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 28, 2014

  • Obama’s immigration decision could roil 2014 election

    By Robert Costa and Karen Tumulty, Washington Post

    Both political parties are in a state of high anxiety about the possibility that President Obama will allow millions of illegal immigrants to remain in the country, fearing that White House action on the issue could change the course of November’s midterm elections.

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  • Islamic State: Is It the Taliban With Oil Wells?

    With Indira Lakshmanan, Bloomberg News

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  • Will Republicans Shut Down the Government Again?

    By Molly Ball, The Atlantic

    The last government shutdown, almost a year ago, was no fun for anyone. Republicans in the House and Senate demanded that legislation to fund the government simultaneously defund Obamacare; Democrats refused to go along. In the ensuing 16-day stalemate, many functions of the federal government were forced to shutter. Federal workers were furloughed or worked without pay, children were disenrolled from Head Start, and the U.S. economy lost about $24 billion. Heartbreakingly, the annual Assateague Pony Roundup was canceled. Veterans were forced to commit civil disobedience and break into national monuments. (Okay, the shutdown was apparently fun for a few people: Nine months later, there were anecdotal reports of a D.C.-area baby boom.)

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  • The End of the Scott Walker Experiment?

    By John Dickerson, Slate Magazine

    Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker may survive, but the Walker Hypothesis seems dead. In a poll released by Marquette University Law School on Wednesday, Walker’s Democratic challenger, Mary Burke, has her biggest lead among likely voters, 49 percent to 47 percent. In May Burke trailed Walker 48–45, but pulled ahead by one point (47–46) in July. Walker’s recent attempts to define Burke, including the risky attack on the practices of her family company, haven’t appeared to work.

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  • Medal of Honor for a Civil War Hero 150 Years in the Grave

    By Peter Baker, The New York Times

    He went off to fight, telling a cousin that “I may never return” but “I will gain a name in this war.” First Lt. Alonzo H. Cushing proved right on both counts. He did not return, and now, after an epic delay notable even in a town famed for taking its time, his name will at long last be honored at the White House.

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Aug 27, 2014

  • Obama Approves ISIS Surveillance Flights Over Syria

    By Martha Raddatz, Mary Bruce and Chris Good, ABC News

    President Obama has approved U.S military surveillance flights over Syria to track the Islamic militant group ISIS, a group that American warplanes have been attacking in neighboring Iraq, ABC News has confirmed.

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  • U.S. Mobilizes Allies to Widen Assault on ISIS

    By Helene Cooper and Mark Landler, The New York Times

    The United States has begun to mobilize a broad coalition of allies behind potential American military action in Syria and is moving toward expanded airstrikes in northern Iraq, administration officials said on Tuesday.

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  • Obama Tells Veterans He Will Fix Health System, as New Report Lists Lapses

    By Peter Baker and Dave Philipps, The New York Times

    President Obama on Tuesday promised several thousand military veterans that he would fulfill his “sacred trust” to those returning from America’s wars by overhauling a dysfunctional health care system, even as a new report documented “unacceptable and troubling lapses” in medical treatment.

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  • An easy primary win, but tough questions remain for Crist

    By Karen Tumulty, The Washington Post

    It was a Sally Field moment in Florida on Tuesday night: They like him. They really like him.

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  • Ad watch: Sullivan challenges Begich on 'Alaska Agreement'

    By Susan Davis, USA Today

    AD SPONSOR: Dan Sullivan

    THE RACE: U.S. Senate

    STATE: Alaska

    ANALYSIS: Republican Dan Sullivan is challenging first-term Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, in a race that is expected to be the costliest in state history. At least $9 million has already been spent in the race, the majority of which has been in the form of attack ads against Sullivan by a Democratic super PAC. Millions more are expected to flood the airwaves before Election Day.

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Aug 26, 2014

  • Vacation barbs the least of Obama's issues as he returns to DC

    By John Harwood, CNBC

    The bad news for President Barack Obama, as he returns to work in Washington on Monday after a two-week vacation, is all around—armed conflict in Europe and the Middle East, unhappy voters and declining influence at home.

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  • Obama Authorizes Air Surveillance of ISIS in Syria

    By Mark Lander and Helene Cooper, The New York Times

    President Obama has authorized surveillance flights over Syria, a precursor to potential airstrikes there, but a mounting concern for the White House is how to target the Sunni extremists without helping President Bashar al-Assad.

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  • Charlie Crist, Rick Scott battle for every Florida vote

    By Karen Tumulty, The Washington Post

    On the wall of Charlie Crist’s new field office in the largely African American suburb of Miami Gardens, it is still possible to see traces of the previous tenant. Faintly visible through the fresh coat of white paint is a familiar blue O rising like the sun over red stripes.

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  • Inside the Democrats' Plan to Save Arkansas—and the Senate

    By Molly Ball, The Atlantic

    No sign announces the purpose of this little storefront, squeezed between a Bestway Rent to Own and a Rent-a-Center in a dilapidated shopping center. But the words hand-lettered in black and red marker on three pieces of paper taped to the window—"Register to Vote Here"—and a cluster of placards for candidates give it away: It is a Democratic Party field office.

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  • In Colorado, ‘Personhood’ backers try a new tack

    By Reid Wilson, The Washington Post

    Heather Surovik’s story is heartbreaking. In 2012, the young mother was leaving her final prenatal appointment when a drunk driver slammed into her car. Heather survived. The fetus she was carrying, whom she had named Brady, did not. The doctors told her that Brady weighed 8 pounds, 2 ounces.

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Aug 25, 2014

  • American writer held by Syrian militants freed after nearly two years captive

    By Hannah Allam and Jonathan Landay, McClatchy Newspapers

    Al Qaida’s Syrian affiliate on Sunday unexpectedly freed an American writer from nearly two years captivity after secret international negotiations for his release that were apparently led by Qatar. The Nusra Front may have freed Peter Theo Curtis as a gesture to distinguish itself from its more reviled rival, the Islamic State, which declared a caliphate on the huge swaths of Syria and Iraq that it has overrun in offensives marked by mass executions and other atrocities.

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  • How Should Ferguson Move Forward?

    With Pierre Thomas, ABC News

    Rep. Lacy Clay, ABC News' Pierre Thomas and former New York City police commissioner Ray Kelly, on step to reform after unrest in Ferguson.

  • Why the job market actually improved after the BP oil spill

    By Jim Tankersley, The Washington Post

    In the months after the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, much of America watched the “spill cam,” a live feed that showed oil flowing into the Gulf. From his office next door to the White House, Joseph Aldy was watching economic data – specifically, unemployment claims from Louisiana. They were his first indication that the dire predictions of job losses following the spill weren’t coming true.

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  • Alaska becomes crucial frontier for Senate Democrats

    By Susan Davis, USA Today

    Senate Democratic candidates are walking a political tightrope in the dozen races that will determine control of the chamber next year and shape the final years of President Obama's second term. No place is that more evident than in Alaska, where Sen. Mark Begich is on the attack against the Republican vying to defeat him while at the same time he embraces many GOP lawmakers and policies in his bid for a second term in this conservative state.

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  • Why so many Americans hate politics

    By Dan Balz, The Washington Post

    In a time of political polarization, one thing still unites left, right and center: the disdain people have for Washington, their elected leaders and the political system.

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