Thursday’s Mini-Report, 1.15.15

Today’s edition of quick hits:
 
* Belgium: “Two suspects were killed and a third badly injured Thursday in a counter-terrorism operation in the Belgian town of Verviers, about 75 miles east of Brussels, foiling an ‘imminent attack’ by Islamic extremists, officials said.”
 
* Genuine horror in Nigeria: “Thousands of buildings were burned, damaged or destroyed in northern Nigerian towns in recent days when Boko Haram militants stormed through, using scorched-earth tactics against civilians, according to a new analysis of satellite images by human rights groups.”
 
* A breakthrough change: “Decades of U.S. trade and travel restrictions on Cuba will come to an end on Friday, the government announced in the first tangible step towards restoring diplomatic ties between Washington and Havana.”
 
* Climate crisis, Part 1: “Researchers have come up with a new and improved way of measuring the rise in the sea level, and the news is not good: The seas have risen dramatically faster over the last two decades than anyone had known. For hundreds of years, the seas were measured by more or less the equivalent of plopping a yard stick into the ocean and seeing if the ocean went up or down. But now, that method looks to be outdated.”
 
* Climate crisis, Part 2: “At the rate things are going, the Earth in the coming decades could cease to be a ‘safe operating space’ for human beings. That is the conclusion of a new paper published Thursday in the journal Science by 18 researchers trying to gauge the breaking points in the natural world.”
 
* Justice: “Better data should be collected about use of force by the police and about attacks on police officers, Attorney General Eric Holder said Thursday. In a speech at the Justice Department honoring Martin Luther King Jr., Holder said that there is a need to address officer safety and mistrust of the police because of the use of force.”
 
* Most Americans are siding with President Obama on immigration, as are many in law enforcement: “Two national police chiefs’ associations and 27 individual police chiefs and sheriffs have signed on to a brief supporting the legality of President Barack Obama’s executive action on immigration. Their brief, filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Texas, opposes a federal suit filed last month by the Texas attorney general that seeks to block the executive action.”
 
* Franken knows of what he speaks: “Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) is lashing out against a ‘watered-down’ Republican proposal to enforce rules governing the Internet. Franken on Thursday criticized the new Republican framework as the work of ‘big telecom companies and Internet service providers.’”
 
* A growing controversy in Kansas: “A Kansas ethics official subpoenaed as part of an inquiry into loans to Republican Gov. Sam Brownback’s re-election campaign didn’t appear before a grand jury as ordered Wednesday.”
 
* That’s not good: “This season’s flu vaccine was only 12 percent effective so far for adults ages 18 to 49 and 14 percent effective for people 50 and older, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated Thursday.”
 
* Over the last several days, I’ve been meaning to publish a detailed response to Christopher Caldwell’s  unfortunate piece on President Obama’s legacy, refuting it point by point. Thankfully, the estimable Scott Lemieux already wrote a brilliant rejoinder, saving me the trouble.
 
Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.
 

Thursday's Mini-Report, 1.15.15