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In a rare Congressional compromise, student loan bill hits Obama’s desk

At a time when compromise appeared impossible in a gridlocked Congress, a bipartisan deal on the student loan program somehow emerged from Capitol Hill and is set for signing Friday by President Barack Obama. The compromise, which will save college students who borrow money for get an education thousands of dollars in interest charges, on Obama desks a signing deal. The legislation emerged from an often gridlocked Congress just before the August recess and will result in lower interest rates for some 11 million students  just before they start in Congress this fall. Rates on new subsidized Stafford loans doubled
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Ryan, Cantor appear secretly at Koch gathering in New Mexico

Charles and David Koch, the ultra conservative energy brothers who already control the Republican Party and want to control the nation as well, brought in the usual suspects to deliver the standard right-wing lines to their following of rich conservatives who gathered covertly just outside Albuquerque, New Mexico last weekend. Among those who spoke and laid out plans for the upcoming mid-term elections next year and the Presidential contest in 2016 were tea party puppets like House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia and failed vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan of Wisconsin. What details did they provide to the right-wing
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Pentagon revising same sex benefits

The Pentagon is poised to extend health care, housing and other benefits to the same-sex spouses of military members by the end of August, but may reverse earlier plans to provide benefits to gay partners who are not married. According to a draft Defense Department memo obtained Wednesday by The Associated Press, the department instead may provide up to 10 days of leave to military personnel in same-sex relationships so they can travel to states where they can marry legally. While no final decisions have been made, the memo from Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to top defense leaders would reverse
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IRS manual revealed how to doctor facts

Details of a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration program that feeds tips to federal agents and then instructs them to alter the investigative trail were published in a manual used by agents of the Internal Revenue Service for two years. The practice of recreating the investigative trail, highly criticized by former prosecutors and defense lawyers after Reuters reported it this week, is now under review by the Justice Department. Two high-profile Republicans have also raised questions about the procedure. A 350-word entry in the Internal Revenue Manual instructed agents of the U.S. tax agency to omit any reference to tips supplied
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Al-Qaida remains a major terrorist threat to America

Far from being on the brink of collapse, al-Qaida‘s core leadership remains a potent threat — and one that experts say has encouraged the terror network’s spread into more countries today than it was operating in immediately after 9/11. President Barack Obama, who ordered the May 2011 raid that killed Osama bin Laden, has described al-Qaida’s headquarters as “a shadow of its former self” and his spokesman Jay Carney has called it “severely diminished” and “decimated.” The bravado, however, didn’t match the Obama administration’s action this week. Nineteen U.S. diplomatic outposts stretching across the Eastern Hemisphere remain closed, and nonessential
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Fannie, Freddie shutdown?

Homebuyers could feel the pinch if Congress follows through on plans to shut down Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government-controlled mortgage guarantee giants that were rescued by a $187 billion taxpayer bailout during the financial crisis. Borrowers would probably end up paying slightly higher mortgage rates under House and Senate bills that would phase out Fannie and Freddie over five years and shrink the government’s huge role in guaranteeing mortgage securities. Fannie and Freddie teetered under a crush of massive losses on risky mortgages before being bailed out. The House Republican bill would virtually privatize the mortgage market. The
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Criminal charges filed in Benghazi attack

The Justice Department has filed the first criminal charges in the deadly attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, two U.S. officials said Tuesday. The officials confirmed that a sealed complaint was filed in U.S. District Court in Washington against an unspecified number of individuals in the September 2012 attack that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. One official said those charged included Ahmed Abu Khattala, the head of a Libyan militia. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss a sealed filing. The New York Times reported late Tuesday
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Pentagon cuts unpaid leave

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced on Tuesday he was slashing the amount of unpaid leave that 650,000 civilian employees were ordered take this year to six days from 11 in an effort to limit the pain from across-the-board budget cuts. The decision means most civilian defense employees, who saw their pay effectively cut by 20 percent, will complete their furloughs next week. Teachers and school staff who were due to take five days of unpaid leave at the start of the school year in late August will not be furloughed, defense officials said. Hagel ordered the unpaid leave on May
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More tax revenue, less need for budget cuts

Rising tax receipts are shrinking the federal deficit, and that will shape the budget debate when Congress returns from vacation next month. The big question for lawmakers: Should they renew, end or modify the tens of billions of dollars in “sequester” cuts in government spending that took effect earlier this year? Tax revenue through June was up 14 percent from a year earlier, and that trend is expected to continue. New figures for July are due out next week, and for August on Sept. 12. That’s just three days after lawmakers return to face threats by some conservatives of a
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Peter King for President? Apparently, he thinks so

Longtime New York Republican Congressman Peter King thinks he might be Presidential material — a consideration that most GOP political operatives think laughable. “Here we go again, the beginning another round of ego-driven fantasies who think they have what it takes to get into the Oval Office,” GOP strategist Alan Mumford tells Capitol Hill Blue.  “Peter King? Get serious.” King says he is considering a Presidential run with the goal of stopping what he calls is a “dangerous shift” of the GOP towards an isolationist foreign policy. “We have to go back to being the party of national defense,” King
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