Thursday’s Mini-Report, 4.17.14

Today’s edition of quick hits:
 
* A diplomatic breakthrough? ”The United States, Russia, Ukraine and the European Union reached an agreement here on Thursday evening that calls for armed pro-Russian bands to give up the government buildings they have seized in eastern Ukraine and outlines other steps to de-escalate the crisis.”
 
* On the other hand: “President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia emphasized on Thursday that the upper chamber of Parliament had authorized him to use military force if necessary in eastern Ukraine, and he asserted Russia’s historical claim to the territory in language not often used before, signaling a new and more aggressive policy.”
 
* Shocking: “Jewish residents of one city in east Ukraine were issued a flier instructing them to identify themselves, Secretary of State John Kerry said Thursday, signaling that Russia’s growing military presence in the region could spark a new wave of anti-Semitism in the former Soviet bloc.”
 
* Good ACA news: “Statisticians working with insurers to project next year’s insurance premium rates say they expect to see an average increase of about 7%, well below the feared double-digit increases making recent headlines.”
 
* Just as good ACA news: “After taking a pretty cautious approach to the launch of the health insurance marketplaces in 2014, the nation’s largest insurer said it’s looking to expand its Obamacare footprint in 2015.”
 
* New Hampshire will remain the only state in New England that can legally execute its own citizens: “In an emotionally charged chamber with advocates on both sides watching, the [state] Senate split 12-12 Thursday on repealing the death penalty which effectively kills the bill.”
 
* Wow: “General Mills, the maker of cereals like Cheerios and Chex as well as brands like Bisquick and Betty Crocker, has quietly added language to its website to alert consumers that they give up their right to sue the company if they download coupons, ‘join’ it in online communities like Facebook, enter a company-sponsored sweepstakes or contest or interact with it in a variety of other ways.”
 
* I wouldn’t have expected this, but Andrew Prokop highlighted a study that found, “On economics, Obama’s judges are the most liberal in 50 years.”
 
* That’s the number one, followed by 11 zeroes: “Charles and David Koch, the billionaire brothers who run Wichita, Kansas-based Koch Industries Inc., added $1.3 billion to their collective fortune yesterday on reports that U.S. industrial production gained more than forecast. The surge elevated their net worth to more than $100 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.”
 
* It’s only about 490 light-years away: “For the first time, scientists have discovered an Earth-sized alien planet in the habitable zone of its host star, an ‘Earth cousin’ that just might have liquid water and the right conditions for life.”
 
Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.
 

Thursday's Mini-Report, 4.17.14