Today’s edition of quick hits:

* Afghanistan: “Ahmed Wali Karzai, the powerful half brother of the Afghan president and the linchpin of the security and power structure in southern Afghanistan, was shot twice in the head and killed Tuesday by a close family associate.” The motivations are unclear, but the killing “amounts to a direct blow to the power of President Hamid Karzai, who depended on his half brother’s unchallenged influence in southern Afghanistan.”

* Europe: “The debt crisis shook Europe’s core on Tuesday as market fears grew over the stability of Spain and Italy, forcing a rethink of the currency union’s strategy to restore trust in its future. Markets took a nosedive on worries that the eurozone’s third and fourth biggest economies — both too expensive to save with Europe’s rescue funds — may become the crisis’ next victims.”

* This doesn’t have to go poorly: “Federal Reserve officials are divided as to whether the central bank should consider further stimulus for the economy, even as they hash out how to exit from the recently concluded round of market-boosting activity.”

* On a related note, the Fed isn’t out of ammunition to help the economy; it’s just choosing not to shoot.

* Secretary of State Hillary Clinton believe that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has “lost legitimacy.”

* Good thinking: “The Obama administration is ramping up talks on how to revive the housing market, which is weighing on the economic recovery — and possibly the president’s re-election in 2012.”

* A hard-earned honor for Sgt. 1st Class Leroy Petry: “President Obama on Tuesday awarded the Medal of Honor to an Army Ranger for his courageous actions during combat in Afghanistan, only the second time since the Vietnam War that a living service member from an ongoing conflict has received the distinction.”

* Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) put his crusade against the FAA aside just long enough to place a hold on the nomination of John Bryson to head up the Commerce Department. Inhofe helps exemplify why American politics doesn’t work.

* True: “Governing by crisis is an undemocratic way for our overlords to try to avoid accountability.”

* Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) joins Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) as the only Democratic senators to oppose any debt-reduction deal that raises taxes on anyone by any amount. Nelson at least has an excuse — he’s running for re-election in a “red” state — while Webb is retiring.

* Ta-Nehisi Coates calls the Washington Post‘s reporting on Michelle Obama’s lunch “the dumbest story ever written in all of human history.”

* College students and their families have to be frustrated when schools jack up tuition rates during the school year.

* As the Murdoch media scandal intensifies by the day, Paul Krugman is right to note, “At this point it’s starting to look as if News Corp is better viewed as a criminal enterprise than as a media organization.”

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.