Essential Reads

Essential Reads is your one-stop source for the top stories of the day as reported by your favorite Washington Week panelists. It's a simple way to save time and stay informed about the news you need to know. Check it out every day!

Apr 17, 2014

  • Putin Ups Ante in Ukraine

    By Michael Crowley, TIME Magazine

    On the afternoon of April 14, a group of police officers lined up outside their ransacked headquarters in the eastern Ukrainian town of Gorlovka to receive orders from their new commander. Just a few hours earlier, their station had been stormed by a pro-Russian mob. Rather than resist, the officers defected. Greeting them now outside the building with a military salute was the leader of the mob, a man in fatigues with a drill sergeant’s swagger. On a video later posted to YouTube, he stated his rank as lieutenant colonel. “Of what?” a policeman asked. “Of the Russian army,” the man replied.

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  • Obama Looks for Midterm Advantage on Job Training and Immigration

    By Emmarie Huetteman and Peter Baker, The New York Times

    President Obama, seeking to shore up support for midterm elections that threaten to cost his party control of the Senate, vowed Wednesday to improve federal job training programs and chastised Republicans for blocking an overhaul of immigration law.

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  • Obama Trolls the GOP

    By John Dickerson, Slate Magazine

    How do I get you to pay attention to this story? I could type out a balanced tale about an incremental change in White House spin and message control, relying on your discernment, patience, and kindness toward all the creatures of the Earth. Or, I could say that Barack Obama is a cynical and manipulative liar. The first approach would get a modest number of thoughtful readers, but they probably wouldn't stay on the page very long. The second would excite the emotions. Conservatives would approve. Liberals would denounce it and point out the exaggerations. My editor would smile because the controversy would attract more readers.

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  • EMILY’s List powering Democratic women fundraising totals

    By Matea Gold, The Washington Post

    The robust fundraising totals posted Tuesday by Democratic Senate candidates Alison Lundergan Grimes of Kentucky ($2.7 million) and Michelle Nunn of Georgia ($2.4 million) speak to one of the party’s major assets this cycle: the fundraising machine that is EMILY’s List.

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  • Defend 'Obamacare' unabashedly, some Democrats say

    By Charles Babington And Ricardo Alonso Zaldivar, Associated Press

    The outlook for the president's health care overhaul suddenly appears brighter, and some Democrats are saying it's time for the party to openly embrace the law that Republicans consider their best campaign weapon.

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Apr 16, 2014

  • Will Tsarnaev Face the Death Penalty?

    With Pete Williams, NBC News

    Prosecutors have said they will seek the death sentence if the man accused of carrying out the Boston bombing attacks is convicted.

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  • Wealthy donors pump money into super PACs as 2014 midterm contests heat up

    By Matea Gold, The Washington Post

    Wealthy political donors pumped millions of dollars into Democratic and Republican super PACs in the first quarter of the year — a sign that independent political groups will once again have a large impact on this year’s midterm contests.

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  • Al Qaeda Affiliate Leader Praised in ‘Atypical’ Terror Gathering

    By Martha Raddatz, Dana Hughes, Rym Momtaz, ABC News

    The leader of al Qaeda’s most dangerous affiliate is the star of a propaganda video showing an unusually large gathering of apparent militants.

    Nasir al-Wahishi, believed to be the leader of al Qaeda’s Yemen affiliate al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), appears in good spirits as he addresses dozens of fighters as the black flag of al Qaeda flaps in the breeze among them.

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  • Is Jeb Bush too old school for the new GOP?

    By Doyle McManus, Los Angeles Times

    Is Jeb Bush's moment over?

    Not in his mind. The former governor of Florida says he's considering a campaign to become his family's third president, even though he dreads "getting back into the vortex of the mud fight."

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  • Obamacare Regular Enrollment Closes for 2014 Health Plans

    By Alex Wayne, Bloomberg News

    For Obamacare procrastinators, time’s up.

