POLITICS

HUFFPOST HILL - Nations Convene In Geneva For Whoopsie Accord

09/11/2013 06:06 pm ET | Updated Nov 11, 2013

Recalled Democrats in Colorado thanked their volunteers for their support, especially the ones who figured out how to vote. Chuck Grassley tried to trick a judicial nominee today, meaning the next Supreme Court justice questionnaire will likely just ask the nominee to "answer me these riddles three." And a new report finds sequestration will cost 100,000 American jobs over the next few quarters. Republicans haven't specified when they'll introduce legislation to keep sequestration from crossing the border, though some hope it'll just self-deport. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Wednesday, September 11th, 2013:

KERRY READYING FOR CHEMICAL WEAPON TALKS - Here's hoping he doesn't prepare one tiny bit so that he gaffes his way to Syria's disarmament, democratization and a region-wide peace deal. Reuters: "Diplomatic efforts toward placing Syria's chemical weapons under international control intensified on Wednesday and U.N. investigators concluded Syrian government forces were almost certainly responsible for two May massacres that killed up to 450 civilians in the bloody civil war. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov spoke by phone one day before they meet in Geneva to try to forge a joint strategy on eliminating Syria's chemical arsenal. In New York, envoys from the five permanent U.N. Security Council member states - the United States, Britain, China, France and Russia - were due to discuss a French draft resolution. It would give Syrian President Bashar al-Assad an ultimatum to give up his chemical weapons arsenal or face punitive measures, an approach which Russia rejects Overhanging the talks in Geneva will be Russia's opposition to a continued threat of military action that the United States says is needed to ensure Syria complies." [Reuters]

Kerry will host Henry Kissinger and other foreign affairs experts to talk about all the stuff they've bombed talk Syria. Christina Wilkie: "Secretary of State John Kerry will spend much of Wednesday meeting with senior members of the U.S. foreign policy establishment, as he attempts to press the case for U.S. engagement in Syria. Kerry is scheduled to meet one-on-one with former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger Wednesday afternoon, and address a meeting of the 25-member Foreign Affairs Policy Board Wednesday morning. On Wednesday evening, Kerry will host a dinner for FAPB members at the State Department, according to an official schedule." [HuffPost]

HOUSE PRESSING FORWARD WITH BACHMANN INVESTIGATION - Bachmann is finding herself in an increasingly tight spot. Maybe the Egyptian military could help her out? Des Moines Register: "The U.S. House Ethics Committee said today it will continue its review of alleged campaign finance violations by former presidential candidate Michele Bachmann, and released confidential documents from an earlier probe by the Office of Congressional Ethics. The committee will continue to look at the allegations against Bachmann but won't do a full-scale investigation, according to Politico. Bachmann is accused of trying to skirt federal campaign finance laws by compensating state Sen. Kent Sorenson for Iowa campaign consulting with funds from her political action committee instead of her campaign account. Documents that had previously been kept confidential (see below) show two federal investigative bodies found merit in the complaint. Bachmann has maintained that she violated no laws." [DMR]

HOUSE STAFFERS NOT GETTING THEIR OBAMACARE - From someone in House Administration: "Members and staff are advised that although state and federal healthcare exchanges created under the ACA will open for enrollment on October 1st, it will not be possible to confirm plan options, costs, benefits, or which House staff will be affected until OPM issues final regulations, which could very well be after the exchanges have already opened. However, please be assured that from the day the OPM final rule is issued until the open enrollment period closes, our benefits counselors will work tirelessly to ensure there is no gap in coverage for those no longer eligible to participate in FEHBP." Sorry, gang!

@repjustinamash: Congress cancels his war. He cancels our barbecue. RT @politico: The White House has cancelled its annual barbecue with members of Congress.

DAVE DOWNER - Liberals, time to find a new place to shop. Dave Jamieson: "After extending health care coverage to many of its part-time employees for years, Trader Joe's has told workers who log fewer than 30 hours a week that they will need to find insurance on the Obamacare exchanges next year, according to a confidential memo from the grocer's chief executive. In the memo to staff dated Aug. 30, Trader Joe's CEO Dan Bane said the company will cut part-timers a check for $500 in January and help guide them toward finding a new plan under the Affordable Care Act. The company will continue to offer health coverage to workers who carry 30 hours or more on average. ... Trader Joe's has won kudos for offering its health care, dental and vision plans to part-time workers at a reasonable price -- a rarity in an industry known for low pay and scant benefits. But with low-wage workers eligible for tax subsidies to buy health insurance next year, the company has apparently calculated that offering medical coverage to part-timers who work 18 hours or more is no longer worth the cost." [HuffPost]

@SpeakerBoehner: "Trader Joe's to drop health coverage for part-time workers under #Obamacare" http://huff.to/18PhyBp

