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President Obama has cancelled his trip to the APEC summit in Indonesia amid a federal government shutdown that is now in its fourth day. Republicans have continued to insist on defunding or delaying Obama’s healthcare law as a condition for funding the federal government. Lawmakers are also facing a looming deadline of October 17 to raise the nation’s debt ceiling or risk default. According to The New York Times, House Speaker John Boehner has told colleagues he is determined to pass a debt-limit increase, but he has previously said the hike should be tied to spending cuts. House Republicans have scheduled a vote on a bill sponsored by some top Democrats to provide missed pay to 800,000 federal workers furloughed under the shutdown.
A Republican congressmember is attempting to walk back a controversial statement about Republican motives for the budget fight. Indiana Republican Marlin Stutzman told The Washington Examiner Republicans "have to get something out of this. And I don’t even know what that is." Stutzman later said he had "carelessly misrepresented" the debate. President Obama referenced Stutzman’s remarks during a speech at a construction company in Maryland.
President Obama: "If you’re working here, and in the middle of the day you just stopped and said, 'You know what? I want to get something, but I don't know — I don’t know exactly what I’m going to get, but I’m just going to stop working until I get something. I’m going to shut down the whole plant until I get something,’ you’d get fired! Right?"
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and fellow Kentucky Republican, Senator Rand Paul, were caught on tape chatting candidly about strategy for the shutdown. After finishing an interview with CNN, Paul approached McConnell, who was waiting for another interview, not realizing the microphone was on and the tape rolling. Listen carefully.
Sen. Rand Paul: "Do you have a second?"
Sen. Mitch McConnell: "I’m all wired up here, um."
Sen. Rand Paul: "I just did CNN, and I just go over and over again, ’We’re willing to compromise. We’re willing to negotiate.’ I think — I don’t think they poll-tested 'we won't negotiate.’ I think it’s awful for them to say that over and over again."
Sen. Mitch McConnell: "Yeah, I do, too. And I just came back from a two-hour meeting with them, and that was — that was basically the same view privately as it was publicly."
Sen. Rand Paul: "I think if we keep saying we wanted to defund it, we fought for that, and that we’re willing to compromise on this, I think they can’t — we’re going to — we, I think — well, I know we don’t want to be here, but we’re going to win this, I think."
McConnell is in a tight race in his home state of Kentucky.
Lawmakers debating the budget faced a lockdown at the Capitol Thursday after a woman with a one-year-old child in her car reportedly attempted to ram through a White House security barrier, sparking a car chase past the Capitol, before police shot her dead. The child survived. A Secret Service officer and at least one police officer were injured. The driver is believed to be Miriam Carey, a dental hygienist from Stamford, Connecticut. Carey’s mother said she was suffering from post-partum depression. The Capitol police who responded — and at least one who was injured — are among the hundreds of thousands of workers being forced to work without pay under the shutdown.
In the Gulf Coast, residents are bracing for the arrival of Tropical Storm Karen, which could bring bracing winds and more than eight inches of rain. A hurricane watch is in effect, and governors in Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi have declared states of emergency. The White House says at least some FEMA workers are being recalled from furlough to cope with the storm.
At least 130 African migrants have died after a boat bringing them to Europe caught fire, capsized and sank off the coast of Italy’s Lampedusa island. More than 100 bodies have been recovered and 150 people rescued, while some 200 are missing. The migrants are reportedly from Eritrea and Somalia. A spokesperson for the U.N. refugee agency called the incident "appalling."
Adrian Edwards: "Our thoughts right now are with the families and the people affected themselves. But you have to think of the tragedy that lies behind this, which is that these people, many of them, are likely to have been fleeing war, fleeing persecution, fleeing human rights abuses in their own countries. So this is a tremendous tragedy of multiple layers."
United Nations weapons inspectors say they have made progress toward dismantling Syria’s chemical weapons under a U.N. mandate that calls for the total elimination of the arsenal by mid-2014. U.N. spokesperson Martin Nesirky said the team is hoping to begin on-site inspections and the initial disabling of equipment next week if certain conditions are met.
Martin Nesirky: "The joint team from the United Nations and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has made encouraging initial progress following the first working day of meetings with Syrian authorities. The documents handed over yesterday by the Syrian government look promising, according to team members. But further analysis, particularly of technical diagrams, will be necessary, and some more questions remain to be answered."
The United States will begin flying long-range Global Hawk spy drones from a base in Japan under a deal to expand military ties. The surveillance flights will begin next spring and primarily target North Korea. The deal also includes construction of a new radar system and the use of P-8 anti-submarine planes in Japan, reportedly marking the first use of the aircraft outside the United States.
