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‘Only Murders in the Building’ doesn’t miss a beat in getting back on the case

Steve Martin, Martin Short and Selena Gomez are back on the case in 'Only Murders in the Building.'

The Covid-19 case surge is altering daily life across the US. Things will likely get worse, experts warn

The US is ringing in the new year amid a Covid-19 surge experts warn is exploding at unprecedented speed and could alter daily life for many Americans during the first month of 2022.

“Omicron is truly everywhere,” Dr. Megan Ranney, a professor of emergency medicine at Brown University’s School of Public Health, told CNN on Friday night. “What I am so worried about over the next month or so is that our economy is going to shut down, not because of policies from the federal government or from the state governments, but rather because so many of us are ill.”
The nation broke records at least four times this week for its seven-day average of new daily Covid-19 cases, reporting an all-time high of more than 386,000 new daily infections Friday, according to the latest data from Johns Hopkins University. The high case count is already causing disruptions in the country.
US shatters its average daily Covid-19 case record again. Experts describe coming weeks as a 'tidal wave' and 'blizzard'
In New York City, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) is plagued with staffing issues and announced three subway lines — the B, Z and W — which service various parts of the boroughs, have been suspended.
“Like everyone in New York, we’ve been affected by the COVID surge. We’re running as much train service as we can with the operators we have available,” the MTA wrote on Twitter Thursday.
New York continues to break its own record, adding 85,476 reported Covid-19 cases, according to Saturday’s briefing from New York Gov. Kathy Hochul.
Hospitalizations jumped to 8,451, up from around 8,000 in the report released Friday, according to the latest data. The state’s seven-day positivity rate is 19.79%.
The number of one day case additions has hoka shoes for women increased 219% since Monday, when the state reported an addition of 26,737 cases.
Healthcare services — exhausted after several surges of the virus and now stretched thin again by a growing number of Covid-19 patients — are also already feeling impacts. The University of Maryland Capital Region Health this week joined a growing list of medical centers in the state to activate emergency protocols after a sharp rise in cases fueled staffing shortages and overwhelmed emergency departments.
“The current demand for care is depleting our available resources, including staffing,” UM Capital Region Health said in a statement on Friday.
In Ohio, Gov. Mike DeWine on Wednesday announced the deployment of about 1,250 National Guard members as hospitals struggle with staffing shortages.
FAA warns it may be forced to delay flights because of Covid
On the same day, the mayor of Cincinnati declared a state of emergency due to staffing shortages in the city’s fire department following a rise in Covid-19 infections. The mayor’s declaration said if the staffing problem goes unaddressed, it would “substantially undermine” first responders’ readiness levels.
“Get ready. We have to remember, in the next few weeks, there’s going to be an unprecedented number of social disruptions,” Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of Baylor University’s National School of Tropical Medicine, told CNN.
Those include flight disruptions as well, he said, because of TSA agent and air crew absences.
Thousands of flights have already been canceled or delayed throughout the holiday season as staff and crew called out sick. On Friday, the Federal Aviation Administration said an “increased number” of its employees were testing positive for the virus, and “to maintain safety, traffic volume at some facilities could be reduced, which might result in delays during busy periods.”
Your top questions about Covid-19, answered

Previous rules of virus are ‘out the window’

The latest surge, which has sent case numbers exploding across the globe, is fueled by the Omicron variant, the most contagious coronavirus strain yet, health experts say.
The virus is now “extraordinarily contagious” and previous mitigation measures that used to help now may not be as helpful, CNN medical analyst Dr. Jonathan Reiner told CNN on Friday.
Is a fourth Covid-19 vaccine dose needed? US health officials say not yet
“At the beginning of this pandemic… we all were taught, you have a significant exposure if you’re within six feet of somebody and you’re in contact with them for more than 15 minutes. All these rules are out the window,” Reiner said. “This is a hyper-contagious virus.”
Now, even a quick, transient encounter can lead to an infection, Reiner added, including if someone’s mask is loose, or a person quickly pulls their mask hoka shoes down, or an individual enters an elevator in which someone else has just coughed.
“This is how you can contract this virus,” Reiner said.
The variant’s transmissibility helps explain the staggering number of infections reported globally, including in the US. in the past week, several states have reported new case and hospitalization highs, shattering previous records.
New Jersey recorded more than 28,000 new Covid-19 cases through PCR testing, Gov. Phil Murphy wrote on Twitter Friday. In a news conference, the governor said the number was roughly “quadruple from just two weeks ago, and four times as many cases than during the height of last winter’s surge.”
Child hospitalizations are surging in this Chicago hospital. Only one of the young patients was fully vaccinated, doctor says
“Our hospitals right now are at roughly the same numbers they were on the worst day of last winter’s surge,” he added. “The problem is that right now we don’t see any sign of let up.”
Other states, including Arkansas, Maryland and New York, also reported new records for case numbers.
And a sharp rise in infections — especially in children — could soon lead to a spike in hospital admissions, infectious diseases expert Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo said.
“The explosive rise in cases is really fueling what normally might be a relatively small proportion … of kids who are experiencing these severe outcomes,” she told CNN’s Amara Walker on Friday. “But you put the gigantic numbers of cases together with the small number affected, plus the proportion of unvaccinated, and I’m really worried that we’re going to be in for a tidal wave of admissions, particularly for kids in the coming weeks.”
Child Covid-19 hospital admissions already reached an all-time high this week, with a record average of 378 children admitted to hospitals on any given day over the week ending December 28, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the US Department of Health and Human Services.
Children younger than 5 are not yet eligible for a Covid-19 vaccine, and a shot for those groups likely won’t be available until mid-2022, experts say.

