Today’s edition of quick hits:
* Isolated Putin surprises no one: “Despite economic sanctions from the West and a warning from President Obama that Russia’s continued military incursion into Crimea would result in clear costs, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed an order Monday recognizing the Ukrainian region as a ‘sovereign and independent state.’”
* Trying to keep the peace process on track: “President Obama met with President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority at the White House on Monday, amid signs that the peace process has hit a roadblock over Israel’s insistence that the Palestinians formally recognize it as a Jewish state.”
* In Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro “has tried to blunt the greatest political challenge to his young presidency in two distinct ways: He has projected an image of openness and inclusion, while simultaneously cracking down.”
* With two weeks remaining in the open-enrollment process, the Obama administration announced today that ACA enrollments through exchange marketplaces has passed the 5 million threshold. Not bad at all.
* Not sure how Putin’s defenders will defend this one: “Russia on Thursday banned several websites notable for their criticism of the government and a blog run by prominent opposition leader Alexei Navalny as the Kremlin intensified its crackdown on independent media amid tensions over Ukraine.”
* A federal judge ruled late last week that Tennessee “must preliminarily recognize as valid the out-of-state marriages of three same-sex couples. The couples, after moving to Tennessee, challenged the state’s constitutional amendment banning recognition of such marriages. Tennessee banned same-sex marriages in 2006 by a constitutional amendment.”
* In related news: “Legally married same-sex couples just gained a little more recognition in the eyes of the federal government. The Department of Health and Human Services announced Friday that, starting with the 2015 plan year, insurance companies that provide coverage to opposite-sex spouses must also offer that coverage to same-sex spouses.”
* The National Restaurant Association organized a letter signed up by a group of economists in opposition to a minimum-wage increase, but the organization didn’t disclose its role in organizing the project to those who signed on.
* That’s quite an observation: “Florida has never executed a white person for killing a black person.”
* The state House in New Hampshire last week voted to “repeal the state’s death penalty, leaving only the state Senate standing in the way of the effort to abolish capital punishment. The legislative body voted overwhelmingly, 225 in favor of repeal and 104 opposed. The vote was mostly bipartisan and did not skew along party lines.”
* Big bang: “Researchers say they have spotted evidence that a split-second after the Big Bang, the newly formed universe ballooned out at a pace so astonishing that it left behind ripples in the fabric of the cosmos. If confirmed, experts said, the discovery would be a major advance in the understanding of the early universe.”
Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.