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U.S. senators said they were closing in on a deal Monday that would reopen the government and push back a possible default for several months, though many hurdles remained as a Thursday deadline drew near.
The Senate's top Democrat and top Republican both said they hoped they could soon reach an agreement that would allow them to avert a looming default and end a partial government shutdown that has dragged on for 14 days so far.
"I'm very optimistic that we that we will reach an agreement that's reasonable in nature this week," Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid said on the Senate floor.
Lawmakers are racing against the clock, with U.S. officials estimating that the federal government could run out of borrowing capacity on October 17.
The plan under discussion would raise the $16.7 trillion debt ceiling by enough to cover the nation's borrowing needs at least through mid-February 2014, according to a source familiar with the negotiations.
Republican and Democratic leaders in the Senate were scrambling towards a deal that would avert the looming crisis over the US debt ceiling, as the threat of failure to reach an agreement finally appeared to have concentrated minds in Washington.
Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority and minority leaders, held two lengthy meetings on Monday in an attempt to nail down terms of a possible compromise. The urgency of the talks was matched by the scale of the crisis facing them: unless an agreement is reached on raising America’s borrowing limit by midnight on Thursday, the US will begin to default on its payments, with possible global economic ramifications.
Obama postponed a 3pm White House gathering of congressional leaders to give McConnell and Reid extra time to fine-tune a package.
The House and Senate were in session on Columbus Day, the 14th day of the federal government shutdown. A meeting that had been arranged between President Obama, Vice President Biden and the four main leaders of Congress was postponed, as the White House cited the progress being made in negotiations.
The latest word of a possible deal calls for raising the federal debt limit through Feb. 15 and funding a return to work for the government through Jan. 15. We'll update this post as more news comes in.
Over the weekend, senators from both parties assumed key roles in the negotiations, after House Republicans and the White House failed to reach an agreement.
Update at 6:10 p.m. ET: Reid Sees 'Tremendous Progress'
"We know this has been a difficult time for everyone," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said of the budget debate, adding that he and Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell have been working toward a solution.
Reid said there would be no Senate votes on a possible deal Monday night.
"We've made tremendous progress. We're not there yet," Reid said. "But tremendous progress. And everyone just needs to be patient."
"We've had a good day," McConnell said, speaking in turns with Reid. "I think it's safe to say we've made substantial progress."
Senate Democratic and Republican leaders said they made significant progress toward an accord that would end a partial government shutdown and prevent the nation from breaching the U.S. debt ceiling in three days.
The emerging agreement would suspend the debt limit through Feb. 7, 2014, fund the government through Jan. 15 and require a House-Senate budget conference by Dec. 13, according to a Senate source familiar with the talks, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss them.
“We’ve made tremendous progress,” Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, said as the Senate adjourned today. “We are not there yet.”
Reid said he hoped a deal could be announced tomorrow. His Republican counterpart, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, said “substantial progress” had been made during the talks.
The movement toward working out a deal in the Senate marked the strongest signals yet that Congress may be able to prevent the U.S. from missing scheduled payments as soon as this month and end the partial shutdown that started Oct. 1.
Three American scientists won the 2013 economics Nobel prize on Monday for research that has improved the forecasting of long term asset prices, a hot topic since the collapse of the U.S. housing market bubble prompted a global financial meltdown.
"There is no way to predict the price of stocks and bonds over the next few days or weeks," The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said in awarding the 8 million crown ($1.25 million) prize to Eugene Fama, Lars Peter Hansen and Robert Shiller.
Secretary of State John Kerry called on Monday for a peace conference on Syria "very soon" but said peace would not be possible without a transition government to replace President Bashar al-Assad.
"We believe it is urgent to set a day, to convene the conference and work toward a new Syria," Kerry told reporters after meeting United Nations special envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi in London.
For 29 years, Alcatraz — the notorious prison off the coast of San Francisco — housed some of the nation's worst criminals: Al Capone, Machine Gun Kelly, Birdman Robert Stroud.
Today, 50 years after it closed, it's a museum. And earlier this year, the National Park Service gave Bill Baker, a former inmate, special permission to stay the night in his old cell. He was 24 when he was transferred to The Rock. Today, he's 80.
Baker, who was born in Kentucky during the Great Depression, has spent a lot of his life in and out of federal prison. Almost always for the same thing — cashing fraudulent checks.
By 1957, he was already an accomplished thief serving time in Leavenworth prison. He was never a violent criminal, but he had a penchant for escaping. So the federal Bureau of Prisons transferred him to Alcatraz to finish the last three years of his sentence.
Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed only 11% of about 900 bills lawmakers sent him this year, the lowest rejection rate of his current term.
