Today’s edition of quick hits:

* Syrians defy crackdown: “Thousands of protesters poured into the streets of the capital’s suburbs and three of Syria’s five largest cities Friday, in a weekly show of defiance that came days before President Bashar al-Assad was expected to address Syrians for the first time in two months. Activists said at least 19 people were killed and dozens wounded.”

* This could have a huge impact: “AARP, the powerful lobbying group for older Americans, is dropping its longstanding opposition to cutting Social Security benefits, a move that could rock Washington’s debate over how to revamp the nation’s entitlement programs.”

* The AARP’s shift has already sent “shock waves through the Beltway’s large and influential entitlement reform community.”

* Austerity’s blowback: “Decaying political support for budget cuts in Europe is threatening global financial stability and could undermine a recovery that is already weakening, the International Monetary Fund warned in a trio of reports Friday.”

* I wish more governors would do this: “[Missouri] Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed a bill Friday that could have eventually required voters to provide a government-issued photo ID to cast a ballot.”

* I’d love to hear more about this: “The office of Republican Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey is claiming that Fox News chairman Roger Ailes is a confidential adviser whose interactions with the governor should remain secret under New Jersey’s executive privilege.”

* In the race for America’s worst governor: “Florida Governor Rick Scott has suspended an order requiring all state workers undergo drug testing, pending resolution of a lawsuit that called the tests an illegal search of workers’ bodies.”

* The New York Times‘ “Room for Debate” featured a variety of takes on Anthony Weiner’s departure. I especially liked this one, because I wrote it.

* White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer spoke at a Netroots Nation session today. He probably would have been received about as warmly at a CPAC session.

* Minnesota state senator Michael Jungbauer, the self-proclaimed “No. 1 global climate change denier” in the state, appears to have blatantly lied about his educational background. I guess that explains a few things.

* How very silly: “World Net Daily editor Joseph Farah plans to file a lawsuit against Esquire magazine next week over a satirical article alleging he was recalling a WND-published book questioning the legitimacy of President Barack Obama’s birth certificate.”

* In the Craziest Member of Congress bracket, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) solidifies his #1 seed.

* The Cato Institute has a new idea on reducing college costs. It’s not an especially good idea, but kudos for the effort.

* If you watch all the way to the end of this clip — literally, the last 30 seconds — you’ll see that President Obama, among his other talents, has the ability to make babies stop crying. (The look he gives the First Lady is priceless.)

Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.

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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.