Today’s edition of quick hits:
* This Brussels speech was a gem: “President Obama offered a sustained and forceful rejoinder against Russia on Wednesday, denouncing the ‘brute force’ he said it has used to intimidate neighbors like Ukraine and vowing that the United States ‘will never waver’ in standing up for its NATO allies against aggression by Moscow.”
* Washington mudslide: “John Pennington, the county’s emergency-management director, said during a morning briefing that he remained hopeful for a miracle and the possibility a survivor may be found. But he also pointed out that a state mortuary-assistance team had been called in to assist.”
* NCAA: “In a stunning ruling that could revolutionize college sports, a federal agency said Wednesday that football players at Northwestern University can create the nation’s first union of college athletes. The decision by a regional director of the National Labor Relations Board means it agrees football players at the Big Ten school qualify as employees under federal law and therefore can legally unionize.”
* The agency really didn’t need another scandal: “Three Secret Service agents responsible for protecting President Obama in Amsterdam this week were sent home and put on administrative leave Sunday after going out for a night of drinking, according to three people familiar with the incident. One of the agents was found drunk and passed out in a hotel hallway, the people said.”
* I’m not sure why Chris Cillizza thinks alleged misbehavior by Secret Service agents would reflect poorly on President Obama. It apparently has something to do with what he described as “narratives and storylines.”
* Good news for clean water fans: “Under the Clean Water Act, as it’s currently enforced, companies that are prohibited from dumping pollution into major waterways are able to go ahead and dump their pollution into streams that feed into those major waterways instead. It’s a bit of a problem for the over 177 million people who get their water from such streams. A new rule proposed Tuesday by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers aims to change that.”
* I wouldn’t have guessed this: “There are almost as many payday stores in the U.S. as there are McDonald’s and Starbucks (no, really). Consumer groups say the astonishing growth of short-term lending is a reflection of stagnant wages and an uneven recovery that has left millions of Americans unable to meet basic living expenses. It also says a lot about the banking industry’s inability to serve consumers who rely on these sorts of alternative financial products.”
* To consider him a foreign-affairs expert is an important mistake: “Fox News’ White House correspondent Ed Henry held up Republican Sen. John McCain as a credible critic of President Obama’s foreign policy toward Russia after the senator castigated the decision of several world powers to kick the nation out of the G8 – but Henry neglected to inform viewers that McCain’s position on the significance of such a move has shifted dramatically since 2008.”
* Former Rep. Ron Paul’s (R-Texas) think tank publishes some deeply odd things about international affairs. Imagine that.
* Literally, Planet Biden: “The Solar System just got a lot more far-flung. Astronomers have discovered a probable dwarf planet that orbits the Sun far beyond Pluto, in the most distant trajectory known…. The newfound object’s official name is 2012 VP113, but the discovery team calls it VP for short, or just ‘Biden’ – after US Vice-President Joe Biden.”
Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.