Biden’s Student Loans Forgiveness Scheme on Hold Until June 2023
The Biden administration has again suspended the student loans repayment scheme, claiming that the delay will allow courts to rule on the Democrats’ plan to forgive some debt.
It has now been extended until June 30, 2023, marking the eighth time that the US Education Department has delayed requiring student loan repayment.
President Joe Biden stated that his student loan forgiveness plan is completely “legal.”
On November 10, a federal judge in Texas dismissed the plan following a lawsuit filed by a conservative group on behalf of two borrowers who did not qualify for all of the program’s benefits.
Days later, a US court of appeals in St Louis, Missouri, granted an injunction against the program requested by six Republican-led states. The White House then petitioned the Supreme Court to overturn the plan.
The program has ceased accepting new applications due to litigation.
Former President Donald Trump appointed the federal judge in Texas, who argued that the Biden administration had illegally bypassed Congress by approving a $400 billion program through a presidential executive order.
I’m confident that our student debt relief plan is legal. But it’s on hold because Republican officials want to block it.
That’s why @SecCardona is extending the payment pause to no later than June 30, 2023, giving the Supreme Court time to hear the case in its current term. pic.twitter.com/873CurlHFZ
— President Biden (@POTUS) November 22, 2022
In a video posted on Twitter on Tuesday, Mr. Biden blamed Republican special interests and elected officials who were sued to deny this relief even to their own constituents.
“It’s not fair to expect tens of millions of eligible borrowers to resume student debt payments while the courts consider the lawsuit.”
In August, Mr. Biden announced his plan to cancel up to $20,000 (£16,800) in student debt per person, or $10,000 for Americans earning less than $125,000 per year.
According to the General Accountability Office, the moratorium, which began in March 2020, has already cost more than $100 billion in lost student loan repayments and interest.
Over 26 million Americans have applied for student loan forgiveness.
Sixteen million have been approved, but court cases have prevented the Department of Education, which is in charge of student debt, from clearing their records.
Americans collectively owe the US government $1.5 trillion in university loans.
According to court documents, U.S. District Judge Mark Pittman declared the loan forgiveness plan illegal because Biden did not follow federal procedures to allow for public comment prior to the policy’s announcement.
The Job Creators Network Foundation filed the lawsuit in North Texas court in October on behalf of two borrowers who are ineligible for all of the program’s benefits. Those borrowers disagreed with the program’s eligibility criteria, and the lawsuit claimed that they were unable to express their dissatisfaction.
The latest assault on Biden’s loan forgiveness programs comes after the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit temporarily halted the program last month in response to a lawsuit filed by six Republican-led states. The Texas lawsuit adds to the growing list of legal challenges to Biden’s loan forgiveness plan, which he announced in August. Borrowers began submitting applications for the program in October.
Republicans and other advocacy groups have since slammed the program as a handout to high-paid professionals. In September, Gov. Greg Abbott signed a letter claiming that student loan forgiveness would harm the working class.
However, people earning more than $125,000 are ineligible for the loan relief program. Eligible applicants are limited to $10,000 in relief unless they are Pell Grant recipients, in which case they can receive up to $20,000 in relief.
According to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, 56% of students who graduated from four-year public universities in 2021 had approximately $25,000 in student debt.
Biden’s decision to forgive more money for low-income students who qualify for federal Pell Grants will have a particularly large impact on low-income borrowers and people of colour, who are more likely to qualify for federal financial aid and have higher levels of student debt.
The US Department of Education closed the online portal for student debt relief on Friday, which had been accepting applications since Thursday evening.
“Courts have issued injunctions against our student debt relief program. As a result, we are not accepting applications at this time. We are attempting to have those orders overturned “According to the website.
According to the Texas lawsuit, Biden’s program violated the Administrative Procedure Act by not allowing for public comment. The lawsuit also claims that the Secretary of Education lacks the authority to implement the program.
One of the plaintiffs, Alexander Taylor, is not eligible for $20,000 in forgiveness because he did not receive a Pell Grant, which is only available to low-income students, and thus will only be entitled to $10,000 off his student loans.
Myra Brown, the other plaintiff, has privately held loans that are no longer covered by Biden’s plan. Previously, commercially held loans like Brown’s could be consolidated into Direct Loans, which meet the eligibility requirements of Biden’s program, but the Education Department changed this policy in response to multiple lawsuits from conservative states.
