Today’s edition of quick hits:
* What a catastrophe: “Crews are working around the clock to clean up the site of an oil spill in Santa Barbara County that has sent tens of thousands of [gallons of] crude into the Pacific Ocean and left even more saturating the soil.”
* Related note: “Two days after a ruptured oil pipeline spewed crude into the waters off of California – tainting 9 miles of ocean teeming with coastal creatures – environmentalists are scrambling to assess how mucked up the ecosystem is.”
* Syria: “ISIS militants executed 17 people, some by beheading, in their first day in control of the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra, a monitoring group said Thursday…. It also said that ISIS killed 49 people around Palmyra as it advanced toward the city.”
* Trade-promotion authority: “The Senate voted 62-38 to move forward on a bill that would give Obama ‘fast track’ authority to negotiate, without the threat of congressional filibusters or added amendments, a massive 12-nation trade pact known as the Trans Pacific Partnership.”
* A story to watch: “The Chinese navy repeatedly warned a U.S. surveillance plane to leave airspace around disputed islands in the South China Sea, a sign that Beijing may seek to create a military exclusion zone in a move that could heighten regional tensions.”
* Overdue: “Boy Scouts of America President Robert Gates said on Thursday that the organization’s existing ban on gay leaders ‘cannot be sustained’ and urged for an eventual change of course in order to avoid potential litigation.”
* Another case worth watching: “Two unnamed students who were enrolled in Valencia College’s Medical Diagnostic Sonography program in 2013 are suing the Florida school, claiming they were forced to undergo invasive and sometimes painful transvaginal ultrasounds nearly every week.”
* Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), a fierce opponent of nuclear diplomacy with Iran, has told multiple audiences that Nelson Mandela dismantled South Africa’s nuclear program, and Iran should follow Mandela’s model. There’s one problem: Kirk is wrong and South Africa’s nuclear program was dismantled before Mandela became president.
* And as of this week, the number of Republican members of Texas’ state legislature who support marriage equality has grown – from zero to one.
Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.