The Note's Must-Reads for Thursday, August 15, 2013

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

Compiled by ABC News' Carrie Halperin, Jayce Henderson, Will Cantine and J.P. Lawrence

EGYPT UNREST ABC News' Mary Bruce and Jim Avila: " White House Condemns Violence in Egypt, Warns Interim Government 'the World Is Watching'" The White House today strongly condemned the violence in Egypt, calling it a "step in the wrong direction," and urged the military-backed interim government to "respect the basic universal human rights of their people." "The violence that we saw overnight is a step in the wrong direction," Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters in Martha's Vineyard, where President Obama is vacationing with his family. "It is an indication that they're not currently following through on their promise to transition back to a democratically elected, civilian government, that they're not committed to an inclusive process. LINK

The Washington Times' Guy Taylor: " Obama's foreign policy fails to gain footing in renewed Middle East " The Middle East pro-democracy movement hailed over the past two years as the Arab Spring was transformed Wednesday when the military junta now controlling Egypt opened a bloody assault on protesters - a Tiananmen Square-style crackdown that seemed to expose the limits of American diplomatic power to pursue lofty goals once envisioned for the region. In what might be read as a sign that his administration saw few levers it could pull to alter the course of the day's events, President Obama decided not to break from his August vacation in Martha's Vineyard to speak publicly about the violence, despite the global outrage over the deaths of more than 200 Egyptians. LINK

The Wall Street Journal's Jay Solomon and Carol E. Lee: " U.S. Pleas Fail to Stave Off Egypt Crackdown" The relationship between the U.S. and Egypt's military government is breaking down, diminishing Washington's influence as the country's leadership violently routs its opposition and narrowing the Obama administration's options. The two sides have been talking past each other for weeks, both in the run-up to the violence that exploded Wednesday and over the broader question of how to handle the Muslim Brotherhood, said senior U.S. and Egyptian officials. LINK

The Washington Post's Scott Wilson and Anne Gearan: " U.S. Warns Crackdown Will Make Transition More Difficult" The Obama administration strongly condemned Wednesday's bloody crackdown on political opponents of Egypt's military-backed government but refused to say whether the United States might yank financial or political support for a longtime Mideast ally. Secretary of State John F. Kerry described the crackdown as a "serious blow" to efforts to restore an elected civilian government in Egypt, six weeks after a military coup. LINK

Politico's Reid J. Epstein: " Administration Condemns Egypt Violence" Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday urged an end to Egypt's state of emergency "as soon as possible," calling recent violence in Cairo "a serious blow" to the country. Kerry told reporters the State Department that he had spoken with Egypt's foreign minister, Nabil Fahmy, and made clear that a path to peaceful democracy remains open but "has been made much, much harder…by the events of today." The violence, Kerry said, results in "a pivotal moment for all Egyptians," Kerry said. "The path towards violence leads only to greater instability, economic disaster and suffering. The only sustainable path for either side is one towards a political solution." LINK

MILITARY SEXUAL ASSAULT The New York Times' Jennifer Steinhauser: " Hagel Tries To Blunt Effect Of Obama Words On Sexual Assault Cases" In an effort to stop military lawyers from using comments by President Obama to prevent sexual assault prosecutions, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has sent out a directive ordering the military to exercise independent judgment in the cases and effectively ignore the president's remarks. "There are no expected or required dispositions, outcomes or sentences in any military justice case, other than what result from the individual facts and merits of a case and the application to the case of the fundamentals of due process of law," Mr. Hagel wrote in a memorandum dated Aug. 6 that is to be disseminated throughout the military. LINK

CONGRESS USA Today's Martha T. Moore: " Gingrich calls on GOP to find policies to support" Republicans are meeting in Boston this week to work on the mechanics of politics - budgets, delegate rules, voter contact techniques - but former House speaker Newt Gingrich told delegates Wednesday that the party first has to figure out what policies it supports, not simply what measures it wants to block. LINK

ABC NEWS VIDEO " Michelle Obama Promotes Health With Hip-Hop" LINK

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