Education Secretary Betsy DeVos Strikes Down Protections For Student Loan Borrowers

Who is she working for?

via Twitter

During the Obama administration, 8.7 million Americans defaulted on their student loans. In 2010, to stop the wave of defaults, Obama overhauled the student loan program, forcing many commercial banks out of the student loan business. In 2013, he took another step toward alleviating the problem by signing legislation that significantly reduced the interest rates on student loans.

Last summer, the Department of Education released new guidelines to improve customer service and enhance protections for student loan holders. The guidelines strengthened federal oversight of government contractors that handle billing and collections. “For some student loan borrowers, high-quality servicing can be the difference between getting by and going broke,” Richard Cordray, director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, said. “But for too many consumers, this level of service has proved elusive.”

On Wednesday, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos withdrew last year’s consumer protection guidelines, saying the protections “impede our ability to ensure borrowers do not experience deficiencies in service.” But critics believe that DeVos’ decision only makes things worse for borrowers. “It is utterly baffling that Secretary DeVos would undo guidance that asks servicers to do the basic things that anyone—literally anyone—would expect a loan servicer to do, like respond to questions and help people access repayment plans they have a legal right to use,” Suzanne Martindale, policy counsel for Consumers Union, said.

via Alan Levine / Flickr

The World Health Organization is hoping to drive down the cost of insulin by encouraging more generic drug makers to enter the market.

The organization hopes that by increasing competition for insulin, drug manufacturers will be forced to lower their prices.

Currently, only three companies dominate the world insulin market, Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk and Sanofi. Over the past three decades they've worked to drastically increase the price of the drug, leading to an insulin availability crisis in some places.

In the United States, the price of insulin has increased from $35 a vial to $275 over the past two decades.

Keep Reading Show less

Oh, irony. You are having quite a day.

The Italian region of Veneto, which includes the city of Venice, is currently experiencing historic flooding. Venice Mayor Luigi Brugnaro has stated that the flooding is a direct result of climate change, with the tide measuring the highest level in 50 years. The city (which is actually a collection of 100 islands in a lagoon—hence its famous canal streets), is no stranger to regular flooding, but is currently on the brink of declaring a state of emergency as waters refuse to recede.

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet

Since the International Whaling Commission banned commercial whaling in 1986, whale populations have been steadily recovering. However, whales in the wild still face other dangers. In the summer of 2018, four Russian companies that supply aquariums with marine animals captured almost 100 beluga whales and killer whales (aka orcas). After a public outcry, those whales are swimming free as the last of the captive whales have been released, the first time this many captured whales have been released back into the wild.

In late 2018 and early 2019, a drone captured footage of 11 orcas and 87 beluga whales crammed into holding pens in the Srednyaya Bay. The so-called "whale jail" made headlines, and authorities began to investigate their potentially illegal capture.

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet
via Twitter / Bye,Bye Harley Davidson

The NRA likes to diminish the role that guns play in fatal shootings by saying, "Guns don't kill people, people kill people."

Which is the same logic as, "Hammers don't build roofs, people build roofs." No duh. But it'd be nearly impossible to build a roof without a hammer.

So, shouldn't the people who manufacture guns share some responsibility when they are used for the purpose they're made: killing people? Especially when the manufacturers market the weapon for that exact purpose?

Keep Reading Show less
via Gage Skidmore / Flickr

The 2020 election is a year away, but Donald Trump has some serious ground to cover if he doesn't want it to be a historical blowout.

A Washington Post- ABC News poll released Tuesday shows that Trump loses by double digits to the top Democratic contenders.

Vice President Joe Biden (56%-39%); Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts (54%-39%); Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont (56%-39%); South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg (52%-41%); and Sen. Kamala Harris of California (52%-41%) all have big leads over the president.

Keep Reading Show less