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Tuesday: Obama to Sign Overhaul to Health Care, Student Loan Systems

President Barack Obama will cap the overhaul to health care on Tuesday when he travels from the White House to a local community college to sign the package of “fixes” to the legislation passed by Congress last week.

While the legislation narrows critical differences between the House and Senate versions of the health care reform bill, the president will use his appearance at Northern Virginia Community College in Alexandria, Va., to tout the measure’s impact on the student loan industry.

The revamp of the student loan system was largely overshadowed by the fierce debates over health care reform, particularly during the final days in the drive for its passage. Nevertheless, the bill enacts sweeping changes to the market for student loans.

At its core, the bill cuts off billions of dollars in subsidies for private lenders, placing the federal government largely in control of student loans. Additionally, it directs more aid to historically black colleges and other minority serving institutions, and increases the maximum Pell grant.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, the measure will save taxpayers about $61 billion over the next decade. Still, the Chronicle of Higher Education’s Paul Basken and Sara Hebel ask whether the measure was a missed opportunity to put Pell on firm footing.

The Atlantic’s Derek Thompson offers “three cheers” for the new law, saying “private lenders don’t particularly deserve my tears.”

Russia Mourns Victims of Bombings

Flags are flying at half-staff across Russia on Tuesday as officials continued the investigation into Monday’s deadly attacks on two Moscow subway stations that killed 38 people.

Russia continues to weigh its response to the attacks, and so far officials say preliminary investigations point to a link in the volatile Caucuses region of Russia.

However, “Whether or not the attack on the Moscow metro is in fact the work of extremists from the North Caucasus, reforming local administration, promoting economic development, and ending abuses by the security forces even while cracking down on armed extremist groups are among the Kremlin’s most urgent tasks,” writes Jeffrey Mankoff of the Council of Foreign Relations.

As the investigation continues, Moscow residents remained largely on edge. As one student told the Associated Press, “I feel the tension on the metro, nobody’s smiling or laughing.”

Philadelphia Man Arrested for Threatening Rep. Cantor

In the first arrest tied to reports of threats and violence directed at members of Congress in the wake of the health care debate, a Philadelphia man has been charged with threatening to kill House Minority Whip Eric Cantor.

As the Washington Post reports, Norman Leboon, 33, posted a YouTube video last week in which he calls Cantor “pure evil” and threatens to shoot the Virginia Republican and his family.

Large Hadron Collider Smashes Protons, Records

Scientists working on the $10 billion Large Hadron Collider set a record Tuesday when they successfully smashed proton beams into one another three times more forcefully than ever before.

“It’s a great day to be a particle physicist,” CERN Director General Rolf Heuer said in a statement. “A lot of people have waited a long time for this moment, but their patience and dedication is starting to pay dividends.”

Why is that important? As the BBC points out, the milestone “could lead to the discovery of fundamental new physics,” such as “the nature of the cosmos and how it came into being.”

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