Today’s edition of quick hits:
* Crisis in Iraq: “President Obama said on Thursday that he was watching the rapid advance of militant groups in Iraq with ‘a lot of concern,’ and that the United States stood ready to provide increased help to the Iraqi government, though he did not specify what kind.”
* More from Iraq: “Iraq’s fracturing deepened on Thursday as Kurdish forces poured into the strategic northern oil city of Kirkuk after government troops fled, while emboldened Sunni militants who seized two other important northern cities this week moved closer to Baghdad and issued threats about advancing into the heavily Shiite south and destroying the shrines there, the holiest in Shiism.”
* Political pushback: “Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, torched Republican ‘cheerleaders’ who started the Iraq war and are now criticizing President Barack Obama over the escalating violent insurgency in the country. ‘Some of the biggest GOP cheerleaders for the disastrous war in Iraq are now joining the blame-America-first crowd rather than working with our Commander-in-Chief to confront this crisis,’ Boxer said in a statement Thursday.”
* Will Iraqi instability affect the drawdown plan in Afghanistan? Apparently not.
* Not going to happen: “Two House conservatives are calling for the Republican leadership contest to be delayed. Reps. Steve King (R-Iowa) and Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) said Thursday that the June 19 leadership election should be postponed so that the GOP conference can field a candidate who does not support ‘amnesty.’”
* Bergdahl: “Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl is scheduled to set foot in the United States for the first time Friday after five years in the captivity of the Taliban. Bergdahl will arrive in San Antonio, Texas, where he will continue to recover from his years as a prisoner.”
* Stay of execution: “A federal judge has stayed a Missouri inmate’s execution after ruling that there is evidence that the state intimidated a corrections worker out of supporting a clemency petition.”
* This seems rather alarming: “A makeshift bomb exploded at a Nogales, Ariz., power plant Wednesday, rupturing a large fuel tank and prompting the FBI and federal bomb experts to respond. Local officials were alerted at 9:30 a.m. to a call of ‘suspicious activity’ at the UniSource Energy Services Valencia Plant. An explosion had ruptured a diesel storage tank and caused what Nogales police Lt. Carlos Jimenez described as a relatively small spill that was confined to the immediate area.”
* Supreme Court: “It’s not nice to fool Justice Anthony M. Kennedy. The justice said during oral arguments in April that he found the labeling of a Coca-Cola product called Pomegranate Blueberry Flavored Blend of Five Juices misleading, and Thursday he wrote for a unanimous Supreme Court that the company can be sued for it.”
* Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) has “never been more worried” about a 9/11-style attack than he is now. As it turns out, however, he’s “never been more worried” quite a few times.
* Fed: “The Senate has confirmed President Barack Obama’s nomination of Stanley Fischer to be vice chairman of the Federal Reserve. It also approved Lael Brainard and Jerome Powell to serve on the Fed’s board. The votes fill vacancies just before a meeting of the central bank’s policy panel next week.”
* Bold move: “The electric car-maker Tesla has announced it’s setting its patent portfolio free, saying that it ‘will not initiate patent lawsuits against anyone who, in good faith, wants to use our technology.’ CEO Elon Musk says he’s become less worried about competitors stealing his technology than about electric cars not being adopted at all.”
* Right-wing favorite Ben Caron believes the Affordable Care Act is worse than the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. He’s apparently serious, at least insofar as he didn’t intend this as a joke.
Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.