Today’s edition of quick hits:
* NSA: “Edward Snowden’s leaks exposed the National Security Agency’s vast reach, embarrassed the president and provoked outrage around the world. But all that seems to have been no match for the sausage-making process in Congress. The House passed a surveillance reform bill Thursday with broad bipartisan support, but critics say it will do little to protect Americans’ privacy.”
* China: “Explosions at a crowded market killed 31 people and injured 94 others on Thursday morning in Urumqi, the capital of the restive Xinjiang region of China, in what officials called a ‘violent terrorist attack.’ It was the deadliest burst of violence this year, highlighting a growing challenge to Chinese rule in a region that is home to the mostly Muslim, Uighur ethnic group.”
* Thailand: “Thailand’s military launched a coup Thursday, detaining leaders of rival factions and sweeping into the streets in a move it said was necessary to end months of political turmoil. The takeover prompted a quick response from U.S. officials, who warned they were reviewing military and other assistance to Thailand.”
* Ukraine: “Renewed clashes between pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian security forces Thursday left at least 13 soldiers dead as violence escalated across beleaguered eastern Ukraine three days before crucial elections.”
* Confirmed, 53 to 45: “The Senate narrowly confirmed David J. Barron, the author of a controversial memo justifying drone attacks on American citizens, to a circuit court judgeship Thursday. Sens. Mary L. Landrieu of Louisiana and Joe Manchin III of West Virginia were the only Democrats to break party ranks and vote against the nomination.”
* Syria: “The global chemical weapons watchdog says the last 100 tons of Syria’s declared stockpile of precursors for poison gas and nerve agents have been packed and are ready for transport but Damascus says it’s too risky to move them.”
* I learned something new today about a presidential tradition: “The custom is as fleeting as it is elusive. In a matter of a split second, the entire exchange is over, and the people who witnessed the covert operation often never even knew it happened. A challenge coin, tucked in the palm of the United States president, is passed to a member of the military in a seemingly ordinary handshake” (thanks to my colleague Tricia McKinney for the heads-up).
* Impressive: “Michigan continues to quietly enroll thousands and thousands of people in ACA-expanded Medicaid, having already reached 81% of the 320K first-year goal in just 7 weeks.”
* Don’t just read the headline on Ta-Nehisi Coates’ piece and draw conclusions. Instead, read it and consider the thesis on the merits: “The Case for Reparations: Two hundred fifty years of slavery. Ninety years of Jim Crow. Sixty years of separate but equal. Thirty-five years of racist housing policy. Until we reckon with our compounding moral debts, America will never be whole.”
* I can’t think of the last time I saw a president take an unexpected stroll outside the White House, saying hello to shocked tourists.
Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.