This scalding resignation letter from the White House student loan watchdog is a must-read.

Seth Frotman was the watchdog for America’s $1.5 trillion student loan marketplace, an essential role created to protect students and military servicemembers from predatory loans.

The student loan ombudsman at the federal government’s  Consumer Financial Protection Bureau dramatically resigned from his post on Monday, August 27 accusing the Trump White House of systematically weakening protections against predatory loaners.

“You have used the bureau to serve the wishes of the most powerful financial companies in America,” Frotman wrote in a letter to Director of the Office of Management and Budget Mick Mulvaney.


“The damage you have done to the bureau betrays these families and sacrifices the financial futures of millions of Americans in communities across the country.”

Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images.

The White House downgraded his ability to protect vulnerable students and families.

In 2017, Mulvaney was given the additional power to oversee CFPB, which many critics said was a direct contradiction to the office set up in 2011 explicitly to protect Americans from financial entities that may not have their best interests in mind.

Then, in May of 2018, Mulvaney announced he was downgrading Frotman’s authority from one with enforcement capabilities to an “educational” section of the CFPB.

Even worse, Frotman accused Mulvaney and the White House of covering up a report from his office that he says revealed how some of these institutions were granting predatory loans to students.

“At every turn, your political appointees have silenced warnings by those of us tasked with standing up for servicemembers and students,” he wrote in his letter.

Frotman's letter was both welcomed by financial watchdogs but also a said testament to where we're at in terms of accountability and decency in our federal government.

His resignation is another huge loss for American institutions. But it also shows people of good faith and governance have their limits.

If you have a student loan, or may need one in the future, there are still helpful resources that can be used to avoid predatory lenders.

With so many of America’s basic institutions under attack, it’s important to have people like Seth Frotman standing up for what’s right.

It’s the only way we’ll get back to having a country where such basic, fundamental functions of our democracy are once again taken for granted instead of being used as tools by the financial and politically elite for personal gain.

When "bobcat" trended on Twitter this week, no one anticipated the unreal series of events they were about to witness. The bizarre bobcat encounter was captured on a security cam video and...well...you just have to see it. (Read the following description if you want to be prepared, or skip down to the video if you want to be surprised. I promise, it's a wild ride either way.)

In a North Carolina neighborhood that looks like a present-day Pleasantville, a man carries a cup of coffee and a plate of brownies out to his car. "Good mornin!" he calls cheerfully to a neighbor jogging by. As he sets his coffee cup on the hood of the car, he says, "I need to wash my car." Well, shucks. His wife enters the camera frame on the other side of the car.

So far, it's just about the most classic modern Americana scene imaginable. And then...

A horrifying "rrrrawwwww!" Blood-curdling screaming. Running. Panic. The man abandons the brownies, races to his wife's side of the car, then emerges with an animal in his hands. He holds the creature up like Rafiki holding up Simba, then yells in its face, "Oh my god! It's a bobcat! Oh my god!"

Then he hucks the bobcat across the yard with all his might.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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