The new British Prime Minister Theresa May announced six members of her cabinet today.

Amid a sweeping crackdown on dissent in Egypt, security forces have forcibly disappeared hundreds of people since the beginning of 2015, according to a new report from Amnesty International.

It's an "unprecedented spike," the group says, with an average of three or four people disappeared every day.

The Republican Party, as it prepares for its convention next week has checked off item No. 1 on its housekeeping list — drafting a party platform. The document reflects the conservative views of its authors, many of whom are party activists. So don't look for any concessions to changing views among the broader public on key social issues.

Many public figures who took to Twitter and Facebook following the murder of five police officers in Dallas have faced public blowback and, in some cases, found their employers less than forgiving about inflammatory and sometimes hateful online comments.

As Venezuela unravels — with shortages of food and medicine, as well as runaway inflation — President Nicolas Maduro is increasingly unpopular. But he's still holding onto power.

"The truth in Venezuela is there is real hunger. We are hungry," says a man who has invited me into his house in the northwestern city of Maracaibo, but doesn't want his name used for fear of reprisals by the government.

The wiry man paces angrily as he speaks. It wasn't always this way, he says, showing how loose his pants are now.

Ask a typical teenage girl about the latest slang and girl crushes and you might get answers like "spilling the tea" and Taylor Swift. But at the Girl Up Leadership Summit in Washington, D.C., the answers were "intersectional feminism" — the idea that there's no one-size-fits-all definition of feminism — and U.N. climate chief Christiana Figueres.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit


Lawmakers Work To Finish Deal On Student Loan Rates

Jul 18, 2013
Originally published on May 8, 2014 11:46 am



College students across the country, you can now exhale. Today, a bipartisan group of senators announced a deal to stabilize rates on federal student loans. Two weeks ago, the rates for undergraduates doubled to 6.8 percent. Lawmakers have been working to avert the hike, but they couldn't agree on the basics until now, as NPR's Cory Turner explains.

CORY TURNER, BYLINE: Let's get the bad news out of the way first. Undergrads, you know that sweet rate you had up until July 1st, 3.4 percent? Well, sorry, but those days are over. Here's the good news, courtesy of Republican Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee.

SEN. ANDREW LAMAR ALEXANDER JR.: There are 11 million students headed for college who are borrowing money from the federal government. They're thinking about how to pay the bill, and for every one of them, the interest rates on their loans will be lower.

TURNER: Lower, at least from what they've been these past two weeks. How low? Well, new rates will be pegged to the 10-year Treasury note. That means for undergrads, the interest rate on loans taken out this year would be 3.86 percent. That's more than the old 3.4 percent, but it's not bad. And Republican Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina, he wanted to make this clear at today's announcement too: Subsidized or unsubsidized, your rate's the same.

SEN. RICHARD BURR: In other words, we're not asking some students to pay a surcharge to borrow under the student loan program so that they can subsidize others.

TURNER: As for graduate students this year, you're looking at just over 5.4 percent interest and Plus loans just over 6.4 percent. Now, as that 10-year Treasury rate goes up, so will the rates on new student loans. But Iowa Democrat Tom Harkin made clear lawmakers included a traditional safeguard.

SEN. THOMAS RICHARD HARKIN: And we put a cap, and a cap on the front end has always been a feature of the student loan program since its inception in 1958.

TURNER: Critics of today's deal say those caps are way too high: 8.25 percent for undergrads, 9.5 percent for grad students and 10.5 percent for Plus loans. The deal isn't entirely done either. It's Congress, after all, and the House has cobbled together its own version of a compromise. But there's not that much daylight between the two, and both sides expect something in place by the time students start taking out loans for the new school year.

This bipartisan bargain comes just one day after the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau released a pretty mind-boggling number. Total student debt, by the CFPB's latest estimates, is now close to $1.2 trillion. And the problem isn't just interest rates on federal student loans. It's the cost of an education.

At today's announcement, Maine's independent senator, Angus King, recalled a conversation he had years ago with a financial aid officer, who said for 50 years, the price of one year at a good private college roughly tracked with the price of a new Ford.

SEN. ANGUS STANLEY KING JR.: The last time I looked, a new Ford today, you can get a pretty good one for about $18,000, and you're talking almost $60,000 at a private college.

TURNER: So today's deal is a big deal, at least considering the alternative. But it will take a lot more than one compromise to ease the debt burden already weighing down the nation's new grads. Cory Turner, NPR News, Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.