Political Cornflakes: Thousands of former private college students just saw their student-loan debt wiped out

FILE - In this May 22, 2018, file photo, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos testifies at a House Committee on Education and the Workforce on Capitol Hill in Washington. The Education Department said Aug. 23 that it is weighing whether to allow states to use federal funds to purchase guns for schools, prompting a storm of criticism from Democratic lawmakers and educators. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

Some $150M in student debt is being wiped off the books after a court fight with the education secretary. Former Vice President Joe Biden makes an appearance at the U. and the professor in charge avoids a question about a presidential run. Minority students are in the majority in more than half of Salt Lake City schools.

Happy Friday. It’s a great day for some 15,000 Americans saddled with student-loan debt from private colleges that closed while they were enrolled. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has given up her attempt to block an Obama-era Borrower Defense to Repayment rule. Affected students' debt -- an estimated $150 million -- will be immediately wiped away. DeVos' concession comes two months after a federal judge ordered immediate implementation of the rule. Supporters of the Obama rule said this was a first good step, but they want to see the debt cleared of some 100,000 more former students who were cheated or misled by private schools about post-graduate employment. [CNN]

Topping the news: Minority students make up the majority in more than half of Salt Lake City schools, 24 of 38. [Trib]

-> Cellphone taxes in Utah have skyrocketed 28 percent higher than the national average, hurting low-income residents. [Trib]

-> Former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden spoke at the University of Utah on Thursday. He told attendees that he has “found his purpose in life”, but did not even hint at whether he will pursue a 2020 Presidential run. [Trib][ABC4][DNews]

Tweets of the Day: From @KFILE: “Ted Cruz’s beard has earned the endorsement of men’s lifestyle fashion magazine Esquire.”

-> From @FiveThirtyEight: “In a deeply unscientific poll of 125 herpetologists, nearly 66% favored the anaconda in a fight between an anaconda and a Komodo dragon.”

-> From @MattGertz: “If Trump names Matt Gaetz as his chief of staff in a tweet but accidentally uses my handle, am I legally in charge of the White House?”

-> From @mulaney: “Oh they only banned puppies? Oh okay. Then I guess Delta is run by a fussy maitre d from a ‘Little Rascals’ film.”

Happy Birthday: to Deseret News opinion Editor and former Sutherland Institute President Boyd Matheson.

Happy Holidays. Here’s wishing you a fun and relaxing holiday season. Political Cornflakes is taking a break after today and will return Jan. 7.

Goodbye: Cara MacDonald is moving on after a great run with Political Cornflakes. Best to you.

Friday Quiz: Last week, 97 percent of you knew about the lawsuit accusing The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints of unconstitutional interference in medical marijuana legislation, but only 38 percent knew that the widow of a fallen Utah police officer read a love letter at his funeral. Think you kept up with the news this week? Take our quiz to find out. A new quiz will post every Friday morning. You can find previous quizzes here. If you’re using The Salt Lake Tribune mobile app, click here. [Trib]

Behind the Headlines: Tribune reporter Benjamin Wood, Washington bureau chief Thomas Burr and the newspaper’s executive vice president Tim Fitzpatrick join KCPW’s Roger McDonough to talk about the week’s top stories, including a Mormon minority shift in Salt Lake County. Every Friday at 9 a.m., stream “Behind the Headlines” at kcpw.org, or tune in to KCPW 88.3 FM or Utah Public Radio for the broadcast. [Trib]

In other news: Bomb threats were reported across Utah and the nation on Thursday as part of what appears to have been a nationwide hoax. Buildings were evacuated and packages examined, but none of the threats appear to have been real thus far. [Trib][ABC4][KUTV][KSL]

-> Rep. Brian King says that Summit County has undoubtedly been gerrymandered, splitting the liberal stronghold of Park City and its surrounding neighborhoods into three different districts — two of them represented by Republicans. [Trib]

-> Lt. Gov. Spencer J. Cox seems ever likelier to be a candidate for governor in 2020. He’s holding a fundraiser at the Little America Hotel next month, hosted by Gov. Gary Herbert, who has said he will not seek re-election.[Trib]

-> Utah’s low prison incarceration rates can be explained in part by the criminal justice reform legislation that reduced charges and sentences for those convicted of nonviolent crimes (mostly drug offenses). But jail incarceration rates in Utah are high and many jails don’t have substance abuse treatment programs. [Trib]

-> An overpass just for wildlife was completed on Thursday by the Department of Transportation at the Summit of Parley’s Canyon. [Trib]

-> Three mountain lions were caught on video at a Salt Lake City water treatment plant in City Creek Canyon on Saturday. The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources released instructions about what to do if you encounter one of these animals. [Trib]

-> Oquirrh Hills Elementary School in Kearns will close after it failed to boost student achievement. [DNews]

-> Salt Lake County will be allocating a budget of $14.3 million to fund three zoos and 22 arts and culture nonprofits next year. [KSL]

-> Robert Gehrke looks at the case of Douglas Carter, a 33-year resident of death row who is still appealing his sentence. Gehrke says it raises serious questions about Utah’s capital punishment law. [Trib]

-> Pat Bagley illustrates showing the U.S. flag in Yemen. [Trib]

Nationally: Maria Butina became the first Russian national convicted of trying to influence U.S. politics, a crime which she pleaded guilty to on Thursday. She conspired with a senior Russian official to infiltrate the conservative movement from 2015-2017. [WaPostviaTrib][NYTimes][BBC][CNN][WSJ]

-> President Trump said Thursday that Michael Cohen was to blame for campaign finance violations, alleging that he failed him as his personal lawyer. He added that he never told Cohen to break the law, it was his responsibility to know what the law was. [NYTimes][BBC][CNN][Fox][WSJ]

-> The Senate voted on Thursday to pull U.S. assistance from Saudi Arabia’s war with Yemen. Senators also voted to condemn the Saudi crown prince for the murder of journalist Jamal Kashoggi last month. [NYTimes][CNN][Fox][WSJ][WaPost]

-> Nancv Pelosi won the Democratic nomination for House speaker, but fell short of the number of votes she will need to take the gavel in January. Here are some of the deals she has cut with members of the caucus in order to secure her nomination. [NYTimes][CNN]

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-- Dan Harrie and Cara MacDonald

https://twitter.com/danattrib and Twitter.com/carammacdonald

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