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New Plan to Lower Student Loan Payments; Russian Artillery Fire Down Nearly 75 Percent; Seattle Schools Sue Big Tech. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired January 10, 2023 - 06:30   ET




DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Just into CNN, a new proposal this morning from the Biden administration designed to make student loans more affordable. It includes raising the threshold for repayments. It comes as the broader loan forgiveness announced by the president in August remains tied up in court.

Let's go to CNN's Sunlen Serfaty with the details now.

Sunlen, good morning to you.

Who would get help with this new plan?

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Don, it mainly targets low and middle income borrower. These are people who are enrolled in the loan repayment plans that are tied specifically to income. And the Department of Education actually estimates that's roughly 8 million people this could affect. People could see potentially huge savings, monthly payments cut in half, or even potentially paused.

Now, this proposal revises the existing proposal. It sets a hire threshold for repayment. Single borrowers making less than $30,600 per year would not need to make any payments. And that's an increase from the current threshold at $24,000. And for those making above the income threshold, they could still see some savings too. The undergraduate borrowers above that threshold will be capped at 5 percent of their income. That's half of the current 10 percent. And the Department of Education would also stop charging monthly -- unpaid monthly interest and would shorten the time it takes for some smaller loans to be forgiven.

Now, this would apply to current and future borrowers. But importantly, Don, there's no timeline yet for when this would go into effect. This is a regulatory change of it's adopted. Borrowers could potentially, though, see the relief later this year.

LEMON: All right, Sunlen, thank you very much.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Well, this morning, the United States and Ukrainian officials tell CNN that Russian artillery fire is down as much as 75 percent from the wartime high. Officials say the cuts may be a sign the prolonged and brutal battle has had a significant effect on Russia's weapons stockpile and that Russian forces may be regrouping and trying to pinpoint where Ukraine is going to launch its next major offensive.


Oren Liebermann joins us live from the Pentagon this morning.

I think that -- the big question means, and then what? It's interesting timing also, Oren, that this comes as Russia had called for that ceasefire.

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. A ceasefire the U.S. believes was not intentional, or rather not a real desire for a stoppage to the fight. It was Russian President Vladimir Putin trying to appeal to the Christian faithful and trying to show that it was Ukraine violating the ceasefire.

Aside from that, this is an indication with this dramatic decline in artillery fire that something is clearly changed within the way Russia is fighting this war. The question is what. From the wartime high of 20,000 artillery rounds per day, down to about 5,000 rounds per day now. Russian military doctrine, the way Russia fights its wars, calls for a barrage of artillery fire and then essentially ground troops go in and clean up or mop up what's left. So, why this significant difference. And that's what the U.S. is trying to figure out according to U.S. officials.

They have talked for a long time about a shortage in Russian precision weapons. Less so about the conventional (INAUDIBLE), just like artillery fire. Maybe, the U.S. officials tell us, this is an indication that Russia is beginning to run low on its vast stores of artillery after ten months of fighting and with no end in sight.

Ukrainian officials say, look, we've also hit a number of Russian weapons depots. So, this may be making a dent, or, Poppy, they may be regrouping for future Russian operations.

HARLOW: Yes, that's a big concern too.

Oren, thank you very much for the reporting from the Pentagon.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: The first school district in the nation has just sued social media giants, blaming them for the harm that mental -- in the mental health of kids. We'll discuss all of that next.



COLLINS: Seattle Public Schools, which is the largest school district in Washington state, is now suing major social media companies behind TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube and Snapchat over their impact on youth's mental health. In a 92-page lawsuit, the school district claims that social media giants violated Washington's public nuisance law and has, quote, been a substantial factor in causing a youth mental health crisis with higher and higher proportions of youth struggling with anxiety, depression, thoughts of self-harm and suicidal ideation. The district says that the wait list for mental health services were astronomical, requiring significantly greater and longer-term funding to address the issues that have been caused, they say, by social media use.

In a statement sent to CNN, a Meta spokesperson responded saying that it continues to pour resources into ensuring that young users are safe online with tools to support teens and families, including letting parents limit the amount of time that their teenagers spend on Instagram and also age verification technology that helps teens have age appropriate experiences.

The other companies have not yet immediately responded to requests for comment.

But joining us now to talk about this major lawsuit are two parents and two amazing reports, CNN's Audie Cornish and Erica Hill.

This is really remarkable in the sense of they say that they want damages here. They want them to stop creating the public nuisance, to award damages and to pay for prevention education and treatment for the harm they say is being caused by these companies.

AUDIE CORNISH, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: You know, I was reporting over the summer in Los Angeles. We were talking to the superintendent there. And we brought in some students to ask any question they wanted. And the first question they asked was, can we get more mental health counseling and resources in our school.

So, students are very much aware of their needs. They have different ideas about mental health than I think some of us around this table grew up with. And they are expecting some support. And, you know, it's interesting when you sue, sometimes you can get information, right? We saw this - you see this with lawsuits all the time. You can compel executives to speak. You can get papers and documents out. You can bring things into the limelight. And I think that's something that this school system is trying to do.

HARLOW: You have two teens.


LEMON: We heard that.

