"Americans have the will to resist because they have weapons. If you don't have a gun, freedom of speech has no power." -- Yoshimi Ishikawa, Japanese author, in the LA Times 15 Oct 1992

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Russia has used a powerful thermobaric weapon, the ODAB-1500 bomb, for the first time in the conflict, hitting the village of Velyka Pysarivka in the Sumy region, reports the German tabloid Bild.

The explosion of the ODAB-1500 bomb is reported to have created a smoke cloud reaching a height of one kilometer. This Soviet-era thermobaric device releases a flammable liquid in aerosol form approximately ten meters from the target before ignition, resulting in a devastating blast.

In previous attacks within Ukraine, Russian forces had used smaller variants of the ODAB, ranging from 170 to 500 kilograms. The deployment of the 1.5-ton bomb in the Sumy region marked a significant escalation in firepower compared to the earlier models.

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The Department of Justice (DOJ) on Monday handed over transcripts of an interview with President Biden's ghost writer Mark Zwonitzer, whom the president gave classified documents, but refused to release audio of ex-special counsel Robert Hur's Biden interview. 

While the DOJ has handed over transcripts of Hur's interviews with Biden that led him to conclude the president is 'elderly' and 'well-meaning' but has a 'poor memory,' Republicans are unsatisfied. They insist they need audio of the interview too. 

They subpoenaed transcripts, notes, audio and video files largely related to Hur's interview - giving Attorney General Merrick Garland until Monday at noon and threatening him with contempt if he does not comply. 

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Russian Security Council Deputy Chairman Dmitry Medvedev has accused leaders of NATO member countries, such as French President Emmanuel Macron, of helping to carry out the terrorist attack on a concert hall outside Moscow, News.az reports.

Medvedev said in a Telegram post that "senior officials in NATO countries" including Macron can be regarded as accomplices in the attack on the Crocus City Hall. He said the reasons to make the conclusion are Macron’s "rhetoric, his actions, and mostly his authorization of clandestine operations with the Banderist regime."

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If the West is serious about the possibility of a great power conflict, it needs to take a hard look at its capacity to wage a protracted war and to pursue a strategy focused on attrition rather than manoeuvre.

Attritional wars require their own ‘Art of War’ and are fought with a ‘force-centric’ approach, unlike wars of manoeuvre which are ‘terrain-focused’. They are rooted in massive industrial capacity to enable the replacement of losses, geographical depth to absorb a series of defeats, and technological conditions that prevent rapid ground movement. In attritional wars, military operations are shaped by a state’s ability to replace losses and generate new formations, not tactical and operational manoeuvres. The side that accepts the attritional nature of war and focuses on destroying enemy forces rather than gaining terrain is most likely to win.

The West is not prepared for this kind of war.

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Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), the world's largest contract chip maker, plans to build a third chip factory in Arizona after receiving $6.6 billion in grants and $5 billion in loans through US government subsidies. This is part of a massive effort led by the Biden administration to make America's semiconductor manufacturing industry great again. 

"Today, we continue building on that historic progress, with the Department of Commerce announcing a preliminary agreement with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) to support the construction of leading-edge semiconductor manufacturing facilities right here in the United States," the White House wrote in a press release

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Former President Donald Trump stated that he does not support a federal ban on abortion and instead believes that individual states should set their own abortion limits.

This statement contradicts what Democrats have been claiming about him for the last few months.

Nevertheless, many detractors of the former president have still gone as far as to say that Trump is “lying” and that he is only claiming this in order to “get more votes.” 

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Having ditched its electric car plans, Apple is reportedly making a foray into robotics, seeking a bold new product category. The company is delving into new markets and seeking avenues to generate additional revenue. Personal robotics is one area under investigation by the company.

A Bloomberg report suggests that Apple engineers are exploring the possibility of developing a home robot to follow users around. Still in its early stages, this plan comes as Apple seeks new revenue streams.