Brown had previously benefited from a federal loan forgiveness program as the owner of Desert Star Enterprises Inc., according to The Intercept. According to the publication, Brown’s company received a $48,000 business loan, $42,997 of which was forgiven in April as part of the Paycheck Protection Program.
Jan. 6 Rioters Are Bringing In thousands In Donations. Now The US Is Coming After Their Haul
Daniel Goodwyn, a Texan who pled guilty to storming the U.S. Capitol, made an appearance on Tucker Carlson’s former Fox News show less than two months after his plea and promoted a website where people could donate money to help him and other rioters, who the website referred to as “political prisoners.”
An increasing government effort to prohibit rioters from personally profiting from an act that rattled the foundations of American democracy has resulted in the Justice Department demanding that Goodwyn return more than $25,000 he raised.
Prosecutors in the more than one thousand criminal cases dating back to January 6, 2021, are increasingly requesting judges to impose fines in addition to prison sentences to balance donations from supporters of the Capitol rioters, according to a study of court documents by the Associated Press.
Prosecutors have acknowledged nothing improper about defendants setting up Internet fundraising efforts to help with legal expenditures. Since many of the accused have had government-funded legal representation, the Justice Department has occasionally raised concerns about the true use of the funds.
Most of these campaigns can be found on GiveSendGo, which promotes itself as “The #1 Free Christian Fundraising Site” and has become a safe haven for those originally banned from utilizing popular crowdfunding platforms like GoFundMe on January 6. Even as they make deals to plead guilty and assist authorities, the rioters frequently declare their innocence and portray themselves as victims of government oppression.
Their ability to raise money demonstrates that many Americans maintain the false assumption that Democrats plotted to steal the 2020 presidential election from Donald Trump. The idea has been bolstered by the previous president’s promise to pardon rioters if he is re-elected.
More than $16,000 was gathered for Markus Maly’s family through an internet campaign that referred to him as a “January 6 P.O.W.” Maly is a Virginia man due to be sentenced next month for attacking police at the Capitol. Although a public defender represented Maly at no cost to himself, prosecutors have asked for a punishment of $16,000 or more.
An increasing government effort to prohibit rioters from personally profiting from an act that rattled the foundations of American democracy.
According to court documents, prosecutors believe it is inappropriate for the defendant to “capitalize” on his involvement in the Capitol breach by using the fame he has achieved due to his criminal activities.
According to the A.P.’s count, prosecutors have sought fines totaling over $390,000 from at least 21 riot suspects this year. These fines have ranged from $450 to over $71,000.
This year, judges have fined at least $124,127 amongst 33 riot suspects. Over the prior two years, over a hundred riot defendants were fined over $240,000.
To repay the nearly $2.8 million in damages to the Capitol and other expenses incurred on January 6, judges have ordered hundreds of convicted rioters to pay over $524,000.
The harshest sentences for those rioters who faced the most serious charges are finally being handed down. They are also the most active in soliciting donations, which may account for the uptick in requests for monetary penalties.
A judge earlier this month handed Nathaniel DeGrave a sentence of almost three years in prison and a fine of $25,000. Prosecutors said the Nevada man “incredibly” collected over $120,000 through GiveSendGo campaigns labeling him “Beijing Biden’s political prisoner” in “America’s Gitmo,” a reference to the detention facility at Guantánamo Bay.
Despite “seeking to cooperate with the government and admitting he and his co-conspirators were guilty since at least November 2021,” the prosecutor wrote, “he did this.”
DeGrave’s attorney William Shipley, who has also represented more than two dozen other January 6 offenders, said his clients should not raise money as a political prisoners if they want to enter a guilty plea.
They have every right to scream from the rooftops that the only reason they are being kept is because of politics until they admit to having committed a crime, as Shipley put it. To quote the First Amendment: “It’s just free political speech.”
An increasing government effort to prohibit rioters from personally profiting from an act that rattled the foundations of American democracy
According to Shipley, he proved to the judge that DeGrave had $25,000 more in donations than legal fees.
“I’ve never had clients that had third-party fundraising like this,” Shipley said, “so I’ve never had to do it.” “There is a section of the population that feels sorry for these accused.”
Heather Wilson, the co-founder of the crowdfunding platform GiveSendGo, explained that accepting contributions for the legal defense of those accused in the Capitol riot “is rooted in our society’s commitment to the presumption of innocence and the freedom for all individuals to hire private attorneys.”
Just over 500 defendants have been punished for offenses committed on January 6, marking a milestone in the largest federal investigation in American history and prompting the government to argue for higher punishments.
