Friday’s Mini-Report

Today’s edition of quick hits:

* Pakistan’s Harakat-ul-Mujahedeen: “The cellphone of Osama bin Laden’s trusted courier, which was recovered in the raid that killed both men in Pakistan last month, contained contacts to a militant group that is a longtime asset of Pakistan’s intelligence agency, senior American officials who have been briefed on the findings say.”

* With debt-reduction talks having collapsed, President Obama will “directly intervene in the negotiations, beginning one-on-one meetings with key lawmakers next week.” On Monday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) will get the process started.

* For a change, gas prices are falling fast: “In the past 7 weeks, the average U.S. retail prices has dropped 38 cents to $3.60 per gallon. Another 25-cent drop is expected by mid-July.”

* Initial estimates showed that the economy grew at 1.8% in the first quarter. The revised estimates conclude it was actually 1.9%.

* The non-existent peace process: “Israeli and Palestinian leaders have told American and European officials who have been here repeatedly in recent weeks that they want to return to talks. But with numerous moving parts, neither side desperate about the status quo and no agreement on the terms, success is far from assured.”

* A long recovery process: “Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’s doctor says it will be about a year before it can be known whether she can return to Congress, bringing into question whether she will be able to meet Arizona’s May 2012 filing deadline for reelection.”

* Good for Perdue: “North Carolina Gov. Bev Perdue (D) has vetoed a Voter-ID bill passed by the Republican-controlled state legislature. The proposed law was part of a wave of similar bills that have been pushed by Republican-led legislatures in the wake of the 2010 elections…. ‘This bill, as written, will unnecessarily and unfairly disenfranchise many eligible and legitimate voters,’ Perdue wrote in her veto announcement.”

* It’s hard to overstate how ridiculous and dangerous Sen. Tom Coburn’s (R-Okla.) “Enumerated Powers Act” really is.

* Brad DeLong asks a good question: Can somebody please tell me why the U.S. Treasury has not taken the $50 billion of TARP money it is not using for housing–and another $100 billion or so of TARP money — and said: ‘Here is the equity tranche for a U.S. government-backed infrastructure bank. Go out and build stuff!’?”

* Daniel Luzer highlights the problem of high-stakes admissions in higher ed.

* In the important IPAB debate, this matters a lot: “Earlier this week, former Democratic congressman Dick Gephardt penned an op-ed for the Huffington Post that attacked a key pillar of President Obama’s healthcare reform bill. What the online publication didn’t disclose is that Gephardt is a lobbyist representing the very corporate interests gunning to kill the program.”

* Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) scheduled a public event to sign his budget bill at an in-state business. Then we learned the business is owned by a man convicted on felony charges of tax evasion. Walker ended up canceling, which was probably a smart move.

Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.