CAIRO – President-elect Mohammed Morsi roused the masses in Tahrir Square on Friday, vowing to fight on behalf of the people and defying the ruling generals by reading a symbolic oath of office a day early at the site where Egypt’s revolution was born.
Everybody is hearing me now. The government the military and the police. No power above this power, he told the mostly Islamist supporters packing the square. I reaffirm to you I will not give up any of the president’s authorities. I can’t afford to do this. I don’t have that right.
The country’s ruling generals took over major presidential powers and disbanded the Islamist-controlled parliament in the days before the election results were released.
The country’s first Islamist president also vowed to seek the release of blind sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman, jailed in the U.S. for plotting to blow up New York City landmarks.
Congress passes student loans bill
Congress emphatically approved legislation Friday avoiding interest rate increases on new loans to millions of college students and preserving jobs on transportation projects from coast to coast.
The move gives lawmakers campaign-season bragging rights on what may be their biggest economic achievement before the November elections.
The bill enables just over $100 billion to be spent on highway, mass transit and other transportation programs over the next two years, projects that would have expired today.
Under the bill, interest rates of 3.4 percent for subsidized Stafford loans for undergraduates will continue for another year, instead of doubling for new loans beginning in July.
4 suspended in bus monitor bullying
Four seventh-grade boys from upstate New York who were caught on video mercilessly taunting a 68-year-old bus monitor have received their punishment.
The school system in Greece, near Rochester, says it will suspend the middle school students from school and from using regular bus transportation for a year for bullying Karen Klein.
In a statement, the school system said each of the students involved admitted to wrongdoing, accepted the consequences and agreed to let the district release the terms of their discipline.
Holder won’t be prosecuted
The Justice Department declared Friday that Attorney General Eric Holder’s decision to withhold information about a bungled gun-tracking operation from Congress does not constitute a crime and he won’t be prosecuted for contempt of Congress.
Deputy Attorney General James Cole said the decision is in line with long-standing Justice Department practice across administrations of both political parties.
No plan on Syria as Geneva talks start
The United States and Russia failed on Friday to bridge differences over a plan to ease Syrian President Bashar Assad out of power, end violence and create a new government. That set the stage for the potential collapse of a key multinational conference today in Geneva that was to have endorsed the proposal.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met one-on-one for about an hour Friday night in St. Petersburg, Russia.