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First Read's Morning Clips

A roundup of the most important political stories of the day

OBAMA AGENDA: The latest out of Ukraine

The White House has pushed American CEOs to back out of an international economic forum to be hosted by Russian President Vladimir Putin later this month, the New York Times writes. "Hoping to avoid alienating Mr. Putin at the risk of jeopardizing their operations and tens of thousands of employees in Russia, several companies are sending lower-level executives based in Moscow or Europe to the meeting from May 22 to 24."

The latest in Ukraine, via the Wall Street Journal: "All flights to and from the main airport in the region at the heart of the eastern Ukraine insurgency were canceled Tuesday after heavy fighting around a pro-Russian separatist stronghold that the interior minister said left 30 militants dead."

CC: Mitt Romney? The New York Times: "The death rate in Massachusetts dropped significantly after it adopted mandatory health care coverage in 2006, a study released Monday found, offering evidence that the country’s first experiment with universal coverage — and the model for crucial parts of President Obama’s health care law — has saved lives, health economists say."

And/but: The state “plans to scrap the state’s dysfunctional online health insurance website, after deciding it would be too expensive and time-consuming to fix, and replace it with a system used by several other states to enroll residents in plans,” the Boston Globe writes.

NBC's Pete Williams reports on the Supreme Court's decision Monday on prayer at public meetings.

Free speech, as long as I like it? A new study published in the New York Times finds that "the votes of both liberal and conservative justices tend to reflect their preferences toward the ideological groupings of the speaker."

CONGRESS: Gowdy to lead GOP’s Benghazi panel

House Speaker John Boehner formally tapped former prosecutor and South Carolina Republican Trey Gowdy to lead a special select committee on Benghazi, we reported yesterday. But it's still unclear whether Democrats will participate in the panel or if the White House intends to cooperate.

Two separate panels in the House are moving on NSA overhaul legislation, potentially putting GOP leaders in a tough spot, The Hill writes.

The Keystone XL pipeline "shell game" continues. The latest, from Roll Call: "Senate Democrats are offering Republicans a vote on approving the Keystone XL pipeline, but are demanding an energy efficiency bill pass in return."

OFF TO THE RACES: Santorum backs minimum-wage hike

First Tim Pawlenty, now Rick Santorum. The former Pennsylvania senator said on The Daily Rundown yesterday that Republicans have seemed “hostile to a lot of working folks” and said their move to block a minimum wage hike “makes no sense.”

Roll Call’s list of the 10 most vulnerable members of Congress is out.

ARKANSAS: Embattled Mark Pryor will appear alongside the president for a tour of tornado damage Wednesday.

COLORADO: An effort by Rep. Jared Polis to get a statewide ballot initiative to limit - or even ban - fracking is putting Sen. Mark Udall in a bind, the Wall Street Journal reports.

KENTUCKY: The Herald-Leader's Sam Youngman looks at how Rand Paul will have to navigate a web of competing alliances during the 2015 GOP primary for governor.

MINNESOTA: Sen. Al Franken is up with his first ad of the campaign. The former funnyman's pitch is all business, featuring a small business owner who touts Franken's focus on job training. "What impressed me the most is that Al Franken listened to what we had to say," she says. "I’ve never seen anyone work so hard to help small businesses like ours succeed."

NORTH CAROLINA: It's primary day!

Rand Paul called endorsee Dr. Greg Brannon a "dragon-slayer" in his speech on Brannon's behalf yesterday, the Raleigh News & Observer writes.

The New York Times sums up the Senate race here, noting that GOP officials will be watching the tally nervously to see if Thom Tillis gets to 40 percent.

OHIO: It's primary day here too!

The Ohio races haven't gotten much national attention, as Tea Party challenges to House Speaker John Boehner and Rep. David Joyce are expected to falter. But the Wall Street Journal takes a look at a different strategy: "Tea-party activists in Ohio, facing dim prospects of unseating Republican incumbents in Congress, have forged a new political strategy of picking fights farther down the ballot," the paper writes. "The strategy will be tested in the state's primary elections Tuesday, as dozens of conservatives run against Republican incumbents in the state legislature and for the Ohio GOP's central committee, which has a big voice in party endorsements."

SOUTH CAROLINA: Joe Biden is headed to South Carolina this week for a Democratic Party fundraiser.

WYOMING: Former Second Lady Lynne Cheney tells USA Today that the family's crises have "evened out now" and that she hopes daughter Liz runs for office again -- in Wyoming, not Virginia. "She did exactly the right thing to turn her attention to some difficult situations, and she'll do exactly the right thing, in my opinion, if she runs for office again. She'd be a terrific candidate and a terrific representative or senator for us."


*** Tuesday’s “Jansing & Co.” line-up: Chris Jansing interviews Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA), Washington Post Columnist EJ Dionne, Chicago Sun-Times Washington Bureau Chief Lynn Sweet, Huffington Post Environment and Energy Editor Kate Sheppard, Business Insider Politics Editor Hunter Walker, NBC’s Kasie Hunt, Daily Beast Political Columnist Patricia Murphy, Former White House Political Director for George W. Bush Matt Schlapp, and Senior Vice President for American Values and New Communities at American Progress Daniella Gibbs Leger.

*** Tuesday’s “News Nation with Tamron Hall” line-up: Tamron Hall interviews Huffington Post contributor, Lola Adesioye and rally organizer Jennifer Sofa Pearce on the missing Nigeria girls; Senior climate scientist Brenda Ekwruzel on the White House climate change report; New York Times reporter Ian Lovett from on the potentially violent implications of Find my iPhone type apps; Ester Bloom who wrote article on slate “reclaiming homemaker”; Actor Barkhad Abdi from “Captain Phillips” on how he’s trying to give back to Somalia; and Lisa Lillien, author of “The Hungry Girl Diet.”

*** Tuesday’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports” line-up: NBC’s Andrea Mitchell interviews Sen. John McCain, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, Sen. Claire McCaskill, Rep. James Clyburn, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza and Ruth Marcus and NBC’s Keir Simmons.

*** Tuesday’s “The Reid Report” line-up: MSNBC’s Joy Reid interviews MSNBC’S Chris Hayes on the new climate change report being released. Plus, State Senator Nina Turner (D-OH) talks about voting rights in her state on Primary Day. And Joy talks to Huffington Post Justice reporter Ryan Reilly talks about yesterday’s Supreme Court decision and why are our nation’s laws getting increasingly more religious despite the country becoming more secular