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STUDENT LOAN DEAL MAY BE NEAR

WASHINGTON

Congressional bargainers seem near an agreement that would avert a July 1 doubling of interest rates on federal loans to 7.4 million college students and end an election-year battle between President Barack Obama and Congress, the Associated Press reported Friday, citing unnamed Senate aides from both parties.

Both sides said they were moving toward a deal on how to pay the measure's $6 billion price tag, the chief source of partisan conflict.

The goal is to push legislation through Congress next week so the current 3.4 percent interest rate on subsidized Stafford loans can be preserved for another year. A 2007 law gradually reduced interest rates on the loans but required them to balloon back to 6.8 percent on July 1 in a cost-saving maneuver.

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NEW YORK

Dali painting stolen from art gallery

A thief who swiped a Salvador Dali painting off the wall of a New York art gallery may have escaped, but experts say the painting will likely be recovered when it comes back onto the art market.

Police are searching for a slim man with a receding hairline who walked into a Madison Avenue art gallery on Tuesday posing as a customer and walked out with the $150,000 watercolor and ink painting, Cartel des Don Juan Tenorio, in a large black shopping bag. The painting was part of the Venus Over Manhattan gallery's first exhibition.

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PARAGUAY

President ousted in impeachment trial

Paraguay's Senate voted Friday to remove President Fernando Lugo from office, plunging the country into a political crisis. The leftist former priest said he accepted the results of the vote, despite describing the efforts to remove him as an "express coup d'etat."

Legislators swore in the vice president, Federico Franco, a medical doctor and a former supporter of Lugo.

The Senate vote came after Paraguay's lower house of Congress voted Thursday to impeach Lugo over a clash this month between squatters and the police that left 17 dead.

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LITTLE ROCK, ARK.

High court strikes down execution law

The Arkansas Supreme Court struck down the state's death penalty law Friday, faulting a provision that permitted the Corrections Department to select the fatal drugs used in an execution.

The court ruled that the Legislature must set the quantity and type of drugs in a lethal injection. The 2009 law left those decisions to the director of the Corrections Department. The court sided with 10 death row inmates who challenged the law's constitutionality.

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NORWAY

Massacre trial ends; verdict due in August

The 10-week trial of Anders Behring Breivik ended Friday amid conflicting claims about his sanity. Breivik, 33, who has admitted to the attacks that killed 77 people last July, rejected prosecutors' assertion that he is insane.

The five-judge panel will announce its ruling on Aug. 24, Chief Judge Wenche Elisabeth Arntzen said. If deemed mentally competent, Breivik would likely be given Norway's maximum prison term of 21 years. If declared insane, he would be committed to a mental institution for as long as he's considered sick and dangerous to others.

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Elsewhere

ALEXANDRIA, VA.: Amine El Khalifi, 29, an illegal immigrant from Morocco, pleaded guilty Friday in U.S. District Court, admitting that he plotted with men he thought were al-Qaida operatives to attack the U.S. Capitol. He will spend at least 25 years in prison.

IRAQ: Two bombs exploded in an open-air market in Baghdad on Friday, killing 14 people in the latest round of spiraling violence. More than 160 people have died this month in attacks.

PAKISTAN: Lawmakers elected a ruling party loyalist, Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, as prime minister on Friday, after the Supreme Court dismissed his predecessor for refusing to investigate the president over alleged corruption.

LONGMIRE, WASH.: A Mount Rainier ranger slid more than 3,000 feet to his death on Thursday as he helped in efforts to rescue four injured climbers who fell on a glacier, a National Park Service spokesman said.

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