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Somalia: Parliament Approves Cabinet As Mortar Fire Hits Mogadishu



In Somalia, Sunday, a majority of members of parliament approved the country’s appointed cabinet by a show of hands.

Prime Minister Hamza Abdi Barre’s 75-member government was confirmed moments after mortar shells struck residential neighborhoods near the presidential palace in Mogadishu.

” The quorum is 237 MPs, seven MPs refused, one MP abstained while some 229 MPs endorsed the approval the new cabinet ministers, therefore it is approved “, the speaker of the house,  Adan Mohamed Nuur Madobe, said.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack.  ” We have no recorded casualties so far as investigations are ongoing ,” district security official Mohamed Abdifatah said.  Security challenges will remain top of the agenda of the newly appointed cabinet.

The cabinet, which includes a former Al-Shabaab deputy leader and spokesman, Mukhtar Robow, is also known as Abu Mansur. He is sworn in as Religious affairs minister. The now  53-year-old, publicly defected from the Al-Qaeda-linked militants in August 2017.

” I thank Allah. And I am very pleased that MPs unanimously approved my government and its programme to perform, Allah Willing “,  PM Hamza Abdi Barre told.

In addition to the Al-Shabaab insurgents who have been waging a bloody war against the government and the people of Somalia for 15 years, a looming famine will also be one of the new cabinet s priority.

Prior to the Russia-Ukraine conflict, Somalia imported 90% of its wheat from both countries. In Mogadishu, food stocks provided by international donors have been depleting.

Regarding security, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud said ending the violent insurgency required more than a military approach.


Biden Administration Cancels More Than $66B In Student Loan Debt




The U.S. Department of Education has already canceled over $66 billion in education debt despite President Joe Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan’s legal challenges.

Two million-plus borrowers, including those defrauded and those who work in the public sector, have benefited from that relief over the last few years, CNBC News reported.

“I feel like this administration has done more for borrowers in a short period of time than any other, especially for the most vulnerable borrowers such as the disabled and victims of fraud,” said Betsy Mayotte, president of The Institue of Student Loan Advisors said.

Still, supporters of Biden’s plans are concerned with the administration’s plan to resume soon federal student loan payments, which have been suspended since March 2020. Before the Covid-19 pandemic, 1 in 4 student loan borrowers were in default or behind on payments.

Here’s a breakdown of the debt relief already granted — and how to know if you qualify.

One debt relief program already granted it– the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program that allows certain nonprofit and government employees to have their federal student loans canceled after ten years or 120 payments.

The Education Department announced earlier this month that it had approved $42 billion in loan cancellations under the program for more than 615,000 borrowers since October 2021.

Borrowers can see if their employment qualifies by filling out the employer certification form.

The Biden administration has focused on canceling the student debt of borrowers who say their colleges misled them. Over the last few years, around 1 million people have had their debt relieved through the borrower defense loan discharge, totaling $13.3 billion.

A borrower may qualify for this debt relief if their college engaged in misconduct, such as providing false or misleading information about their program or job placement rates.

If a borrower attended one of these colleges and applied for a borrower defense loan discharge on or before June 22, 2022, they should be entitled to automatic relief, even if their application was previously denied.

Eligible borrowers will likely get the cancellation no later than Jan. 28, 2024.

Another 425,000 federal student loan borrowers had their debt forgiven under President Joe Biden’s Total and Permanent Disability Discharge, for a total of $9.1 billion.

The relief provision is for borrowers with a physical or mental disability that makes it difficult or impossible for them to work.

Still, millions of Americans are waiting for the Supreme Court to rule on President Joe Biden’s plan to cancel up to $20,000 in student debt per borrower.

But if a borrower has already received debt cancellation under one of the above programs and has no remaining debt,

the president’s plan won’t affect them.

But in the meantime, dozens of other forgiveness options are available for state and federal loans.

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Tunisia’s President Saied urged to resign after lowest turnout ever




The Tunisian electoral authority announced on Sunday that turnout for Saturday’s parliamentary elections stood at only 8,8%.

Despite the low turnout, the lowest in any poll since the revolution in 2011, the president of the electoral authority described the process as clean due to the lack political financingand vote buying.

“From my point of view the reason is clear. It is a change in the system of polling and the lack of political funding for electoral campaigns. Because for the first time, and we say it taking our responsibilities, for the first time there have been clean elections and a clean electoral campaign, free from political funding that was the reason behind buying votes – let us be clear and frank – so for the first time the Tunisian elections were pure”, said Farouk Bouasker, president of Tunisia’s ISIE electoral commission.

Opposition groups boycotted the election, describing it as part of a “coup” against democracy.

The main opposition alliance called on the president to bring all political forces together for consultations.

“It (electoral commission, Ed.) says the turnout is 8.8%. We say it is an earthquake of 8.8 on the Richter scale. We ask those who run (the country) illegally and without any legitimacy to leave”, demanded National Salvation Front leader, Ahmed Nejib Chebbi.

The election took place almost a year and a half after Saied deployed military vehicles to suspend parliament, following months of political deadlock.

In July, President Saied used a referendum to push through a new constitution virtually stripping parliament of any real power.

Preliminary results are expected Monday.

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US President Joe Biden turns 80 Today: New Generation’ of Democratic Leaders Takes Control in Congress




President Joe Biden will celebrate his 80th birthday on Sunday, marking the first time a sitting president has reached that milestone while in office and fueling speculation about how his advancing age will affect his political future.

Biden — who was the oldest person to assume the presidency in January 2021, just 61 days after his 78th birthday — has said he intends to make another White House bid, even as his age-adjacent peers, including 82-year-old House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, have made the decision to step away from leadership in order to make way for a younger generation.

“My intention is that I will run again. But I’m a great respecter of fate and this is ultimately a family decision. I think everybody wants me to run but we’re going to have discussions about it. And I don’t feel any hurry one way or the other to make that judgment.” he said last week, after helming what many say is the most successful midterm election for a sitting president’s party in decades, though noting that those results would not have an impact on his decision to run again.

PHOTO: President Joe Biden greets guests before speaking at an event at the White House complex, Nov. 18, 2022, in Washington, D.C.

Biden is the oldest person to serve as commander in chief in the nation’s history. Should he seek reelection in 2024 and win, the president would be 86 by the end of his second term. He has said he’ll talk over his future with his wife and the rest of his family over the holidays.

Biden has said he is hoping that he and his wife “get a little time to actually sneak away for a week around between Christmas and Thanksgiving” and that his decision to run for reelection will likely “be early next year we make that judgment.”

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