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Best Short Stories of All Time
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20 Must-Read Short Stories on Audio
What makes these short stories on audio must-reads? It’s not a science. Everyone’s must-read lists are going to be different. However, short stories and audiobooks combine two of my favorite reading hacks, so gathering this list was quite fun. Short stories are magical when used to break from a reading slump, get a feel for an author’s style, or kick start a conversation. Audiobooks are fantastic for multitasking or accessing books when reading using your eyes is not going to cut it. When these two powers combine, the reader becomes unstoppable!
You might choose to pick a standalone short story because the topic intrigues you. You might be drawn to an anthology because the author is a favorite. You might even be lured by a celebrity narrator you love bringing those short stories on audio right to your eager ears. There are as many different choices as there are kinds of stories to choose from. Literary fiction and horror are two popular short story genres, but I did try to fan out and search for variety when creating this extremely nonexhaustive list. If you reach the end and find yourself disappointed that a certain collection didn’t make the cut, take that as your sign to start spreading the word! I’m always happy to get more recommendations under my belt. Without further ado, dive into these short stories on audio!
Skeleton Crew by Stephen King
This is a compilation of some of King’s early short stories, each read by a different narrator. Voices such as Matthew Broderick and Paul Giamatti bring to life a variety of horrific situations. Clocking in at over 22 hours, this audiobook will give you bang for your buck.
The Wishing Pool and Other Stories by Tananarive Due
Tananarive Due is known for her short stories featuring horror and Afrofutrism. In this most recently published anthology, previous works are paired with brand new stories about monsters, both internally and outwardly physically threatening. Two separate narrators alternate to share these tales of dread.
The Ugly Mug And Other Stories by Darren Todd
Here’s another horror anthology, one that can be cherished for the cover art alone. Then there’s the fabulous cast of narrators. Also consider the intriguing subject matter, ranging from the titular mug torturing an office worker to the practice of paying a stand-in to complete jail time. When it’s all put together, this set of short stories on audio is the way to go.
A Show of Faith: A Short Story by Greer Hendricks
This hour-long Audible original is narrated by two voices representing the main characters. Blair and Maya end up in each other’s lives seemingly by chance, and while their connection originally seems positive, things change as secrets are revealed. This is a thriller that has left readers wanting more.
I’d Really Prefer Not to Be Here with You, and Other Stories by Julianna Baggott
Featuring stories that span several genres, and are read by a bountiful list of narrators, this collection of short stories on audio is nine hours of “weird and wonderful.” Baggott combines previously published stories with new work to bring us tales of mysterious de-aging, sudden portals, forbidden love, and murder. Disconnected and unexpected, this collection will thrill and enthrall.
Evidence of the Affair by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Epistolary novels are a favorite of mine, and I was excited to see that this was produced by providing a different narrator for each letter writer. Evidence of the Affair follows the story of two marriages irrevocably changed by cheating spouses, and the letters exchanged by all involved. Running at just over an hour, this story packs a powerful punch in a short amount of time.
Benedict Cumberbatch Reads Sherlock Holmes’ Rediscovered Railway Mysteries: Four Original Short Stories by John Taylor
Celebrity narrators are one thing, but Mr. Cumberbatch, our very own modern Sherlock, reading new original short stories on audio? Oh yes, please. These four stories were written by John Taylor, inspired by and featuring Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s most famous detective. No one will blame you for gazing at the cover while you listen.
The Complete Sookie Stackhouse Stories by Charlaine Harris
Going in, it’s important to understand that these are all the companion stories to the Sookie Stackhouse novels, perfect for a longtime fan but confusing for anyone not familiar with the series. That aside, this is a great listen for anyone looking for Easter eggs and connections between the main books of the series. Two narrators bring the southern vampire flair to life for a series of stories lasting over 11 hours.
Games and Rituals: Stories by Katherine Heiny
Stories of love and connection shine in this unconnected anthology. Heiny delivers character-driven pieces with intriguing hooks to draw you in: accidentally eating your expensive hearing aid, awkwardly helping the woman you’ve replaced move out of her family home, wearing a bridesmaid dress to work. A cast of narrators spend over seven hours bringing Heiny’s work to life.
