What We’re Reading – Jan. 15, 2013

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GOP Embraces Nuclear Gerrymandering: “It wasn’t so long ago, coming off a bruising presidential election, that Republicans were looking at ways to increase vote percentages among younger and minority voters to remain a contender in national elections. But it appears professional Republicans have decided that’s either impossible, unnecessary or perhaps just too hard. Because now they’re going for another possibility: rig the electoral college to insure Republican presidential victories with a decreasing voter base.” [Talking Points Memo]

It’s Not Just Partisanship That Divides Congress: “The House of Representatives is not just divided between the red and the blue. It also fractures along lines of white, black, and brown. Four-fifths of the House Republicans in the new Congress represent districts in which the white share of the voting-age population exceeds the national average, according to a new National Journal analysis. In a near-mirror image, almost two-thirds of House Democrats represent districts in which the minority share of the voting-age population exceeds the national average, the analysis found.” [National Journal]

Cuomo Signs Gun Legislation Into Law: “Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signed into law on Tuesday a sweeping package of gun control measures, significantly expanding a ban on assault weapons and making New York the first state to change its laws in response to the mass shooting at a Connecticut elementary school.” [The New York Times]

Ingrid Michaelson accompanied by children from Newtown, Conn. and Sandy Hook Elementary school perform "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" on ABC's "Good Morning America" on Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2013 in New York. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)

Musician Ingrid Michaelson accompanied by children from Newtown, Conn. and Sandy Hook Elementary school perform “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” on ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2013 in New York. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)

Guns in Churches, Psychiatric Evaluations, and Other State Laws Proposed Since Newtown: “In the month since the Newtown massacre, there has been an onslaught of state legislation related to guns—both to broaden, and restrict, owners’ rights. …here’s a roundup of ten measures being pushed around the country.” [The New Republic]

NRA Fights Campaign Finance Reform, Disclosure: “Best known for its fierce defense of the gun industry, its customers and a broad interpretation of the Second Amendment, the National Rifle Association (NRA) has also concerns itself with the First: namely, opposing limits on and disclosure of campaign contributions and expenditures.” [Sunlight Foundation]

An Alarm in the Offing on Climate Change: “‘Climate change is already affecting the American people,’ declares the opening paragraph of the report, issued under the auspices of the Global Change Research Program, which coordinates federally sponsored climate research. ‘Certain types of weather events have become more frequent and/or intense, including heat waves, heavy downpours, and, in some regions, floods and droughts. Sea level is rising, oceans are becoming more acidic, and glaciers and Arctic sea ice are melting. These changes are part of the pattern of global climate change, which is primarily driven by human activity.'” [The New York Times]

Greens to President Obama: Act Now on Climate: “Green groups are amping up the pressure on President Barack Obama to make good on his promises to address climate change — even if Congress fails to act. By refocusing their efforts on the White House, environmentalists are bypassing the all-but-paralyzed legislative branch, appealing to Obama’s desire for a legacy and operating in an arena where they have already logged more than a few legal victories.” [Politico]

Virginia Waters Down Report on Impacts of Climate Change After Tea Party Complaints: “Earlier this year, Virginia’s legislature commissioned a study to determine the impacts of climate change on the state’s shores. After Tea Party complaints, lawmakers approved the report on condition it strike the words ‘climate change’ and ‘sea level rise’ from the title. This week, Virginia released its analysis, under the title ‘Recurrent Flooding Study for Tidewater Virginia.’ The report discusses the threat of flooding and rising sea levels to coastal Virginia, but gives less notice to the causes of climate change.” [ThinkProgress]

Fiscal Battles Portend Good Year Ahead for K Street: “Lobbyists say they expect fiscal issues to dominate the discussion throughout the year. And clients from the private and public sectors may have targets on their backs as Congress and the Obama administration eye spending cuts and revenue-raisers to pare the deficit and resolve budgetary standoffs.” [Roll Call]

Life in the Red: “The usual explanations for reckless borrowing focus on people’s character, or social norms that promote free spending and instant gratification. But recent research has shown that scarcity by itself is enough to cause this kind of financial self-sabotage. ‘When we put people in situations of scarcity in experiments, they get into poverty traps,’ said Eldar Shafir, a professor of psychology and public affairs at Princeton. ‘They borrow at high interest rates that hurt them, in ways they knew to avoid when there was less scarcity.'” [The New York Times]

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