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 16, 2013

  • The Incumbent Conundrum: Getting People To Vote For You When They Hate Washington

    By Amy Walter, Cook Political Report

    It's no fun being an incumbent these days. There's the gridlock. The partisanship. The fact that Americans think more highly of athlete's foot than they do a Member of Congress. In fact, a recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll found that almost two-thirds of Americans would, if they could, vote to defeat and replace every single member of Congress, including their own representative.

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Aug 15, 2013

  • Egypt: After ‘Volatile’ and ‘Saddening’ Day, What Happens Next?

    By Nancy A. Youssef, McClatchy Newspapers

    Egyptian security forces launched a bloody crackdown against the supporters of deposed President Mohammed Morsi early Wednesday morning, firing ammunition and razing their sit-in sites with bulldozers in an attack that killed at least 500 people. McClatchy Middle East Bureau Chief Nancy A. Youssef and special correspondent Amina Ismail answer questions about Wednesday’s events and the outlook for the coming days:

    Q: What’s the most striking thing you saw on the streets?

    A: I have to say, I have never seen so many dead since my days in Iraq. It was heartbreaking. Bodies piled on top of bodies. That was shocking – and saddening. As an American, I am struck by the challenges Egypt is confronting as it tries to go from a dictatorial state to a democratic one.

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  • The Next Disaster Scenario Power Companies Are Preparing For

    With Tom Gjelten, NPR

    In the 10 years since sagging power lines in Ohio sparked a blackout across much of the Northeastern United States and Canada, utility engineers say they have implemented measures to prevent another such event in the country's electric grid.

    But there is one disaster scenario for which the power companies are still unprepared: a massive attack on the computer networks that underlie the U.S. electric grid.

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  • 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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