TODAY IN ONE PARAGRAPH: Senate Republicans blocked two Obama nominees Thursday, including the president's pick to clean up troubled home-mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Elsewhere, the FAA relaxed rules on using electronic devices on airplanes, Cory Booker joined the Senate, and National Geographic started the countdown until the sun explodes. Spoiler alert: You still have time for trick-or-treating.
BREAKING: ORACLE, GOOGLE, RED HAT TO HELP FIX OBAMACARE SITE: The tech giants have agreed to work on fixing the broken site, according to an HHS spokeswoman. (CNN)
SENATE REPUBLICANS BLOCK TWO NOMINATIONS: Talk of deploying the "nuclear option" returned to the upper chamber today, as the GOP blocked Rep. Mel Watt, D-N.C, to head the Federal Housing Finance Agency, and then blocked Patricia Millett's bid for a judgeship on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. Both nominees fell short of the 60-vote thresholds needed. (Burgess Everett, Politico)
WHO IS MEL WATT AND WHY DOES HE MATTER? Watt's vote was expected to be close, as several Republicans expressed outrage that a politician would be nominated for an agency that oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Though Watt, who has served in the House since 1992, is well-liked in his chamber, some senators questioned his qualifications for the post and his close ties to the administration. (Nick Timiraos, WSJ)
ONE OBAMACARE BLAME CHART TO RULE THEM ALL: Weeks into HealthCare.gov's woes, no easy scapegoat has emerged. Republicans point the finger at the Obama administration, which has charged health insurance companies with the bulk of responsibility. Kathleen Sebelius is blaming just about everyone (including herself). Here's a handy chart to help you sort out the blame game. (Resnick/Danello, NJ)
BOOKER SWORN IN: Cory Booker was sworn into the Senate Thursday and was set to meet Thursday afternoon with Obama. But will the New Jersey Democrat's tweet-happy approach do anything to break Washington gridlock? High hopes abound, but we've heard this one before. (Cory Booker, NYT)
YOUR PARTY IS BEING DESTROYED BY THE CRAZIES: Mad-as-hell voters aren't getting any less mad with either party's pandering to the extreme fringes. Is the end of the two-party system nigh? (Ron Fournier, NJ)
TOMORROW IN ONE PARAGRAPH: Obama will host the Iraqi prime minister at the White House. The House and Senate are out of session. Ron Paul speaks at the 2013 Milton S. Eisenhower Symposium at 8 p.m.
GADGETS ON PLANES: The FAA finally eased up restrictions, because your Kindle won't crash the plane. But pool cues and snow globes and other random accoutrements are still strictly forbidden. (NJ)
SYRIA: Nobel Peace Prize-winning OPCW declared Assad's regime "has completed the functional destruction of critical equipment for all of its declared chemical-weapons production facilities and mixing/filling plants, rendering them inoperable." (Dominic Evans, Reuters)
EDWARD SNOWDEN: The leaker-in-chief has secured a "technical support" gig with a Russian website and will start work Friday. (Vlad Savov, Verge)
THE SUN'S FINAL HOUR (and eon): The end of life on Earth will happen in 2.8 billion years, as our friend the Sun will burn everything—and possibly engulf the planet. (Andrew Fazekas, NatGeo)
WASHINGTON MONUMENT: The wounded structure's lights will go dark this weekend, and scaffolding will start being removed on Nov. 12. The monument is still on track to reopen next spring. (Michael Ruane, WaPo)
HOW THE RED SOX WENT FROM WORST TO FIRST IN ONE YEAR: Don't believe anyone who told you they saw it coming. The Red Sox won Game 6 of the World Series last night, prompting the best party Fenway has seen in almost a century. How did they go from a 2012 embarrassment to 2013 champions? (Jonah Keri, Grantland)
THE BLACK-LUNG DENIERS: A small unit of radiologists at Johns Hopkins has been in the business for 40 years of helping the coal industry refute claims of black-lung disease by miners, according to an extensive investigative report. Said one chief doctor: "I think if they have [black lung], it should be up to them to prove it." (Chris Hamby, Center for Public Integrity/ABC News)