    Yesterday was the last day of a two-week health-law extension for hundreds of thousands of people who couldn’t finish their enrollment by March 31, the official deadline to sign up for a federally subsidized insurance plan in 2014.

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Apr 15, 2014

  • With Ukraine Tensions Mounting, U.S. Weighs New Sanctions Against Russia

    By Peter Baker, The New York Times

    President Obama warned President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia on Monday against further disruption of eastern Ukraine even as the United States and Europe prepared to expand sanctions against leading Russian figures in the next few days.

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  • Edward Snowden: A whistle-blowing outlaw, now with a Pulitzer Prize to his name

    A few months ago, I wrote that it was wrong to try to classify Edward Snowden as either a whistle-blower or a traitor, because he’s a bit of each.

    Only now he’s a whistle-blowing outlaw with a Pulitzer Prize to his name.

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  • Former KKK Leader Suspected in Jewish Center Attacks: Sources

    By Jonathan Dienst and Pete Williams, NBC News

    The person of interest in custody for the killing of three people at two Jewish centers is a former Ku Klux Klan leader with a history of antisemitism and racism, law enforcement officials said.

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  • That time Democrats opposed a minimum wage hike

    By Reid Wilson, The Washington Post

    What if they held a vote to increase the minimum wage and most of the Democrats voted no? That’s what happened in Alaska on Sunday, where the vast majority of Democrats in the state House voted against a measure that would have given low-income workers one of the highest minimum wages in the entire country.

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  • Google, once disdainful of lobbying, now a master of Washington influence

    By Tom Hamburger and Matea Gold, Washington Week

    In May 2012, the law school at George Mason University hosted a forum billed as a “vibrant discussion” about Internet search competition. Many of the major players in the field were there — regulators from the Federal Trade Commission, federal and state prosecutors, top congressional staffers.

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Apr 14, 2014

  • Obama Lets N.S.A. Exploit Some Internet Flaws, Officials Say

    By David E. Sanger, The New York Times

    Stepping into a heated debate within the nation’s intelligence agencies, President Obama has decided that when the National Security Agency discovers major flaws in Internet security, it should — in most circumstances — reveal them to assure that they will be fixed, rather than keep mum so that the flaws can be used in espionage or cyberattacks, senior administration officials said Saturday.

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  • Alaska ad proudly ties Dem senator to 'Obamacare'

    By Charles Babington, Associated Press

    After months of watching Democrats get hammered over President Barack Obama's health care law, friends of an embattled senator are fighting back by proudly linking him to "Obamacare."

    An independent group in Alaska is airing a TV ad that praises Democratic Sen. Mark Begich for helping people obtain insurance even if they have "pre-existing conditions," such as cancer.

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  • Sebelius’ Last Job

    By John Dickerson, Slate Magazine

    Kathleen Sebelius, the outgoing health and human services secretary, has one last job she can do for President Obama. She can allow Republicans to heap criticism upon her as she heads out the door. The more she is seen as the agent of Obamacare’s woes, the embodiment of the bad website and the law’s generally snakebit nature, the better it is for the political health of the president’s signature program. As if to fulfill this promise, when Sebelius read her prepared remarks announcing her departure on Friday at the White House, she flipped through her pages and admitted, “Unfortunately, a page is missing.”

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  • How She Does It

    By Molly Ball, The Atlantic

    The governor of New Hampshire does not live in the governor’s mansion. Instead, Maggie Hassan lives on the grounds of Phillips Exeter Academy, the exclusive 228-year-old prep school of the Northeast’s privileged set, where her husband, Thomas Hassan, has been the principal since 2008—a job that comes with lodging in a stately colonial on the school’s campus.

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  • In New Officers’ Careers, Peace Is No Dividend

    By Helene Cooper and Thom Shanker, The New York Times

    Col. Jeff Lieb, the deputy commandant of the United States Military Academy and a veteran of the war in Iraq, paced before a group of cadets standing in formation and shouted at them about their lives after graduation.

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