Concerns about returning to school

With the virus spreading, some staff members and experts are expressing concern about what school reopenings could mean.
“There will be pediatric hospitalizations,” Hotez said. “And what’s going to be the other tough piece in the next weeks, keeping the schools open, because of this high transmissibility — especially if you start seeing absences of school teachers, bus drivers, cafeteria staff.”
The Massachusetts Teachers Association, New England’s largest public sector union, urged the state education commissioner this week to keep schools closed on Monday, except for staff Covid-19 testing.
Colleges and K-12 schools adapt schedules and requirements as Covid cases rise
“Using Monday as a day for testing and analyzing data will allow our school districts to make prudent decisions around staffing needs so they can continue in-person learning for students if it is safe or develop contingency plans if a district deems it to be necessary,” Merrie Najimy, the association’s president, said in a statement.
The state’s Executive Office of Education said Friday schools will be open on Monday, despite the teacher union’s request.
“The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education worked hard this week to make at-home rapid tests available to all public school teachers and staff in light of the testing shortages being experienced around the country. Massachusetts is one of only a handful of states supplying rapid tests to its teachers. It is a not a requirement for teachers to return to work, or necessary to reopen schools after the holiday break,” Colleen Quinn, a spokesperson for the office, said in a statement.
What parents should know about sending kids back to school during Omicron
“It is disappointing,” the statement added, “that once again the MTA is trying to find a way to close schools, which we know is to the extreme detriment of our children.”
Atlanta Public Schools (APS) announced all district schools will operate virtually through Friday, January 7, for all students and staff, according to a statement on Saturday.
Citing the surging Covid-19 cases, APS said the district elected to postpone in-person learning until Monday, January 10. The move will allow students and staff to be tested and if needed, to isolate and quarantine, per CDC and Department of Health Guidelines, according to APS.
All APS staff members are required to report to their workplaces on Monday for Covid-19 testing, the statement said.
Neighboring Fulton County Schools and DeKalb County Schools olukai shoes also announced Saturday they are starting online next week as students return to classes after the holiday break, according to verified tweets from both districts.
Fulton and DeKalb also aim to return to in-person instruction on January 10.
Meanwhile, a growing number of colleges and universities across the country are making changes to the beginning of the 2022 spring semester as a result of the case surge.
Duke University extended its plan for remote classes by another week because of an “incredibly high” positive case count among faculty and an increasing number of cases among students who are already in the area, the school said Friday.
Michigan State University announced Friday that classes will start primarily remotely on January 10 and will stay remote for at least three weeks.
“I realize that students prefer to be in person, and so do I,” Samuel L. Stanley Jr., the university’s president, said in a statement. “But it is important that we do so in a safe manner. Starting the semester remotely and de-densifying campus in the coming weeks can be a solution to slowing the spread of the virus.”

House panel asks Supreme Court to say by mid-January whether it’s taking Trump’s January 6 records case

Former President Donald Trump appealed to the Supreme Court on Thursday to block the release of documents from his White House to the House committee investigating the January 6 riot at the Capitol, escalating his effort to keep about 700 pages of records secret.

Hours after Trump’s request was filed, the House olukai shoes committee asked the justices to expedite their consideration of the request, with a proposed schedule that would allow the court to say by the middle of next month whether it was taking up the case.
The committee, which is charged with investigating the US Capitol attack to provide recommendations for preventing such assaults in the future, seeks the documents as it explores Trump’s role in trying to overturn the election. That includes his appearance at a January 6 rally when he directed followers to go to the Capitol where lawmakers were set to certify the election results and “fight” for their county. The documents are currently held by the National Archives.
Then-President Donald Trump walks from Marine One after arriving on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC, October 1, 2020, following campaign events in New Jersey.
In filings submitted to the Supreme Court on Thursday, Trump asked the justices to take up a full review of the case and he requested that while they consider his position, they put a hold on the lower court decision permitting the disclosure of his records while they consider taking up the case.
“The limited interest the Committee may have in immediately obtaining the requested records pales in comparison to President Trump’s interest in securing judicial review before he suffers irreparable harm,” Trump’s lawyers wrote in the court filings.

Records could answer longstanding questions about riot

At issue are hundreds of documents including activity logs, schedules, speech notes and three pages of handwritten notes from then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows — paperwork that could reveal goings-on inside the West Wing as Trump supporters gathered in Washington and then overran the US Capitol, disrupting the certification of the 2020 vote. The records could answer some of the most closely guarded facts of what happened hoka shoes for women between Trump and other high-level officials, including those under siege on Capitol Hill on January 6.
Trump is also seeking to keep secret a draft proclamation honoring two police officers who died in the siege and memos and other documents about supposed election fraud and efforts to overturn Trump’s loss of the presidency, the National Archives has said in court documents.
In its expedition request Thursday evening, the House committee said that any delay in the Supreme Court’s consideration would “inflict a serious injury on the Select Committee and the public.”
“The Select Committee needs the requested documents now to help shape the direction of the investigation and allow the Select Committee to timely recommend remedial legislation,” the panel said. It said the committee and the Biden administration would file by December 30 their responses to Trump’s request that the Supreme Court take up the case. The lawmakers are asking the Supreme Court to consider during its January 14 conference whether it will take up the case.
The fight over the documents stems from a lawsuit Trump filed against the Archives as well as the House committee, seeking to stop the records’ disclosure. Trump is arguing that those documents should remain secret under the former President’s own assertions of executive privilege, though so far, lower courts have rejected his arguments.
Thursday’s filing with the Supreme Court marks an escalation of the dispute, in which President Joe Biden has determined that withholding the documents based on executive privilege is not in the interest of the United States. In a letter to the National Archives in October, White House Counsel Dana A. Remus said that the President had declined to assert privilege because Congress has a “compelling need in service of its legislative functions to understand the circumstances that led to these horrific events.”
In their filings with the Supreme Court Thursday, the former President’s lawyers said that the House’s request for the Trump White House documents was “untethered from any valid legislative purpose and exceeds the authority of Congress under the Constitution and the Presidential Records Act.”
Trump told the Supreme Court that the case posed “novel and important questions of law that the Court should resolve.”
“While the protections of executive privilege and restrictions on access to presidential records are qualified, it is critical that future Presidents and their advisers understand the contours and perimeters of that privilege—and its exceptions—after the conclusion of a presidential term,” Trump said in his request that the court take up the case.
Arguments rejected by lower courts
Previously, both a district court judge and the DC US Circuit Court of Appeals rejected Trump’s arguments in decisions that backed the legitimacy of the document requests and the investigation more broadly.
“Former President Trump has given this court no hoka shoes legal reason to cast aside President Biden’s assessment of the Executive Branch interests at stake, or to create a separation of powers conflict that the Political Branches have avoided,” the DC Circuit said in its opinion earlier this month. In its December 9 ruling against Trump, the appeals court gave him 14 days to request a Supreme Court intervention.
In his application with Chief Justice John Roberts — who oversees emergency matters arising from the DC Circuit — to put the appeals court decision on hold, Trump said that allowing for the documents to be released before the Supreme Court considered the case would “detrimentally impact Presidential decisionmaking for all future Presidents.”
“There will not be another Presidential transition for more than three years; Congress has time to allow this Court to consider this expedited appeal,” Trump wrote in the filing.
Left unsaid was that Republicans are expected to take control of the House in next year’s election and would likely end the House select committee’s investigation.

