The Daily Need

Tuesday morning round-up

Security

Gunmen stormed a hotel near the presidential palace in the Somali capital of Mogadishu Tuesday, killing as many as 33 people, including six members of parliament. The attackers were dressed as Somali government soldiers and, upon approaching the building, began firing on the guards. One blew himself up inside the hotel. The Al-Shabab militant group has claimed responsibility for the attack. The group had already waged a first wave of attacks against Somali targets on Monday, bringing the two-day death toll to at least 70. As Need to Know has reported, Al Shabab has also claimed responsibility for twin bombings in Uganda in July that killed at least 64, and the group proudly boasts of its ties to Al Qaeda.

Culture

The complicated legal case involving the street artist Shepard Fairey and the photograph of then-Sen. Barack Obama that he transformed into his famous “Hope” poster got a little less complicated on Tuesday. The photographer who took the shot, Mannie Garcia, dropped a lawsuit against the Associated Press, who he said had improperly claimed copyright over the photo. Garcia contended that he was not working for the AP when he took the photo, and that the copyright was actually his. Despite Garcia’s decision, the legal battle over the poster itself drags on. Fairey and AP are set to go to court in March 2010 over the rights to the photo. Fairey sued the AP in 2008, and the news agency then countersued.

Environment

The massive egg recall that has flummoxed federal regulators and sickened thousands with salmonella has apparently had at least one positive outcome: More consumers seem to be getting their produce from farmers markets. Sales of eggs at co-ops and roadside stands rose over the weekend after news of the outbreak spread. More than 550 million eggs have been recalled, and the head of the Food and Drug administration has said that she would like more regulatory authority to prevent future incidents, including the power to mandate recalls. 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.

Health

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.

Economy

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.

 
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