Thursday’s Mini-Report, 1.29.15

Today’s edition of quick hits:
 
* Afghanistan: “Three contractors working with the international coalition in Afghanistan and an Afghan national were killed Thursday in a shootout on the military side of a Kabul airport, a spokesman with the International Security Assistance Force said.”
 
* Change I can believe in: “President Barack Obama doubled down on his State of the Union vision for a new ‘middle class economics’ on Thursday with an op-ed in The Huffington Post vowing to completely reverse government spending cuts made in 2013. ‘My Budget will fully reverse the sequestration cuts for domestic priorities in 2016,’ he writes.”
 
* Middle East: “Israel’s defense minister said on Thursday that his country had received messages through United Nations channels that Hezbollah did not plan any further action after its missile strike the previous day that killed two Israeli soldiers and wounded seven.”
 
* ISIS: “The wife of the Japanese journalist being held hostage by ISIS made an impassioned plea for his release Thursday as an apparent deadline passed for a prisoner swap. Rinko Goto, wife of Kenji Goto, said in a statement: ‘I fear that this is the last chance for my husband.’”
 
* Egypt: “Militants struck more than a dozen army and police targets in the restive Sinai Peninsula with simultaneous attacks involving a car bomb and mortar rounds on Thursday, killing at least 25 people, including civilians, officials said.”
 
* Good thinking: “The North Dakota Industrial Commission called Wednesday for better monitoring of pipelines and higher standards for those that cross major bodies of water as crews continue cleaning up two major pipeline spills that affected the state’s waterways.”
 
* Dubious secrecy: “[A]s the Obama administration is seeking to declare the long war in Afghanistan officially over, at least from an American standpoint, the move to classify data about the Afghan forces removes one of the most crucial measures for assessing the accomplishments of the international coalition there. And it raises stark questions about the state of the fight against the Taliban, coming after a year in which the Afghan forces took record-high casualties as they battled heavy militant offensives.”
 
* Bidding farewell: “President Barack Obama said Wednesday that outgoing Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is a true American patriot who devoted his life to the United States.”
 
* ALEC loses another member: “Behemoth defense contractor Northrop Grumman is the latest blue-chip corporation to end its affiliation with the American Legislative Exchange Council, a conservative group that has endured the departure of several prominent tech companies in recent months, National Journal has learned.”
 
* A new Air Force One: “The U.S. Air Force will replace the president’s current fleet of two aircraft with Boeing’s 747-8 plane, citing the need for an upgrade…. The contract will not be competitive, [Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James] added, because the Boeing’s 747-8 is the only plane made domestically that can meet the requirements for the presidential aircraft while simultaneously satisfying the national public interest.”
 
Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.
 

Thursday's Mini-Report, 1.29.15