- Created on 03 October 2013
Washington (CNN) -- The slogging efforts to resolve the federal government's budget crisis ground to a halt Thursday as shots rang out around the Capitol, forcing legislators and their staffs to call off any business and shelter in place.
The gunfire -- first reported around 2 p.m. ET -- prompted a lockdown of Capitol Hill buildings, as well as of the nearby Supreme Court. It also caused debate on the House and Senate floors to cease suddenly, with people soon thereafter told they could not leave, nor could anyone else come in. The lockdown was lifted around 3 p.m.
The incident comes on the third day of the government shutdown, which came after the two chambers of Congress failed to agree on a budget plan to send to President Barack Obama.
Earlier Thursday, Obama directly challenged House Speaker John Boehner to end the shutdown by bringing up a spending plan already approved by the Democratic-led Senate. Boehner, however, has steadfastly resisted other pleas in the past. Instead he has insisted that the Senate reconcile its plan with that of the Republican-led House, which includes provisions targeting the president's signature health care reform, the Affordable Care Act.
The president gave his latest pitch one day after these two men, as well as other Congressional leaders, met face-to-face for the first time since the budget impasse put 800,000 workers at risk of furloughs and caused increasing concerns over direct and collateral economic harm.
Back on the attack
In a campaign style-speech earlier Thursday in Rockville, Maryland, Obama was back on the attack against what he called the "reckless" strategy by Republicans that he said imperiled the nation's economic recovery from recession.
He insisted that the Senate version of a short-term spending plan to fund the government would pass the House with support from Democrats and some Republicans.
"The only thing that is keeping the government shut down, the only thing preventing people from going back to work, and basic research starting back up, and farmers and small business owners, getting their loans -- the only thing that's preventing all that from happening right now today, in the next five minutes, is that Speaker John Boehner won't even let the bill get a yes-or-no vote because he doesn't want to anger the extremists in his party," Obama said.
A conservative GOP wing has demanded that any spending measure include provisions to dismantle or defund Obamacare, the president's signature health care reforms passed by Democrats in 2010 and upheld by the Supreme Court last year.
The anti-Obamacare provisions caused the impasse, with Obama and Democrats refusing to link partisan demands to any plan to keep the government funded.
Cantor: GOP should stand its ground
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor urged his GOP colleagues to maintain their stand, issuing a memo that called the position of Obama and Democrats "untenable."
House Republicans would continue passing piecemeal funding measures for popular programs such as veterans affairs, national parks and medical research to keep up pressure on Senate Democrats who refuse to consider such measures in the ongoing stalemate, Cantor's memo said.
"While no one can predict with certainty how the current shutdown will be resolved, I am confident that if we keep advancing commonsense solutions to the problems created by the shutdown that Senate Democrats and President Obama will eventually agree to meaningful discussions that would allow us to ultimately resolve this impasse," Cantor said in the memo that a GOP source made available to CNN.
A conversation between two conservative GOP senators showed Republicans think they can win the debate. In the comments caught by live microphone, tea party backed Sen. Rand Paul tells his Kentucky GOP colleague, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, that continuing to hammer Democrats for refusing to consider GOP proposals would eventually succeed.
Proposal from moderates
Meanwhile, two moderate House members -- one Republican and one Democrat -- proposed a compromise Thursday that would fund the government for six months while eliminating a tax on medical devices in the health care reforms.
Senate Democrats quickly rejected the idea because it would link the health care reform provision to the need to fund the government now while extending deep mandatory budget cuts they oppose for half of the new fiscal year.
Instead, Obama and Democrats want to negotiate a broader budget deal that could include tax reforms and other matters, but only after the government is reopened through passage of a "clean" short-term spending plan with no anti-Obamacare provisions.
GOP moderates huddle as conservatives set agenda
In his speech, Obama urged Congress to "pass a budget that funds our government with no partisan strings attached." He also called on Republicans to support raising the federal debt ceiling, which must be increased by October 17 so that the United States does not default on its obligations.
"As reckless as a government shutdown is, an economic shutdown that results from default would be dramatically worse," Obama said, noting that Social Security checks and disability benefits would be affected.
"There will be no negotiations over this," the president said.
Obama was speaking to workers at at M. Luis Construction, in part to highlight impacts of the shutdown on small businesses. Many are suffering this week because some customers and clients -- idle federal workers or agencies -- aren't doing business.
