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No child left behind program left behind by House Republicans

House Republicans voted Friday to dismantle the troubled No Child Left Behind law for evaluating America’s students and schools, saying states and local school districts rather than Washington should be setting rules for ensuring that kids are getting good educations. The legislation would eliminate federally required testing of students, which has been controversial from the start. But the measure passed with no Democratic support and drew a veto threat from the Obama administration, which said it would be a “step backward” in efforts to better prepare children for colleges and careers and to bring improvements to low-performing schools. Democrats in
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Obama gets personal about Trayvon Martin case

President Barack Obama kept his own counsel after the six women deciding whether George Zimmerman deserved prison time for the shooting death of Trayvon Martin delivered their verdict, releasing just a written statement appealing for calm the day after the ex-neighborhood watchman had been cleared of all charges. But the president was quietly keeping tabs on the country’s response to the outcome of the racially charged trial, particularly in the black community. He discussed it with his family. He was ready to address it during a series of interviews with Spanish-language TV stations earlier in the week, if asked. He
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NSA puts new anti-leak measures into place

The National Security Agency is implementing new security measures because of the disclosures by former NSA-systems-analyst-turned-fugitive Edward Snowden, top defense officials said Thursday. NSA chief Keith Alexander said his agency had implemented a “two-man rule,” under which any system administrator like Snowden could only access or move key information with another administrator present. With some 15,000 sites to fix, Alexander said, it would take time to spread across the whole agency. “Some of your sites are small … and you only have one system administrator, so you’ve got to address all of those, and we are working our way through
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Skepticism, concern from citizens in bankrupt Detroit

Some Detroit residents voiced skepticism on Thursday that the former U.S. manufacturing powerhouse would emerge in better shape from its historic bankruptcy filing designed to fix the city’s financial crisis. Hours after learning Detroit filed the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history, residents spoke of the stark realities that come with living in a financially broken city. “It was like putting a thumb in a dam,” said Jodie Holmes, 55, as he leaned against an abandoned restaurant marked with graffiti, waiting for a bus to take him to his temporary job. “I don’t know if bankruptcy will help us or
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IRS watchdog taking a harder look at targeting of political groups

The Internal Revenue Service‘s inspector general said on Thursday he is expanding his probe of IRS treatment of political groups that applied for tax-exempt status to see if liberal groups were treated the same way as conservative ones. Under attack from Democrats over his earlier inquiries, IRS watchdog Russell George said there is new evidence to study in the nine-week-old controversy about the IRS’s handling of tax-exempt applications from “Tea Party” and other groups. Left out of a May 14 report that George authored on the matter, the new evidence suggests that the IRS used not only conservative-sounding key words
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Pushing for immigration reform on Capitol Hill

Backers of comprehensive immigration legislation are gearing up for a campaign to push the House to act, even as some begin openly voicing fears they’re already losing the fight. Congress’ monthlong August recess could be crucial and supporters aim to exert influence in dozens of congressional districts home to Republican House members seen as open to reform. Business and religious groups and others with ties to the GOP majority are under pressure to win over lawmakers through tailor-made campaigns from within their districts, involving ministers, local executives and other contacts. Immigration activists, labor leaders and others on the left are
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Those spying on Americans find hostility on Capitol Hill

At a House Intelligence Committee hearing just a month ago on highly controversial National Security Agency surveillance issues, administration officials were well treated by both Republicans and Democrats. Wednesday’s return trip to Capitol Hill was decidedly different. For James Cole, John Inglis and Robert Litt, the latest session with Congress was a lesson in the dangers of using the same comments twice before highly different audiences. What worked in the House Intelligence Committee wasn’t working Wednesday before the House Judiciary Committee. “We are constantly seeking to achieve the right balance between the protection of national security and the protection of
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New Senate compromise on restoring lower college loan rates

Senators are ready to offer students a better deal on their college loans this fall, but future classes could see higher interest rates. The Senate could vote as early as Thursday on a bipartisan compromise that heads off a costly increase for returning students. The compromise could be a good deal for students through the 2015 academic year, but then interest rates are expected to climb above where they were when students left campus this spring. Under the deal, all undergraduates this fall would borrow at 3.85 percent interest rates. Graduate students would have access to loans at 5.4 percent
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So, what will the future economy be? Who knows?

Politicians and economists are straining to get a clearer view of what the economy will look like a year from now, when midterm political campaigns are heating up. Republicans see the glass as half-empty; Democrats view it as half-full. And the economists aren’t sure. “Our economy is recovering at the slowest rate since World War II,” House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, lamented to a group of manufacturers. “Quarter after quarter, the growth numbers barely move, unemployment stays about the same.” Democrats beg to differ. “There are a lot of reasons for us to feel optimistic about where we’re headed as
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IRS officials who targeted tea party will face wrath on Capitol Hill

Internal Revenue Service officials who took part in added scrutiny of conservative groups seeking tax exemptions will testify publicly for the first time on Thursday before U.S. lawmakers, in an affair that has become increasingly partisan. The hearing comes two months into the controversy, set off in May when an inspector general’s report said the IRS inappropriately targeted Tea Party and other conservative groups for added review of their applications for tax exemptions. Republicans say the IRS actions were influenced by political officials in Washington. Democratic and Republican congressional investigators for the House of Representatives’ Oversight and Government Reform Committee
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