For many people in government and the auto industry, the main concern is whether there will be enough lithium to meet soaring demand for electric vehicles.

The Inflation Reduction Act, which President Biden signed in August, has raised the stakes for the auto industry. To qualify for several incentives and subsidies in the law, which go to car buyers and automakers and are worth a total of $10,000 or more per electric vehicle, battery makers must use raw materials from North America or a country with which the United States has a trade agreement.

rising fast.

California and other states move to ban internal combustion engines. “It’s going to take everything we can do and our competitors can do over the next five years to keep up,” Mr. Norris said.

One of the first things that Sayona had to do when it took over the La Corne mine was pump out water that had filled the pit, exposing terraced walls of dark and pale stone from previous excavations. Lighter rock contains lithium.

After being blasted loose and crushed, the rock is processed in several stages to remove waste material. A short drive from the mine, inside a large building with walls of corrugated blue metal, a laser scanner uses jets of compressed air to separate light-colored lithium ore. The ore is then refined in vats filled with detergent and water, where the lithium floats to the surface and is skimmed away.

The end product looks like fine white sand but it is still only about 6 percent lithium. The rest includes aluminum, silicon and other substances. The material is sent to refineries, most of them in China, to be further purified.

Yves Desrosiers, an engineer and a senior adviser at Sayona, began working at the La Corne mine in 2012. During a tour, he expressed satisfaction at what he said were improvements made by Sayona and Piedmont. Those include better control of dust, and a plan to restore the site once the lithium runs out in a few decades.

“The productivity will be a lot better because we are correcting everything,” Mr. Desrosiers said. In a few years, the company plans to upgrade the facility to produce lithium carbonate, which contains a much higher concentration of lithium than the raw metal extracted from the ground.

The operation will get its electricity from Quebec’s abundant hydropower plants, and will use only recycled water in the separation process, Mr. Desrosiers said. Still, environmental activists are watching the project warily.

Mining is a pillar of the Quebec economy, and the area around La Corne is populated with people whose livelihoods depend on extraction of iron, nickel, copper, zinc and other metals. There is an active gold mine near the largest city in the area, Val-d’Or, or Valley of Gold.

Mining “is our life,” said Sébastien D’Astous, a metallurgist turned politician who is the mayor of Amos, a small city north of La Corne. “Everybody knows, or has in the near family, people who work in mining or for contractors.”

Most people support the lithium mine, but a significant minority oppose it, Mr. D’Astous said. Opponents fear that another lithium mine being developed by Sayona in nearby La Motte, Quebec, could contaminate an underground river.

Rodrigue Turgeon, a local lawyer and program co-leader for MiningWatch Canada, a watchdog group, has pushed to make sure the Sayona mines undergo rigorous environmental reviews. Long Point First Nation, an Indigenous group that says the mines are on its ancestral territory, wants to conduct its own environmental impact study.

Sébastien Lemire, who represents the region around La Corne in the Canadian Parliament, said he wanted to make sure that the wealth created by lithium mining flowed to the people of Quebec rather than to outside investors.

Mr. Lemire praised activists for being “vigilant” about environmental standards, but he favors the mine and drives an electric car, a Chevrolet Bolt.

“If we don’t do it,” he said at a cafe in La Corne, “we’re missing the opportunity of the electrification of transport.”

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Expert Talks About Effects Of Trauma On Detainees Like Griner, Whelan

After more than 200 days in a Russian prison, new details are coming out on efforts to free WNBA star Brittney Griner.

More than 200 days and counting. It’s how long Phoenix Mercury basketball star and Olympic gold medalist Brittney Griner has been held in Russia.  

At a WNBA finals press conference Sunday, league commissioner Cathy Engelbert called it a complex situation and revealed she recently received a handwritten letter from Griner.

“As we prepare to start this great series, it’s important to reiterate that we are always thinking of Brittney Griner and our commitment to bring her home safely and as quickly as possible,” Engelbert said. “I am so inspired by her courage in the face of enormous adversity.”

After a stretch of silence, new details are coming out on efforts to free her. 

Friday marks President Joe Biden’s first in-person meeting with the family of Griner and fellow imprisoned American Paul Whelan.

“One of the reasons he is meeting with the families is that he wanted to let them know that they remain front of mind and that his team is working on this every day — on making sure that Brittney and Paul return home safely,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said. 

Earlier this week, published reports revealed that former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Bill Richardson and Russian leaders met in Moscow. 

