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

Mar 24, 2011 5:04am

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

PRESIDENT OBAMA:
The Washington Time’s Kara Rowland: “A President worth a billion dollars?” In a political career already noted for historic breakthroughs, President Obama is poised in 2012 to chalk up another: the nation’s first $1 billion candidate. LINK

REPUBLICANS:
The Hill’s Russell Berman: “Boehner to Obama: Lawmakers ‘troubled’ by intervention in Libya” Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), in a strongly worded letter to President Obama sent Wednesday, criticized the administration's handling of the situation in Libya, citing the absence of a well-defined mission and the lack of consultation with congressional leaders.  The two-page missive, a response to an Obama letter from Monday, marked Boehner’s most extensive reaction to the launch of U.S. military operations on Saturday.  LINK   

Politico’s Juana Summers: “State parties cash in on 2012 GOP race” It turns out there’s a Republican constituency that isn’t at all bothered by the large and uncertain field of prospective 2012 candidates: the state parties themselves. For them, the frontrunner-free race is proving to be a cash cow, thanks to windfall fundraisers headlined by potential challengers to President Barack Obama. LINK

The Wall Street Journal’s Neil King: “GOP Hopefuls Woo Iowa Homeschoolers” Mike Huckabee rode to victory in this state's Republican caucuses three years ago on the shoulders of people like Vicki Crawford. LINK

USA Today’s Gregory Korte: “Half of ‘earmark’ spending untouched in GOP bills” House Republicans who crafted two short-term spending bills made $5.3 billion in cuts by going after some of Washington's least popular spending: those congressional pet projects known as "earmarks." LINK

FOREIGN AFFAIRS:
ABC News’ Martha Raddatz, Jim Sciuttto, and Alexander Marquardt: “U.S. Ready to Hand Over Libya Lead, But Who Will Take It?” The United States could hand over its leading role in the Libya airstrikes to NATO as early as this weekend, a U.S. official told ABC News, but there is uncertainty over whether NATO will accept that role.  The administration is focused on "an orderly transfer to NATO over the weekend," but there is still concern that the United States will have to carry much of the burden even after — and if — NATO takes over, the official said. LINK

ABC News’ Richard Esposito: “Deadly Jerusalem Bus Bomb Possible Remote Controlled” The bomb that exploded today in Jerusalem, Israel, killing one and injuring more than 20 others, may have been trigged by remote control to go off just as a bus drove by, officials told ABC News.  The bomb, which was packed with more than a kilogram of explosives and shrapnel, was left on the sidewalk near the city's central bus station. One woman who was critically injured in the blast later died, according to several reports.   LINK

NY Daily News’ Aliiyah Shahid: “Americans approve of military action in Libya against Khadafy 47% to 37%: poll” Air strikes in Libya may not be winning President Obama many friends on Capitol Hill, but the American people are still behind him – for the most part.  A new Gallup poll shows 47% of Americans approve of the military action by the United States against Libya, while 37% disapprove. A sizable 16% had no opinion. LINK

LA Times’ David Zucchino and Paul Richter: “Libya rebels coordinating with West on air assault” Leaders of the opposition national council in rebel-controlled eastern Libya say they are making regular, secure contacts with allied military representatives in Europe to help commanders identify targets for the U.S.-led air assault.  LINK

The Washington Post’s Perry Bacon Jr.: “Latin American countries press for substance behind Obama’s pledges” President Obama’s visit to Latin America recalled at times the euphoria that surrounded him a few years ago in the United States: Hundreds in Rio de Janeiro lined up behind barricades at his hotel, hoping to catch a glimpse of him, while Chilean President Sebastian Pinera complimented Obama’s basketball skills and Michelle Obama’s looks at a news conference. LINK

LA Times’ Julie Makinen: “Tokyo tap water not safe for infants, officials warn” Infants in Tokyo and five surrounding cities should not be allowed to consume tap water, the city's government said Wednesday after elevated levels of radioactive iodine from a crippled nuclear plant were detected at a water treatment plant.  LINK

Bloomberg’s Tsuyoshi Inajima and Takashi Hirokawa: “Nuclear Crew Returns to Reactor as Tokyo Dispenses Water” Engineers at Japan’s damaged nuclear plant resumed work on reconnecting power as Tokyo authorities prepared to hand out bottled water to families after determining that tap water may be unsafe for babies. City officials will hand out 240,000 bottles today to 80,000 families, according to the local government. LINK

MILITARY:
ABC News’ Matthew Cole: “Soldier Pleads Guilty To Thrill Kills” An American soldier accused of being part of a "kill team" that murdered innocent Afghan civilians for fun pled guilty to murder today in a military courtroom at Fort Lewis, Washington.  "The plan was to kill people, sir," Army Spc. Jeremy Morlock, 23, told a military judge after pleading guilty to five counts.  LINK

NY Daily News Meena Hartenstein: “U.S. Soldier sentenced to 24 years in prison after admitting he murdered innocent Afghan civilians” U.S. soldier Jeremy Morlock was sentenced to 24 years in prison on Wednesday for the murder of Afghan civilians, after admitting he purposefully killed three innocent people while on tour in 2010.  The 22-year-old was accused of being part of a "kill team" that took pleasure in torturing and murdering unarmed Afghans.  LINK

OTHER:
The New York Times’ Michael Cooper: “States Pass Budget Pain to Cities” The state budget squeeze is fast becoming a city budget squeeze, as struggling states around the nation plan deep cuts in aid to cities and local governments that will almost certainly result in more service cuts, layoffs and local tax increases. LINK

The Washington Post’s Lyndsey Layton: “Genetically modified crops get boost over organics with recent USDA rulings” At the supermarket, most shoppers are oblivious to a battle raging within U.S. agriculture and the Obama administration’s role in it. Two thriving but opposing sectors — organics and genetically engineered crops — have been warring on the farm, in the courts and in Washington. LINK

The Boston Globe’s Peter Schworn and Matt Carroll: “Whites still fleeing cities in Mass” Whites are abandoning Massachusetts cities at a rapid clip, continuing well-worn paths to the suburbs or out of state, according to new demographic data from the US census. In Lawrence, the white population plummeted by more than one-third over the past decade, while Chelsea’s dropped 34 percent. Springfield lost some 17,000 white residents, Brockton and Worcester dropped more than 14,000, while Lynn lost 12,600.  LINK

ABC VIDEOS:
“Cost of Military Operation in Libya” LINK
“Happy Anniversary Health Care Reform” LINK
“Target Libya: Gadhafi Retaliates” LINK
“Japanese Water Supply in Jeopardy” LINK

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