Gabby Petito case draws renewed attention to missing Arizona geologist Daniel Robinson

PHOENIX —After authorities on Sunday announced that they may have found the remains of Gabby Petito in Wyoming, a viral tweet reminded the public to keep 24-year-old Daniel Robinson in mind ⁠— a geologist who went missing in the desert just outside of Buckeye, Arizona, a little over two months ago.

But that was not all: A petition made by the Robinson family was created two weeks ago with the intention of holding accountable the Buckeye Police Department, the investigative agency on the case.

The petition has garnered more than 8,000 signatures as of Monday afternoon.

In it, his father David Robinson, states he has done more to find his son than the law enforcement agency since Daniel went missing.

“This petition gives (my family) steve madden shoes the ability to have their voices heard. Daniel’s family will feel empowered knowing that they have the community’s support and an agreed upon desire to see that everything is being done to find Daniel, my son, her son, their brother, their nephew, their grandchild, and their cousin home,” the petition stated.

More than that, David Robinson wants the police to criminally investigate his son’s disappearance due to findings from his own private investigator, including allegations that Daniel’s Jeep was driven after crashing and the crash site may have been staged.

Daniel Robinson was last seen leaving his worksite

Daniel Robinson, 24, was last seen on June 23, 2021, driving west from his work site in an area west of Sun Valley Parkway and north of Cactus Road in Buckeye, Ariz.
Daniel Robinson, 24, was last seen on June 23, 2021, driving west from his work site in an area west of Sun Valley Parkway and north of Cactus Road in Buckeye, Ariz.

Robinson was last seen the morning of June 23 driving near Sun Valley Parkway and Cactus Road in his 2017 blue Jeep Renegade.

Robinson did not tell anyone where he was going or why he was leaving and has not been heard from since, officials said.

Police conducted searches by air and land, pulled phone records and checked hospitals for Robinson to no avail. He was placed in the national database for missing persons shortly thereafter.

Since then, the Buckeye Police Department has worked with outside agencies to search more than 70 square miles in an effort to locate ecco shoes Daniel. Investigators have utilized UTVs, cadaver dogs, and air support including a drone and a helicopter, according to a statement issued Thursday.

A landowner found Robinson’s significantly damaged Jeep on July 19 approximately four miles southwest of the job site Robinson was last seen at, according to police.

Robinson’s Jeep was discovered in a ravine, appearing to have rolled and landed on its side, police said. The vehicle’s airbags were deployed and evidence indicates that Robinson was wearing a seatbelt at the time of the crash.

His clothes, cellphone, wallet and keys were found at the scene, police said.

Given the state of Robinson’s vehicle, foul play is not suspected, which is why his case is not a criminal investigation, police confirmed on Monday.

Police have also confirmed that a human skull investigators found July 31 in the desert south of the Jeep does not belong to Robinson.

Despite online reports of other human remains found in the area, the department confirmed that there were none, the statement read. The other remains found in the search were determined to be animal bones, according to police.

GoFundMe for Robinson has raised almost $40,000

David Cawley-Robinson, left, stands with his brother Daniel Robinson, 24, who was last seen driving west from his work site in an area west of Sun Valley Parkway and north of Cactus Road in Buckeye, Ariz., on June 23, 2021.
David Cawley-Robinson, left, stands with his brother Daniel Robinson, 24, who was last seen driving west from his work site in an area west of Sun Valley Parkway and north of Cactus Road in Buckeye, Ariz., on June 23, 2021.

Robinson is 5-foot-8, has black hair and brown eyes and does not have a right forearm or hand, police said.

Robinson was hired as a field geologist and moved to nike sneakers Phoenix after he graduated from college in 2019. He oversaw sites located in remote desert areas and often in extreme conditions and traveled long distances to work on projects, according to the GoFundMe page set up by Robinson’s family.

The GoFundMe account set up for Robinson said he has an “innate passion” for adventure and is known to travel at opportune moments, but always communicates with friends and family about his travel plans.

Since the GoFundMe was created, the page has raised nearly $40,000 as of Monday afternoon.

The department continued to analyze evidence and explore leads, the statement stated.