Richardson’s experience includes negotiating on behalf of other Americans detained in Cuba, Iraq and North Korea. 

U.S. Department of State Spokesperson Ned Price says the department has been communicating with the Russian government through “appropriate channels.”  

“We have been in contact with the Richardson Center,” he said. “We made a significant offer to the Russians. We have followed up on that proposal repeatedly. Those discussions are ongoing.”

Last month, Griner was sentenced to nine years in prison for drug-related charges. She has since appealed the punishment.  

Whelan, a Michigan-born corporate executive, is serving a 16-year prison sentence on espionage-related charges.  

A person familiar with the case previously confirmed the U.S. offered convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout in exchange for the release of Griner and Whelan, but no word on a deal.  

Family members and fans say with every passing day, they worry about the conditions Griner may be exposed to in prison.

Amy Manson is a board member for Hostage U.S., a nonprofit that helps families and people taken hostage cope with the trauma.  

“They face the reality of poor nutrition, sometimes no access to fresh air or actual daylight,” she said.

Trauma stemming from everyday, taxing challenges in a Russian prison ranging from isolation to a drop in physical activity and bad food, which is especially tough for an elite athlete like Griner. 

“Some of our returnees face as much as 50 to 60 to 70 pounds lost,” Manson continued. “And then we’re talking about muscle wastage, as well as the impact on their bodies of constant poor nutrition and constant stress.”

NEWSY’S ADI GUAJARDO: When prisoners like Brittney Griner and Paul Whalen see their names back in the news, that they’re being talked about, what does this do for them? 

AMY MANSON: It’s incredibly uplifting … Someone said to me that it was like the best medicine he could have had during his captivity, when he heard that there was something going on relative to his captivity. 

Source: newsy.com

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Mass Grave Site With 440 Bodies Found in Izium, Ukraine Says

Credit…Antranik Tavitian/The Republic/USA Today Network

WASHINGTON — President Biden will meet with the families of Brittney Griner and Paul N. Whelan at the White House on Friday, making good on a longstanding request from the relatives of the two Americans being held prisoner in Russia.

But the president does not have good news to deliver about the prisoner exchange that the administration offered Russia this summer, Karine Jean-Pierre, the White House press secretary, said on Thursday.

“While I would love to say that the purpose of this meeting is to inform the families that the Russians have accepted our offer, and we are bringing their loved ones home, that is not what we’re seeing in these negotiations at this time,” Ms. Jean-Pierre said.

“The president wanted to make sure that their families understood that they were front of mind,” she added, “and that his team was working tirelessly every day to get Brittney and Paul home safely.”

Ms. Griner, a W.N.B.A. star and two-time Olympic gold medalist, was detained in Russia in February after the Russian authorities found vape cartridges with 0.7 grams of cannabis oil in her luggage when she arrived in the country to play basketball. She was convicted last month of trying to smuggle narcotics into Russia and sentenced to nine years in a penal colony. Mr. Whelan, a former Marine and corporate security executive, was arrested in 2018 and convicted in 2020 on spying charges and later sentenced to 16 years in prison.

The fates of both Americans have been complicated by the deteriorating diplomatic relationship between the United States and Russia over President Vladimir V. Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. Mr. Biden has condemned Mr. Putin’s actions in Ukraine, and the United States has joined with other nations to impose severe sanctions on the country.

Despite that, Mr. Biden’s administration offered this summer to free Viktor Bout, a Russian arms dealer sentenced to 25 years by a court in New York in 2012, in exchange for the release of Ms. Griner and Mr. Whelan.

Russian officials have confirmed that diplomatic discussions are taking place, but White House officials have been frustrated by the lack of a response to the offer.

“The Russians should accept the offer that’s at the table, and we will encourage them to do that,” Ms. Jean-Pierre said on Thursday.

In the meantime, the families of Ms. Griner and Mr. Whelan have been increasing public pressure on Mr. Biden to ensure that his administration does not let up.

Early in the summer, relatives of both prisoners expressed frustration that they had not heard directly from Mr. Biden. Cherelle Griner, Ms. Griner’s wife, said on CBS in early July that the administration was “not doing anything” and that she wanted to hear from Mr. Biden directly. Two days later, Mr. Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris spoke with Cherelle Griner.

That prompted Elizabeth Whelan, the sister of Mr. Whelan, to publicly question why she had not received a similar call. In a call soon after, Mr. Biden assured Ms. Whelan that the administration was working to free both of the prisoners.

