Today’s edition of quick hits:
* Ukraine: “Russia said Monday that it cannot accept the ‘fait accompli’ of the new Western-backed government in Ukraine and was preparing diplomatic counterproposals to serve ‘the interests of all Ukrainians,’ even as Russian forces strengthened their control over Crimea, less than a week before a contentious referendum on the future of that southern Ukrainian region.”
* Big developments in New Jersey: “Federal prosecutors in Manhattan have subpoenaed the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey for records related to potential conflicts of interest involving its chairman, David Samson, a prominent New Jersey lawyer and close political ally of Gov. Chris Christie, according to people with knowledge of the matter.”
* Related news: “Two of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s former staff members will attempt to convince a judge on Tuesday morning that they shouldn’t have to hand over documents related to the seemingly politically-motivated lane closures on the George Washington Bridge. Lawyers representing Bridget Anne Kelly, Christie’s fired deputy chief of staff, and William Stepien, his former two-time campaign manager, will make their cases in Mercer County’s state Superior Court before Judge Mary Jacobson.”
* Flight 370: “The search for the missing Malaysia Airlines jetliner was set back on Monday by a number of false leads that seemed to underline how little investigators knew about the whereabouts of the plane, which vanished on Saturday.”
* A welcome spectacle: “More than two dozen Senate Democrats plan to spend hours tonight into early Tuesday speaking on the Senate floor in a push for congressional action on climate change. After the Senate votes tonight to confirm a federal judge and to approve a measure designed to help curb sexual assault and rape in the military, at least 28 Democrats are expected to take to the floor for varying lengths of time to discuss the issue, according to Senate aides.”
* Moral support: “The White House said Monday it ‘absolutely’ supported plans by Senate Democrats to hold an all-night ‘talkathon’ intended to highlight the impacts of climate change.”
* North Carolina: “Duke Energy Chief Executive Lynn Good said Friday that customers will shoulder most of the cost of emptying out the utility’s 31 coal ash ponds in North Carolina…. Sheehan stressed that the company, not its customers, will pay to clean up the recent 39,000-ton coal ash spill in the Dan River. But if the state requires the utility to close down and move its other existing ash pits, then utility customers, not shareholders, will likely pay most of that cost.”
* Medicare: “The Obama administration is abandoning a surprise plan to alter Medicare’s drug coverage after withering criticism from Congress and K Street. Medicare chief Marilyn Tavenner alerted lawmakers Monday that her agency would not go forward with a proposal to give insurers more leeway to limit the number of drugs they cover for Medicare beneficiaries.”
* The Gallup poll on the uninsured looks encouraging, but we don’t yet know exactly what’s driving the shift.
* Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) is apparently a little fuzzy on the definition of “totalitarian.”
* Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) “will not face charges after a marital spat devolved into accusations of domestic abuse earlier this month.”
* Snowden at SXSW: “The expansion of mass surveillance to a global scale is ‘setting fire to the future of the Internet,’ and threatening the civil rights of Americans, former NSA contractor Edward Snowden said at the South by Southwest Interactive conference Monday.”
* A Krugman gem: “I don’t want to claim that addressing income inequality would help everyone. The very affluent would lose more from higher taxes than they gained from better economic growth. But it’s pretty clear that taking on inequality would be good, not just for the poor, but for the middle class (sorry, Senator Santorum). “
Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.