SORRY, HIPPIES AND PEOPLE WHO EAT FOOD - Ryan Grim: "House Republicans will include an extension of the so-called Monsanto Protection Act in the spending bill designed to avert a government shutdown, according to text of the legislation released Wednesday by House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.). The Monsanto measure was originally enacted into law in March by being slipped into the previous spending resolution, which is now set to expire. Since its quiet passage, the Monsanto Protection Act has become a target of intense opposition. Monsanto is a global seed and herbicide company that specializes in genetically modified crops. The law effectively prevents judges from placing injunctions on genetically modified seeds even if they are deemed unsafe. Monsanto has argued that it is unfair to single out the company in the nickname for the law, which is officially known as the Farmer Assurance Provision, when other major agribusiness players also support it." [HuffPost]

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@nielslesniewski: "We need 100 more like Jesse Helms" in the #Senate, says @SenTedCruz

CHUCK GRASSLEY THINKS HE'S PLAYING CHESS, REALLY PLAYING CHECKERS - Assume nominee confused. Jen Bendery: "Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) tried to get D.C. Circuit court nominee Robert Wilkins to criticize statements made by another of President Barack Obama's D.C. Circuit nominees, Nina Pillard, during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Wednesday. It didn't work, though. There was an awkward exchange as Grassley, the ranking Republican on the committee, read aloud passages from a 2007 article that Pillard wrote about abortion and access to contraception. Grassley never said what he was reading from or who made those statements. He simply asked Wilkins to say whether he agreed or disagreed with a series of 'assertions regarding constitutional law,' in order to get a sense of his 'judicial philosophy.'...A Democratic Senate aide in the hearing described the exchange as 'super weird,' but said Wilkins 'handled it perfectly.'" [HuffPost]

SEQUESTRATION TERKING YER JERB: REPORT - Sam Stein: "The budget cuts brought on by sequestration could end up costing another 100,000 federal jobs in the next few quarters, according to a new study from Goldman Sachs. The study, which was produced by a team of economists at the bank, found that the effects of the $85 billion in budget cuts are becoming more acute. Personal income, for example, has been largely stagnant across the board due in large part to a 0.5 percent decline in government wages and salaries in July. The problem, essentially, has been that federal agencies have been forced to furlough their employees in order to make up for a 5 percent cut in their budgets. When they stop the furloughs (which Goldman expects to happen at the end of the federal fiscal year on Sept. 30), this trend of stagnant income will be reversed. But the loss of federal jobs because of sequestration will continue. The authors of the report note that federal government employment has been declining for several months because of sequestration, "and now stands 71k lower than a year ago." Should Congress not reverse or cancel sequestration -- and Goldman assumes it won't -- the projected federal spending level will be 'consistent with year-on-year declines in federal employment of around 100k over the next few quarters, with smaller declines thereafter.'" [HuffPost]

COLORADO RECALL A VICTORY FOR REPUBLICANS, GUN LOBBY - Sadly the gun laws at the center of the recall prevented the victors from firing celebratory, yee-haw! shots in the air. Sabrina Siddiqui: "The first recall election in Colorado's history on Tuesday marked a stunning victory for the National Rifle Association and gun rights activists, with the ouster of two Democrats -- Senate President John Morse (Colorado Springs) and state Sen. Angela Giron (Pueblo). The two lawmakers were the target of separate recall fights over their support for stricter gun laws earlier this year...What originally began as local political fallout over the Democratic-controlled legislature's comprehensive gun control package quickly escalated into a national referendum on gun policy... Gun rights activists initially sought to recall four Democrats they perceived as vulnerable, but only collected the required signatures to challenge Morse and Giron. Language for the 'yes' ballots, authored by proponents of the recall, said the lawmakers were guilty of contempt for 'the constitutional liberties of the people' and 'firearm manufacturers and for the rights of Colorado citizens.' Those working against the recall used the "no" ballots to cast their opponents as 'extremists' who were willing to make guns available to felons and 'spouse abusers.'" [HuffPost]

DWS cries foul: "Successful recall elections Tuesday of two Democratic state senators in Colorado were because of 'voter suppression, pure and simple,' Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz said Wednesday. Wasserman Schultz blamed lawsuits filed by opponents of gun control to prevent voters from mailing in ballots, the late announcement of polling locations, and 'efforts by the NRA, the Koch brothers and other right wing groups who know that when more people vote, Democrats win.' 'The recall elections in Colorado were defined by the vast array of obstacles that special interests threw in the way of voters for the purpose of reversing the will of the legislature and the people,' Wasserman Schultz, a Democratic lawmaker from Florida, said in a statement. 'This was voter suppression, pure and simple.'" [The Hill]

CUCCINELLI DONATE VALUE OF GIFTS FROM CONTROVERSIAL DONOR - America's most upsetting race continues to inspire absolutely no one. A nation turns its lonely eyes to you, Creigh Deeds. WaPo: "Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II said he will give a Richmond-based charity more than $18,000 -- the value of gifts he received from a Star Scientific executive whose much larger presents to Gov. Robert F. McDonnell and his family are the focus of two investigations. Cuccinelli, the Republican candidate for governor, has been under pressure from critics and supporters to pay back Star chief executive Jonnie R. Williams Sr. since late July, when McDonnell (R) announced that he would return valuables and money that Williams had provided to him and his family...Cuccinelli's effort to distance himself from the controversial business executive suggested that the gifts scandal threatens not only McDonnell's political future but also Cuccinelli's bid to replace him. The announcement came after several public polls showed Cuccinelli trailing Terry McAuliffe, his Democratic opponent." [WaPo]