Since then, there has been continued pressure for Mr. Biden to meet with the families face to face. Ms. Jean-Pierre said on Thursday that the meeting was scheduled for Friday because one of the family members was already going to be in the area and that the president wanted to meet with both families on the same day.

It is not clear whether the president will meet with the families together or separately.

The possibility of reaching a prisoner-exchange deal with Russia comes several months after the United States freed a convicted Russian drug smuggler in exchange for Trevor Reed, a former U.S. Marine who had been detained in a Russian prison for three years. White House officials said their Russian counterparts indicated at the time that another trade, for Mr. Bout, could be possible.

Mr. Bout is known as the “Merchant of Death” for his activities as an arms dealer. He is serving a 25-year federal prison sentence for selling arms to undercover U.S. agents, telling them he did not object to the use of the weapons to kill Americans.

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Griner, Whelan Families To Meet Biden Amid U.S.-Russia Talks

The separate meetings are to be the first in-person encounter between President Biden and the families.

President Joe Biden plans to meet at the White House on Friday with family members of WNBA star Brittney Griner and Michigan corporate security executive Paul Whelan, both of whom remain jailed in Russia, the White House announced Friday.

“He wanted to let them know that they remain front of mind and that his team is working on this every day on making sure that Brittney and Paul return home safely,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said at Thursday’s press briefing at the White House.

The separate meetings are to be the first in-person encounter between President Biden and the families and are taking place amid sustained but so far unsuccessful efforts by the administration to secure the Americans’ release. The administration said in July that it had made a “substantial proposal” to get them home, but despite plans for the White House meetings, there is no sign that a breakthrough is imminent.

Griner has been held in Russia since February on drug-related charges. She was sentenced last month to nine years in prison after pleading guilty and has appealed the punishment. Whelan is serving a 16-year sentence on espionage-related charges that he and his family say are false. The U.S. government regards both as wrongfully detained, placing their cases with the office of its top hostage negotiator.

Friday’s meetings, which both families have long sought, are intended to underscore the administration’s commitment to bringing home Griner, Whelan and other Americans jailed abroad, as well as to “connect with them on a human level as they undergo an ordeal that the Russian government has imposed on them,” said one of the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity as the meetings had not yet been publicly announced.

Negotiations have been complicated by the tense relations between Washington and Moscow over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken took the unusual step of announcing two months ago that the administration had made a substantial proposal to Russia. Since then, the administration has followed up in multiple ways to press its offer and get serious negotiations underway, one of the administration officials said Thursday.

The Russians, who have indicated that they are open to negotiations but have chided the Americans to conduct them in private, have come back with suggestions that are not within the administration’s ability to deliver, said the official, declining to elaborate. But the U.S. has been following up through the same channels that produced an April prisoner swap that brought Marine veteran Trevor Reed home from Russia, the official said.

The administration has not provided specifics about its proposal, but a person familiar with the matter previously confirmed it had offered to release Viktor Bout, a convicted Russian arms dealer now imprisoned in the U.S. It is also possible that, in the interests of symmetry, Russia might insist on having two of its citizens released from prison.

President Biden spoke by phone in July with Griner’s wife, Cherelle, and with Whelan’s sister, Elizabeth, but both families have also requested in-person meetings. On Friday, President Biden plans to speak at the White House with Cherelle Griner and with the player’s agent in one meeting and with Elizabeth Whelan in the other.

The meetings are being done separately so as to ensure that each family has private time with the president. But the fact that they are happening on the same day shows the extent to which the two cases have become intertwined since the only deal that is presumably palatable to the U.S. is one that gets both Americans — a famous WNBA player and a Michigan man who until recently was little known to the public — home together at the same time,

In the past several months, representatives of both families have expressed frustration over what they perceived as a lack of aggressive action and coordination from the administration.

Cherelle Griner, for instance, told The Associated Press in an interview in June that she was dismayed after the failure of a phone call from her wife that was supposed to have been patched through by the American Embassy in Moscow left the couple unable to connect on their fourth anniversary.

Whelan’s relatives have sought to keep attention on his case, anxious that it has been overshadowed in the public eye by the focus on the far more prominent Griner — a two-time Olympic gold medalist and seven-time WNBA all-star. They also conveyed disappointment when Whelan, despite having been held in Russia since December 2018, was not included in a prisoner swap last April that brought home another detained American, Marine veteran Trevor Reed.

