Monday’s Mini-Report, 3.31.14

Today’s edition of quick hits:
* Ukrainian crisis: “Russia is going to withdraw some of its troops from near the border with Ukraine, President Vladimir Putin told German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday. If that happens, it will mark the first time since [the recent crisis began] that Russia will have done something that might reduce tensions in the region.”
* Korean peninsula: “North Korea and South Korea fired hundreds of artillery shells across their disputed western sea border on Monday, escalating military tensions a day after the North threatened to conduct more nuclear tests. South Korean officials said the shells fell harmlessly into the waters, from which naval and fishing boats stayed clear. But the exchange was the most serious episode along that border since an artillery duel in 2010.”
* The result of high demand: “As Americans around the country raced on Monday to sign up for health plans in new insurance marketplaces before a midnight deadline,, the online federal insurance exchange, was closed to new customers for two periods starting at dawn.”
* That sounds about right: “Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Monday that between 80 and 90 percent of those who have selected a plan under ObamaCare have completed the critical final step of making a first premium payment.”
* Jobs: “Janet Yellen, the new Federal Reserve chairwoman, devoted more than an hour last week talking by telephone with three Chicago area residents struggling to find jobs. On Monday, she made their stories the centerpiece of the first public speech in her new job, delivering a strong statement about her concern over unemployment, her conviction that the Fed has the power to help, and her determination to do so.”
* Japanese whaling: “The International Court of Justice on Monday ordered a temporary halt to Japan’s Antarctic whaling program, ruling that it is not for scientific purposes as the Japanese had claimed.”
* Middle East: “Secretary of State John Kerry flew to Tel Aviv on Monday to try to resolve a thorny dispute over the release of Palestinian prisoners and keep the Middle East peace talks he started last summer on track. It is the second time in a week that Mr. Kerry has interrupted European travel to rush to the region to confer on the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, which had been on the brink of breaking down.”
* West Virginia: “Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin vetoed a bill late Friday that would have banned abortions of fetuses after 20 weeks gestation. The governor called the bill unconstitutional and a ‘detriment’ to women’s health.”
* A plan more than a regulatory structure, but nevertheless a smart move: “The Obama administration on Friday announced a strategy to start slashing emissions of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas released by landfills, cattle, and leaks from oil and natural gas production.”
* Good move: “The Transportation Department issued a rule Monday that will require rearview technology in many new vehicles — an effort to reduce deaths and serious injuries caused by backup accidents.”
* Starting over: “Maryland officials are set to replace the state’s online health-insurance exchange with technology from Connecticut’s insurance marketplace, according to two people familiar with the decision, an acknowledgment that a system that has cost at least $125.5 million is broken beyond repair.”
* I’m going with Ford over Cadillac on this one.
Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.

Monday's Mini-Report, 3.31.14