Teacher rapes, impregnates 12-year-old

Nathan Yusuf allegedly confessed to giving the victim codeine before raping her

Source: Teacher rapes, impregnates 12-year-old – Premium Times Nigeria

Did the Obama administration commit ‘the biggest accounting fraud in history’ with student loans?

Aarthi Swaminathan

The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board (WSJ) recently suggested that the Obama administration pulled off “the biggest accounting fraud in history” with student loans when eliminating the role of private lenders in the federal student lending market.

Experts who spoke with Yahoo Finance acknowledged the issue with the general policy in hindsight, though they disagreed on who exactly is to blame.

In 2010, Democrats “nationalized the market to help pay for Obama Care,” WSJ asserted. “The Congressional Budget Office at the time forecast that eliminating private lenders would save taxpayers $58 billion over 10 years. This estimate was pure fantasy, and now we’re seeing how much.”

The WSJ op-ed also highlighted the rising number of severely delinquent student loans since then and blamed the Obama administration for expanding plans in 2012 for new borrowers “to reduce defaults, buy off millennial voters and disguise the cost of its student-loan takeover.”

The editorial board then added: “This may be the biggest accounting fraud in history.”

Former President of the United States of America Barack Obama discusses democracy with students at Church Congress on May 25, 2017 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo: Steffi Loos/Getty Images)
Former President of the United States of America Barack Obama discusses democracy with students at Church Congress on May 25, 2017 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo: Steffi Loos/Getty Images)

‘There’s no way around that’

WSJ argued that eliminating private lenders from the student loan market severely hurt Americans and that by using fair-market accounting, it becomes clear that student loans will actually cost taxpayers nearly $307 billion over the next 10 years.

Douglas Holtz-Eakin, former director of the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) during the George W. Bush administration and currently president of the center-right American Action Forum, agreed that the accounting discrepancy manifested because of the “technique” used by the CBO to evaluate the cost of these loan programs.

“A widely known deficiency of the Federal Credit and Reform Act is that it does not allow the CBO to incorporate [market risk] into assessments,” Holtz-Eakin told Yahoo Finance. “So the loans, when they’re evaluated are evaluated as safer than they truly are, and thus, the losses are smaller than they may truly be. And there’s no way around that — the techniques force you to do that.”

He added that “that’s why when you when they switched from the private loans to the government loans, it appeared to save money… that is misleading. I don’t disagree, but it’s not the CBO’s fault — those are the rules.”

Sheila Bair, the chair of the U.S. Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) from 2006 to 2011, agreed that the WSJ was “right to call out the government” on the accounting issue and stressed that it is “a huge problem with federal budgeting and transparency generally.”

(Source: New York Fed)
(Source: New York Fed)

Income-based repayment plans were ‘poorly designed’

The WSJ argued that the key catalyst for the student debt crisis today — $1.48 trillion student loans outstanding, with 35% of the consumer loans in the “severely derogatory” category — was a result of the Obama administration’s policies regarding income-driven repayment (IDR) plans.

IDR plans allow borrowers to cap monthly student loan payments based on how much money they are making at a given time. As of September 2018, “almost half of the $898 billion in outstanding federal Direct Loans

being repaid by borrowers using IDR plans,” according to the Government Accountability Office.

Holtz-Eakin agreed with WSJ, arguing that the CBO “cannot anticipate a future action of either the Congress or the administration.”

If the government chooses “to move to a whole bunch of loan forgiveness and income-based repayment models, they can’t anticipate that and both of those things bring in less money,” he explained. “The money goes out and it doesn’t come back and they’re bigger losses.”

Holtz-Eakin added that the Obama administration “did that on a regular basis — there was nothing CBO could have done about it.”

Former FDIC Chair Bair, who headed the agency during part of both the Bush and Obama administrations, argued that the issue arose from the poor design of the repayment plan system.