In February, Apple executives scrapped plans for a self-driving electric car, a decision lauded by Tesla CEO Elon Musk. The Cupertino-based tech giant has shifted its focus to developing mixed-reality goggles, but this project may take years to become a significant revenue generator.

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by Ted Snider Posted on April 09, 2024

NATO is less a defensive alliance than it is a provocative alliance. A quarter of a century ago, the Soviet Union dismantled itself by its own will. With that titanic change, NATO’s sole purpose dissolved. Created to defend its members from a Soviet threat, NATO now self-perpetuated its extinct purpose by provoking the very threat it was meant to defend against. It did that by expanding east toward Russia’s borders and then, finally, toward Russia’s red line by filling Ukraine with NATO weapons and promising Ukraine NATO membership in a way that was seen as existentially threatening by Russia.

On April 4, at a meeting of NATO foreign ministers to prepare for this year’s NATO summit, which will celebrate the 75th anniversary of the alliance, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken continued that history of provocation. Standing beside the foreign minister of Ukraine after the meeting, Blinken again stated that “Ukraine will become a member of NATO.”

Blinken’s promise is a provocative one. NATO support for Ukraine has not protected its members: it has brought the risk back to them; NATO’s promise to Ukraine has not protected Ukraine: it has helped create the pre-conditions for the Russian invasion.

Blinken’s promise is a dangerous one. To promise Ukraine NATO membership is to promise Ukraine Article 5 protection. Article 5 means that an armed attack on Ukraine is considered an armed attack against every member of NATO who must then “take the actions it deems necessary to assist the Ally attacked.”

Claire's Observations: Apparently, we now have a new language in DC,  and we should call it "Blinkenese"!!  But kidding aside, Snider is absolutely correct in his assessment here, and the US is tap dancing on some radioactive quicksand right now,  which could have monumentally bad outcomes.

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South Korean regulators are investigating the hugely popular Chinese shopping app Temu on suspicion of false advertising and unfair practices, the Yonhap news agency reported Monday.

With sometimes astonishingly low prices and a huge variety of items, Temu has enjoyed rapid growth in dozens of countries since it was launched in 2022 by Chinese e-commerce giant PDD Holdings.

It is also under increased scrutiny in the United States, Europe and elsewhere over its business practices, advertising and handling of user data.

South Korea's Fair Trade Commission (FTC) recently started looking into Temu to determine if it was violating e-commerce and advertising regulations, Yonhap said, citing unnamed government and industry officials.

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The cat is out of the bag… some reports brewing.

This report is from newsaddicts:

“German Government Admits Pandemic Was a Hoax”

“The German government has just made an astonishing admission, revealing that the entire COVID-19 pandemic was a hoax designed to vaccinate the public with mRNA injections and impose unwelcome new laws.

“What is significant is that the German Health authorities based on official data have now been obliged under Freedom of Information to reveal the devastating nature and impacts of the Covid lockdowns imposed on 190 countries, starting March 11, 2020.

“In fact, according to the German government data, there was no pandemic at all, just a tightly choreographed military-grade psyop to brainwash the masses into accepting an experimental vaccine with disastrous consequences, Global Research reports.”

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China is bringing down the world economy by flooding markets with low-priced electric vehicles, lithium-ion batteries and solar panels, according to US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen. 

"Now, we're seeing an increase in business investment in a number of new industries targeted by the PRC's industrial policy, and that includes electric vehicles, lithium-ion batteries, and solar," Yellen said on Monday during a press conference in Beijing. "China is now simply too large for the rest of the world to absorb this enormous capacity."

Webmaster addition: China isn't the problem. The US used to be a major manufacturing power but gave it away with failed policies and now we are paying the price.

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Lithuanian leaders hailed a “historic event” as Germany on Monday began deploying troops in the Baltic country — a NATO member — marking the first time since World War II that German forces will be based outside the country on a long-term basis.

About two dozen soldiers arrived in Lithuania, laying the groundwork for a further 150 to join them later this year. The deployment is expected to be up to its full strength of 5,000 by the end of 2027.