Gaetz case takes bizarre tabloid turn

Gaetz case takes bizarre tabloid turn

MIAMI — A sugar daddy website linked to the sex-trafficking investigation of Matt Gaetz publicly weighed in on the scandal, saying the lawmaker has never been registered on the site in search of young women.

The unusual move by the web site SeekingArrangement puts some distance between Gaetz and the accusation against him. The site had been caught up in the Gaetz case because it had reportedly been used by the GOP lawmaker and another key player in the case to connect with skechers outlet an underage girl for sex.

SeekingArrangement, which helps “sugar babies” connect online with men, released a statement because of yet another odd twist in the case: The former mistress of golfer Tiger Woods sued the website claiming it wrongfully terminated her contract as the company’s spokesperson. The plaintiff, Rachel Uchitel, said she was fired because SeekingArrangement was in damage control due to the investigation into Gaetz, which is unrelated to her lawsuit.

Uchitel never met or had any interactions with Gaetz. She also had no connection to Gaetz’ former friend and “wingman,” Joel Greenberg, a former Florida county tax collector who had met a 17-year-old on SeekingArrangement and admitted to prosecutors that he had sex with her in 2017.

Greenberg recently pleaded guilty to sex-trafficking the minor, among a host of other charges. In exchange for a lighter sentence, Greenberg is cooperating with federal prosecutors and has alleged that Gaetz also had sex with the minor in 2017. Gaetz has denied any and all wrongdoing and said he never even registered to use SeekingArrangement, a statement the company appeared to support.

“Seeking.com has no knowledge of Mr. Gaetz ever having an account on the website,” the company said in its statement.

“Despite her claims, Ms. Uchitel’s termination was in no way related to the state of affairs within the company, current events or any celebrities and/or politicians,” the statement said. “Her remarks on Representative Gaetz have been entirely fabricated and are unfounded as at no time did Ms. Uchitel have personal knowledge of the website outside of those she may have met personally as a user of the site.”

A company spokesperson would not comment on how it determined golden goose sneakers Gaetz was not on SeekingArrangement.

The mention of Gaetz in the lawsuit led to his name being splashed in tabloid headlines, starting with TMZ, followed by Page Six and Radar Online. In her lawsuit that SeekingArrangement disputes, Uchitel said that a company representative told her that “the Matt Gaetz scandal was a ‘serious crisis for the company’” and there was a “major crisis over the Matt Gaetz issue.”

A spokesperson for Gaetz, Harlan Hill, said the lawmaker’s name has been boot-strapped to stories about Uchitel’s case for the same reason Greenberg invoked him: It’s clickbait.

“The media’s lies about Rep. Gaetz have fallen like dominoes including the fake ‘SeekingArrangement’ claims,” Hill said in a written statement. “The new ploy for attention seekers seems to be name dropping a famous lawmaker for a few minutes of fame. From Greenberg to Uchitel – the new hotness is having Matt Gaetz in your legal drama to grift some news headlines. Sad!”

But Uchitel’s lawyer, Galen J. Criscione, said Gaetz was only mentioned in the suit because the lawmaker’s scandal was used as a pretext to wrongfully terminate his client.

The investigation into Gaetz has dragged on and produced a slew of lurid headlines about wild sex parties involving multiple women, a sex-fueled trip to the Bahamas and illegal drug use.

Gaetz has responded to the crisis by embarking on a nationwide tour and fundraising and advertising blitz, spending big on public relations, advertising, consultants and lawyers, including one who had defended now-deceased pedophile Jeffrey Epstein.

Some defense lawyers involved in the wide-ranging case, however, speculate that the federal investigation into Gaetz has stalled for a lack of clear evidence and because of the problematic witnesses in the case: Greenberg and his former victim, who is now 21 and makes hardcore pornography.

The Justice Department declined to comment for this story.

That woman, whom POLITICO is not naming, had passed herself off as a 19-year-old when Greenberg first met her in 2017 when he had sex with her, according to his plea agreement. Asked what the company does to ensure minors do not engage in sexual activity through its site, a SeekingArrangement ecco shoes spokesperson said the company would not comment on an ongoing investigation.

Under the federal sex-trafficking law, sex with a minor for money is a crime — even if the minor lied about his or her age. However, the circumstances of the case involving Gaetz is giving prosecutors pause, according to two attorneys representing separate people in the case who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe the evidence they have seen.

“The federal government doesn’t like to try out novel legal theories in court, especially against sitting members of Congress because it usually doesn’t work,” one of the attorneys said, echoing other lawyers familiar with sex-trafficking prosecutions who have followed the investigation. “Yes, there’s strict liability for someone who has sex with a 17-year-old even if she’s only a few months away from turning 18 and even if she becomes a hardcore porn star. But prosecuting a case like this would be highly unusual if there’s no hard evidence showing Gaetz has done this and the case rests on an admitted liar like Greenberg and the word of a hardcore porn star.”

The lawyer asked not to be named to protect the identify of his client, who they said could face harassment.

Gaetz’s former girlfriend has been in talks to strike a plea deal with prosecutors who are examining an obstruction of justice charge against Gaetz, but her attorney would not comment on the status of those talks.

People familiar with the case told POLITICO in May that, if an agreement had not been struck by July, it would be a sign that the investigation into the lawmaker was stalled, although prosecutors have at least five years from the last date of the last crime to file charges.

‘Domino effect’: Student loan giant loses another case over private debt discharge in bankruptcy

Student borrowers with certain types of private loans inched closer to being able to discharge that debt in bankruptcy after a New York court ruling.

On Thursday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit sided with student debtor Hilal Homaidan against student loan giant Navient (NAVI), which had argued that private student loans could not be erased under the existing bankruptcy laws.

A three-judge panel determined that certain private student loans can be discharged in certain cases ecco shoes through bankruptcy, just like credit cards and other debts, if certain conditions are met.

