Friday’s Mini-Report

Today’s edition of quick hits:

* It’s at least mildly encouraging to see U.S. retail sales climbed in July, posting their biggest jump since March.

* After all of the radical swings on Wall Street over the last several days, the Dow Jones Industrial Average ended the week at roughly the same point that it started the week.

* Syria: “Tens of thousands of Syrians in cities and towns around their country took to the streets on Friday after noon prayers shouting ‘We will not kneel’ in a strong show of defiance against the government of President Bashar al-Assad, and at least 15 protesters were killed by security forces, human rights activists and residents said.”

* On a related note, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is urging the EU, India, and China, to ramp up the pressure on Syria even more.

* Private-sector dialog: “President Barack Obama is expected to meet Friday afternoon with chief executives from Johnson & Johnson, Wells Fargo & Co, US Bank, Xerox Corp, BlackRock Inc, according to a source familiar with the plans. He also is meeting with the CEO of Silver Lake Partners.”

* USPS: “The financially strapped U.S. Postal Service is proposing to cut its workforce by 20 percent and to withdraw from the federal health and retirement plans because it believes it could provide benefits at a lower cost.” It’s hard to believe, but over the last four years, mail volume has dropped by 20%.

* Conservative economist Douglas Holtz-Eakin, a very influential figure in Republican politics, set out to prove that the Recovery Act had almost no stimulative effect. The problem: he made a mistake and accidentally proved the exact opposite. This is the latest reminder of why credible GOP wonks are an endangered species.

* Nebraska Attorney General and Republican Senate candidate Jon Bruning compared welfare recipients to scavenging raccoons. This has not gone over well with anyone.

* How many presidential systems of government in the world have a AAA credit rating? None. As our political process cracks, I find this pretty interesting.

* Fascinating item from Aaron Carroll: “It’s not obesity, it’s not heart disease, it’s not diabetes. Kids are killed by accidents, by homicide, and by suicide. That’s why pediatricians ask about guns. But not in Florida [where it is now illegal for physicians to ask about gun ownership].”

* I can relate to this one: “Apparently people with bachelor’s degrees are more likely to work from home.”

* Dear Maine Public Broadcasting Network, when James O’Keefe is pushing one of his provocative new “news” stories, it’s best to remember his reputation for breathtaking dishonesty.

Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.