“This is the first time that we have permanently stationed such a unit outside of Germany,” German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said in Berlin at a farewell ceremony for the preliminary command of Germany’s Lithuanian brigade, according to German news agency dpa. Pistorius called it “an important day for the German army.”

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All over the world, newspapers publish news and analyzes about the possibility of direct NATO intervention in the Ukrainian conflict. Recent threats made by French leader Emmanuel Macron have raised fears about a possible war between the Russian Federation and the Collective West, further escalating current global tensions. However, little is said about the Western troops who are actually already fighting against Russia.

The presence of foreign mercenaries in Ukraine is not new. War correspondents have reported the deep involvement of Western mercenaries in Ukraine since the first months of the special military operation. The Western media obviously ignores these facts and, through censorship and coercive measures against the Russian press, prevents public opinion from discovering them. Now, however, there appear to be signs that such a foreign presence in Ukraine is even more serious, as there are clear signs that mercenaries are being used by Kiev to attack peaceful Russian cities.

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What is most disturbing about this unprecedented case is that, if the prosecution gets its way, all the evidence produced by the State claiming the Covid vaccines are “safe and effective” will be deemed indisputable, irrefutable–and Dr. Hoffe would not be able to defend himself or call expert witnesses!

In other words, a Stalinist show trial designed to intimidate all doctors and patients who value medical freedom of choice, the right to a fair trial, freedom of speech, and medical ethics.

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We stand on the cusp of what might be termed Chaotic War. Not the formula used by Israel often in the past to intimidate adversaries; this is different.

Israeli reporter Eddie Cohen said, in the wake of the attack on the Iranian Consulate: “We are very clear that we want to start a war with Iran and Hezbollah. Do you still not understand?”

Israel wants to drag Iran into a full-scale war in order to be able to strike at Iran’s nuclear facilities”, though these facilities are beyond American and Israeli reach, buried beneath mountains.

Cohen, and of course, Israel’s military leadership, will know that; but Israel nonetheless is locking itself into a logic that can only lead to defeat. Iran’s nuclear facilities are safe from Israeli assault. The destruction of civilian Iranian infrastructure, which is out in the open, may kill many, but will not, per se, collapse the Iranian state.

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By Stuart Winer and ToI Staff 8 April 2024, 8:31 pm

Image removed.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a press conference in Jerusalem on March 31, 2024. (Marc Israel Sellem/POOL/Flash 90)

Opinion polls show nearly three-quarters of the Israel public want Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to resign against the backdrop of the ongoing war in the Gaza Strip, with half the country also preferring earlier elections for the Knesset.

The Kan public broadcaster and Channel 12 both published surveys on Sunday to coincide with the six-month milestone since the war started on October 7 with a devastating attack on Israel by the Palestinian terror group Hamas.

Both polls showed the current government being ousted if elections were held immediately.

The polls sampled opinions on who should take responsibility for the Hamas attack and feelings about how well the country’s leaders are prosecuting the war.

Kan reported that 42 percent of respondents said Netanyahu should resign immediately, and 29% that he should step down after the war concludes, making a total of 71% seeking his ouster. Of the rest, 21% said Netanyahu doesn’t need to resign and 8% said they don’t know.

Claire's Observations:  Dear, and very bright, people of Israel; you're being bamboozled by the current Israeli government, because as long as Netanyahu is in office, this war will be without end.

De you remember how long the American war against Vietnam lasted?!?  1955-1975; 20 years, to be exact.   Yes, circumstances were  vastly different, but  Netanyahu desperately needs this war to continue, to postpone his corruption trial.

Can Netanyahu and his minions accomplish their goals by continuing to fight Hamas and Hezbollah for 20 more years?!?  The short answer is hell, no.   And why?!? 