- Created on 02 October 2013
Washington (CNN) -- President Barack Obama has invited congressional leaders to the White House on Wednesday to discuss the need to reopen the government and raise the federal debt ceiling, according to the White House and a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner.
The Boehner spokesman, Brendan Buck, confirmed the meeting was set for 5:30 p.m. ET.
"We're pleased the president finally recognizes that his refusal to negotiate is indefensible," Buck said. "It's unclear why we'd be having this meeting if it's not meant to be a start to serious talks between the two parties."
The meeting comes on the second day of a government shutdown caused by a stalemate triggered when House Republicans insisted on adding provisions to dismantle or delay Obamacare to a short-term spending measure needed to fund the government in the new fiscal year that started on Tuesday.
A White House official said Obama's message will be for Congress to pass a "clean" funding bill and debt ceiling measure.
- Created on 27 September 2013
Voices from the Westgate Mall
Nairobi, Kenya (CNN) -- To anyone shopping at Nairobi's Westgate Mall, it would likely have seemed just another store.
But according to a Kenyan intelligence official, the small shop concealed an ominous secret. It was rented by the Al-Shabaab terrorists, or their associates, who within a year would carry out an attack on the upscale shopping mall.
The information -- revealed Friday to CNN by the source, who is close to the investigation into the attack -- suggests the Somalian terror organization had been planning the operation at least that long.
How the team of terrorists got their weapons and explosives into the mall without notice is a central part of the investigation into the attack, which left at least 67 people dead and parts of the upscale mall in ruins.
The Kenya Red Cross said Friday that 61 people remain unaccounted for. Some could be buried in the rubble of the partially collapsed mall.
At least five of the terrorists also died before Kenyan forces were finally able to bring the siege to an end on Tuesday. The terrorists stormed the building Saturday.
On a Twitter account believed to be run by Al-Shabaab, the group promised more attacks to come.
"The mesmeric performance by the #Westgate Warriors was undoubtedly gripping, but despair not folks, that was just the premiere of Act 1," according to a tweet posted Thursday.
CNN could not confirm the authenticity of the tweet, but CNN terrorism analyst Paul Cruickshank said the account, which has also posted links to statements from Shabaab leader Mukhtar Abu Zubayr, appears to be legitimate, even if not "100% authenticated."
Several Twitter accounts attributed to Al-Shabaab have been shut down in recent days, likely for violating the company's rules against promoting violence in tweets.
While Kenyan Interior Minister Joseph Ole Lenku said Friday that eight suspects are being held for questioning in the attack, authorities are increasingly concerned that some of the attackers managed to escape alongside fleeing civilians in the aftermath of the initial attack, U.S. law enforcement officials told CNN.
On Thursday, a Kenyan counterterrorism source told CNN that one of the suspects is an injured Kenyan who was being evacuated when a machine gun magazine fell out of his pocket, leading to suspicion he was among the automatic-weapon toting terrorists who roamed the mall killing civilians. He is being held in a military hospital, the source said.
Among the suspects are three people picked up near the Ugandan border, the Kenyan official who revealed information about the mall store told CNN.
- Created on 30 September 2013
Last August, Vickie and her son, Maurice, walked across the stage at a graduate ceremony in Minneapolis, Minnesota and were handed their doctorate degrees from Capella University.
Given their journey, Maurice said he could not have ever imagined the day he would earn such a high academic honor. "Never in a thousand, million, trillion years [did I expect to get my PhD]," Maurice said. "The thought of becoming a doctor anyone was far fetched."
Maurice's awe at his own success was only outdone by his mother's achievement.
"I never thought I would get chance to see my mother walk across the stage and then she turned around and saw me walk across the stage," he said.
Growing up in the small town of Waynesboro, Ga., Vickie said being a teenage parent was taboo. She remembers some of the older people in the community "whispering" about her, but that did not stop h...
- Created on 27 September 2013
From mental health issues to chronic health illnesses, there is a growing stream of black men choosing to end their own lives.
One of the most prevalent views within the African-American community is that we do not intentionally kill ourselves. That suicide is something only white people or spiritually-weak people do. That suicide is a cop-out, and that to even consider it is a “punk move”. However, these apparent suicides and clinical research clearly indicate that African-Americans do commit suicide.
The Sad (And Real) Facts On Black Suicide
According to the American Association of Suicidology, in 2005, 1,992 suicides were completed by African-Americans and that suicide was the third leading cause of death among African-American youth. The Centers for Disease Control reported that between 1999 and 2004, young African-American...