By Jean MacKenzie, GlobalPost
A flag hangs in a window in Utica, NY. (Spencer Platt/Getty)
BUZZARDS BAY, Mass. - The United States is in trouble. BIG trouble. Or so it seems.
Despite a last-minute save from Capitol Hill that averted what could have been financial Armageddon, the damage to America's reputation will be lasting, according to the experts.
Uber-investor Warren Buffet is calling the whole near-default crisis debt ceiling "an act of pure idiocy," and warning Washington it's in danger of being seen as, well, spoiled: "Credit worthiness is like virginity, it can be preserved but not restored very easily," he told CNBC.
Fitch, which with Standard & Poor's and Moody's forms a holy trinity of ratings agencies, said Tuesday it put the United States on notice that it could face a credit rating downgrade if it did not stop playing chicken with the economy, and changed the outlook on US debt to "rating watch negative."
China, of course, has been fulminating about Washington's "hypocrisy and irresponsibility" for days. On Thursday, to add injury to insult, Chinese credit rating agency Dagong demoted the US from A to A-, on the credit worthiness scale, with a negative outlook. "For a long time the US government maintains its solvency by repaying its old debts through raising new debts, which constantly aggravates the vulnerability of the federal government's solvency. Hence the government is still approaching the verge of default crisis, a situation that cannot be substantially alleviated in the foreseeable future," Dagong said in its justification for the downgrade.
But how much does all of this really matter?show more
By Alison Vekshin, Bloomberg News
Matt Dyson, owner of the medical marijuana dispensary "A Greener Today," wears a business t-shirt that features George Washington smoking a joint as he listens to questions, Monday, Oct. 21, 2013, at a workshop put on by the Washington Liquor Control Board in Seattle for people hoping to apply for business licenses to sell, process, or grow marijuana for legal retail sales in the state. (Ted. S. Warren/AP)
SEATTLE - Sean Kearney, owner of an online sex-toy business, was late to the dot-com boom. Now he doesn't want to miss out on the next wave as Washington state regulates marijuana sales to recreational users.
Kearney, who said he'll apply for a license to open a pot shop at his warehouse, was among several hundred prospective pot retailers, growers and processors who attended a state-run seminar on the burgeoning business here Monday.
"Here's an opportunity to get in on the new boom economy for legalized pot," Kearney, 42, said at the state convention center. "It's definitely worth sticking my toe in the water and see what happens, if I should be granted a license."
Washington and Colorado became the first states to legalize recreational-marijuana sales when ballot measures passed in November. The states are setting up systems for regulating the business, which could generate billions of dollars from levies and is drawing the attention of entrepreneurs.show more
By Ronald Blum, Associated Press
FILE- In this Oct. 1, 2013, file photo, New York Yankees' Alex Rodriguez arrives at the offices of Major League Baseball for grievance hearing in New York. Rodriguez allegeldy paid $305,000 for evidence that could be used in the case involving the Biogenesis of America drug clinic, the Daily News reported Saturday, Oct. 19, 2013. The allegation was denied by a spokesman for the Yankees' third baseman. Rodriguez was suspended Aug. 5 but was allowed to keep playing pending a decision on the grievance. (David Karp/Associated Press File Photo)
NEW YORK - Blocked from holding a news conference Monday to present a person they described as a "major league baseball whistleblower," Alex Rodriguez's lawyers asked that the rest of the grievance hearing to overturn his 211-game drug suspension be opened to the public.
Rodriguez's legal team called a 5 p.m. news conference at the midtown Manhattan office of Reed Smith, one of the law firms representing the New York Yankees third baseman. More than an hour later, Reed Smith partner James McCarroll read from a piece of paper and said arbitrator Fredric Horowitz issued an order restraining them from "conducting any press conference or briefing regarding the subject matter of the hearing."
FILE - In this Oct. 1, 2013, file photo, New York Yankees' Alex Rodriguez arrives at the offices of Major League Baseball in New York. Hearings on the grievance to overturn Rodriguez's 211-game suspension recessed on Friday, Oct. 18, 2013, for a month after MBL completed its direct case. (David Karp/Associated Press File Photo)
McCarroll was joined by Jordan Siev, another partner at Reed Smith, a firm used by A-Rod pal Jay-Z; Joseph Tacopina, who appears to have become A-Rod's lead lawyer in the case; and Lanny Davis, special counsel to President Bill Clinton during his White House years. Davis was retained to give Rodriguez's legal and media team advice on due process and fairness issues.
The lawyers would not say whether the "whistleblower" worked for Major League Baseball, one of its teams or some other affiliate. Rodriguez's attorneys repeatedly have complained about MLB's investigation, describing it in a lawsuit as a "witch hunt" and alleging MLB paid for information and intimidated witnesses. Both sides have accused each other of leaking confidential information. MLB has denied any improprieties.
"We had a 100-plus page presentation prepared walking through a great deal of misconduct that did not relate directly to the substance of the arbitration," McCarroll said.
One person familiar with the day's developments, speaking on condition of anonymity because no additional statements had been authorized, said an MLB employee had written to Rodriguez's lawyers expressing unhappiness with MLB's investigation methods.
FILE - In this Feb. 25, 2012, file photo, New York Yankees' Alex Rodriguez sits in the dugout during practice at baseball spring training in Tampa, Fla. (Matt Slocum/Associated Press File Photo)
"We think the arbitrator issued an appropriate ruling consistent with the confidentiality provisions of the Basic Agreement," MLB spokesman Pat Courtney said. "The fact that they canceled the briefing shows that we were right in asking that they stop publicly commenting about this matter while we are in the midst of an arbitration hearing."show more
By Vitnija Saldava, Associated Press
A damaged bus is examined by experts in Volgograd on Oct. 21. (Sergei Ivanishin/AP)
VOLGOGRAD, Russia - Russian security forces hunted Tuesday for the husband of a suicide bomber a day after she blew herself up on a bus in southern Russia, killing six people and wounding more than 30 others. They also raised the possibility that Moscow, not Volgograd, was the bomber's original target.
Investigators say 30-year-old Naida Asiyalova, a native of the volatile province of Dagestan in Russia's North Caucasus region, was married to an ethnic Russian man who had joined Islamic militants. They say her husband, Dmitry Sokolov, has become a top rebel expert in explosives and could have been involved in equipping his wife for the suicide mission.
Sokolov has been on the run since he left his home in a Moscow suburb in the summer of 2012.show more
ROWE, Mass. (AP) - Authorities have identified the victim of a weekend pickup truck crash in Rowe as a teenager from Vermont.
The Northwestern district attorney's office announced Monday that 18-year-old Nicholas Boyd of Whitingham, Vt., was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash reported at about 11:30 p.m. Saturday.
According to reports, two other occupants of the vehicle were hospitalized. Their names were not made public.
Police say the truck went left the road and crashed into a tree.
No other vehicles are believed to have been involved. The accident remains under investigation.
Rowe is in northwest Franklin County across the state line from Whitingham.