The Note’s Must-Reads for Monday, March 28, 2011

By Jayson

Mar 28, 2011 4:23am

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, Jacqueline Fernandez and Jordan Manor

FOREIGN AFFAIRS:
ABC News’ Kevin Dolak: “Libyan Rebels Advance to Sirte as NATO Assumes Command”  Air raids targeting the Libyan city of Sirte tonight aided rebels advancing towards the city, a regime stronghold, while it was confirmed that NATO will now be assuming the entire mission in the war-torn country, including all air strikes and the civilian protection mission.  Taking Moammar Gadhafi's hometown Sirte, which lies halfway between the rebel-held east and the government-controlled west, would be a major coup for the rebels who are quickly advancing toward the capitol city of Tripoli. LINK  

The Hill’s Jorday Yager: “Gates: Libya was not a ‘vital interest’; Clinton: President took the ‘best available option’ Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Sunday defended the U.S. military’s role in airstrikes against Col. Moammar Gadhafi's forces but said that Libya was not an imminent threat to the United States when the president ordered them. In two separate interviews Gates acknowledged that Libya did not hold “a vital interest” for the U.S., although he emphasized the geopolitical importance of Libya in a region fraught with recent instability. LINK

LA Times’ David G. Savage: “Libyan regime could collapse from within, U.S. officials say” Top Obama administration officials predicted that Libyan leader Moammar Kadafi's regime may crack from within, as allied warplanes, resurgent rebels and the international community put more pressure on Tripoli.  Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, in appearances on Sunday talk shows, said they had received indications that some officials close to Kadafi might be ready to abandon him. LINK

LA Times’ Garret Therolf and Jeffery Fleishman: “In Syria, a test for Bashar Assad” Syrian President Bashar Assad tried to retain control of his protest-roiled nation on Sunday, sending troops to the site of recent clashes and promising through subordinates to remove a controversial emergency law used to detain dissidents without trial.  But there were signs that the unrest continued to test the political skill of Assad, who came to power in 2000 after his father's 29-year rule. LINK

Bloomberg’s Nicole Gaouette and Gopal Ratnam Clinton Says U.S. Won't Intervene in Syria, Sees Progress in Libya Fight” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the U.S. won’t enter into the internal conflict in Syria the way it has in Libya, where the international effort to protect civilians from Muammar Qaddafi is progressing. “No,” Clinton said when asked on the CBS program “Face the Nation” if the U.S. would intervene in Syria’s unrest. LINK

The Boston Globe’s Farah Stockman: “Libyan reformer now face of rebellion” He arrived in a suit, without an entourage. One day after US missiles began striking Moammar Khadafy’s forces, the balding, US-educated professor met Senator John F. Kerry of Massachusetts at a hotel in Cairo to outline his vision for Libya’s future. Mahmoud Jibril, a reform-minded former Libyan official and the face of the rebel movement to the West, has played a key role in persuading the United States and its allies to offer a lifeline to Libya’s rebellion. LINK

PRESIDENT OBAMA:
The Washington Post’s Peter Wallsten: “Obama rewarding local stations in battleground states with biggest ‘get’ in TV news” Ever since he quit smoking, President Obama has been staving off nicotine cravings by reaching for celery sticks. He thinks Americans who help Mexican drug cartels should be “thrown in jail.” And he has an open invitation to enjoy lemon martinis in Miami. These are just a few of the exclusive news nuggets to emerge from the White House in recent days. LINK

NY Daily News’ Jonathan Lemire: “President Obama set to headline $30,800- per- head fund- raiser at hot Harlem restaurant Tuesday” President Obama is making another gold rush to New York - except this cash bash will be his first north of 125th St.  On Tuesday, Obama will be the headliner for a $30,800-per-head Democratic National Committee fund-raiser at Harlem's trendy Red Rooster restaurant. LINK

The Washington Times’ Kara Rowland: “Obama freezes out Chavez, while Iran comes courting” During his five-day tour of Latin America, President Obama covered just about every hot-button topic – Libya, drug violence, immigration, trade – but not once did he publicly mention Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. LINK

HOMELAND SECURITY:
The Hill’s Jorday Yager: “DHS officials to testify on GOIA process” The Republican chairman of the powerful House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will get his first crack this week at publicly grilling Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials about the agency’s FOIA process.  Rep. Darrell Issa (Calif.) has doggedly sought to find out whether DHS allows political appointees to play a role in prioritizing or censoring information it is required to release under the agency’s Freedom of information Act (FOIA) guidelines. LINK 

CONGRESS / REPUBLICANS / TEA PARTY:
The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza: “The Republicans’ Hispanic problem” If demographics is destiny, then Republicans may have a major political problem on their hands. Why? Because numbers released by the Census Bureau late last week showed massive growth in the nation’s Hispanic population, a community that Republicans have struggled mightily to reach in recent years. LINK

Politico’s David Rogers: “Fiscal cloud still hangs over Congress” April Fools’ Day this Friday makes it official: The government will have come a full six months without permanent appropriations for not just domestic agencies but the Pentagon and two wars overseas. The threat of a shutdown looms greater with President Barack Obama and Speaker John Boehner still too hesitant or too vulnerable to embrace a deal. LINK

The Wall Street Journal’s Danny Yadron: “Indiana Tea Party Targets Centrist Republican” Two meetings in recent days in this Midwestern state showed the predicament facing Sen. Richard Lugar, a six-term Republican with a centrist profile, as he runs for re-election next year. LINK

The Washington Times’ Stephen Dinan: “Little progress as shutdown deadline looms” Congress gave itself a three-week reprieve on a government shutdown, then spent the first 10 days on vacation. Now, lawmakers return with the shutdown deadline once again looming, and a deal seemingly as far away as ever. LINK

GERALDINE FERRARO:
ABC News’ Bill McGuire: “Geraldine Ferraro, First Woman VP Candidate, Dies at 75” Geraldine Ferraro, the first woman to run for vice president on a major party ticket, died on Saturday at Massachusetts General Hospital, a spokesman for her family said. She was 75.  The cause of death was complications from multiple myeloma, a blood cancer that she had battled for 12 years, according to a statement from her family. LINK

OTHER:
The New York Times’ Jennifer Steinhauer: “Hardly Settled in House, but Already in Hot Seat” In the 11 weeks since Representative Bobby Schilling left his family pizza business to join Congress, he has learned that sleeping on an office couch is extremely uncomfortable, that appearing on “Meet the Press” can be daunting, and that voting against federal money for a local rail project will cause some of your constituents to become very cranky. LINK

ABC NEWS VIDEOS:
Rebel Advances in LibyaLINK
 “Obama: ‘A Humanitarian Disaster has been Avoided’LINK

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