Night of the Living Rez by Morgan Talty
Night of the Living Rez takes us to a reservation in Maine, sharing truths about Penobscot life in modern times. Talty has received high praise for stories that are relatable to anyone who has lived on a reservation, and illuminating for those of us who are ignorant to these specific struggles and triumphs. The 12 connected stories highlight people of all ages, but a singular narrator brings this collection to our ears.
The Hidden Girl and Other Stories by Ken Liu
A triumph of the speculative fiction and science fiction genre, this generous collection (almost 15 hours!) has short stories, a novelette, and a sneak peak into Lui’s ongoing fantasy series. Themes that criticize American Imperialism and probe into our relationship with technology color these stories, and is brought to us by a cast of narrators. Warmly compared to Black Mirror, The Hidden Girl and Other Stories is praised for it’s depth and interconnected feel.
The Perfect Play by G.S. Carr
It’s a bit of a stretch to add this in, seeing as it’s technically a novella, but the the two-hour running time and slice-of-life plot compelled me. Sometimes, a spot of romantic comedy is just what the doctor ordered. An NFL player and small town librarian find themselves in a surprise marriage. Hilarity and sweetness ensue. Duel narrators bring the double POV story to life in this Audible original.
Bloody Summer: Trespass Collection by Carmen Maria Machado
A singlar, standalone blast of magical realism is delivered with flair in this short story about a small Pennsylvannia town famous for its inexplicable and violent tiger sightings. Maria Machado is famous for her sharp, haunting writing, and this 47-minute story delivered by a single narrator is no exception. If you’re looking for more in this vein, the entire collection is called Trespass and features more shining stars of the literary world sharing creepy stories.
When Trying to Return Home: Stories by Jennifer Maritza McCauley
Love can be as damaging as it is healing, and this short story collection touches on many parts of the spectrum while exploring the concept of belonging. Love between strangers, cheaters, family, and more are brought to life by two narrators over the course of this collection. Maritza McCauley is celebrated for her Black American and Afro Puerto Rican characters spanning generations throughout this almost 6-hour listen.
A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
Interconnected and, at times, epistolary, this collection of short stories follows a single theme in many different formats. Bennie is a record executive and musician. Sasha is his younger employee. While we first meet these two in hard times, the stories Egan lays out introduce us to their younger selves and supporting characters. The lack of chronological order allows the reader to piece together Bennie and Sasha’s history. This would be a great transition piece for readers trying to get into short story anthologies. A single narrator brings us all 10 hours of this book.
A Few of the Girls: Stories by Maeve Binchy
Binchy is a warm hug of a comfort read for many, with her novels capturing the pleasure and heartbreak humans are capable of inflicting on each other with sharp observation. This collection is a gathering of her short stories, some of which were previously published and others that were written as gifts for friends or charity auctions. Four narrators cycle through different vignettes about life and love for almost 11 hours.
The People Who Report More Stress: Stories by Alejandro Varela
Public health, racism, classism, and deadly stress are explored in this collection of connected short stories. Varela tackles these heavy topics through character-driven pieces that illustrate the reality of recognizing societal problems and also trying to live your life at a personal level. A single narrator guides the reader through this nearly eight-hour book.
Tunneling to the Center of the Earth: Stories by Kevin Wilson
Wilson is famous for his strange and original characters, and this short story collection is more of the same. Dealing with themes of death and loss, Tunneling to the Center of the Earth is seven hours of surreal and intriguing character study. A large cast of narrators bring these stories to life, taking us to the Scrabble factory, the headquarters of the Nuclear Family Supplemental Provider, and further into the reaches of Wilson’s imagination.
Some People Have Real Problems by Brit Bennett
Tessa Thompson narrates this story that packs an incredible amount of insight into a 30-minute package. Bennett, of The Mothers and The Vanishing Half fame, introduces us to a woman struggling with infertility. Over the course of a train ride, she looks back at different decisions and grapples with how things might have gone differently. Readers have raved about the range of emotions and insight delivered in such a concise story.
