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The Edge

Sorry for Spying, But...—THE EDGE Brought to You by America's Natural Gas

October 29, 2013

By Patrick Reis (@Patrick_C_Reis) and Dustin Volz (@dnvolz)

TODAY IN ONE PARAGRAPH: Top Obama administration officials came to Capitol Hill Tuesday to explain incidents the White House would prefer not to discuss, but their apologies—such as they were—came with caveats. Medicare chief Marilyn Tavenner apologized for the failures of Obamacare's website but gave few details about what had gone wrong, setting up Wednesday's showdown between HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and House Republicans. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper conceded "we have made mistakes," but he insisted the errors belonged to individuals rather than policy problems with the way the government gathers its intelligence. Elsewhere, rumors surfaced of [yet another] potential suitor for BlackBerry: Facebook.

TOP NEWS

IN SEBELIUS PRELUDE, CMS CHIEF APOLOGIZES: CMS administrator Marilyn Tavenner's testimony yielded little real talk about the problem-ridden Obamacare site, as Republicans and Democrats both focused on scoring points against each other rather than asking tough questions. The CMS official said enrollment numbers would be released in mid-November, maintained that people changed insurance policies long before the ACA, and said testing had been done before the launch, although she gave few details. HHS Secretary Sebelius will testify before the Energy and Commerce committee Wednesday. (Sophie Novack, NJ)

 

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT OBAMACARE PLAN CANCELLATIONS: Some plans provided on the market don't meet certain requirements of the law, meaning plans are getting canceled. How many plans are getting axed remains unclear, but, yes, this was all part of the plan. (Sarah Kliff, WaPo)

MORE HEARINGS! CLAPPER, ALEXANDER DEFEND SPYING: Director of National Intelligence James Clapper conceded during a House Intelligence Committee hearing that "we have made mistakes"--but pointed the finger largely at human error and not the overarching policies of the intelligence community. Lawmakers are sounding off about surveillance abuses, though, including, somewhat surprisingly, Sen. Dianne Feinstein. Reps. Jim Sensenbrenner and John Conyers also on Tuesday introduced the Freedom Act, which aims to curtail surveillance programs. (Michael Schmidt, NYT)

OBAMA TAKES 'WAR ON COAL' GLOBAL: The Obama administration, after wielding its executive muscle to fight climate-change pollution from U.S. coal plants, is now using its influence to block new coal-fired power plants worldwide. (Coral Davenport, NJ)

AND THE COAL INDUSTRY IS NONE-TOO-PLEASED ABOUT IT: Several thousand workers from the coal-mining industry—flanked by coal-state lawmakers—converged on the West Lawn of the Capitol on Tuesday to protest the Environmental Protection Agency's greenhouse-gas regulations. (Clare Foran, NJ)

TOMORROW IN ONE PARAGRAPH: Kathleen Sebelius will testify before the House Energy and Commerce Committee at 9 a.m. on the failures of the Obamacare site. Obama heads to Boston to deliver remarks around 4 p.m. on Obamacare and will compare it to Massachusetts' similar law. Joe Biden will visit the National Domestic Violence Hotline headquarters at 1 p.m. in Austin, Texas. The House and Senate are both in session. At noon, the House will consider the "Swaps Regulatory Improvement Act."

TOP LINES

FACEBOOK TO BUY BLACKBERRY? The struggling smartphone company's execs flew to California to seek a potential bid from Facebook. (Connors/Mattioli, WSJ)

SRIRACHA BURNS: People near one of the delicious chili sauce's new factories say it's making their eyes burn. (Roberto Ferdman, Quartz)

JEH JOHNSON: Obama's pick for Homeland Security secretary is preparing for scrutiny from the senators who will soon decide the fate of his nomination. (Stacy Kaper, NJ)

SOCIAL BRAIN: Relationships with others make for a better, healthier brain. (Emily Esfahani Smith, The Atlantic)

SUZANNE SOMERS: Her column blasting Obamacare as "a socialist ponzi scheme" is batty, and not just because of all the corrections appended. (Alex Seitz-Wald, NJ)

TOP READ

CAN LEBRON AND CO. MAKE A 'THREE-HEAT' HAPPEN? We've all been wondering since the final seconds ticked off the clock during Game 7 of the NBA Finals in June. With the NBA's regular season tipping off tonight, will LeBron and Wade make a fourth-straight finals and capture a third-straight title? And who are the best candidates—other than the Milwaukee Bucks—to stop them? (Zach Lowe, Grantland)

TOP VIEWS

LAST NIGHT'S LATE-NIGHT FUNNIES IN UNDER 3 MINUTES: Jon Stewart undresses Democrats' "fix it, don't nix it" mantra on HealthCare.gov with some wicked rhyming of his own. (Reena Flores, NJ)

OBAMA DIDN'T KNOW A WHOLE HECKUVA LOT: Recounting all the times Obama said--or relied on Jay Carney to say--he didn't know something. HealthCare.gov problems? NSA spying on allies? IRS targeting the tea party? Cue the tape. (Reena Flores, NJ)

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