Today’s edition of quick hits:
* Ukraine: “Ukraine’s beleaguered president on Monday agreed to scrap harsh anti-protest laws that set off a wave of clashes between protesters and police over the past week. In a statement on the presidential website, Justice Minister Elena Lukash said that in a meeting with top opposition figures and President Viktor Yanukovych on Monday night, ‘a political decision was made on scrapping the laws of Jan. 16, which aroused much discussion.’”
* Syria: “The first face-to-face peace talks by antagonists in the Syria conflict appeared to deadlock on Monday, with enormous differences over the basic purpose of negotiations as well as a government relief gesture for civilians that the opposition denounced as a ploy. But both sides expressed willingness to resume talking.”
* Nigeria: “Suspected insurgents armed with guns and explosives killed at least 62 people in northeast Nigeria, including at a church service, in a region where Islamist sect Boko Haram is resisting a military crackdown, witnesses said on Monday.”
* Virginia: “State Del. Lynwood W. Lewis Jr. has won the recount for a Hampton Roads Senate seat, throwing control of the state Senate to Democrats and giving Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s first-year agenda a crucial boost.” Look for more on this on tonight’s show.
* His standing was not going to improve after the cocaine bust: “Florida’s Rep. Trey Radel will resign from Congress on Monday evening, a decision he said stems from his inability to serve effectively.”
* This position won’t change: “The White House said Monday that President Obama would not pay ‘an ideological ransom’ in exchange for raising the debt ceiling.”
* National Security State: “When a smartphone user opens Angry Birds, the popular game application, and starts slinging birds at chortling green pigs, spies may be lurking in the background to snatch data revealing the player’s location, age, sex and other personal information, according to secret British intelligence documents.”
* Another mass shooting, this timing involving a teenager in Columbia, Md., who killed two people at a shopping mall before killing himself.
* Sens. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and Angus King (I-Maine) make a compelling case against the Iranian sanctions bill, further suggesting that opponents of sabotaging the diplomatic talks are the ones with the momentum.
* Oh my: “The mayor of Sochi told a reporter that there are no gay people in the city hosting the Winter Olympics – but the patrons of one bar didn’t get the memo. The same BBC reporter had visited a gay tavern in the Black Sea resort town the night before he interviewed Mayor Anatoly Pakhomov, who said the whole city is straight. ‘We do not have them in our city,’ Pakhomov flatly told the BBC.”
Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.
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