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First Read Flash: Brown out

Obama agenda: More surveillance secrets

Obama agenda: More surveillance secrets

AP: "The Obama administration has given up more of its surveillance secrets, acknowledging that it was ordered to stop scooping up thousands of Internet communications from Americans with no connection to terrorism — a practice it says was an unintended consequence when it gathered bundles of Internet traffic connected to terror suspects. One of the documents that intelligence officials released Wednesday came because a court ordered the National Security Agency to do so. But it's also part of the administration's response to the leaks by analyst-turned-fugitive Edward Snowden, who revealed that the NSA's spying programs went further and gathered millions more communications than most Americans realized."

Buffalo News: "Air Force One was primed for takeoff this morning as President Obama prepared to leave for a two-day bus tour of upstate New York that will start with a speech this morning at the University at Buffalo’s Alumni Arena, where he will outline proposals to control the spiraling cost of a college education...Obama’s higher education plan will include both legislative proposals and administrative actions aimed at controlling college costs." 

The New York Times obtained a draft of the president's proposal, that is "likely to cause some consternation among colleges," and "shows a plan to rate colleges before the 2015 school year based on measures like tuition, graduation rates, debt and earnings of graduates, and the percentage of lower-income students who attend. The ratings would compare colleges against their peer institutions. If the plan can win Congressional approval, the idea is to base federal financial aid to students attending the colleges partly on those rankings."

NBC News: "Beau Biden, the Delaware Attorney General and son of Vice President Joe Biden, underwent a complicated biopsy of a brain mass at the MD Anderson Cancer Center" in Houston. The vice president and his wife Jill released a statement: "Yesterday our son Beau underwent a successful procedure. He is in great shape and is going to be discharged tomorrow and heading home to Delaware. He will follow up with his local physicians in the coming weeks."

AP: " The vice president was scheduled to travel Thursday to Rhode Island to attend a fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee and an event at Salve Regina University, and to Maine to headline a fundraiser for New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan. The White House said Wednesday that Biden will not attend any of those events...Biden is still scheduled to join President Barack Obama in Scranton, Pa., on Friday during the second day of Obama's bus tour, said White House spokesman Josh Earnest."

Roll Call: "President Barack Obama doesn’t favor changing marijuana laws 'at this point' but he also believes that federal law enforcement resources should not be focused on individual users, White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters Wednesday."

Congress: Ya Gotta Have Faith 

Los Angeles Times: "House Republicans will return to Washington next month continuing their efforts 'at full throttle' to check the Obama administration on several fronts, a GOP leader indicated Wednesday. As most lawmakers spend the month in their districts with few popular legislative accomplishments to cite, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) is instead touting aggressive oversight efforts that he says is a fulfillment of a Republican promise to voters in 2010 to pursue 'a reform agenda aimed at changing the culture in Washington.'"

New York Times: "Catholic bishops and priests from major dioceses across the country will preach a coordinated message next month backing changes in immigration policy, with some using Sunday Masses on Sept. 8 to urge Congressional passage of a legislative overhaul that includes a path to citizenship for unauthorized immigrants. The decision to embrace political action from the pulpit is part of a broader effort by the Roman Catholic Church and other faith groups that support President Obama’s call for new immigration laws. It includes advertising and phone calls directed at 60 Catholic Republican lawmakers and 'prayerful marches' in Congressional districts where the issue has become a divisive topic."

National Journal: "Rep. Chris Van Hollen has a proposal he says can assuage both the tea party's concerns over IRS overreach and progressives' fretting over the flood of anonymous campaign cash unleashed by the Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling. His plan: Sue the IRS. The Maryland Democrat  announced Wednesday that he is suing the agency, as well as the Treasury Department, to demand a change in the way they evaluate nonprofits that proclaim themselves to be 'social-welfare' organizations."

