Today's edition of quick hits:
* Nigeria: "The United States has deployed 80 troops to Chad to augment efforts to find Nigerian schoolgirls who were taken hostage by a militant Islamist group, the White House announced Wednesday, in a significant escalation of Washington's contribution to a crisis that has drawn global consternation."
* A major agreement: "China and Russia agreed to a major 30-year natural gas deal on Wednesday that would send gas from Siberia by pipeline to China, according to the China National Petroleum Corporation."
* Nearly 500,000 acres in south-central New Mexico: "This afternoon, President Obama will sign a proclamation designating the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks a National Monument. In honor of the occasion, the Department of the Interior is taking over the White House Instagram to share some their favorite photos of America's public lands."
* She's going to be confirmed: "The Senate Finance Committee on Wednesday voted 21-3 to approve Sylvia Burwell as the next secretary of the Health and Human Services Department. The overwhelming show of support sends Burwell's nomination to the full Senate, where it could be voted on soon."
* MERS: "Earlier this week, the Florida patient with MERS was released from the hospital after recovering and then testing negative for the virus, according to CIDRAP News. Three people are known to have been infected with deadly MERS virus on US soil, and all three are now free of the virus. This means that as of today, there are no people in the US known to be infected with MERS."
* Patent reform struggles: "Senators delivered a potential deathblow to patent reform on Wednesday as the Judiciary Committee postponed work on the tech industry's top legislative priority. Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) said weeks of negotiations on a compromise had reached a dead end and announced he was yanking the bill from the panel's legislative agenda."
* A different kind of Senate obstructionism takes shape: since the nuclear option, President Obama's nominees "have largely been confirmed, and Republicans wasted hours of Senate floor time delaying those nominees before voting to confirm them anyway. At least 126 hours, to be exact."
* A misguided effort: "Republican U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert revoked his amendment to allow servicemembers to possess loaded firearms at military installations as his colleagues began to voice their opposition to the motion on Tuesday."
* Climate denialism: "We have entered a new frontier of climate skepticism — not mere skepticism about climate scientists' consensus view, but a meta-skepticism that climate scientists even believe it at all."
Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.