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

* New national security team: “President Obama will nominate CIA Director Leon Panetta this week as secretary of defense, replacing Robert M. Gates as part of a series of national security shifts that will also place Afghanistan war commander Gen. David H. Petraeus in the top CIA job, U.S. officials said.” Also, Ryan Crocker is headed to Kabul as Ambassador and Marine Lt. Gen. John Allen will replace Petraeus.

* Afghanistan: “A veteran Afghan military pilot said to be distressed over his personal finances opened fire at Kabul airport after an argument Wednesday, killing eight U.S. troops and an American civilian contractor.”

* Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke didn’t say much, but he does see the recovery continuing through 2013 — it just won’t be an especially good recovery.

* An unexpected partnership: “Fatah and Hamas, the rival Palestinian movements, announced an agreement in principle on Wednesday to end a years-long internal Palestinian schism.”

* It’s important for people to realize that self-proclaimed health care expert Elizabeth McCaughey seems to be poison for the discourse.

* Fox News’ Shep Smith, reflecting on the birther nonsense, tells the media to “just freaking stop it.” Here’s hoping his own network takes the advice to heart.

* I’m at a loss to explain how the same Obama administration officials who deemed the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional, and refused to defend it in court, are also somehow “screwing over a key Democratic constituency” by defending a lawyer’s choice to work on the case from the other side. [Update: To clarify, the oddity isn’t the administration’s actions, but the wholly unnecessary criticism of those actions.]

* In light of deep education cuts from their new Republican governor, Pennsylvania parents wonder how they’ll be able to sell 2.4 billion bake-sale cookies to make up the difference.

* It never occurred to me that college students might be less likely to drop out if they had fewer choices about what to do while there.

* Libertarians looking forward to the next two installments in the Atlas Shrugged films are likely to be disappointed. With the movie failing miserably with critics and audiences, the producer/distributor/financier no longer intends to invest in his failure.

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.