Today’s edition of quick hits:
* Commutations: “President Obama backed up his calls for reforming the way society punishes non-violent criminals on Wednesday by commuting the sentences of 61 prisoners – a third of them lifers.”
* Obama has now commuted the sentences of more people than the last six presidents combined.
* Alabama scandal, Part I: “Rebekah Caldwell Mason has resigned from her post as senior political advisor to Gov. Robert Bentley, she said in a Wednesday afternoon statement.”
* Alabama scandal, Part II: “Gov. Robert Bentley on Wednesday reiterated that he has no plans to resign from office, a week after admitting to making inappropriate sexual comments to his top adviser.”
* Minneapolis: “No charges will be filed against the two Minneapolis officers involved in the shooting death last fall of Jamar Clark, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced Wednesday, citing DNA and other evidence showing Clark was not handcuffed during the altercation and he refused to let go of an officer’s holstered gun during the late-night struggle outside an apartment building.”
* FDA: “The Food and Drug Administration stepped into the politics of abortion on Wednesday, relaxing the requirements for taking a medication that induces abortion, a move that is expected to expand access to the procedure.”
* Climate crisis, Part I: “The North Pole’s ice is disappearing as we watch: This year, the Arctic sea ice had the lowest winter maximum extent on record. Every year the ice melts in the summer and grows in the winter. Although the specific date varies, it generally reaches its maximum amount in March. In 2016, that maximum was likely reached on March 24, with an extent measured at 14.52 million square kilometers. The problem is that this number is the lowest on record.”
* Climate crisis, Part II: “Sea levels could rise nearly twice as much as previously predicted by the end of this century if carbon dioxide emissions continue unabated, an outcome that could devastate coastal communities around the globe, according to new research published Wednesday.”
* More fallout for North Carolina: “Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has joined other government officials in banning nearly all official travel to North Carolina because of the state’s law halting anti-discrimination rules.”
* ACA: “The landmark health care reform law known as Obamacare appears to be succeeding in its twin goals of extending health coverage to the uninsured and enabling people to access life-saving treatments. But this humanitarian success also underscores the newness and fragility of the remade health insurance market.”
* Caution would be a good idea: “Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said Tuesday that the central bank should move ‘cautiously’ in raising interest rates in the midst of a weak global economy, though she expressed confidence that the U.S. recovery remains on track.”
* As of yesterday, just 16 of the Senate’s 54 Republicans are willing to grant Judge Merrick Garland the courtesy of a one-on-one conversation. Most of those 16, however, continue to argue that they should not and will not consider Garland’s nomination, regardless of his qualifications for the Supreme Court.
Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.