Today's edition of quick hits:* Afghanistan: "Taliban insurgents on Wednesday killed 26 Afghan civilians after abducting them in the remote central province of Ghor the previous day, officials said, the latest brutal attack targeting the local population in one of the country's most lawless areas."* Smart move: "Defense Secretary Ash Carter ordered the Pentagon on Wednesday to stop clawing-back the bonuses that thousands of soldiers got for reenlisting to serve in Iraq and Afghanistan."* Raqqa: "The offensive to oust ISIS from its capital will get underway within weeks, Defense Secretary Ash Carter told NBC News in an exclusive interview Wednesday."* The Trump of Asia-Pacific: "President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines, who nurses a longtime grudge against the United States, has declared he wants 'a separation' and on Wednesday added that he wants American troops out of his country in two years."* North Africa: "The Pentagon has secretly expanded its global network of drone bases to North Africa, deploying unmanned aircraft and U.S. military personnel to a facility in Tunisia to conduct spy missions in neighboring Libya."* Progress: "The United States on Wednesday abstained for the first time in 25 years on a U.N. resolution condemning America's economic embargo against Cuba, a resolution it had always vehemently opposed."* North Korea: "Kim Jong Un's rocket scientists are thought to be several years from being able to [hit U.S. soil], instead concentrating on intermediate-range missiles that can reach only as far as Guam. But now some analysts are asking: Did North Korea just try to launch two long-range missiles?"* Many consumers aren't responding as expected to the mandate: "A key adviser who helped design President Obama's signature healthcare law is calling for stricter penalties for people who choose not to pay for health insurance. 'I think probably the most important thing experts would agree is we need a larger mandate penalty,' Jonathan Gruber said in an interview with CNN on Wednesday. 'That's something I think, ideally, we would fix,' he added."* An overdue change: "Students who report being sexually assaulted at Brigham Young University will no longer face the possibility of punishment for honor code violations, such as drinking or extramarital sex."Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.
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