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May 25, 2016
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Students at Oberlin College are asking the school to put academics on the back burner so they can better turn their attention to activism. More than 1,300 students at the Midwestern liberal arts college have now signed a petition asking that the college get rid of any grade below a C for the semester, and some students are requesting alternatives to the standard written midterm examination, such as a conversation with a professor in lieu of an essay.

The students say that between their activism work and their heavy course load, finding success within the usual grading parameters is increasingly difficult. "A lot of us worked alongside community members in Cleveland who were protesting," Megan Bautista, a co-liaison in Oberlin's student government, said, referring to the protests surrounding the shooting death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice by a police officer in 2014. "But we needed to organize on campus as well — it wasn't sustainable to keep driving 40 minutes away. A lot of us started suffering academically."

The student activists' request doesn't come without precedence: In the 1970s, Oberlin adjusted its grading to accommodate student activists protesting the Vietnam War and the Kent State shootings, The New Yorker reports. But current students contend that same luxury was not granted to them even though the recent Rice protests were over a police shooting that took place just 30 miles east of campus.

"You know, we're paying for a service. We're paying for our attendance here. We need to be able to get what we need in a way that we can actually consume it," student Zakiya Acey told The New Yorker. "Because I'm dealing with having been arrested on campus, or having to deal with the things that my family are going through because of larger systems — having to deal with all of that, I can't produce the work that they want me to do. But I understand the material, and I can give it to you in different ways."

Read the full story on the ongoing battle at Oberlin over at The New Yorker. Becca Stanek

10:23 p.m. ET
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Starbucks announced on Thursday it is opening its first cafe in the U.S. with employees who are partially or fully deaf and can communicate using American Sign Language.

The company is converting an existing Starbucks in Washington, D.C., into a Signing Store, set to open in October. Employees will wear aprons embroidered by deaf suppliers, and pins that say "I sign," USA Today reports. "The store will create a distinctive retail experience for all customers, while offering a unique store format that promotes accessibility and offers employment and career advancement opportunities for deaf and hard of hearing people," Starbucks said in a statement.

Starbucks will hire 20 to 25 people who know ASL to staff the Signing Store. The company's first Signing Store opened in Malaysia in 2016. Catherine Garcia

9:22 p.m. ET
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Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said on Thursday that as soon as the Department of Justice learns that an American company, private organization, or person has been hacked or otherwise covertly attacked by a foreign entity trying to influence an election, they will be notified.

"Exposing schemes to the public is an important way to neutralize them," Rosenstein said at the Aspen Security Forum. "The American people have a right to know if foreign governments are targeting them with propaganda." Microsoft executive Tom Burt told forum attendees that his team has already determined that the Russian military agency GRU has targeted at least three candidates running for office in the November midterm elections.

This new policy comes in the wake of the disinformation campaign waged by Russia during the 2016 presidential election, and it's a good start, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) told The Washington Post. "If this disclosure requirement had been around in 2016, I firmly believe that it would have served as a meaningful deterrent after Russia's interference was first discovered, and it would have informed voters more quickly and more forcefully that a foreign government was trying to effect their vote," he said. Catherine Garcia

8:26 p.m. ET
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Bristol Palin hasn't been a teen mom in years, but that's not a dealbreaker for MTV.

Variety and TMZ report that Palin, the 27-year-old daughter of former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, is joining the cast of Teen Mom OG this fall. Not long after presidential candidate John McCain announced in 2008 that her mom was his running mate on the Republican ticket, Palin revealed a bombshell of her own: she was pregnant at 17. Palin gave birth to her son, Tripp, in December, and has gone on to have two more children — daughters Sailor Grace, 2, and Atlee Bay, 1. She's also been on several reality shows, including Dancing with the Stars (she came in third) and Bristol Palin: Life's a Tripp (it got canceled after one season).

The other stars of Teen Mom OG appeared on episodes of the show 16 and Pregnant, which chronicled their lives as high school students dealing with pregnancy, childbirth, and the early days of motherhood. Palin has parlayed her experience as a teen mom into job opportunities for years now, including as the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Ambassador for the Candie's Foundation. Catherine Garcia

7:26 p.m. ET
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Olympic figure skater Denis Ten was stabbed to death in Kazakhstan on Thursday, following an altercation with people who allegedly tried to steal a mirror from his vehicle, Kazakh news agencies report.

Ten, 25, was rushed to a hospital in his hometown of Almaty, where he died. Ten took home the bronze medal from the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, making him Kazakhstan's first medalist in figure skating, and also won the Four Continents championships in 2015. The Associated Press reports that due to injuries over the last few years, he placed 27th in the Pyeongchang Olympics this February.

"Today is truly a dark day for all of us who loved this young figure skater and were inspired by his talent and creativity," Kazakhstan Olympic Committee President Timur Kulibayev said in a statement. "Throughout his sporting career, Denis set an example with his motivation, strength of spirit, and his champion's personality." Catherine Garcia

6:45 p.m. ET

If you follow White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Twitter and saw her Thursday afternoon post announcing the Trump administration has invited Russian President Vladimir Putin to D.C. this fall, then you were briefly more informed about the matter than Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats.

Coats found out about the invite during an interview with NBC News' Andrea Mitchell at the Aspen Security Forum. "Say that again?" he asked, laughing uncomfortably. Mitchell repeated herself and Coats chuckled again, exhaled, and said, "That's gonna be special." Coats later stated that "based on my reaction, I wasn't aware of that."

Coats also said he doesn't know what happened during President Trump's one-on-one meeting with Putin Monday in Helsinki, and had Trump asked him "how that ought to be conducted, I would have suggested a different way, but that's not my role. That's not my job. So it is what it is." Catherine Garcia

5:01 p.m. ET

There are discussions underway for Russian President Vladimir Putin to visit President Trump in Washington, D.C., in the fall, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Thursday.

The White House has so far been short on details regarding any specific deals or commitments that were made when Trump met with Putin on Monday, but Sanders said that Trump had asked National Security Adviser John Bolton to invite Putin to the U.S. in the coming months.

A visit in the fall would coincide with the midterm elections, which intelligence officials say Russia is attempting to manipulate with ongoing cyberattacks. While Sanders did not say whether Putin had accepted, she noted that Trump had agreed to "ongoing working level dialogue between the two security council staffs." Summer Meza

4:23 p.m. ET
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In the first official rebuke of President Trump's controversial summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier this week, the Senate on Thursday overwhelmingly approved a measure to prevent Russia from interrogating U.S. officials, reports Bloomberg.

The White House had revealed Wednesday that Trump was "working with his team" to consider whether to turn over American citizens, including former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul, to the Kremlin for questioning, only to walk back the idea on Thursday. Trump originally called it an "incredible offer" because Putin had suggested allowing the U.S. to question Russians accused of interfering in the 2016 election in exchange.

The resolution against the "offer" was passed 98-0, with all Democrats and most Republicans voting to approve it. "Let this resolution be a warning to the administration that Congress will not allow this to happen," said Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). Read more at Bloomberg. Summer Meza

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