Blink? No, you blink: Can you hear the clucking on Capitol Hill? That’s the sound of the White House and Congress playing chicken. Lawmakers have until midnight to come up with a spending plan or government goes into shutdown mode. Not everything will come crashing to a halt, but lots of folks will be on furlough. Get up to speed on the whole kerfuffle in 20 questions. Tea party Republicans want to defund Obamacare in addition to loads of other spending cutbacks. Democrats, including the White House, seem ready to stay pat with their hand, certain the public will blame the GOP for the stalemate. And a CNN/ORC International poll released this morning backs that up. If the federal government shuts down starting tomorrow because of this bitter partisan battle, more people say congressional Republicans rather than Barack Obama would be responsible.



Got your scorecard?: The Middle East is still hopping on the diplomatic front. Syria’s government speaks at the U.N. General Assembly today. U.N. weapons inspectors also are wrapping up their investigation of alleged chemical weapons attacks. A comprehensive report is due at the end of October. In Washington, President Barack Obama once again finds himself in the middle of a high-stakes, tension-fraught meeting with a key leader from the Middle East. Must be Monday. Just days after a historic phone call between Obama and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, the U.S. president will meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House late this morning. Let’s just say the recent relationship between the White House and Israel has been prickly at times. Critics say Obama is less than enthusiastic toward pro-Israeli policies and interests.

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