Friday’s Mini-Report

Today’s edition of quick hits:

* I know this decision was made with the economy in mind, but it’s still a terrible move: “The Obama administration is abandoning its plan to immediately tighten air-quality rules nationwide to reduce emissions of smog-causing chemicals after an intense lobbying campaign by industry, which said the new rule would cost billions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of jobs.”

* Cracking down on banks: “Federal regulators filed suit on Friday against more than a dozen leading banks, seeking billions in compensation for huge losses suffered by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac on mortgage-backed securities the banks assembled during the housing boom. Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Deutsche Bank, Citigroup, Barclays and Morgan Stanley are among the defendants in the suits, brought by the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which oversees Fannie and Freddie.”

* Libya: “Rebel fighters pushed closer to Moammar Gadhafi’s hometown on Friday, despite the extension of a deadline for the town’s surrender and negotiations with tribal leaders aimed at avoiding bloodshed.”

* Syria: “As thousands of Syrian protesters poured onto the streets after midday prayers Friday, the European Union announced a ban on oil imports that could strip away a major source of financial support for the government’s five-month-old crackdown on dissent.”

* I’m beginning to think Berlusconi doesn’t believe in Italian exceptionalism: “In a sign of his frustration at the investigations into his alleged crimes and misdemeanors, Silvio Berlusconi vowed in July to leave Italy, which he described as a ‘shitty country’ that ‘sickened’ him.”

* Rendition: “The CIA’s super-secret rendition program — to whisk terrorist suspects in the dark of night to CIA black sites for interrogation — has been further exposed to the light of day in rather humble fashion: a billing dispute in upstate New York.” (thanks to reader J.R.)

* It wasn’t too long ago that Stephen Goldsmith was considered an up-and-coming superstar in Republican circles. Now, it appears his career is in shambles.

* I’m surprised it took this long: “Finally it looks like those law school applications are going down. For the last decade or so undecided young professionals, perhaps inappropriately, saw law school as a reasonably secure path to prosperity…. And then the economy collapsed. And people started to realize that just going to law school didn’t ensure a good job, or even a job at all. So why bother?”

* I guess I shouldn’t be surprised by this, but the brazenness is astounding, even for a Republican: “Conservative columnist Matthew Vadum is just going to come right out and say it: registering the poor to vote is un-American and ‘like handing out burglary tools to criminals.'”

Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.