Today’s edition of quick hits:
* President Obama sketched out his vision for the crisis in Iraq this afternoon, saying he’s “prepared to take targeted and precise military action” in Iraq if the situation on the ground requires it: “The president added that if he decides to take military action in Iraq, he would consult with Congress and world leaders. Secretary of State John Kerry will travel to the Middle East and Europe to hold talks on the crisis gripping Iraq, Obama said. The United States is also prepared to send up to 300 military advisers to consult with Iraqi forces.”
* Baiji: “Iraqi government officials claimed on Thursday that Sunni militants had retreated from a major refinery in Baiji after intense fighting for more than two days, but it was still unclear who was in control and the facility remained shut down.”
* New leadership in Baghdad: “Alarmed over the Sunni insurgent mayhem convulsing Iraq, the country’s political leaders are actively jockeying to replace Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, Iraqi officials said Thursday.”
* Um, what? “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says some of its staff in Atlanta may have been accidentally exposed to dangerous anthrax bacteria because of a safety problem at one of its labs. Agency officials say the risk of infection is low, but that about 75 staff members were being monitored or given antibiotics as a precaution.”
* GOP vs. EPA: “House Republicans on Thursday grilled a top Environmental Protection Agency official in the first hearing on the administration’s new standards for reducing carbon pollution from existing power plants. The head of the EPA’s air and radiation division, Janet McCabe, received no warm welcomes from House Republicans on the Energy and Commerce subcommittee on power.”
* Following a misguided piece on sexual assault, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch will no longer run George Will’s syndicated column. The paper will instead pick up columns from Michael Gerson, George W. Bush’s former speechwriter.
* The extraordinary Jindal flip-flop is nearly complete: “Gov. Bobby Jindal announced his plans Wednesday … to roll back Louisiana and the nation’s largest educational change in a generation: the Common Core academic standards and a related standardized test. Jindal said he had contacted the Common Core organization and the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers to remove Louisiana from both.”
* Indefensible: “California just declared whooping cough an epidemic, with 800 newly reported cases in the last two weeks alone. It gets worse: ‘The number of actual cases may be even higher, because past studies have shown that for every case of whooping cough that is reported, there are 10 more that are not officially counted,’ CNN reports.”
* Ron Fournier suggested Republican radicalism doesn’t, and shouldn’t, matter to the public. It fell to one of his own colleagues, Norm Ornstein, to patiently and politely explain why this approach is fundamentally misguided: “Does it matter whether the polarization, and the deep dysfunction that follows from it, is equal or not, including to the average voter? The answer is a resounding yes. If bad behavior – using the nation’s full faith and credit as a hostage to political demands, shutting down the government, attempting to undermine policies that have been lawfully enacted, blocking nominees not on the basis of their qualifications but to nullify the policies they would pursue, using filibusters as weapons of mass obstruction–is to be discouraged or abandoned, those who engage in it have to be held accountable. Saying both sides are equally responsible, insisting on equivalence as the mantra of mainstream journalism, leaves the average voter at sea, unable to identify and vote against those perpetrating the problem.” In case anyone’s forgotten, informing the public, and helping provide voters with the kind of context they’ll need to make informed decisions, is a responsibility journalists should take seriously.
Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.
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Thursday's Mini-Report, 6.19.14