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Outside the Circle News

Job Bipartisan — Bill Statement from Press Secretary

“We are pleased that Congress has finally passed a bipartisan bill to stop student loan interest rates from doubling and put Americans to work rebuilding our nation’s roads and bridges,” said the White House Press Secretary in a statement on June 29.

The Press Secretary also noted that, thanks to President Obama’s constant attention, millions of American students will be saved from a $1000 debt hike.

Simultaneously, millions of construction workers will also be able to keep their jobs. This bipartisan bill is only part of Obama’s American Jobs Act, which aims to create millions of jobs for our nation.

In Cleveland, the Obama administration focuses on advancing energy efficiency efforts and improving access to low-cost financing for such projects.

Recently, President Obama’s Better Buildings Challenge began in 36 states, local governments, and school districts on June 26. With these new additions, the Better Buildings Challenge expands to almost 300 million square feet of America. All of these areas will be given energy upgrades, which will create jobs for millions on Americans.

The Better Buildings Challenge is part of an initiative that President Obama began in February 2011. Over the next decade, the initiative, headed by former President Clinton, has a goal of making America’s buildings 20 percent more efficient, by reducing energy costs by almost $40 billion.

Steven Chu, Energy Secretary, commented, “Making our public buildings and school more energy efficient is one of the easiest ways to save taxpayer dollars. Our new partners joining the Better Buildings Challenge today are paving the way to long-term benefits in their communities.”

“These projects will reduce energy costs for local governments, support jobs across a range of industries, and help build an American economy that lasts,” he continued.

In addition to the Better Buildings Challenge, the Department of Treasury and Internal Revenue Service also announced that a new public tax guidance would be issued, allowing local and state governments to fund renewable energy and energy efficiency projects through access to over two million dollars of low-cost financing by way of Qualified Energy Conservation Bonds, or QECBs.


Ohio comes together to Form a New Teacher Plan

Frank Jackson, the mayor of Cleveland, John Kasich, the governor of Ohio, and the Cleveland teachers union have come together to form a new plan regarding how to move new, qualified Cleveland teachers into the school system. This new plan was signed into law last month and will decide teacher’s income partially based on student test scores.

According to the Wall Street Journal, teacher layoffs will be partially based on performance as opposed to seniority, and they can be fired if they produce two or more years of poor student scores.

Other struggling cities, such as Chicago, Philadelphia, and Detroit, have recently had issues discussing change in the teaching system. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Governor Kasich said, “When adults fight, children get lost in the shuffle. In this case, everybody got together and demanded that children be placed first.”

In addition to the changes in hiring and firing of teachers, the Cleveland district will become the only district in Ohio that shares tax dollars with charter schools. This will allow school districts to have a voice when decisions are made regarding those who will run the charter schools.


Cleveland Mayor Works to Continue School Rebuild

Frank Jackson, the mayor of Cleveland, wrote a letter to the community leaders of Cleveland this summer, detailing his continued plans to rebuild and restructure the Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD).

House Bill 525 and Senate Bill 335 are the building blocks to the Cleveland Plan, in which the goal is to increase the quality of teaching, decrease the amount of failing schools, and spend money on programs that will directly impact student learning.

After consideration and professional input, Jackson proposed a $15 million, four-year levy on the ballot in November. According to the letter, this levy will cost the owner of a $50,000 property $4.42 per week.

In his letter, Jackson wrote, “I am confident the schools are dramatically changing the way they operate and systematically moving in the right direction, improving graduation rates and eliminating conditions that produce failure.” Jackson later acknowledged that the levy was an added cost, but he also said that it was a cost that was necessary to change the schools.

In this letter, Jackson wrote, “I am confident the schools are dramatically changing the way they operate and systematically moving in the right direction, improving graduation rates and eliminating conditions that produce failure.”


Fires Engulf Colorado

June and July brought devastation for Colorado, where wildfires caused at least 34,500 residents to be evacuated from their homes. The flames were likely caused by minimal rainfall and excessive heat. Some fires were more destructive than others, and relatively few could be put out quickly.

The Treasure Fire in Lake County began on June 21 and covered 420 acres, but thankfully did not come close to any homes or other buildings. The Weber fire in Montezuma County began on June 22 and caused the evacuation of 140 homes and the possible evacuation of 390 more.

On June 23, the Waldo Canyon Fire, just north of Colorado Springs, covered over 15,000 acres and caused the evacuation of over 32,000 Colorado residents. This fire also destroyed over 350 homes, making it the most damaging fire in Colorado state history.

The Flagstaff Fire located in Boulder County began on June 26, causing 26 homes to be evacuated. At least eight other fires have hit Colorado in the months of March through July.


“The Dark Knight Rises” Sparks Tragedy

Twelve people killed and fifty-eight wounded was the result of one man who decided to open fire on the midnight viewers of “The Dark Knight Rises.” On Friday, July 20, James Holmes, the 24-year-old shooter, walked into the Century 16 Multiplex in Aurora, Colo. and released some kind of smoke irritant down the aisles.

Holmes wore full protective gear that consisted of a gas mask and a long black coat, when he entered the theatre through a parking lot exit door that was located near Theatre 9.

Holmes also wore a wig and said, “I am the Joker,” before opening fire. Initially, many movie viewers thought that Holmes was a stunt man, performing something special for the midnight premiere. Soon after, he opened fire.

Among the victims was 25-year-old Jordan Ghawi, who was a college student and sports broadcaster. Other victims ranged in age from 6 to 51.

Not only did Holmes commit the shooting in the theatre, but his apartment was also found to hold chemical devices and trip wires attached to explosives that could not be safely disarmed. Five apartment buildings were evacuated while a robot was sent in to diffuse any dangerous triggers; however, police were still not able to enter the apartment safely.

Holmes was caught in the back of the parking lot just minutes later. The police later found out that he was a Ph.D. student at the University of Colorado in Denver and an honors graduate in neuroscience from the University of California, Riverside. His car held three weapons, an AR-15 assault rifle, a .40 caliber Glock handgun, and a Remington 12-gauge shotgun. Another .40 caliber Glock handgun was found in the theatre.

All of the guns are believed to have been used in the shooting, and all were purchased in the past 60 days, along with over 12,000 rounds of ammunition.

Warner Bros., owned by Time Warner, canceled a premiere of “The Dark Knight Rises,” and many broadcast networks and cable channels stopped showing commercials for the movie.

In a remark by President Barack Obama, he stated, “The federal government stands ready to do whatever is necessary to bring whoever is responsible for this heinous crime to justice.  And we will take every step possible to ensure the safety of all of our people.”

“If there’s anything to take away from this tragedy, it’s the reminder that life is very fragile.  Our time here is limited and it is precious.  And what matters at the end of the day is not the small things…it’s how we choose to treat one another and how we love one another.”

Vice President Joe Biden mirrored Obama’s feelings in a statement released on July 20. “The prayers of an entire nation are with the victims and their families,” said Biden, “We stand with the city of Aurora and the state of Colorado in mourning.”

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