Off to the Races: Brown Out 

Politico: "They’d never say it publicly. But catch many Democrats in an honest moment and they would admit that a Republican-led government shut down this fall might be the best thing — perhaps the only thing — that could revive their fading hopes of capturing the House next year...Nothing short of a powerful jolt — a moment that grabs casual voters by the lapels and makes them take notice — is likely to alter the landscape in a dramatic way. A shutdown could be it, Democrats argue, putting in play GOP-leaning districts now thought to be all but out of reach."

MASSACHUSETTS. Boston Globe: "Former senator Scott Brown said late Wednesday he would not run for governor next year, ending months of uncertainty within the Republican Party and effectively sweeping a clear path to the nomination for 2010 gubernatorial nominee Charles D. Baker."

Brown's Facebook post: "As I said, I am grateful for your encouragement and support. For the first time in 15 plus years, I have had a Summer to spend with my family. In addition, I have been fortunate to have private sector opportunities that I find fulfilling and exhilarating. These new opportunities have allowed me to grow personally and professionally. I want to continue with that process. "

WYOMING. Liz Cheney, the former vice president's daughter who's challenging Sen. Mike Enzi in the state's GOP primary, "posted a $220 bond in Ninth Circuit Court in Teton County on Monday on a charge of making a false statement to procure a fishing license," the Jackson Hole News & Guide reports. "Cheney has said she bought the license in 2012 after buying a house near Wilson earlier in the year. A resident license costs $24, a nonresident one $92. She has moved to the house from Virginia. She has said that she did not know one was required to live in Wyoming for the immediately previous 365 days to qualify as a resident. She said she never told the clerk who sold the license she lived in the state for 10 years, although the clerk marked her application '10' under the category of years of residency."

VIRGINIA. Richmond Times Dispatch: Facing federal investigations into gifts he received from Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams, "Gov. Bob McDonnell’s job approval rating remains virtually unchanged from last month, ticking up one percentage point to 47 percent, while the number of registered Virginia voters who view him favorably hit a new low in a poll released this morning. His favorability rating is 34-35 percent, but voters still approve 47-39 percent of the job the governor is doing in the poll by Qunnipiac University."

Hardball's Michael LaRosa takes a look at how the scandals, which also touch Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, are impacting the Old Dominion GOP and the race for governor.

SAN DIEGO MAYOR. NBC News: "A deal has been reached to resolve a sexual harassment suit against embattled San Diego Mayor Bob Filner, city officials said Wednesday night, but no one will say what it is. Details of the settlement won't be disclosed until it's presented Friday to the City Council, which must approve it, City Attorney Jan Goldsmith said. And it may not emerge even then, because the proposal will be presented in a closed session."

NEW YORK CITY MAYOR. New York Daily News: "Mayoral contender Bill de Blasio suddenly found himself on the hot seat Wednesday night, absorbing the majority of the attacks in the second major Democratic debate of the campaign. His chief rivals, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and former Controller Bill Thompson, frequently took aim at de Blasio, the city’s Public Advocate, reflecting his surprising new status as a front-runner with less than three weeks left in the Democratic primary. They painted him as a flip-flopper on term limits and accused him of distorting their records on stop-and-frisk policing."

NEW JERSEY. In unsurprising news, President Obama officially endorsed Cory Booker in the state's Senate special election -- a week after he won the nomination.

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul told the National Review he may endorse GOP nominee Steve Lonegan. Paul: "We’re considering trying to help him out,...In all likelihood, we’ll go in and either financially or try to help him through an endorsement or something. He just won the endorsement recently and we’d like to try to help him.”

MINNESOTA. Minneapolis Star-Tribune: "St. Louis County Commissioner Chris Dahlberg, a Republican on the largely Democratic-county's governing body, said he plans to join the race against Democratic U.S. Sen. Al Franken." Dahlberg: "I’m not running solely because of the person that is holding the position, I am running because I really feel that Chris Dahlberg can make a difference. I don't believe I'm being naive to say that a person can make a difference in Washington, DC. It is difficult but it can be done."