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First Read's Morning Clips

A roundup of the most important political news stories of the day.

OBAMA AGENDA: Mark June 2 on your calendars

"President Obama is expected to announce on Monday [next week] an Environmental Protection Agency regulation to cut carbon pollution from the nation’s fleet of 600 coal-fired power plants, in a speech that government analysts in Beijing, Brussels and beyond will scrutinize to determine how serious the president is about fighting global warming," the New York Times writes.

More, from the Wall Street Journal: "Energy companies and others affected by the proposal will be watching for key details, including the percentage by which companies and states must reduce carbon emissions, which is expected to be proposed in a range instead of a single number. The baseline year against which those reductions are calculated will also be closely monitored. But the proposal is designed to give states, which will administer the regulations, flexibility to meet the benchmarks, as opposed to placing emissions limits on individual plants, according to people familiar with the Environmental Protection Agency's work on the rule."

The latest in Ukraine, after the weekend's election, via Reuters: “More than 50 pro-Russian rebels were killed in an unprecedented assault by Ukrainian government forces, which raged into a second day on Tuesday after a newly-elected president vowed to crush the revolt in the east once and for all.”

And from AP: "Ukraine's new president-elect promised Monday to negotiate an end to a pro-Russia insurgency in the east and said he was willing to begin talks with Moscow. Yet he described the separatists as "Somali pirates" and authorities in Kiev launched an airstrike against the militants occupying a major eastern airport."

A foreign policy bright spot that may be being overlooked? The Wall Street Journal: "The list of places on the U.S. watch list where the core function of democracy—citizens choosing leaders—has been exercised in recent weeks is an impressive one. Afghanistan, Iraq, Ukraine, Egypt and Colombia all have held national elections."

The Washington Post dives into the surprising diversity of the judges nationwide who are striking down gay marriage bans.

ICYMI: Obama made a surprise visit to Afghanistan on Sunday and paid tribute to fallen soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery on Monday.

CONGRESS: Blowback on BurrThe VA scandal – this time with a Republican getting criticized

Republican Sen. Richard Burr took heat from veterans groups over the weekend for castigating organizations that haven't called for the resignation of VA secretary Eric Shinseki, the New York Times writes. "Mr. Burr, angry that only the American Legion has called for the resignation of the veterans affairs secretary, Eric Shinseki, accused the groups of being “more interested in defending the status quo within V.A., protecting their relationships within the agency, and securing their access to the secretary and his inner circle” than in helping members. The Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Disabled American Veterans and the Paralyzed Veterans of America hit back hard."

Another mass shooting - this one in California -- means more ink on the status quo in Congress on gun legislation.

POLITICO: "A faction of Republicans including Sen. Lindsey Graham is agitating for party leaders to unveil a policy manifesto in the midterm elections, detailing for voters what the GOP would attempt with a Senate majority its members are increasingly confident they’ll achieve."

The Hill looks at why the confirmation of new health chief Sylvia Mathews Burwell has been so "unusually smooth."

OFF TO THE RACES: Cochran campaign uses blogger arrest in new TV ad

Over the weekend, the New York Times's Ashley Parker profiled Democratic adman Mark Putnam.

CALIFORNIA: "A controversial Republican gubernatorial candidate in California could cause the GOP headaches in down-ballot House races in a state crucial to the party’s hopes of increasing its House majority," Roll Call writes.

IOWA: The latest in the Iowa GOP primary, a week out, via the Des Moines Register: "So in the final sprint, dynamics of this nationally watched race could turn on television messaging. Political operatives and endorsements also are playing an outsized role — an unusual phenomenon tied to the virtual anonymity of the five-candidate field, insiders say."

KENTUCKY: If you missed this on getaway day, the AP, on Mitch McConnell: "McConnell told reporters that the fate of Kynect — Kentucky's state-run health insurance exchange — is not linked to the federal health care law. But the exchange would not exist if not for the federal law that created it."

LOUISIANA: The Washington Post's Phil Rucker talks to embattled Senate incumbent Mary Landrieu about her pitch to voters.

MISSISSIPPI: Sen. Thad Cochran is using the arrest of McDaniel supporter Clayton Kelly in a campaign ad, starting thusly: ‘It's the worst: a Chris McDaniel supporter charged with a felony..."

The Clarion-Ledger also writes that the blogger scandal in the MS-SEN race could boost turnout on June 3.

Outside the scandal: The AP talks to incumbent Cochran, who reiterates that he intends to serve a full term if re-elected… and to McDaniel, who defends his past statements on Hurricane Katrina relief.

NEW HAMPSHIRE: John DiStaso: " Sen. Kelly Ayotte will make official Tuesday what had been long expected: she will endorse former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown for the U.S. Senate seat held by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, despite the fact that Brown is in a Republican primary."

TEXAS: Reuters previews today's statewide runoff races in the Lone Star State, noting that the Tea Party could walk away with two big wins.

More from the New York Times, on Sen. Ted Cruz's influence in the contests: "In a state where any hint of support from Mr. Cruz, one of the nation’s Tea Party favorites, is considered golden to aspiring Republican candidates, Tea Party groups also have a strong shot at influencing nominations in three other statewide races and building on legislative victories from the 2012 election cycle."

Down the ballot -- the Washington Post profiles Kesha Rogers, the U.S. Senate candidate on the Democratic ticket who wants to impeach the president.


*** Tuesday’s “The Daily Rundown” line-up: NBC’s Chuck Todd interviews Texas Lt. Governor David Dewhurst, Congressman Ralph Hall (R-TX), former Russian Ambassador Michael McFaul and MSNBC’s Chris Matthews.

*** Tuesday’s “Jansing & Co.” line-up: Guest host Frances Rivera interviews Rep. Sander Levin (D-MI), NYU Langone Medical Center’s Clinical Assistant Prof of Psychiatry Dr. Sudeepta Varma, Former FBI Profiler Clint Van Zandt, Buzzfeed’s Senior Political Writer McKay Coppins,’s Senior Editor Beth Fouhy, Professor at University of Texas Victoria DeFrancesco Soto, and Former George H.W. Bush White House Aide Joe Watkins.

*** Tuesday’s “News Nation with Tamron Hall” line-up: Tamron Hall interviews Mental health advocate Ann Lippinott on the Isla Vista shooting rampage; Sen Blumenthal who is part of the Bipartisan group of senators calling for criminal probe into VA scandal; SNAP Outreach Director Barbara Blaine on the Pope’s announcement that he will meet with sex abuse victims next month; and Grammy Award winning hip hop artist Lupe Fiasco on being celebrity ambassador for Stand up to Cancer and his new anti-cancer song.

*** Tuesday’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports” line-up: NBC’s Andrea Mitchell interviews Sen. Bernie Sanders, Ambassador Nicholas Burns, IAVA’s Tom Tarantino, Thompson, ND Mayor Karyn Hippen, Fmr. RNC Chair Michael Steele and the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza and Ruth Marcus.