Weekly Wrap-Up 3/7/12

Christina Kelso

Last Summer for the St. Johns River Ferry?

The Jacksonville Port Authority has designated Sept. 30 as the last day they will operate the St. Johns River Ferry, according to an article in the Florida Times Union.  This Ferry is the last automobile ferry remaining in Florida and has run between Mayport and Heckscher Drive since 1950. Advocates to keep this service have seven months to obtain ferry funding through private or government entities if they are to be successful. JaxPort budgeted a $680,000 subsidy for the ferry but no state or federal governments have pledged money towards it. The ferry’s landings require approximately $4 million in repairs.

Episcopal School Shooting

According to a News4Jax report, on Tuesday afternoon Headmistress Dale Regan was gunned down by Shane Schumerth, a 28-year-old teacher. After being fired that morning from Episcopal High School, Schumerth turned the assault rifle on himself after killing Regan, a 34 year school employee. No students were injured and it was not determined why Headmistress Regan was targeted. The school has currently closed and will remain closed until Mar. 19.

US and Five Other Nations Agree to Iran Talks

The U.S., along with five other countries came to an agreement Tuesday to continue negotiations with Iran about its nuclear program, according to a CNN article.  The U.S., France, Britain, China, Russia and Germany said they would resume the stalled talks in response to an overture that Iran made in February.  Israel, the U.S., as well as international inspectors show suspicions that Iran is trying to build nuclear weapons. Iran insists that its program is designed for civilian, nonviolent purposes.

Federal Study of Student Debt

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York released a report Monday which revealed a growing debt load for college students and graduates, according to an article in the New York Times. The report displays that as many as 27 percent of the nation’s 37 million borrowers have past-due balances of 30 days or more. The nation’s total balance of student loans was reported as $870 billion, with approximately 15 percent of Americans who hold Equifax credit reports, 241 million out of a nation of 311 million, have student debt. These figures, while indefinite and to be used only as an estimate, show a growing concern among students as they move forward through education costs.

Tornadoes Scar the South

An outbreak of tornados caused immense damage throughout the Ohio and Tennessee Valleys as well as parts of the South, Friday, according to an article in the Washington Post.  The current count has confirmed 45 twisters and a death count of 39 individuals. The strongest of these storms, rated an EF-4, occurred in the town of Henryville, Indiana with estimated winds of 179 miles per hour.

U.S. Finalizes Government Food Aid Shipment to North Korea

U.S. and North Korean representatives met Wednesday to complete the arrangement of the first American government food aid shipment to North Korea in three years, according to an Associated Press article. The meeting sets out to develop procedures and safeguards for food distribution that ensures the assistance reaches those who are in the most need, such as children, pregnant women, nursing mothers and the elderly. This food assistance program serves as part of a larger initiative intended to put a stop to Pyongyang’s nuclear programs.

Battle over Ohio: Santorum and Romney

According to a Fox News report, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum have found themselves locked in a close race for Ohio — the vital swing state which is considered the Super Tuesday prize — after victories along with Newt Gingrich in a half-dozen other states. Romney is so far in the lead with three wins in eastern states considered friendly territory for the former Massachusetts governor. Romney is the winner in Massachusetts, Vermont and Virginia, Fox News projects. In Virginia, only he and Ron Paul qualified for the ballot. Santorum is the projected winner in both Tennessee and Oklahoma.