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

* Crisis on the Korean peninsula: “President Obama and South Korea’s president agreed Tuesday night to hold joint military exercises as a first response to North Korea’s deadly shelling of a South Korean military installation, as both countries struggled for the second time this year to keep a North Korean provocation from escalating into war.”

* Obama administration succeeds in securing Israeli patience on Iran: “Some Israeli officials say the country’s fingers are off the hair-trigger that would launch a strike on the Iranian nuclear program, but that convincing the United States to take a harder line on Iran remains a top national priority.”

* Irish austerity: “Desperate to seal a deal for an international bailout, the government in Ireland on Wednesday unveiled a painful, four-year plan for $20 billion in spending cuts and new taxes that would slash unemployment benefits and cut welfare payments for the already hard-hit Irish public.”

* Unusually good news on unemployment filings: “The number of people applying for unemployment benefits fell sharply last week to the lowest level since July 2008, a hopeful sign that improvement in the job market is accelerating. The Labor Department said Wednesday that weekly unemployment claims dropped by 34,000 to a seasonally adjusted 407,000 in the week ending Nov. 20.”

* President Obama takes a compelling pitch to Kokomo, Indiana.

* Nearly 70% of the allocated TARP money has been “repaid, offset with profits, or canceled.”

* The Pentagon will give Congress its DADT survey results on Tuesday. The Senate Armed Services Committee will hold hearings, including testimony from Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen, on Thursday and Friday.

* Remember the widely-mocked, color-coded terror-alert levels? They’re on their way out.

* When has a country ever prospered by devaluing its currency? I’m glad you asked.

* Former right-wing Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating (R) will now lead the American Bankers Association. (thanks to K.G. for the tip)

* Sarah Palin is now going after First Lady Michelle Obama for trying to combat childhood obesity.

* When it comes to student loans and crushing debt, stories like Kelli Space’s shouldn’t even exist.

* Salon War Room blog has been counting down its Hack 30 — a list of “the worst pundits in America.” The top choice was announced this afternoon, and it’s hard to argue with the selection.

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.