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10 things you need to know today: October 16, 2013
Senators resume debt talks after a House plan unravels, Fitch warns it could downgrade America's credit rating, and more
This is getting scary...
This is getting scary... (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

1. Senators renew debt talks after House scraps vote
Senate leaders resumed their negotiations on ending the government shutdown and extending the debt limit, after House GOP leaders late Tuesday scrapped a vote on their proposal because they couldn't muster enough conservative votes to pass it. Senate leaders are optimistic they can pass a bipartisan deal, but it will be hard to do before the government hits the debt ceiling on Thursday, raising the threat of a potentially disastrous default. [The New York Times]
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2. Fitch warns it could downgrade the government's credit rating
Fitch Ratings warned Tuesday that it might strip the federal government of its sterling AAA credit rating because of the partisan bickering over the debt limit. Fitch said it believed that Republicans and Democrats would raise the borrowing limit in time to prevent the government from defaulting on any of its debts, but that the political brinkmanship over paying America's bills was damaging the government's credit worthiness. [Reuters]
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3. Talks on Iran's nuclear program begin in Geneva
Iran presented its plan for resolving the dispute over its nuclear ambitions as two days of talks with the U.S. and other world powers got underway in Geneva on Tuesday. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said in a PowerPoint presentation that Iran would accept constraints to its nuclear program in exchange for the right to enrich uranium for energy purposes and the lifting of economic sanctions. In a fresh sign of progress, U.S. and Iranian officials later held a rare one-on-one meeting. [The New York Times]
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4. Two Florida girls charged in bullying case
Two girls, ages 12 and 14, were charged with felony stalking linked to the suicide of Rebecca Sedwick, 12, in September, a Florida sheriff said Tuesday. The arrests came after the elder girl posted on Facebook "Yes IK I bullied REBECCA nd she killed her self but IDGAF [I don't give a (expletive)]." Rebecca jumped to her death from a cement factory tower after enduring a year of bullying over a boy she and her tormentor both dated. [CNN]
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5. Ex–San Diego mayor Filner pleads guilty
Former San Diego mayor Bob Filner pleaded guilty Tuesday to false imprisonment — a felony — and two misdemeanor charges of battery against three women. Under a plea deal, he will serve three months of home confinement but no jail time. The Democrat, who served nearly two decades in Congress, stepped down as mayor in August under a sexual harassment lawsuit settlement after 18 women accused him of unwanted advances and touching. [The Washington Post]
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6. Former Army captain receives the Medal of Honor
President Obama awarded ex–Army captain William Swenson the Medal of Honor on Tuesday for saving comrades during a battle with Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan in 2009. Swenson, 34, was the second survivor of the fight to win the military's highest honor, just the second time that has happened in 50 years. Swenson, the most decorated Army officer since Vietnam, has been unemployed since leaving the Army in 2011, and wants to re-enlist. [Time]
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7. Baggage handler charged with LAX dry ice explosions
Police arrested a baggage handler, Dicarlo Bennett, on Tuesday for allegedly planting two dry ice bombs that exploded in secure areas at Los Angeles International Airport this week. Bennett, a 28-year-old employee of ground handling company Servisair, was charged with possession of a destructive device near an aircraft, and is being held on $1 million bail. Police have said they don't believe the minor explosions were an act of terrorism. [Associated Press]
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8. Hillary Clinton sets off fresh 2016 speculation
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton set off fresh 2016 presidential speculation on Tuesday when she reportedly said at an off-the-record gathering in Georgia that she backed the raid that killed Osama bin Laden — but her potential rival in 2016, Vice President Joe Biden, didn't. "I know she’s running for president now," Georgia state Rep. Tom Taylor told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "Without turning the knife too deeply, she put it to Biden." [Politico]
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9. Rare 18-foot oarfish carcass found in California
An instructor at the Catalina Island Marine Institute in California found a dead, 18-foot-long oarfish while snorkeling in 20 feet of water, the institute said in a news release reported by news outlets on Tuesday. The institute hailed it as a "discovery of a lifetime," because the slender, deep-sea fish are seldom seen, dead or alive. Some think they are the real-life inspiration for sea serpent myths. It took more than 15 people to haul the beast to shore. [ABC News]
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10. Kutcher is TV's highest-paid actor
Ashton Kutcher topped Forbes's annual list of the best paid actors on television. The magazine estimated that Kutcher made $24 million from June 2012 to June 2013. His co-star on the popular CBS sitcom Two and a Half Men, Jon Cryer, came in second with $21 million. Both stand to make even more, as the show is entering syndication with no signs it will be canceled any time soon. [Today, Forbes]

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Harold Maass is a contributing editor at TheWeek.com. He has been writing for The Week since the 2001 launch of the U.S. print edition. Harold has worked for a variety of news outlets, including The Miami HeraldFox News, and ABC News.

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