The Note’s Must-Reads for Tuesday, March 25, 2014

By Jayce Henderson

Mar 25, 2014 3:20am

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

UKRAINE
The New York Times’ Jonathan Weisman: “Aid Package For Ukraine Advances In The Senate” The Senate voted on Monday to formally take up legislation to aid Ukraine and sanction Russia, beginning what promises to be a heated weeklong debate in Congress over the role the International Monetary Fund should play in the Crimean crisis. While the 78-17 vote showed considerable bipartisan support for the measure, bolstered by the votes of some Republicans who spent last week’s congressional recess in Ukraine, its ultimate fate is uncertain. Conservatives remain opposed to an overhaul of the monetary fund’s governance structure, which would expand Ukraine’s borrowing limit at the fund but, many Republicans say, would also diminish the United States’s authority and even increase Russia’s. LINK

Bloomberg’s Callie Boast and Lu Wang: “Most U.S. Stocks Drop On Economy, Ukraine; Gold Slides” U.S. stocks fell for a second day as a report showed slowing growth in manufacturing while European shares slid amid concern the Ukraine crisis may escalate. U.S. President Barack Obama arrived in Europe for talks as Russia, which completed its annexation of Crimea last week, masses soldiers on the border with Ukraine. LINK

Wall Street Journal’s Jeanne Whalen and Alan Cullison: “Ukraine Battles to Rebuild a Depleted Military” As the Kremlin began its invasion of the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea last month, a days-old government in Kiev turned to its military to stem the tide. There was an immediate problem: No car batteries for the military vehicles. With coffers empty, Ukraine’s fledgling government appealed to the U.S. embassy for help. The embassy said it would take weeks to get assistance, so the government had to search—among its own people—to find a regional oligarch, Ihor Kolomoisky, to kick in the funds to buy them locally. According to a spokesman for the banking and oil products magnate, Mr. Kolomoisky spent “several million dollars” of his own money, but he stresses others are helping too. LINK

G-7
ABC News’ Mary Bruce: “Russia Shrugs Off G-7 Snub and Adds Troops Near Ukraine Border” As President Obama convened an emergency meeting of the G-7  leaders today to turn up the heat on Moscow, the Russian military has added to their forces on Ukraine’s border. U.S. officials tell ABC News that Russia has sent an additional 10,000 troops to the Ukraine border in the past week, bringing the Russian force there to almost 30,000. While Russia claims the troops movements are part of military exercises, White House Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes told reporters, “There’s every reason to be skeptical of Russian assertions.” Seeking to mobilize the international community to further isolate Russia, Obama met with the G-7 leaders to strategize a response to Russia’s takeover of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula. LINK

Wall Street Journal’s Carol E. Lee, Matthew Dalton  and Anton Troianovski: “G-7 Agrees to Exclude Russia, Increase Sanctions” The heads of state of the world’s largest advanced economies moved Monday to isolate Russia, severing a key link between Moscow and the Western world after nearly two decades. The leaders of the Group of Seven, or G-7, nations effectively disbanded the larger G-8 by excluding Russia until it changes course in Ukraine. They also agreed to exert punitive sanctions on Russia’s energy, banking, finance and arms industries unless Moscow begins to dial back plans to absorb the region of Crimea. But the G-7 leaders, who met in emergency session, didn’t specify how far they would go to isolate President Vladimir Putin and hammer Russia’s economy.  LINK

The Los Angeles Times’ Kathleen Hennessey and Christi Parsons: “G-7 leaders agree to freeze out Russia” Leaders of seven of the world’s largest economies on Monday agreed to freeze Russia out of the Group of Eight nations and threatened sanctions against key sectors of its economy if Moscow further invades or seeks to destabilize Ukraine. The moves, approved by the heads of the United States, Britain, France, Italy, Germany, Japan and Canada, represented a growing alignment behind a strategy to prevent any escalation of the crisis involving Russia’s incursion into Ukraine. LINK

NSA
ABC News’ Jeff Zeleny: “Obama to Call for End to NSA Bulk Data Collection” President Obama is poised to call for an end to the controversial bulk data collection of phone records by the NSA, senior administration officials confirm to ABC News. The White House will outline proposed legislation this week that would bring sweeping changes to the National Security Agency’s controversial data collection program. A senior administration official describes the proposal to ABC News as “a sound approach to ensuring the government no longer collects or holds this data, but still ensures that the government has access to the information it needs to meet the national security needs his team has identified.” Two officials confirmed to ABC News the plan, which was reported earlier tonight by the New York Times. It calls for phone companies to keep phone records, rather than having the data kept by the NSA. The government could obtain the data only under a judge’s order. LINK

