Today’s edition of quick hits:
* Russia sure seems like the obvious culprit: “After months of taking grief for snooping on foreign leaders, the Obama administration found itself on the other side on Thursday after a private telephone call between two American diplomats appeared on the Internet in a breach that the White House tied to Russia.”
* At issue, of course, is an out-of-context quote from Victoria Nuland: “President Obama’s top diplomat to Europe has been caught on tape saying ‘F–k the EU.’ The conversation between Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and U.S. Ambassador to the Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt was anonymously leaked on YouTube.”
* Pakistan: “Pakistani government officials and Taliban representatives made their first formal contact on Thursday, each side handing the other a wish list as they began talks to end a debilitating conflict that has ravaged the country for years.”
* Unanimous votes are apparently still possible: “Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) will serve as the next U.S. ambassador to China after his colleagues confirmed him Thursday for the critical diplomatic position. Senators voted 96 to 0 to confirm Baucus; he voted ‘present.’ He replaces Gary Locke, who is stepping down to return to Washington state to be with his family.”
* Expect more on West Virginia on tonight’s show: “Three more Kanawha County schools abruptly closed on Thursday because of complaints that the water had a black licorice odor – the smell associated with the coal-cleaning chemical that leaked into the Elk River last month.”
* The Taliban is not above capturing dogs: “In the annals of prisoner of war videos, this seems to be a first. A slightly befuddled Belgian Malinois appears on a tight leash, surrounded by heavily armed, bearded men boasting of their battlefield loot. Wearing a black protective vest, the dog wags its tail at certain points and appears more confused than terrified as its captors showcase specialized rifles and a global positioning device with a blinking light they say came attached to the dog.”
* Oh for crying out loud: “Officials at a Northern California private school are apologizing after a controversial lunch menu option to celebrate Black History Month. Students at Carondelet High School for Girls in Concord wanted to come up with ways to observe the occasion during a lunchtime celebration Friday. But when the school announced a menu of fried chicken, cornbread and watermelon, other students and parents became offended.”
* E.J. Dionne Jr. says what needs to be said: “The reaction to the CBO study is an example of how willfully stupid – there’s no other word – the debate over Obamacare has become. Opponents don’t look to a painstaking analysis for enlightenment. They twist its findings and turn them into dishonest slogans. Too often, the media go along by highlighting the study’s political impact rather than focusing on what it actually says.”
* It’s been several days, but Bill O’Reilly remains deeply impressed with Bill O’Reilly’s White House interview aired Sunday. “I’m going to predict that that interview that I did is going to go down in journalistic history as what should be done,” he said Thursday. As best as I can tell, O’Reilly wasn’t kidding.
Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.