Tuesday’s Mini-Report, 4.1.14

Today’s edition of quick hits:
* Middle East peace talks are in deep trouble: “The fraught Mideast peace talks were thrown into confusion on Tuesday as a meeting between Secretary of State John Kerry and President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority was canceled after Mr. Abbas moved to join 15 international agencies, a move vigorously opposed by Israel and the United States.”
* Pollard’s release is apparently on the table: “The Obama administration is discussing the release of an American convicted of spying for Israel more than a quarter of a century ago, American officials said Monday, as it struggles to avert a collapse in peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.”
* For more background on Pollard, my msnbc colleague Dafna Linzer had a fascinating item on how he became Israel’s spy.
* Russia: “Even as American and Russian diplomats groped toward a settlement that would halt further Russian military intervention in Ukraine, Gazprom, the Russian energy company, stepped up the economic pressure on Tuesday by sharply raising the price it charges for natural gas.”
* A staggering statistic out of Syria: “The death toll in Syria’s three-year conflict has exceeded 150,000, an activist group said Tuesday as fighting raged across the country, including an attack in the north that killed at least 31 people including 9 children.”
* Arizona: “A federal district court judge in Arizona has ruled that the state’s restrictions on medication abortion – which effectively take it off the table as an option – can go forward pending further litigation. That follows an appeals court in Texas last week, which upheld similar restrictions in Texas.”
* Doc Fix: “They voted for it before they voted against it. Several Senate Republicans who backed a procedural motion to allow the measure known as the “doc fix” to get a final vote opposed the legislation – the very same day. The final vote on the bill, Congress’ 16th ‘doc fix patch, was 64-35. It passed thanks to Republican moderates and party leadership on both sides.”
* GM: “General Motors chief executive Mary T. Barra faced a barrage of questions on Capitol Hill on Tuesday afternoon on why the automaker had ignored complaints about faulty ignition switches for a decade without reporting the problem to federal regulators or acknowledging a safety defect.”
* Obama took DADT repeal seriously: “In a meeting with the heads of the five service branches in 2010, President Obama offered the leaders a choice: Support my efforts to end the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, or resign, the Commandant of the Coast Guard said.”
* Confirmations: “Christopher Lu was confirmed by voice vote to be Deputy Secretary of Labor. The Senate voted 99-0 to confirm the nomination of Kevin Whitaker to be U.S. ambassador to Colombia. Also on Tuesday, the Senate confirmed John Carlin to be an assistant attorney general on a 99-1 vote. Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) was the only senator to vote against Carlin’s nomination.”
* “60 Minutes” really has fallen on hard times, hasn’t it?
* And a fun little April Fool’s joke for Boston Red Sox fans: “Today, President Obama announced the creation of the President’s Council on Beards, a committee of volunteer citizens and officials dedicated to honoring our nation’s history, and promoting men’s health and wellness.”
Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.