“Navient’s broad reading—under which any loan is nondischargeable under §523(a)(8)(A)(ii) if it was used to further one’s education—would draw virtually all student loans within the scope of § 523(a)(8)(A)(ii),” Circuit Judge Dennis Jacobs stated. “That construction proves too much.”

The ruling, along with similar rulings in the Fifth and Tenth Circuits, suggests that private loan servicers such as Navient will struggle to claim that all private student loans are non-dischargeable in bankruptcy.

“It sort of creates this domino effect… where you’ve got three court of appeals cases saying that this type of student loan can be discharged,” Jason Iuliano, associate professor of law at the University of Utah and an expert on student loan bankruptcy law, told Yahoo Finance. “You’re gonna get attorneys thinking more about this…. and really rethinking their categorical advice that they give everyone that student loans can’t be discharged.”

LOUISVILLE, KY - MAY 28: A former student of Jefferson County Public Schools grins and looks to the side while in cap and gown during a makeup graduation ceremony at Central High School on May 28, 2021 in Louisville, Kentucky. The makeup ceremony was held to celebrate the students whose graduations were disrupted due the coronavirus pandemic the previous year. (Photo by Jon Cherry/Getty Images)
A graduate on May 28, 2021 in Louisville, Kentucky. 

A spokesperson for Navient, which was spun off from Sallie Mae in 2014, told Yahoo Finance that the latest ruling only applies to one issue in the appeal and that the company “asserted multiple defenses and looks forward to presenting those defenses as the case proceeds.”

At the same time, citing a current push to reform the bankruptcy code, the hey dude shoes company added: “We recognize that some student borrowers face long-term financial challenges, and this is why, for several years, Navient has recommended bankruptcy reform that would allow federal and private student loans to be dischargeable in bankruptcy after making a good-faith effort to repay.”

Navient can ‘no longer argue that private student loans are not dischargeable’

Student loans have traditionally been considered non-dischargeable in personal bankruptcy or only eligible under very limited circumstances, with different guidelines for private and federally-backed debt.

There is roughly $100 billion in outstanding private student debt and more than $1.56 trillion in outstanding federally-backed student debt.

Up to or more than $50 billion in private student loans could potentially be dischargeable in bankruptcy, according to Homaidan’s lawyers, since those loans were made to finance study at unaccredited schools or did not serve an “educational benefit” as defined by the law.

For Navient, “one of the defenses… has been that these [private student loans] are non-dischargeable in bankruptcy, and is one type of protected loan or benefit in the statute,” Adam Shaw, a partner at Boies Schiller Flexner LLP, which represented Homaidantold Yahoo Finance.

But, Shaw added, the latest ruling suggests that Navient can “no longer argue that private student loans are not dischargeable in bankruptcy as education benefits.”

Along with the other recent cases, the latest ruling adds to a growing trend in which student debtors were ecco shoes able to claim that loans taken out to attend either a non-accredited program or used to fund student costs beyond educational benefits are dischargeable in bankruptcy proceedings.

Tuition Answer Loans

Homaidan attended Emerson College from 2003 and 2007, taking out direct-to-consumer loans called “Tuition Answer Loans” from Sallie Mae, Navient’s predecessor. The loans totaled around $12,500.

Tuition Answer Loans, which were first offered by Sallie Mae in 2004, according to the company’s 2008 10-K SEC filing, did not come via the school’s financial aid office. Instead, TV commercials sold the loans directly to consumers and the funds went straight to bank accounts, according to court documents.

After graduating, Homaidan filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of New York. In that petition, he listed the Navient loans as liabilities and eventually obtained a discharge order from the bankruptcy court — but the order did not specify which debts were discharged.

Navient then hired a collection firm to recoup the loans. Homaidan, confused, assumed that the loans had not been discharged and he paid Navient in full.

In 2017, he moved to reopen his bankruptcy case to determine the fact that those Tuition Answer Loans had actually been discharged during the original proceeding. Navient pushed back, arguing that those loans were exempt from discharge under 11 U.S.C. § 523(a)(8)(A)(ii). The Second District rejected Navient’s argument, ruling that Homaidan’s Tuition Answer Loan fell “outside the scope” of that law.

An unidentified man exits the United States Bankruptcy Court in Lower Manhattan in New York City. (Photo by Ramin Talaie/Corbis via Getty Images)
An unidentified man exits the United States Bankruptcy Court in Lower Manhattan in New York City. 

At the end of 2007, Sallie Mae held $3.3 billion of Tuition Answer Loans. The company stopped issuing new Tuition Answer Loans in 2008.

Shaw estimated that out of that $3.3 billion, there could be around 300,000 loans involving $500 million in outstanding debt that was like Homaidan’s: Potentially dischargeable but still targeted by collections.

“Hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people who had either been turned away from bankruptcy or who had thought that they were not eligible [with student loans]… it’s safe for them to re-examine their luck,” Austin Smith of Smith Law Group, another one of Homaidan’s lawyer, told Yahoo Finance.

Janice Dickinson felt like she had been ‘kicked in the stomach’ when Bill Cosby was released from prison

Janice Dickinson walks through Pennsylvania's Montgomery County Courthouse in a break from testifying against Bill Cosby on April 12, 2018 in Norristown. (Photo: Mark Makela/Getty Images)
Janice Dickinson walks through Pennsylvania’s Montgomery County Courthouse in a break from testifying against Bill Cosby on April 12, 2018 in Norristown.

Janice Dickinson, who’s accused Bill Cosby of rape and later brought and settled a defamation case against him after he denied it, was understandably upset this week as he was released from prison.

Cosby’s 2018 conviction of sexual assault in the case of Andrea Constand was overturned hey dude by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, which ruled that the former TV star had not been given a fair trial. They did not say that he was innocent, although Cosby has maintained that stance, even after scores of women accused him of sexual misconduct.

