RSS
10 things you need to know today: June 26, 2013
The Supreme Court invalidates a key part of the Voting Rights Act, Obama spells out his plan to fight climate change, and more
Supporters of the Voting Rights Act listen to speakers outside the U.S. Supreme Court after Tuesday's ruling.
Supporters of the Voting Rights Act listen to speakers outside the U.S. Supreme Court after Tuesday's ruling. Win McNamee/Getty Images

1. SUPREME COURT INVALIDATES A LINCHPIN OF THE VOTING RIGHTS ACT
The Supreme Court on Tuesday struck down a key part of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. In a 5-4 ruling, the court's conservative majority said Congress must update the section of the law that requires states with a history of discrimination to get Justice Department approval before changing their voting laws. Proponents of the provision, which recently blocked voter ID laws in Texas and South Carolina, said a bitterly divided Congress would never agree on how to restore it. [Washington Post]
………………………………………………………………………………

2. TEXAS ABORTION RESTRICTIONS FAIL AFTER FILIBUSTER
A Texas abortion bill, one of the toughest in the nation, failed late Tuesday after a confusing standoff. Republicans managed to bring the bill to a vote after an epic, 10-hour filibuster by Democrat Wendy Davis. It appeared to have passed 19 to 10, but Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, the presiding officer of the Senate, said "an unruly mob using Occupy Wall Street tactics" had made it impossible for authorities to make the vote official before midnight, when the legislative session ended. [New York Times]
………………………………………………………………………………

3. OBAMA UNVEILS HIS STRATEGY FOR FIGHTING CLIMATE CHANGE
President Obama unveiled his new plan to fight climate change in a speech at Georgetown University on Tuesday. The president, looking to revive his climate agenda by sidestepping Congress, promised to use his own authority and the EPA's regulatory powers to impose new rules to cut carbon emissions from U.S. power plants and increase support for renewable energy. "This is a challenge that doesn't pause for partisan gridlock," Obama said. "It demands our attention now." [Reuters]
………………………………………………………………………………

4. DEMOCRAT MARKEY WINS MASSACHUSETTS SENATE SEAT
Rep. Ed Markey, a Democrat, won a special election Tuesday to fill the Senate seat of John Kerry, who became secretary of state in February. Markey defeated Gabriel Gomez, who was hoping for an upset like the one his fellow Republican Scott Brown pulled off in 2010 by winning a special election to fill the late Ted Kennedy's seat. Markey, however, wasn't just a popular Democrat in a heavily Democratic state — he also outspent Gomez, $8.6 million to $2.3 million. [USA Today]
………………………………………………………………………………

5. PUTIN SAYS SNOWDEN REMAINS 'A FREE MAN'
Russian President Vladimir Putin confirmed Tuesday that fugitive NSA leaker Edward Snowden was hanging out in the international transit section of a Moscow airport after leaving Hong Kong. Putin dismissed as "drivel" American demands that Russia send Snowden to the U.S. to face espionage charges, saying Russia had no grounds to extradite him. Snowden "is a free man," Putin said, "and the sooner he selects his final destination, the better it will be both for us and for him." [Bloomberg]
………………………………………………………………………………

6. RUDD OUSTS GILLARD AS AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER
Kevin Rudd won back his old job as prime minister of Australia on Wednesday. Rudd handily defeated outgoing leader Julia Gillard. Gillard led a 2010 revolt to oust Rudd, but her leadership had come under fire recently. Gillard called a leadership vote among lawmakers of the ruling Labor party to settle a long-running debate over whether she or Rudd was better suited to lead Labor into September elections, in which polls suggest the party faces a landslide defeat. [Wall Street Journal]
………………………………………………………………………………

7. VIGIL CONTINUES AS MANDELA REMAINS IN CRITICAL CONDITION
A leading South African cleric, Cape Town Anglican Archbishop Thabo Makgoba, joined Nelson Mandela's family members in a Pretoria hospital Tuesday and prayed for the ailing, 94-year-old anti-apartheid icon, who slipped into critical condition recently with a recurring lung infection. In a prayer that echoed the nation's resignation that the revered former president is near death, the archbishop posted a prayer on Facebook asking for Mandela to have "a peaceful, perfect, end." [Telegraph]
………………………………………………………………………………

8. SUPREME COURT PREPARES TO UNVEIL RULINGS ON GAY MARRIAGE
Supporters and opponents of gay marriage braced for potentially game-changing rulings from the Supreme Court on Wednesday. The court heard arguments on two same-sex marriage cases — one a challenge to California's gay-marriage ban, Prop. 8. The ruling in that case has several potential outcomes. The court could establish gay marriage as a constitutionally protected right or uphold the ban, setting back the gay marriage movement. It could also punt and dismiss the case. [CBS News]
………………………………………………………………………………

9. BRAZILIAN PROTESTERS WIN TWO MORE DEMANDS
Brazil's Congress handed two significant victories to protesters who have filled the streets of the South American nation's biggest cities recently, demanding more public services and less corruption. Lawmakers on Tuesday rejected a proposed constitutional amendment that would have limited the power of prosecutors, potentially increasing corruption. Congress also agreed to dedicate all royalties from vast newly discovered undersea oil fields for education and health. [BBC News]
………………………………………………………………………………

10. ARMY PREPARES FOR DRAMATIC REDUCTIONS
The Army's chief of staff, Gen. Ray Odierno, said Tuesday that the Army would reduce active-duty troops by 80,000 — to 490,000 — over the next five years. The scaling down, following withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan and $487 billion in military spending cuts over a decade, will amount to the military's biggest organizational change since World War II. [New York Times]

Harold Maass is a contributing editor at TheWeek.com. He has been writing for The Week since the 2001 launch of the U.S. print edition. Harold has worked for a variety of news outlets, including The Miami HeraldFox News, and ABC News.

EDITORS' PICKS

THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER

Subscribe to the Week