When prosecutors ask for a fine, judges are sometimes granting them.
Peter Schwartz, a guy from Kentucky who attacked Capitol police with pepper spray and a chair, was facing a fine of almost $70,000, according to prosecutors. This month, U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta gave Schwartz one of the heaviest jail terms handed down in a case involving the Capitol incident, although he did not impose a fine.
Prosecutors accuse Schwartz of trying to make money via his GoFundMe page, “Patriot Pete Political Prisoner in D.C.” However, Dennis Boyle, who represents him, claims no such proof exists.
In this case, the judge “basically said that if the money was being used for attorneys’ fees or other costs like that, there was no basis for a fine,” Boyle said.
John Strand, a cover model for romance novels, was found guilty by a jury of storming the Capitol alongside Dr. Simone Gold, a prominent California physician in the anti-vaccine movement. The judge will sentence Strand on Thursday, and prosecutors ask for a $50,000 fine and jail time.
Prosecutors claim that Strand has raised over $17,300 for his defense, even though he uses a publicly financed attorney. The fact that Strand can afford to live in a mansion that cost over $3 million indicates that he has “substantial financial means,” as the authorities have put it.
“Strand has raised, and continues to raise, money on his website based upon his false statements and misrepresentations on the events of January 6,” the prosecutors stated.
Goodwyn will be sentenced in April after appearing on Carlson’s show in March. The defense team’s attorney, Carolyn Stewart, referred to the $25,000 fine requested by prosecutors as “demanding blood from a stone.”
“He received that amount in charity to help him in the debt for legal fees for former solicitors and this for unknown reasons is bothersome to the government,” Stewart wrote.
SOURCE – (AP)
Serbian Border Troops On High Alert After Ethnic Clashes Inside Kosovo
CITY OF PRISTINA, Kosovo — After more than a dozen people were injured in clashes between police and ethnic Serbs in Kosovo on Friday, Serbian forces on the border with Kosovo were put on high alert.
On Friday morning, ethnic Serbs in northern Kosovo sought to prevent newly elected ethnic Albanian politicians from entering municipal buildings. The Serbs make up the majority in that area of the country. Ethnic Serbs mostly abstained from voting in the snap election held last month, which meant that all of the new mayors and assembly members were members of ethnic Albanian or other smaller minority groups.
Tear gas was used by police in Kosovo to clear the area so that the new officials could enter the building. Many vehicles were burned to the ground. Officials from a Serb hospital in Kosovo estimated that 10 protestors were hurt. Protesters reportedly injured five police officers with stun grenades and other projectiles. Fire destroyed a police cruiser.
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic responded to the fighting by putting the country’s armed forces on the “highest state of alert” and directing an “urgent” deployment of troops to the border. He also wanted the NATO-led soldiers in Kosovo to shield ethnic Serbs from the local authorities.
In response to the Kosovo government’s use of police to storm municipal facilities, the United States issued a strong condemnation.
On Friday, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken stated that the United States’ “bilateral relations with Kosovo will be affected by the sharp and unnecessarily escalated tensions” between Kosovo and Serbia.
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic responded to the fighting by putting the country’s armed forces on the “highest state of alert”.
Tens of thousands of people showed up to a demonstration in Belgrade on Friday night to hear Vucic speak in the wake of two mass shootings earlier this month that left 18 dead and 20 more wounded, shocking the nation.
We will keep the peace, but I can assure you that Serbia will not stand by while Serbs in northern Kosovo are attacked.
During heightened tension with Kosovo, Vucic has repeatedly bolstered military preparations and promised Belgrade to respond to violence against Serbs.
But if Serbia tried to send troops across the border, they would face off against NATO troops already stationed there.
Serbian opposition politician and former army chief Zdravko Ponos called Vucic’s statement “inappropriate.”
According to comments made by Ponos on the N1 regional television network, “this is only saber-rattling that serves as face-saving for Vucic.”
According to the Kosovo police, the additional presence is “to assist mayors of the northern communes of Zvecan, Leposavic, and Zubin Potok to exert their right to work.”
According to indexonline.net, an Albanian news outlet, new mayors in three northern municipalities were barred from entering municipal buildings by small groups of Serbs raising their hands, ostensibly to signify they were not there to take part in violence.
The main square in Leposavic was blocked with automobiles and trucks, while videos posted to Kosovo-online.com showed skirmishes between protesters and police outside of Zvecan’s municipal building.
