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Sunday, June 2, 2013

Daily Political Wire

George Wenschhof

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Obama Urges Congress to Extend Student Loans Rates - With student loan rates set to double in a month, President Barack Obama on Friday urged Congress to extend the current rates, a demand which Republicans rejected as needlessly partisan.

The president called on Congress to follow his approach and extend the low, 3.4 percent federally-subsidized student loan rate past the end of June, after which those rates would automatically double to 6.8 percent.

"If Congress doesn't act by July 1, federal student loan rates are set to double. It's like a $1,000 tax hike," the president said on Friday at the White House, where he was surrounded by college students. NBC News Has more here.


Anti-Government Prorestors Swarm Istanbul Square - In a scene reminiscent of the Arab Spring, thousands of people on Saturday flooded Istanbul’s main square after a crackdown on an anti-government protest turned city streets into a battlefield clouded by tear gas.
Though he offered some concessions to demonstrators, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan remained largely defiant in the face of the biggest popular challenge to his power in a decade in office, insisting the protests are undemocratic and illegitimate.  The Washington Post has more here.


Iran Nuclear Reactor Construction Watch Continues - Iran aims to start a reactor next year which the West fears could arm an atomic bomb; Israel, which has bombed such construction sites around the Middle East before, may try to stop the plant being completed.

The timetable for the planned start-up of the Arak heavy-water research plant is closely watched: Israeli and Western experts say any attacker would probably prefer to act before it becomes operational - to avoid generating radioactive fallout. has more here.


Court Rules Egypt Legislature Elected Illegally - Egypt's highest court ruled on Sunday that the nation's Islamist-dominated legislature and constitutional panel were illegally elected, dealing a serious blow to the legal basis of the Islamists' hold on power.
The ruling by the Supreme Constitutional Court says that the legislature's upper house, the only one currently sitting, would not be dissolved until the parliament's lower chamber is elected later this year or early in 2014. The constitutional panel has already dissolved after completing the charter.

But the ruling nonetheless deepens the political instability that has gripped the country since the overthrow of authoritarian leader Hosni Mubarak two years ago.  The Huffington Post has more here.


American Health Care Costs Highest - In many other developed countries, a basic colonoscopy costs just a few hundred dollars and certainly well under $1,000. That chasm in price helps explain why the United States is far and away the world leader in medical spending, even though numerous studies have concluded that Americans do not get better care.
Whether directly from their wallets or through insurance policies, Americans pay more for almost every interaction with the medical system. They are typically prescribed more expensive procedures and tests than people in other countries, no matter if those nations operate a private or national health system. A list of drug, scan and procedure prices compiled by the International Federation of Health Plans, a global network of health insurers, found that the United States came out the most costly in all 21 categories — and often by a huge margin. The NY Times has more here.
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