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Senators Reach Deal on Student Loan Interest Rates

According to an aide connected to the Democratic Party, bipartisan senators reached a deal Wednesday that would offer undergraduate students a lower interest rate of 3.85 percent on student loans, up until the year 2015. Revealing this information to USA Today prior to the official vote, sources confirmed that both parties are working towards lowering students costs. USA Today reports:

The bipartisan agreement is likely to be the final in a string of efforts that have emerged from near constant work to undo a rate hike that took hold for subsidized Stafford loans on July 1. Rates for new subsidized Stafford loans doubled from 3.4% to 6.8%, adding roughly $2,600 to students' education costs.

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Obama Pushes for Path to Citizenship in Immigration Bill

President Barack Obama pushed back immigration reform on Tuesday indicating the bill will likely be passed in the fall. Expressing his opinion to Telemundo’s Denver affiliate, Obama supports the notion that all illegal immigrants be granted citizenship following an agreement upon GOP leaders. The Washington Post reports:

The president said that denying undocumented immigrants the chance to become citizens would leave them “permanently resigned to a lower status. That’s not who we are as Americans.”

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Since Aurora, a Steady Stream of Mass Killings

Following the movie theatre massacre in 2012 that killed 12 people, 126 others have died due to similar events involving mass killings. USA Today reports such tragedies are more “typical” than people think reporting that approximately every two weeks since 2006, a mass killing has occurred somewhere in the United States. USA Today reports:

A USA TODAY database of these shootings over the past seven years shows that what Americans experienced over the past calendar year is sadly typical. There have been 14 such incidents since Jan. 1 of this year, while 2012 actually had a low for the reporting period: 22 mass killings. The high was 37 in 2006, the first year of the examination. (The FBI defines mass killings as murders that occur in a short time span and in which four or more people are killed.)

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+Leave a Comment | Peace & Nonviolence

Senate Reaches Tentative Deal to Avert Filibuster Showdown

Following Monday’s three hour closed-door caucus, members of the Senate have begun the confirmation process of President Barack Obama’s executive branch nominees, avoiding what the Washington Post calls a "constitutional showdown.” The Washington Post reports:

Senate negotiators met until about midnight searching for a deal that would avert a showdown on the Senate floor. Rank-and-file senators came out of the meeting late Monday reporting progress on the confirmation prospects of Obama’s selections to head low-profile but influential agencies.

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+Leave a Comment | Faith & Politics

Climate Change Report: Weather, Rising Seas Imperil Power Plants

In a report obtained by the Los Angeles Times, the Energy Department said Thursday that power plants are at risk of being shut down due to the effects of climate change. With the rise of temperatures and sea levels and decreased water resources, the Energy Department advises officials to become more environmentally aware of their natural disaster plans as their ideas could permanently affect the future of Earth's climate. The Los Angeles Times reports:

The report calls on federal, state and local governments to more urgently prepare crucial infrastructure - particularly coal, natural gas and nuclear plants - for the compounded risks posed by floods, storms, wildfires and droughts.

"All of our science goes in one direction: The damages are going to get worse,” Assistant Energy Secretary Jonathan Pershing said. “It will take dozens of actors from government and private sectors planning what to do and how to make it cost-effective.”

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+Leave a Comment | Creation Care

Hunger Games, U.S.A

The number of those who’ve benefitted from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) has increased nearly seven percent from 8.7 in 2007 to 15.2 in its most recent study. Despite the economic challenges America has faced over the past several years, the Houses’ decision to do away with food stamps has not only caused controversy between the House and the Senate but has caused controversy between the government and the American people. The New York Times reports: 

Something terrible has happened to the soul of the Republican Party. We’ve gone beyond bad economic doctrine. We’ve even gone beyond selfishness and special interests. At this point we’re talking about a state of mind that takes positive glee in inflicting further suffering on the already miserable.

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+Leave a Comment | Economic Justice

Farm Bill Passes House, Without Food Stamp Funding

For the first time in 50 years, the House of Representatives cut mention of food stamps in the Farm Bill, which passed the House yesterday. The Supplemental Nutrion Assistance Program has historically made up nearly 80 percent of funding in such bills. Following the 216-to-208 vote, the House's decision to go through with the ruling has both parties defensive on this issue. The Washington Post reports:

"The vote made clear that Republicans intend to make significant reductions in food stamp money and handed Republican leaders a much-needed victory three weeks after conservative lawmakers and rural state Democrats revolted and blocked the original version of the bill that included food stamp money."

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+Leave a Comment | Economic Justice

Napolitano to Resign DHS Seat, Head to University of California

After serving four years as Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary, Janet Napolitano is set to resign on Friday. The Los Angeles Times reports Napolitano will become president of the University Of California system.  

“While some may consider her to be an unconventional choice, Secretary Napolitano is without a doubt the right person at the right time to lead this incredible university," Sherry Lansing, the regent and former film industry executive who headed the search committee, said in a statement being released Friday. "She will bring fresh eyes and a new sensibility -- not only to UC, but to all of California. She will stand as a vigorous advocate for faculty, students and staff at a time when great changes in our state, and across the globe, are presenting as many opportunities as challenges.”

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+Leave a Comment | Faith & Politics

Drone Carrier Landing: Navy Successfully Completes Unmanned Carrier Landing

The Navy did what some may consider "the unthinkable" and landed a jet size drone off the coast of Virginia yesterday. Following the drones successful landing, the Navy now has the opportunity to launch aircrafts from undisclosed areas throughout other countries. Christian Science Monitor reports:

The landing of the X-47B experimental aircraft means the Navy can move forward with its plans to develop another unmanned aircraft that will join the fleet alongside traditional airplanes to provide around-the-clock surveillance while also possessing a strike capability. It also would pave the way for the U.S.to launch unmanned aircraft without the need to obtain permission from other countries to use their bases.

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+Leave a Comment | Peace & Nonviolence

Sidelined Obama Faces Impossible Task on Immigration

In the next few weeks President Barack Obama is expected to visit key states throughout the U.S. Making it his mission to explain the economic values immigrants would have on the U.S. if in fact the bill were to pass, democratic officials believe Obama will use his time to highlight financial gains that would come from the passing of immigration reform.TIME reports:

It is, allies concede, a telling sign that the bill’s fortunes are foundering in the fractious Republican-controlled House — and a symbol of Obama’s vanishing clout just six months into his second term. Democratic officials expect that over the coming weeks Obama will travel across the U.S., likely to strategically important states like Nevada, North Carolina and Texas, to highlight the economic benefits of the law. Obama summoned Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer and Republican Senator John McCain to the White House on Thursday to discuss ways to advance the bill in the House. The West Wing is waiting on House Republicans to choose a path on immigration reform before finalizing its strategy, but aides plan a markedly different role for the President over the coming months.

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+Leave a Comment | Immigration