“This has been a couple decades in the making, frankly,” said Bair. “I think that the concept of a payment based on income is a good one — it’s not a bad one. But the way these things have been designed, it’s like the worst of all possible worlds.”

With borrowers often in thousands of dollars in student debt, IDR plans are seen as an alternative for borrowers with high debt and low income. But the current income-based repayment plans is “very poorly designed… [and] confusing,” Bair said.

The WSJ pointed out that borrowers end up owing more than they borrowed even though they’re repaying their loans — called negative amortization — which Bair acknowledged.

U.S. President George W. Bush walks past U.S. President Donald Trump, first lady Melania Trump, former President Barack Obama, former first lady Michelle Obama, former President Bill Clinton, former first lady Hillary Clinton, former President Jimmy Carter and former first lady Rosalynn Carter as he arrives at the state funeral for his father former U.S. President George H.W. Bush at the Washington National Cathedral in Washington, U.S., December 5, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
Former President George W. Bush walks past U.S. President Donald Trump, former President Barack Obama, and others at the state funeral for former U.S. President George H.W. Bush at the Washington National Cathedral in Washington, U.S., December 5, 2018. (Photo: REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

“With a true income share, you have higher earners paying more and lower earners paying less, but you let the higher earners pay more to help with the cross-subsidization of the lower earners, and also just to mitigate the budget impact,” said Bair. “But what the government does do now is they cap you out.”

In other words, if a borrower decides that they want to increase their monthly repayment amounts, instead of being able to pay back loans quickly, they’re capped out because the repayment structure is based on their income. Hence, the borrower — despite being able to increase payments — is stuck with a loan that’s accruing interest for possibly 20 or 25 years.

CONCORD, MA - FEBRUARY 27: Arnie Greenfield holds up loan papers in Concord, MA on Feb. 27, 2019. Greenfield is perplexed because the company servicing his son's student loan won't give him credit for paying the loan early on one occasion. Greenfield says he has no complaints about helping his children pay off their college loans. An engineer and high-tech executive, he says hes grateful to be in a position to do so. But he does have a problem with being penalized by a bank for making an early payment.
Arnie Greenfield holds up loan papers in Concord, MA on Feb. 27, 2019. Greenfield is perplexed because the company servicing his son’s student loan won’t give him credit for paying the loan early on one occasion. (Photo: David L. Ryan/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

‘Recreated the worst aspects of the subprime… crisis’

The other issue was underwriting.

Previously, the government guaranteed student loans that borrowers took out from private lenders. Today, it controls more than 90% directly.

When the Obama administration “got rid of the guarantee program with the private sector out of the process and made it a direct federal loan, they got rid of all underwriting,” Holtz-Eakin noted.

“And so they recreated the worst aspects of the subprime mortgage lending crisis,” he stated. “They gave anyone who walked up a loan, without any notion of their capacity to repay.”

Romans 11:11-15

Arlin Sorensen's Thoughts on Scripture

In Romans 11:11-15 Paul answers the question of whether Israel is lost forever in their relationship with God and His purpose and plan. His answer is direct and strong: “By no means! Rather through their trespass salvation has come to the Gentiles, so as to make Israel jealous.” Paul has shown that God is still working through a remnant of Israel, but wants to make it clear that the sinning majority of Israel is not lost forever. None of us is lost forever as long as we have breath and life. God continues to pursue us, as He did Israel, but if we reject Jesus as the Israelites did He will continue to take the gospel to all nations.

God never gave up on His people. It wasn’t that the Jewish rejection of Jesus as Messiah caused Gentiles to be saved. It merely gave more opportunity for the…

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Peace through justice and forgiveness, not only in Africa

By Andrea Tornielli

Mozambican children welcome Pope Francis to Maputo with flowers

POPE Francis in Mozambique

Pope Francis launches a strong appeal for reconciliation in his first speech in Mozambique, recalling that peace is not only the absence of war but an untiring commitment to restoring people’s rights and dignity, all of which requires a hefty dose of forgiveness.