Gov. Jerry Brown on Sunday approved safeguards for minors accused of crimes and vetoed a probe of spikes in gas prices, wrapping up action on a wide range of bills this year that will expand healthcare, help low-wage workers and protect the environment.
When the ink dried on about 900 proposals lawmakers had sent him, down from nearly 1,000 last year, the governor had accepted all but about 11% of them — the lowest rejection rate of his current term.
"This is the most generous Jerry that we have seen by far," said Jaime Regalado, professor emeritus of political science at Cal State L.A. Brown approved almost all major bills from fellow Democrats, Regalado noted.
But the famously moderate governor was also a check on their most liberal tendencies, vetoing some ideas as too extreme and issuing warnings that blocked proposed tax hikes before they even reached his desk.
- On Tuesday, The International Herald Tribune, the global edition of The New York Times, becomes The International New York Times.
This is the last time you will be reading The International Herald Tribune; as of tomorrow, it is The International New York Times. But weep not: This is not the first name change for what was popularly known in its early years as the “Paris Herald,” and if the genealogy of a newspaper is reflected in its name (the original parent, The New York Herald, at one point the most profitable and popular paper in all the United States, ended its days as The New York World Journal Tribune), the DNA of a great paper is defined by evolution of the complex and intimate interplay of reader and editor, owner and technology.
And that is best discovered in the figurative basement of the paper, in those stacks of brown, brittle copies of old newspapers that trace the ever-changing interests, dramas, world views and pleasures — all that we call “news.”
The son of a Wisconsin Sikh temple leader who was among those slain last year by a white supremacist says he intends to run for Congress and challenge House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan.
Amardeep Kaleka told the Associated Press that he wants to bring accountability and transparency back to Washington, and blames Ryan and his fellow Republicans for the partial government shutdown. Kaleka has been a staunch advocate for gun control, and called on Congress to impose stricter background checks on gun owners.
"There's a fever in the nation, and specifically in this district, for our leaders to stop playing politics and do their jobs," Kaleka said in his AP interview. "All I want to do is bring democracy — a government of, for and by the people — back to America."
When Barbara Retkowski went to a Cape Coral, Florida, health clinic in August to treat a blood condition, she figured the center would bill her insurance company. Instead, it demanded payment upfront.
Earlier in the year, another clinic insisted she pay her entire remaining insurance deductible for the year -- more than $1,000 -- before the doctor would even see her.
“I was surprised and frustrated,” Retkowski, a 59-year-old retiree, said in an interview. “I had to pull money out of my savings.”
The practice of upfront payment for non-emergency care has been spreading in the U.S. as deductibles rise. Now, the advent of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is likely to accelerate that trend.
Many of the plans offered through the law’s insurance exchanges have low initial premiums to attract customers, while carrying significant deductibles and other out-of-pocket cost sharing. The second-lowest tier of Obamacare plans in California, for example, carries a $2,000 annual deductible.
Two German broadcasters have said they were detained by Qatari police this month as they attempted to investigate the plight of migrant labourers building infrastructure for the 2022 World Cup.
Peter Giesel, a film-maker and the head of a Munich-based production company, and his cameraman Robin Ahne were detained for 27 hours after filming the working conditions of labourers from the balcony of the Mercure Grand hotel in Doha.
The pair were following up on the Guardian's investigation into the conditions endured by many of the 1.2 million migrant workers who have flooded into the country to fuel a £100bn-plus construction boom before the football tournament.
"They said they just wanted to talk to us, but it wasn't clear about what," Giesel told the Guardian. "But the interrogations went on for several hours and then the security police got involved. They were talking about us sparking a riot by talking to the workers … and that's why we got detained and put in jail."
The pair, who say they were treated well while in custody, were told their equipment was being confiscated as they had been filming without permission.
Iran's negotiators are expected to offer restrictions on its nuclear programme in return for at least a partial lifting of sanctions, at a new round of talks starting in Geneva on Tuesday, diplomats said.
The complexity of the proposals means a completed deal is unlikely at the end of two days of negotiations, as there will remain significant gaps between the Iranian and western negotiating positions, but diplomats pointed to a new level of engagement not seen for several years.
The Iranian foreign minister and lead negotiator, Mohammad Javad Zarif, posted a message on his Facebook account saying the Geneva talks were "the start of a difficult and relatively time-consuming way forward".
He said: "I am hopeful that by Wednesday we can reach agreement on a road map to find a path towards resolution. But even with the goodwill of the other side, to reach agreement on details and start implementation will likely require another meeting at ministerial level."
Moscow police rounded up and arrested more than 1,000 migrant workers at a vegetable warehouse on Monday, the day after Russian rioters staged the most violent nationalist unrest in the capital in three years.
Riot police battled and arrested hundreds of Russian nationalists on Sunday night after they overturned cars and raided a warehouse used by migrants in search of the man they blamed for the murder of an ethnic Russian.