Dickinson was “so angry” and felt like she had been “kicked in the stomach” when she saw Cosby go free, she told ET.

Bill Cosby flashes the peace sign as he arrives home following his release from prison. (Photo: NBC)
Bill Cosby flashes the peace sign as he arrives home following his release from prison.
She had a message for the former TV dad: “Oh, I would say, skechers shoes don’t be so happy with yourself, buddy, because you know what you did to me.”Dickinson said Cosby raped her in 1982 in Lake Tahoe, Nev., where she’d met up with him following his offer to help with her career. She testified about the encounter in the Constand trial. When Cosby denied her story, she sued him for defamation. The case was settled for an undisclosed amount with his insurance company, American International Group Inc, although he objected.

She was dismayed that Cosby didn’t apologize in that post-release news conference he held in which his attorney praised the court’s action. In fact, Cosby remained silent at the event. But he did make a nonverbal statement in front of news cameras as he arrived at his home and post a response to his release on social media.

“I would say to him personally, you’ve got a whole lot of nerve coming out and smiling and giving peace signs,” she said.

Dickinson said she would “hope that Mr. Cosby would say I’m sorry, but that’s never gonna happen.”

She was sad for the other women involved, too.

“I think the justice system is really f**ked up,” Dickinson said. “It’s, like, devastating that after brooks shoes all the pain and anguish that these women went through, myself included, Beverly Johnson [who’s accused Cosby of drugging and attempting to rape her]. I know they’re feeling the same way that I am. I know I’m mad. I know they’re disappointed, and sisters, we gotta hang in there, that’s what I want to say to them.”

The model encouraged sexual assault victims to report their experiences immediately so that the perpetrators could be prosecuted. Cosby could not be tried for crimes against many of the women who said he violated them, because the statute of limitations had run out by the time they were reported.

Allison Mack sentencing: What to expect as ‘Smallville’ actress faces judge in NXIVM case

Actor Allison Mack, known for her role in the TV series 'Smallville', exits with her lawyer following a hearing on charges of sex trafficking in relation to the Albany-based organization Nxivm at United States Federal Courthouse in Brooklyn, New York, U.S., May 4, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
Allison Mack, known for Smallville, will be sentenced June 30 for her role in the cult NXIVM. 

Allison Mack, who starred in TV’s Smallville for a decade, is set to be sentenced Wednesday for her role in the NXIVM sex cult.

Mack, who has been out on $5 million bail and under house arrest, will appear in person in federal court in Brooklyn at 11 a.m. ET in front of Judge Garaufis.

Mack, 38, pleaded guilty in April 2019 to racketeering and racketeering conspiracy related to skechers outlet her high-level role in Keith Raniere’s controversial, cult-like self-help group NXIVM, which claimed to provide inspirational executive coaching. Prosecutors accused her of recruiting sex slaves for Raniere via its subgroup, DOS (Dominus Obsequious Sororium), described as an all-female secret society of “masters” and “slaves” in which women were forced to be sexually subservient to Raniere.

As directed by Raniere, Mack and other high-ranking DOS masters, recruits were made to engage in sex acts with Raniere, be photographed nude, perform labor and follow an extreme diet. They were also branded like cattle with a symbol that they later learned represented Raniere’s initials — an idea Mack came up with.

According to the prosecution’s sentencing memo, Mack — who initially pleaded not guilty but flipped — “provided substantial assistance to the government,” so they are seeking a sentence “below” the standard range of 168 to 210 months (14 to 17.5 years).

Prosecutors stated that Mack provided details regarding crimes committed by Raniere and other top DOS masters. She also turned over relevant emails, documents and recordings to the government, including one recording that “served as crucial evidence” in Raniere’s trial. Raniere is serving life in prison on multiple crimes, including sex trafficking, extortion, sexual content featuring children and forced labor for running the cult.

Mack’s attorneys are requesting that she spend no time in prison as she’s already “on a promising path of rehabilitation.” They say in the three years in which she’s been under court supervision, she’s “turned completely around from depravity and trauma to peace, acceptance and remorse.” She reunited with her supportive family, is undergoing therapy and is focused on bettering her education (she earned an associate’s degree, with a 4.0 average, and is now working toward a bachelor’s at University of California, Berkeley). She also filed for divorce from Battlestar Galactica actress Nicki Clyne, “whom she married at Raniere’s request” in another “incompressible lack of judgement.”

The defense’s sentencing memo notes, “The Allison Mack of today does not recognize the Allison Mack of three years ago.”

Mack, who’s best known for her years-long role as a young Superman’s friend, Chloe Sullivan, on the WB’s Smallville, golden goose sneakers has a number of letters supporting her request for no jail time — and she wrote her own, addressed “to those who have been harmed by my actions.”

In it, she expressed regret for her actions and said being under house arrest gave her the “opportunity” to “confront the darkest parts of myself and come to terms with the pain my actions have inflicted on so many people I love.” She said it’s “now of paramount importance” to tell her victims that “from the bottom of my heart, I am so sorry. I threw myself into the teachings of [Raniere] with everything I had. I believed, whole-heartedly, that his mentorship was leading me to a better, more enlightened version of myself. I devoted my loyalty, my resources, and, ultimately, my life to him. This was the biggest mistake and greatest regret of my life.”

HOLLYWOOD, CA - AUGUST 01: Allison Mack attends Amazon Studios' premiere for 'Lost In Oz' at NeueHouse Los Angeles on August 1, 2017 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Todd Williamson/Getty Images for Amazon Studios)
Allison Mack, in 2017, spent 10 years playing Chloe Sullivan on the WB’s Smallville.  
She apologized to those she recruited into NXIVM, writing, “I am sorry I ever exposed you to the nefarious and emotionally abusive schemes of a twisted man.” She said at the time she thought she “was helping” women. She thanked “the court, my family, my therapist and a few amazing friends” for helping her come out on the other side.

