Service to help with tsunami aid relief

    The Associated Students-run Volunteer Connection has partnered with a San Diego nonprofit group on a new campus- and city-wide relief project. The program will provide emergency relief supplies to those devastated by the destruction caused by the December tsunami in Southeast Asia.

    The volunteer service hopes to collect 5,000 pounds worth of emergency supplies to fill a San Diego World Response plane that will fly the goods from San Diego to Sri Lanka at the end of the month.

    Students and others can contribute the needed supplies — which include iodine, rubbing alcohol, digital thermometers, gauze pads, bandages and latex gloves — at the Volunteer Connection office on the second floor of Price Center or at a donation box at Student Health Service.

    Bush calls for expansion of Pell Grant, program changes

    Unveiling his higher education and job-training plans at a Florida community college in Jacksonville, Fla., President George W. Bush said he would ask Congress to increase the maximum Pell Grant by $500 over the next five years and make other changes to federal financial aid.

    In addition to increasing the maximum aid by $100 each year for the next five years, Bush said he would again ask Congress to implement his enhanced Pell Grant program, which would offer an extra $1,000 for high school students who take challenging courses. Lawmakers deleted the program from the final appropriations package in Bush’s previous budget proposal.

    Bush said the federal government would pay for the increased costs by changing the way the government administers its student loan programs, though he did not offer any specifics.

    “We’ve got a unique way of saving money, and that saved money from the administration of the student loan program will be plowed into the Pell Grant program,” he said, adding that the savings would also cover a $4.3-billion deficit in the Pell Grant program’s current budget.

    In the past, Republican members of Congress have proposed forbidding students from consolidating student loans — essentially refinancing them into one when interest rates are low — as a way to save money for the government.

    In the 2000 election, Bush had also promised to increase Pell Grants, but fell short of his goal during his first term. The maximum grant has remained at $4,050 over the past three years.

    Democrats propose additional student aid

    Democratic congressmen have announced a new higher education plan, which they say offers a better alternative to the policies of the Bush administration.

    Labeling the budget approved by the Republican-dominated Congress late last year as “misplaced priorities in education,” Democrats have said their plan would make college more affordable.

    Under the plan, the maximum Pell Grant would grow from $4,050 to $5,800 this year and tax credits for students attending college would double, Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) announced on behalf of the party.

    In addition, the proposal would allow students to consolidate loans more than once to take advantage of lower interest rates and eliminate the origination fees lenders currently charge borrowers when they take out loans.

    It would also forgive the loans of graduates who commit to teaching for five years in high-poverty schools or work in other public-service fields that have experienced personnel shortages.

    To pay for the programs, Democrats said they would encourage universities to switch to the government’s Direct Loan program, which a recent report from the Congressional Budget Office estimated would save the government $12.3 billion over the next decade.

    Congressional Republicans said the CBO report was inaccurate and its methodology distorted the true costs of the program.

    Researchers discover way to age juvenile heart

    UCSD scientists have uncovered a method for transforming hearts of juvenile mice into adult hearts that are capable of increased workloads.

    Published in the journal Cell, the study identified a protein enzyme responsible for heart contraction and tissue growth. Levels of the protein in mice affected their heart development.

    “The cascade of molecular events that we have uncovered are directly relevant to understanding heart physiology during development and may provide insights into mechanisms that directly contribute to heart attacks in humans,” cellular and molecular medicine professor Xiang-Dong Fu said.

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