HARLOW: Right. I'm not -- the discussion in our house now, our kids are four and six, is my husband is like, they're never using these. But that -- and I'm on board with him, but he - that's not realistic.

HILL: Yes.

HARLOW: You're confronting the age when they do use them.

HILL: Right.

HARLOW: What are the biggest red flags to you from this?

HILL: So, what I think is interesting, and I would say especially for my 16-year-old, who's a sophomore in high school -


HILL: In the high school, as opposed to my middle schooler, where they're not allowed to have their phones during the day -- everybody has a device because now everything, especially since Covid, is done online, through Google Classroom, whatever it may be. But in high school, all of these apps that they need for scheduling app, the way their teachers communicate, this is actually happening on their phone. So, they have their phones throughout the day. So they have access to all of these apps. And they do, as teenagers, they text, but they also communicate through Snapchat, they communicate through TikTok.

I mean I love it when my son sends me a cute cat or dog video coming through TikTok -


HILL: But there's always a moment where I think, oh, wait, but he's on TikTok.

HARLOW: Right.

HILL: The hard part, I think, is limiting that time. And so what the school district is pointing to is, and I think we all know, the more time we all spend on social media, it feels like it eats away at your brain.

HARLOW: Yes, and your soul and your heart.

HILL: How do you - right, and your - right. And it is - and it is leading to these issues, which, as Audie points out, I think is phenomenal that kids feel so empowered to say, hey, I need these resources.

HARLOW: One of the things that I think is interesting, Audie, in this lawsuit, I was trying to understand what the crux of the legal argument was, it's section 230. It's a law from the '90s that basically gives a free pass to social media companies and said, you're not the publisher of the content, you didn't think of it, you didn't create it, you're just a platform for it, so you're not liable for it.

What - I mean this is a first of its kind lawsuit.


CORNISH: Well, I - in reading the lawsuit we noticed they are not saying that it's - that this would be in violation of this clause you're talking about in the Communications Decency Act. They are saying that these companies are directly responsible for the content.

HARLOW: Yes, should. Section 230 should be interpreted differently.

CORNISH: Yes, because of the way that they promote it, the way the algorithms work. So there's - they're getting at something very specific.

The other thing I want to mention is, a few years back when the so- called Facebook papers came out because a whistleblower in - introduced a lot of documents into the public, they did have documentation showing that Instagram executives, for example, knew that there was harm, especially to young - to young women, but that they didn't do anything about it.

So, this is -- I suspect something like this will come up in this suit.

HILL: Yes, exactly. And that is what stood out. That when we heard from Frances Haugen, I believe it was 2021, when she was talking about that they knew but they chose -- she was basically saying they chose profit over what they were seeing in terms of what Instagram was doing.


HILL: And the lawsuit isn't saying - it's not about the third-party content. They're saying it's the way that you're delivering these apps to children and the way that you're sucking them in and basically getting them addicted to them, that's where you're -- in terms of the lawsuit - you're violate - it's a public nuisance violation.

LEMON: They're targeting.

CORNISH: Yes, so it's not just us as parents being like, this seems bad.

HILL: Right. Yes. Yes.

CORNISH: It's like, no, no, they know it's bad.

LEMON: Obviously they're targeting them, right, because they want them to stay on longer and it's a - we -

HILL: Sure.

LEMON: Obviously we need to study social media because it's so new and we haven't figured out, as you know, Ms. Attorney -

HARLOW: The long term -

LEMON: The long-term effects and the laws and all of that.

But, I mean, I think this - I think Sinisa has a point.

HARLOW: I know he's right, but it's - how do you implement that?

LEMON: Because how - well, I mean, you do what our parents did. And we'd say, but, you know, but Ed has an iPhone and - HARLOW: Right.

LEMMON: And my mom would say, well, if Ed jumps off a bridge, are you going to do it? I mean isn't it sort of up to the parents to say, no.

HILL: Look, there's a push for that. It is. I think you're right, it is up to the parents. And I think it's -- every parent's, every family's individual decision, right, do I limit the amount of time my kids can spend on their phones? I have - I have limitations on their phones. The reality is, my kids know how to get around them and most other kids do too.


HILL: The other issue I think is, you know, there's been a big push for year. I remember when my -- when my older son was probably in fourth or fifth grade, this wait until eighth campaign, which you may have heard of, it's - it's trying to encourage parents to wait until their kids are in eighth grade to give them a smartphone.

HARLOW: Love that.

HILL: Let them have - you love it, but, you know what, I have to say, my friends who did it, it didn't work because every other kid has a smartphone. And so remember what it's like to try to text on a flip phone? It's a-a-a, you're trying to find the letters, and kids are, unfortunately, left out because the way that kids communicate is through their smartphones, whether it's text or something else.

LEMON: They're learning in school through -

CORNISH: Also, Don, you go without your phone for a week and see how many --

HILL: Yes, I'd like to see that too.

CORNISH: You're like every morning on the internet, like, I'm still in bed.

So, like, obviously, people get it to their phones --

HARLOW: But he's not on social media. He's not like all over social --

LEMON: I will - no, I'm - I'm not - I'm kind of -- I'm over it.

