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The Cost of Dysfunction

Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call, via Getty

The current battle over the budget and debt ceiling may be coming to an end. But we shouldn’t discount the long-term economic costs of brinksmanship.

The budget and debt end games are still playing themselves out on Capitol Hill; and judging by its current behavior, Congress has developed the political equivalent of a brain tumor.  A toxic byproduct of an ongoing power struggle inside the Republican Party, the cancer has caused incapacitating seizures that have virtually crippled the national government’s capacity to take care of the most elemental aspects of governance. Even if House Republicans finally agree today or tomorrow to fund the government and raise the debt limit, the tumor they have spawned will continue to damage our economy -- and the longer term prognosis is not encouraging.

TECH BUBBLE

Twitter Losses Grow in 3rd Quarter

Mary Turner

Still not profitable as IPO nears.

Talk about tweetering on profitability. As popular social media network Twitter Inc. prepares for its IPO on the New York Stock Exchange, new financial details highlighting its struggles have come to light. In a filing, Twitter disclosed that its net loss for the third quarter in 2013 was $64.6 million, up from $21.6 million in the same quarter a year ago. On the other hand revenue has grown steadily, doubling to $168.6 from the previous year’s third quarter of $82.3 million. Continuing the theme of good and bad news, the average price of each ad it has sold is down over 75 percent, but users are clicking on or retweeting those ads 15 times more than in 2012. While an exact date for Twitter’s IPO hasn’t been announced, some analysts expect the company will get the ball rolling around the end of October. Twitter now has 232 million active users worldwide, compared to Facebook’s 1.2 billion.

Read it at the Wall Street Journal

SAYONARA

Glenn Greenwald Leaving Guardian

Eraldo Peres/AP

For media venture funded by eBay founder.

It’s really too bad somebody leaked this before he was ready to announce. Glenn Greenwald, the crusading blogger who came to international recognition this year for his part in the NSA leaks from Edward Snowden, is leaving his perch at the London-based Guardian. Greenwald will join a new media venture funded by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar, though specifics about the project are still unknown. In a blog post on Tuesday, Greenwald said that he was given a "once-in-a-career dream journalistic opportunity" and had to go for it. Both Greenwald and the Guardian said the parting is amicable. Never one to over-hype his next big thing, he says that, “When people hear what it is, there is almost no journalist who would say no to it.” 

Read it at Reuters

BENCHING BAD

Workout Supplement Sorta Like Meth

Shutterstock

Supplement contains forbidden stimulant.

Meth-heads and juicers unite! Scientist found that craze, a sports supplement that was recently listed by Bodybuilding.com as the “New Supplement of the Year," contains a synthetic chemical called N,alpha-DEPEA, which is derived from methamphetamine. Harvard scientists began investigating the product after two athletes were banned from international competitions following failed anti-doping drug tests. The manufacturer of Craze, Driven Sports, does not list the ingredient, which is surprising since according to the Boston Globe, the owner has already served a prison sentence for “selling and transporting a highly toxic industrial chemical packaged as a weight loss supplement that resulted in a young woman’s death.” The FDA has said it cannot review the findings by the scientists due to the shutdown.

Read it at the Boston Globe

Fall Awakening

Don’t Get Your Hopes Up

J. David Ake/AP

Sorry to be the pessimist, but even if Congress reopens the government and agrees on lifting the debt ceiling, we’re in for a rocky ride come the new year. Welcome to the year of the groundhog. By Daniel Gross

The budget wars are almost over! Long live the budget wars!On Monday night the contours of a deal to defuse the ticking fiscal bomb emerged in the Senate. The government would reopen and stay funded through January, and the debt ceiling would be increased to get the nation through February. The Affordable Care Act would remain essentially intact. The two houses of Congress would agree to hold talks about long-term budget deficits. In other words – take two delays and agree to keep arguing over the same topics in the morning.

#trythese

Seven Genius Twitter Hacks

Regis Duvignau/Reuters

Don’t scroll aimlessly through your timeline. Here are a few tricks to optimize your 140-character experience.

To increase the amount of information you absorb on Twitter—and decrease the amount of time wasted—here are seven tips and tricks that will have even the most Twitter-averse users addicted to the site's convenience. Make Follow Lists Divvying up the accounts you follow by topic is a great way to make sure you don't miss the users and issues you care about most. Build lists under the "Me" page and within apps like TweetDeck so you can organize your feeds and watch several lists at once.

Yipes

Panic Sets In

Richard Drew/AP

When the normally level-headed titans of high finance start to sell off in a frenzy, you know things are bad. Daniel Gross on the debt ceiling's newest freak out.

The Davos crowd – bankers, finance ministers, central bankers, large-asset managers – is generally not prone to panic. These are people who traffic in incremental change, who wear stiffer upper lips to match their bespoke suits, who avoid hyperbole the way they avoid flying coach.But as the U.S. government remains shut down for a third week, and as America careens toward the debt ceiling, this normally unflappable crowd is starting to sweat. It’s as if they haven’t been paying attention to the absurd pageant of brinksmanship that has been playing out in Washington over the last few years, and are only now waking up to the horror that one house of Congress – and hence a branch of government – is essentially controlled by a group of people who care not a whit for the prerogatives of global bondholders.

No Skinnies Allowed

Overweight-Only Gym

yellowdog/Getty

Most gyms make money by being intimidating and underused. But Downsize Fitness, which requires members to be overweight, plans to make a profit by creating community.

Downsize Fitness, a Chicago-based, overweight-only gym, is upsizing in a hurry. Founded in Chicago in 2011, it now has four outposts in Illinois and Texas. “We have received 50 inbound requests to set up Downsizes all across the world,” said Kishan Shah, a former Goldman Sachs analyst who earlier this year joined Downsize Fitness as chief executive officer. Shah, 27, is half the man he used to be, thanks to a focus on fitness. He once weighed 400 pounds, and has lost more than 200 pounds.

New York’s Petty War on Airbnb

Julien Faure/REA via Redux

The New York State Attorney General wants Airbnb to turn over user data. It could lead to the ruin of Gotham’s short-term rental market, writes Jim Epstein

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, newcomers to New York City found an abundance of spare bedrooms, living room couches, and kitchen cots available for rent. "Boarding out," as it was once called, also provided a vital income stream for poor families in possession of spare rooms, couches, and cots. By 1912, according to one survey, nearly half of Gotham's black households had boarders, many of them migrants from the South.

Grinch

The Shutdown that Stole Christmas?

Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast

The holiday shopping season is around the corner. But if the government doesn’t reopen for business soon, it’s going to be a very un-merry Christmas, writes Daniel Gross.

Black Friday is only seven weeks away. And the government shutdown, now in its second week, is already casting a pall over the holiday shopping season.  You can ridicule, dump on, or boycott, the Christmas shopping season, but you can’t deny its importance. The fourth quarter is simply a huge one for the consumer economy. Advertising budgets are ramped up. Stores of all types stock up in anticipation of a massive rush of demand. The last several weeks can make or break the year for many large retailers.

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Shame on You, Walmart!

With an Ohio Walmart hosting a holiday food drive for its own workers, The Daily Beast's Michael Tomasky criticizes the notoriously stingy company for not paying them more.

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