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!

Jul 08, 2014

  • Iraqi Parliament won’t meet until August; insurgents kill key general

    By Mitchell Prothero and Hannah Allam, McClatchy News

    Iraq’s hopes of regaining control of nearly half the country from Sunni extremists suffered dual setbacks Monday, with the Iraqi Parliament once again failing to form a new government as insurgents killed a top military officer who was leading the defense of Baghdad’s western suburbs.

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Jul 07, 2014

  • Legal, political hurdles in child migrant crisis

    By Charles Babington, Associated Press

    The legal, humanitarian and political constraints facing the Obama administration as it copes with thousands of Central American children entering the country illegally came into sharp focus in a series of interviews Sunday.

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  • How immigration reform died

    By Seung Min Kim and Carrie Budoff Brown, Politico

    The Obama administration on Sunday sought to play down new disclosures that the National Security Agency has swept up innocent and often personal emails from ordinary Internet users as it targets suspected terrorists in its global surveillance for potential threats.

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  • Officials Defend N.S.A. After New Privacy Details Are Reported

    By David E. Sanger and Matt Apuzzo, The New York Times

    The Obama administration on Sunday sought to play down new disclosures that the National Security Agency has swept up innocent and often personal emails from ordinary Internet users as it targets suspected terrorists in its global surveillance for potential threats.

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  • The drone warfare drawbacks

    By Doyle McManus, Los Angeles Times

    The drone has become America's counter-terrorism weapon of choice. But does drone warfare really further U.S. goals abroad?

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  • What’s left of the political center?

    By Dan Balz, The Washington Post

    In a politically polarized nation, what constitutes the middle ground?

    The answer is not as simple as it might seem. We are in a time in which there are both rising expressions of independence from the two major parties by many Americans and elections in which the red-blue divisions are increasingly stark.

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Jul 03, 2014

  • Hobby Lobby Is Already Creating New Religious Demands on Obama

    By Molly Ball, The Atlantic


    This week, in the Hobby Lobby case, the Supreme Court ruled that a religious employer could not be required to provide employees with certain types of contraception. That decision is beginning to reverberate: A group of faith leaders is urging the Obama administration to include a religious exemption in a forthcoming LGBT anti-discrimination action.

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  • Hobby Lobby Ruling Complicates Obamacare Birth Control

    By Alex Wayne, Bloomberg News

    The U.S. Supreme Court’s suggested work-around to provide and pay for employees’ birth-control coverage at businesses whose owners have religious objections hasn’t worked in practice, say the companies administering it.

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  • Obama’s “So Sue Me” Taunt Has Bipartisan Appeal

    By John Dickerson, Slate Magazine

    President Obama taunted Republicans on Tuesday. “Middle-class families can’t wait for Republicans in Congress to do stuff,” he said. “So sue me.” He was referring to House Speaker John Boehner's proposed lawsuit charging that Obama has overstepped his executive authority. “As long as they’re doing nothing, I’m not going to apologize for trying to do something,” Obama added.

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  • Obama’s annoyance with Congress boils over

    By Dan Balz, The Washington Post

    President Obama’s displeasure with gridlock in Washington — and with the Republicans he blames for it — has been rising for months. This week it has boiled over.

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  • Slow, low-key start for Benghazi panel

    By Susan Davis, USA Today

    Two months after the House of Representatives chartered a new committee to investigate the 2012 Benghazi attacks, the panel will begin getting down to work in July, Chairman Trey Gowdy said, but it will not be in a hurry to make headlines.

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  • Colorado Woman Accused of Trying to Join ISIS

    Pete Williams and Hasani Gittens, NBC News

    A Denver woman has been arrested while attempting to go to Syria to engage in violent jihad, according to court documents made public late Wednesday.

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Jul 02, 2014

  • No Good Iraq Options for Obama as Russia, Iran Jump In

    By Indira A.R. Lakshmanan and David Lerman, Bloomberg News


    As Russia and Iran step in to bolster the government in Baghdad, U.S. President Barack Obama has no good options to help defeat the al-Qaeda splinter group that’s proclaimed an Islamic caliphate in Iraq and Syria.

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  • Airport Security Directives Likely Amid Syria Bomb Threat

    By Mike Levin and Pierre Thomas, ABC News

    The Obama administration is planning to move forward with efforts to increase security at airports overseas amid deepening concerns that terrorists in war-ravaged Syria are trying to develop a new generation of bombs that could be smuggled onto commercial planes, sources told ABC News.

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  • Why the Civil Rights Act couldn’t pass today

    By Todd S. Purdum, Politico

    It was a painful tableau: The bipartisan leaders of Congress linking hands in the Capitol Rotunda and swaying to the strains of “We Shall Overcome” as they commemorated the 50th anniversary of the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi sang along with the crowd, but Mitch McConnell and John Boehner’s lips were frozen in silent, self-conscious smiles.

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  • Obama says replenishing Highway Trust Fund would be patriotic

    By Michael A. Memoli and Christie Parsons, Tribune Newspapers

    In his latest attempt to get Congress to spend money to upgrade America's roads and bridges, President Obama debuted a new sales pitch Tuesday: patriotism.

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  • Benghazi suspect organized attack out of ideological fervor, prosecutors say

    By Sari Horwitz, The Washington Post

    Ahmed Abu Khattala, one of the suspected ringleaders of the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya, voiced opposition to the presence of a U.S. facility there in the days before the assault and organized the attacks out of a sense of ideological fervor, according to government prosecutors.

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  • Hobby Lobby Ruling Reignites Calls for Repeal by Possible GOP Candidates

    By John Parkinson and Jeff Zeleny, ABC News

    Several high-profile Republicans possibly eyeing a presidential bid in 2016 praised the Supreme Court’s decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby as a victory for religious liberty while also sharply attacking the Obama administration for executive overreach through his signature legislative achievement.

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Jul 01, 2014

  • 480 U.S. troops now in Baghdad as officials move to secure access to airport

    By Nancy A. Youssef, McClatchy Newspapers

    The United States has deployed 300 more troops to Baghdad in the last two days, with some of them assigned to secure Baghdad’s international airport, the Obama administration announced Monday.

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  • SCOTUS Contraceptive Coverage Ruling Comes With Caveats

    With Pete Williams, NBC News

    The U.S. Supreme Court handed a big victory to Hobby Lobby, a nationwide chain of craft stores – but the ruling is very limited.

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