The Note’s Must-Reads for Thursday February 24, 2011

By Jayson

Feb 24, 2011 4:07am

Compiled by ABC News Digital News Associates and Desk Assistants CLAUDIA MORALES, JAYCE HENDERSON, and KATY CONRAD

The Wall Street Journal’s Jonathan Weisman: “Obama Sits Out State Fights” President Barack Obama, after initially lending his support to organized labor, has stepped back from the fights spreading in state capitals from Wisconsin to Tennessee, leaving union officials divided about his tactics. LINK

USA Today’s Mimi Hall and Richard Wolf: “Obama wants business world’s best ideas on jobs” President Obama will challenge business and labor leaders today to generate ideas for creating jobs, sustaining the economic recovery and making America more competitive. LINK

The Washington Time’s Kara Rowland: “Obama sits out budget brawl” As prospects for a government shutdown grow, the Obama White House has been largely absent from the political debate, issuing a veto threat to try on the Republicans’ spending-cuts bill but declining to offer publicly a counteroffer on what President Obama would be willing to accept. LINK

ABC News’ Jonathan Karl “Shutdown Showdown” Congress is in recess (or, as they call it, “District Work Period”), but there are ongoing negotiations on a spending bill to keep the government running after March 4, when current funding for the government runs out. The bottom line: talks are not going well. Republicans have passed a bill that includes $61 billion in cuts over the next 7 months. Senate Democrats have proposed a bill that includes no cuts, but instead maintains current spending levels for one month to give the two sides time to work out a deal. Neither side wants to budge. The two sides have had several hours of talks since yesterday, but, for now, the negotiations are off. LINK

The Washington Post’s Scott Wilson: “Obama condemns Gaddafi’s crackdown, sends Clinton for talks on Libya” President Obama on Wednesday condemned Libya's violent crackdown against a widening anti-government movement, saying the "suffering and bloodshed is outrageous, and it is unacceptable." LINK

The Hill’s Sam Youngman “Obama breaks silence on Libya, condemns 'outrageous' violence” President Obama broke his silence on the violence in Libya Wednesday, saying "the suffering and bloodshed is outrageous." Speaking in the Grand Foyer after meeting with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Obama blasted Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi — but without using the longtime dictator's name — for violating "international norms and every notion of common decency." "These are human rights," Obama said. "They are not negotiable." LINK

LA Times’ Bob Drogin and Raja Abdulrahim “Libyan Opposition Reportedly Seizes Key Western City” Opponents of Moammar Gadhafi are said to have taken control of Misurata, Libya's third largest city and where Gadhafi traditionally has maintained strong tribal support. The popular uprising against Moammar Gadhafi expanded into an oil-rich area of western Libya long considered one of his strongholds, leaving the long-time leader increasingly isolated and in danger of encirclement as he fights for survival. Calm was returning to a stretch of eastern Libya seized by the opposition. Residents were restoring basic services in the country's second-largest city, Benghazi, and setting up informal governing structures. LINK

Bloomberg’s Ola Galal, Maram Mazen and Massoud A Derhally: “Qaddafi Loyalists Hold Tripoli as Lines Harden With Opponents” Loyalists of Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi sought to crush dissent in the capital of Tripoli as his opponents tightened control of eastern cities and President Barack Obama condemned the regime’s attacks. LINK

The New York Times’ Charlie Savage and Sheryl Gay Stolberg: “In Turnabout, U.S. Says Marriage Act Blocks Gay Rights” President Obama, in a striking legal and political shift, has determined that the Defense of Marriage Act — the 1996 law that bars federal recognition of same-sex marriages — is unconstitutional, and has directed the Justice Department to stop defending the law in court, the administration said Wednesday. LINK

ABC News’ Michael Falcone “Mike Huckabee: ‘Deeply Disappointed’ In Obama Administration’s DOMA Decision” Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee called President Obama’s decision on Wednesday to instruct the Justice Department to stop defending the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act “out of sync with the public.” “I am deeply disappointed,” Huckabee said of the Obama administration’s newly-announced policy that changes the government's approach to thew law that since 1996 has banned federal recognition of same-sex unions. LINK

 Politico’s Josh Gerstein: “Little downside seen for Obama on DOMA” By refusing to defend the Defense of Marriage Act in court, President Barack Obama is essentially gambling that the culture-war truce many Republicans have observed in recent months will hold through the 2012 election. LINK

The Hill’s Jason Millman “States: Judge clearly meant to halt work on the healthcare law” New comments from the states come after the Obama administration asked a judge to clarify ruling that struck down reforms. The 26 states and a business group that successfully challenged the healthcare reform law in federal court said the judge clearly meant to halt implementation of the healthcare overhaul. The comments came a week after the Obama administration sought clarification on a Jan. 31 ruling that struck down the entire reform law. LINK

ABC News’ Ariane de Vogue “Supreme Court: Mazda Can Be Sued for Lack of Backseat Belts in Vans” The Supreme Court ruled, unanimously, today that a lawsuit against Mazda Motor of America charging that the car manufacturer should have installed lap and shoulder belts in the rear aisle seats of some of its minivans can go forward in California courts. LINK

LA Times’ W.J. Hennigan “Decade-Long Fight Over Ariel Tanker Contract Set to End” One of the most hotly sought-after military contracts in U.S. history is expected to be issued Thursday, perhaps the finale in a scandal-ridden bureaucratic nightmare that has pitted two global aerospace titans in a high-stakes competition for a decade. At issue is a $35-billion prize purse to replace the Air Force's fleet of Eisenhower administration-era aerial tankers, which refuel warplanes while in flight. The Pentagon has twice awarded the contract, only to see its decision overturned amid accusations of underhanded politics and discriminatory rule-making. LINK

NY Daily News’ Jonathan Lemire “State that Balk at Nation’s Gun Laws Could Lose Federal Funds: Schumer” States refusing to fully cooperate with the nation's gun-control regulations could be stripped of their federal funds, Sen. Chuck Schumer warned Wednesday. States that fail to report to the database are currently docked 3% of their Justice Department funding – and a new bill would boost that penalty to 90%, Schumer said. LINK


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