THURSDAY’S MINI-REPORT…. Today’s edition of quick hits:

* A reasonably good start in Geneva: “Iran and the big powers opposed to its nuclear program appeared to make progress Thursday in talks that included the highest-level direct discussions with the United States in many years, with both sides agreeing to hold further negotiations and the Iranians pledging to allow foreign inspectors into a newly disclosed uranium enrichment factory.”

* President Obama called the talks “constructive.”

* 1,100 dead as a result of Indonesian quakes.

* Bank of America’ Ken Lewis is departing, but he’ll enjoy a very luxurious retirement.

* Mark Lippert, the Deputy National Security Adviser and Chief of Staff to the NSC, is leaving the White House to return to active duty as a Navy Seal.

* Peter Galbraith is fired in Afghanistan for questioning the legitimacy of recent election results.

* Sen. Tom Carper’s (D-Del.) public option compromise is making the rounds. Ezra says it’s better than the trigger idea; Jon Cohn thinks it might not be necessary.

* House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) doesn’t think the public option is popular because he doesn’t personally know any supporters.

* This might be interesting: “A federal judge today ordered the Justice Department to release records of interviews with former Vice President Dick Cheney conducted during its investigation into the Valerie Plame leak.”

* When it comes to helping low-income college students, there hasn’t been enough progress on Pell Grants.

* George Will really should steer clear of columns about the environment.

* Quite a find: “Scientists today announced the discovery of the oldest fossil skeleton of a human ancestor. The find reveals that our forebears underwent a previously unknown stage of evolution more than a million years before Lucy, the iconic early human ancestor specimen that walked the Earth 3.2 million years ago.”

* Gerrymandering promotes political polarization? Don’t believe it.

* RNC Chairman Michael Steele believe his party is “up against … fanaticism.” I found that hilarious.

* And finally, Austan Goolsbee is, in fact, funny.

Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.