News Wrap: Federal Student Loan Default Rate Jumps to 8.8%
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HARI SREENIVASAN: Wall Street spent most of the day lower, but rallied in the end for only the second time this month. The Dow Jones industrial average gained nearly 69 points to close at 11,061. The Nasdaq rose 27 points to close at 2,495.
The rate of defaults on federal student loans jumped sharply last year. The Education Department reported 8.8 percent of borrowers defaulted in 2010. That’s up from 7 percent in 2008. The numbers underscore concerns that higher tuition and the tough job market are leaving more students unable to repay their debts. Defaulting can affect credit ratings and possibly job prospects.
In the presidential campaign, Republican Mitt Romney picked up the endorsement of a former rival. The one-time Governor of Minnesota Tim Pawlenty said he believes Romney is the right person to turn the economy around. Pawlenty dropped out of the race in August. And Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is endorsing Texas Gov. Rick Perry, the current front-runner in the race.
The Republican field has another debate tonight, this one in Tampa, Fla.
A leaking gasoline pipeline exploded in Nairobi, Kenya, today, touching off a firestorm that killed at least 75 people. The fire ripped through a slum, turning scores of shacks into smoldering ruins, and the burning fuel even sent flames leaping from a nearby river. More than a hundred people were treated at a local hospital, many of them severely burned.
JANE MUMBUA, Kenya (through translator): I just heard a big blast. And that’s when I started seeing people on fire. All around me, there was fire and people on fire. Many people were siphoning of fuel from the leaking pipeline when it exploded.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Police said many of the victims leapt into the river, trying to put out the flames. The Kenyan prime minister promised an investigation.
The U.N. Human Rights Council has opened an investigation of the killings in Syria. That word came today as a U.N. count found at least 2,600 Syrians have been killed since protests against the government began in March. An adviser to President Bashar Assad insisted the real number is 1,400, evenly split between police and the opposition.
In Iraq, 22 Shiite pilgrims were found shot dead in the remote western desert. They had been on a bus heading to Syria when they were stopped at a checkpoint by gunmen. Police say the victims were killed one by one and their bodies were found hours later.
Afghan militias and local police were accused today of serious abuses against people they are supposed to protect. Human Rights Watch issued a 100-page report that found evidence of murder, torture and theft, among other crimes. The group urged the Afghan government and the U.S. military to take immediate action. The U.S.-led coalition said it would review the report.
Those are some of the day’s major stories.