CORNISH: Oh? Oh, really? Like --

LEMON: Yes. I just, you know, it is what it is.


LEMON: I think we need it for - for to do what we do.

CORNISH: 2022 and late (ph).

LEMON: I think it's very important. HARLOW: Yes.

LEMON: But, I mean, I wish someone would tell me --

CORNISH: I'm just saying, adults are asking kids to do behaviors they themselves cannot actually implement.

LEMON: Yes. No, you're right.

HARLOW: That's fair.

HILL: Totally agree.

CORNISH: And, finally, remember with cigarettes, after those lawsuits came out, the cigarette companies actually put into a fund and that fund went to smoking mitigation programs, especially with youth. I don't think it's an accident that this lawsuit is also seeking damages in order to mitigate what they perceive to be the damage.

HARLOW: That's really interesting, in that way. On my --

LEMON: Can imagine though if someone said, you got to take away your phone and you can't use it for a week, you'd be like, thank you, or, it's time - it's nap time. It's like, yay!

COLLINS: But, see, I would not say thank you.

HARLOW: I know.

LEMON: You wouldn't?


COLLINS: I would be like having withdrawals. And I get it. I mean my younger -- I have younger siblings. They're always on their phones. And they use -- they don't even text. They use Snapchat to talk to their friends.

HILL: Yes. Yes.

HARLOW: I will leave everyone with this. My girlfriends chat from home, they suggested downloading something called the one sec app. Apparently it really helps you be aware of how much time you're spending on these apps. So that's on my to-do list this week.

CORNISH: Well done.

HILL: I'll add it to my very long list, along with call the orthodontist.

HARLOW: Thank you. I know.

Erica Hill, Audie Cornish, thank you very much.

LEMON: Thank you, guys. Appreciate it. So, C-SPAN was having a moment as Republicans fought to pick a speaker. Its cameras roamed free to gives us a rare view of the House floor. And there was plenty to fascinate us. But now the show's over, the party's over. We're going to discuss.




JIMMY FALLON, HOST, "THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JIMMY FALLON": After 15 rounds of voting, McCarthy pulled off the impossible, he got people to watch C-SPAN for an entire week.


COLLINS: As the House of Representatives was in complete chaos last week, millions of Americans got to see footage they normally would not. That's because C-SPAN was given permission before the voting to allow its cameras to roam across the chamber until a speaker was confirmed. You see, usually the cameras are controlled by the government. They're focused on lawmakers as they are giving speakers or on the dias (ph), every now and then sweeping across the House floor, but not usually offering much also.

Last week, however, we got a close-up view of what was actually playing out on the House floor, capturing moments that typically you would never see, such as when the holdout Matt Gaetz was angrily pointing at the would-be eventual speaker after another failed vote, or when this happened.






COLLINS: That was after Boebert changed her vote against Kevin McCarthy to just present. You saw the cheers, the boos, even the yawns.

We could not turn away. It was like watching sports with this play by play at time.

When you saw Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez talking to the far-right Republican Paul Gosar. That's the same Paul Gosar who was censured after he tweeted an anime-style clip of him slaying AOC with sword.

And freshman Republican Congressman George Santos, who was sitting all alone after it came out that he had lied about a lot of his resume, mainly isolated during his first week on Capitol Hill.

There was also this moment on Friday night, light, when North Carolina's Richard Hudson grabbed Alabama's Mike Rogers in the face, trying to restrain him during that heated confrontation after another failed McCarthy vote.


Now that a speaker has been confirmed, C-SPAN has returned to its normal procedure, unfortunately. And as C-SPAN noted last night, their cameras are no longer in the House chamber and they have resumed using the feed from House government operated cameras.

That was the best part of last week was being able to see everything that you could see because of C-SPAN. I don't think this many people ever watched C-SPAN until last week when you saw all of this.

HARLOW: I was tuned into Kaitlan TV 24 hours a day. Kaitlan and Tapper TV 24 hours a day. But, yes.

COLLINS: But it really shows what you get to see when the cameras can - can -

HARLOW: That's true.

COLLINS: Because normally reporters are in the balcony and they can oversee and they can say, hey, this happened, what they have seen, Gosar, but you can't actually see it yourself, which, obviously --

HARLOW: Yes. Now you can.

LEMON: I just got frustrated and, like, I can't watch this anymore. I'm the, you know, I'm a - I'm a contrarian.

COLLINS: Because it was such chaos?

LEMON: It was just so much. Yes, I was like, I can't. And I like flipped on to HBO Max or Netflix or whatever. I'm like, I'm done.

HARLOW: HBO Max. Keep it in the company.

LEMON: And I was like, I'll check this out and see what happens.

Oh, it's number eight, number nine, number ten. OK, glad I didn't watch. That was me.

COLLINS: Yes, it was a lot of replays.

LEMON: But it's good that the cameras are there. That's good. All right.

HARLOW: OK, so we have to get to California. What is happening there is unreal. But all-too real. Rescues underway this morning as really historic flooding has hit America's largest state. We'll take you to California, next.



LEMON: I mean, it's a mess in California right now.