Judges across the United States are wiping away student loan debts worth, in some cases, tens of thousands of dollars, all because National Collegiate Student Loans Trusts has been unable to show in court that it owns the loans it says it does.
National Collegiate is composed of 15 different trusts, collectively holding 800,000 private student loans. Those loans add up to $12 billion, and more than $5 billion is in default, court records state. The private loans were made by banks, then sold to investors, and when the borrowers struggle to pay back these loans — which often have high interest rates — National Collegiate takes them to court; on average, at least four new collection lawsuits are filed every day, The New York Times reports, and more than 800 have been filed this year so far.
When borrowers don't go to court, National Collegiate almost always automatically wins the case, but when they do show up, most of the time judges throw the suits out because National Collegiate was not able to produce the paperwork proving it owned the debt in question. A 2015 audit of the company, organized by one of the financiers behind National Collegiate's trusts, looked at nearly 400 random loans owned by National Collegiate, and found that none had the proper paperwork documenting the chain of ownership. This is similar to what happened in the 2000s during the subprime mortgage crisis, when judges ruled in favor of borrowers, saying the companies could not collect subprime mortgage loans because the documents were either missing or forgeries.
The lawyer for Samantha Wilson, a 33-year-old mother of three, said when she was sued by National Collegiate, the paperwork was riddled with errors. She earned her degree in psychology from Lehman College in the Bronx and fell behind on payments when her daughter was ill and she had to quit her job. Documents claimed she attended a school she never went to, and a judge dismissed four lawsuits against her because trusts "failed to establish the chain of title" on her loans. Wilson told the Times she was "responsible" for the loans she took out and was prepared to pay them off over time, but "some of them I didn't take." In the end, $31,000 worth of debt was wiped clean. Read the entire report at The New York Times. Catherine Garcia
Acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke announced Monday that roughly 59,000 Haitians living in the United States who have been protected from deportation since 2010 have 18 months to leave the United States.
Haitians who came to the U.S. after a devastating earthquake hit Haiti in 2010 have been safe under a program known as Temporary Protected Status, enacted by Congress in the 1990s to help large groups of undocumented people who fled to the U.S. from natural disasters and wars. More than 30,000 of the affected Haitians live in Florida, and thousands of others live in New York City. Duke is giving the Haitians until July 22, 2019, to leave.
In May, when White House Chief of Staff John Kelly led the Department of Homeland Security, he said conditions in Haiti, one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere, had improved enough that the U.S. should stop granting Haitians temporary protection. He extended the program for another six months, but warned that those affected should start preparing to return to Haiti, the Los Angeles Times reports. Catherine Garcia
Like Trump University, Trump Airlines, Trump magazine, Trump Steaks, and Trump Vodka, The Donald J. Trump Foundation will soon cease to exist — except this time, the shut down is planned.
In its 2015 tax filing, the charitable foundation admitted to violating rules against "self-dealing," which prohibits nonprofit leaders from directing charity money to themselves, their families, or their businesses, NBC News reports. In October 2016, the New York attorney general demanded the foundation cease asking for contributions, and in December, President Trump said he would start winding down operations to avoid conflicts of interest.
A spokesperson for the foundation confirmed it is closing down, and said it "looks forward to distributing its remaining assets at the earliest possible time to aid numerous worthy charitable organizations." The foundation can't close down just yet, though, a spokeswoman for the New York attorney general's office said. "As the foundation is still under investigation by this office, it cannot legally dissolve until that investigation is complete," Amy Spitalnick told NBC News. The foundation's 2016 IRS filing, filed this month, states it had assets of close to $970,000. Catherine Garcia
Actress and singer Della Reese, star of the television series Touched by an Angel, has died. She was 86.
Reese's husband, Franklin Lett, said in a statement Reese died at her home in California "surrounded by love." Born in Detroit, Reese started singing in church when she was six years old, and at 12, gospel legend Mahalia Jackson asked her to go on tour with her. Reese had several hits, including "Don't You Know," and one year, appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show 18 times, NPR reports.
Reese also became the first black woman to fill in for Johnny Carson on the Tonight Show, and the first black woman to host her own syndicated variety series, Della, which ran from 1969 to 1970. In addition to being an actor and singer, Reese was an ordained minister, who founded the Understanding Principles for Better Living Church. The church grew over time, but she started out holding services in her living room for just eight members. Catherine Garcia
Veteran journalist Charlie Rose was suspended by CBS News Monday evening after eight women accused him of sexual harassment.
