Shorter Question Everything
• An Assault on the Voting Rights Act: The conservative majority on the Roberts Court issued another damaging and intellectually dishonest ruling on Tuesday. It eviscerated enforcement of the Voting Rights Act, in which Congress kept the promise of a vote for every citizen. But it did not rule on the constitutional validity of the idea that some places have such strong records of discrimination that they must seek federal approval before they may change their voting rules. Instead, the 5-to-4 ruling usurped Congress’s power and struck down the formula that it has repeatedly reauthorized to determine which states fall into that category. The Supreme Court invited Congress to rewrite the formula, which has a disingenuous ring.
• A bill that opponents claimed would virtually ban abortion in Texas failed to pass late Tuesday after lawmakers missed a deadline by just minutes.
• Secretary of State John Kerry’s former Senate seat will stay in Democratic hands as longtime Massachusetts Rep. Ed Markey handily defeated Republican Gabriel Gomez in Tuesday’s special election.
• McCain: U.S. Will Have ‘Most Militarized Border Since The Fall Of The Berlin Wall’. “I think that, first of all, the legislation concerning beefed up border security removes any validity to the argument that border security is not sufficient,” McCain said during an appearance on CNN. “I mean, this is not only sufficient, it is well over sufficient. We’ll be the most militarized border since the fall of the Berlin Wall so that’s why I think this amendment was very important.”
• Greenwald: Snowden Leaked Secrets to “Ingratiate Himself to Hong Kong and China”. Glenn Greenwald is out there spreading paranoia about the US government again, telling the Daily Beast’s Eli Lake that Edward Snowden has distributed archives of his stolen documents to “many different people,” just in case “anything happens” to him. “What motivated that leak though was a need to ingratiate himself to the people of Hong Kong and China.”
• Edward Snowden is still inside the transit zone of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday – the first official word on the fugitive’s whereabouts in more than two days. Putin said Russia has nothing to do with Snowden’s plans, and appeared to pour cold water on demands from Washington to hand him over to U.S. prosecutors. “As regards handing him in – we can hand over foreign nationals only to a country with which we have an agreement about handing over criminals,” Putin told reporters at a press conference in Finland. “We do not have such an agreement with the United States.” Confirmation of Snowden’s location added to speculation that Snowden is seeking permission to fly to Cuba then onward to another country – most likely Ecuador, to which he has already applied for political asylum. A former CIA and FBI official told the TODAY show on Tuesday that Russian officials have likely already spoken with Snowden, much as U.S. intelligence officials would if they found themselves in a similar situation. “The likelihood that there’s either been no conversation with him or they haven’t downloaded stuff from his electronic gear is about zero,” former CIA director of counterterrorism Philip Mudd said.
• Trudeau Protest Was Manned By Tory Interns And Organized By PMO. The Prime Minister’s Office orchestrated a protest earlier this month at which Conservative party interns mocked Liberal leader Justin Trudeau during an open-air news conference. It is the latest revelation about the lengths to which Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s office — the nerve centre of the federal government — will go to meddle in partisan politics. Staff in the PMO, who help the party plot election strategy and who designed the first round of attack ads against Trudeau, have also been behind recent negative stories about his speaking fees.
• More than 70 percent of the world’s illicit production of opium last year came from cultivators in Afghanistan, the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime said.
• Russia has evacuated all military personnel from its small naval base in Syria, Russian news organizations reported Wednesday. The base, at Tartus on the Mediterranean, has been Russia’s only foothold in the Middle East. Although it is a minor facility, its importance has grown as Russia continues to support the regime of President Bashar al-Assad in its war against rebel forces.
• Julia Gillard, the Australian prime minister hailed as a feminist icon after a fiery speech against “sexism and misogyny” in politics, was dumped from office by her own party Wednesday. The country’s first female leader lost a dramatic political gamble by calling a leadership vote in a bid to end internal dissent in her Labor Party, which polls suggest is heading for defeat in imminent elections. Instead of endorsing her leadership, Labor lawmakers voted for Kevin Rudd – the rival who was himself ousted by Gillard almost exactly three years ago.