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

* Afghanistan: “Three U.S. troops died in blasts in Afghanistan, bringing the death toll for July to at least 63 and surpassing the previous month’s record as the deadliest for American forces in the nearly 9-year-old war.”

* The Bush Recession was even worse than we realized: “The worst U.S. recession since the 1930s was even deeper than previously estimated, reflecting bigger slumps in consumer spending and housing, according to revised figures.”

* Federal court judge Susan Bolton, recommended for the bench by Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), blocked the implementation yesterday of several provisions of Arizona’s anti-immigrant bill. Now, she’s facing death threats.

* Rangel’s reprimand? “The subcommittee that investigated Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) has recommended that the embattled lawmaker face just a ‘reprimand,’ a mild form of punishment similar to that given to Rep. Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) when he was rebuked in 1997.”

* Keep standing up for yourself, EPA.

* Happy Anniversary, Medicare. Here’s hoping the next Congress doesn’t try to subject you to a death panel.

* Something to keep an eye on: “The world’s first authorized test in people of a treatment derived from human embryonic stem cells has been cleared to begin by the Food and Drug Administration. The trial will test cells developed by Geron Corporation and the University of California, Irvine in patients with new spinal cord injuries.”

* Unacceptable: “Someone accused of killing a white person in North Carolina is nearly three times as likely to get the death penalty than someone accused of killing a black person, according to a study released Thursday by two researchers who looked at death sentences over a 28-year period.”

* Rumor has it that Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) is one of the sharper members of the House Republican caucus, but when one considers his actual ideas, Ryan is still “stone-cold ignorant.”

* Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) will vote to confirm Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court. He’s the fifth Republican senator to announce his support for the nomination.

* Even Robert Kagan, a bona fide neocon, supports ratification of New START. It just needs eight Republicans.

* Newt Gingrich is deeply confused, but so is his spokesperson.

* The GAO offers more support for those who believe there’s money to be saved in the Pentagon budget.

* Sorry to see True/Slant close its virtual doors.

* There are no credible defenses for crack/powder sentencing disparities, but Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) gives it a shot (and fails miserably).

* Fixing California’s higher education problems is harder than it looks.

* If it never occurred to you to connect “The Simpsons” to Weather Underground and ’60s-era radicalism, then you’re probably not watching Glenn Beck.

* And Washington Times columnist Jeffrey Kuhner continues to make a name for himself, this week suggesting it’s time for Arizona to consider secession. He seems quite serious about it.

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.