Tuesday, September 26, 2023

9/26 WAKE-UP CALL: Gov't Shutdown Showdown Coming

The Republican-controlled House of Representatives is due to try to advance steep spending cuts this week that stand no chance of becoming law and could force a partial shutdown of the U.S. government by next Sunday. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy sought to avoid that scenario when he hammered out a spending agreement with Democratic President Joe Biden this spring. But some members of his own party have threatened to depose him if he does not support steeper cuts that are sure to be rejected by the Democratic-controlled Senate. Hundreds of thousands of federal workers will be furloughed and a wide range of services, from financial oversight to medical research, will be suspended if Congress does not provide funding for the new fiscal year that starts Oct. 1.

Congress typically misses that deadline and passes stopgap spending bills to avoid disruption while they finish their work. But McCarthy has been unable so far to muster support for a temporary spending extension as a group of hardline Republicans have refused to go along. Republicans control the House by a narrow 221-212 majority and have few votes to spare.

➤MENENDEZ SAYS HE WON'T QUIT:  Sen. Bob Menendez said he won’t quit the Senate. The New Jersey lawmaker’s refusal to resign after being indicted by federal prosecutors in a sweeping bribery scheme creates a headache for Democrats headed into 2024, where they are fighting to hang on to a 51-49 majority in the Senate. In his first public remarks, Menendez said the more than $480,000 in cash investigators found hidden in his house last year was withdrawn from his personal savings account for emergencies. He also referenced his family’s experience with confiscation in Cuba; Menendez was born in the U.S. in 1954 to Cuban immigrant parents. Many House Democrats have said he should step down, but only one Democratic senator—John Fetterman of Pennsylvania—has joined those calls. The senator didn’t say if he plans to run for re-election.

➤VENEZUELAN FLAG PLANTED ON TEXAS LAND: A Venezuelan flag was planted in the middle of the Rio Grande at the US-Mexico border at Eagle Pass before it was promptly taken down by Texas officials over the weekend. In just two days an astonishing 4,000 migrants entered Eagle Pass, a small border town of fewer than 30,000. Most have been released after being processed and will remain free as they wait for their asylum appointments - a process that could take years. According to local reports, most of the asylum seekers are Venezuelans who say they had to leave their home country because of the economic and social collapse of the South American nation under the socialist regime of Nicolas Maduro. 

➤TOP RUSSIAN OFFICIAL DEMANDS UKRAINE SURRENDER: A top Russian official warned that Ukraine must surrender on Moscow's terms or the country will "cease to exist," and Ukraine claimed to have killed a top Russian admiral in Crimea as the war dragged into its 20th month with no solution in sight. USAToday reports Vyacheslav Volodin, speaker of Russia's lower house of parliament, told Russian state media that President Joe Biden, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg and other Western officials have poured massive amounts of time, effort, money and military might into the war. Nineteen months after Russia's invasion began, the West has made little headway while its economies struggle and support dwindles, Volodin said. "The simple facts are these: The West is experiencing weapons and ammunition shortages, people in Europe and the U.S. have lost trust in politicians, and the Kyiv regime’s counteroffensive has failed," Volodin said.

➤TAXPAYERS ON THE HOOK FOR SEIZED YACHTS: Taxpayers have been stuck paying the bills for oligarchs’ seized yachts and mansions.  At the start of the war in Ukraine, dozens of governments launched an unprecedented effort to pressure Russian President Vladimir Putin to end the conflict by going after his cronies. But legal efforts to show the sanctioned oligarchs committed crimes—thus allowing the sale of their financial assets—can take months or even years. In the meantime, governments around the world are paying millions of dollars to cover urgent maintenance costs of seized yachts and villas. So far, the grand total from the assets delivered to Ukraine by the U.S. is just $5.4 million, the U.S. said.

💸MORTGAGE PAYMENTS NEARLY DOUBLES  IN 3-YEARS: Mortgage payments for the average family have nearly doubled since the start of the pandemic after rates reached their highest level in 20 years. The average monthly mortgage payment on an American home has soared from $1,191 in January 2020 to $2,161 in July this year according to the Mortgage Brokers Association. The increase has been driven by 11 successive increases in the bank rate as the administration struggles to control surging prices.

📺WRITER'S STRIKE ALMOST OVER, NOW WHAT?: Talk show producers started planning new episodes on Monday, the first steps to put Hollywood back to work after writers reached a tentative deal to end their nearly five-month strike. The Writers Guild of America (WGA), which represents roughly 11,500 film and television writers, reached a preliminary three-year deal with major studios on Sunday. The agreement still must be approved by the union's leadership and members. While actors remain on strike, late-night and daytime talk shows may resume production once their writers receive the Guild's greenlight to return to work in the coming days or weeks. "The Drew Barrymore Show" is aiming to go back on the air in October, a source with knowledge of the plans said. Barrymore had sparked a backlash by announcing she was going to bring the show back in mid-September, a decision she reversed.