El Sombrerón by Michelle Chaves
This little gem of flash fiction clocks in at just five minutes long. Based on a Latin American mythical being, the story follows a girl who wrestles with a decision that needs to be made by sun up. The format is so intriguing — this Audible original can be heard by asking Alexa to read you a short story, or you can find in the Audible app. If you’re looking for a quick blast of magical realism to break up your day, this is for you.
Are you looking for more short story goodness? Check out 11 Speculative Short Story Collections to Look Forward to in 2023 or So Happy Together: The Very Particular Pleasure of Linked Stories ! Happy reading!
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How a Hip Megachurch Became Entangled in Scandal
A new documentary series explores the history of Hillsong, known for its celebrity congregants and fashionable trappings before being struck by a series of scandals.
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By Amanda Holpuch
The global megachurch Hillsong was known for its hipster trappings, celebrity congregants and wildly popular worship music in the 2010s, but in recent years it has been more closely tied to a series of scandals, including the firing of its charismatic celebrity pastor, Carl Lentz, for “moral failures.”
A four-part documentary series, “The Secrets of Hillsong,” premieres on FX on Friday and delves into the turmoil. The series, which is based on a 2021 article in Vanity Fair magazine, features the first interview with Mr. Lentz since he was fired in 2020.
Here’s how the trouble unfolded.
Why was Hillsong so popular?
Brian Houston and his wife, Bobbie, founded Hillsong in Australia in 1983 and opened its first United States branch in New York in 2010. The church was a member of the Australian branch of the Pentecostal denomination, the Assemblies of God, before it formed its own denomination in 2018 .
Hillsong’s expansion into the United States built on its enormous success in presenting worship music . Its services drew in young people in big cities , where services were held in concert venues, such as Irving Plaza and the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York. The congregants were fashionable and included celebrities such as Justin Bieber, Kevin Durant and Vanessa Hudgens .
Mr. Lentz, the lead pastor of Hillsong’s New York branch, also became a celebrity .
This hip veneer suggested that Hillsong supported a more progressive form of Evangelicalism, but the church was criticized for its position on L.G.B.T.Q. rights. In an August 2015 blog post , the church’s founder, Mr. Houston, said that gay people were welcome at Hillsong, but that it did “not affirm a gay lifestyle.”
Carl Lentz: “hypepriest”
Mr. Lentz mingled with celebrities including Mr. Bieber, whom he baptized in the bathtub of an N.B.A. player’s home. In 2017, GQ magazine called Mr. Lentz a “ hypepriest ” to reflect his trendy wardrobe, which included aviator glasses, skinny jeans and designer sneakers . He spoke frequently about racial inequality and in 2016 declared his support for the Black Lives Matter movement.
It all came to a halt when he was fired from Hillsong in November 2020 . The church said that his termination had followed discussions about “leadership issues and breaches of trust, plus a recent revelation of moral failures.” Mr. Lentz said on Instagram shortly afterward that he had been “unfaithful in my marriage, the most important relationship in my life.” His wife, Laura Lentz, was also a Hillsong pastor.
Since then, he has stayed out of the spotlight. Last week, he said in an Instagram post that his wife and children had been his “only priority” for the past three years.
“Part of the healing from that heartache led us to the decision to be a part of a documentary that we do not control, that we don’t have any say in and that we haven’t even seen yet,” he said.
He now works at Transformation Church in Tulsa, Okla.
What happened after Carl Lentz left?
More turmoil. Hillsong’s founder, Mr. Houston, resigned in March 2022 after the church said that an internal investigation had found that he behaved inappropriately toward two women, breaching the church’s code of conduct.
He had already stepped away from his ministry duties in January 2022 to fight a criminal charge accusing him of concealing child sexual abuse by his late father, Frank Houston. Brian Houston has denied the allegations. The case is still in the courts, The Australian Associated Press reported .
In March , Mr. Houston said he had been charged with drunken driving in the United States in February 2022. Mr. Houston said that at the time “it seemed like all hell had broken loose within Hillsong church.”
Mr. Houston did not respond to a request for comment. In a video posted on his social media accounts in November , he criticized Hillsong’s leadership for how it had handled the allegations of misconduct made against him.
“I didn’t resign because of my mistakes,” he said. “I resigned because of the announcements and statements that had been made.”
What is Hillsong like today?
