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First Read's Morning Clips

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

OBAMA AGENDA: Walking a fine line

The Wall Street Journal, on the fine line the Obama administration has to walk on North Korea.

Here’s the Washington Post editorial board on the “Interview” flap: “North Korea’s intimidation of Hollywood cannot go unanswered”

The AP notes: “At first glance, U.S. options for responding to the hacking attack are limited. Bringing the shadowy hackers to justice appears a distant prospect. A U.S. cyber-retaliation against North Korea would risk a dangerous escalation. And North Korea is already targeted by a raft of sanctions over its nuclear weapons program.”

Latin American leaders are praising Obama’s moves on Cuba as “brave” and “extraordinary,” writes the New York Times.

The Washington Post reports on how U.S. businesses are rushing to get a piece of the action as the U.S. works to normalize relations with Cuba.

POLITICO spells out how tough the Obama’s coming fight with the anti-Castro lobby will be.

“The Obama administration will spell out an ambitious college-rating plan on Friday that introduces new metrics to judge the nation’s roughly 5,000 colleges and universities at a time when student debt is hamstringing the U.S. economy and the efficiency of the higher-education sector is in question,” reports the Wall Street Journal.

CONGRESS: We’re Number Two!

Congratulations, Congress. The 113th is no longer the LEAST productive Congress in modern history after a last-minute flurry of legislative activity resulted in a total count of 297 bills passed this session, topping the 284 passed during the previous Congress.

OFF TO THE RACES: Rand Paul makes a break on Cuba

Rand Paul broke with his fellow Republicans yesterday by embracing the normalization of diplomatic relations with Cuba, reports NBC’s Leigh Ann Caldwell.

The New York Times writes that Hillary Clinton is keeping the mistakes of her 2008 campaign in mind as she ramps up for another run. “Those close to Mrs. Clinton now embrace a view that her gender can be more of an asset than a liability. But familiar hazards remain, especially the air of inevitability that seems to surround the Clinton camp, along with the lack of a broader rationale for her candidacy.

The Economist’s take on Jeb: “If his candidacy feels at all joyless, it will be doomed.”

National Journal: “According to three sources with direct knowledge of the situation, [Carly Fiorina] has authorized members of her inner circle to seek out and interview candidates for two key positions on her presidential campaign: political director and communications director. Notably, the sources said, her associates are aiming to fill both positions with women.’

VIRGINIA: From the Washington Post: “Virginia state Del. Joseph Morrissey, D-Henrico, will resign his seat in the General Assembly in the wake of his conviction on a misdemeanor charge involving his relations with a 17-year-old girl. But he plans to run in a special election for his own seat.”


Friday’s “News Nation with Tamron Hall” line-up: Tamron Hall interviews People Magazine’s Steve Helling and WIRED’s Issie Lapowsky on the Sony Hacking; Steve Soboroff, Pres. of LA police commission, on the new LAPD body cameras; and Keith Beauchamp on Injustice Files and the Lennon Lacy investigation.

Friday’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports” line-up: NBC Justice Correspondent Pete Williams, Former member of the National Security Council Victor Cha, Mark Landler of the New York Times, Molly Ball of the National Journal, USA Today Immigration Reporter Alan Gomez, NBC’s Mark Potter in Havana, Congressman Elijah Cummings, Former Secret Service Officer Dan Bongino, Washington Post reporter Carol Leonnig, And NBC’s Keir Simmons on the Faces of War.