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The Daily Need

Monday late edition

Tainted eggs. Photo: AP/Reed Saxon

Chilean miners trapped for months

Relief workers in Chile continued their dramatic effort to rescue 33 miners trapped more than 2,300 feet below the surface, in a collapsed mine just north of the mineral-rich city of Copiapó. The miners were trapped there on August 5th after the roof of the shaft partially collapsed. Officials say it will take at least four months to drill a new hole large enough to lift the 33 miners to safety — but the miners themselves have not been told of their fates. Aid workers, meanwhile, have been lowering capsules of supplies and liquid nutrients to the miners through an 8 centimeter-wide tube. Experts warn that the psychological toll of living in isolation for four months could be extreme.

Stem cell research blocked by judge

A federal judge has issued an injunction temporarily blocking an Obama administration policy that would expand the use of human embryos in stem cell research. Judge Royce Lamberth of U.S. District Court said the plaintiffs, two adult embryonic stem cell researchers, had standing to proceed with their case. The researchers had argued that the new rules would increase competition for already-scarce federal funding. They were joined by a Christian organization that argued that the new law violated federal prohibitions against the destruction of human embryos in federally funded research.

FDA wants more power after egg recall

The head of the Food and Drug Administration wants more regulatory authority after a salmonella outbreak that has sickened at least 2,000 people and prompted the recall of more than 550 million eggs nationwide. FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg says her agency needs the power to mandate recalls, rather than rely on private companies. Lawmakers are mulling a bill that would grant the FDA that authority. Members of Congress are also questioning the spotty track record of the Iowa egg producers at the center of the recall, and the FDA’s role in policing them. And some consumers, meanwhile, are turning to alternative sources of produce, including farmer’s markets, as a result of the recall.

Insurer repays $4 billion in bailout money

American International Group, the massive insurer that nearly went under during the financial crisis, has repaid nearly $4 billion of the more than $180 the federal government committed to prop up the company as part of its effort to stabilize troubled investment houses. The $4 billion repayment brings AIG’s overall debt to the taxpayers down to just below $100 billion, though analysts say the company is on track to return as much as half of that sum. The news of AIG’s bailout repayment came on the same day that the Federal Reserve cut its line of credit to the insurer by $3.6 — which may sound bad, but actually signifies the government’s confidence in AIG.

Australian leaders vie for power

The leaders of Australia’s two main political parties were engaged in a mad dash to win the support of uncommitted members of the House of Representatives on Monday, after voters there delivered an indecisive result in national elections. Prime Minister Julia Gillard said she hoped to win the support of the Australian Green Party’s first member of parliament, while the conservative opposition leader, Tony Abbott, began wooing three independent lawmakers with conservative leanings. Gillard became Australia’s first female prime minister earlier this year after her predecessor, Kevin Rudd, was sacked in an intra-party coup. The move was controversial, and is seen by many as a factor in Gillard’s lackluster performance at the polls.