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The Edge

A Voting Rights Act Revival, and Something New to Do With Your Bitcoins—THE EDGE

January 16, 2014

By Jack Fitzpatrick (@jackfitzdc) and Laura Ryan (@NJljryan)

TODAY IN ONE PARAGRAPH: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said former Defense Secretary Robert Gates is "out to make a buck." A bipartisan bill would revive a major portion of the Voting Rights Act, requiring four states to pass all election changes through the Justice Department for approval. The U.S. is more likely to hit the debt ceiling in February than in March, according to Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has sent the U.S. a weapons wish list. A United Nations report warns that waiting to deal with climate change could be costly. And at least the Sacramento Kings are the best at something: accepting bitcoins.


REID SAYS GATES IS 'OUT TO MAKE A BUCK': Reid said Gates "denigrates everybody, everyone" in his book, including President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. (David Espo, AP)


KEY PORTION OF VOTING RIGHTS ACT COULD COME BACK FOR 4 STATES: Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas would have to pass all elections activities through the Justice Department under re-written criteria for a key portion of the Voting Rights Act. A bipartisan bill would revive the requirement after the Supreme Court struck it down on the grounds that states were placed under the requirement based on outdated criteria from the 1960s. (Volz/Fitzpatrick, NJ)

U.S. WILL PROBABLY HIT THE DEBT CEILING EARLIER THAN PREDICTED: Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew warned lawmakers that the country is more likely to hit its debt limit next month than in March. (Catherine Hollander, NJ)

MALIKI SENDS U.S. WEAPONS WISH LIST: Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has given Washington a list of weapons he needs to fight al-Qaida-linked militants in Anbar province, and he has asked for additional military training. Secretary of State John Kerry said earlier this month that the U.S. is willing to help but would not send troops. (Loveday Morris, WaPo)

U.N. SAYS CLIMATE-CHANGE FOOT-DRAGGING COULD BE COSTLY: A United Nations report said nations have stalled for so long in confronting climate change that if no additional actions are taken in the next 15 years, the problem could be impossible to address with current technologies. (Justin Gillis, NYT)

HOUSE PASSES BILL REQUIRING WEEKLY UPDATES ON OBAMACARE: Thirty-three Democrats supported the legislation, the second time in two weeks a bill seeking to hold the government accountable on Obamacare has gained significant support from the party. (Pete Kasperowicz, The Hill)

REPUBLICANS MAY TRY TO REPLACE THE HEALTH-CARE LAW IN 2014: House Speaker John Boehner predicted that Republicans would come up with a plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with another bill sometime this year. Boehner called for a plan that will "actually reduce costs for the American people and make health insurance more accessible." (Russell Berman, The Hill)

TOMORROW IN ONE PARAGRAPH: President Obama will speak at 11 a.m. about proposed reforms to the NSA's surveillance programs. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will participate in an event at 9:30 a.m. releasing the surgeon general's 50th anniversary report on smoking and health. The House and Senate are in session.

Join National Journal on Tuesday, Jan. 21 for "A Conversation With Charlie Cook" underwritten by the Washington Auto Show. Caucus Room, Cannon House Office Building, 1:30 - 3:30 pm. RSVP @


WHICH BILLS BECOME LAW, IN ONE GRAPH: Thousands of bills are introduced in Congress each year. Almost none become law. (Ezra Klein, WaPo)

BEE DRONES: Bees are dying off in alarming numbers, but the Australians have a plan: attach 5,000 bees with tiny sensors to track where they fly. (Todd Woody, Quartz)

THE EVOLUTION OF THE ACADEMY: The 2014 Oscar nominations were released and raised quite a few eyebrows, reflecting an academy with one foot in the future and one foot in the past. (Kenneth Turan, LAT)

IF THE FRENCH RAN AMERICA: The Economist imagines what it would be like if the Hollande affair was translated into American politics. (Economist)

BASKETBALL AND BITCOIN: Beginning in March, the Sacramento Kings will become the first pro sports franchise to accept bitcoin as payment for tickets. (Matt Berman, NJ)


THE SHADOW OF TECHNICAL PRIVILEGE: "As an Asian male student at MIT, I fit society's image of a young programmer." (Philip Guo, Slate)

ON SPYING, OBAMA FACES A FAMILIAR PRESIDENTIAL CHALLENGE: President Obama has learned hard lessons since saying in his first Inaugural Address that we did not have to choose between safety and freedom. (John Harwood, NYT)


LAST NIGHT'S LATE-NIGHT FUNNIES IN UNDER 3 MINUTES: USA Tourism makes America's pitch to the world, focusing on eagle paragliding. (Reena Flores, NJ)

LIFE WITHOUT SIGHT: For the first three years of his blindness, writer and theologian John Hull kept an audio diary of his life without sight. (Peter Middleton and James Spinney, NYT)

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