carla Bellucci had one of her “best months” on OnlyFans, she said.

Carla says that since she started adding pregnancy pictures to her account her OnlyFans income has gone up substantially.

Pregnant OnlyFans mum plans to live-stream baby’s birth to make £10k

Carla Bellucci says that since announcing her pregnancy on OnlyFans, she’s had requests for her breastmilk.

She draws the line there, finding the requests untoward and shocking.

Rationalizing her efforts to hawk her pregnant body on OnlyFans, Carla Bellucci said,  “People go on the beach in bikinis while they’re pregnant – what’s the difference? I’m not nude!”

The Mirror reports that she plans to keep photos of her baby off of social media — unless someone pays her enough.

“I’d want a good magazine deal, I’d want around £15,000,” she admits. “I know it’s not loads of money, but I am not Katie Price so can’t ask for half a million just yet.”

Pregnant mum plans to live-stream herself giving birth on OnlyFans for £10,000

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