SHUTDOWN FROWNS: Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev. (right), pauses during a news conference with Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., on Capitol Hill on Oct. 12. The federal government remained partially shut down and faced a debt-limit deadline later in October.
Many federal agencies around the world entered their first day shuttered as Republicans in the House deadlocked with Senate Democrats and the president over a new fiscal year budget. The partial government shutdown, the first in 17 years, laid off over 800,000 government workers. At Z-Burger in Washington, D.C., owner Peter Tabibian thought he’d do federal workers a favor by giving them free sandwiches. But 15,840 sandwiches later and with no end to the shutdown in sight, he pulled the plug on a deal he said had cost him $88,000.
Eight people died and 14 suffered injuries when a bus carrying a group of seniors from a North Carolina church blew a tire, swerved across the median of a Tennessee highway, and crashed into oncoming traffic. The victims included members of Front Street Baptist Church in Statesville, N.C., ranging in ages from 62 to 95, all returning from an annual road trip to a three-day festival of gospel music and preaching.
A state appeals court in Pennsylvania ruled former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky should not get a new trial after being convicted of sexually abusing boys. The unanimous decision means Sandusky, 69, could spend the rest of his life in prison serving a 30-to-60-year sentence.
Police fatally shot a 34-year-old Connecticut woman near the U.S. Capitol after a frantic car chase that began when she tried to ram her car through a White House barrier. With her 13-month-old daughter in the car, Miriam Carey led police down Pennsylvania Avenue, forcing a lockdown of the U.S. Capitol. Police found no weapons in Carey’s car, and her infant did not suffer injuries.
A boat packed with about 500 African migrants caught fire and sank off the southern Italian island of Lampedusa, leaving hundreds dead. The rickety vessel, carrying mostly Eritreans and Somalians, became stranded just a half mile from shore. With perhaps only 155 passengers surviving, the episode prompted Italian officials to call for a unified European strategy to deal with a flood of North African migrants. About 15,000 migrants reached Italy and Malta by sea last year.
Count me out
Adding to the litany of recent presidential zigzags on foreign policy, President Obama canceled his trip to Asia over the federal government shutdown. The White House had pegged the trip to important trade talks and highlighting the president’s “pivot” to Asia.
One of the worst blizzards in South Dakota history plowed through the region during the first weekend of October, leaving a wake of destruction. As snowfall reached 31 inches near Mt. Rushmore, ranchers took heavy tolls in lost livestock. At Rainbow Bible Ranch, a summer camp, owners Larry and Robin Reinhold lost 90 horses—including camp favorites nearing 30 years old. “We’re still trying to figure out how to share this news with campers,” Robin Reinhold said. “It’s going to hit kids hard.”
Washington state’s judicial ethics body reprimanded a state judge for refusing to officiate same-sex wedding ceremonies. Thurston County Superior Court Judge Gary Tabor said he was uncomfortable performing the ceremonies because of his religious beliefs. Tabor hoped to officiate only traditional unions, but he may have to stop performing marriages altogether. The Judicial Conduct Commission complaint said his actions “appeared to express a discriminatory intent.”
Arizona officials and business leaders urged the National Park Service to let the state keep the Grand Canyon open, or at least part of it, during the partial government shutdown—and Gov. Jan Brewer offered state money to help. But federal officials seemed determined to make the nation’s parks a pawn in Washington’s political game—barricading monuments, memorials, and national historic sites normally open to the public without much supervision.
U.S. Navy SEALs snatched off the streets of Tripoli a senior al-Qaeda leader wanted for his role in the 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa. Abu Anas al-Libi, considered a top recruiter for al-Qaeda, and held him aboard a U.S. Navy ship ahead of trying him in a U.S. court. Navy SEALs also stormed a beachside compound in Somalia to capture a top member of the al-Shabaab terrorist group behind last month’s attacks in Nairobi. They retreated after coming under heavy gunfire.
As many as 300 Pakistanis, including Muslims and Christians, formed a human chain outside St. Anthony’s Church in Lahore in a display of solidarity. The effort to protect churches followed suicide attacks two weeks ago in Peshawar that killed more than 100 worshippers. “The terrorists showed us what they do on Sundays,” said Mohammad Jibran Nasir, an event organizer. “Here we are showing them what we do on Sundays. We unite.”
The Olympic torch debuted in Moscow for the first day of the 123-day torch relay through Russia in advance of the upcoming Winter Games in Sochi. But the flame faltered as a torchbearer jogged along an embankment across from the Kremlin. “Is Gazprom sponsoring this?” one spectator asked, knocking on the nation’s government-controlled energy company.
Iraq’s parliament set April 30, 2014, for the country’s first national elections since 2010 as a string of attacks in Iraq killed at least 45 people. The attacks included a coordinated series of evening bombings in Baghdad. Since violence surged this spring, more than 5,000 people have been killed in Iraq, including 12 children on Oct. 6 when an explosive-packed vehicle blew up next to their elementary school.
The U.S. Supreme Court opened its new term with a docket that includes the first major abortion case to reach the court since 2007. The justices will look at an Oklahoma law regulating medical abortions through the RU-486 drug regimen. It’s the first time the court has taken on chemical abortions. Other cases may include examining a Massachusetts law establishing a buffer zone around abortion centers, the new healthcare law’s contraceptive mandate, and whether officials can open public meetings with prayer.