Friday’s meeting was scheduled before news broke this week of an unconnected trip to Russia by Bill Richardson, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations who has been a veteran emissary in hostage and detainee cases. Administration officials reacted coolly to that trip, with State Department spokesman Ned Price saying Wednesday that dialogue with Russia outside the “established channel” risks hindering efforts to get Griner and Whelan home.

Administration officials say work on hostage and detainee cases persist regardless of whether a family receives a meeting with the president, though there is also no question that such an encounter can help establish a connection. President Biden met in the Oval Office in March with Reed’s parents after the Texas couple stood with a large sign outside the White House calling for their son’s release.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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Stocks subdued by outsized rate risks, yen fragile

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  • Fed looms over broader markets, dollar rises
  • Oil tumbles on demand concerns, U.S. rail strike averted
  • Treasury yields climb while oil gold tumbles

NEW YORK, Sept 15 (Reuters) – Wall Street indexes were firmly in the red after a choppy start to Thursday’s session while bond yields rose as investors digested economic data that provided the Federal Reserve little reason to ease its aggressive interest rate hiking cycle.

Oil futures tumbled more than 3% on demand concerns and after a tentative agreement that would avert a U.S. rail strike, as well as continued U.S. dollar strength with expectations for a large U.S. rate increase. read more

Economic data showed U.S. retail sales unexpectedly rebounded in August as Americans ramped up purchases of motor vehicles and dined out more while taking advantage of lower gasoline prices. But data for July was revised downward to show retail sales declining instead of flat as previously reported.

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Separately the Labor Department said initial claims for state unemployment benefits fell for the week ended Sept. 10 to the lowest level since the end of May. read more

Investors are widely expecting an aggressive rate hike after the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting next week, but nervously awaiting hints from Fed Chair Jerome Powell about future policy moves, said Quincy Krosby, chief global strategist at LPL Financial.

“The market remains choppy knowing that there’s a Fed meeting next week. Even though participants agree that it’ll be a 75 basis points rate hike, it’s what the statement adds to previous commentary and what Chairman Powell says in his press conference” that have them worried, Krosby said.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (.DJI) fell 173.07 points, or 0.56%, to 30,962.02; the S&P 500 (.SPX) lost 44.69 points, or 1.13%, to 3,901.32 and the Nasdaq Composite (.IXIC) dropped 167.32 points, or 1.43%, to 11,552.36.

MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe (.MIWD00000PUS) shed 0.96% while emerging market stocks (.MSCIEF) lost 0.57%.

Stocks, bonds and currencies on Thursday were showing a market “increasingly understanding the Fed is going to hike more aggressively next week,” said Scott Ladner, chief investment officer at Horizon Investments in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Referring particularly to the still strong labor market, Ladner said “economic numbers released today are tying a bow on the situation.”

Treasury yields rose with the two-year hitting fresh 15-year highs, after data on retail sales and jobless claims showed a resilient economy that gives the Fed ample room to aggressively hike interest rates.

Also already signaling a recession warning the inverted yield curve – the gap between 2-year and 10-year treasury yields – widened further to -41.4 basis points, compared with -13.0 bps a week ago.

Benchmark 10-year notes were up 4.5 basis points to 3.457%, from 3.412% late on Wednesday. The 30-year bond last fell 5/32 in price to yield 3.4779%, from 3.469%. The 2-year note last fell 5/32 in price to yield 3.8646%, from 3.782%.

“In this vicious cycle where the data continues to remain resilient, that would imply a Fed that would likely stay the course and continue to tighten policy,” said Subadra Rajappa, head of U.S. rates strategy at Societe Generale in New York.

Also clouding investors’ moods on Thursday was the World Bank’s assessment that the world may be edging toward a global recession as central banks across the world simultaneously hike interest rates to combat persistent inflation. read more

In currencies the dollar was slightly higher against the yen while the Swiss franc hit its strongest level against the euro since 2015. read more

The dollar index , which measures the greenback against a basket of major currencies, rose 0.091%, with the euro up 0.18% to $0.9995.

The Japanese yen weakened 0.19% versus the greenback at 143.44 per dollar, while Sterling was last trading at $1.1469, down 0.57% on the day.

Before the tentative labor agreement, fears of a U.S. railroad worker strike had supported oil prices due to supply concerns on Wednesday. In addition, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said this week that oil demand growth would grind to a halt in the fourth quarter.

