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

* Ugly: “Sales of previously built single-family homes plunged in July to their lowest level since May 1995 as job fears trumped low mortgage interest rates and relatively affordable home prices.” The drop was 27.2% from June — twice as bad as economists expected.

* Frank Ahrens tries to make us feel better: “Painful as it is to take in the short term, today’s news about the plunge in home sales is exactly what this economy needs for the long run. Think of it as an economic colonic. Not pretty, but necessary.”

* Deadly attacks in Mogadishu: “Somali insurgents disguised in government military uniforms stormed a Mogadishu hotel on Tuesday and killed at least 30 people, including six lawmakers, laying bare how vulnerable Somalia’s government is, even in an area it claims to control. The insurgents methodically moved room to room, killing hotel guests who tried to bolt their doors shut, Somali officials said. When government forces finally cornered the insurgents, two blew themselves up with suicide vests.”

* Here’s hoping this news out of the Gulf is accurate: “Petroleum-eating bacteria – which had dined for eons on oil seeping naturally through the sea floor — proliferated in the cloud of oil that drifted underwater for months after the April 20 accident. They not only outcompeted fellow microbes, they each ramped up their own internal metabolic machinery to digest the oil as efficiently as possible.”

* Former President Jimmy Carter is headed to North Korea in the hopes of freeing Aijalon Mahli Gomes, a 31-year-old Boston resident who was sentenced in April to eight years at a hard labor camp for illegally crossing North Korea’s border with China.

* There are now fewer than 50,000 U.S. troops in Iraq, the lowest since the 2003 invasion.

* Shirley Sherrod has turned down a job offer at the Agriculture Department. I can’t say I blame her.

* Atrios speaks the truth: “10-year Treasury at 2.51. As I keep saying, at rates this low it’s a crime not to borrow crazy amounts and spend it on SUPERTRAINS and fixing bridges and whatnot.”

* During her work at the Bush State Department, Karen Hughes worked with Feisal Abdul Rauf — except she no longer remembers that.

* Former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) has described Rauf — an American, a moderate imam, and an ally of the Bush administration — as “a jihadist.” What a buffoon.

* Anyone relying on right-wing blogger Pamela Geller as a reliable source of information is making a foolish mistake.

* Have I mentioned lately how confusing Jonah Goldberg is?

* Daniel Luzer: “Guess who’s most likely to finish college? Oddly and surprisingly, it’s heavy Facebook users.”

* Tea Party activist Mark Williams’ bigotry appears to get even worse.

* And finally, a Tea Party group has advised activists visiting D.C. this weekend which parts of the city to visit — and which parts not to visit. Rachel Maddow and Eugene Robinson took a closer look at the advice in an amusing segment last night.

Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.

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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.