Today’s edition of quick hits.
* Diplomatic progress: “When President Joe Biden sits down with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Friday, it will mark a major tete-a-tete that could have profound implications for U.S. policy toward a critical part of the globe. It’s also an opportunity for Biden to underscore how his diplomatic efforts in the face of new geopolitical threats are bringing allies into closer alignment, and delivering in an area where Donald Trump’s sharp-elbowed approach largely failed to achieve results.”
* In Ukraine: “Russian forces on the front line of the bitter fight for control of eastern Ukraine have claimed their first victory in several months of grinding conflict. After some of the war’s most intense combat, Moscow’s defense ministry said Friday that its military now controls the mining town of Soledar in the Donetsk region, though Ukrainian officials denied that the town had fallen. NBC News has not verified the claims of either side.”
* In Alabama and Georgia: “At least nine people are dead and the toll is expected to grow after more than a dozen tornadoes tore through the Southeastern U.S. on Thursday. Seven deaths were reported in Autauga County, Alabama, northwest of Montgomery, according to county Emergency Management Agency Director Ernie Baggett. Six of the deaths were reported Thursday, and the seventh was confirmed a day later.”
* Jim Jordan seemed a whole lot less interested in the mishandling of classified documents before this week: “The House Judiciary Committee announced Friday it’s opened an investigation into the Obama-era classified documents that were found in President Joe Biden’s Delaware home and a former Washington office.”
* All is not well among Wisconsin Republicans: “Wisconsin Republicans voted Thursday to again allow therapists, social workers and counselors to try to change LGBTQ clients’ gender identities and sexual orientations — a discredited practice known as conversion therapy.”
* Most countries don’t think about metal detectors in elementary schools: “Metal detectors will be installed in every school in the Virginia city where a 6-year-old boy shot and wounded his elementary teacher last week, school officials announced Thursday. The Newport News School Board announced Thursday that the board was given the approval to purchase 90 walk-through metal detectors which will be placed in every school across the district, said board chair Lisa Surles-Law.”
* On balance, this news is heartening: “The cancer mortality rate in the U.S. has dropped by a third in the past three decades, a report showed, but an increase in advanced prostate cancer diagnoses threatens to reverse some hard-won gains.”
* Update your calendars: “President Joe Biden will deliver his second State of the Union address before Congress on Feb. 7. Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., invited Biden to deliver the address on that date in a letter Friday.”
Have a safe weekend.