In March 2022 , nine of the 16 Hillsong churches in the United States cut ties with the organization, abruptly shrinking the church’s American presence. Hillsong’s website says it has seven churches in the United States, as well as locations in more than two dozen other countries.
The website also says that about 150,000 people worldwide attend its services weekly, but that is an estimate the church has been using since before the pandemic. Hillsong did not respond to questions about current attendance figures.
The documentary premiering on Friday includes interviews with congregants and looks at the history of the church’s relationship with money, sex and God.
Amanda Holpuch is a general assignment reporter. @ holpuch
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The Faber/Observer/Comica graphic short story prize 2023 – enter now!
The annual award for aspiring cartoonists offers the chance to be published in the Observer and win £1,000, with past winners going on to land film deals
Calling all aspiring cartoonists and graphic novelists: it’s time to get behind your drawing boards once again as we open entries for the Faber/Observer/Comica graphic short story prize , now in its 16th year. As ever, the winner will receive a cheque for £1,000 and their work will appear in the Observer New Review in print and online (the award for the runner-up is £250 and their story will also be published online). But even better, whoever takes home the prize will know that their work was read and loved by our two amazing guest judges: Max Porter , the bestselling author of Grief Is the Thing With Feathers , Lanny and Shy (who also loves comics), and Lizzy Stewart, the artist and illustrator, whose works include the full-length graphic novel Alison and a collection of stories, It’s Not What You Thought It Would Be (both were Observer graphic novels of the month ). Is winning the Faber/Observer/Comica prize a big deal? Yes! Among our past winners and runners-up are Isabel Greenberg , the acclaimed author of Glass Town , Matthew Dooley, the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse prize -winning author of Flake , and Joff Winterhart, whose graphic novel Days of the Bagnold Summer – a story that began its life as his entry in the 2009 competition – became a film starring Monica Dolan . Last year’s winner, Rebecca Jones , is now at work on a longer story, which she hopes will be published in the fullness of time.
All you have to do to enter is create a four-page comic designed to run over a double-page spread in the New Review – a story that will ideally have a beginning, a middle and an end, and which will be accompanied by some alluring original illustrations. After this, we do all the hard work. To enter, and to read the terms and conditions, click here . The deadline – you have months! – is 18 September.
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As funds run short, Treasury asks agencies if payments can be made later
Senior biden aides are rummaging through the nation’s books, looking for ways to conserve cash while washington battles over the debt ceiling.
The Treasury Department has asked federal agencies whether they can make upcoming payments at a later date, two people familiar with the matter said, as senior Biden officials search for fresh ways to conserve cash and prevent the U.S. government from facing an unprecedented default.
With a deadline looming in less than two weeks, the White House is looking for ways to buy more time for President Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) to cut a deal to raise the federal debt ceiling , which sets a legal limit on government borrowing. Without additional borrowing, a fresh burst of tax revenue or new ways to slow spending, the federal government expects to miss a payment for the first time in modern history in early June.
To put off the so-called “X-date” when reserves run dry, Treasury officials have asked their counterparts at federal agencies about the flexibility of payments due before early June, one of the people said. Treasury has not asked federal agencies to postpone payments beyond their due dates, the person said.
The planning has become increasingly urgent in recent days. Last week, senior Treasury staff sent a memo to federal agencies instructing them to take additional steps to keep the Treasury Department closely apprised of their spending. In the memo — which was obtained by The Washington Post and has not been previously reported — David A. Lebryk, fiscal assistant secretary for Treasury, ordered agency officials to notify Treasury at least two days in advance of all “deposits and disbursements” between $50 million and $500 million. Payments above $500 million require five days notice, the memo said.
The man in charge of knowing when the U.S. runs out of money
“Please stress to your staff the importance of these updates during this time and to ensure that your agency’s reports are accurate,” the memo said. “Your reporting offices should be reconciling reported amounts to actual payment activity to ensure the reliability of these reports during the critical period.”
