Today’s edition of quick hits:
* What a story: “Turkish police searched Monday for three missing British schoolgirls believed to be headed to Syria to join the Islamic State extremist group as their frightened families issued urgent pleas begging the girls to return home.”
* The new Pentagon chief’s first trip abroad: “A more hopeful outlook for Afghan democracy is the key reason the Obama administration is considering slowing down its troop withdrawal and rethinking the scope of its counterterrorism mission here, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said Saturday.”
* Protecting consumers from dubious financial advice: “The White House on Monday plans to throw its full weight behind a Department of Labor proposal to make it harder for brokers to push higher-fee mutual funds or other expensive products on people saving for life after work. The plan would require brokers to act in a customer’s best interest, a change that could limit the earnings of financial advisers.”
* Keep an eye on this one: “CIA Director John O. Brennan is planning a major expansion of the agency’s cyber espionage capabilities as part of a broad restructuring of an intelligence service long defined by its human spy work, current and former U.S. officials said.”
* Ukraine: “Pro-Russian rebels celebrated their recent victory at Debaltseve with a festive rally on Monday in Donetsk, the main city they control, where soldiers received medals in Lenin Square and the crowd cheered and waved Soviet flags.”
* A big win for Perez: “Obama’s ports gamble paid off. A bitter nine-month dispute between shipowners and dockworkers at 29 West Coast ports ended Friday night after Labor Secretary Tom Perez helped broker a tentative new contract. If the deal is approved by rank and file members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, activity will return to normal at the ports, which are responsible for about $1 trillion in cargo annually.”
* Nuclear talks: “Iranian and American officials ended a round of high-level nuclear talks here on Monday considering a proposal that would strictly limit for at least 10 years Iran’s ability to produce nuclear material, but gradually ease restrictions on Tehran in the final years of a deal.”
* Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said he’s “ashamed of my country” over Ukraine. I wonder what would happen if a Democrat said that.
* LGBT: “The State Department has appointed its first special envoy to promote LGBT rights globally. Randy Berry, a senior U.S. Foreign Service officer will oversee the government’s efforts to end violence and discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people around the world.”
* And on a personal note, I started blogging exactly 12 years ago today, making me an old-timer in this medium. No matter how long you’ve been reading, thanks for all the support and encouragement.
Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.