Today’s edition of quick hits.
* The first official interaction since October: “Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said he spoke to his Russian counterpart on Wednesday about the destruction of a U.S. drone over the Black Sea, which had brought the two countries closest to direct conflict since Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine a year ago.”
* A case worth keeping an eye on: “Exiled Chinese billionaire Guo Wengui, an associate of former Trump White House adviser Steve Bannon, was arrested by federal authorities in New York on Wednesday morning, accused of orchestrating a $1 billion fraud scheme, prosecutors announced.”
* The Izembek National Wildlife Refuge: “The Biden administration said Tuesday that it was withdrawing a land swap deal that would have helped to clear the way for construction of a road through a wildlife refuge in Alaska. The move is a reversal of the government’s position and one that could put an end to a project that would cut through the vast wild area, originally protected under President Jimmy Carter.”
* After 20 months of waiting, today’s confirmation vote did not fall neatly along partisan lines: “The Senate voted 52-42 on Wednesday to confirm former Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti to be the next U.S. ambassador to India.”
* I’ll look forward to hearing the House GOP’s rationale for ignoring this legislation: “A group of Democrats led by Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Rep. Katie Porter of California will unveil legislation Tuesday to restore bank regulations that were undone under then-President Donald Trump in 2018, seeking to fix what they say was the cause of Silicon Valley Bank’s collapse.”
* A “pause” seems like a good idea for this guy: “Tennessee Lt. Gov. Randy McNally announced Monday that he is ‘pausing’ his social media activity after revelations that he repeatedly commented on a 20-year-old gay man’s racy photographs.”
* Did the Republican-led state House in Oklahoma really reject a bill to prevent corporal punishment of disabled children? Yes, and the arguments on the legislative floor were even more depressing than I’d feared.
* One of these days, George Santos won’t be in the news, but today is not that day: “A $19 million luxury yacht deal brokered by Representative George Santos between two of his wealthy donors has captured the attention of federal and state authorities investigating the congressman’s campaign finances and personal business dealings.”
See you tomorrow.