Tuesday’s Mini-Report

Today’s edition of quick hits:

* Afghanistan: “The administration has accelerated direct talks with the Taliban, initiated several months ago, that U.S. officials say they hope will enable President Obama to report progress toward a settlement of the Afghanistan war when he announces troop withdrawals in July.”

* Strauss-Kahn faces first call for his resignation: “Austria’s finance minister called Tuesday for the head of the International Monetary Fund, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, to consider resigning. It was the most direct call so far for Strauss-Kahn to step down since his arrest on sexual assault charges in New York this weekend.”

* On a related note: “The hotel maid accusing IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn of trying to rape her as she went to clean his suite is telling the truth, has ‘no agenda’ and did not know even know who he was until after the fact, her lawyer said Tuesday.”

* Middle East diplomacy: “President Obama welcomed King Abdullah of Jordan to the White House on Tuesday and declared that the United States remained committed to helping broker a peace agreement in the Middle East.”

* Speculation and oil prices: “Feel like you’re being robbed every time you fill the gas tank? Not sure who to blame? Try Wall Street. That’s not the conventional explanation, but it’s the one the facts point to.”

* Undermining Wisconsin: “Republican Gov. Scott Walker is steadily remaking the Wisconsin government, implementing conservative ideals and quietly consolidating power under the office of the governor…. ‘It’s a power grab,’ said Doug La Follette, Wisconsin’s Democratic Secretary of State. ‘[Walker] wants to control everything.'”

* On a related note, tens of thousands of Scott Walker’s constituents rallied the other day to oppose his radical agenda.

* There’s some conspiracy theories on the right about the Affordable Care Act and politically-motivated waivers. The nonsense has no basis in reality, but the talk has been loud enough to warrant a White House response.

* There’s also some “study” making the rounds suggesting the Recovery Act cost the economy a million jobs. It’s been debunked by those who know what they’re talking about.

* Good point: “Why is it, in our supposedly center-right country, conservatives seeking to dismantle the welfare state need to pretend they’re actually preserving it? I thought the American people were just a bunch of rugged individualists seeking to free themselves from the yoke of government assistance thrust on them by crypto-fascist liberals.”

* I find this easy to believe: “College presidents apparently think today’s freshmen are less prepared now than they were 10 years ago…. Furthermore, colleges are also dramatically more selective now than they were a decade ago. Why are admissions officers letting in so many unprepared students?”

* Real historians do not care for pseudo-historians like David Barton. Said one actual scholar at a Christian college: “Christians should think twice before they rely on David Barton for their understanding of the American founding. Let’s not confuse history with propaganda.”

* I find the “controversy” over Common’s role at a White House poetry slam to be hopelessly ridiculous, but I also quite enjoyed Jon Stewart and Bill O’Reilly talking about it on Fox News last night.

Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.