The Note’s Must-Reads for Friday, March 21, 2014

By Jayce Henderson

Mar 21, 2014 3:40am

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’ Jayce Henderson, Will Cantine and Janine Elliot

PRESIDENT OBAMA
ABC News’ Abby D. Phillip: “Barack Obama Foundation Drops the Middle ‘H’”  The foundation dedicated to erecting President Obama’s presidential library quietly changed its name from the Barack H. Obama Foundation to the Barack Obama Foundation today. As early as this morning, the Foundation’s website sported the president’s middle initial, for Hussein. But later in the evening, after they blasted out requests for initial bids to host the Obama library, the ‘H’ was gone. LINK

The Hill’s Justin Sink: “Obama’s bully pulpit struggle” President Obama’s reliance on the bully pulpit to bump up ObamaCare’s enrollment and hammer Republicans in an election year is facing a serious challenge with the crisis in Ukraine. The worst U.S.-Russia crisis since the Cold War is taking up a significant amount of the administration’s oxygen, complicating the president’s efforts to get his message out. On Thursday, Obama sought to put the spotlight on higher pay for women, an election-year issue Democrats believe they can turn to their advantage in November. LINK

The Washington Post’s Zachery A. Goldfarb: “President Obama Needs Women This Fall, And He Made The Case That They Need Him Too” President Obama needs women this fall, and on Thursday, he made the case that they need him, too. Addressing students, mothers, teachers and workers at a community college here, Obama began a months-long focus on women’s issues ahead of the fall midterm elections, emphasizing how his administration’s proposals — including raising the minimum wage and strengthening equal-pay laws — would help women. LINK

Bloomberg’s Angela Greiling Keane: “Obama Highlights Economic Proposals For Women In Florida” With support from women critical to Democrats running in the November congressional elections, President Barack Obama is showcasing his administration’s efforts to improve their economic opportunities. “There are some particular challenges women face,” Obama said, citing his late grandmother who raised him in Hawaii and worked in banking. She “hit a glass ceiling. She trained men to eventually be her boss even though she knew a lot more than they did.” Obama discussed enhancing educational prospects for women and steps he’s taken to promote equal pay for equal work today at a college in Orlando, Florida. It is the first in a series of similar events around the country leading up to a White House summit on families on June 23. LINK

RUSSIA
ABC News Luis Martinez: “Hagel Demands Answers on Russian Troop Buildup at Ukraine Border” Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel was concerned enough about growing numbers of Russian troops near Ukraine’s eastern border to have an hour-long telephone conversation with Russian Minister of Defense Sergey Shoygu about Russian intentions.Kirby said that Hagel “was clear and he was firm” in his phone conversation with Shoygu.  “Because Russian forces are in control of Crimea, they bear responsibility for what is happening there.”  He said Hagel also pressed Shoygu for an explanation of “Russian intentions with respect to forces they have aligned near Ukraine’s eastern and southern borders.” A U.S. official told ABC News that in the past two weeks about 20,000 Russian troops have gathered along Ukraine’s eastern border participating in what Shoygu characterized as exercises.  LINK

Wall Street Journal’s Carol E. Lee, Gregory L. White and Jared A. Favole: “U.S., Russia Trade Sanctions Over Crimea” The U.S. raised the stakes Thursday in its confrontation with Russia over Crimea, aiming a new round of sanctions closer to Russian President Vladimir Putin and his inner circle even as Moscow struck back with penalties of its own on U.S. lawmakers and White House officials. The Obama administration’s more aggressive move—targeting a high-profile Russian bank as well as some of Mr. Putin’s wealthiest and most influential supporters—increased the likelihood the retaliation could spiral. It also marked a notable reversal for a White House that until last month saw Mr. Putin and his government as a vital international partner. Moscow has vowed an “asymmetrical” response that could encompass global issues important to the U.S., such as the Iran nuclear talks. U.S. officials said earlier that they were prepared for a Russian move to constrict supply routes used by the U.S. that pass near and through Russian territory. LINK

Wall Street Journal’s Stephen Fidler: “EU Faces Difficult Choices Over Ukraine” Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to annex Crimea has shaken the 28 nations of the European Union—collectively and individually—far out of their comfort zone. They had better get used to it. The bloc is now confronted with managing two contrasting relationships with neighbors of the sort it doesn’t look well equipped to handle. And managing those relationships will carry financial and economic costs. Their first challenge will be relations with a relatively hostile Russia that appear likely to be on edge for a long time. Their second will be a long-term and potentially expensive effort to help Ukraine—in the face of likely blocking efforts from Moscow. The bloc’s leaders this week watched Mr. Putin spurn their calls for diplomacy and take control of Crimea. LINK