“No to violence, and yes to peace!” Pope Francis repeated those words of Saint John Paul II during his first speech in Mozambique, speaking to the country’s authorities, representatives of civil society, and the diplomatic corps.

The word “peace” risks sounding like an empty slogan, especially to the ears of those who have not known war, violence, fratricidal hatred, and internal conflicts in countries under the influence of the great powers. But here in Maputo, the appeal of the Bishop of Rome touches upon the most intimate chords of a people.

Decades of conflict

One million dead and 3 to 4 million people displaced to neighboring countries: that was the cost of the civil war in which Frelimo (Mozambique Liberation Front – of Marxist-Leninist inspiration) and Renamo (Mozambican National Resistance – an armed anti-communist movement) were opposed to each other. The war lasted more than 15 years, and ended in 1992 with the Rome Accords sponsored by the Saint Egidio Community, the local Church, and the Italian Government. Over the course of the last quarter-century, the road has not been easy but rather marked by the re-emergence of conflicts that have made many fear the worst.

Today peace seems to be flourishing thanks to the new agreement signed in August 2019 between President Nyusi and the leader of Renamo, Ossufo Momade, which provides for the disarmament of more than five thousand fighters and new general elections scheduled for October 15.

Peace requires work

With his first public words in the country, Pope Francis sought to express his appreciation for the efforts being made so that “peace will once again be the norm, and reconciliation the best path to confront the difficulties and challenges that you face as a nation.” The quest for and commitment to peace requires “strenuous, constant, and unremitting effort”.

But Pope Francis, in the opening speech of his visit to Mozambique, recalled that peace “is not merely absence of war but a tireless commitment – especially on the part of those of us charged with greater responsibility – to recognize, protect and concretely restore the dignity, so often overlooked or ignored, of our brothers and sisters, so that they can see themselves as the principal protagonists of the destiny of their nation.”

Hand-in-hand with justice

Peace cannot be separated from justice and cannot be achieved without forgiveness and reconciliation, as John Paul II always said, even immediately after the attacks on the United States on 11 September 2001.

“We cannot neglect the fact,” said his successor, “that without equal opportunities, the different forms of aggression and conflict will find a fertile terrain for growth and eventually explode. When a society – whether local, national or global – is willing to leave part of itself on the fringes, no political programs or resources spent on law enforcement or surveillance systems can indefinitely guarantee tranquility.”

Social inequalities, the wild exploitation of natural resources which leaves people in poverty, an economic-financial system which puts the ‘god of money’ ahead of humanity, and provocations toward hatred and opposition are all seeds of violence and war. In order to make true peace flourish, the Pope said, we must commit ourselves to promote justice, to combat inequalities, to foster the culture of encounter, to take care of our common home, and not to discard the young and the elderly.

A master path worth following, not only in Africa

The Optimist’s Telescope: Thinking Ahead in a Reckless Age

The Optimists Telescope

HOW DO YOU get people to think ahead? In a time characterized by wide-ranging change, we need to think through the consequences of what we have wrought. We need to think ahead. It is reckless not to.

Since we can’t predict the future it makes it hard for us to think about the future. It should come as no surprise that our view of the the future is often misguided. In 1920, British economist Arthur Cecil Pigou described our often skewed view of the future as our “defective telescope.” In The Optimist’s Telescope, author Bina Venkataraman suggests that we need to cultivate a “radical strain of optimism” and a sense of collective agency that would motivate “more people to make choices today for the sake of the future, whether it’s how they vote, eat, use energy, or influence others.” An “optimist’s telescope” so to speak.

Looking beyond the noise is key to thinking ahead. “Urgency and convenience are dictators of decisions large and small. We are frequently distracted from our future selves and the future of our society by what we need to accomplish now.” Our society is designed around quick wins because that’s what we want. “The conditions we have created in our culture, businesses, and communities work against foresight.” Rewards are given for the quick win.

