Snake handlers dwell at the edge of the spiritual frontier — a community of people who are willing to die for their faith three times a week in church. Members of the Pentecostal Holiness Church take up venomous serpents to prove their faith in God. The practice is still widespread in Appalachia, though mostly hidden.
Pastor Jamie Coots warns about the scent in the snake room behind his house in Middlesboro, Ky.
The White House has cancelled President Obama's trip to Asia, where he was planning to attend some major international summits. Instead, Kerry will attend these meetings while Obama deals with the government shutdown at home.
Day four of the government shutdown brings no signs of any progress in resolving the stalemate between Republicans and Democrats. It may be some small solace to know that this is by no means the first time the government has been largely closed because of disputes between Congress and the White House. In fact, by some accounts this is the 17th time that an impasse has shuttered federal agencies.
The health care law is partly funded by a tax on medical devices. Republicans and some Democrats from states with medical device companies want to repeal the tax. Leading Democrats say that's not happening if it's meant to scale back Obamacare. But the device tax could be an area of compromise later in a broader budget deal.
Melissa Block talks with regular political commentators, E.J. Dionne of The Washington Post and the Brookings Institution and David Brooks with The New York Times. They discuss the federal government shutdown, why it happened, what's happening now and what happens next.
SCOTT HORSLEY, BYLINE: I'm Scott Horsley. President Obama took a rare trip outside the White House grounds on foot this afternoon. It wasn't because his driver's been furloughed. Aides say the president just wanted to enjoy the sunshine. He and Vice President Biden strolled about a block from the White House to a sandwich shop that's offering discounts and a free cookie to federal workers who've been idled by the shutdown.
Obama says that's a good example of the way the American people look out for each other.
Not long ago, the government shutdown was all about the Affordable Care Act, and Republicans' attempt to defund it. But in recent days, it seems to have become more about finding some way for House Speaker John Boehner to claim some sort of victory.
Movie lovers have Netflix, music lovers have Spotify — and book lovers (whether they read literary fiction or best-selling potboilers) now have Scribd. The document sharing website has been around since 2007, but this week it launched a subscription service for e-book lending.
For many people, says Michael Tanner, it pays not to work. People on welfare — that's everything from food stamps to Medicaid to heating assistance — can make more in 35 states than they would if they had a minimum wage job, according to Tanner.
Britain's Conservative-led government delivered a one-two punch to more pillars of Britain's social benefits system this week. It announced more cuts to the country's social welfare programs — moving ever closer to "workfare."
Thanks to the federal government's partial shutdown, the Bureau of Labor Statistics skipped its monthly Big Reveal at 8:30 a.m. Friday.
There was no September employment report.
Without access to the BLS numbers, data junkies were left to scrounge around for lesser reports. Maybe if they could suck in enough small hits of other statistics, they could feel that old familiar rush?
Originally published on Fri October 4, 2013 4:59 pm
Before President Obama canceled his Asia trip, some of us wondered how he could possibly leave the U.S., especially for the exotic resort island of Bali, during the federal government shutdown.
Forget the logistical complications caused by having so many staffers unable to work the trip. What about the optics of having the president at a lush tourist destination while hundreds of thousands of government workers were furloughed and worried about missing paychecks?
Obama solved that potential problem by canceling his overseas trip, which would have started Saturday evening.