The Note's Must-Reads for Monday, May 19, 2014

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' Jayce Henderson, Will Cantine, and Janine Elliot

SOUTH KOREA/NORTH KOREA Wall Street Journal's Alastair Gale and Kwanwoo Jun: " South Korea Leader Disbands Coast Guard Over Ferry Sinking" President Park Geun-hye said Monday that she has ordered the national coast guard to be disbanded and a safety agency created as part of a package of reforms in response to the recent deadly sinking of a passenger ferry. Speaking in a tearful, nationally televised address, Ms. Park said she accepted responsibility for her government's poor handling of the April 16 disaster, which left more than 300 people dead or missing. "As the president is responsible for the people's lives and safety, I offer my sincere apology for all the suffering that the people have undergone," Ms. Park said, before stepping to the side of the podium and bowing deeply. LINK

USA Today's John Bacon: " N. Korea Issues Rare Apology After Apartment Building Collapse" In a rare detour from Pyongyang's unrelenting narrative of a government that can do no wrong, North Korea on Sunday acknowledged that an apartment building collapse "claimed casualties" and placed blame on a high-ranking official. The state-run news service Korean Central News Agency said the building was under construction when it collapsed Tuesday in a Pyongyang neighborhood. Rescue operations concluded Saturday, KCNA said. No casualty count was released, but KCNA said the accident was "serious" and upset North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. LINK

HILLARY CLINTON ABC News' Benjamin Bell: " Bill Kristol Admonishes Karl Rove for Hillary Clinton Health Comments" ABC News contributor and Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol admonished fellow Republican Karl Rove this morning on ABC News' "This Week," asserting that his choice to weigh in on the health on former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was not an especially smart move."I don't think it was a particularly shrewd move," Kristol said. "I mean, we'll see how Secretary Clinton's health is. She'll be out there campaigning, presumably. I imagine her health will be fine. But, in any case, people can see for themselves, so there's no reason for Karl Rove to speculate about it." LINK

The Los Angeles Times' Richard Serrano: " Republicans say comments on Hillary Clinton's health are 'fair game'" Hillary Rodham Clinton's health and age are "fair game" for political debate if she decides to run for president, Republicans argued Sunday, even as Democrats called it "pathetic" for GOP consultant Karl Rove to suggest recently that she suffered from some kind of "brain injury" two years ago.Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee, echoed Rove's remarks by saying that if Clinton decides to run for the White House in 2016, she should be questioned about a blood clot in her head that initially prevented her from testifying about the Benghazi terror attack of 2012. LINK

MAYOR JULIAN CASTRO ABC News' Jeff Zeleny: " Mayor Julian Castro Reportedly to Be Tapped as HUD Secretary" San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro will be nominated as secretary of Housing and Urban Development, two officials told ABC News. The White House declined to comment on the timing of an official announcement. The position must be confirmed by the Senate. The officials said the news was not intended to be disclosed, but apparently it leaked out because Castro's associates in San Antonio received calls from the FBI about a background check. It was first reported in a column in today's San Antonio Express News. LINK

Wall Street Journal's Nathan Koppel: " San Antonio Mayor Picked to Run HUD" Raised from a young age to become a political leader, San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro is now poised to head a federal agency that could position him as one of the national leaders of the Democratic Party. The White House has tapped the 39-year-old mayor to head the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in a cabinet reshuffle that would result in current HUD Secretary, Shaun Donovan, leading the White House Office of Management and Budget, according to people familiar with the matter. LINK

SECRETARY OF STATE JOHN KERRY Boston Globe's Matt Viser: " In Readying Yale Speech, Kerry Looks Back, Ahead" On a June day in 1966, John Kerry strode in front of his senior class at Yale University and, having thrown away a mundane text, launched into a speech raising doubts about the foreign policy doctrines that were inexorably escalating the Vietnam War in which he was about to fight. "An excess of isolationism has become an excess of interventionism," Kerry said. LINK

