Today’s edition of quick hits:
* Afghanistan: “President Obama has ordered the Pentagon to begin preparing for a complete withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan by the end of this year, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced. The order, Hagel said in a statement, came after Obama “determined that it is unlikely” that Afghan President Hamid Karzai will sign a long-delayed bilateral security agreement, ‘which would provide [Defense] personnel with critical protections and authorities after 2014.’”
* Ukraine: “Struggling to reach a deal to form a new majority coalition in Parliament, and under excruciating pressure because of a looming economic disaster, the Ukrainian lawmakers temporarily running the country on Tuesday delayed until Thursday the naming of an acting prime minister and a provisional government.”
* In need of answers: “Iraqi officials gave contradictory accounts on Tuesday about whether or not Baghdad had agreed to buy $195 million worth of arms and ammunition from Iran as reported by Reuters, a deal that if confirmed could damage Iraqi-U.S. relations.”
* New Jersey: “The mayor of Fort Lee, Mark Sokolich, who was thrust into the national spotlight after four days of lane closings at the George Washington Bridge in September gridlocked his borough, has met with federal prosecutors, his attorney said [Monday].”
* More New Jersey: “Records turned over to the state legislative committee investigating the George Washington Bridge lane closings show the chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, David Samson, has been ‘intimately involved’ with day-to-day operations.”
* Manufacturing hubs: “President Barack Obama on Tuesday announced the creation of two Pentagon-led institutes to boost advanced high-tech manufacturing, with the eventual goal of creating jobs that have been lost to global competition.”
* Georgia’s right-to-discriminate bill lost two of its Democratic co-sponsors today. A spokesperson for the Georgia Democratic Party said, “We were told they did not understand the exact content of the bill.”
* Nutrition: “Should a regular bag of Chex Mix be labeled as containing eight servings, or just two? Should pasta sauce jars tell how much sugar was added? The Obama administration is expected to take a major step toward addressing questions like these on Thursday when it unveils the first update to nutrition labels on food packages in more than two decades.”
* NPR talked to a Louisiana man this week who said he wouldn’t vote for Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) because she voted for the Affordable Care Act, which was championed by President Obama. “I don’t vote for black people, lady,” the man said to NPR’s Ailsa Chang. “No, ma’am. I don’t vote for black people. They got their place, I got my place. That’s the way I was raised.”
* And putting aside politics, party, and ideology, Obama’s official statement recognizing the death of Harold Ramis was a beautiful thing: “Our thoughts and prayers are with Harold’s wife, Erica, his children and grandchildren, and all those who loved him, who quote his work with abandon, and who hope that he received total consciousness.” Those last few words are, of course, a classic “Caddyshack” reference.
Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.