Tuesday’s Mini-Report

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

* A little more provocative: “Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad declined to give a yes-or-no answer on whether he could assure the West that Iran would never weaponize its nuclear material and turn it into a bomb.”

* Economic growth in the third quarter was revised downward again, to 2.2%: “The Commerce Department’s new reading on gross domestic product for the July-to-September quarter was slower than the 2.8% growth rate estimated just a month ago.”

* Serious shortfalls: “The recession’s jobless toll is draining unemployment-compensation funds so fast that according to federal projections, 40 state programs will go broke within two years and need $90 billion in loans to keep issuing the benefit checks.”

* Encouraging figures in the real estate market: “Extraordinary government efforts to stabilize the housing market are paying off. What happens when the help runs out is anyone’s guess. Sales of previously occupied homes surged in November to the highest level in nearly three years, spurred by federal subsidies for starter homes and a massive Federal Reserve push to drive down mortgage rates.”

* Obama finds cost savings: “President Barack Obama on Monday touted the federal government’s efforts to become more efficient, highlighting a new report that shows billions of dollars in savings on contract costs. The report by the Office of Management and Budget shows that agencies have identified more than $19 billion in contract savings for fiscal year 2010, which began Oct. 1. Obama said that puts the government on track to meet its goal of saving $40 billion annually by fiscal year 2011.”

* Obscene: “Ed Hanway, CEO of Cigna, one of the nation’s largest health insurance companies, will step down at the end of this year, in just over a week. When he does, he’ll get $73,200,000 as compensation for a job well done.”

* An unexpected drop in crime: “The homicide rate dropped 10 percent in the first half of this year as crime rates reached their lowest point nationally since the 1960s, the FBI reported Monday.”

* A welcome reversal: “An Army general in Iraq backed away from his threat today to court martial female soldiers who get pregnant.”

* The New York Times editorial board supports the Democratic health care reform plan.

* So does a group of prominent economists who’ve been tracking the process.

* Jane Hamsher argues health care reform won’t really work “on behalf of the ‘poor.'” Jonathan Cohn responds.

* Nate Silver tackles the “insidious myth of reconciliation.”

* Fair and balanced: “‘Fox & Friends’ lists ‘5 things conservatives hate’ and ‘5 things liberals hate’ about Senate health care bill.”

* Giving colleges a new mission: prepare kids for college.

* Deadly volcano ash isn’t funny.

* For all her talk about small government and the evils of spending, Rep. Michele Bachmann’s (R-Minn.) family farm has received over a quarter million dollars in government handouts.

* Mary Matalin described proponents of health care reform as “health care jihadists.” Seriously. CNN pays her for this kind of stuff.

Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.