The Hill’s Julian Hattem: “Report: Obama to call for major NSA changes” President Obama wants to end the National Security Agency’s (NSA) bulk collection of records about Americans’ phone calls, according to the New York Times. The newspaper reported late on Monday that Obama’s planned legislative proposal, expected to be announced in coming days, would move the controversial phone records database out of the spy agency’s hands. Instead, the records would remain with the phone companies, and government agents would be able to obtain information about specific phone numbers with an order from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. LINK

Politico’s Josh Gerstein: “Barack Obama Poised To End NSA Phone Sweep” President Barack Obama is poised to endorse a proposal that would end the National Security Agency’s collection of a huge amount of data on U.S. phone calls to search for evidence of terrorist plots, swapping that system for one in which telephone companies retain the data, administration officials said late Monday. The new program would do away with the database the NSA currently uses to store information on five years’ worth of phone calls made to, from and within the U.S. and have the telecommunications firms store call data for 18 months in line with current federal regulations, said a person who was briefed on the plan and asked not to be named. LINK

The Washington Post’s Ellen Nakashima: “White House Plan Would End NSA’s Bulk Collection of Americans’ Phone Data” The Obama administration is preparing legislation that would end the National Security Agency’s widespread collection of Americans’ phone data while, officials say, preserving the government’s ability to gain information about terrorists. The legislation, senior officials say, would allow data about phone calls made to and from Americans to be kept with the phone companies. The companies would not be required to hold the data longer than they normally would. LINK

The New York Times’ Charlie Savage: “Obama To Call For End To N.S.A.’s Bulk Data Collection” The Obama administration is preparing to unveil a legislative proposal for a far-reaching overhaul of the National Security Agency’s once-secret bulk phone records program in a way that — if approved by Congress — would end the aspect that has most alarmed privacy advocates since its existence was leaked last year, according to senior administration officials. Under the proposal, they said, the N.S.A. would end its systematic collection of data about Americans’ calling habits. The bulk records would stay in the hands of phone companies, which would not be required to retain the data for any longer than they normally would. LINK

USA Today’s William Welch: “Report: Obama to propose NSA data overhaul” The Obama administration will propose an overhaul of the National Security Agency’s telephone program that would end systematic collection of domestic call data and leave those records with phone companies, The New York Times reported Monday. The plan, if enacted by Congress, would not require the phone companies to retain the data for longer than they otherwise would hold them, the newspaper said said in a report attributed to unnamed senior administration officials. The federal agency could obtain specific records only with permission from a judge, under the proposal being prepared. LINK

Wall Street Journal’s Siobhan Gorman: “Overhaul of NSA Data Collection Takes Shape” Leaders of the House Intelligence Committee are set to unveil Tuesday a proposal overhauling the National Security Agency’s phone-records program by requiring searches to be conducted at phone companies instead of having the NSA compile the records.The bipartisan proposal is similar to one floated last month by the NSA’s departing director. It has been well received by some telecommunications-industry executives, but likely will run into opposition from lawmakers of both parties who are sponsoring a competing proposal. The Obama administration is readying its own proposal to restructure the program, which officials said would be conducted at phone companies, as well. LINK

FIRST LADY, MICHELLE OBAMA
The Washington Times’ Cheryl Chumley: “Michelle Obama’s hotel suite: $8,400 a night — deemed too pricey for Joe Biden” Not all the costs are in, but so far Michelle Obama’s soft-sell public relations tour — little more than a vacation, some say — to China includes her stay at a hotel that charges $8,400 a night. The first lady is staying at the presidential suite in the 5-star Westin Hotel at Chaoyang, located near the U.S. Embassy, USA Today reported. That’s the same hotel that was deemed as too expensive for vice president Joe Biden when he made the trip in December, The Daily Caller reported. LINK

NEW JERSEY Gov CHRIS CHRISTIE
The New York Daily News’ Adam Edelman: “Chris Christie-ordered probe finds governor didn’t know about Bridgegate: report” Chris Christie’s own investigation into the Bridgegate scandal that has rocked his office found the embattled New Jersey governor had no knowledge his top aides were orchestrating the catastrophic traffic jam, a new report claims. An elite law firm hired in January by Christie himself to investigate how and why several traffic lanes on the George Washington Bridge were closed last September did not find any evidence the governor was “involved in the plotting or directing of the lane closings,” The New York Times reported Monday, citing people familiar with the inquiry. LINK

ABC NEWS VIDEO:
Obama Attends Emergency G7 Meeting, Seeks Support in Case Against RussiaLINK

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