Serb-dominated communes in northern Kosovo held local elections after their lawmakers resigned last year. They left in protest after Kosovo authorities denied a group of ethnic Serbs the right to act as a local umbrella organization responsible for coordinating things like health care, education, and economic growth.
The Constitutional Court of Kosovo ruled 2015 that a Pristina-Belgrade agreement from 2013 on founding the Serb association was unconstitutional since it excluded other ethnic groups and may lead to using executive powers to impose laws.
Tensions remain high despite a tentative agreement to support a European Union blueprint for moving forward.
Fearing additional instability in Europe while conflict rages in Ukraine, the United States and the European Union have increased their efforts to help resolve the dispute between Kosovo and Serbia. To move forward with their plans to join the EU, the EU has clarified that Serbia and Kosovo must normalize relations.
In 1998, separatist ethnic Albanians rebelled against Serbia’s sovereignty in Kosovo, sparking the conflict that has plagued the region ever since. Most of the estimated 13,000 fatalities were of ethnic Albanians. The 1999 military intervention by NATO hastened Serbia’s withdrawal from the area. Kosovo has been recognized as an independent state by the United States and most of the European Union but not by Serbia, Russia, or China.
SOURCE – (AP)
2023: Cardinal Blasts Vendettas, ‘Plots Against Me’ In Vatican Financial Trial
CITY OF THE VATICAN — On Friday, a cardinal on trial in the Holy See’s massive financial crimes investigation said he feels helpless in the face of “the nightmare of these accusations” because prosecutors have suppressed evidence they believe will prove his innocence.
The cardinal addressed the court after Cardinal Angelo Becciu’s lawyers had their last request for access to the information denied by Judge Giuseppe Pignatone. Pignatone concurred with prosecutors in a decree read aloud on Friday, agreeing that the redacted interrogation transcripts and WhatsApp discussions are now part of another investigation and must be kept secret.
Despite being “bitter” and “perplexed” by the judge’s judgment, Becciu, a former one of the most important Vatican cardinals and a close assistant to Pope Francis, said he still had faith in the Vatican tribunal.
He told the judge that the defense had been “demeaned” since, without all the evidence, it couldn’t properly defend itself.
Becciu is one of ten people on trial for various offenses related to the Vatican’s 350 million euro investment in a London property, including embezzlement for giving Vatican funds to a charity operated by Becciu’s brother. Becciu, like the other defendants, has denied any wrongdoing.
Defense attorneys have long argued that the Vatican City State’s legal framework unfairly denies their clients the protections that are standard practice in the rest of the modern world. Lawyers for the accused have pointed to Pope Francis’ involvement in the case as proof that their clients cannot receive a fair trial in an absolute monarchy where the pope has supreme legislative, executive, and judicial power.
Trial for various offenses related to the Vatican’s 350 million euro investment in a London property
Every time they’ve gone before Pignatone, he’s ruled against them and let the trial continue.
Prosecutors have concealed key prosecution witness Monsignor Alberto Perlasca’s full interview transcript and 126 related WhatsApp exchanges. During the early stages of the investigation, Perlasca was the most prominent suspect since he was the Vatican official with the most direct involvement in the London property purchase. In August 2020, however, he altered his tale and testified against Becciu, his former boss, becoming the prosecution’s star witness.
The conversations were introduced as evidence in November of last year when Perlasca testified that he began collaborating with prosecutors after receiving threats and advice from a lady, Francesca Chaouqui, known to have an axe to grind against the cardinal.
A red herring was introduced into the investigation when it was suggested that Chaouqui may have encouraged Perlasca to flip on Becciu to get even with him.
Chaouqui and a friend of the Perlasca family exchanged texts in a WhatsApp conversation. The attorneys representing Becciu wanted to see them because they might provide evidence that Perlasca was coerced into making false accusations against the cardinal.
Alessandro Diddi, the prosecutor, submitted the 126 texts into evidence but blacked out 119. As the investigation is ongoing, Pignatone agreed on Friday that they should remain redacted, citing the prosecutors’ “unquestionable” right.
The fact that Perlasca, Chaouqui, and the family friend were all set free while Becciu was on trial “suffering for three years, under the nightmare of these accusations” infuriated him, and he expressed as much. He said that they had “plotted against me” and enlisted the pope’s aid in getting rid of Becciu and bringing him to trial as part of their vendetta.
Becciu warned that using the Holy Father for an evil plan of retribution was not an option.
SOURCE – (AP)
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