Friday’s Mini-Report, 2.5.16

Today’s edition of quick hits:
 
* He has a point: “President Obama took a victory lap on Friday after new jobs numbers showed the unemployment rate falling below 5 percent for the first time in eight years.” The president said, “The United States of America right now has the strongest, most durable economy in the world. I know that’s still inconvenient for Republican stump speeches as their doom and despair tour continues in New Hampshire. I guess you can’t please everybody.”
 
* Syria: “A Saudi military spokesman said Thursday the kingdom is ready to send ground troops to Syria to fight ISIS – an offer welcomed by Defense Secretary Ash Carter.”
 
* Also in Syria: “The Obama administration is preparing for possible airdrops of humanitarian relief over besieged areas of Syria, where hundreds of thousands of people have been cut off for months from food and medicine and are at risk of starvation.”
 
* ISIS: “U.S. intelligence estimates the strength of the Islamic State’s force in Iraq and Syria is 20,000 to 25,000 fighters. More than a year ago, there were 19,000 to 31,000 fighters as the U.S.-led bombing campaign against the militants got underway, a senior government official said Tuesday.”
 
* On a related note: “Twitter is providing new detail Friday about its efforts to fight ISIS and violent extremism online. In a tweet from the company’s ‘@Policy’ team, the social media company said it has stepped up its fight against violent extremism online. Since the middle of 2015, the company said, it has suspended over 125,000 accounts for threatening or promoting terrorist attacks – primarily related to support for ISIS.”
 
* CDC: “Men who have traveled to Zika-affected zones should use a condom if they want to be absolutely sure they don’t infect sex partners, federal health officials advised Friday.”
 
* Porter Ranch: “A state official said Thursday that under the most favorable circumstances, the damaged well that has spewed environmentally damaging natural gas from a storage facility near Porter Ranch could be capped as early as the end of next week. But the timeline, he cautioned, was fraught with variables.”
 
* West Virginia: “The West Virginia State House narrowly passed a right-to-work bill on Thursday, setting the state up to become the country’s 26th that doesn’t require employees to pay dues to their unions – measure that has hobbled organized labor elsewhere.”
 
* I know this is inside-baseball for congressional geeks like me, but the fact that congressional Republican leaders won’t even give President Obama’s budget a hearing is unusual: “Congressional budget leaders said Thursday they would not hold hearings with Shaun Donovan, the White House’s budget director, to review the president’s fiscal 2017 budget – a surprising slap at the administration.”
 
* It’s a genuine shame to see what’s happening to that poor newspaper: “After a brief spell of normalcy seemed to return to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, all bets are now off. A new publisher has appeared overnight at the paper, a new editor will be installed as soon as Friday, and, sources tell me, stories involving new owner Sheldon Adelson are being reviewed, changed or killed almost daily.”
 
Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.
 
 

Friday's Mini-Report, 2.5.16