Police on Monday responded by arresting more than 1,200 migrant workers in what was called a "pre-emptive raid" on the warehouse where the rioters believed the killer worked.
There were another 80 arrests of migrants at a warehouse in northern Moscow, while the Moscow mayor Sergei Sobyanin has ordered checks on other market places.
Sunday night's rioting in the southern Biryulyovo residential district of Moscow erupted after hundreds of Russians gathered at the spot where Egor Shcherbakov, 25, was stabbed and killed in front of his girlfriend on 10 October.
The following day a photograph of the alleged murder suspect, believed to be from the Caucasus region, was circulating on nationalist websites.
Kenya's deputy president William Ruto is back before the International Criminal Court in The Hague on Monday. He and his boss, President Uhuru Kenyatta, face charges of instigating and financing deadly tribal violence in Kenya after that country's disputed 2007 election.
But their cases might never have reached this stage if not for one Kenyan judge and a remarkable disappearing act.
Justice Philip Waki was a Kenyan appellate judge appointed to chair a Commission of Inquiry to find the top political officials who instigated the post-election violence of 2007 and 2008, violence that killed more than 1,100 people.
But in Kenya, Commissions of Inquiry are viewed with skepticism. "Commissions end up being toothless bulldogs," says Maina Kiai, a human rights advocate and government critic. "They make a lot of noise. Some that have got good reports, they go nowhere."
Justice Philip Waki didn't want his report to fall prey to politics, so he made an unexpected move. Instead of publishing the names of the accused, he sealed them in an envelope. To keep justice blind, Judge Waki kept the names in the dark.
He was a child soldier in Congo until a bomb fragment cost him his eye. Today, the boxer known as Kibomango teaches young men his skills in the hopes it will keep them from joining rebel militias.
As Kibomango trains, pummeling a grey punching bag with his fists, the red sand crunches under his feet. There's no boxing ring in Goma, in the northeast of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. There's not even a real boxing club. Kibomango and his boys work out in a tiny room in the football stadium's catacombs. The young men follow his fists with their eyes. Many of them have killed people in their previous lives as child soldiers. Kibomango wants to prevent them from doing it again.
More than 1,000 customers who have no business holding accounts at the Vatican Bank have parked more than 300 million euros there, money the institution's officials suspect is illicit. They are now calling for the funds to be removed.
In late May, two Germans stood in the heavily guarded interior of the Vatican Bank and gazed out over St. Peter's Square. Ernst von Freyberg, 54, had just been appointed as the bank's president -- and now he had been interviewed by Father Bernd Hagenkord, the director of Vatican Radio's German program. The two servants of the Catholic Church took stock of what had been achieved thus far and concluded that the head of the bank had survived his baptism by fire.
At least six people were killed when buildings collapsed on islands popular with tourists in the central Philippines on Tuesday, radio reports said, after an earthquake measuring 7.2 hit the region.
Philippine radio reports quoted an official from the national disaster agency as saying four people had been killed on Bohol island, about 400 km southeast of the capital, Manila, when buildings collapsed during the quake.
Radio reports said at least two people had also been killed in nearby Cebu. At least two low-rise buildings collapsed and other buildings, including a church and former town hall, were damaged.
Similar damage reports were received from Bohol.
Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya said in a radio interview that parts of the Tagbilaran port in Bohol had cracked and collapsed.
Official confirmation of the radio reports was not immediately possible.
Al Jazeera America
The crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear facility again grabbed headlines in recent weeks after reports of radioactive water leaks into the Pacific Ocean and repeated exposure of plant workers to dangerous levels of radiation once more focused attention on the disaster and its aftermath. A massive earthquake and ensuing tsunami in March 2011 damaged the Japanese plant's reactor containment and cooling systems, triggering explosions and three core meltdowns. After a string of troubling revelations surrounding Tokyo's bid to host the 2020 Olympic Games, the Japanese government has finally expressed a more open attitude toward international help to deal with the crisis.
While Japan's problems seem far away, anti-nuclear activists in the United States say a similar disaster — or perhaps one even worse — could happen at a nuclear plant just 25 miles north of New York City, at Entergy Corp.'s Indian Point Energy Center. Although that is dismissed as fearmongering by the nuclear industry, anti-nuclear campaigners say Indian Point poses a grave risk to 20 million people who live in the New York metropolitan area.
Al Jazeera America
Raymond Bares owns two Harley-Davidson motorcycles and a small business, Bares Auto Repair, in La Marque near Houston. He rarely catches a cold, so he was dumbfounded by unrelenting fevers in early July. After a few days, Bares went to see a doctor and returned home with antibiotics. The drugs did nothing to lower his temperature, and his head hurt so badly that he began to vomit. He checked into a hospital, where doctors ran tests for HIV, hepatitis C, West Nile fever and other infections. They all turned up negative.
