WEDNESDAY’S MINI-REPORT…. Today’s edition of quick hits:
* Afghanistan: “A Taliban suicide bomber detonated his explosives as Afghanistan’s deputy chief of intelligence visited a mosque east of Kabul on Wednesday, killing the Afghan official and 22 others.”
* On a related note, the allegations of election corruption in Afghanistan are getting more serious.
* Largest Medicare fraud fine ever: “Top aides in the Obama administration announced a $2.3 billion settlement on Wednesday with the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Inc. over the company’s illegal promotion of its now-withdrawn painkiller, Bextra.”
* Iran’s top nuclear negotiator said yesterday he’s ready for some international chats.
* Can the AFL-CIO be satisfied with no card check in the Employee Free Choice Act?
* This makes me genuinely angry: “Low-wage workers are routinely denied proper overtime pay and are often paid less than the minimum wage, according to a new study based on a survey of workers in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.”
* If Benjamin Netanyahu wants to establish stronger ties with the Obama administration, he can cut a deal on curtailing Israeli settlements.
* The shift in U.S. strategy on illegal opium crops in Afghanistan is apparently producing encouraging results.
* The White House has apparently hurt Sen. Chuck Grassley’s (R-Iowa) feelings. What a joke.
* Rep. Phil Gingrey (R) of Georgia wants President Obama to vow to veto any health care bill that includes a public option or a co-op. I don’t think he was kidding.
* On a related note, as congressional Republicans move further and further away from health care reform, Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) still wants a “bipartisan” solution.
* RNC Chairman Michael Steele, still an embarrassment to himself.
* Kate Sheppard ponders the consequences of failing to pass a climate bill this year. Hint: that would be bad.
* FP: “It’s not too late to stop Africa’s largest country from splitting in half. But Obama needs to act now to prevent the worst.”
* Diane Sawyer will replace Charlie Gibson as the anchor of ABC’s “World News.”
* Did you catch Tom Ridge on “The Rachel Maddow Show” last night? You should.
* The far-right is not at all happy about Jon Henke’s efforts targeting WorldNetDaily. It’s a sign that Jon is doing the right thing.
* South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford (R) believes God is on his side.
* I’m delighted to see EmailChecker.org, and I’m glad it’s off to a good start.
* Jim Traficant, a free man.
* Fox News stalks the Media Matters offices.
* And finally, keep a close eye on Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, who has only hired one law clerk for next year’s term. The buzz in judicial circles was very loud today about the possibility of his retirement.
Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.