(July 25) Today's Top Headlines - The top 10 stories of the day - The Explorer: Today's Headlines

(July 25) Today's Top Headlines - The top 10 stories of the day

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Posted: Thursday, July 25, 2013 9:14 am

1. HOUSE REJECTS PUSH TO LIMIT NSA SURVEILLANCE

The House on Wednesday narrowly rejected a proposal to curb the National Security Agency data mining exposed in secret documents leaked by Edward Snowden. A rare alliance of libertarian Republicans and some Democrats pushed the measure in an amendment to a defense spending bill, saying the government had no right to track private communications. Opponents, including the White House, said the surveillance program helped thwart terrorist attacks without compromising privacy. [Reuters]

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2. HIGH-SPEED TRAIN WRECK IN SPAIN KILLS 77

An express train derailed in northwestern Spain on Wednesday, killing at least 77 people and injuring 100. El Pais newspaper reported the train sped into a bend at 190 kilometers (118 miles) per hour on a stretch of track with an 80 kph (49 mph) speed limit. All eight coaches derailed — one was shredded on impact, another was hurled up an embankment. The train, which had 218 passengers on board, was nearing the city of Santiago de Compostela at the end of a six-hour trip from Madrid. [Bloomberg]

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3. OBAMA LAUNCHES PUSH ON THE ECONOMY

President Obama on Wednesday made the first of what is expected to be a series of speeches about the economy, in what was billed as the launch of a bid to shift the focus in Congress away from partisan debates on guns and surveillance and back to the recovery. "With this endless parade of distractions and political posturing and phony scandals, Washington's taken its eye off the ball," Obama said at Knox College, in Galesburg, Ill. "And I am here to say this needs to stop." [New York Times]

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4. RUSSIA IS EXPECTED TO LET SNOWDEN LEAVE AIRPORT

A Russian immigration official said Wednesday that Moscow is preparing to give National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden papers he needs to leave a Moscow airport, where he has been stuck for a month while trying to dodge America's espionage charges. Nicaragua, Bolivia, and Venezuela have offered Snowden refuge, but he's worried U.S. allies will block him from traveling through their airspace. Snowden has requested temporary asylum in Russia, and his lawyer says he's preparing for a long stay. [Washington Post]

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5. CHINA CHARGES BO XILAI WITH CORRUPTION

China formally charged former senior politician Bo Xilai with bribery and abuse of power on Thursday. The trial, which begins in August, will cap a scandal that has exposed corruption within China's ruling party, and infighting between his old-guard supporters and reformists. Bo was once a popular Communist Party chief and Politburo member, but his career unraveled in 2012 after his wife, Gu Kailai, was charged and later convicted in the murder of British businessman Neil Heywood. [Wall Street Journal]

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6. OBAMA PICKS CAROLINE KENNEDY AS AMBASSADOR TO JAPAN

President Obama on Wednesday nominated Caroline Kennedy to be ambassador to Japan. Kennedy, daughter of the late president John F. Kennedy, gave Obama a key early endorsement in the 2008 Democratic primaries, putting her family's political mystique behind him as he battled Hillary Clinton. Japan's Foreign Ministry, citing Kennedy's close ties to Obama, welcomed the pick as a sign of "the great importance the Obama administration attaches to the Japan-U.S. alliance." [New York Times]

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7. HOUSE PANEL SIGNS OFF ON CUTTING BACK MAIL DELIVERY

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Wednesday gave its backing to a proposal to begin phasing out door-to-door delivery and end most Saturday deliveries. The plan would force 37 million customers still getting front-door delivery to pick up their correspondence at curb-side or neighborhood cluster boxes, saving the cash-strapped U.S. Postal Service $4.5 billion a year. Ending Saturday service — a proposal that sparked fierce opposition last year — would save another $2 billion annually. [USA Today]

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8. SENATE BACKS PROPOSED STUDENT LOAN COMPROMISE

The Senate on Wednesday passed a proposal to reduce subsidized student loan rates, which doubled on July 1 to 6.8 percent. The bill ties rates to those of 10-year Treasury bonds. This year they would be 3.86 percent for new undergraduate Stafford loans, 5.4 percent for graduate Stafford loans, and 6.4 percent for PLUS loans for parents and graduate students. Some Democrats opposed the deal, saying it would be better to fix a low rate because now rates might rise significantly. [Politico]

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9. PATRIOTS COACH MAKES FIRST PUBLIC COMMENTS ON HERNANDEZ'S MURDER CHARGE

New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick spoke out Wednesday for the first time about former player Aaron Hernandez's June arrest on murder charges. At the start of training camp for the coming season, Belichick extended his sympathies to the family of the victim, Odin Lloyd, and said he was "personally hurt and disappointed" over the case. Team owner Robert K. Kraft said if the charges are true he was "duped." [New York Times]

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10. THE ROYAL BABY GETS A NAME

Prince William and Kate Middleton, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, ended rampant speculation Wednesday by announcing the name of their newborn son. "The baby will be known as His Royal Highness Prince George of Cambridge," the crown said in a press release. Bookmakers told the BBC that "George" had been a favorite. The full name of the royal baby, who is third in line for the British throne, is George Alexander Louis. [NPR]

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