Afternoon News Round-Up: Give Congress a Particle Collider (But Not an Xbox)

The House passes Head Start funding bill, Americans get poor marks and the Nobel Prize committee travels back in time.

A model of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) tunnel is seen in the CERN (European Organization For Nuclear Research) visitors' center June 16, 2008 in Geneva-Meyrin, Switzerland.
National Journal
Dustin Volz and Patrick Reis
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Dustin Volz and Patrick Reis
Oct. 8, 2013, 12:50 p.m.

By Dustin Volz and Patrick Re­is

TODAY IN ONE PARA­GRAPH: House Re­pub­lic­ans con­tin­ued their piece-by-piece ap­proach to re­open­ing the gov­ern­ment, this time with a bill to fund Head Start for fisc­al 2014. Pres­id­ent Obama con­tin­ued his pub­lic-sham­ing cam­paign against Re­pub­lic­ans over the shut­down and debt ceil­ing. Mar­kets, largely res­ol­ute thus far in the face of Con­gress’s twin crises, are start­ing to show signs of crack­ing. Else­where, yet-an­oth­er study demon­strated that Amer­ic­ans are fall­ing be­hind in edu­ca­tion, and two European phys­i­cists got a No­bel Prize for their 50-year-old the­ory on the ori­gin of mat­ter.


OBAMA: ‘WE CAN’T MAKE EX­TOR­TION ROUTINE AS PART OF OUR DEMO­CRACY’: Pres­id­ent Obama re­af­firmed dur­ing his hour-long af­ter­noon press con­fer­ence that he will only ne­go­ti­ate on is­sues like the tax code, job policies, or Obama­care if the threat of a gov­ern­ment shut­down or debt ceil­ing is aver­ted. But the pres­id­ent also signaled that a short-term debt ceil­ing in­crease could be a real, al­though un­favored, way for­ward. Obama called Speak­er John Boehner earli­er in the day to at­tempt to move the needle, but it ap­pears the con­ver­sa­tion again yiel­ded little pro­gress. (Calmes/Weis­man, NYT)

WHERE IS DEAL­MAKER-IN-CHIEF JOE BIDEN? He’s ef­fect­ively side­lined by Sen­ate Ma­jor­ity Lead­er Harry Re­id, who be­lieves Biden has giv­en away too much in con­ces­sions dur­ing pre­vi­ous budget ne­go­ti­ations. (Al­len/Brown, Politico)

MAR­KETS BE­GIN TO LOOK VERY SKIT­TISH: For a while, mar­kets ac­ted as if they didn’t think law­makers would al­low for a long gov­ern­ment shut­down or ser­i­ously flirt with de­fault­ing on the coun­try’s debts, but that con­fid­ence ap­pears to be quickly wan­ing. Graphs il­lus­trat­ing sharp changes in the yield on one-month Treas­ury bills are one alarm­ing in­dic­a­tion that “shows the real dam­age has already been done to the U.S. repu­ta­tion as a bor­row­er.” (Matt Phil­lips, Quartz)

UN­EX­PLAINED POWER SURGES CRIP­PLING NSA DATA CEN­TER: “Chron­ic elec­tric­al surges at the massive new data-stor­age fa­cil­ity cent­ral to the Na­tion­al Se­cur­ity Agency’s spy­ing op­er­a­tion have des­troyed hun­dreds of thou­sands of dol­lars worth of ma­chinery and delayed the cen­ter’s open­ing for a year, ac­cord­ing to pro­ject doc­u­ments and cur­rent and former of­fi­cials. There have been 10 melt­downs in the past 13 months that have pre­ven­ted the NSA from us­ing com­puters at its new Utah data-stor­age cen­ter, slated to be the spy agency’s largest.” (Siobhan Gor­man, WSJ)

OBAMA GOES RE­VERSE OPRAH: No Xbox for you, Mr. Speak­er, the pres­id­ent said Tues­day, de­ploy­ing no short­age of rhet­or­ic­al flair and (slightly out­dated) pop cul­ture ref­er­ences in a speech im­plor­ing Re­pub­lic­ans to to raise the debt ceil­ing. (Matt Vasi­lo­gam­bros, NJ)

TO­MOR­ROW IN ONE PARA­GRAPH: Both the House and Sen­ate are in ses­sion. Vice Pres­id­ent Joe Biden will at­tend the World Food Pro­gram USA’s 12th an­nu­al George McGov­ern Lead­er­ship Award Ce­re­mony at 3 p.m. to hon­or former Sen. Bob Dole, R-Kan., for his lead­er­ship in al­le­vi­at­ing glob­al hun­ger. Sec­ret­ary of State John Kerry is still in Brunei for the U.S.-ASEAN sum­mit and East Asia sum­mit. Treas­ury Sec­ret­ary Jac­ob Lew will de­liv­er open­ing re­marks at a 2 p.m. meet­ing held by the Inter-Amer­ic­an De­vel­op­ment Bank.


AMAZON: A court rul­ing backed the on­line re­tail­er in a fight with IBM over a $600 mil­lion CIA con­tract for cloud com­put­ing. (Sakthi Prasad, Re­u­ters)

LY­ING POLITI­CIANS: They lie, sure, but they’re less likely to do so if they are wor­ried about fact-check­ers call­ing them out for it. (Molly Ball, The At­lantic)

GUANTANAMO CLOS­URE: De­fense Sec­ret­aryChuck Hagel has tapped Paul Lewis, a former House Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee law­yer, as a spe­cial en­voy to close the de­ten­tion cen­ter. (Stephanie Gaskell, De­fense One)

HIGGS BO­SON: A pair of sci­ent­ists from Bel­gi­um and Bri­tain won the 2013 No­bel Prize in phys­ics al­most 50 years after de­vel­op­ing the­or­ies for how the uni­verse’s build­ing blocks ac­cu­mu­late mass to form the world as we know it. (Karl Ritter, AP)

DUMB AMER­IC­ANS: A new glob­al re­port finds Amer­ic­ans rank­ing be­low world­wide av­er­ages in math, read­ing, and prob­lem-solv­ing, and the U.S. per­formed worse than just about all oth­er coun­tries con­sidered de­veloped na­tions. (Roberto Ferd­man, Quartz)

‘GREAT GATSBY CURVE’: Widen­ing gaps between the rich and poor are mak­ing it harder for young people to climb lad­ders in the eco­nomy, mak­ing the lit­er­ary rise to riches at­tained by Jay Gatsby an in­creas­ingly un­likely scen­ario. (Woellert/Stil­well, Bloomberg)


THE GUARD­I­AN’S IN­CRED­IBLE FIGHT TO SUR­VIVE: The Guard­i­an has broken some huge in­vest­ig­at­ive stor­ies over the past few years, most re­cently with its steady sup­ply of stor­ies ex­pos­ing the secret gov­ern­ment sur­veil­lance pro­grams. But even as the old Brit­ish news­pa­per has ex­pan­ded rap­idly on­line and cul­tiv­ated an enorm­ous glob­al audi­ence, Ed­it­or Alan Rus­bridger is in a race against time to gen­er­ate more rev­en­ue and to cut costs be­fore the trust that has sup­por­ted its work for dec­ades runs dry. (Ken Auletta, The New York­er)

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