Today's edition of quick hits:* A stunning death toll in Afghanistan: "Afghanistan's defense minister and army chief stepped down Monday amid growing outrage over the deaths of more than 100 soldiers in one of the deadliest Taliban attacks of the 16-year war."* Related news: "U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis arrived in Afghanistan for a surprise visit on Monday, just hours after the resignations of his Afghan counterpart and the army chief of staff following the deadliest attack by insurgents on government forces since the war began in 2001."* Syria: "The Trump administration on Monday said it was imposing sanctions on 271 employees of the Syrian government agency that produces chemical weapons and ballistic missiles, blacklisting them from travel and financial transactions in the wake of a sarin attack on civilians this month."* It's tough to blame them: "With the future of Europe in French hands, the continent's leaders have cast aside their tradition of staying out of each other's elections and weighed in with some unsolicited advice: Pick the candidate who wants to make the European Union stronger, not the one who wants to blow it up."* He was careful not to mention his successor: "Former President Barack Obama said Monday that his post-White House work will focus heavily on encouraging young people to become politically involved during his first public event since leaving office."* Filling the swamp: "Former campaign aides, fundraisers and others with ties to President Trump and Vice President Pence have attracted dozens of new lobbying clients in Washington, raking in more than $2.2 million in lobbying fees in the first months of the administration, a USA TODAY analysis shows."* I neglected to mention this on Friday: "The Treasury Department said Friday that it would not issue any waivers to U.S. companies -- including ExxonMobil -- seeking to do oil and gas drilling with Russia in violation of current economic sanctions."* Moving the ball forward: "The FBI gathered intelligence last summer that suggests Russian operatives tried to use Trump advisers, including Carter Page, to infiltrate the Trump campaign, according to US officials."* A few years ago, I co-wrote a movie script (which didn't go anywhere) that featured a scene in which a Republican president makes an embarrassing misstep while awarding a veteran a Purple Heart. I didn't know it'd come true: "President Donald Trump raised more than a few eyebrows during his first visit as president to Walter Reed National Medical Center on Saturday when he awarded the Purple Heart to Army Sergeant First Class Alvaro Barrientos. 'When I heard about this, I wanted to do it myself,' Trump told Barrientos as he placed the Purple Heart on the soldier's lapel. 'Congratulations ... tremendous.' The medal is given to service members who were wounded or killed in battle."Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.
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