As another week passed, his wife, an administrator at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston (UTMB), asked the doctors she worked with for urgent help. Eventually the story reached Lucas Blanton, a young infectious disease physician at UTMB who studies murine typhus, an ancient bacterial infection no longer thought to plague the United States. Blanton immediately recognized Bares' symptoms and prescribed drugs to treat murine typhus, which is spread by fleas. Within 72 hours, Bares' fever lifted as quickly as it had come.
Google might be the king of online ads, but it still gives you a way to limit how some of your data is used to sell you things you don't need.
With its new Shared Endorsements coming on November 11, Google will make the ads you see more personalized by referencing your Google+ username, profile photo, and implied endorsements via comments and +1s.
Short of an ad-blocker, there's not much you can do to avoid ads completely. But Google does provide a few controls for restricting how much of your online behavior shows up in ads.
Pandora, the Internet's biggest radio service, is the company the recorded music industry loves to hate. Some artists have loudly vilified it, accusing it of paying piddling rates to play their work. Labels' acrimony over the service stoked its efforts to paralyze a bill that would have lowered the royalty rate Webcasters pay, and music publishers have singled out Pandora in an effort to withhold their catalogs. The Recording Industry Association of America has outright lied, Pandora claims, about how its payments work.
Amid the vitriol comes iTunes Radio, which, unlike Pandora, struck direct deals with the labels that will let it expand across the globe. In its first five days after launching with the rollout of iOS 7, iTunes Radio notched more than 11 million unique listeners. Pandora, meanwhile, had 72.7 million active users last month.
Researchers studying young bonobos in an African sanctuary have discovered striking similarities between the emotional development of the bonobos and that of children, suggesting these great apes regulate their emotions in a human-like way. This is important to human evolutionary history because it shows the socio-emotional framework commonly applied to children works equally well for apes. Using this framework, researchers can test predictions of great ape behavior and, as in the case of this study, confirm humans and apes share many aspects of emotional functioning.
Zanna Clay, PhD, and Frans de Waal, PhD, of the Living Links Center at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Emory University, conducted the study at a bonobo sanctuary near Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The results are published in the current issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Netflix Inc. (NFLX) is in talks to add its application to the set-top boxes of U.S. cable-television operators, letting customers search for Web-based movies and TV shows alongside traditional programs, three people familiar with the matter said.
Negotiations are furthest along with regional providers and smaller cable operators that use TiVo Inc. (TIVO) set-top boxes, including Suddenlink Communications, though the earliest announcements are weeks to months away, said one of the people, who asked not to be identified because the talks are private. Netflix, the largest video-streaming subscription service, also has held preliminary discussions with larger providers such as Comcast Corp. (CMCSA) and Time Warner Cable Inc. (TWC), the people said.
The talks suggest progress in Netflix’s bid to integrate its service with traditional pay-TV -- an effort under way for two years, Chief Financial Officer David Wells told Bloomberg News last month. Cable operators increasingly see Netflix’s $7.99 monthly service as a tool to attract and retain customers and promote their own on-demand offerings, rather than a threat that will lead users to abandon their pay-TV subscriptions.
Google's latest doodle marks the birthday of Friedrich Nietzsche, the German philosopher widely remembered for his rejection of Christianity, declaration that "God is dead" and often cited influence on Nazism.
Born in 1844 in Röcken, near Leipzig, in the Prussian Province of Saxony, Nietzsche studied theology and classical philology at the University of Bonn and later philology at the University of Leipzig.
A meteoric academic rise saw him appointed as a professor at the University of Basel at the age of 24, despite not completing his doctorate or receiving a teaching certificate.
CHOTEAU, Mont. — Across North America — in places as far-flung as Montana and British Columbia, New Hampshire and Minnesota — moose populations are in steep decline. And no one is sure why.
Twenty years ago, Minnesota had two geographically separate moose populations. One of them has virtually disappeared since the 1990s, declining to fewer than 100 from 4,000.
The other population, in northeastern Minnesota, is dropping 25 percent a year and is now fewer than 3,000, down from 8,000. (The moose mortality rate used to be 8 percent to 12 percent a year.) As a result, wildlife officials have suspended all moose hunting.
Here in Montana, moose hunting permits fell to 362 last year, from 769 in 1995.
“Something’s changed,” said Nicholas DeCesare, a biologist with the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks who is counting moose in this part of the state — one of numerous efforts across the continent to measure and explain the decline. “There’s fewer moose out there, and hunters are working harder to find them.”
What exactly has changed remains a mystery. Several factors are clearly at work. But a common thread in most hypotheses is climate change.