KEEP YOUR IMAGINARY FRIENDS CLOSE AND YOUR ENEMIES CLOSER - Rich Lowry: "[C]ount us as a little skeptical about heart-wrenching stories told by Cory Booker that happen to serve his rhetorical purposes. That is why Eliana has gotten interested in the case of Wazn Miller. In the sort of tragedy all too common in our cities, Miller was gunned down in Newark in 2004 in a murder that has never been solved. ... [G]iven the dubious existence of T-Bone, we'd like to see documents backing up Booker's statements. Certainly, the public has a right to know if Booker has made a habit of embellishing or fabricating similarly cinematic stories. ... Enough is enough. Yesterday we filed suit against the Newark Police Department, the City of Newark, and Mayor Booker to obtain the records in keeping with New Jersey law. This suit shouldn't be necessary, but the official obstruction in Newark has made it so. In such an instance, everyone should favor openness. We bet even T-Bone -- whoever or wherever he supposedly is -- would agree with us on this one." [National Review]

FLORIDA MAN WON'T HUNT GATORS - Looks like Rick Scott might be hosting that "Fan Bot Fiesta Fundraiser!" after all. Tampa Bay Times: "Gov. Rick Scott's re-election campaign on Tuesday cancelled a planned $25,000-a-person fund-raiser that featured a private alligator hunt. The campaign has not yet given a reason for the decision, but the event -- and its quick demise -- became a social media sensation and prompted media inquiries. The unusual event, first reported by SaintPetersBlog, was to have taken place in New Smyrna Beach on Oct. 18. On Twitter Tuesday, former Republican Sen. Paula Dockery of Lakeland questioned how Scott's campaign could put on such an event, with limits on the number of alligator permits in the state. "This raises a few questions. Usually licenses/permits done by lottery. How do they get enough for all donors?" Dockery tweeted." [Tampa Bay Times]

TINA BROWN LEAVING THE DAILY BEAST - Reports indicate that she's starting an eponymous media company despite the fact that those NEVER work. Katherine Fung and Jack Mirkinson: "Tina Brown is leaving the Daily Beast and forming a new company called 'Tina Brown Live Media,' she announced Wednesday. BuzzFeed was the first to report the news that Brown was parting ways with IAC, the Barry Diller-owned parent company of the Beast. The site's Peter Lauria wrote that Diller had decided not to renew Brown's contract, which expires in January. Sources close to Brown, however, told HuffPost's Michael Calderone that it was Brown's decision to sever ties with IAC. Tina Brown Live Media will be focused around Brown's "Women In The World" conference, along with other live events. Brown told the Beast that the new company's mission would be 'theatrical journalism.'... Capital New York wrote that Brown gathered the staff of the Beast together on Wednesday to break the news to them in person." [HuffPost]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Here is a rapping four-year-old.

STUDY: LIBERALS AND CONSERVATIVES BOTH LONELY, IN NEED OF LOVE - e! Science News: "Liberals and conservatives are looking for the same thing when they join online dating websites, according to new research co-authored by University of Miami political scientist Casey Klofstad. The study, published in Political Behavior, shows that both liberals and conservatives are looking for a partner who is like themselves...Klofstad says that the tendency to seek out partners that are like us could contribute to the increasing political divide between liberals and conservatives...By and large, liberals and conservatives do not differ in their tendencies to seek out a partner that shares their characteristics. There are some notable exceptions, however. Overall, conservatives appear to be somewhat less accepting of dissimilarity. For example, conservatives are more likely than liberals to desire a date who shares their current relationship status, and conservative males are more likely than liberal males to want to date a female of their own race." [e! Science News]

COMFORT FOOD

- Jon Stewart's post-9/11 monologue from 12 years ago is worth re-watching. [http://bit.ly/1ehKVn8]

- What "Monty Python And The Holy Grail" would be like if were directed by Ridley Scott. [http://huff.to/16kHiXB]

- Jason Statham says "job" a lot. [http://bit.ly/19HQRQ8]

- A 17-minute short film that takes place on a teenager's computer screen. [http://bit.ly/1azWvZd]

- According to a Japanese video game, Americans are very good at multitasking while ski jumping. [http://bit.ly/19GpQfY]

- Fascinating idea for a cellphone with interchanable parts. [http://bit.ly/16igsiR]

- Forty-eight things you didn't know had names. [http://bit.ly/1e2EJOG]

TWITTERAMA

@danamira: "where i was on 9/11" stories are, for the most part, like dreams. they are interesting to you and nobody else.

@jbendery: "DONE." -- Joe Biden, somewhere RT @DCist: UPDATE: Amtrak service between D.C. and Philly has been restored.

@jim_newell: I'm thinking its time for Anthony Weiner to announce a bus tour of Iowa

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