Negotiations to find a broad agreement to raise the debt ceiling continued for several hours between representatives of Biden and McCarthy Tuesday, but little new progress appeared to have been made after Monday night’s meeting between the two leaders, who remain divided over how much the federal government should spend next year and other issues. Walking into the Capitol on Tuesday morning, McCarthy said the two sides remain far apart. Asked whether he was close to a deal, McCarthy responded, “no,” though he said it is still possible to get an agreement completed before June 1. White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre, meanwhile, told reporters that the talks have “been productive,” adding, “We believe there is a space and an opportunity here to have a bipartisan, reasonable, reasonable budget agreement.”
The Bipartisan Policy Center, a D.C.-based think tank whose debt ceiling estimates are closely watched, reported Tuesday that it expected the U.S. government to run out of money between June 2 and 13 if the limit is not raised. Major stock indexes closed slightly down Tuesday as traders looked ahead to the prospect of default.
Spokespeople for the White House declined to comment on any attempts to conserve funds ahead of the deadline. A spokesperson for Treasury said: “To produce an accurate forecast around the debt limit, it’s critical that Treasury have updated information on the magnitude and timing of agency payments. As in prior debt limit episodes, Treasury will continue to regularly communicate with all aspects of the federal government on their planned expenditures.”
Determining the precise amount of money available to make federal payments has become especially critical as some Biden aides look for ways to buy more time for high-stakes debt ceiling negotiations occurring between the White House and Capitol Hill.
What happens if the U.S doesn’t raise the debt ceiling?
In a letter Monday to lawmakers, Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen affirmed that Congress may have only until June 1 before the federal government exhausts its supply of cash, though she again predicted that Treasury may be able to hold out until “early June.” Some Wall Street forecasters have said the true X-date — the day when the government finally misses a payment — is likely June 8 or 9.
With a big influx of quarterly tax payments expected to arrive in Treasury’s coffers on June 15, administration officials are looking for ways to hoard cash and eke out a few more days. If they can make it to June 15, the surge in revenue might give Treasury enough funding to push the X-date into July, when a fresh round of accounting measures would become available, perhaps allowing them to push the prospect of default even further into the future.
“It’s possible they have some tricks up their sleeves to get to June 15,” said Marc Goldwein, senior vice president at the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a Washington-based think tank. “And if they get to June 15, they can go a lot longer.”
Think you can tame the national debt? Play our budget game.
Administration officials are not banking on this strategy. Yellen has been adamant that the only way to avoid calamity is for Congress to raise the debt ceiling before June. Independent budget experts have stressed that no good legal options exist for significantly extending the amount of cash Treasury has on hand.
Meanwhile, some experts fear that extending the deadline could have the unintended consequence of creating more uncertainty among lawmakers, which could take the pressure off their rush to reach an agreement to raise the $31.4 trillion debt ceiling — even as the imperative for congressional action becomes increasingly urgent.
Brian Riedl, a policy analyst at the Manhattan Institute, a libertarian-leaning think tank, said it is unclear if Treasury can find much in available funds rummaging through the nation’s couch cushions.
“Washington is borrowing $100 billion a month, and the odds of finding a significant pile of cash that hadn’t gone noticed is between slim and none,” Riedl said.
If the United States does get to the brink, Biden aides already are exploring unilateral options for staving off what many economists believe would be a global economic crisis. One administration official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to describe internal government deliberations, agreed that “we’re looking under the couch cushions.” But, the person said, “it’s a very large couch.”
GOP rejected White House effort to close tax loopholes in debt ceiling talks
Administration officials declined to provide details about the actions under consideration, but outside analysts outlined some likely options.
Alec Phillips, the chief U.S. political economist at Goldman Sachs Research, pointed to “a little belt tightening” as one option, in which the Treasury Department could direct agencies — such as the Defense Department and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services — to slow down their process for submitting payments. That would not be the same as ordering them to cease payments, but it could slow the flow of money from Treasury coffers.
Such actions “don’t solve their problem but could be enough if they were looking for just a little extra room (which is probably all they need in June),” Phillips said in an email.
Treasury also could sell bonds held by some of the government’s massive trust funds, such as the Social Security Trust Fund or the Highway Trust Fund. That could raise tens of billions of dollars immediately, some experts said, and the trust funds could easily be made whole once the standoff ends.
Still, these ideas have their downsides.