➤BRUCE WILLIS’ WIFE SAYS ‘IT’S HARD TO KNOW’ IF HE’S AWARE OF HIS DIAGNOSIS: On Monday’s episode of the Today show, Emma Heming Willis spoke with Hoda Kotb about Bruce Willis’ diagnosis in honor of World Frontotemporal Dementia Awareness Week. "Dementia is hard," Heming Willis said. "It’s hard on the person diagnosed, it’s also hard on the family. And that is no different for Bruce, or myself, or our girls. When they say this is a family disease, it really is." She added that it’s unclear whether her husband is aware of his condition or not. "It's hard to know," she said. The Armageddon actor’s family revealed in 2022 that he was stepping away from acting after being diagnosed with aphasia. In February of this year, the family revealed his condition had “progressed,” and that he had been diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia.

🍧MORE ICE CREAM ADDED TO LISTERIA RECALL THAT REACHES FLORIDA, TEXAS AND 37 OTHER STATES: Life Raft Treats expanded the recall of ice cream that might have taken listeria to customers in 38 states and the District of Columbia after South Carolina inspectors found listeria in another lot. The original recall said these went to customers in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The updated recall says the recalled ice cream went to customers in Florida, California, Texas, New York, South Carolina, North Carolina, Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Vermont, Washington and Wisconsin.

➤CHATGPT CAN NOW RESPOND WITH SPOKEN WORDS: ChatGPT has learned to talk. OpenAI, the San Francisco artificial intelligence start-up, released a version of its popular chatbot on Monday that can interact with people using spoken words. As with Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri, and other digital assistants, users can talk to ChatGPT and it will talk back. For the first time, ChatGPT can also respond to images. People can, for example, upload a photo of the inside of their refrigerator, and the chatbot can give them a list of dishes they could cook with the ingredients they have.

Joe Burrow played through a right calf strain to complete 26 of 49 passes for 259 yards while Ja'Marr Chase had 12 catches for 141 yards to lead the Cincinnati Bengals past the visiting Los Angeles Rams, 19-16, on Monday night. Logan Wilson intercepted Matthew Stafford twice and the Bengals (1-2) recorded six sacks to hold Los Angeles' offense at bay. Stafford finished 18-for-33 for 269 yards with one touchdown and the two interceptions. The Rams (1-2) were held to three field goals from Brett Maher before Stafford found Tutu Atwell for a 1-yard TD with 1:03 left in the game.

🏈NFL EAGLES 25 BUCCANEERS 11: Jalen Hurts accounted for two touchdowns and D'Andre Swift rushed for 130 yards to help the visiting Philadelphia Eagles cruise to a 25-11 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Monday night. Hurts completed 23 of 37 passes for 277 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions while also rushing for a score as the Eagles achieved their second straight 3-0 start. Olamide Zaccheaus had a scoring reception, A.J. Brown had nine catches for 131 yards and Jalen Carter forced two fumbles for Philadelphia.

⚾MLB ASTROS 5 MARINERS 1:  Justin Verlander turned in a vintage performance, taking a shutout into the ninth inning as the Houston Astros defeated the host Seattle Mariners 5-1 on Monday night to extend their lead in the race for the American League's third and final wild-card playoff berth. Yordan Alvarez and Kyle Tucker homered for the Astros (86-71), who snapped a three-game losing streak and moved 1 1/2 games ahead of the Mariners (84-72), who lost their fourth in a row. The contest was the opener of a three-game series.

⚾MLB RANGERS 5 ANGELS 1:  Adolis Garcia, Mitch Garver and Nathaniel Lowe hit back-to-back-to-back home runs and Jon Gray allowed one run over six innings to lead the Texas Rangers to their sixth straight victory, a 5-1 win over the Los Angeles Angels on Monday night in Anaheim, Calif. Marcus Semien also homered for Texas (88-68), which remained 2 1/2 games ahead of the Houston Astros in the American League West with six games to go. The Rangers, who have hit 17 home runs and scored 45 runs during their six-game winning streak, also moved into the AL home run lead with 227.


  • Yankees 6 D-Backs 4
  • Giants 2 Padres 1

🏈MATT RYAN: 'NO INTEREST' IN LEAVING ANALYST JOB TO BE JETS QB: MVP-winning quarterback-turned-booth announcer Matt Ryan said Monday he has "no interest" in coming out of retirement to play for the New York Jets. Ryan, 38, was addressing a report from Sunday that his representatives had reached out to the Jets in the aftermath of Aaron Rodgers' season-ending Achilles injury. Ryan said his agent was just doing his job to check on potential opportunities but that he's content right where he is.

🏈RAIDERS QB JIMMY GAROPPOLO SUFFERED CONCUSSION IN SNF LOSS: Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo is in the NFL's concussion protocol after taking several hits in Sunday night's 23-18 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, putting his availability for this week's game at the Los Angeles Chargers in question. Raiders coach Josh McDaniels said Monday he was not sure when Garoppolo suffered the concussion and had yet to talk to the quarterback. And while Garoppolo never left the game because of a head injury, he did take a hit to the helmet from Steelers safety Minkah Fitzpatrick that ended with Garoppolo's head bouncing off the grass with less than seven minutes to play.

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