By Zachary A. Goldfarb, The Washington Pos
The U.S. Capitol building on the morning after a bipartisan bill was passed by the House and the Senate to reopened the government and raise the debt limit. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Since the government's partial shutdown more than two weeks ago, it has been a roller coaster in Washington. There was impasse after impasse, heated rhetoric on both sides and talk of an economic catastrophe. On Wednesday, things finally settled down with a bipartisan deal.
Here are some basic questions and answers about what's going on:
Q: What's happened?
On Wednesday, Democrats and Republicans in the Senate reached a deal to open the government and to raise the debt ceiling through early next year. The House and Senate approved the bill Wednesday night, to be followed by a promised signature from President Barack Obama - ending a two-part crisis.
The first part started Oct. 1, when the government partially shut down, closing federal agencies and furloughing hundreds of thousands of workers.
The second part was the fight over raising the debt ceiling, a legal limit on how much the government can borrow. If the limit is not raised in a timely fashion, the government can default on its obligations, which include Social Security payments and payments to investors in government debt.
Q: What will the deal do?
The deal has five main parts:
* Immediately reopens the government and funds it through Jan. 15.
* Raises the debt ceiling through Feb. 7 but allows federal borrowing to continue for a few weeks longer, using special accounting measures.
* Requires additional measures, favored by Republicans, to ensure that people who receive financial help to buy medical insurance under the new health-care law are being honest about their income.
* Sets up a negotiating committee to try to come up with a longer-term budget plan so we don't go through this again early next year. The committee is expected to issue budget recommendations by Dec. 13.
* Provides back pay to furloughed federal workers.
Q: When will federal agencies reopen?
As early as Thursday in most cases.
Q: When will federal workers get back pay?
Uncertain, but as soon as possible.
Q: So with Obama's signature, is this truly over?
Q: Why has this taken so long?
There are two reasons.
2. A group of conservative tea-party Republicans in the House wanted to halt or delay the Affordable Care Act in exchange for keeping the government functioning.
Q: But there won't actually be major changes to the health-care law in the deal?
Q: Who won, and who lost?show more
By Dana Hull, San Jose Mercury News
PG&E's Yerba Buena battery energy storage project in San Jose is capable of storing up to four megawatts of power. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group)
A California law that requires utilities to get 33 percent of their electricity from renewable sources like solar and wind is widely credited with accelerating the state's cleantech economy. Now state regulators are poised to compel utilities to invest in "energy storage," which could jump-start technology long considered the holy grail of the electricity industry.
On Thursday, the California Public Utilities Commission is expected to vote on a groundbreaking proposal that would require PG&E, Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric to collectively buy more than 1.3 gigawatts of energy storage by 2020 - roughly enough electricity to supply nearly 994,000 homes.
The first-in-the-nation mandate is expected to spur innovation in emerging storage technologies, from batteries to flywheels. Once large quantities of energy can be stored, the electric grid can make better use of solar, wind and other technologies that generate energy sporadically rather than in a steady flow, and can better manage disruptions from unpredictable events such as storms and wildfires.
"There's plenty of sun out there, and it's going to take storage," Gov. Jerry Brown said in a speech at a solar industry conference in San Francisco this summer. "We need to bottle sunlight."show more
By Monte Whaley - The Denver Post
An excavator pulls rock and dirt out of the Big Thompson River to put it into a dump truck near Drake, Co on October 16, 2013. They are trying to re-divert the river back to where it used to flow. (Photo By Helen H. Richardson/ The Denver Post)
Traffic in downtown Drake was heavy Wednesday afternoon as giant excavators clawed dirt and rock from the gurgling Big Thompson River and dump trucks hauled away huge shards of concrete that used to be U.S. 34.
But the town of Drake itself - maybe about 300 strong in the best of times - was virtually dead, shrouded in dried mud and muck.
The town's mainstay, The Historic River Forks Inn Bed & Breakfast, proclaimed itself open, though the bar remained smother in silt that swept in on the historic September flood waters that sent some Drake residents running for their lives.
An excavator pulls rock and dirt out of the Big Thompson River near Drake on Wednesday to divert the river back to where it used to flow. State and contract crews are also working on U.S. 34 to provide a temporary road by Dec. 1. (Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post)
Heavy trucks rumbled through intersection of County Road 43 and U.S. 34 every few seconds as crews from Kiewit Construction and the Colorado Department of Transportation hurried to meet a Dec. 1 deadline to reopen flood-ruined roads and highways - including 18-miles of U.S. 34 between Estes Park and Loveland.
U.S. 34 through Big Thompson Canyon was heavily damaged and has been closed to traffic since the flood. But construction managers said Wednesday they will meet the deadline - barring any huge weather problems - although the highway may not look like it did before.show more
By Staff, Associated Press
Our Lady of Assumption Parish. (AP)
The earthquake that struck the central Philippines and killed more than 150 people also dealt a serious blow to the region's historical and religious legacy by heavily damaging a dozen or more churches, some of them hundreds of years old.
Church of San Pedro. (Robert Michael Poole/AFP/Getty Images)
As rescuers reached some of the hardest hit areas on Wednesday and the death toll from the quake a day earlier continued to rise, images of the wrecked religious buildings resonated across a nation where 80 percent of the population is Catholic.show more
By BOB AUDETTE/Reformer Staff
Courtesy Dallas McGuire
BRATTLEBORO - It took more than 60 firefighters from 12 different towns nearly 12 hours to fully extinguish a fire on Elliot Street Wednesday that left 17 people and their pets homeless.
"They were fantastic," said Bob Remy-Powers, the building's owner, about the response to the fire. "It was great to see such a wonderfully coordinated team effort."
Remy-Powers, who was checking on the building Thursday morning after getting only one hour of sleep, said six of the seven apartments in the building at 214 Elliot Street were rented out, but not all of the occupants were there when the fire started.
Fortunately, he said, all 17 occupants, including three children and their pets, have been accounted for and are unharmed. They are currently receiving assistance from the Vermont & New Hampshire Upper Valley American Red Cross.
Remy-Powers said he has already been in touch with other landlords in the area to help his tenants find replacement housing.
"My tenants are my extended family," he said.
The cause of the fire that swept through the Erwin Building, which is named after Remy-Powers' father, Erwin Stratton Power, has not yet been determined, said Brattleboro Fire Chief Michael Bucossi.
He credited the first six responders, under the leadership of Capt. Billy Johnson, from the Brattleboro Central Station, just a few hundred yards from the scene of the fire, with preventing the blaze from burning the building to the ground or spreading to other nearby buildings.
"They initiated a very aggressive initial attack under very conditions," said Bucossi.
When they first arrived at 4:49 p.m., three minutes after the fire was called in, there was heavy smoke coming from a third floor apartment at the back of the building. The firefighters stretched four handlines to the second and third floors and began spraying down the flames, said Bucossi.
"They knocked down a tremendous amount of fire," he said.show more