Monday Morning Quarterbacking

Lenders drop out first, students drop out later

Millions of students rely on private loans to help pay for college. But with credit markets currently rife with uncertainty, many of them may be unable to borrow this year. An estimated 7.6 million students are expected to borrow $93.5 billion from the federal government’s guaranteed student-loan program this year, according to The Wall Street Journal. Those millions of individual loans are usually bundled and sold to investors, but after being burned by similar bundled-loan purchases in the housing market, many lenders are no longer interested and have dropped out of the program altogether. That’s a big problem for Arizona students, whose $4.1 billion in federal loans makes the state the fourth-largest borrower by volume. The U.S. Department of Education sent out instructions last week on establishing a “”lender-of-last-resort”” program to rescue the student loan market in case of a credit crunch later this year, but the plan is still vague. They ought to draft a concrete plan as soon as they can – student loans are an investment too important to allow to fail.


Raul Castro makes mobile phone use easy

When Raul Castro succeeded his brother Fidel in February as president of Cuba, most of the world believed the change in power would be nothing more than an old guy with a mustache replacing an old guy with a beard. But the new Castro is doing more than merely continuing the policy of his brother – he’s making some serious reforms that could make long-suffering Cubans both more free and more wealthy. On Friday, Castro quietly lifted a ban on personal ownership of mobile phones, which were previously available only to foreigners and government officials. The ban was long a porous one: Thousands of Cubans used mobile phones acquired on the black market or by bribing government officials. But the lifted limits eliminate a much-hated prohibition, and bode well for future personal freedom in Cuba. Although the state may still pervade everyday life, mobile phones have proven to be resilient devices throughout the developing world. In Burma and China, protesters regularly organize via text message. In many parts of Africa, mobile phones are used for banking and browsing – not just making calls. With luck, Cuba may be the next site of a mobile phone revolution.


Protesters shed light on crisis in Tibet

As the Olympic torch was passed from Greek to Chinese officials yesterday, angry protesters disrupted a ceremony in Athens to protest the Chinese government’s treatment of Tibetans, and the supporters of Falun Gong, a Buddhist spiritual movement repressed in China. Given China’s restrictive practices regarding press in the interior of Tibet, the extent of the violence and oppression that Tibetans are subject to remains unknown. Ten of the 15 demonstrators were detained without incident and taken to the police headquarters in Greece. Given the amount of attention the Olympic Games will receive worldwide, it’s worth it to open a dialogue about human rights issues in areas of the globe that are frequently ignored by the Western world. Amid the preoccupation in the Middle East, and even the situation in Darfur, the protesters brought another human rights issue onto the world stage. The focus on China due to the Olympics ought to encourage the public to turn their eyes eastward, and become more aware of inequality and oppression around the world.