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

* The first peace talks in nearly two years: “President Obama on Wednesday began the arduous process of coaxing and pressing the main Middle East participants to define and embrace a comprehensive peace settlement. But he had to begin by joining Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel in strongly condemning a fatal attack on the West Bank and declaring solemnly, ‘We’ve got a lot of work to do.’”

* Manufacturing numbers here and purchasing data in China offered some of the best economic news in a while.

* Neil Irwin says there are “some reasons for at least modest optimism” on the economy, and said we’re “likely” to see “a slow-and-steady recovery.”

* On a related note, Christina Romer, the departing chairman of President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers, offered a farewell speech to her team today, taking pride in helping the United States steer clear of “a second Great Depression.”

* Some nut is holding hostages at the Discovery Communications building in a Maryland suburb of D.C.

* For the first time in 20 years, we’re seeing the number of immigrants entering the country illegally decline. A weak economy and increased enforcement were cited as the main factors.

* In North Carolina, the first evacuations in anticipation of a strengthening Hurricane Earl began today.

* New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) wants to “move on” after his monumental screw up over education funding and demonstrably false criticism of the Obama administration. I’m sure he does, but that may be easier said than done.

* Ethics probes advance in controversies related to Reps. John Campbell (R-Calif.), Tom Price (R-Ga.), and Joseph Crowley (D-N.Y.).

* New and improved federal financial aid for college students.

* Korean cult leader Sun Myung Moon gets the far-right Washington Times back.

* And Glenn Beck assured his followers that he went to the National Archives and held George Washington’s hand-written first inaugural. That’s not even close to true.

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.