Monday’s Mini-Report, 1.19.15

Today’s edition of quick hits:
 
* Syria: “American support for a pair of diplomatic initiatives in Syria underscores the shifting views of how to end the civil war there and the West’s quiet retreat from its demand that the country’s president, Bashar al-Assad, step down immediately.”
 
* Related news: “An Iranian general was among the dead in an Israeli airstrike that also killed several Hezbollah fighters in southern Syria over the weekend, the official Iranian news media announced on Monday. The announcement compounded the tension and unpredictability in the region stemming from the strike, which placed Israel in a direct battlefield confrontation on Syrian soil with its longtime enemies Iran and Hezbollah.”
 
* And speaking of Syria, the Assad regime “has started the long-delayed destruction of a dozen underground bunkers and hangars that were used for the production and storage of chemical weapons, diplomatic sources told Reuters on Monday.”
 
* North Korea: “The trail that led American officials to blame North Korea for the destructive cyberattack on Sony Pictures Entertainment in November winds back to 2010, when the National Security Agency scrambled to break into the computer systems of a country considered one of the most impenetrable targets on earth.”
 
* We know why this happens: “A measles outbreak linked to Disneyland has nearly doubled in size since last week with 45 reported cases in California and more illnesses confirmed in at least three other states and Mexico, health officials say. Orange County, Disneyland’s home, has the largest cluster of confirmed measles cases at 16, according to that county’s health department.”
 
* I wonder if Blair is more popular with American Republicans than his former British constituents: “Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair drew three standing ovations when he addressed the joint House-Senate Republican retreat Thursday with a speech that one lawmaker likened to the oratory of Winston Churchill.”
 
* When state governments deny families health care on purpose, the results are predictable: “A report released Friday found that 14,000 kids in Arizona lost their insurance when the state canceled its health insurance program for low-income children at the beginning of 2014.”
 
* The odds of confirmation look encouraging for the administration: “The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold its confirmation hearing for attorney general nominee Loretta Lynch on Jan. 28 and 29, Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) announced Friday.”
 
* Schadenfreude alert: “Sixteen months ago, to some fanfare, Dick Morris re-entered the anti-Clinton fray with a new PAC. He launched Dick Morris’s Just Say No to Hillary PAC, registering it from Tampa. From time to time, stories about the potential hurdles for a Hillary Clinton run would cite the rise of PACs like Morris’s. But there is a rather glaring problem with adding Morris to this narrative: No one has been giving money to his PAC. Literally, no one.”
 
* I quite like the whole idea behind the White House’s virtual Big Block of Cheese Day, and as a fan of “The West Wing” TV show, I’ll confess I watched this YouTube clip more than once.
 
Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.
 

Monday's Mini-Report, 1.19.15