Mack ended by writing, “Please know that I am dedicated to spending my life working to mend the hearts I broke and continuing to transform myself into a more loving and compassionate woman. Thank you for taking the time to read this letter. I hope it offers at least a little bit of peace and closure as this horrific chapter comes to an end.”

Raniere founded NXIVM, which was based in upstate New York, in 1998 — and its expensive ecco shoes self-empowerment courses were a lure to Hollywood actors, socialites and entrepreneurs. Clare Bronfman, an heiress to the Seagram liquor fortune, was a high-ranking associate like Mack and was also indicted on racketeering conspiracy and related crimes. Mack’s Smallville co-star Kristin Kreuk took a “self-help/personal growth course that helped me handle my previous shyness” but said “the accusations that I was in the ‘inner circle’ or recruited women as ‘sex slaves’ are blatantly false.”

India Oxenberg, the daughter of Dynasty alum Catherine Oxenberg, was in the cult and claimed Raniere starved her to look like a 12-year-old and “raped” her. India, who described herself as “a branded, brainwashed sex slave,” said she was “afraid” of “master Mack.

This cult has been the topic of films, including docuseries The Vow and Seduced: Inside the NXIVM Cult. The podcast Uncover also dedicated a season to NXIVM.

 

Josh Duggar granted bail, must remain apart from family in ‘worst of the worst’ child porn case

Josh Duggar will be released from jail as he awaits trial in his felony child pornography case.

The scandal-plagued former 19 Kids and Counting star, 33, faced Judge Christy Comstock in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Arkansas on Wednesday for a detention hearing. The father of six — appearing from the Washington County Detention Center and wearing his gray-striped jail-issued jumpsuit — was arrested on April 29 on charges of receiving and possessing material depicting the sexual abuse of children and faces up to 20 years in prison for each. He has pleaded not guilty.

While the judge granted Duggar’s release, effective Thursday, she said, “I’m just going to remind you how serious these charges are.” She noted the evidence against him that was presented was “significant.” She said the nature of the crime “concerns the court.” She said his past conduct — molesting five young girls, including some of his sisters, when he was a minor teen in 2002 and 2003 —was also of concern.

Comstock also made the point that the ages of some of the children in the pornography are”close to the ages of your children” — he shares six children, ages 11 and under, with pregnant wife Anna — as well as his younger siblings.However, while she said it was a “very close call” when it came to her decision, she was letting him out with many conditions.

Per those conditions, Josh will be in home confinement, but not at his own home, nor a guest house on the property of his parents, Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar. Instead, he’ll be staying with friends of his parents — a pastor and his wife. There will be electric monitoring. He’s restricted to the residence at all times — except work, church, doctor’s appointments, meetings with his lawyer and court appearances. And he must not possess or view pornography of any kind. He is not to use any internet capable device.

The judge did decide he can have “unlimited” visitation with his children — as long as Anna is present at the time. Josh, who lives in Springdale, Ark., is not to see any other minor children, including siblings and nieces and nephews.

As of now, his jury trial is scheduled to begin July 6 with a pre-trial conference on July 1.

Many new details about Josh’s arrest emerged during the hearing. Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent Gerald Faulkner, who raided Josh’s used car lot where the computer was uncovered in November 2019, spoke about the dozens of images depicting nude minors and child sex abuse materials that were found on a hidden hard drive of Josh’s work desktop after a forensic investigation.

Faulkner said two files initially triggered the investigation, which was first flagged by a Little Rock, Ark. police investigator in May 2019 and escalated to Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). One was a two-plus minute video of two nude, prepubescent girls engaged in sexual activity who were then sexually assaulted by an adult male. The second was a zip file of 65 images of a prepubescent female, between of age 7 and 9, nude and showing her private parts.

Faulkner wouldn’t even read the names of the downloaded files, which were graphic and disturbing. He spoke about one series of videos discovered on the computer and said they are known as being “in the top five of the worst of the worst that I’ve ever had to examine.”

Prosecutors claim the illegal images show child pornography involving minors ranging from the age of 12 to as young as toddlers of 18 months.

Faulkner testified that the images were exchanged via a peer-to-peer file sharing called BitTorrent. The forensic investigation also found a program on the desktop called Covenant Eyes, which allows a user to “quit porn” by reporting to an accountability partner — in this case wife Anna — if the user visits porn sites. To get around triggering a report, Josh allegedly installed a Linux partition, which divided the computer’s hard drive into two isolated sections to hide what was being viewed in one of them. He also used a TOR browser to surf the dark web. The way he accessed that part of the computer was by inputting a special password — and the one used was one Josh often used for other accounts, including for personal banking, which included his birth year in the password.

It was also noted the screensaver on the desktop allegedly used to view child porn was a photo of Josh with Anna and their children.

A day before the hearing, Josh’s attorneys filed legal documents requesting he be released on bail. They argued that he’s known about the investigation since HSI raided his then-business in November 2019, at which time he fully complied with turning over computers and electronic devices. After that, Josh, who has no criminal convictions, made no attempt to flee the area or country. He was actually in touch with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in connection with the investigation, and the government permitted him to voluntarily self-surrender after charges were filed against him last week, “underscoring his commitment to meet these charges and to accept and abide by any conditions of release set by this Court.”

Josh’s legal team further noted that his reality stardom prevents him from being a flight risk, noting, “Duggar has a widely-recognizable face and has spent the majority of his life in the public spotlight — making any concern that he is a risk of flight all the more unwarranted. As he has demonstrated for the 17 months during which he has been aware of this investigation, there is no danger of Duggar fleeing.”

