Today’s edition of quick hits:
* Ukraine: “Backed by Russian troops and weaponry, hundreds of Ukrainian rebel militiamen mobilized on Friday in [Novoazovsk], vacated by the Ukrainian military two days ago, and began to push toward the strategic seaport of Mariupol 27 miles away. The leader of the rebels called the advance a broad new effort to wrest control of a wide swath of coastal territory from the central government.”
* Tough sell: “Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday hailed pro-Moscow separatists in eastern Ukraine as ‘insurgents’ battling an army that he likened to Nazi invaders during World War II, and the Ukrainian government raised the prospect of joining NATO as it seeks help in repelling what it calls an outright Russian military invasion of its territory.”
* This seems likely to get Moscow’s attention: “The U.K. will press European Union leaders to consider blocking Russian access to the SWIFT banking transaction system under an expansion of sanctions over the conflict in Ukraine, a British government official said. The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, known as SWIFT, is one of Russia’s main connections to the international financial system.”
* Sensible: “Rep. Tom Cole on Friday praised President Barack Obama for being ‘commendably cautious’ about potential military action in Syria against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. Appearing on MSNBC, the Oklahoma Republican downplayed criticism that White House lacks a plan to combat ISIL militants, a concern stemming from a White House press briefing Obama gave the day before.”
* I guess that’s the end of the Mississippi dispute? “Special Judge Hollis McGehee has decided to dismiss an election challenge filed by Chris McDaniel. Friday in Gulfport, the judge announced his decision putting an end to the months of legal battles between the two candidates.”
* Palestinian divisions: “Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas blamed Hamas on Friday for extending fighting with Israel in the Gaza Strip, casting doubt on the future of the Palestinian unity government that the Islamic militant group backs, while Israel’s premier said the end of the war could mark resumption of peace talks with Abbas.”
* Iran: “Amid signs that Iran’s military is resisting efforts to open up its nuclear program to deeper inspection, the Obama administration on Friday imposed sanctions on several Iranian organizations, including one run by the reclusive scientist who is widely believed to direct research on building nuclear weapons.”
* If only the decision was theirs to make: “Another government shutdown isn’t going to happen next month – at least if you ask Republican leaders.”
* Another policy dud for Sen. David Vitter (R-La.): “A government probe into the metric used by federal agencies to measure the ‘social cost of carbon’ found no evidence that it was improperly developed, investigators said Monday…. The review concluded that a federal working group convened to revise the economic measurement of carbon pollution based its decisions on a consensus of its members’ thinking and relied heavily on peer-reviewed science.”
* Bank of America: “Nearly six years after the start of the financial crisis, the White House says that justice is really, finally, truly being served…. But is the settlement really as large and meaningful as the administration claims?”
* Should Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) be expected to specifically identify the members of Congress who harassed her on Capitol Hill? Irin Carmon makes a compelling case that the choice should be up to Gillibrand, not the senator’s critics.
Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.