VIDEO: Today's Headline News from Associated Press
THREATENED DEFAULT LOOMS
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Republicans and Democrats in Congress lumbered through a day of political maneuvering Saturday while a threatened default by the Treasury crept uncomfortably closer and a partial government shutdown neared the end of its second week.
"We haven't done anything yet" by way of compromise, Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said after Senate leaders took control of efforts to end the impasse, although he and other Democrats said repeatedly there was reason for optimism.
Across the Capitol, tea party caucus Republican Rep. John Fleming of Louisiana said there was "definitely a chance that we're going to go past the deadline" that Treasury Secretary Jack Lew has set for Congress to raise the $16.7 trillion debt limit.
Lawmakers in both parties said they were watching for the reaction to the political uncertainty by the financial markets when they reopen after the weekend.
President Barack Obama met with Senate Democratic leaders at the White House after accusing Republicans of practicing the politics of extortion. "Manufacturing crises to extract massive concessions isn't how our democracy works, and we have to stop it," he said in his weekly radio and Internet address.
Ironically, though, House Republicans who triggered the shutdown with tea party-driven demands to eradicate Obama's health law conceded that they had temporarily been reduced to virtual bystander status.
The president's party rejected a stab at compromise led by GOP Maine Sen. Susan Collins, while Republicans blocked the advance of a no-strings attached measure the Democrats drafted to let the Treasury resume normal borrowing. The party line vote was 53-45, seven short of the 60 required.
WIND, RAIN POUND INDIA AS MASSIVE CYCLONE HITS
BEHRAMPUR, India (AP) -- A massive, powerful cyclone packing heavy rains and destructive winds slammed into India's eastern coastline Saturday evening, as hundreds of thousands of residents moved inland to shelters in hopes of riding out the dangerous storm.
Roads were all but empty as high waves lashed the coastline of Orissa state, which will bear the brunt of Cyclone Phailin. By midafternoon, wind gusts were so strong that they could blow over grown men. Seawater pushed inland, swamping villages where many people survive as subsistence farmers in mud and thatch huts.
As the cyclone swept across the Bay of Bengal toward the Indian coast, satellite images showed its spinning tails covering an area larger than France. Images appeared to show the storm making landfall early Saturday night near Gopalpur.
With some of the world's warmest waters, the Indian Ocean is considered a cyclone hot spot, and some of the deadliest storms in recent history have come through the Bay of Bengal, including a 1999 cyclone that also hit Orissa and killed 10,000 people.
Officials said early reports of deaths from Phailin won't become clear until after daybreak Sunday.
FOOD STAMP DEBIT CARDS NOT WORKING IN MANY STATES
People in Ohio, Michigan and 15 other states found themselves unable to use their food stamp debit-style cards on Saturday, after a routine check by vendor Xerox Corp. resulted in a system failure.
The electronic benefits system experienced a temporary shutdown during a routine test of Xerox back-up systems, company spokeswoman Jennifer Wasmer said Saturday.
"While the system is now up and running, beneficiaries in the 17 affected states continue to experience connectivity issues to access their benefits. Technical staff is addressing the issue and expect the system to be restored soon," Wasmer said in an emailed statement. "Beneficiaries requiring access to their benefits can work with their local retailers who can activate an emergency voucher system where available. We appreciate our clients' patience while we work through this outage as quickly as possible."
U.S. Department of Agriculture spokeswoman Courtney Rowe underscored that the outage is not related to the government shutdown.
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