“Down for repairs” is what visitors to the Department of Health and Human Services’ healthcare.gov website found as an overnight shutdown to repair the site turned into a prolonged commentary on Obamacare’s faltering start. Reporters searched in vain for would-be enrollees who had successfully signed up for new health insurance markets, while some state exchanges had more success. On talk shows Oct. 6, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew refused to say how many had successfully enrolled.
The Federal Reserve began circulating a new $100 bill featuring a new design and stronger security features. The first $100 bills to be introduced since 1996 still feature Benjamin Franklin. As the most counterfeited U.S. bill in the world, the new $100 includes raised printing along Franklin’s shoulder and security ribbons that shift images from bells to 100s and colors from copper to green. Each costs 12.5 cents to produce—a 60 percent increase over the cost of the old C-note.
President Obama nominated Janet Yellen to succeed Ben Bernanke as head of the Federal Reserve. Yellen, 67, would be the first woman to lead the central bank in its 100-year history, but economists are more interested in her monetary policy: Currently the No. 2 leader at the Fed, Yellen is known for her support of quantitative easing, and likely will unwind the Fed’s controversial bond-buying scheme slowly. Mark Calabria of the Cato Institute is pessimistic: “If you think bubbles are a great avenue for wealth creation, then Yellen is the Fed chair for you.”
Advocates for Haitian victims of a cholera outbreak that killed over 8,000 filed a class action lawsuit against the UN in a Manhattan federal court. The epidemic, which left more than 650,000 sick, began with contaminated sewage from the UN peacekeeping force barracks entering communities of displaced Haitians after the country’s devastating 2010 earthquake. Lawyers seek $2.2 billion for the Haitian government to eradicate cholera plus unspecified damages for victims, but UN officials have said they will not pay compensation.
When White House officials announced they would suspend a major chunk of military aid to Egypt, the message may have hurt as much as the cuts: Many Egyptians view dwindling U.S. support for the post-revolution country as an endorsement of the Muslim Brotherhood. The U.S. State Department plans to withhold deliveries of tanks, aircraft, missiles, and some $260 million in aid to Egypt’s military. (The U.S. gives about $1.5 billion in aid to Egypt each year.) The State Department cites the July removal of President Mohamed Morsi and the country’s ongoing turmoil as reasons for the cuts. Millions of Egyptians demonstrated for the ouster of Morsi and other members of the Muslim Brotherhood in July, saying the group was using power unlawfully for Islamist ends.
Researcher Douglas W. Allen may have added a new dimension to the same-sex marriage debate with a study published in the Review of the Economics of the Household. Allen looked at a 20 percent sample of Canadian census data from 2006, a much larger sample than past studies of homosexual households. His finding: “Children living with gay and lesbian families in 2006 were about 65 percent as likely to graduate compared to children living in opposite sex marriage families.” Children in lesbian households fared the worst, while children with married opposite sex parents fared the best.
Pro-life activists lamented passage of a California law allowing nurse practitioners, certified nurse midwives, and physician assistants to perform early abortions. The law goes into effect Jan. 1. Four other states—Oregon, Montana, Vermont, and New Hampshire—have similar laws.
Korean-American Kenneth Bae—a Christian missionary imprisoned in North Korea—spent 90 minutes with his mother in a prison hospital after officials allowed her a brief visit. North Korean authorities arrested Bae last November on charges of plotting to overthrow the government while he led a tourist group near the Chinese border. Officials sentenced him to 15 years’ hard labor, and a July video showed Bae had lost about 50 pounds while farming at a labor camp. Bae’s mother, Myunghee Bae, said her son looked better since authorities hospitalized him for a range of serious health problems, but his health is “still not so good.”
Truth in advertising
A Christian organization offered a big response to billboards by atheist groups that carry messages like “Praise Darwin: Evolve Beyond Belief.” The group Answers in Genesis bought a billboard in Times Square that reads, “To all of our atheist friends: Thank God you’re wrong.” The Christian group said the campaign includes 10 billboards displayed for four weeks and costs around $200,000.
Food stamp panic
Grocery shoppers in 17 states found they couldn’t use food stamps for more than 10 hours on Saturday after a computer glitch shut down the system. Xerox, the company running the software, said the outage happened during a test of backup systems. The number of affected consumers highlighted the reach of the food stamp program: Some 24 million people receive the debit cards in the 17 states affected. A Walmart store in Mississippi closed after customers began leaving with groceries they hadn’t purchased.
Storming the monuments
Thousands of veterans and their supporters converged on national monuments across Washington to protest federal officials closing the sites during the government shutdown. Dubbed the “Million Vet March” by Tea Party groups, the demonstrations included elderly war veterans in combat helmets. The Obama administration faced escalating criticism over closing the outdoor national monuments to citizens—including many veterans—who traveled long distances to visit.
Boston Red Sox slugger David Ortiz delivered an unforgettable comeback when he smashed a grand slam in an eighth inning playoff game against the Detroit Tigers to tie the game 5-5. A ninth inning run gave the Red Sox a 6-5 victory over the stunned Tigers. “I’ve seen him do some pretty cool things,” said teammate Dustin Pedroia. “But that’s pretty special.”
Beware of bubbles
Three American professors won the 2013 Nobel Prize for economics, but celebratory champagne wasn’t the “bubbly” on one winner’s mind: Robert Shiller of Yale University warned the Fed’s easy money policy and the rapid rise in global housing prices could create a “bubbly” property boom. It’s the same kind of bubble that tanked the U.S. housing market—and the economy—in 2008. Shiller and fellow economists Eugene Fama and Lars Peter Hansen of the University of Chicago split the $1.25 million Nobel Prize for their work on market prices and asset bubbles.