The partial shutdown of the federal government is in its third day after more failed talks between the White House, Democrats and House Republicans. President Obama met with congressional leaders on Wednesday, but is maintaining his rejection of a Republican effort to link government funding to the repeal or delay of his signature healthcare law. In an interview, Obama said he is “exasperated” over the Republican stance.
President Obama: “During the course of my presidency, I have bent over backwards to work with the Republican Party and have purposefully kept my rhetoric down. I think I’m pretty well known for being a calm guy; sometimes people think I’m too calm. And am I exasperated? Absolutely, I’m exasperated, because this is entirely unnecessary.”
Health exchanges under the Affordable Care Act went online earlier this week. The New York Times reports the new healthcare law will leave out two-thirds of the nation’s poor blacks and single mothers and more than half of the nation’s low-wage workers who do not have insurance. That is because they live in 26 states controlled by Republicans that have rejected the vast expansion of Medicaid. The Supreme Court allowed states to opt out of the Medicaid provision earlier this year. Overall, up to seven million Americans are now ineligible for Medicaid.
The U.N. Security Council has called on all parties to Syria’s more than two-year civil war to allow pauses to fighting in order to ensure the delivery of humanitarian aid. The measure also calls on the Syrian government to permit cross-border deliveries of aid and ensure the safety of supply convoys. Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos said that in addition to the obligations on Syria and armed rebels, the international community should increase its support for desperately needed aid.
Valerie Amos: “If the parties to the conflict observe the call of the united international community and meet their obligations under international humanitarian and human rights laws, they will stop targeting innocent women, children and men, and civilian services and infrastructure, and we will see fewer lives lost and fewer violations of human rights. In the region, we should see greater and more united support to those communities and governments hosting refugees and to the refugees themselves. We hope all member states will take note of this clear commitment and give even more generously. A steady stream of funding will mean the humanitarian community can scale up and continue to provide the help that people so urgently need.”
According to the United Nations, the Syrian conflict has killed more than 100,000 people and displaced another two million.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is continuing a public campaign to cast doubt on diplomatic engagement with Iran. Speaking before the U.N. General Assembly, Netanyahu accused new Iranian Prime Minister Hassan Rouhani of deceiving the world about Iran’s nuclear program. He also renewed a threat to launch military strikes.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: “Now, I know, Rouhani doesn’t sound like Ahmadinejad. But when it comes to Iran’s nuclear weapons program, the only difference between them is this: Ahmadinejad was a wolf in wolf’s clothing; Rouhani is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, a wolf who thinks he can pull the eyes—the wool over the eyes of the international community. Israel will not allow Iran to get nuclear weapons. If Israel is forced to stand alone, Israel will stand alone. Yet in standing alone, Israel will know that we will be defending many, many others.”
Netanyahu’s comments come days after a phone call between President Obama and Rouhani, the highest-level U.S.-Iran contact in decades.
The death toll from a more than week-long crackdown on protests in Sudan has reportedly topped 170. The International Federation for Human Rights says Sudanese forces have wounded hundreds of people and arrested more than 800 since a cut to gas subsidies sparked demonstrations last month. The current unrest is said to be the worst in Sudan’s urban areas during Bashir’s 24-year rule.
Tens of thousands of people have rallied in Mexico City to mark the 45th anniversary of the Tlatelolco massacre of student demonstrators. On October 2, 1968, just days before Mexico City hosted the Olympics, government forces opened fire on protesters in the Plaza de las Tres Culturas. The exact death toll remains unknown, but human rights activists say as many as 350 people were killed. To date, no one has been tried or convicted for the killings. On Wednesday, a protester described the 1968 student movement.
Citlali Hernandez, protester: “Specifically the student movement of '68 was demanding democratic rights that today allow us to mobilize and have the right to freedom of expression. They don't kill us anymore for pasting up posters, but we are seeing a kind of authoritarian government since Enrique Peña Nieto came to power.”
During Wednesday’s protest, at least 97 people were detained. Police reportedly attacked journalists and human rights monitors. The anniversary came amid mass protests by teachers against education reforms backed by President Enrique Peña Nieto.
Russian prosecutors have filed piracy charges against 13 activists with the group Greenpeace as well as a journalist who covered their attempt to board Russia’s first Arctic offshore oil rig. The group were among 30 people with Greenpeace arrested last month. They each face up to 15 years in prison. In a statement, Greenpeace called the charges “extreme and disproportionate.”
The National Security Agency says it has developed the capability to collect the location data from Americans’ cellphone use, but does not currently have a program to store it in bulk. Speaking before the Senate Judiciary Committee, General Keith Alexander said the mass collection of cellphone location information may be a “future requirement,” but not one currently in place.
A technology entrepreneur has revealed the full story of why he shut down his encrypted email service earlier this year. Ladar Levison closed Lavabit in August after refusing to comply with a government effort to tap his customers’ information. Levison has now confirmed the FBI was targeting Edward Snowden, who used Lavabit’s services. But he says instead of just targeting Snowden, the government effectively wanted access to the accounts of 400,000 other Lavabit customers, forcing his decision to close. Levison spoke out after a federal judge unsealed documents in the case on Wednesday. Back in August, when he was under a gag order, Levison appeared on Democracy Now! for his first broadcast interview.
Ladar Levison: “I think if the American public knew what our government was doing, they wouldn’t be allowed to do it anymore, which is why I’m here in D.C. today speaking to you. My hope is that, you know, the media can uncover what’s going on, without my assistance, and, you know, sort of pressure both Congress and our efforts through the court system to, in effect, put a cap on what it is the government is entitled to in terms of our private communications.”
Levison now says that since first going public, he has been summoned before a grand jury, fined $10,000 for handing over encryption keys on paper instead of digitally, and threatened with arrest for speaking out.
A federal judge has ordered the appointment of a monitor to ensure an end to racial profiling by Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio. The ruling follows a decision earlier this year that ordered Arpaio to stop using race as a factor in targeting Latino drivers while trying to round up undocumented immigrants.
The San Francisco Board of Supervisors has voted to cut ties to a federal program facilitating the deportation of undocumented immigrants arrested for crimes. In a unanimous vote, the board voted to end a practice allowing the extended detention of undocumented immigrants in order to hand them over to federal authorities for deportation. Los Angeles took a similar action with the Secure Communities program last year.
Hundreds of people rallied at the Ohio statehouse on Wednesday to protest anti-abortion measures signed into law earlier this year. Provisions added to Ohio’s budget in June effectively defund Planned Parenthood, shift funds to deceptive crisis pregnancy centers, impose restrictions that could shut down clinics and require providers to detect any fetal heartbeat and then tell the patient about it before an abortion.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry is claiming his wife misspoke when she referred to abortion as a woman’s right. At a public event last month, Anita Perry was quoted as saying that although she is personally opposed, abortion “could be a woman’s right, just like it’s a man’s right if he wants to have some kind of procedure.” Perry says his wife used the “wrong word in the wrong place.”
The mortgage giant Freddie Mac has reached new settlements with three large banks for the sale of toxic mortgages. Wells Fargo, Citigroup and SunTrust Banks will pay a combined $1.3 billion to resolve claims around misrepresenting the quality of home loans that were bundled into securities.