The Note’s Must-Reads for Thursday, March 3, 2011

Mar 3, 2011 4:21am

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 JACQUELINE NG FERNANDEZ, CLAUDIA MORALES, JAYCE HENDERSON and JORDAN MANOR

PRESIDENT OBAMA / BUDGET:
The New York Times’ Carl Hulse: “Obama Signs Two-Week Budget Extension” President Obama called on Wednesday for high-level negotiations to bridge major budgetary differences between Congressional Republicans and Democrats after the Senate passed a measure to buy at least two more weeks for talks. LINK

The Washington Post’s Shailagh Murray and Lori Montgomery: “Obama invites congressional leaders to meet with Biden on budget” President Obama on Wednesday intervened in a partisan brawl that threatens to shut down the government, inviting congressional leaders of both parties to sit down with Vice President Biden and work out a compromise to fund federal programs through the end of the fiscal year. LINK

The Washington Time’s Jeffrey Anderson: “Funds for District’s needy go elsewhere” A D.C. Council member who represents some of the city’s poorest households has spent less than 5 percent of the money she has raised since 2007 to help constituents with urgent needs, such as funeral expenses, rent and utilities, a review of campaign finance records shows. LINK

Bloomberg’s Lise Lerer: “Republican McCarthy Says U.S. Budget Will Tackle Entitlement Program Cuts” U.S. Representative Kevin McCarthy, third-ranking Republican in the House, places politicians in two camps, “thermometers” and “thermostats.” He says President Barack Obama is playing “thermometer” to Republicans. “He’s letting everything take its course, and he’s just standing out, telling you what the temperature is after everybody already knows it,” McCarthy, of California, said during a Bloomberg Breakfast with reporters in Washington yesterday.  LINK

The Hill’s Alexander Bolton: “After stopgap budget victory, Boehner hits the gas- and Reid” Speaker John Boehner escalated hostilities between the House and Senate to a new level Wednesday by launching a political attack against Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev). The surprise criticism of Reid, whose spokesman quickly fired back at the Ohio Republican, came as Congress cleared a bipartisan stopgap bill that at least temporarily averted a government shutdown. LINK 

SUPREME COURT / FREE SPEECH
ABC News’ “Westboro Baptist Church to ‘Quadruple’ Funeral Protests After ruling” Leaders of the controversial Westboro Baptist Church today vowed to "quadruple" the number of protests at military funerals around the country following a Supreme Court ruling that the displays are protected under the First Amendment. "We are trying to warn you to flee the wrath of God, flee the wrath of destruction. What would be more kind than that," a fiery Margie J. Phelps, the lead legal counsel for the church and daughter of pastor Fred Phelps, told reporters. LINK

USA Today’s Joan Biskupic and Kevin Johnson: “Justices side with funeral picketers” A Supreme Court decision protecting anti-gay picketing by the Westboro Baptist Church as free speech has veterans groups and other opponents vowing to step up efforts to block church followers from demonstrating at high-profile funerals and interfering with grieving military families. LINK

The Boston Globe’s Peter Schworn: “Justices uphold funeral protests” The US Supreme Court yesterday ruled that virulent, antigay protests outside military funerals are a form of free speech protected by the First Amendment, to the dismay of military families who argued that mourners should be allowed to conduct services in peace. LINK

Politico’s Alexander Burns: “GOP activists grapple with social truce” Social conservative leaders in the Republican Party are coming to grips with a new reality ahead of the 2012 presidential primary: It’s not all about them. For the first time in three decades, a wide-open Republican presidential primary is unfolding in the shadow of an economic recession. LINK

SENATE / UNIONS
ABC News’ Mathew Jaffe reports: “Another Democrat Departs the Senate: Daniel Akaka Not Seeking Re-Election” Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-HI, will not seek re-election, he announced today."After months of thinking about my political future, I am announcing today that I have decided not to run for re-election in 2012," Akaka said in a statement tonight. "As many of you can imagine, it was a very difficult decision for me. LINK 

 The Wall Street Journal’s Kris Maher and Amy Merrick: “Ohio Vote Puts Curbs on Unions in Reach” Ohio state senators narrowly approved a bill that would prohibit public-employee unions representing 400,000 state and local workers from bargaining over health benefits and pensions, while also eliminating the right to strike.  LINK 

FOREIGN
The Hill’s John T. Bennett: “Gates: U.S. had done ‘lousy job’ listening to concerns of Afghanistan leader” When Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai raises concerns privately with U.S. officials, his American counterparts do not always listen, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Wednesday.  "We have done a lousy job listening to President Karzai," Gates told the House Appropriations Defense subcommittee.  LINK

OTHER
ABC News’ Sherisse Pham reports: “Government Hooker and the Politics of Lady Gaga" Lady Gaga made her runway debut today, sashaying to a preview of her new song Government Hooker at a Thierry Mugler show in Paris. The singer’s stylist, Nicola Formichetti, showed her first collection for the fashion house. So, which president made it into the queen of pop’s new tune? Why none other than the prince of Camelot.  LINK 

ABC NEWS VIDEO:
“2 U.S. Troops Killed at Gunman Airport” LINK
“Obama:’ Saddened and Outraged’ By Attack in Germany” LINK
“Michelle Obama and Arne Duncan Read Dr. Seuss” LINK
“Children Reenact Suicide Bombing on Shocking Video” LINK

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