Today’s edition of quick hits:
* Ukraine: “Vowing that the United States would never recognize Russia’s ‘illegal occupation’ of Crimea last month, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Tuesday reiterated America’s support of Ukraine, declaring that ‘no nation has the right to simply grab land from another’ and calling on Russia to stop supporting masked gunmen who have seized government buildings across the east of the country.”
* Sounds like progress: “Nearly 90 percent of the chemicals in Syria’s weapons arsenal have now been removed from the war-torn country, with only two or three shipments left for export, the group responsible for policing the global treaty that bans chemical munitions reported on Tuesday.”
* Afghanistan: “The White House is reviewing a new series of options that would leave fewer than 10,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan next year, a U.S. official said Tuesday. The options, requested by the administration, include a range of troop numbers from zero to 10,000 U.S. troops and reflect the long-running debate over how many are needed to train and advise the Afghan security forces and conduct counterterrorism missions.”
* Was Aereo created to circumvent copyright laws? “Several Supreme Court justices expressed skepticism about Internet streaming start-up Aereo during oral arguments on Tuesday, saying that it looked like the company was created to act as a technical workaround to bypass copyright laws.”
* On a related note, I find it a little unsettling that Justice Antonin Scalia seems to believe HBO is available for free over the airwaves. Some justices really need to get out more.
* I was enormously impressed with this report, but couldn’t think of a way to turn it into a post. Read the whole thing anyway: “The American middle class, long the most affluent in the world, has lost that distinction. While the wealthiest Americans are outpacing many of their global peers, a New York Times analysis shows that across the lower- and middle-income tiers, citizens of other advanced countries have received considerably larger raises over the last three decades. After-tax middle-class incomes in Canada – substantially behind in 2000 – now appear to be higher than in the United States. The poor in much of Europe earn more than poor Americans.”
* Following up on Rachel’s segment last night on clemency: “The Obama administration is beginning an aggressive new effort to foster equity in criminal sentencing by considering clemency requests from as many as thousands of federal inmates serving time for drug offenses, officials said Monday.”
* It was time for him to go: “Marionville Mayor Dan Clevenger resigned Monday night for making anti-Semitic comments in the wake of the arrest of white supremacist Frazier Glenn Miller and after aldermen voted 4-1 to start the impeachment process. Clevenger, 59, said he was personally hurt to hear resident after resident say he was a local and national embarrassment to the city.”
* Looks like the Patrick Henry Center for Individual Liberty received the appropriate punishment: “The Internal Revenue Service has revoked the tax-exempt status of a conservative-aligned charity for engaging in political activity as far back as the 2004 presidential election – including statements opposing Hillary Clinton for president.”
* Best wishes to the senator for a speedy recovery: “Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark. is undergoing emergency heart surgery. His office confirmed a report from the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal, but did not provide any further details other than to note in a statement that he ‘is receiving excellent care.’”
* You know what’s really, really, really successful in combating and eradicating diseases? Vaccines.
* This Earth Day, read this from Brad Plumer: “Consider: the Earth’s average temperature has already risen 0.8 degrees C since the 19th century. And if you look at the current rapid rise in global greenhouse-gas emissions, we’re on pace to blow past the 2 degrees C limit by mid-century – and hit 4 degrees C or more by the end. That’s well above anything once deemed ‘dangerous.’ Getting back on track for 2 degrees C would, at this point, entail the sort of drastic emissions cuts usually associated with economic calamities, like the collapse of the Soviet Union or the 2008 financial crisis. And we’d have to repeat those cuts for decades.”
Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.