Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), who now says she regrets her vote last week for the Blunt amendment, tells TPM: "I think [these incidents] are just adding to this sense that women's health rights are being attacked -- that in 2012 we're having a conversation[...]
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I can't find any breakdown in this LA Times piece, but I have to wonder: How many of these loans are from the shell game run by for-profit colleges? Because they're almost designed to have students default, much like mortgage derivatives. And in the meantime (watch above video), Republicans want to push through rate increases that will make it even more likely. Hmm... maybe this is not an accident:
Reporting from Washington? Some experts have called the nation's soaring college debt load a "ticking time bomb" ? a looming crisis threatening young adults, their families and the broader economy.
A new report raises even more alarms: It's likely that as many as 1 in 4 borrowers was carrying a past-due student loan balance in the third quarter, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York said Monday.
That's a much higher delinquency rate than previously thought. By a more conventional measure, the New York Fed said, 5.4 million of 37 million borrowers with student loan balances had at least one past-due student loan account ? a 14.6% rate.
Many educators are concerned about the increasing financial squeeze on college students and their families and the repercussions for the nation's economy.
W. Norton Grubb, a professor at UC Berkeley's School of Education, is worried that rising debt levels are forcing some students to drop out. Only 40% to 50% of those enrolling at universities such as the California State University schools end up completing their degrees, he said.
Such figures have helped bolster a long-held belief by scholars that America's declining or stagnant college graduation rates have become an Achilles' heel in the competitive global economy.
The New York Fed report concluded that "student loan debt is not just a concern for the young. Parents and the federal government shoulder a substantial part of the post-secondary education bill."
[...] The New York Fed said the past-due balances on student loans amounted to $85 billion, or about 10% of the total owed. The same 10% rate applies on average to other types of consumer delinquent debt, such as mortgages and credit cards.
But Fed researchers said delinquency figures for student loans understate the magnitude of the problem. That's because the calculations don't take into account that federally guaranteed loans, which make up the bulk of student debt, typically don't require repayment while borrowers are still in school and for six months after graduation.
“Scientists and doctors today are mystified by the proliferation of new viruses–not only the deadly AIDS virus but the whole gamut of human viruses that seem to be associated with everything from chronic fatigue to cancer and arthritis. They are equally mystified by recent increases in the incidence of intestinal parasites and pathogenic yeasts, even among those whose sanitary practices are faultless. Could it be that in abandoning the ancient practice of lacto-fermentation and in our insistence on a diet …Adding to the to-do list: learn how to make fermented vegetables.
Fifty-nine percent of Texas voters oppose a new rule that cuts off funds from the joint state-federal Women’s Health Program to Planned Parenthood, while 38 percent of voters approve of it, according to a new survey from Public Policy Polling. About 130,000 women could lose their access to affordable health care because of this measure, which Gov. Rick Perry (R) signed into law. “Texas voters are sending a clear message to Governor Perry: they think the Women?s Health Program is important and that he should leave it alone,” wrote Tom Jensen, director of Public Policy Polling.
The three Iowa Supreme Court Justices who voters ejected from their seats in 2010 because they had ruled in favor of marriage equality will receive the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award. Given in May in observance of President Kennedy’s birthday, the award is the nation’s most prestigious honor for public servants.
With the housing crisis still acting as a drag on the nation’s economic recovery, the White House announced a plan today to assist struggling homeowners and address improper foreclosures. The plan, which requires no Congressional action, will reduce refinancing fees for homeowners with government-backed loans, but the plan’s major focus was on helping military veterans who were the victims of foreclosure fraud, predatory mortgage practices, and other improper foreclosures.
Obama outlined the proposals at a press briefing today, where he called it “unconscionable” that military members were among the worst victims of the foreclosure crisis and the fraudulent practices from Wall Street banks that have occurred during it:
We are going to do this on our own. We don?t need congressional authorization to do it. [...] It is unconscionable that members of our armed forces and their families have been some of those most susceptible to losing their homes through the actions of unscrupulous banks and housing lenders.
In 2010, more than 20,000 active-duty veterans and reservists with government-sponsored mortgages lost their homes, a 32-percent increase from 2008 and the largest loss since 2003. The number could have been worse were it not for Veterans Administration programs that helped 66,000 military families avoid foreclosure in 2010.
Even worse, military members are often victims of foreclosure fraud. In November, federal regulators released data showing that more than 5,000 military members may have been illegally foreclosed upon by the nation’s 10 largest banks, and veterans continue to battle banks to stay in their homes on a daily basis.
Obama’s plan seeks to remedy those problems by providing relief to members who sold their homes at a loss due to a permanent change in station, and provides $10 billion from mortgage servicers to bolster the Veterans Housing Benefits Program. It also draws on the recent mortgage fraud settlement between the government and major lenders to force banks to compensate servicemembers who were improperly foreclosed upon by paying lost equity, plus interest, and $116,785.
In addition to the programs announced today, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has been tasked with making sure military members are treated fairly by financial services institutions, while New York Attorney General Eric Schniederman has launched an investigation into potentially illegal foreclosure practices involving veterans.
