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First Read’s Morning Clips

OBAMA AGENDA: Latest in Iraq

The latest in Iraq, via the New York Times: "Iran is directing surveillance drones over Iraq from an airfield in Baghdad and is supplying Iraqi forces with tons of military equipment and other supplies, according to American officials."

The AP calls the developing dynamic in the Middle East "bizarre." MORE: "The Obama administration has found itself in a foreign policy and national security pickle of rare complexity with the apparent entry of Syria into the Iraq conflict on the side of the U.S.-backed government in Baghdad, as well as active Iranian military support for Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki."

From the BBC: “Prime Minister Nouri Maliki of Iraq has told the BBC he supports an air strike on Islamist militants at a border crossing between Iraq and Syria. US and Iraqi military sources say the strike took place inside Iraq, at the Qaim crossing, although Mr Maliki said it was carried out on the Syrian side.”

Militants are now only an hour outside of Baghdad, the Associated Press writes.

"A panel of former national security officials issued a strong critique of President Barack Obama's drone policy Thursday, in a report certain to fuel the debate over the administration's counterterrorism program after officials this week detailed the legal rationale for killing an American al Qaeda leader abroad," writes the Wall Street Journal.

Obama told the League of Conservation Voters Wednesday night that efforts to combat climate change must have an economic angle to resonate with the public.

Yesterday's appeals court ruling striking down a gay marriage ban in Utah might be the first step in the march to the Supreme Court.

Here's SCOTUSblog's explanation of what the cellphone decision means for the future of privacy rights.

CONGRESS: When in doubt, sue them out

Our NBC News Capitol Hill team writes that Boehner's move to sue the president over executive actions comes with built-in fodder for the upcoming midterms.

Sen. Susan Collins is the fourth sitting Republican to announce her support for same-sex marriage. “A number of states, including my home state of Maine, have now legalized same-sex marriage, and I agree with that decision,” Collins said, per the Washington Post.

Lawmakers are gearing up to mark the one-year anniversary of the Senate's passed of the now-stalled comprehensive immigration bill. Yesterday, one of the House's key backers of reform threw in the towel, saying Republicans have "failed America" by blocking the legislation, NBC Latino writes.

House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp says that Lois Lerner tagged Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa for additional IRS scrutiny, Roll Call reports.

More House GOP versus the District of Columbia. "The Republican-led House Appropriations Committee is using the power of the purse to block the District from implementing a local law to decriminalize possession of less than an ounce of marijuana."

OFF TO THE RACES: Tea Party losing on the campaign trail, but winning on Capitol Hill

What's the status of the Tea Party after Tuesday's primary elections? One of us(!) writes that, while reports of its death are premature, this cycle has shown that the conservative wing of the GOP just doesn't pack the same electoral punch it once did.

The Wall Street Journal points out that Tea Party activists are still wielding considerable power over debates on the Hill like "the Export-Import Bank, an immigration law overhaul and higher taxes to repair bridges and roads."

Noted: There's now an Iowans for Walker effort up and running in the first caucus state.

The Arkansas official who said that Hillary Clinton would "probably get shot at the state line" if she ran for president has resigned.

MISSISSIPPI:The Wall Street Journal crunches the numbers to show that voting in the 25 Mississippi counties with a black population of over 50% was up by 39% in Tuesday's runoff election.

More, from the Washington Post: "Just 12 percent of the nearly 375,000 votes cast Tuesday came from counties where African Americans make up at least 60 percent of the population. But Cochran’s overwhelming performance in those areas — winning 71 percent of the vote — provided an 18,000-vote margin that helped him grow his vote total by almost 40,000 ballots over the June 3 primary."

Writes the New York Times: "They were driven in part by Mr. Cochran’s organization and outreach, but also by a sense, they said, that Mr. McDaniel had been overly vicious in his attacks on President Obama and incendiary in the racial undertones of his pitch to white voters that “it’s time to defend our way of life again.”

GEORGIA:The Atlanta Journal Constitution writes that Jack Kingston and his allies have turned rival David Perdue from "The Outsider into The Renegade ... Hundreds of thousands of dollars are being spent to portray the former Dollar General CEO as the dangerous stranger – think Marlon Brando conquering a small town on his thundering hog."

KANSAS: With the caveat that this is a robo-poll, but here are some surprising numbers. A SurveyUSA poll finds Tea Party challenger Milton Wolf behind incumbent Pat Roberts 56-23. Ouch. But this might be even more striking: Conservative incumbent governor Sam Brownback is TRAILING Democrat Paul Davis 47-41 percent.

NEW YORK: Charlie Rangel pulled out a win in what he says is his last election, with the AP calling the close NY congressional race for him late yesterday afternoon.

OKLAHOMA: Common Core is hitting the courts in Oklahoma. "A group of parents and state Board of Education members have banded together as plaintiffs in a new lawsuit to challenge the constitutionality of legislation that repealed Common Core standards,” writes the Tulsa World.

RHODE ISLAND: Buddy Cianci says he's going to run for mayor of Providence again, 12 years after going to prison for racketerring conspiracy.

TENNESSEE: Joe Carr, the Tea Party challenger to Sen. Lamar Alexander, says cochran's narrow win is still good news for his campaign, writes the New York Times.

PROGRAMMING NOTES.

*** Thursday’s “The Daily Rundown” line-up: NBC’s Chuck Todd interviews WH Press Secretary Josh Earnest, Fmr. Obama CEA Chair/Univ. of Chicago Prof. Austin Goolsbee, American Action Forum Pres./fmr. CBO Dir. Doug Holtz-Eakin, Fmr. House counsel Stan Brand, Fmr. Reagan DOJ official Bruce Fein.

*** Thursday’s “News Nation with Tamron Hall” line-up: Craig Melvin interviews Pastor Frank Schaefer, whose defrocking was overturned; Jarvez Hall from Small Business Majority on their initiative to tackle youth unemployment with the Clinton Global Initiative; and George Vecsey, NYTimes sports reporter, on today’s World Cup game.

*** Thursday’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports” line-up: NBC’s Andrea Mitchell interviews USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah, The Global Poverty Project CEO Hugh Evans, Rep. Adam Schiff, the New York Times’ Jackie Calmes, the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza and NBC’s Katy Tur.