U.S. crude settled down 3.82% at $85.10 per barrel while Brent finished at $90.84, down 3.46% on the day.

Gold dropped to its lowest level since April 2021, hurt by elevated U.S. Treasury yields and a firm dollar, as bets of another hefty Fed rate hike eroded bullion’s appeal.

Spot gold dropped 1.9% to $1,664.46 an ounce. U.S. gold futures fell 2.02% to $1,662.30 an ounce.

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Additional reporting by Herbert Lash in New York, Marc Jones in London, Stefano Rebaudo in Milan, Tom Westbrook in Singapore and Wayne Cole in Sydney; Editing by Kirsten Donovan and Jonathan Oatis

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Whistleblower Lays Out Twitter’s Data Security Troubles

Former head of Twitter security Peiter Zatko explained the company has previously employed foreign agents.

Former head of Twitter security Peiter Zatko on Tuesday told Congress about the tech giant’s widespread issues with keeping foreign adversaries from working at the company and exploiting internal data. 

“Twitter would be a gold mine for people in the community who focus on foreign intelligence organizations and assets,” Zatko said. “If you placed somebody in Twitter, as we know has happened, it would be very difficult to Twitter to find them. They would probably be able to stay there for a long period of time and gain a significant amount of information.”  

In his opening remarks, Sen. Chuck Grassley noted that Zatko’s disclosures helped uncover evidence that India was able to place at least two foreign assets on payroll at the company, and that China had at least one agent at Twitter as well. 

Zatko noted those agents could be embedded to figure out what information Twitter might censor, or to use internal software to find user phone numbers, current and former email addresses, and even where Twitter thinks a user lives.  

“This is the information that you need to start taking over other people’s accounts […] Once I know your home address and your home phone number, I can approach you in real life. I can put pressure on you, I can possibly recruit you,” Zatko said. “You could be a witting or unwitting accomplice. And then I could influence you or target you for influence operations in the real world. 

Zatko also said that former users may be at risk of having their data exposed, too. 

“I was told straight out by the chief privacy officer that the FTC had come and asked, ‘does Twitter delete user information when they leave the platform?’”  

“Instead of answering whether we delete user data, we have intentionally replied, ‘we deactivate users,’ and try to sidestep the program because we know we don’t delete user data, and cannot comply with that if they demand us to.” 

A Twitter spokesperson told Newsy that “Today’s hearing only confirms that Mr. Zatko’s allegations are riddled with inconsistencies and inaccuracies.” The company also said its hiring process is independent of foreign influence and includes background checks. 

Source: newsy.com

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Three Icons In Women’s Sports Are Saying Goodbye

Serena Williams, Sue Bird and Allyson Felix are retiring from their respective sports and moving on to other ventures.

It’s the end of an era for women’s sports, as three icons retire from their respective games.

“Something that you can’t ignore is all the high-profile women and female athletes that are some of the greatest in the world who are all retiring at the same time,” said Melanie Anzidei, a reporter with NorthJersey.com. 

Tennis star Serena Williams, basketball legend Sue Bird, and the most-decorated American track and field athlete in Olympic history Alysson Felix are leaving behind incredible legacies that extend well beyond their sport.

“Women, people of color are always put down because of the way they look or some people’s ideas think they can’t do as much, so putting Serena as a role model and all she’s done is really good,” said Isalia Lebron, a 13-year-old tennis player.

Williams, a 23-time Grand Slam champion, spent the last 27 years dominating the world of tennis, inspiring women everywhere in the process.

“My granddaughter sees Serena, she’s like, ‘Nana I can do that because Serena did it. If Serena said you could do it, anybody can do it,'” said Tiffany Martinez, a fan from Columbus, Ohio. “So, we’re here. After 33 years of being a waitress and never, ever having a weekend off, I took a whole weekend off this week just to come see her because she’s done that much for me.”

Williams, who won the Australian Open in 2017 while two months pregnant, says she is “ready for what’s next,” turning her attention now to having another child and expanding her business interests. This includes her investment firm, Serena Ventures, which aims to support women and minority-owned businesses.

“She’s kinda just an iconic athlete that kind of transcends sport in a very big way,” Anzidei said. 

Meanwhile, the WNBA is saying goodbye to arguably the most accomplished player in the game, Sue Bird. She helped lead the University of Connecticut to two NCAA titles and played on five gold medal-winning Olympic teams for the U.S.

