Mic Check: Is Congress About to Stand Up to the NSA?

1. House Set to Vote on NSA Funding
 
Lawmakers are set to vote today on an amendment to the House defense spending bill that would cut off funding to the NSA’s phone record collection program. NSA director Gen. Keith Alexander met with House Democrats and Republicans yesterday in an effort to convince them to shut down the amendment, and the Obama Administration issued a statement against the bill. The amendment’s sponsor, Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) isn’t worried about the government backlash: “I think the American people are overwhelmingly in support of reining in the blanket surveillance of the N.S.A.,” he said.
 
Meanwhile, Edward Snowden finally received permission this morning to leave the Moscow airport. Documents confirming the Russian government has begun reviewing Snowden’s application for asylum allow him to enter the city, but it may be several months before Snowden gets a response to his request.
 
More from around the web:
• This is what Americans really think of the NSA’s surveillance programs (Washington Post).
 
• The BBC has an overview of all of Snowden’s surveillance leaks.
 
More From PolicyMic:
The NSA Isn't to Blame For Our Surveillance State, Congress is (Roy Klabin)
 
Joe Biden’s Inbox Revealed By PRISM Program (Michael Luciano)
 
2. Poll Shows Americans Are Divided On Zimmerman Verdict
 
The Washington Post and ABC News have released a poll showing that responses to the George Zimmerman trial are split along racial lines. 86% of African Americans polled disapproved of the verdict in the trial, while only 31% of whites disapproved; 50% of participants ages 18-39 disapproved. The poll also provides a possible explanation for the stark divide in responses: 86% of African Americans polled said minorities are not treated equally under the law, but only 41% of whites agreed.
 
More from around the web:
• Check out photos from the nationwide rallies for Trayvon (Washington Post).
 
The Altantic’s Ta-Nehisi Coates has a nuanced response to the trial.
 
More From PolicyMic:
The System Works — Unfortunately (Chris Miles)
 
3. Obama and GOP Prepare For Budget Battle
 
Washington D.C. isn’t set for another financial showdown until October 1, but President Obama and House Republicans have already begun to stake out their sides in the battle. President Obama kicks off a nationwide discussion on the economy with a speech today in Illinois, while House Republicans unveiled a bill on Tuesday to make dramatic cuts to government programs. The AP reports Obama wants to end sequestration cuts before the next fiscal year, while the GOP plans to battle for further deficit reductions. The two sides are taking dramatically different approaches to the fight: Obama is trying to rally public support behind his goals, while House Republicans are wheeling out new legislation.
 
More from around the web:
Do millennials stand a chance in the real world? (NY Times)
 
• Are millennials the “unluckiest generation”? (Atlantic)
 
More From PolicyMic:
Republicans Insanely Try to End Obamacare For the 40th Time (Mark Kogan)
 
Obama is Following the Same Economic Policies That Made the Great Depression Last For Years (John Giokaris, Gary Patterson, Jr.)
 
4. Pentagon Issues Warning On Syria Intervention
 
The Pentagon provided Congress with details on options for military intervention in Syria for the first time on Monday. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey discussed options including training opposition troops, conducting air strikes, and enforcing a no-fly zone over Syria. Gen. Dempsey warned any of the options would cost billions of dollars and could backfire on the U.S. The House Intelligence Committee also backed the White House’s plan to intervene despite “very strong concerns about the strength of the administration’s plans in Syria and its chances for success.”
 
More from around the web:
9 unbelievable photos of a Syrian refugee camp (BuzzFeed).
 
• This is how the war is affecting Syria’s children (LA Times).
 
More From PolicyMic:
If This Meme Doesn’t Make You Help Syria, Then, Dammit, Nothing Will  (Chris Miles)
 
3 Ways the Syrian Civil War Could End (Bennet Goldberg)
 
5. Weiner Admits to Second Sexting Scandal
 
New York mayoral candidate and sex scandal survivor Anthony Weiner admitted to sending lewd photos and texts after leaving Congress at a press conference on Tuesday. Weiner was forced to own up to the most recent scandal after gossip site The Dirty posted sexts the former congressman sent to a woman in Arizona. Weiner said he won’t drop out of the race for mayor, and hopes New Yorkers are “willing to still continue to give me a second chance.” Not to be a stickler for details, but wouldn’t this be his third chance?
 
More from around the web:
• A former prostitute asks why we pardon politicians but judge ex-sex workers (NY Mag).
 
Get your very own Anthony Weiner sexting pseudonym (Slate).
 
More From PolicyMic:
Should We Care About Another Anthony Weiner Sexting Scandal? (Steven Goldstein)
 
Dessert
• Why the U.K.’s porn purge is a fascinating study in behavioral economics (NY Mag).
 
How floor charts became stars of Congress (NPR).
 
Is it possible to exercise too much? (Well)
 
• Why Rube Goldberg machines are the coolest things ever (New Yorker).
 
• The “Blurred Lines” gender swap is pretty great (YouTube).
 
Thanks for reading!
Nick
 
Don’t be a stranger; I love getting feedback. Find me on twitter @nicholascbaker.
 
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