When the bipartisan supercommittee on the federal debt was formed four months ago, there was more than a little skepticism that the 12-member group could come up with $1.2 trillion in savings and avoid a severe round of automatic government budget cuts.
On Monday, with the deadline fast approaching and no plan in sight, it looked like the skeptics were on the verge of being proved right.
Got a mouthful of metal and stack of orthodontic bills? You can thank your farmer ancestors for them.
That's according to an anthropologist who says the switch from chewing wild game to eating corn, rice and wheat could have shortened the human jaw so that teeth don't fit in it as well.
When agriculture took off in some parts of the world, it had a lot to offer people: Farmed foods are a more reliable source of calories, and are easier to chew and digest. But they also may have helped transform the jaw bone before the teeth could catch up.
For the not-so-super debt reduction supercommittee, failure is clearly an option.
As the blame-gaming bipartisan congressional committee stumbled toward collapse Monday, washing out on even the most basic show of common purpose, the "what happens next" scenarios began to take shape.
A power struggle between Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (right) and the country's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (left, in portrait) is growing. There are signs that Khamenei may want to eliminate the presidency and replace it with the less powerful position of prime minister.
The next presidential election in Iran is scheduled for 2013, but doubts are emerging about whether it will actually take place.
A conservative member of Iran's parliament recently claimed that a secret committee convened by Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has been working on a plan to do away with the office of the presidency.
Meanwhile, the conflict between the supreme leader and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad continues to sharpen.