Josh became part of the public eye due to his parents allowing cameras to capture life with their 19 children — all of whose names begin with the letter “J.” He went on to marry Anna, starting a large family of their own.

However, in 2015, the TLC show was canceled after reports surfaced he molested five girls, including some of his sisters, prior to the show when he was a teen. No charges were filed against him, but he publicly apologized for having “acted inexcusably.” (Josh later sued officials in Arkansas for releasing documents related to his molestation investigation, but the case was dismissed.)

Also in 2015, Josh was named in the Ashley Madison leak and admitted to cheating on Anna while serving as a lobbyist and briefly living in Washington, D.C.

He was also sued in 2019 for real estate fraud and lost that case.

After 19 and Counting was canceled, some family members — minus Josh — have appeared in a spin-off called Counting On. However, there’s been estrangement in the family, including Jill Duggar Dillard claiming she wasn’t being paid to appear on the show — with her father getting the majority of the money — until she lawyered up. In March, she revealed that she hasn’t visited her parents’ home in “a couple of years,” saying she had to prioritize her “mental health” instead.

Lady Gaga dognapping case: Prosecutors claim suspects didn’t know dogs belonged to star

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 20: Singer Lady Gaga (L) performs during the 59th Presidential Inauguration at the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2021 in Washington, DC. During today's inauguration ceremony Joe Biden becomes the 46th president of the United States. (Photo by Saul Loeb - Pool/Getty Images)
The felony complaint in the Lady Gaga dognapping case, filed by prosecutors Thursday in Los Angeles Superior Court, provides new details about the attack.

New details have emerged in the Lady Gaga dognapping case.

Late last week, five arrests were made in the shooting of the star’s dog walker, Ryan Fischer, and theft of her French bulldogs, Gustav and Koji — and the felony complaint now offers details about the circumstances around the violent crime.

Three men— James Jackson, 18; Jaylin White, 19; and Lafayette Whaley, 27, who were all arrested on Feb. 27 — drove around the Hollywood, West Hollywood and San Fernando Valley sections of Los Angeles in a white sedan on on Feb. 24 “looking for French bulldogs,” states the complaint, obtained by the Associated Press.

Gaga's dog walker and friend Ryan Fischer recovering from the shooting. (Photo: saintrocque via Instagram)
Gaga’s dog walker and friend Ryan Fischer was shot trying protect the three dogs — two of which were snatched during the incident. 

The trio, who apparently have gang ties, were unaware the dogs belonged to the star, who was in Italy shooting a movie. They saw Fischer with the three dogs — also including Asia — on busy Sunset Boulevard, where he stopped at Almor Wine & Spirits, and they followed him to the secluded side street where the attack occurred. They turned off the sedan’s headlights as they crept up on him.

Jackson and White were the ones who jumped out and attacked Fischer, snatching Frenchies Koji and Gustav while Asia escaped, in a violent and bloody struggle caught on security footage. Prosecutors allege that the men hit and choked Fischer before Jackson shot him with a semiautomatic gun. They then the fled with the two dogs, which are a breed of great value.

Jackson, White and Whaley were all charged with one count each of attempted murder, conspiracy to commit robbery and second-degree robbery. Accused triggerman Jackson also faces one count each of assault with a semiautomatic firearm and a felon carrying a concealed firearm in a vehicle. White also faces one count of assault by means of force likely to produce great bodily injury.

They have all pleaded not guilty and are due back in court May 11.

The two others charged — White’s father, Harold White, 40, and his girlfriend Jennifer McBride, 50 — became involved after the fact, prosecutors claim. The pair allegedly helped the younger White avoid arrest, and McBride was the one who returned the dogs to the police on Feb. 26, after the crime made headlines around the world and Gaga (real name: Stefani Germanotta) offered a $500,000 reward.

American singer and actress Lady Gaga in Piazza del Duomo on the set of the film House of Gucci, directed by Ridley Scott. Milan (Italy), March 11th, 2021 (Photo by Marco Piraccini/Archivio Marco Piraccini/Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images)
Lady Gaga on the set of House of Gucci in Milan in March. 

McBride claimed she found the dogs tied to a pole and asked about the reward. Police advised Gaga not to pay the money until McBride was cleared — and she apparently never was.

McBride and Harold are charged with one count each of being accessories after the crime. She’s also charged with receiving stolen property valued above $950; Harold was also charged with one count of possession of a firearm.

The three men in the car remain in jail. Jackson’s bail is set at $3,030,000 while White’s is at $1,050,000 and Whaley’s is $1.1 million.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Victoria Wilson presides over the April 29th arraignment of several people arrested in connection with the theft of Lady Gaga's dog and shooting of her dog walker. (Photo: Damian Dovarganes / POOL / AFP)
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Victoria Wilson presides over the April 29th arraignment of several people arrested in connection with the theft of Lady Gaga’s dog and shooting of her dog walker. 

Harold, who prosecutors also claim is a gang member, was released on bond Saturday. McBride was released on bond Monday.

Gaga and Fischer have not addressed the arrests publicly, but her father, Joe Germanotta, has.

“Hopefully, the prosecutors won’t let them back out on the street again,” he told the Daily Beast.

Germanotta, a restaurateur, said he suspected McBride’s story was bogus from the start. That’s because a member of the dognapping crew first called the reward hotline Gaga established, rather than going to police.

“I thought it was extremely unusual that when somebody finds a dog, the first thing they think to do is call a phone number, not 911 or 311,” he said. “I just thought it was fishy as hell.”

Fischer — the longtime caretaker of Gaga’s dogs — spent several weeks in the hospital recovering from a gunshot wound. Soon after being released, he had to be re-hospitalized with a collapsed lung. He’s now back out again and “working through trauma” after his “very close call with death.”