The Note’s Must-Reads for Thursday, March 17, 2011

By Jayson

Mar 17, 2011 3:30am

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

JAPAN:
ABC News’ Jake Tapper: “President Obama Discusses, Japan, Middle East at DNC Fundraiser” Golf, NCAA brackets, Democratic fundraisers, trips to Rio….the president may be engaged in a lot of hard work on Japan, the Middle East and North Africa, the budget and the economy behind the scenes, but he seems conscious of the fact that participating in some of these other activities might not look so good.  At a Democratic National Committee fundraiser at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel late this afternoon, President Obama took a moment to discuss Japan and American leadership. LINK

LA Times’ Ralph Vartabebedian: “U.S. remains safe from radioactivity, officials say, but levels are being  watched  closely”  A network of sensors in the U.S. is watching and waiting for the first sign of nuclear fallout from the crippled Japanese reactors at the Fukushima power plant 5,000 miles away.  Operated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the network — known as Radnet — is a system of 100 radiation monitors that operate 24 hours a day, spread across the nation in places such as Anaheim, Bakersfield and Eureka. LINK

NY Daily News’ Lukas I. Alpert and Helen Kennedy: “Japan nuclear nightmare: Americans warned to flee 50-mile radius from quake & tsunami crippled plant” Americans were told to flee a wide area around Japan's failing nuclear plant Wednesday as Emperor Akihito made his first-ever live TV address to reassure his people."I am deeply concerned about the nuclear situation because it is unpredictable," said the widely-revered 77-year-old occupant of the Chrysanthemum Throne. LINK

The Washington Post’s Rick Maese: “State Dept., Pentagon offer to evacuate family members from Tokyo” Six days into the world’s worst nuclear emergency in 25 years, as the crisis at one of Japan’s damaged power plants worsened, the United States offered Wednesday night to evacuate family members of State Department and Pentagon officials from northern Japan while urging other Americans to stay at least 50 miles from the plant — four times the distance recommended by the Japanese government. LINK

Bloomberg’s Shigeru Sato and Tsuyoshi Inajima: “More Workers Join Race to Prevent Meltdown at Crippled Plant” More than 300 workers are racing to prevent a meltdown and spread of radiation at the crippled Fukushima Dai-Ichi power station today, an increase from a core group of 50 engineers yesterday, Tokyo Electric Power Co. said. LINK

USA Today’s Peter Eisler: “Poll: Fears of nuclear disaster in U.S. rise after Japan quake” Americans' support for nuclear power has fallen, as 70% of those surveyed in a new USA TODAY/Gallup Poll say they've grown more concerned about the industry's safety based on the crisis unfolding at reactors in Japan. LINK

PRESIDENT OBAMA:
The Hill’s Sam Youngman: “Obama in campaign mode: 'Delivered on change that we can believe in President Obama boldly proclaimed Wednesday that he had fulfilled his most daring but abstract 2008 campaign pledge: "Change we can believe in."  Obama told a gathering of top donors and Democratic officials that, while his work is not finished, "we have made extraordinary progress over these last two years." LINK

The Wall Street Journal’s Carol E. Lee: “Obama Tests 2012 Waters” President Obama dipped his toe in the 2012 waters Wednesday when he told top contributors to his 2008 campaign that while “there will be time for campaigning and there will be time for politics,” he’s going to need them when that moment arrives. LINK

OTHER FOREIGN AFFAIRS:
ABC News’ Nick Schifrin, Matthew Cole, Habibullah Khan, and Lee Ferran: “Blood Money' Deal Frees CIA Contractor Raymond Davis From Pakistan” Raymond Davis, a CIA contractor held in Pakistan after a deadly shooting incident in January, was freed today and is on his way home, U.S. and Pakistani officials said. Davis was released from detention after $2.4 million was paid to the families of the two men allegedly shot and killed by Davis, according to court documents. LINK

LA Times’ Lisa Mascaro: “House to vote on Afghan troop withdrawal” The House is expected to vote Thursday on a resolution demanding the speedy withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, a crucial first test of conservative support for the war among the new Republican majority.  The measure, put forward by liberal Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich (D-Ohio), is designed to appeal to the fiscal conservatism that has dominated the Republican agenda since the start of the year. LINK

CONGRESS / HOUSE:
The New York Times’ Jennifer Steinhauer: “Fight Waged With Forks Is Rejoined in Congress” Within the war between Republicans and Democrats over the federal spending rages an affray over disposable forks.  Under the tutelage of Representative Nancy Pelosi during the years when Democrats ran the House, her party moved to “green” the Capitol with several initiatives, including obligating the food vendor for the three main House cafeterias to provide compostable cups and utensils. But the newly empowered House Republicans have ended the program, and plastic forks and foam cups have returned. LINK

The Hill’s Pete Kasperowicz: “House votes to end third housing program” The House on Wednesday passed legislation that would terminate the Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP), which is currently authorized to spend $1 billion to help local communities buy and maintain foreclosed and abandoned properties. LINK

GOP:
The Washington Time’s Sean Lengell: “Republicans say regulations, taxes stifle new jobs” Before the 2010 midterm elections, Republicans promised an intense focus on creating and preserving American jobs. But spending and program cuts instead have dominated their agenda since taking control of the House in January — so much so that Democrats now accuse the GOP of reneging on a key campaign pledge. LINK

2012 ELECTIONS:
The Boston Globe’s Mark Arsenault: “Could Kerry become the next secretary of state?” It’s the speculation US Senator John Kerry just can’t shake: Is he seeking to be the next secretary of state? The conjecture grows more intense as the Massachusetts Democrat and chair of the Foreign Relations Committee has taken highly-public role in shaping US policy toward the political upheaval in the Middle East. LINK

Politico’s Ben Smith and Byron Tau: “GOP 2012: Return of the neo-cons” When former President George W. Bush left office in 2009, liberal Democrats and a fair number of moderate, traditional Republicans proclaimed the good news: The GOP neo-cons were dead, chased from Washington in disgrace.  LINK

ABC NEWS VIDEOS:
Conditions of Japan’s Reactors WorsensLINK
Emotion Fuels Japanese Search and RescueLINK
U.S. Nuclear Plants: How Safe Are TheyLINK

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