 Because you can assassinate people, as the IDF is so  gleefully  doing with the Palestinians (primarily women and children, by the numbers), but you cannot kill an idea.  And that idea is the idea of a  viable Palestinian state, with leadership which is both very responsible to its people, and also  a very adult member of the family of countries around the world.

I would respectfully suggest, that the governments of Israel and Egypt, and valid, peaceful Palestinian representatives start working on this, and immediately.  There have already way too many deaths here.  This will take a lot of courage, will, and imagination on all sides, and a lot of breaking with historical hatreds, based on feuds for land in an area without a whole lot of real estate.

But it can be done.

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One observer warns of the power of the United States’ permanent security bureaucracy, which he claims will dictate the country’s stance toward Russia regardless of who is elected in November.

Former US President Donald Trump has startled European leaders in recent weeks with plans to interfere in the functioning of NATO and reorient US foreign policy if reelected this November. The brash real estate magnate frequently threatens Western allies with cuts to US funding for the decades-old alliance and has recently touted a proposal he claims would rapidly bring the war in the Donbass to an end.

Both ideas have proven distinctly unappetizing to Europe’s political elite, who reject any concession of territory to Russia regardless of the wishes of the region’s inhabitants.

The threat of Trump’s restoration to power has prompted moves to provide Ukraine with a multi-year fund for President Volodymyr Zelensky to continue hostilities whether his country is supported by the United States or not. But the ultimate decision over whether American aid will continue to flow to the embattled leader may not lie with the US president at all.

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Ukrainian media covered the preliminary details of the incident. A company of 9 minors purchased low-alcohol drinks, and then decided to ride a funicular in the center of Kiev. A man in military uniform, entered the cabin with the teenagers. According to some reports, the man reportedly operated the elevator.

The man in military uniform forced the conversation and asked the teenagers if they were ready to go to the front to defend their Homeland. The teenagers apparently said no, but this answer did not suit the military man. As a result, an argument ensued.

When the trailer stopped, the group left the cabin. The angered man attacked the last boy. His name was reportedly Maxim. The victim was 16 years old.

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The European Union shows all the symptoms of a structure in deep crisis. Like other organizations in the past, the more it tries to convey an image of internal cohesion, the greater the fissures it creates, based on the increasingly rigid demand for compliance with the rules that this appearance of cohesion requires.

In order to assert its political power, Brussels is presented as a power that is as distant as it is unattainable, so superior that everything it has is unquestionable. Placing itself on such a pedestal, Brussels arrogates to itself a presumed wisdom and omniscience, relying on a very well-constructed communication process, based on the idea of a power above all others, above the elected powers, above the “people’s governments”: “The EU said that…”; “the EU says you can’t…”; “the government asked the EU to…”; “the EU warned that…”; “the government was forced by the EU to…”. One gets all this, without question, criticism or reflection. A sort of European extension of the “one indispensable nation” theory.

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Several recent incidents have increased the pressure on Israel to end its war on Gaza.

There are serious signs that the Israeli government, under pressure from the U.S., is now moving towards an intermediate ceasefire state that all sides may be able to live with – at least for a while. The decision to do that however has split the Netanyahoo government and may well end the coalition which supports it.

After six month of operations in Gaza the Israeli government has reached none of its announced aims. Neither is Hamas defeated, nor have the hostages been released. There is no viable plan who, if not Hamas, will in future rule the Gaza strip.

Israeli settlers, who have been living near the Gaza strip and the northern border, are still not willing to return to their homes as the government lacks a plan to guarantee their security.

Pressure on the Israeli government comes from several sides.

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Baltimore is selling $1 homes amid 15,000 abandoned properties and high crime, by Mary K. Jacob, New York Post, March 26, 2024

In a bid to breathe life back into its beleaguered neighborhoods, the city of Baltimore is rolling out a groundbreaking initiative: selling boarded-up homes for a mere dollar each, according to Bloomberg.

Mayor Brandon Scott is spearheading this plan, aimed at tackling the city’s longstanding battle with crime and urban decay.

