In brief: Democrats delay tax vote
WASHINGTON – Senate Democratic leaders decided Thursday to delay a vote on preserving soon-to-expire middle class tax cuts until after congressional elections in November.
President Barack Obama has made the middle class tax cut a priority. But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid decided to delay any vote after a meeting with other Senate Democrats failed to produce a consensus on how to proceed.
“Democrats believe we must permanently extend tax cuts for the middle class before they expire at the end of the year, and we will,” Reid spokesman Jim Manley said. “Unfortunately, to this point we have received no cooperation from Republicans to do so.”
If Congress takes no action, taxpayers at every income level face significant tax increases next year.
JARRATT, Va. – The first woman to be executed in the U.S. in five years has been put to death in Virginia for arranging the killings of her husband and a stepson over a $250,000 insurance payment.
Forty-one-year-old Teresa Lewis died by injection at 9:13 p.m. Thursday, the first woman executed in Virginia in nearly a century. Supporters and relatives of the victims watched her execution at Greensville Correctional Center.
Lewis enticed two men through sex, cash and a promised cut in an insurance policy to shoot the sleeping men in October 2002. Both triggermen were sentenced to life in prison, and one committed suicide in 2006.
More than 7,300 appeals to stop the execution had been made to the governor.
NEW YORK – A Nicaraguan diplomat was found dead Thursday with his throat slashed in his blood-spattered apartment and a knife by his side, hours before he was to attend the United Nations General Assembly’s annual meeting, officials said.
Cesar Mercado, who had worked at the Nicaraguan consulate as acting consul general, was found at 10:35 a.m. in his apartment in the Bronx by the driver who went to pick him up to attend the meeting, police said.
The driver found the door ajar and Mercado’s body lying inside, police said.
No suspects were immediately identified. Investigators were looking into Mercado’s recent contacts, his relationships and where he had been during the days leading up to the slaying.
California sets energy target
SAN FRANCISCO – California regulators have adopted the nation’s most aggressive clean energy standards for power companies, which will have to get one-third of their electricity from renewable sources like solar and wind within a decade.
The California Air Resources Board on Thursday voted unanimously to strengthen standards already among the nation’s toughest. Utilities have been scrambling to get 20 percent of their power from renewables by next year.
Board chairwoman Mary D. Nichols says the new regulations will save consumers money while guaranteeing a steady energy supply.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger favors the change as a way to achieve reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.