The law requires contractors and those owed money by the federal government to be to paid promptly. Otherwise, the government would face repayment penalties, which could include an additional 4.6 percent in interest, according to Riedl. Federal agencies also could resist attempts to slow or stop payments, citing a 1974 law that bars the executive branch from substituting its own spending priorities for decisions by Congress.
“I don’t believe that any career official in any agency would risk violating [that law] by purposefully delaying a payment in order to get around the X-date,” said David Vandivier, who served as deputy assistant secretary for budget and tax in the Treasury’s legislative affairs office during the Obama administration and is now executive director of the Psaros Center for Financial Markets and Policy at Georgetown University.
The Treasury Department might find a few additional billions of dollars by tapping the Treasury securities held by the Federal Financing Bank, which helps provide low-cost loans for federal programs, said Shai Akabas, director of economic policy at the Bipartisan Policy Center, a D.C.-based think tank. But that would probably amount to less than a day’s worth of federal payments.
Akabas said other options — such as slowing payments or raiding trust funds — would entail other risks. The Biden administration has resisted calls to end the debt ceiling standoff by invoking the 14th Amendment or minting a $1 trillion coin, actions they view as risky and subject to legal challenge. The current search for ways to prolong the X-date could similarly plunge the administration into uncharted waters.
More dramatic options are available. Biden has the authority to sell U.S. assets such as parklands or federal buildings to raise money, but that would almost certainly spark a political backlash. Dean Baker, an economist at the Center for Economic and Policy Research, has noted that the president could sell off a portion of the Treasury’s $500 billion in gold reserves.
There is no indication that either idea is under consideration, though Treasury Secretary James A. Baker III threatened to sell gold bonds during a similar debt ceiling standoff in the 1980s.
“There are measures they could consider, like effectively instructing agencies to wait until bills are due to make them, which could slow down bill payments. But they would be a really big undertaking. And I’m not sure how much they would even delay the X-date,” Akabas said.
He added: “We’ve been through this exercise dozens of times before. So if there was something readily available, you think we would have heard about it.”
What to know about the U.S. debt ceiling
The latest: On Monday, President Biden met with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy to resume debt talks after negotiations were paused after a brief breakdown last week. If the debt ceiling isn’t raised by the deadline, here’s what a government default means and the payments at risk . Here are the negotiators hammering out a debt ceiling deal .
Understanding the debt ceiling fight : Biden and the House Republican leadership are on a collision course over the national debt limit . In this comic, see how hitting the debt ceiling could unleash chaos . Here’s when the debt ceiling battle could end .
What is at stake? Invoking the 14th Amendment to dodge the debt limit is risky, White House officials say. If the debt limit is breached , Biden warned that it could send the U.S. economy into a free fall. The debt ceiling breach could wipe out 8 million jobs , a recent analysis found. Amid consumer anxiety over the uncertainty , financial experts warn against making fear-based decisions.
A short story is a short work of prose fiction. It may be in any genre of fiction, and the exact definition of "short" will often depend on the genre. Short stories are often collected together with other short stories, poetry, art, and/or essays in order to form a larger book, although it is becoming more common for short stories to be ...
Clear rating. 1 of 5 stars 2 of 5 stars 3 of 5 stars 4 of 5 stars 5 of 5 stars. 5. Bartleby, the Scrivener: A Story of Wall Street. by. Herman Melville. 3.93 avg rating — 59,449 ratings. score: 2,830 , and 29 people voted.
Skeleton Crew by Stephen King. This is a compilation of some of King's early short stories, each read by a different narrator. Voices such as Matthew Broderick and Paul Giamatti bring to life a variety of horrific situations. Clocking in at over 22 hours, this audiobook will give you bang for your buck.
May 19, 2023, 5:30 a.m. ET. The global megachurch Hillsong was known for its hipster trappings, celebrity congregants and wildly popular worship music in the 2010s, but in recent years it has been ...
Rebecca Jones, the winner of the 2022 Faber/Observer/Comica graphic short story prize for her work Midnight Feast, at her desk in south London in November 2022. Photograph: Alicia Canter/The Guardian
8 min. The Treasury Department has asked federal agencies whether they can make upcoming payments at a later date, two people familiar with the matter said, as senior Biden officials search for ...