The Georgia Senate passed a bill 34-19 that would ban undocumented immigrants from attending any of Georgia’s 60 public colleges, even though state college officials have already said the bill is unnecessary. The measure now goes to the House for consideration, where another bill targeting undocumented immigrants and public colleges has not yet passed out of committee. Federal law does not prevent undocumented immigrants from attending public colleges. The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency wrote in 2008 that “individual states must decide for themselves whether or not to admit illegal aliens into their public postsecondary institutions.”
I was looking through the acting nominations for the Comedy Awards, and it really struck me that in a lot of ways, 2011 was a richer year for women in comedy than it was for men.
In movies, Jason Bateman got a nod for Horrible Bosses, Steve Carell was nominated for Crazy, Stupid, Love, Jean Dujardin was tapped for The Artist, Zach Galifianakis for The Hangover Part II, and Owen Wilson for Midnight in Paris. None of these are particularly innovative roles, and all of them (except Dujardin, whose range I don’t really know) fall pretty squarely within these actors’ existing ranges: Bateman is a tense straight man, Carell is sympathetic and slightly clueless, Galifianakis is disconcerting and wild, and Wilson is winsome. There are a few things that I think were left off this list?I’ll defend The Trip until I run out of breath, Patton Oswalt was great and under-recognized for Young Adult, and I’m not really sure why 50/50, which was nominated elsewhere, didn’t score acting nods?but I can’t think of a performance by a man that’s not here that was a revelation. Ditto in TV, which was dominated by utterly predictable nods for Alec Baldwin in 30 Rock, Ty Burrell in Modern Family, Steve Carell in The Office, and Larry David in Curb Your Enthusiasm. I’m glad to see Louis C.K. in there?his performance in Louie was arguably my favorite thing on television in 2011. But it’s not like he has a lot of peers.
For women, on the other hand, the nominations are actually a lot of fun. I didn’t love Horrible Bosses, but seeing Jennifer Aniston get totally raunchy and ridiculous was a fun stretch for her. Ditto for Cameron Diaz in Bad Teacher?depending on how she takes her career next, she could leave horrid romantic comedies behind and steer more in the direction of Charlize Theron in Young Adult, who really ought to be here. Melissa McCarthy was a miracle in Bridesmaids, and Kristen Wiig and Rose Byrne, who had an utterly breakout performance in that film also could have easily been nominated. Television has its predictable notes?Tina Fey, for a deeply uninspired season of 30 Rock and Sofia Vergara for Modern Family. But you’ve got Zooey Deschanel in there for a debut performance in New Girl, and Maya Rudolph could easily be there for Up All Night, along with Laura Dern in Enlightened, Kat Dennings or Beth Behrs in 2 Broke Girls (that show’s massive flaws are not their fault), any of the women in Community‘s cast or Eliza Coupe or Elisha Cuthbert in Happy Endings.
And if Whitney or Are You There, Chelsea? had been less terrible, and we’d fulfilled all the potential of the lady comedy boom, this could have been an even more crowded field. I may not be equally addicted to every female comedy performance on the market these days. But it seems like there’s a lot of space available for new actresses to enter the field, and for actresses with existing track records to step out of their comfort zones. If those conditions persist, that’s a recipe for an embarrassment of riches.
But Romney’s disregard for the facts was noticed not just in Washington. Former Israeli Mossad director Efraim Halevy said that Romney’s militaristic talk could induce the Iranians to rush to acquire nuclear weapons in order to deter an attack if the former Massachusetts governor were to assume the presidency in January 2013. Halevy warned that Romney is effectively “telling the Iranians, ‘You better be quick about it,’” in an interview with the Huffington Post. Halevy explained:
If I’m sitting here in the month of March 2012 reading this, and I’m an Iranian leader, what do I understand? I have nine more months to run as fast as I can because this is going to be terrible if the other guys get in.
Halevy went on to observe, “In the effort to demolish the president [Romney] is making the situation worse.”
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said an attack would only delay Iran’s nuclear program and Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey warned that military action “could carry unforeseen risks.”
The bellicose rhetoric of the campaign trail, which often incorporates accusations that Obama has been insufficiently protective of Israel’s security in the face of an Iranian nuclear threat, has stood in stark contrast to the messages coming out of Israel’s intelligence and security communities. Indeed, the IAEA has expressed concerns about possible military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear program but neither U.N. nuclear inspectors nor U.S. intelligence officials have concluded that Iran has restarted its nuclear weapons program.
In February, former Israeli intelligence chief Meir Dagan disagreed with the characerization of Iran as an “existential threat” to Israel and current Israeli intelligence chief Tamir Pardo reportedly told a gathering of Israeli ambassadors in December that Iran doesn’t pose an “existential threat” and “the term existential threat is used too freely.”
Also in February, Israeli Lt. Gen. Amnon Lipkin-Shahak reported that the Israeli military’s leadership doesn’t support a strike on Iran and the AP disclosed that Israel’s incoming air force chief Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel is “less enthusiastic about a possible attack on Iran” than the current air force chief, according to defense officials.
The White House also noticed Romney’s efforts to beat the war drums. Speaking today, Obama challenged Iran-hawks to “explain to the American people exactly why [we should launch a war] and what the consequences would be.” A growing number of defense and intelligence elites in Israel seem to think the costs of war with Iran far outweigh the consequences to the Jewish state.