As a pro, she helped lead the Seattle Storm to four WNBA championships over 19 seasons in the league. Off the court, she has emerged as a powerful advocate for LGBTQ rights and the Black Lives Matter movement. 

“Not only is she one of the greatest in the WNBA, she’s also unique because she is stepping outside of just basketball,” Anzidei said. “She’s choosing to invest in a team. In Gotham FC, she’s choosing to become a minority investor in the club, which is interesting because she announced that while she was still active in the WNBA.”

Then, with 11 Olympic medals, track superstar Allyson Felix is hanging up her spikes. Over the course of her career, Felix pushed the limits of her sport while breaking down barriers for women off the track.

“I had kind of heard the statistics of Black women being more at risk for complications, but being a professional athlete, it just…. I never imagined myself in this situation,” Felix said. “At 32 weeks, I was diagnosed with severe preeclampsia.”

She has advocated relentlessly for women’s issues like job and pay protections for athletes who become mothers, and for maternal health care. 

“I really want women just to be aware, to know if they are at risk, to have a plan in place and not be intimidated in doctor’s offices,” Felix said. “I know how important it is. I know how scared I was. I know how I didn’t feel prepared or educated, and I don’t want anyone else to feel that way.”

“What’s very unique about her is that for her, parenthood is probably the signature of one of the biggest footnotes of her entire athletic career,” Anzidei said. “It has been that something that she’s made a priority, and that’s going to change sport in tremendous ways for athletes.”

While the three athletes have crossed the finish line in their respective sports, they’re not done winning yet outside the game.

Source: newsy.com

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How Do Japanese Show They Care? By Sending a Telegram.

TOKYO — When he got married this summer, Hiroshi Kanno, who works at a security services firm in Tokyo, wanted to make a big statement that would impress his future in-laws.

So he asked for his company’s president to send a congratulatory telegram.

It arrived during the wedding party and was read aloud. “It really pumped up the atmosphere,” Mr. Kanno, 33, said. “I felt like a celebrity,” added his wife, Asuka, a 31-year-old office administrator. They posted photos of that message and another wedding telegram on Twitter, along with the his-and-her Hello Kitty dolls that were delivered with the notes.

The telegram, a form of communication associated more with the Roaring ’20s than the 2020s, has kept a foothold in Japan, where millions of the messages still crisscross the nation every year, carrying articulations of celebration, mourning and thanks.

ended its service in 2006. India, one of the last major national holdouts, shut down its state-run service in 2013 after 162 years.

The telegram services that remain have changed greatly since Samuel Morse’s invention of the telegraph put the Pony Express out of business.

Today, messages are mostly composed online and transmitted digitally before being printed out and hand delivered. In Japan, senders can choose from among a variety of fonts and elegant card stocks and select an accompanying gift from catalogs full of luxury goods and branded items — Disney and Hello Kitty are popular. Flowers or stuffed animals are common choices for weddings, incense sticks for funerals.

Payment schemes have also evolved: Instead of being charged by the character, as in the old days, customers are billed at a fixed rate for a fixed number of characters, and pay extra if they go over.

The telegram’s essence, however, has remained: a concise message printed on a small card and (relatively) swiftly delivered.

The telegram’s transformation into a vessel of etiquette was a decades-long process. Telegram use peaked in Japan in 1963, when the medium — then considered the gold standard for urgent communication — was used to send around 95 million messages, according to a government report assessing the recent state of the industry.

By the 1990s, telegram traffic had nearly halved. At the same time, the messages’ content had undergone an unexpected evolution: Nearly all of them conveyed congratulations or condolences.

In 2020, the most recent year for which data is available, more than four million telegrams were delivered in Japan. That makes it the third largest market for the medium behind Russia and Italy, according to statistics provided by International Telegram, a private firm that provides telegram services worldwide. (In the United States, fewer than a million telegrams are sent annually, the company said.)

The bulk of telegrams in Japan are sent by Nippon Telegraph and Telephone, known as NTT. The company, which started life as a state-owned entity, was given an effective monopoly on the telegram business when it was privatized in 1985. In exchange, the company had to guarantee that it would provide the service indefinitely.

Under NTT’s monopoly, the industry stagnated, and the company’s profits from it eventually vanished. But as government overhauls opened the business to competition in the past two decades, a number of small companies sprang up, introducing innovations like online ordering that have helped the industry survive.

