Today’s edition of quick hits:
* Good news out of North Korea: “Three Americans held in North Korean labor camps were free and on their way home Wednesday, President Donald Trump said. Kim Hak-song, Kim Dong-chul and Kim Sang-duk, who is also known as Tony Kim, were released by Kim Jong Un’s regime after spending up to two years in detention.”
* On a related note, if Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is going to be the nation’s chief diplomat, he should probably learn Kim Jong Un’s surname.
* The crisis across parts of Hawaii is serious: “Police went door-to-door in Hawaii late Tuesday to roust residents near two new vents emitting dangerous gases in areas where lava has been pouring into streets and backyards for the past week.”
* Look for more on this on tonight’s show: “President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, contacted the drug giant Novartis after the 2016 election ‘promising access’ to the new administration, and Special Counsel Robert Mueller later requested information from the company about the offer, a senior official inside Novartis told NBC News on Wednesday.”
* So Haspel hopes senators don’t hold her record of torture against her? “Gina Haspel, President Trump’s CIA director nominee, did not apologize Wednesday for her role using enhanced interrogation techniques after the 9/11 attacks, but told a Senate panel that she would not revive those practices.”
* On a related note, it looks like she’ll be confirmed: “A few hours after [the Senate confirmation hearing] ended, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., facing a tough re-election fight, told NBC News that he planned to support Haspel’s nomination.”
* Bad timing: “The little-known federal agency in charge of enforcing financial punishments against the United States’ geopolitical foes is busy these days. But it’s also starving for cash and staff, and its director left the government last week.”
* What happened the day EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s security detail had to break down his rented condo’s door? “New documents obtained this week through a Freedom of Information request help to explain the sequence of events, and the months-long effort to get the E.P.A. to pay for the door.”
* It will go wrong: “Iowa Republicans this weekend passed a tax plan that they say can’t go wrong.”
* Mixing religion, politics, and government generally doesn’t bring people together: “Two lawmakers on Tuesday evening erupted into a shouting match on the House floor over Speaker Paul Ryan’s firing – and then reinstatement – of the House chaplain, reigniting a contentious religious fight the Wisconsin Republican hoped would fade.”
* I guess she doesn’t care for accurate criticism: “The office of first lady Melania Trump on Tuesday scolded ‘opposition media’ for pointing out that Trump reused an educational booklet from the Obama-era Federal Trade Commission in unveiling her new ‘Be Best’ campaign on childhood wellness.”
Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.