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!

Jun 28, 2013

  • Defense Officials Indicate NSA Leaks Have Had Consequences

    With Tom Gjelten, NPR

    Washington is still trying to determine how much damage has been done as a result of Edward Snowden's revelations about NSA surveillance. Snowden allegedly encrypted the files he took with him, but some officials fear Chinese or Russian intelligence services gained access to Snowden's computers.

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Jun 27, 2013

  • Analysis: Supreme Court In No Rush to Grant National Gay-Marriage Right

    By Joan Biskupic, Reuters

    When the U.S. Supreme Court declined on Wednesday to rule on whether gay men and lesbians have a fundamental right to marry, it delivered an implicit message to those seeking such a right: Don't hurry back.

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  • A Scramble to Change Federal Rules After Gay Rights Ruling

    With Pete Williams, NBC News

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  • Court Underscores Political Shift on Same-Sex Marriage

    By Dan Balz, The Washington Post

    The Supreme Court met the moment Wednesday. With public attitudes shifting dramatically in favor of same-sex marriage, the justices used a pair of rulings to give additional momentum to one of the most rapid changes in social policy in the nation’s history.

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  • Ruling Opens Immigration System To Gay Couples

    By Alan Gomez, USA Today

    Gay and lesbian couples will for the first time be able to secure green cards for their foreign spouses after the Supreme Court struck down a section of federal law that denied federal benefits to legally married same-sex couples.

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  • Court Rulings on Gay Marriage and Voting Rights Test GOP Makeover

    By Beth Reinhard, National Journal

    House Speaker John Boehner spent at least $2.3 million to defend the federal law banning same-sex marriage -- a cause dear to the Republican base -- but you couldn't tell from his muted reaction when the U.S. Supreme Court struck it down.

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  • Texas State Senator Wendy Davis Filibusters Her way To Democratic Stardom

    By Karen Tumulty and Morgan Smith, The Washington Post

    Wendy Davis strode onto the floor of the Texas Senate chamber on Tuesday in rouge-red running shoes, and came off it early Wednesday morning as the Democratic Party’s newest star.

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  • African Terrorist Threat Not Far From Obama’s Mind

    By James Kitfield, National Journal

    When President Obama lands in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, next week, he will see a city that reflects the rapid changes that are reshaping Africa. The traffic-snarled streets are a riot of bright color, with buildings painted in splashes of pink and orange sherbet, and pedestrians dressed in blaring red dresses and screaming yellow soccer shirts. On the shoreline, large container ships will be stacked to the horizon of the Indian Ocean, bespeaking the economic miracle that has brought Africa’s average economic growth rate on par with Asia’s at nearly 6 percent.

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Jun 26, 2013

  • With Snowden in Middle, U.S. and Russia Joust, and Cool Off

    By David Herszenhorn, Ellen Barry and Peter Baker, The New York Times

    President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia on Tuesday appeared to rule out sending Edward J. Snowden back to the United States to face espionage charges, leaving him in limbo even as Moscow and Washington seemed to be making an effort to prevent a cold-war-style standoff from escalating.

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  • Supreme Court strikes down Defense of Marriage Act, paves way for gay marriage to resume in California

    With Pete Williams, NBC News

    In a pair of landmark decisions, the Supreme Court on Wednesday struck down the 1996 law blocking federal recognition of gay marriage, and it allowed gay marriage to resume in California by declining to decide a separate case.

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  • Analysis: U.S. chief justice realizes longstanding vision in voting-rights case

    By Joan Biskupic, Reuters

    For an often enigmatic figure at the U.S. Supreme Court, Chief Justice John Roberts spoke to the essence of his legal philosophy on Tuesday in eliminating a voting-rights provision enacted to protect blacks and other minorities. His opinion for the court marks the culmination of an effort by conservatives, many of whom, like Roberts, cut their teeth in the Ronald Reagan administration, to ensure that federal voting requirements on the states be limited and race-based rules fade in contemporary America.

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  • Congress unlikely to act on voting rights ruling

    By Susan Davis, USA Today

    A divided Congress has no clear path to heed the call of Chief Justice John Roberts and President Obama to legislate in response to Tuesday's 5-4 Supreme Court decision that invalidated a portion of the landmark 1965 Voting Rights Act.

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  • Try, Try Again

    By John Dickerson, Slate Magazine

    On Tuesday, President Obama tried two presidential adaptation strategies. The first was holding a White House meeting with congressional leaders about immigration reform. The second was an end-run around those same leaders with a speech announcing that the Environmental Protection Agency will regulate greenhouse-gas emissions from existing power plants.

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  • Obama South Africa Visit Completes World Awakening From Mandela

    By Julianna Goldman and Margaret Talev, Bloomberg News

    The only meeting between the first black presidents of the U.S. and South Africa lasted only a few minutes and almost didn’t happen. In May 2005, Barack Obama, a new U.S. senator, was riding to a Washington event when his office called. Nelson Mandela, whose decades-long fight against apartheid and efforts at racial reconciliation had inspired Obama to become engaged in politics, was in town and asking to see him. Obama seized the chance.

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Jun 25, 2013

  • High Court Eliminates Voting Map

    With Pete Williams, NBC News

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  • Analysis: Supreme Court Takes Small Step to Bridge Ideological Divide

    By Joan Biskupic, Reuters

    It may never be clear what happened behind the scenes at the U.S. Supreme Court to yield Monday's compromise decision upholding university affirmative action. The case was heard in October, the first month of the term, and as the months went by and the justices deliberated in secret, the suspense grew.

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  • Immigration bill passes key hurdle in Senate

    By Alan Gomez, USA Today

    The Senate took a major step toward overhauling the nation's immigration laws Monday when it cleared the way for an amendment to bolster border security on a 67-27 vote.

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  • Gang of 70

    By John Dickerson, Slate Magazine

    Later this week, the Senate will pass comprehensive immigration reform, and that’s supposed to give the bill momentum in the House. "We’re working to get a very substantial bipartisan majority," said Republican Sen. John Hoeven. "That’s going to help in terms of actually getting the bill all the way through the House and into law." Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer, a member of the Senate Gang of Eight that has crafted the bill, and also a former member of the House, says that, "Having a significant number of Republicans will change the dynamic in the House."

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  • Russia Rebukes U.S., Insisting Snowden Not Within Border

    By David M. Herszenhorn and Peter Baker, The New York Times

    President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia offered the first direct confirmation on Tuesday that Edward J. Snowden, the fugitive American national security contractor, was in a transit area at a Moscow airport, and he appeared to rule out American requests for his extradition to the United States.

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  • President Obama in the Doldrums

    By John F. Harris, Jake Sherman and Elizabeth Titus, Politico

    Not yet six months into his second term, Barack Obama’s presidency is in a dead zone.

    A combination of familiar Washington intransigence and a more recent run of bad news and political setbacks have left him with less influence over his circumstances — and more buffeted by factors beyond his control — than at any time in his five years in office.

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