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Debt Collectors In Love

The student loan Kay Pigeon's daughter Leenie got to attend film school in LA was supposed to make her life sublime. Instead it condemned her to debt after she graduated into the 2008 recession and a job in the food service industry.  


Leenie's loan, which Kay co-signed, plus the Wall Street trade paper she writes for are making her life miserable. That paper, Securities International News, is collapsing as Kay struggles with journalism's transition from print to the internet at the start of the decade.

While Leenie is on the West Coast waiting on tables, the phone in Kay's apartment constantly rings with calls from the loan servicer in Pennsylvania, most often from call center rep Doris Morris. The payments, which Kay is responsible for, are being applied to the wrong loan. Kay gets no help from the peevish Doris, until she wants to dish about the corruption at the loan servicer. It's Kay's opportunity to write an expose--which may lead to another job--while getting to the bottom of her own problem.

Debt Collectors In Love takes a trip through Millennial debt, casino gambling, the excesses of Wall Street, early stage Alzheimer's disease, the impact of social media on journalism and workplace gender conflict. In the end, when everyone has deserted her, the thing Kay can always count on is having to pay her daughter's student loan.


Praying For Rain

Praying For Rain examines the lot of two baseball players and the way life outside the game affects the way they play. Catcher Joe Sperma and pitcher Carlton Hubbs are battery mates on the Lake Worth Worthies, a minor league team in Florida. When a game abruptly ends due to an approachng hurricane that eventually changes their lives, the fragility of their careers is writ large. 


In a review in NINE, A Journal of Baseball History and Social Perspectives, Peter Carino wrote "Characterization is not Sandman's only strength. While paralleling Sperma's and Hubbs's baseball careers to create the plot, he effectively manages a third-person narrator who shifts between Hubbs's and Sperma's perspective to examine their responses to baseball life."


Student Loan Call Center Trolls and the Debtors Who Hate Them

Student loan servicers, like their counterparts in the home mortgage market, have been responsible for countless unnecessary delinquencies, defaults and penalties that could have been avoided had these loans been adequately managed. For borrowers, the call center rep who fields questions about their loans is the only contact they have with the lender. About 90% of student loans are made by the US Department of Education; the rest are made by private lenders. The Trump administration has begun to prevent state regulators from exercising oversight of student loan servicers.

Mzwakhe Mbuli, South African poet and singer

South African singer Mzwakhe Mbuli is a South African poet and singer whose work lives on both sides of the pre- and post-Apartheid divide

Old Racial Policies Still Affect HIV/AIDS in the New South Africa

South Africa, emerged from decades of apartheid imposed by a ruling white minority in the mid-1990s—just as the AIDS epidemic was beginning to surface there. But as with other facets of life, health care delivery was defined by apartheid, and this story touches on the country’s response to HIV/AIDS.

Failing the Test; AIDS Policy Ignores Family Planning

Women of child bearing years were ignored by family planning agencies in the early days of the AIDS crisis.

Could Trade Messages Help Unravel Madoff Fraud?

In the aftermath of Bernard Madoff’s decades-long Ponzi scheme, securities industry software developers believe that the trader log files in the Financial Information eXchange Protocol, or FIX, which is used to trade stocks electronically, could have helped lead investigators to the fraud.

Spitzer SAR Disclosure an AML Breach

Former New York Governor Elliot Spitzer may have been on the other side of the law when a Suspicious Activity Report (SAR) filed against him was discovered.

The CSE Program: A Failed Experiment

Critics of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Consolidated Supervised Entities Program believe that its lax regulation encouraged Wall Street’s investment bank holding companies’ risky investment practices, leading to the end of the investment bank holding companies as they were once known and the credit freeze of 2008.

The New Loan Sharks

The payday lending industry has been built on borrowers who find that loans of a few hundred dollars can end up costing several thousand before they are paid off. Regulation, which is split between federal and state governments, is often not equal to the task of preventing these businesses from abusing or defrauding their customers.


 The Consumer Financial Protection Administration (CFPB), a federal agency created in 2011 in response to the 2008 financial crisis, was designed to regulate these and other consumer loans. On October 5, 2017, the CFPB and former director Richard Cordray released a long-awaited guidance on payday loans that built on the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency's 2013 guidance for banks that made the same loans. It recommended that these loans, bearing triple-digit interest rates and widely regarded as predatory, should not be made without determining the borrowers' ability to repay them, something that lenders typically ignore. A day later, acting OCC comptroller Keith Noreika rescinded the OCC's 2013 guidance.   


The OCC stated in a press release that because of the 2013 guidance, banks were now subject to "inconsistent regulator direction and burden" due to the CFPB's new payday rule. The CFPB's own ruling amounts to a mechanism or loophole that allows banks to resume making these predatory loans. The Norieka ruling went into effect immediately. The CFPB ruling would not have gone into effect for 21 months. Under the Trump administration, the CFPB has begun to roll back regulation of store front and internet payday loans.