Today’s edition of quick hits:
* Ukraine: “In an apparent attempt to halt the escalating violence in southeastern Ukraine, President Vladimir V. Putin said on Wednesday that Russia was pulling troops back from the border, and he urged Ukrainian separatists to call off a referendum on sovereignty they had hoped to hold on Sunday.”
* On the other hand: “The White House said Wednesday that there is “no evidence” that Russia has withdrawn the tens of thousands of troops amassed on the border with Ukraine.”
* A growing threat: “Boko Haram is an Islamist extremist group responsible for dozens of massacres of civilians in its five-year insurgency in Nigeria, including the brazen kidnapping last month of more than 250 schoolgirls and the abduction, reported Tuesday, of 11 more teenagers.”
* Keystone: “Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid moved to block Republican energy amendments Wednesday, likely dooming an energy efficiency bill and a separate vote approving the Keystone XL pipeline.”
* Oh my: “Russia has taken another major step toward restricting its once freewheeling Internet, as President Vladimir V. Putin quietly signed a new law requiring popular online voices to register with the government, a measure that lawyers, Internet pioneers and political activists said Tuesday would give the government a much wider ability to track who said what online.”
* New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s (R) scandals aren’t cheap: “Documents released Tuesday show that Christie’s office was billed nearly $1.1 million for work done from Jan. 12 to Jan. 31 by the law firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher – meaning that the total amount taxpayers will pay the firm will likely be significantly higher.”
* Arkansas: “President Obama promised Wednesday the federal government is “going to be right here” to help rebuild communities in storm-ravaged Arkansas during brief remarks in the states. Speaking at a destroyed subdivision in Vilonia, Ark., Obama said when natural disasters strike a community they affect the entire country.”
* Simon Maloy has a good piece on “why pundits’ fear to call out liars has grave consequences.”
* The unanswered questions on Benghazi have been answered. I don’t know why Republicans pretend otherwise. (Scratch that, I do know why. It’s less clear why anyone would take them seriously.)
* The deficit sure is shrinking in a hurry: “The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office on Wednesday estimated that the deficit for the first seven months of fiscal 2014 reached $301 billion in April.”
* Charles Krauthammer said yesterday about the climate crisis, “I’m not impressed by numbers. I’m not impressed by consensus.” Got it. And I’m not impressed by Charles Krauthammer.
* As regular readers may have noticed, I occasionally marvel at the kind of questions Fox News includes in its polling. Today, however, it’s CNN’s turn to be mocked for a foolish polling question.
Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.