With more than 200 city-owned vacant properties up for grabs, residents willing to roll up their sleeves and restore these homes to their former glory are being offered a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Still, with nearly 15,000 abandoned properties blighting Baltimore’s landscape as of 2022, according to city records, the road to urban renewal remains long and arduous.

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Authored by Christian Milord via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

The recent stringent Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) carbon emissions standards for internal combustion engines defy economic realities. The EPA would have us believe that coercing folks to buy electric vehicles (EV) will somehow reduce alleged climate change extremes. The new rules will negatively affect California and the entire nation.

Traffic moves along Interstate 80 in Berkeley, Calif., on August 24, 2022. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Obviously, most folks want to maintain clean air, land, and water ecosystems. However, scientists haven’t agreed on what degree human activity adversely impacts global climate change as opposed to natural causes for extreme climate events. Several dire predictions of rising seas haven’t panned out over several decades, while cooling and warming trends haven’t been too much out of the ordinary.

The new EPA standards are part of a government plan to make EVs two-thirds of new car sales by 2032. Thirty percent of heavy duty commercial vehicles have to be emissions-free by 2032 and 40 percent of short-haul trucks by the same time frame. Emission particulates must be reduced to nine micrograms for each cubic meter of exhaust. Spokespersons from the American Petroleum Institute stated that the new regulation “threatens consumer freedom, energy reliability and national security.”

These EPA goals are unlikely to eventuate due to several factors. First, Americans bristle when they are pressured into purchasing products that haven’t proven their worth over an extended period of time. Electric vehicles can be expensive and heavy due to large batteries that are costly to repair when they break down. They take too long to charge up when contrasted with diesel or gas refilling times. How will the grid handle millions of EVs when it can’t even cope with current electricity demands?

Claire's Observations:  Mike and I intend to adopt a young Cuban mechanic;  these people can keep gasoline powered cars on the road nearly indefinitely!!!! :-)

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The Department of Justice (DOJ) has reused to provide audio tapes of President Biden's interview with special counsel Robert Hur, defying a subpoena by the House GOP.

In an April 8 letter to the House Oversight Committee and House Judiciary Committee, Assistant AG Carlos Felipe Uriarte complained that despite cooperating with other aspects of the Feb. 27 subpoena, "the committees have responded with escalation and threats of criminal contempt."

"We urge the committees to avoid conflict rather than seek it," he added - while working for the same DOJ that has specifically sought conflict by launching investigations and lawsuits against former President Trump.

"It is not too late for the committees to choose a different path, to take an offramp towards the ’spirit of dynamic compromise' that the Constitution requires of us both," the letter continues.

The Feb. 27 subpoena requested copies of notes, audio files, video and transcripts related to Hur's probe, and had a deadline of March 7, according to the Epoch Times, which has obtained a copy.

"Americans expect equal justice under the law and DOJ is allowing the Bidens to operate above it,"  House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer (R-KY) said in a statement. "Special Counsel Hur’s report outlined that classified documents Joe Biden stashed for years relate to countries where his family cashed in on the Biden brand."

In response to a request for audio of what author Mark Zwonitzer recorded while interviewing Biden, whose two memoirs he wrote, Uriarte said there is no need for the department to hand it over because the committees also have transcripts of the interviews.

"To go further by producing the audio files would compound the likelihood that future prosecutors will be unable to secure this level of cooperation," Uriarte wrote.

"They might have a harder time obtaining consent to an interview at all. It is clearly not in the public interest to render such cooperation with prosecutors and investigators less likely in the future."

Uriarte then reiterated that the DOJ has provided ample evidence to the committees.

"The department is willing to hear more from the committees, but at this time your further requests appear attenuated from the committees’ stated purposes—with today’s production, you now have the information you requested. Given the extraordinary executive branch confidentiality interests implicated here, a specific and adequate showing of need for any additional information, tethered to the authority under which the committees purport to act, is critical," he wrote.

