Student loans totaling $108B may be forgiven

WASHINGTON — The federal government is expected to forgive at least $108 billion in student loan debt as part of popular plans that tie repayment to borrowers’ earnings, congressional investigators said Wednesday.

The Government Accountability Office reviewed income-driven repayment plans the government offers to students struggling to pay back federal student loans. The report, which was highly critical of the Education Department’s budget estimates for the programs, said $29 billion more will be discharged due to death or disability. About 5.3 million borrowers carrying some $355 billion in loans are part of the repayment plans.

The report said the department generally agreed with the GAO’s recommendations and that it’s taking steps to improve its budget estimates.


Trooper killed on job

recalled as gentle giant

OGDEN — A Utah state trooper killed when he was accidentally struck by a car while on duty was a gentle giant and second-generation lawman dedicated to his work, friends and family said at his funeral Wednesday.

Eric Ellsworth, 32, was a jokester who liked to sneak up on his co-workers and startle them, but never wanted to appear to be slacking on the job, supervisor Sgt. Shane Nebeker said.

“It would drive him nuts to think there was someone working more than him,” he said, The Salt Lake Tribune reported. Ellsworth once apologized to his boss after a dashboard camera recorded him swearing, Nebeker said.


Officer ruled justified

in killing of black man

CHARLOTTE — A prosecutor on Wednesday cleared a Charlotte police officer in the killing of a black man whose death touched off civil unrest, and he presented detailed evidence to rebut assertions that the slain man was unarmed.

Officer Brentley Vinson was justified in opening fire on Keith Scott and won’t face charges, Charlotte-Mecklenburg District Attorney Andrew Murray said. Scott, 43, was killed Sept. 20 in the parking lot of an apartment complex.

In a 40-minute news presentation to news reporters, Murray produced evidence that Keith Scott was armed with a handgun and the officer who killed him feared Scott would shoot. The announcement “profoundly disappointed” Scott’s family, but they haven’t decided whether to file a lawsuit, their lawyer said.


Chess championship is Norwegian’s third

NEW YORK — Two-time world chess champion Magnus Carlsen won his third title on Wednesday, defeating Russian challenger Sergey Karjakin after three weeks of grueling play in the World Chess Championship

Fans greeted the Norwegian with a “happy birthday” chorus and huge cheers after his victory. He turned 26 on the same day he beat the Russian, winning two of four tie-breaking “rapid games.”

The grandmasters started Wednesday’s chessboard battle with a 6-6 tie after 12 games. They will share a prize of $1.1 million, the winner getting 60 percent. Organizers say about 6 million people around the world followed the series of quick tie-breaking games — similar to sudden death play in football.


More mosques get hate-filled letters

LOS ANGELES — Several more mosques nationwide have reported receiving a hate-filled letter from California that warns Muslims to leave the country or face genocide.

The identical letters postmarked from the Los Angeles area have now shown up at mosques throughout California and in Ohio, Michigan, Rhode Island, Indiana, Colorado and Georgia.

Los Angeles police have been investigating the letters addressed to “the children of Satan” as a hate incident, but not a crime because it does not contain a specific threat.

Asylum not automatic

for ex-gang members

SAN FRANCISCO — A federal appeals court says immigrants in the United States illegally are not automatically eligible for asylum on the basis that they are former gang members who risk persecution if they return home.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday upheld federal immigration standards that exclude former gang members from social groups that can clearly qualify for protection.

Immigration experts say the ruling could affect thousands of immigrants who are fleeing gang-related violence in Central America.

Wire reports