Rose is a co-host of CBS This Morning and a 60 Minutes contributor, and PBS also immediately stopped production of his interview program, Charlie Rose. Speaking to The Washington Post, the women accused Rose, 75, of groping them, walking around nude in front of them, and making inappropriate comments, telling one woman he wanted to watch her swim naked in a pool while he watched from afar. The women said the harassment took place from the late 1990s to 2011, when they were either working at the Charlie Rose show or trying to gain employment there. In a statement to the Post, Rose apologized and said he was "deeply embarrassed." Catherine Garcia
A former employee for Fox News says the network rebuffed her requests to investigate ties between President Trump and Russia — even when she offered to pay her own travel expenses to Moscow, Bloomberg reported Monday. "You can't do in-depth reporting if you're not [in Russia]," said Jessica Golloher, a former Fox Radio correspondent who is suing the company for gender discrimination. "Fox is just buying what the White House is selling."
Golloher made the claim during her testimony to the British Parliament, as the U.K.'s Competition and Markets Authority considers whether "Fox has a genuine commitment to broadcasting standards." The CMA review of Fox's broadcasting standards stemmed from a bid by Fox's parent company, Twenty-First Century Fox, to buy the U.K telecommunications company Sky. The review was additionally triggered in part over allegations that the White House and a prominent Trump donor pushed Fox News to publish an article that used fabricated quotes to call into question Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Although Fox News did not send a representative to the hearing, the network referred Bloomberg to an earlier statement from May which said Golloher's claims "are without merit. Her allegations of discrimination and retaliation are baseless. We will vigorously defend the matter."
Fox News' various TV personalities have been loudly skeptical of ties between Trump and Russia and have in some cases claimed that Hillary Clinton is really the one who conspired with Moscow. In late October, CNN reported that several Fox News employees were appalled by their network's coverage of the Russia investigation. One TV personality even texted CNN, "I'm watching now kicking and screaming. I want to quit." Kelly O'Meara Morales
The Justice Department has filed a lawsuit to block AT&T from its controversial $85.4 billion grab at Time Warner, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday. President Trump has long been critical of the deal, saying he believes it would focus too much of the power in the media industry in one company. The Justice Department's move could be complicated, though, because it will require convincing the courts "that the deal would threaten competition," Bloomberg Politics wrote earlier this year. "That could be tough because AT&T isn't buying a direct competitor."
The merger would have paired AT&T's wireless phone service with Time Warner's visual media, including networks like CNN, TNT, and HBO as well as the Warner Bros. film and television studio. Earlier this month, the Justice Department demanded CNN's parent company, Turner Broadcasting, be sold before the deal could go forward, raising questions about Trump's involvement in the decision.
"Vigorous antitrust enforcement by the Justice Department would ordinarily be a cause for celebration, given that antitrust law is the last line of defense for consumers when federal agencies go on the sort of deregulatory jihad that President Trump has directed," wrote the Los Angeles Times. "But in this case, it's impossible to tell whether the DOJ is being principled or a puppet. In fact, its motives are completely suspect."
Before the suit was officially filed, AT&T's general counsel said the move would be a "radical and inexplicable departure from antitrust precedent." Read more about the AT&T-Time Warner deal, and how Trump might have played a role, at The Week. Jeva Lange
Rates have dropped significantly at all but one of President Trump's 13 hotels since he took office, The Telegraph reported Monday. The average price for a weekend at a Trump hotel dropped by 36 percent in the last year, with the most dramatic decrease occurring at the Trump Las Vegas, where rates fell 63 percent.
The Macleod House and Lodge in Scotland fared the best comparatively, as its prices only dropped 10 percent. The lone Trump hotel to increase its price was the Trump Doonbeg in Ireland, whose rates inched up 7 percent.
But while prices have dropped at the president's properties, that does not necessarily mean that they are not making money. Prices at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., for example, dropped by a whopping 52 percent per The Telegraph's report. But in August, The Washington Post reported that the same hotel had already made nearly $2 million in the first four months of 2017 — despite the Trump Organization's prediction that it would lose more than $2 million in the first quarter.
The profitability of Trump's D.C. hotel could be an anomaly, given that foreign governments and their dignitaries may see an incentive in staying at the president's properties when doing business with or lobbying his administration. And even if prices are lower this year at Trump hotels, the president still has his beloved Mar-a-Lago property in Florida, which has doubled its membership prices this year. Kelly O'Meara Morales