We need foresight. Foresight combines what we know with the humility to know that we don’t know it all and be ready for the possibilities. And that requires a little imagination. Venkataraman eloquently states, “We try too hard to know the exact future and do too little to be ready for its many possibilities.

Venkataraman offers countless examples of how individuals and organizations have defied instant gratification and instead taken the long view. When one investment firm saw a stock price fall they wisely avoided a knee-jerk reaction. “They avoided distractions of the moment by returning like a broken record to their original rationale for believing in the stock. You might call this a North Star tactic, calling on people in an organization to habitually look up from daily minutiae to reorient themselves to their ultimate destination.”

At a Stanford Director’s College in 2016, Roger Dunbar, chair of the Silicon Valley Bank, told Venkataraman that “when he hears company executives or board members responding to short-term noise with outsize reactions, he likes to pretend he is lost. He’ll ask CEOs at board meetings, ‘What was our long-term strategy again?’ as if he has forgotten it. Sometimes, he says, company leaders suffer from being too smart—analyzing every piece of data that come their way—instead of asking simple but pivotal questions. It can help, in his view, to have a board member who is not afraid of sounding naïve or even a touch senile.”

It helps too to look past typical metrics to see what is actually happening long-term. Dan Honig, a political scientist at the John Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, believes that “metrics can be useful when an organization has a simple, concrete goal such as building a road. The trick is for the measure to be tightly linked to what the organization actually wants to accomplish. For the more complex undertakings of organizations, however, numeric targets are often far removed from actual goals and more likely to deceive. In those instances, Honig says, managers are better off using their judgment to evaluate progress. It’s a common mistake for organizations to attach simple metrics to nuanced goals such as educating children, reforming the justice system, or growing an innovative business.”

It would be a bitter irony to remain entranced by myopic metrics, gearing ourselves up to hit immediate targets at a time when technology and our economy are evolving to privilege humans for being visionary, empathetic, nuanced, and strategic. In the future, the human edge is going to come from what we value and from our judgment, not from going head-to-head with machines to parse facts.

On a personal level, we too can learn to measure ourselves by more meaningful metrics than what we have achieved in the moment.

From her research, Venkataraman has extracted five key lessons to help us think ahead and stay the course:

1. Look Beyond Near-Term Targets

“We can avoid being distracted by short-term noise and cultivate patience by measuring more than immediate results.” Instead of looking at snapshots, reflect on long-term goals.

2. Stoke the Imagination

“We can boost our ability to envision the range of possibilities that lie ahead.” Allow time to imagine future risks and rewards and then visualizing how we can successfully navigate those futures.

3. Create Immediate Rewards for Future Goals

“We can find ways to make what’s best for us over time pay off in the present” or “seek programs that offer immediate allure but are designed for our long-term interest.” In an example she shares about Toyota, they found a way to use the insights gained from long-term research on current production. “They found a way to create immediate rewards that made their sacrifices for the sake of future products seem worth it now to company leaders and investors.”

4. Direct Attention Away from Immediate Urges

“We can re-engineer cultural and environmental cues that condition us for urgency and instant gratification.” Avoid temptations. Where urgency rules, create systems that interrupt the momentum to create space to consider the decision.

5. Demand and Design Better Institutions

“We can create practices, laws, and institutions that foster insight.” Look for solutions that encourage us to look ahead. Of course, institutions are made up of people, so we only need to look to ourselves first rather than trying to regulate foresight.

Ultimately, Venkataraman believes we need to think like stewards or as she puts it, “keepers of shared heirlooms.” Heirlooms carry with them the “notion that future generations matter to the present generation, and that past generations will matter to the future.” Furthermore, “with an heirloom, each generation is both a steward and a user. When we pass on an heirloom, we don’t prescribe what each steward must do with it. Instead, we leave options open to the next generation.”