Free at Last: Following an unexpected trip to the country by former President Bill Clinton, North Korea pardoned and released two detained American journalists, The Washington Post reports. Although the White House and the State Department steadfastly insisted
that the former president was on a "private humanitarian mission," the trip
came about only after weeks of back-channel conversations involving
academics, congressional figures, and senior White House and State
Shaping the Debate: The insurance industry's chief lobbyist Karen Ignagni tells The New York Times in a profile that she was surprised to hear House Speaker Nancy Pelosi call health insurers "villains." After winning concessions, and consensus, from many insurance companies with competing interests, Ignagni now has to keep them together as the assault on the industry picks up. Meanwhile, lobbyists are blitzing members of Congress to shape the health-care overhaul, The Wall Street Journal reports.
GOP Not Sotomayor's Biggest Fan: Despite the almost certainty of Judge Sonia Sotomayor's confirmation to the Supreme Court, GOP senators took to the floor yesterday to denounce her judicial philosophy, The Associated Press reports. Republican opponents have said she would bring bias to the bench while Democratic supporters saying she was a mainstream moderate. The debate heated up yesterday after the Senate spent much of the last two days focused on a bill about agriculture spending, The BLT's David Ingram reported last night.
Cutting Back: Citing cuts to its staff and budget, Alameda County, Calif.'s public defenders on Monday stopped taking many out-of-custody misdemeanor and probation violation cases, The Recorder reports via Law.com. Public Defender Diane Bellas confirmed in an e-mail that her attorneys have started declaring conflicts of interest "based on overload."