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!

Aug 15, 2013

  • Government Surveillance Spurs Americans to Fight Back

    By Dana Priest, Washington Post

    At the Pentagon and CIA, they are known as “countermeasures,” the jargony adaptation of Newton’s Third Law: For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

    The U.S. Army in Iraq jammed cellphones to counter deadly roadside bombs triggered by calls.

    Osama bin Laden switched to carrier pigeons when spy agencies got good at eavesdropping on al-Qaeda communications.

    And Adam Harvey revved up his assembly line to foil — or at least critique — the National Security Agency’s collection of Americans’ phone records in the name of counterterrorism.

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  • Buffett Raises Stake in GM by 60%

    By David Shepardson, Detroit News

    Billionaire Warren Buffett's investment arm Berkshire Hathaway Inc. boosted its stake in General Motors Co. by 60 percent to 40 million shares, the conglomerate disclosed in a filing early Thursday.

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  • Seib & Wessel: Full Tim Pawlenty Interview

    With David Wessel, Wall Street Journal

    In an interview with WSJ's David Wessel, Financial Services Roundtable President and former GOP presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty discusses whether the banking sector is primed for another crisis and analyzes how the GOP is placed for the 2016 election.


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Aug 14, 2013

  • 4 Militants Linked to Embassy Threat Killed: Senior Official

    By Martha Raddatz, Brian Ross and Lee Ferran, ABC News

    An American drone strike has killed four suspected al Qaeda militants associated with the latest threat that prompted the closing of U.S. embassies across the Middle East and North Africa, according to a senior U.S. official.

    "We got the operational guys we were after," the official said, referring to the four men killed in Yemen.

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  • Booker, Lonegan win NJ special Senate Primaries

    With John Harwood, CNBC

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  • The Quiet Gay-Rights Revolution in America's Churches

    By Molly Ball, The Atlantic

    For most gay Americans in the 20th century, the church was a place of pain. It cast them out and called them evil. It cleaved them from their families. It condemned their love and denied their souls. In 2004, a president was elected when religious voters surged from their pews to vote against the legal recognition of gay relationships. When it came to gay rights, religion was the enemy.

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  • Team Clinton Not Laughing at Weiner’s ‘Joke’

    By Jeff Zeleny, ABC News

    It was a joke.

    That’s how Anthony Weiner described his comment earlier this week that suggested he had inside information into Hillary Clinton’s 2016 plans.

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  • In the Arab World, U.S. is Low on Leverage

    By Doyle McManus, Los Angeles Times

    The "Arab Spring" may not have succeeded in bringing democracy to the Middle East. But it has provided powerful evidence of a different phenomenon: the illusion of U.S. influence over governments we once considered our clients.

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Aug 13, 2013

  • Holder Calls for New Ways of Enforcing Drug Laws

    With Pete Williams, NBC News

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  • World News 8/12: Stop-and-Frisk Policy Ruled Unconstitutional

    With Pierre Thomas, ABC News

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  • N.S.A. Leaks Make Plan for Cyberdefense Unlikely

    By David E. Sanger, The New York Times

    Even while rapidly expanding its electronic surveillance around the world, the National Security Agency has lobbied inside the government to deploy the equivalent of a “Star Wars” defense for America’s computer networks, designed to intercept cyberattacks before they could cripple power plants, banks or financial markets.

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  • Joe Biden’s Going to Iowa, too

    By Jeff Zeleny, ABC News

    With all the talk of Hillary Clinton’s political ambitions in the air, Vice President Joe Biden isn’t being outdone: He’s now speaking at Sen. Tom Harkin’s annual steak fry in Iowa next month, ABC News has learned.

    San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro is already the marquee speaker for the Sept. 15 event, but Biden will deliver a speech after Castro. It was Biden’s idea to attend, people with knowledge of the event said, and he raised it with Harkin.

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  • Orr to Name Group to Oversee Grants as Detroit Gears up for More Fed Funds

    By David Shepherdson, The Detroit News

    Detroit’s Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr is working to hire a group to oversee the city’s federal grant money, while federal officials are looking at ways to offer additional aid to the city through grant programs.

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Aug 12, 2013

  • Holder: Some drug Offenders Shouldn't Face Mandatory Minimum Sentences

    By Pete Williams, NBC News

    Attorney General Eric Holder is directing federal prosecutors to change they way they file charges for some drug crimes, to reduce the number of convictions for offenses that carry inflexible, mandatory minimum sentences.

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  • Obama Assures Disabled Veterans They Will Get Aid

    By Jackie Calmes, The New York Times

    President Obama on Saturday assured thousands of disabled veterans meeting here that while the war in Afghanistan was ending, like the one in Iraq before it, the work of helping the wounded warriors of those conflicts “has only just begun.”

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  • Will Hillary Clinton Be Ready in 2016?

    By Dan Balz, The Washington Post

    It’s August 2013. What better time to talk about 2016?

    At this point, Hillary Rodham Clinton has been awarded the Democratic nomination virtually by default and declared the clear favorite to win the general election against her as yet unknown Republican opponent. That’s an overstatement, of course, but just barely.

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  • Are Seniors Souring on the Republican Party?

    By Molly Ball, The Atlantic

    As bad as things get for Republicans -- with women, with minorities, with youths -- there's always been one group they can count on: the old. But now one Democratic pollster sees evidence that even seniors are starting to turn on the GOP.

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  • Why the World Bank Is Taking On Climate Change

    By Coral Davenport, National Journal

    The World Bank, headquartered a block from the White House, was founded after World War II to combat global poverty. But over the past year, fighting climate change has become the bank's new guiding principal, as economic evidence indicates that global warming will be a driving cause of poverty worldwide in the 21st century. The bank has become a big player in climate policy, investing billions annually into climate-related programs—and blocking money from projects such as coal-fired power plants. In a November report, the bank detailed the devastating economic consequences of a global annual temperature increase of 4 degrees Celsius (7.2 degrees Fahrenheit) by 2100. In a June study, the bank projected that due to climate change, by the 2030s African countries could lose up 80 percent of cropland and major portions of Bangkok and Vietnam could be flooded. National Journal spoke with Rachel Kyte, the bank's vice president of sustainable development, about the economic impact of climate change.

    NJ: Why is the World Bank now putting so much emphasis on climate change?

    Kyte: We've come to the realization that we cannot achieve our mission, which is to end poverty, unless we slow the rate of climate change. Climate science now shows that we're on course for a 4-degree [Celsius] temperature rise by 2100, that we're going to be 2 degrees warmer by the 2030s. And that's going to have devastating effects on food production, how livable cities are.... It's going to be extraordinarily difficult for the poor, who are the least resilient, to be part of the growth and opportunity story over the next few decades if climate change is unabated.

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Aug 09, 2013

  • Obama to Meet the Press Friday Ahead of Vacation

    By Alexis Simendinger, Real Clear Politics

    Sure, President Obama recently fielded questions from local TV anchors, Latino television interviewers, Jay Leno, The New York Times, and inquisitors using Zillow, the real estate website. But on Friday afternoon, he’ll also answer questions from the White House press corps during what for him is an infrequent solo press conference in the East Room.

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  • Departure of GOP Operatives Could Imperil Debt-Limit Talks

    By Lori Montgomery, The Washington Post

    With another showdown looming over the national debt, Washington insiders last month received some unsettling news: Rohit Kumar, a Republican aide who has played a key role in warding off disaster, is leaving Capitol Hill.

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