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

* About those talks in Afghanistan: “Despite news reports of high-level talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government, no significant peace negotiations are under way in Afghanistan, U.S. officials and Afghanistan experts said Thursday.”

* Nevertheless, Gen. David Petraeus continues to sound optimistic. (More surprisingly, Fred Kaplan is starting to sound more optimistic, too.)

* A swastika-adorned package was sent to Rep. Rep. Raul Grijalva’s (D-Ariz.) this week, with a suspicious powder inside. The FBI has determined, as of this afternoon, that the substance is “non-toxic.”

* An attempt to limit trade imbalances: “The Obama administration on Friday urged the world’s biggest economies to set a numerical limit on their trade imbalances, in a major new effort to broker an international consensus on how to handle festering exchange-rate tensions.”

* For the right, there’s some kind of Democratic/Republican equivalence between groups using undisclosed funds to influence election outcomes. Given the actual numbers — nearly $75 million to help the GOP, under $10 million in support of Democrats — the talking point is demonstrably ridiculous.

* The Pentagon isn’t going to ignore the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law, but Defense Secretary Robert Gates has issued a directive that would make discharges under the law a lot more difficult.

* President Obama will name Denis McDonough as his new Deputy National Security Advisor.

* In an apparent attempt to sound reasonable, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said there’s “not a chance” he would pursue impeachment against the president if there’s a GOP majority in the House.

* Student debt gets worse, as does the ability to pay off these student loans.

* Fox News has rewarded Juan Williams with a three-year, $2 million contract. Imagine that.

* Remember when Republicans said the Andy Griffith/Medicare commercials HHS ran were illegal propaganda? Well, the allegations were wrong.

* The idea of defunding the Supreme Court out of partisan spite is insane.

* Remember the Citizens Against Government Waste ad we talked about earlier? Campus Progress quickly put together a very clever spoof, which (a) is pretty darn clever; and (b) already annoying the hell out of Citizens Against Government Waste. (thanks to reader K.A. for the tip)

Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.

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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.