Author Archive for Ki Akhbari

U.S. Government Plans to Forgive Around $108 Billion in Student Loans

In the coming years, the federal government is going to forgive at least $108 billion in student debt through the student loan repayment programs that students have been enrolled in. Enrollment in these income-driven repayment plans have been increasing at an alarming rate and so is the cost. The government is estimating that there is not enough budget to keep up with the pace of borrowers enrolling in these programs and it has become very expensive for the
government.

The numbers come from a soon-to-be release Government Accountability Report that is trying to estimate how much student loans will be repaid through these income-driven repayment plans.

How Do the Income-Driven Plans Work?

Under the Obama Administration, a student debt repayment program was created to help borrowers, who are knee deep in student loan debt, be able to manage the size of their monthly payments. The income-driven student loan forgivenessrepayment plans are designed to prevent borrowers from defaulting on their loans. Borrowers of federal student loan programs are qualified to enroll in income-driven repayment programs that place a cap a borrower’s student loan payment at a percentage of their monthly income. Additionally, borrowers who make their payments under income-driven plans can have their remaining balance of the debt forgiven after a minimum of 20 years of payments.

What Is at Issue with the Income-Driven Plans?

Congress approved the plans and President Barack Obama has used executive arrangements to give out the most-generous terms to millions of borrowers.

Enrollment in the plans has more than tripled in the past three years and the students jointly owe $355 billion. The GAO believes that $137 billion of the total amount owed by borrowers would not be repaid and most of it, around $108 billion will be forgiven because of borrowers will be satisfying their commitments under income-driven repayment plans. The $108 billion only covers loans made through the current school year, and total sum could continue to grow together with enrollment increase.

How Can this Student Debt Problem Be Solved?

It’s uncertain how President-elect Donald Trump will treat President Obama’s income-based repayment plan. Trump has already said that he wants to set student loan payments to 12.5 percent of income while also suggesting he might remove the federal government’s role in
lending to students and make everything private loans. Another solution to this problem would be to start requiring colleges to cut costs and reduce administrative staff to lower the cost of college admission at public colleges. If colleges were at a lower expense, students would be able to take out lesser loans and be able to pay it back once the amount is owed.

Jury: GM’s Faulty Ignition Switch was Not Cause of Crash

A New York jury recently reached a verdict in favor of GM Motors in a products liability lawsuit, finding that the defective ignition switch manufactured by the defendant was not to blame for a 2014 accident that injured the plaintiffs.

The plaintiffs alleged that the bad and faulty ignition switch in their 2007 Saturn Sky was the direct result of the accident. GM Motors was the manufacturer of the 2007 Saturn Sky that the plaintiffs were driving at the time of the crash and GM Motors had already recalled the faulty ignition switch on all affected GM vehicles prior to the crash.

After deliberation, the jury came to the conclusion that although the ignition switch in the plaintiff’s vehicle was unreasonably dangerous, the faulty switch was not the cause of the accident. Based on the jury’s decision, the plaintiffs were not able to collect damages to compensate them for the injuries in which they suffered in the 2014 crash.

What Was Required For the Plaintiffs to Recover?

Many would question the jury’s decision, wondering why the plaintiffs could not recover for their injuries even after the jury GM Ignitiondetermined the ignition switch on the plaintiff’s 2007 Saturn Sky involved in the 2014 crash was found to be faulty. In a product liability claim, a plaintiff may receive financial compensation for his or her injuries if the plaintiffs are able to prove that:

In the plaintiffs’ lawsuit against GM, the plaintiffs were successful in proving two of the three above elements. First, the plaintiffs were able to prove that the ignition switch manufactured by GM was defective since the product was already recalled and it was determined that the switch was made unreasonably dangerous. Second, the plaintiffs did suffer an injury from the 2014 accident.

However, the plaintiffs failed to prove that their injuries were a direct result of the faulty ignition switch. In order for the plaintiff to be able to recover damages in the product liability claim brought against GM Motors, the plaintiffs were required to show that the faulty ignition switch directly caused the accident. The jury in this case determined that slippery roadways caused the crash and it had nothing to do with the car’s ignition switch.

What Does the Jury’s Decision Mean for Plaintiffs and For GM?

In this case, since the plaintiff’s were unable to prove that the faulty ignition switch was the cause of their injuries, no damages would be awarded to the plaintiffs. For GM, they would not need to compensate the plaintiff’s any money damages in this case. However, GM needs to fix the problem quickly to avoid any future accidents and injuries that could be caused by the defective ignition switch.

Beware Drug-Laced Halloween Candy

Halloween is supposed to be scary, but not like this. Discovering that a child’s candy has been laced with drugs is a kind of fright that no one should have to experience.

halloween candyHave you heard the story about the little girl who ate the poisoned candy? How about the story of the boy who cut his mouth on a razor blade hidden in his candy bar? These and similar stories have been around for several decades. In reality, there have been few reports of poisoned Halloween candy and many of the stories have actually turned out to be false. However, it has happened. For example, in 2000, a man was convicted of tampering with Snickers bars by sticking needles inside the candy, which resulted in a child cutting himself with the needle before eating it.