Uriarte then hilariously asked the committees not to make DOJ materials public, writing "To ensure an adequate opportunity to review these materials for suitability for public release, we respectfully request that the committees not disseminate or otherwise disclose the documents or information therein without prior consultation with the department."

Claire's Observations:  I'd be laughing at this, but the problem will be stopping.  Because SOMEWHERE in that audio interview is the "sound bite" equivalent of a paparazzi's "money shot", where the image (or in this case, the sound bite) proves the truth of something. And my gut is telling me, that the "truth" in that sound bite (or sound bites), will be Biden's ever-worsening dementia, and how it is affecting his response to the questions.

Yes, we had a president crippled by polio, and that was FDR; but it never affected his mental processes, as far as I am aware.  But to re-run a guy with dementia as a Presidential Candidate?!? 

I would humbly suggest that the Dementocrats examine whether they have taken the principles of DEI just a bit too far on this!!!

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By George Lei, Bloomberg markets live reporter and strategist

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen implored Beijing’s top leaders during her four-day visit to refrain from boosting the country’s already vast manufacturing capacity and to focus on lifting domestic demand instead.

That push, however, is in stark contrast to the priorities of President Xi Jinping, whose “new productive forces” slogan is now dominating the economic policy discourse. His push suggests the country’s expansion of its production capacity will likely persist and contribute to increasing tensions with the nation’s major trading partners.

While its not entirely clear how Xi’s policy will play out on the ground, equity investors have already picked winners since the phrase was listed as the government’s top task in early March. Market reactions seem to imply that Beijing will double down on state spending to strengthen China’s transition toward high-tech, value-added production and advanced manufacturing. There is also a perception that “Made in China 2025” - a government plan to groom 10 globally competitive industries, and one that drew the ire of former President Trump - is making a comeback.

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Insurance companies across the country are using satellites, drones, manned airplanes and even high-altitude balloons to spy on properties they cover with homeowners policies -- and using the findings to drop customers, often without giving any opportunity to address alleged shortcomings. 

“We’ve seen a dramatic increase across the country in reports from consumers who’ve been dropped by their insurers on the basis of an aerial image,” United Policyholders executive director Amy Bach tell the Wall Street Journal. Reasons can range from shoddy roofing to yard clutter and undeclared trampolines.  

Much of this surveillance is done via the Geospatial Insurance Consortium, which boasts of its coverage of 99% of the US population.

Image removed.The Geospatial Insurance Consortium provides imagery insurers use to study roof condition and look for risky property attributes (via GIC)

In pitching its ability to provide high-resolution "imagery and insights" for property reviews, GIC says insurers can use the service to "review risk and exposure on a building such as proximity of vegetation to the structure, whether a roof needs updating, and verify the exact location for a policy." 

“If your roof is 20 years old and one hailstorm is going to take it off, you should pay more than somebody with a brand new roof,” Allstate CEO Tom Willson told the Journal, unapologetically and ominously adding that, where the company's use of digital imagery is concerned, "there's even more to come." 

Wilson framed aerial spying as a pricing issue, but many consumers are finding that companies are using it to suddenly drop their coverage altogether

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After American borrowers adjusted their finances amid the mass-suspension of student loan payments during the pandemic (and the scorching inflation that followed), the Biden administration on Monday announced new student loan plans that would give borrowers up to $20,000 in loan forgiveness for balances that have grown due to unpaid interest since entering repayment, regardless of income.

The plan is aimed at those with "runaway interest."

Those who qualify for the "SAVE IDR" (income-driven repayment) would have the full balance of their unpaid interest forgiven, which would benefit roughly 25 million Americans.

What's more, the administration is also looking to provide automatic debt relief for those who qualify under the SAVE plan, Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, and similar forgiveness programs which have hit red tape when it comes to relief.

Lastly, the plan would give relief to those enrolled in low-financial-value education programs deemed insufficient by the Department of Education, as well as those experiencing hardship in paying back loans and who are at risk of default


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