The Daily Need

Friday morning roundup

Culture

Stephen Colbert tops Monica Lewinsky. That’s at least one of the takeaways from a Congressional hearing on immigration and farm work this morning. The panel’s most famous participant was Colbert, the Comedy Central host who recently spent a day working on a vegetable farm in upstate New York. One Democrat, who asked Colbert to leave, quipped that he had attracted more members of the media than a presidential impeachment process. Colbert ended up finishing his testimony, suggesting among other things that Americans stop eating fruits and vegetables altogether, as a way to deter illegal immigrants from entering the country. [MSNBC, Boston Globe]

Economy

Democratic leaders announced Friday that they would delay a vote on extending the Bush-era tax cuts for families making under $250,000 a year until after the midterm elections. The issue had turned into one of the centerpieces of the fall campaign: Democrats wanted to let the tax cuts expire for the wealthiest Americans, while Republicans wanted to extend them for everyone. Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid said the chamber would vote on the tax cuts after the elections. [CNN]

Health

Insurers are struggling to comply with new rules that went into effect this week under the health care overhaul passed earlier this year. Federal regulators are requiring insurers to spend at least 80 percent of the premiums they charge on patient services. Those rules leave little room for administrative costs or profit. [The Wall Street Journal]

Environment

A senator from Louisiana is blocking President Obama’s choice for budget director until the administration drops its ban on offshore oil drilling in the Gulf coast. Sen. Mary Landrieu, a Democrat, said the nominee, Jacob Lew, “lacked sufficient concern for the host of economic challenges confronting the Gulf Coast.” Obama instituted a six-month freeze on drilling in the Gulf after the massive BP oil spill there. The freeze expires on Nov. 30. [AFP via Grist]

Security

The government of Pakistan said Friday that it would fight a U.S. decision to sentence a Pakistani scientists to 86 years in prison for shooting at American soldiers in Afghanistan. The scientist, Aafia Siddiqui, was being interrogated by U.S. officials when she grabbed a rifle and started shooting, chanting “Death to Americans,” according to prosecutors. Pakistanis mounted angry protests against the verdict. [Christian Science Monitor, BBC]

 
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