Even though there are very few reports of this nature, parents are still scared about the contents inside their children’s Halloween candy. Checking candy and ensuring its safety is not a difficult process. You can check the safety of your children’s candy without having to send it through a technical x-ray or manually going through each candy bar. Checking Halloween candy includes looking for any evidence of tampering or looking for anything that appears to be suspicious or handmade by a stranger.

Helpful tips for parents this Halloween:

  1. Always warn your children that you or another authorized adult must check their candy before they eat it. If temptation is a problem, give them your own candy to eat as a snack while they are out trick-or-treating.
  2. Caution your children not to eat any opened candy, handmade candy, or drink any beverages that were offered to them while trick-or-treating.
  3. Examine each candy under bright lights and check for any lumps, opened areas, ripped wrappers, loose wrappers, or stapled parts.
  4. Check candy from manufacturers or brands you have never heard of.
  5. Throw away handmade candy or candy that has been placed manually in twist wrappers.
  6. Throw away any fruit that was given out as a treat.
  7. Try to go to neighborhoods and houses that you are familiar with or have gone to in the past.

Since it is very easy to obtain marijuana and other drugs these days (especially with the less strict marijuana laws in, Washington, Colorado, and other states), ingesting pot in candy can easily lead to overdoses in children. Even though drug-laced candy can be tough to spot and there have been very little incidents of these incidents, worried parents should always check all Halloween candy to ensure that the packaging hasn’t been tampered with or opened by a stranger.

Does Double Jeopardy Apply to Ray Rice?

Earlier this month, Baltimore Raven’s running back Ray Rice was accused of knocking out his fiancé inside a casino elevator after partial footage of the couple was caught on the casino cameras. The former running back pleaded not guilty to assault charges that was filed against him by New Jersey prosecutors and also applied for New Jersey’s pretrial intervention program, which offered him no jail time since he had no prior criminal record. The pretrial intervention program also offers first time offenders to have the charges that were filed against them be dismissed if they complete the program and meet certain conditions.

ray riceAfter Ray Rice agreed to participate in the pretrial intervention program, New Jersey prosecutors agreed to dismiss the assault charges that were filed against him if he completes the year long, supervised rehabilitation program. However, the prosecutors made this dismissal prior to the new footage that was made public on September 8, 2014.

The new video released by TMZ shows the NFL running back punching his fiancé in the head against a rail, which results in her becoming unconscious. When prosecutors first agreed to dismiss the charges, the only video evidence that they had seen was Ray Rice dragging his fiancé out of the elevator.

The question is whether the prosecutors can reinforce a new case against Ray Rice and retract their earlier dismissal since the new video shows clear cut evidence of domestic violence. Alternatively, would double jeopardy apply? Double jeopardy protects defendants from being charged for the same offense after there already has been a conviction or acquittal.

Since Ray Rice’s charges were dismissed as a part of the first offender program, the state cannot retry him or change his sentence. The NFL however decided to modify his punishment of a two-game suspension to an indefinite suspension after the video of the incident inside the elevator has emerged.

Commentators have argued that since the NFL made their decision on Rice’s punishment, they cannot retract it because it will be a violation of the double jeopardy laws. However, the NFL has its own system and does not have to follow the court system when making decisions. If there is no double jeopardy clause in the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement, the NFL as an employer can modify Ray Rice’s suspension to anything they want.

It is difficult to say what would happen next for Ray Rice, but Ray Rice’s charges for domestic violent and assault has been dismissed and will likely stay dismissed.

Police Need a Warrant to Search Your Cell Phone

In 1973, the U.S Supreme Court held that police do not need a warrant to look inside a pack of cigarettes found in the pocket of a man who had been arrested. This decision was decided for the safety of an officer and to prevent concealment or destruction of evidence.

police need a warrant to search cell phonesJump forty years later to 2014. In the case Riley v. California, the U.S Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the police need search warrants to search the cell phones of people they arrest. This decision was made to help define the Fourth Amendment, which affirms “the right of people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects from unreasonable searches and seizures” in absence of a warrant.

This decision determined that a person’s cell phone contains more information than a person’s house. A person therefore has a “reasonable expectation of privacy” for the contents in their phone and police should not be able to search an arrestee’s cell phone without voluntary consent or a valid search warrant.

The U.S Supreme Court’s ruling makes total sense in regards to today’s high technology and the arrival of the smartphone. Nine out of ten adults in America own a cell phone and an average person has 33 apps installed. These apps contain email, pictures, bank records, intimate conversations, medical data, and GPS information.

Although officers can generally search any container within an arrestee’s car, a cell phone bears little resemblance to traditional containers. Allowing the police to freely search a person’s cell phone without a warrant would be a significant invasion of privacy, which is excessive and unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment.