Today’s edition of quick hits:
* With time running out on Capitol Hill, a winter storm will delay pressing action on the Senate floor later today.
* I don’t know if the Iranian nuclear deal will work, but the fact that inspectors are on the ground is extraordinary: “Atomic experts representing the United Nations nuclear watchdog landed in Tehran on Saturday to inspect a plant recently opened to them, after access was denied for years. The team from the International Atomic Energy Agency is to inspect the Arak heavy-water production plant on Sunday, after a November agreement between Iran and the agency allowed for expanded monitoring.”
* Afghanistan: “Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel arrived in the Afghan capital on Saturday, where he conferred with top security officials but consciously chose not to see President Hamid Karzai, whose decision to delay signing a security agreement with the United States has left the future of the American military mission here in doubt.”
* Pakistan: “Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel arrived in the Pakistani capital on Monday for high-level meetings with one of Washington’s most complicated allies, in an effort to improve a relationship marked by agreement on the dangers of terrorism but also deep differences over how to counter the threat.”
* Kiev: “Ominous new action by Ukraine’s security forces on Monday, including a raid on an opposition party and threats of treason charges, appeared to scuttle an opening for talks between the government and demonstrators, as Western leaders grasped to defuse the country’s intensifying political crisis, witnesses and opposition figures said.”
* NSA backlash: “The giants of the tech industry are uniting to wage a campaign for sweeping reforms to the National Security Agency. Google, Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo, Microsoft, Apple, LinkedIn and AOL are setting aside their business rivalries to demand that Congress and President Obama scale back the government’s voracious surveillance.”
* Merrill Newman: “An 85-year-old American war veteran detained for more than a month in North Korea arrived in the United States on Saturday, a day after he was unexpectedly released by Pyongyang for ‘humanitarian’ reasons.”
* I have no idea where his optimism comes from: “President Obama has an ambitious timetable for wrapping up a Middle East peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians. Obama said that an outline of a deal could be agreed to the 60-year standoff early next year.”
* The Affordable Care Act’s notorious “834 problem” is getting better. Jonathan Cohn has an exclusive report.
* Dear Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), stop giving “major” speeches that don’t say anything. This is getting embarrassing.
* I’m not sure what the National Reconnaissance Office was thinking when it designed its 2013 mission patch for satellite launch NROL-39, but it chose poorly.
* And it appears President Obama was the first sitting president to “publicly mention Area 51.”
Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.