Lowering student loan rates...Zimbabwe vote fraud charges...High court deliberates Berlusconi fate

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Associated Press

Posted on August 1, 2013 at 12:00 PM

Updated Thursday, Aug 1 at 12:00 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) — A bill that would lower interest rates on student loans is awaiting President Barack Obama's signature. The House yesterday gave final approval to the legislation, which also links rates to the financial markets. Undergraduates this fall would borrow at a 3.9 percent interest rate for Stafford loans, while graduate students would have access to loans at 5.4 percent, and parents would borrow at 6.4 percent. The rates would be locked in for that year's loan, but each year's loan could be more expensive.

CLEVELAND (AP) — Ariel Castro learns his sentence today after pleading guilty to 937 counts, including kidnapping, rape, assault and aggravated murder for holding three women captive in a run-down Cleveland home for a decade. The prosecutor says one captive's diaries document the horrific physical and sexual abuse that Castro subjected the women to on a daily basis. Castro could get as much as life in prison plus 1,000 years.

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Afghan officials say a NATO helicopter mistakenly killed four Afghan troops in the country's east last night. NATO says the incident is under investigation. Meanwhile, a Taliban ambush has left an official and three other people dead in the country's south. And a roadside mine exploded in the northwest today, killing two policemen and a prosecutor, and wounding seven people.

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) — The main challenger to Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe (moo-GAH'-bay) is alleging that yesterday's vote was heavily manipulated. Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai (CHAN'-gehr-eye) says the election did not meet regional or African standards, and he's declaring it "null and void." Mugabe has denied allegations of vote-rigging. But, a poll monitoring group not affiliated with the state says there was a campaign to stop voters from casting ballots.

ROME (AP) — Italy's highest court deliberates Silvio Berlusconi's appeal of a tax fraud conviction that earned him a four-year jail sentence and a five-year ban on political office. The five-judge panel heard two days of arguments by prosecutors and Berlusconi's defense. The court's decision could threaten the stability of Italy's fragile coalition government, which depends on cross-party support to approve reforms intended to help lift the country out of recession.

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