UPDATE: Angola Three member Herman Wallace died this morning at 5:30 a.m. Louisiana time, less than three days after he was released from prison and less than a day after a grand jury re-indicted him. He was 71 years old.
Just days after he was released from prison following nearly 42 years in solitary confinement, dying Angola Three member Herman Wallace has been re-indicted by a Louisiana grand jury for the 1972 murder of a prison guard. Wallace, who is dying of liver cancer, was released Tuesday into the arms of his supporters after a judge overturned his conviction, saying women were wrongly excluded from the jury that indicted him. Wallace and Albert Woodfox, who remains in prison, were convicted of murder without any physical evidence and despite the fact that a bloody fingerprint at the scene was not theirs. They say they were targeted for their Black Panther organizing, along with a third member, Robert King, who was eventually released after being held for a different crime he did not commit. Wallace has served more time in solitary confinement consecutively than any other U.S. prisoner. District Attorney Sam D’Aquilla said a date will be set by the end of the year for him to appear in court again. He told The New Orleans Advocate, "I say he is a murderer." Wallace’s legal team said in a statement, "We are shocked that a state grand jury was asked to indict a man who has only days to live."
California Gov. Jerry Brown has signed a bill allowing undocumented immigrants to obtain drivers’ licenses. Ten other states have passed similar laws, many of them in the last year. The measure drew wide support from police officials and insurance companies as well as immigrants’ rights groups.
In Texas, Democratic State Senator Wendy Davis has officially launched her candidacy for governor. Davis captivated the country when she rose to her feet for an 11-hour filibuster to try to block an anti-choice bill in June. She made the announcement Thursday outside Fort Worth in the same arena where she received her high-school diploma.
State Sen. Wendy Davis: "And all of you deserve to have your voices heard, because our future is brightest when it’s lit by everyone’s star. And that’s why today I am proud to announce my candidacy to be the 48th governor of this great state."
A U.S. grand jury has indicted 13 members of the hacker group Anonymous for launching cyber-attacks on an array of websites as part of a campaign for transparency and free access to information. Among other targets, the group is accused of attacking credit card companies that blocked payments to WikiLeaks and targeting film industry groups in retaliation for the shutdown of the video file-sharing website, "The Pirate Bay."
Russian prosecutors have charged the remaining 16 people from the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise with piracy following their arrest last month. All 28 environmentalists and two journalists who were on board the ship are now facing up to 15 years in prison after some of the activists tried to board Russia’s first Arctic offshore oil rig. On Saturday, tens of thousands of people in more than 80 cities are expected to participate in a global day of solidarity calling for the release of the Greenpeace prisoners.
Ecuador’s Parliament has approved plans to drill for oil in parts of the Amazon rainforest following the failure of a plan by President Rafael Correa to have wealthy countries pay to preserve Yasuní National Park. The park has been designated a UNESCO biosphere reserve because of its vast biological diversity.
There are reports a former U.S. Navy officer suspected in the killings of two Americans during the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet has died in Santiago. Believing he was living in Florida, Chile’s Supreme Court approved a request for the extradition of Ray Davis last year so he could face trial for the 1973 murders of journalist Charles Horman and student Frank Teruggi in the days after the U.S.-backed coup that ousted Salvador Allende. At the time, Davis commanded the U.S. military mission in Chile. But while Chilean authorities sought his extradition, Davis was reportedly living secretly in Chile. Author Peter Kornbluh told the Associated Press: "They were working to get Davis extradited and he was literally less than a couple of miles down the road." A death certificate says Davis died in Santiago on April 30. The U.S. embassy says it found out about Davis’ death in May and that it did not know he was living in Chile. Speaking on Democracy Now! last month around the 40th anniversary of the coup, Charles Horman’s widow, Joyce Horman, described how her husband was brought to Santiago by Davis just days before he was arrested by Chilean forces and then executed.
Joyce Horman: "He was brought back to Santiago, to the search-and-destroy mission that was Santiago at that time, by the head of the U.S. MILGROUP, Military Group, who had come through blockades to get to Viña del Mar to see his military people in Viña, and then, because they had asked him if he would give a lift to Charles and Terry back to Santiago. His name is Ray, Captain Ray Davis, and he is an extraordinary figure in our story."
Joyce told the Associated Press she wants additional proof from the United States that Davis is actually dead. "After 40 years, this is extraordinarily frustrating," she said.