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What Obama’s NSA Reforms Actually Mean, and the Most Expensive Olympics Ever—THE EDGE What Obama’s NSA Reforms Actually Mean, and the Most Expensive Olymp...

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The Edge

What Obama’s NSA Reforms Actually Mean, and the Most Expensive Olympics Ever—THE EDGE

January 17, 2014

By Jack Fitzpatrick (@jackfitzdc)

TODAY IN ONE PARAGRAPH: President Obama defended the need to prevent terrorist attacks in his major policy speech today, but outlined reforms to the National Security Agency's most controversial spying program. Members of Congress were quick to react: For Sen. Rand Paul, the reforms are just an OK start. A state court struck down Pennsylvania's voter-ID law, which was not allowed to go into effect for the 2012 election. And Russian President Vladimir Putin said gay people will be fine if they "leave kids alone" at next month's Olympics--which could be the most expensive Olympics ever.


OBAMA AIMS FOR MORE TRANSPARENCY IN NSA PROGRAMS: President Obama promised to reform the country's spying programs and end the NSA's most controversial program "as it currently exists." But he also defended the need to use digital data to weed out terrorism threats, emphasizing that it needs to be balanced with civil liberties. (NJ)


BUT WHAT WILL ACTUALLY CHANGE? Americans' phone metadata will be held somewhere, but not by the NSA. And it will take more approval for the government to search through that data. What won't happen? The FBI and FISA still will not need a court order to acquire information, and the NSA's leadership won't change. (Volz/Koren, NJ)

PENNSYLVANIA VOTER-ID LAW STRUCK DOWN: A state court judge ruled that the Pennsylvania's controversial 2012 law requiring photo identification at polls placed an unreasonable burden on people exercising their right to vote. The court barred enforcement of the law in the 2012 election. Opponents of the law said it was a ploy by Republicans to limit the number of eligible Democratic voters. (Karen Langley, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

OBAMA EXPECTS REPUBLICAN IMMIGRATION REFORM: House Speaker John Boehner is likely to support immigration reform this year, Obama told Senate Democrats. The president said Republicans will feel vulnerable if they fail to advance an issue that is so important to Hispanic voters. (Alexander Bolton, The Hill)

PUTIN: GAYS WILL BE SAFE AT OLYMPICS IF THEY 'LEAVE KIDS ALONE': Russian President Vladimir Putin was asked about his government's notoriously hostile attitude toward gays and offered what was supposed to be a reassuring comment: "One can feel calm and at ease. Just leave kids alone, please." (Kathy Lally, WaPo)

THE WEEKEND IN ONE PARAGRAPH: Putin will speak from Sochi on ABC's This Week. Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Rep. Mike Rogers will discuss President Obama's NSA reforms on NBC's Meet the Press.

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 @


'MITT'-UMENTARY TAKES SUNDANCE: "The film's main revelation is that the family's Hallmark public image seems to be pretty close to accurate." (Laura Bennett, TNR)

RAND PAUL IS NOT IMPRESSED: The Kentucky Republican liked the tone of Obama's speech on the NSA but didn't think his proposed reforms go far enough. (Matt Vasilogambros, NJ)

GOOGLE GLASS FOR COOL PEOPLE: Smart contacts will eliminate the biggest barrier to Google Glass use: nerdiness. (Brian Fung, WaPo)

HOW TO STOP LEAKS, ACCORDING TO BOB GATES: The White House needs to "tell everyone to put their damn pencils down," the former Defense secretary said in an interview promoting his memoir. (Jordain Carney, NJ)

THE MOST EXPENSIVE OLYMPICS EVER: The Sochi Olympics' estimated $50 billion cost would be the most expensive on record. (Nate Rawlings, Time)


THE MOST DANGEROUS SENTENCE IN U.S. HISTORY: The Authorization for the Use of Military Force was written to allow the president to retaliate against the people behind the 9/11 terrorist attacks, but it is still used to justify covert operations around the world. (Gregory Johnson, BuzzFeed)

UNION, CONFEDERACY STILL AT ODDS IN NORTH FLORIDA: A proposal to add a monument to Union soldiers at a park that has three monuments to Confederate soldiers has started an uproar in Olustee, Fla. (Lizette Alvarez, NYT)

HOW DENNIS RODMAN GOT TO NORTH KOREA: Even for former NBA stars, organizing a trip to the world's most secretive country isn't simple. (Rosie Gray, BuzzFeed)


LAST NIGHT'S LATE-NIGHT FUNNIES IN UNDER 3 MINUTES: Stephen Colbert has always supported spying, but in case the NSA focuses on him, he's going off the grid. (Reena Flores, NJ)

38 YEARS OF SNL'S DIVERSITY PROBLEM IN ONE GRAPH: The late 1980s were a whiteout for the show. (Huffington Post)

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