Today’s edition of quick hits:
* Irene’s aftermath: “The National Guard airlifted food, water and other supplies to hundreds of people stranded without power in towns across southern Vermont on Tuesday as crews inspected damaged bridges and tried to restore washed-out highways after the remnants of Hurricane Irene caused historic flooding in the state.”
* FEMA’s dwindling bank account: “Cleaning up after Hurricane Irene could cost billions, but FEMA has less than $800 million in its coffers. So the Federal Emergency Management Agency is freezing aid money earmarked for states like Missouri, Tennessee and Alabama that were ravaged by floods and tornados earlier this year – to make sure they have enough to help with the immediate needs of states strafed by Irene.”
* Gaddafi’s allies get a deadline: “Emboldened by their military advances and increasing acceptance abroad, Libya’s rebels gave Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s recalcitrant loyalists a four-day deadline Tuesday to surrender, and they demanded that Algeria repatriate a clutch of Qaddafi family members — including his biological daughter and her own newborn daughter — who had fled into exile there the day before.”
* Fast and Furious fallout: “The ATF head has been reassigned amid an investigation into a controversial U.S. gun-trafficking operation, part of a broader shake-up at the Justice Department in which the U.S. attorney in Phoenix also stepped down, officials said Tuesday.”
* Economy: “Consumer confidence plunged in August to its lowest since the 2007-2009 recession, after a bruising battle over the budget slammed stock prices and pushed the nation to the brink of default.”
* Iraq: “Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki’s office put out a statement today saying the U.S. troop presence in Iraq will be gone by the end of this year as specified in an agreement made with the Bush administration”
* Stimulus: “A new Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report estimates that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) increased the number of people employed by between 1.0 million and 2.9 million jobs as of June. In other words, between 1.0 million and 2.9 million people employed in June owed their jobs to the Recovery Act.”
* As a rule, when officials in Washington promise to save American taxpayers big bucks by targeting “fraud and abuse,” it’s best to just roll one’s eyes. But not always: “New government statistics show federal health care fraud prosecutions in the first eight months of 2011 are on pace to rise 85% over last year due in large part to ramped-up enforcement efforts under the Obama administration.”
* Scary: “The Houston Police Department said damage to a window at Rep. Gene Green’s office appears to be criminal mischief, not gun shots.”
* I don’t want to alarm anyone, but Dick Cheney’s book takes some liberties with the facts.
* Getting out of student loans: “One of the more troubling aspects about the rise in student loan debt is that, unlike other forms of debt, this generally isn’t dischargeable in bankruptcy. When someone files for bankruptcy he gets relief from creditors. But that doesn’t work for student loans. People are still responsible for payments on those debts, crippling interest rates an all, even if they file for bankruptcy. It’s time to change that.”
* And Rush Limbaugh, increasingly brazen on race-related issues, is now arguing that Colin Powell will support President Obama’s re-election because “melanin is thicker than water.”
Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.