For these firms, telegrams remain a moneymaking niche business.

Keisuke Yamamoto, the president of Roys International, started his company 15 years ago. At the time, he was working in licensing and had noticed a growing demand for telegrams that featured popular brands and characters like Peter Rabbit and Paddington Bear.

At the time, the market was 45 billion yen, he said, or about $325 million in today’s money, and he realized that “snagging even just 1 percent of that would make a successful business.”

He set out to differentiate his company, he said, by pairing the messages with gifts that would appeal to a younger generation. “It worked,” he said. “NTT has stolen our ideas over the years.”

The pandemic has hurt telegram traffic as people have avoided large events like weddings and funerals, but customers have become more likely to send telegrams with expensive presents, said Toshihiko Fujisaki, who heads the corporate planning department at Sagawa Humony, a company that offers telegram services.

The company has tried to bring young people onboard, giving university students the opportunity to experience ordering a telegram. It is also working on a smartphone app.

“Young people don’t know telegrams. They’re used to smartphones,” Mr. Fujisaki said. But compared with getting an email or a text message, “there’s a lot more emotion when you get a telegram.”

For those unfamiliar with the protocol, telegram companies offer online primers on sending messages for a variety of occasions. For weddings, guests should avoid using punctuation, because it could signify bringing something to an end. Senders are also advised to notify the recipient in advance to avoid any potentially unpleasant surprises.

Even as the broader market for telegrams has shrunk, they have remained popular among corporate clients and politicians, who see them as important tools for keeping up relationships.

Politicians send them not just to constituents but to each other, said Mr. Matsuda, the political consultant.

“They send them to each other when they can’t participate in a fund-raising event or when their colleagues get appointed to an important post,” he said.

Mr. Yamaguchi’s scandal, however, may have cooled that enthusiasm. During a recent talk show appearance, Toshinao Sasaki, a freelance journalist and political commentator, said the Unification Church controversy could finally end politicians’ love affair with the telegram.

“Times have changed,” he said, adding, “I think it’s the beginning of the end.”

For Asuka and Hiroshi Kanno, though, the telegram remains something to cherish. They proudly display their wedding telegrams in their living room, and Ms. Kanno said she planned to send one when her own future child gets married.

Still, the couple would never think to send a telegram under other circumstances, she said. When it comes to events like birthdays, “I’d probably go digital.”

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Police: Las Vegas Journalist Dies In Stabbing Outside Home

By Associated Press
September 6, 2022

It appears an altercation between Jeff German and another person led to the stabbing, which is believed to be an isolated incident, police said.

A Las Vegas investigative reporter was stabbed to death outside his home and police are looking for a suspect, authorities said.

Las Vegas Metropolitan Police officers found journalist Jeff German, 69, dead with stab wounds around 10:30 a.m. Saturday after authorities received a 911 call, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.

German died of “multiple sharp force injuries” in a homicide, the Clark County Office of the Coroner/Medical Examiner said Sunday.

It appears an altercation between Jeff German and another person led to the stabbing, which is believed to be an isolated incident, police said.

“We believe the altercation took place outside of the home,” Capt. Dori Koren, a Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department spokesman, said at a news conference. “We do have some leads. We are pursuing a suspect but the suspect is outstanding.”

Police released surveillance images Monday of a possible suspect, although the images don’t show the person’s full face.

The images show a person wearing a wide straw hat, bright orange reflective long-sleeve shirt, blue jeans, gray shoes and carrying a black or dark blue shoulder bag.

Police are asking for the public’s help finding any additional surveillance footage as they continue to search for a suspect.

Glenn Cook, the Review-Journal’s executive editor, said German had not communicated any concerns about his personal safety or any threats made against him to anyone in the newspaper’s leadership.

“The Review-Journal family is devastated to lose Jeff,” Cook said in a statement. “He was the gold standard of the news business. It’s hard to imagine what Las Vegas would be like today without his many years of shining a bright light on dark places.”

German joined the Review-Journal in 2010 after more than two decades at the Las Vegas Sun, where he was a columnist and reporter who covered courts, politics, labor, government and organized crime.

He was known for his stories about government malfeasance and political scandals and coverage of the 2017 mass shooting at a Las Vegas music festival that killed 60 people and wounded more than 400 others.

