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Thursday, June 27, 2013

Senate Passes Landmark Immigration Bill

The Senate passed a sweeping immigration reform bill with a bipartisan supermajority Thursday afternoon. The bill strengthens border security measures and gives 11 million undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship. Despite the inclusion of 48 Republican amendments ensuring a series of stricter border security provisions, many Republicans in Congress have announced that they would not support any immigration bill that included a path to citizenship. Speaker John Boehner has made it clear that the House will attempt to draft its own bill instead of voting on the Senate’s. He promised to follow the “Hastert Rule” by refusing to bring the Senate bill to the floor unless it has the support of the majority of Republicans. The likelihood of any bill drafted by House Republicans gaining support from Democrats without an amnesty option is low. Should the House Republicans manage to pass their own bill, it would be a massive undertaking to merge two such dramatically different bills.

Egypt Braces Itself for More Protests

President Mohamed Morsi failed to satisfy his opponents’ demands in his address on Wednesday, raising the prospect of larger clashes between Morsi’s Islamist supporters and their rivals. Days of brawling have already left several dead and hundreds injured, with both camps planning mass rallies over the weekend. On Friday, the Muslim Brotherhood and their allies will rally in Cairo, which opposition groups plan to protest. On Sunday, one year to the day after Morsi was sworn in, opposition groups hope to draw millions of people to demand early elections and Morsi’s resignation.  Egyptians as a whole are frustrated by the persistent economic slump, high fuel prices and high rates of youth unemployment. Morsi’s opponents believe he is to blame for mismanaging and attempting to “Islamicize” the country. The army warned that if the clashes grow out of control, it may take command again.

Europe Reaches Budget Deal

European Union Parliament leaders and member states have reached a deal on the highly-contested European Union’s 2014-2020 budget. It cut real spending for the first time and demonstrated a new approach to the EU’s economy. Taxpayers across Europe have been angered by the austerity budget cuts following the massive taxpayer-funded bank bailouts. The new budget creates a “bail-in” to shield taxpayers from banks’ excesses. It requires banks to tap their shareholders, bondholders and wealthiest customers for cash to bail them out before using any taxpayer money. Additionally, the new deal will speed up spending on youth employment. Throughout the EU, nearly one quarter of people aged 18-25 are unemployed. In some countries, like Spain and Greece, that fraction rises to nearly one half. The Youth Guarantee plan would offer young people a quality apprenticeship or job in the first four months after becoming unemployed or leaving formal education.

Police Arrest Chilean Students

Early Thursday morning, Chilean police evicted student protesters from 21 Santiago high schools that will be used as polling stations this weekend. The students’ occupation of their high schools is part of a 2-year campaign calling for education reforms. Over 100,000 students, mostly aged 14-17, joined the demonstrations yesterday, demanding free and improved education in their economically stratified country before occupying the high schools. News footage showed security forces bursting into schools barricaded with chairs and isolated clashes with students; 122 were arrested.  The evictions followed violence that disrupted the otherwise peaceful demonstrations yesterday when masked youths began throwing stones and Molotov cocktails at security forces, who returned fire with tear gas and water cannons.


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