The Note’s Must-Reads for Friday, March 18, 2011

By Jayson

Mar 18, 2011 3:51am

The Note's Must-Reads are a round-up of today's political headlines and stories from ABC News and the top U.S. newspapers. Posted Monday through Friday right here at www.abcnews.com

Compiled by ABC News Digital News Associates and Desk Assistants Jayce Henderson, Claudia Morales and Jordan Manor

PRESIDENT OBAMA / FOREIGN AFFAIRS:
ABC News’ Devin Dwyer: “Obama Downplays Radiological Impact on U.S., Warns Americans Abroad” After days of silence on the nuclear crisis in Japan, President Obama today downplayed concerns of a potential radiological impact in the U.S. and defended efforts to evacuate Americans from a zone around the crippled reactors four times larger than one imposed by Japan.  "I want to be very clear: We do not expect harmful levels of radiation to reach the U.S., whether it's the west coast, Hawaii, Alaska, or the U.S. territories in the Pacific," Obama said in the Rose Garden.  LINK

ABC News’ Kirit Radia: “United Nations Authorizes Strikes in Libya, Gadhafi Vows Offensive“ The United Nations Security Council has approved a resolution authorizing the international community to take "all necessary measures," short of sending in ground troops, to protect civilians in Libya.  The vote comes just as leader Moammar Gadhafi's forces are planning a major offensive on the rebel stronghold of Benghazi, Libya, where opposition forces were seen cheering the vote. LINK

LA Times’ Paul Richter: “U.N. Security Council authorizes action against Moammar Kadafi” U.S. and allied forces began preparing to conduct military operations against Libya late Thursday after the United Nations Security Council authorized international action to prevent Libyan leader Moammar Kadafi from ending a month-old revolt with indiscriminate slaughter. Despite widespread doubts that the outgunned rebels can still be saved, the council gave its blessing to attacks on the Libyan aircraft and ground forces now encircling the final rebel stronghold of Benghazi. LINK

The Hill’s Russell Berman and Pete Kasperowicz: “House Afghan war opposition grows” Opposition to the war in Afghanistan has grown in the House, but not nearly enough to call for an end to it.  The House easily defeated a measure Thursday that would have directed President Obama to remove U.S. forces by the end of the year, as 93 lawmakers, including eight Republicans, voted for it. LINK

The Wall Street Journal’s Julian E. Barnes: “Obama Faces Choice on Petraeus” As President Barack Obama approaches a summer of decisions on Afghanistan, one of the trickiest will be whether to promote his battlefield commander, Gen. David Petraeus, to chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. LINK

USA Today’s Mimi Hall: “Obama’s foreign trip to focus on U.S. jobs” President Obama's foreign policy focus shifts to Latin America today as he heads south on a six-day trip in pursuit of his top task at home: creating jobs. LINK

JAPAN:
ABC News’ Jessica Hopper, Leezel Tanglao, and Ben Forer: “Japan Nuclear Crisis: Workers Fail to Stabilize Plant; U.S. Water Pumps Might Be the Answer” The Japanese are looking to the U.S. for help after frantic efforts to cool the overheating Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactors and fuel ponds have failed to bring the plant under control. There is hope that water pumps the U.S. is sending could help to avert disaster. LINK

LA Times’ Barbara Demick, Laura King, and Kenji Hall: “Winds, fluctuating radiation levels hamper efforts to control Japan nuclear plant” There is no sign of progress as of early Friday local time. The official death toll rises to 5,692, with 9,522 unaccounted for and feared dead, authorities say. There was no obvious sign of progress in the battle to take control of the dangerously stricken Fukushima No. 1 (Daiichi) nuclear power plant early Friday, as blustery winds and fluctuating radiation levels hampered efforts to douse hot nuclear equipment with water from helicopters and fire trucks.  LINK

Bloomberg’s Shigeru Sato and Tsuyoshi Inajima: “Workers Prepare to Connect Power to Stricken Nuclear Plant” Power may be restored to one of the crippled reactors at Japan’s damaged Fukushima Dai-Ichi power plant, possibly today, improving the odds that workers can prevent a meltdown and further radiation leaks. LINK

SECRETARY OF STATE, HILLARY CLINTON:
Politico’s Glenn Thrush: “Day after saying no second term, a big win for Hillary Clinton” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s revelation that she won’t be staying on if there is a second Obama term may have been news to those who don’t know her, but did not surprise her friends, who say she’s spending an increasing amount of time considering her post-government options even as challenges mount at Foggy Bottom. LINK

CONGRESS / HOUSE:
The New York Times’ Jennifer Steinhauer: “House Votes to End Money for NPR, and Senate Passes Spending Bill” The House voted Thursday to cut off financing for National Public Radio, with Democrats and Republican fiercely divided over both the content of the bill and how it was brought to the floor. LINK

The Washington Post’s David Fahrenthold and Felicia Sonmez: “Senate passes short-term government-funding measure that includes some easy cuts” By Friday, Washington should have a new drop-dead date. The Senate approved another stopgap budget bill Thursday that would keep the federal government open until April 8. The measure, which had already passed the House, is expected to be signed by President Obama on Friday. LINK

The Washington Time’s Stephen Dinan: “Hill extends temporary funding, OKs a vacations” Congress on Thursday pushed a government shutdown back another three weeks then approved taking a vacation next week, leaving the hard work of striking a long-term deal for another day. LINK

The Hill’s Jordan Fabian and Pete Kasperowicz: “House votes to ax $5M from NPR” The House on Thursday passed a bill to defund NPR, a measure strongly opposed by the White House but one Republicans say will save taxpayer money.  The standalone bill has only a slim chance of becoming law. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) did not say whether the upper chamber would consider the legislation, but indicated he does not support defunding. LINK

2012 ELECTIONS:
NY Daily News’ Aliyah Shahid:“Donald Trump for President in 2012? Billionaire says he's ready to spend $600 million on campaign” Donald Trump is ready to shell out $600 million of his own cash to become President.  The billionaire business magnate and "Apprentice" star told ABC's "Good Morning America" on Thursday that his name recognition would probably save him "hundreds of millions of dollars" compared with other candidates.  LINK

OTHER:
NY Daily News’ Richard Sisk: “U.S. had ‘near-miss’ nuclear accidents at Indian Point, 13 other plants last year: report Federal inspectors found "near-miss" accidents at Indian Point on the Hudson and 13 other U.S. nuclear power plants last year, a watchdog group charged on Thursday. A report by the Union of Concerned Scientists, based on Nuclear Regulatory Commission data, claimed that "many of these significant events occurred because reactor owners, and often the NRC, tolerated known safety problems."  LINK

ABC NEWS VIDEOS:
American’s Flee Potential Fallout in JapanLINK
Japan Exodus as Nuke Situation DestabilizesLINK
Obama Gives Remarks on The Disaster in JapanLINK
Obama on Nuclear Crisis: No Threat to U.S.LINK

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