GOP The Hill's Peter Schroeder: " GOP targets consumer bureau" House Republicans are renewing their push to tighten the leash on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. On Wednesday, lawmakers on the House Financial Services Committee will discuss 11 different bills that would alter how the Bureau goes about its business. Republicans argue the agency launched by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) has far too much power and too little oversight. LINK

VETERAN AFFAIRS The Washington Times' Jim McElhatton: " Obama warned about VA wait-time problems during 2008 transition" The Obama administration received clear notice more than five years ago that VA medical facilities were reporting inaccurate waiting times and experiencing scheduling failures that threatened to deny veterans timely health care - problems that have turned into a growing scandal. Veterans Affairs officials warned the Obama-Biden transition team in the weeks after the 2008 presidential election that the department shouldn't trust the wait times that its facilities were reporting. LINK

FORMER MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG The New York Daily News' Adam Edelman: " Michael Bloomberg would run for President - if he thought he could win" Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Sunday he'd be up for a 2016 presidential run - if he thought he could win. "If I thought I could win, it would be something to consider," he said on CBS' "Face the Nation" of a possible run as an Independent. "But you can't win, and I've given 12 years to public service and I'm not going to be a candidate for President." LINK

AT&T // DIRECTV DEAL Bloomberg's Alex Sherman and Scott Moritz: " AT&T Joins U.S. Pay-TV Overhaul With $48.5 Billion DirecTV Deal" AT&T Inc. (T) plans to buy DirecTV for $48.5 billion, gaining more than 38 million video subscribers at home and in Latin America and stepping up an acquisition-fueled overhaul of the $110 billion U.S. pay-TV industry. AT&T will pay $95 for each share of DirecTV, split between $28.50 in cash and the equivalent of $66.50 in stock, the companies said yesterday in a statement. That's a 10 percent premium to DirecTV's closing price on May 16. Including net debt, the deal values the largest U.S. satellite-TV company at $67.1 billion. LINK

Politico's Tony Romm: " AT&T To Acquire DirecTV In $48.5 Billion Deal" AT&T plans to acquire satellite TV operator DirecTV for $48.5 billion, the companies announced Sunday, marking the latest in a series of mega-mergers that are reshaping the cable and telecom landscapes. The deal would elevate AT&T, the second-largest U.S. wireless carrier, into a major player in the pay-TV business. The company would have 26 million video subscribers after combining DirecTV with its existing landline TV offering, U-verse. That could help AT&T bundle video and Internet services to better compete with Comcast, which is making its own $45 billion bid for Time Warner Cable. In another sign of industry consolidation, SoftBank, fresh off its successful acquisition of Sprint, is reportedly lining up an offer for T-Mobile. LINK

The Washington Post's Cecilia Kang: " AT&T, DirecTV Announce $49 Billion Merger" AT&T announced Sunday that it was acquiring DirecTV in a $49?billion deal that would create a new telecom and television behemoth to rival cable firms - while raising fresh concerns about competition and options for consumers. AT&T would gain DirecTV's 20?million U.S. subscribers, a company with strong cash flows and an ability to fatten its bundle of offerings. The combined firm would be able to offer phone, high-speed Internet and pay-TV subscriptions to more customers - packages that cable firms such as Comcast have sold most successfully. LINK

The New York Times' Michael J. De La Merced and David Gelles: " AT&T To Buy DirecTV For $48.5 Billion In Move To Expand Clout" AT&T agreed on Sunday to buy the satellite television operator DirecTV for $48.5 billion, trying to tilt the balance of power with media companies as the market for broadband Internet and video shifts. With the acquisition, AT&T becomes the latest telecommunications giant seeking to establish an even greater reach. Comcast agreed in February to buy Time Warner Cable for $45 billion, a bid to become the country's dominant provider of cable TV and high-speed Internet access. And Sprint, which is controlled by the Japanese telecom company Soft Bank, has made no secret of its desire to merge with T-Mobile USA, creating a serious rival to Verizon and AT&T. LINK

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