This week, the Supreme Court released several momentous decisions that have caused celebrations and lament, prompted discussions and actions, and captured the attentions of politicians and voters alike. Just in case you were too preoccupied with reading those decisions and understanding their implications (props to you!) to keep up with any other developments this week (except Wendy Davis' filibuster and the Senate's passage of immigration reform), here's a quick cheat sheet to bring you up to speed!
1. Student Loan Rates Likely to Double
Due to Republicans, Democrats, and President Obama’s inability to compromise and act, interest rates on 7 million expected new government-backed student loans will double from 3.4% to 6.8% Monday. This increases the burden many young adults face on top of the surge in college tuition every year. While lawmakers say this could still be reversed once they come back from their July 4 recess by enacting a law that applies retroactively, there seems to be a lack of political will on both sides.
2. Men Make Up Majority Of Service Members Assaulted
The Pentagon released a new report on sexual assault earlier this week, and it says that men in the military are more often victims of unwanted sexual contact than women. While women are significantly more likely to be sexually assaulted, men make up 53% of the 26,000 estimated service members who experienced sexual assault in 2012. Experts say that "assaults against men have been vastly underreported," and many who were interviewed explained that their silence was prompted by the fear that they would be "punished, ignored or ridiculed if they reported the attacks." As First Lt. Adam Cohen aptly put, “No one wants to admit this problem affects everyone. Both genders, of all ranks. It’s a cultural problem.”
3. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Indicted On 30 Counts
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, suspected bomber of the Boston Marathon, was indicted on 30 counts of criminal charges that ranged from carjacking to using weapons of mass destruction. The indictment confirmed much of the news reports in the wake of the bombing, but it also revealed some new information. While hiding in a boat in Watertown, Massachusetts, Tsarnaev wrote “I don’t like killing innocent people,” but then justified his actions by saying, “The U.S. Government is killing our innocent civilians. .... I can’t stand to see such evil go unpunished. ... We Muslims are one body, you hurt one, you hurt us all.”
Several of 30 charges are punishable by death, but it is still unclear whether Attorney General Eric Holder will seek the death penalty. Tsarnaev's arraignment is scheduled for July 10.
4. White House Remains Resolute On Contraception Rules
Though the Obama Administration has encountered much push back from religious organizations, it is firmly maintaining its policy on contraceptive coverage. Delivered through the Affordable Care Act, the rule will require most employers to provide insurance coverage of contraceptives with no out-of-pocket costs for women. While churches are exempt, many other religiously-affiliated institutions are not, creating much objection from the Catholic Church and other Christian organizations.
5. Four For You Tammy Duckworth! You Go Tammy Duckworth!
This isn't about politics. This is about bringing to light those who despicably take advantage of a system in place for those who serve our country, and no one does it better than Tammy Duckworth.
Braulio Castillo received around $500 million in government contracts reserved for disabled veterans by claiming military disability status based on a foot injury he sustained at the U.S. Military Preparatory School ... after which he went on to play football in college. Go ahead and watch how Rep. Duckworth, an Iraq War veteran who lost both her legs and significantly damaged her right arm in combat, addresses this fraud.