USA Today’s Ray Locker: “Pentagon Proposes Cuts to Ukraine Military aid” The Obama administration proposed a 28% spending cut for a Pentagon program that supports modernizing the military of Ukraine and other former Soviet Union republics, Pentagon budget records show. The move could endanger efforts to boost Ukraine’s armed forces as they face threats from Russia. The proposed cuts, contained in a detailed budget plan posted online this week, come over the objections of officials with the U.S. European Command, who argue they will hurt U.S. attempts to build armed forces in nations formerly beholden to Russia. Spending on the Warsaw Initiative Fund is set to drop from $34 million in the current fiscal year to $24.4 million in the 2015 fiscal year, which starts Oct. 1. LINK

The New York Daily News’ james Warren: “President Obama expands sanctions against Russia while Moscow bans American officials” President Obama on Thursday expanded sanctions against Russia for seizing Crimea from Ukraine — and minutes later, the Kremlin retaliated by banning nine American officials from Russia. Some of the Americans singled out by Moscow reacted with derision and defiance. “I guess this means my spring break in Siberia is off, Gazprom stock is lost & secret bank account in Moscow is frozen,” Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said on Twitter. LINK

The New York Times’ David S. Joachim: “On Russia’s List For Sanctions, And Proud Of It” President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia might have hoped that American lawmakers and officials targeted for “reciprocal sanctions” on Thursday would respond with fear or outrage. Instead, the reaction was more like a synchronized spit-take combined with a bipartisan declaration of pride unseen since President Richard M. Nixon assembled his enemies list. “Proud to be included,” Speaker John A. Boehner said. “Badge of honor,” said Senator Mary L. Landrieu, who leads the energy committee. LINK

Politico’s Jennifer Epstein and Edward-Isaac Dovere: “Obama Expands Sanctions Against Russia” President Barack Obama’s lips said “diplomacy continues” — but his new sanctions, and the military helicopter he announced them in front of, said America’s relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin has essentially ground to a halt. Russians gleefully mocked the sanctions announced Monday morning — and quickly released a list of their own sanctions targets Thursday, shortly after the president announced the latest round of additions to the growing U.S. list. The U.S. list announced Thursday cut into a wider group of people, including those thought to have a hand on the Russian president’s own finances, and the “crony bank” where many of the inner circle, according to the administration, does business. LINK

FOREIGN POLICY
Wall Street Journal’s Laurence Norman: “Iran Complying with Interim Nuclear Deal” The United Nations atomic agency said Thursday that Iran is complying with the interim nuclear deal it signed with six major powers last November. In its monthly report on Iran’s implementation of the deal, the International Atomic Energy Agency said Iran continues refraining from enriching uranium to 20% purity and is reducing its stockpile of 20% enriched uranium, which is a level considered only a few technical steps from producing weapons-grade uranium. The IAEA said Iran has also met its pledge not to carry out major work on its planned heavy water reactor in Arak, which could in the future produce plutonium. It has also, as promised, provided further information on its plans for the reactor. LINK

GOP
The Los Angeles Times’ Maeve Reston: “Upbeat signs for GOP before midterm vote may mask its Latino problem” For Republicans roaring into the midterm election, the last few weeks have brought a wave of good news. President Obama’s poll numbers continue to hover in the 40s. Democrats’ hopes of holding the Senate look slimmer by the day. And the GOP heralded last week’s win in Florida’s special congressional election as evidence that their anti-Obamacare strategy is working. But some Republican strategists and donors fear that buoyant mood spells trouble for the party down the road — by masking the long-term problems that were so evident after the 2012 election. LINK

The Washington Times’ Seth McLaughlin: “Jeb Bush a formidable foe for emerging GOP field” Jeb Bush is casting a shadow over the entire field of potential Republican presidential candidates, as the former Florida governor continues to ponder a run in 2016 and keep his political options open. On one hand, the Bush name, a network of donors and his relatively conservative record as governor make Mr. Bush a force to be reckoned with. But the Bush name also could work against him. Even his mother waffled on whether the country is ready for another member of her family to run for the White House. LINK

NEW JERSEY Gov CHRIS CHRISTIE
ABC News’ Abby D. Phillip: “Chris Christie and Bridge Scandal Questioner at Town Hall” New Jersey town hall attendees had been warned: Gov. Chris Christie gives as good as he gets. And up until today, no one had asked him about the George Washington Bridge lane closure scandal that has consumed his second term. One brave man took on the challenge — and both he and Christie came out of the exchange relatively unscathed. After buttering Christie up with a compliment and promising to do his laundry, the questioner finally asked the governor about his handling of the lane closings. “You look better in person than you do on TV,” he told Christie at the Flemington Town Hall today before asking about the closings and the staffer involved in making that decision. LINK

ABC NEWS VIDEO:
Ukraine Crisis: Obama Increases Sanctions on RussiaLINK
Germany, USA Turn Up Pressure on PutinLINK

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