According to the Review-Journal, German held a master’s degree from Marquette University and was the author of the 2001 true-crime book “Murder in Sin City: The Death of a Las Vegas Casino Boss,” the story of the death of Ted Binion, heir to the Horseshoe Club fortune.

Additional reporting by the Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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Student Loan Forgiveness Is Complicated, Because This Is America

If we want higher education to cost less, we should make it cheaper when people enroll.

But that’s not how we do things in the United States, where the first rule of personal finance is that it should never be simple.

Instead, we befuddle people with a menu of a half-dozen retirement accounts. We fetishize the tax code and its deductions and credits and refunds. We name gold, silver and bronze health insurance plans after precious metals but award no medals for clearing the enrollment hurdles.

And so it goes with President Biden’s executive action around student loan debt cancellation. The potential $20,000 in relief per person gets the headlines. But the sleeper element here is a new income-driven debt repayment plan that would help many people pay much less of their student loan debt over time, if they’re not big earners.

choose among H.M.O., P.P.O., P.F.F.S., S.N.P., H.M.O.-P.O.S. and M.S.A. plans. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services website has an acronym glossary with 4,420 entries, because personal finance is its own language. You learn as you go, or not at all.

Pamela Herd is a professor at Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy, with an expertise in these “administrative burdens.”

With certain social welfare benefits, Professor Herd explained in an interview this week, the original program designers believed that obstacles were appropriate. Anyone desperate enough should find a way to muddle through and prove their poverty, or so the logic went.

More recently, administrative burdens have resulted from the conviction that private sector actors — who are often seeking profits — would be the most efficient intermediaries between people and federal programs that involved money.

You see it in those Medicare Advantage Plans, and it was a feature of federal P.P.P. loans during the early stages of the pandemic. Rather than give employers money up front to keep people on the payroll, there were forgivable loans that required frazzled small business owners to beg a banker to bum rush a balky government website on their behalf.

And so it goes with the federal student loan system.

Both the income-driven repayment plans that have existed for years and a special debt cancellation program for public servants are already poster children for administrative burdens. Tracking your progress is a part-time job, complete with self-help Facebook groups of frustrated debtors and companies to help people manage the process.

And wouldn’t you know it? There are several third parties to which the federal government has outsourced the work of collecting student loan payments and enforcing the rules.

would go to 5 percent from 10 percent of discretionary income; the amount of a person’s income that doesn’t meet the definition of discretionary would rise; and there would be a new, more generous way of calculating how balances shrink or grow over time. There are plenty of reasons to be skeptical that something this complex would roll out smoothly or quickly.

And it would not be cheap. Estimates from the Penn Wharton Budget Model put the 10-year cost of the new repayment plan at anywhere from $70.3 billion to over $450 billion, depending on the implementation details and how students and schools change their borrowing and tuition-setting behavior. Again, it’s complicated.

By comparison, Mr. Biden had proposed spending $45.5 billion over five years to make up to six semesters of community college free nationwide. That would have paid for most of the cost, with states contributing the rest. No debt for tuition, no hoops to jump through.

Politics got in the way of free community college, and the Inflation Reduction Act that Mr. Biden signed last month did not include it. Instead, students who borrow would get a subsidy on the back end through the more generous repayment program, years later, if they know it exists, enroll without incident, clear every hurdle over a decade or two and their loan servicer doesn’t make a hash of it.

There are bad words and associated acronyms that we could use to sum all of this up as we scream into the void. But our framing could just as easily center on a single word: Respect.

Professor Herd surprised me this week when she said the word in passing. I asked her to elaborate.

“Respect includes everything from respecting people’s time to not treating them as if they are trying to cheat or game a system,” she said. “It’s about treating them as if they are full-fledged citizens and human beings who have basic rights to access services and benefits for which they’re eligible.”

It seems simple enough. But too much of our personal finance infrastructure becomes adversarial through its complexity. The “prove it” nature of Mr. Biden’s executive action, with its income measurements and repeated checking in with third-party servicers, does not help, as generous as it may turn out to be for people who would eventually pass muster.

Disrespect is calling student debt cancellation “forgiveness” when it’s really an apology for a dysfunctional higher education financing system. Disrespect is doing little to make tuition cheaper on the front end of this process. Disrespect is letting many for-profit schools continue to put people of color deep into debt for certificates or degrees that don’t mean much in the labor market.

Disrespect guarantees full-time employment for personal finance journalists, too. I’m lucky to have the work, but it shouldn’t be necessary in the first place.

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