Wednesday, September 25, 2013

10 things you need to know today: September 25, 2013

10 things you need to know today: September 25, 2013 

Obama embraces diplomacy with Iran, Ted Cruz attacks ObamaCare in a faux filibuster, and more

By  | 8:36am EST
Speaking to the U.N. General Assembly, Obama challenged Iran to act on promises surrounding its nuclear program.
Speaking to the U.N. General Assembly, Obama challenged Iran to act on promises surrounding its nuclear program. (Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
1. Obama says he will challenge Iran to show it wants a nuclear deal
President Obama told the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday that Iran must act on its promises, and curb its controversial nuclear program before it gets relief from sanctions. Obama said he had authorized the highest level talks with Iran in 30-plus years to start this week. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Iran was ready for talks and didn't want nukes, but passed on a chance to shake Obama's hand. [New York Times, Wall Street Journal]

2. Ted Cruz uses filibuster-like speech to slam ObamaCare
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) continued a marathon speech filled with attacks on ObamaCare — with a detour to read Dr. Seuss' Green Eggs and Ham — into the early morning Wednesday. The quasi-filibuster gobbled up dwindling time remaining for Congress to pass a spending deal and avoid a government shutdown on October 1. Unlike a real filibuster, Cruz's move can't block a vote. Democrats will start stripping a measure to defund ObamaCare later Wednesday. [Washington Post]

3. Kenya clears terrorists out of Nairobi's Westgate mall
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta declared the siege of an upscale Nairobi shopping mall over on Tuesday, saying that soldiers had killed five of the Islamist terrorists who attacked the complex and arrested the other 11. "We have shamed and defeated our attackers," Kenyatta said. The Somali militant group al Shabab says it staged the attack, which killed 61 civilians and six security forces, as retribution for Kenya's military push into Somalia. [Wall Street Journal]

4. Final America's Cup showdown arrives for Oracle and Team New Zealand
Larry Ellison's Oracle Team USA was one loss from elimination in the America's Cup last week, but the defending champions took their seventh straight victory on Tuesday to tie the regatta and set up a final, do-or-die race against Emirates Team New Zealand on Wednesday. The finale in San Francisco Bay will cap three weeks of riveting sailing. "If you're not blown away by this, check your pulse," said America's Cup expert Jack Griffin. [Mercury News]

5. Last missing person found in flood-ravaged Colorado
Colorado authorities found the last person listed as missing in the state's devastating floods. At one point, as record rainfall was still causing flash floods over a vast area north of Denver, as many as 1,200 people were unaccounted for. The official death toll stands at eight. One more person is presumed dead, although her body has not been found. [Los Angeles Times]

6. Powerful earthquake creates a new island off Pakistan
A magnitude-7.7 earthquake struck Pakistan's remote province of Baluchistan on Tuesday, killing more than 230 people. The temblor shook buildings hundreds of miles away in the Indian capital, New Delhi. The earthquake was strong enough to push up the seabed off Pakistan's southern coast, causing a small new island to rise out of the Arabian Sea about 600 yards from shore. [Reuters]

7. ObamaCare premiums come in lower than expected
The Obama administration on Wednesday unveiled the most detailed look yet at what Americans will pay for health insurance if they partake in ObamaCare exchanges that open for enrollment October 1. The estimates vary from state to state, but, on balance, were slightly lower than expected. The average monthly premium for a mid-tier plan will be $328. One downside: Companies kept rates down with plans offering fewer in-network doctors. [Reuters, Washington Post]

8. Crash fears force the U.S. to relocate drones in Africa
The U.S. military had to move a fleet of drones from Camp Lemonnier, a key counterterrorism base in Djibouti, this month after a series of accidents raised fears among locals that an unmanned aircraft could collide with a passenger plane. The base has been a hub for strikes against suspected terrorists in Yemen and Somalia, including al Shabab, the Somali group that attacked Kenya's Westgate shopping mall. [Washington Post]

9. Syria takes the first step toward surrendering its chemical weapons
Western officials said Tuesday that a list of chemical-weapon locations submitted by Syria was "a serious document" that suggested President Bashar al-Assad might follow through on his promise to give up his chemical arsenal. The disclosure was Syria's first step toward complying with a U.S.-Russian plan to take control of Syria's stockpile of chemical weapons. The list roughly matched U.S. intelligence estimates that Syria is keeping the weapons at about 45 sites. [Los Angeles Times]

10. Former Pope Benedict denies covering up priests' abuse
Retired Pope Benedict XVI broke a silence he had observed since stepping down from the papacy in February, saying in a letter to a prominent atheist that he had never covered up sexual abuse by priests. The letter, published in Italy's La Repubblica newspaper, did not satisfy advocates for the victims. They say Benedict didn't do enough to stop the abuse, which threatens to tarnish his legacy as the leader of the world's Catholics. [CNN]

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