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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The four Senators released a joint statement, saying in part, "There are provisions in this draft that repreesnt an improvement to our current health care system, but it does not appear this draft as written will accomplish the most important promise we made to Americans: to repeal Obamacare and lower their health care costs."
Trump tweeted Thursday afternoon, "With all of the recently reported electronic surveillance, intercepts, unmasking and illegal leaking of information, I have no idea whether there are "tapes" or recordings of my conversations with James Comey, but I did not make, and do not have, any such recordings."