I’m afraid I have a family commitment this afternoon, and have to take off a little early. Here’s today’s edition of quick hits, 90 minutes early:

* Europe: “The brewing economic crisis in Europe appeared to be sharply escalating Monday amid fears that near-bankrupt Greece may not be able to avoid a default with its creditors, threatening major European banks sitting on massive stockpiles of troubled country debt.”

* Blast at French nuclear site: “One person was killed and four were injured Monday afternoon in an explosion at a nuclear waste treatment site in southern France, according to the French Nuclear Safety Authority. The authority and local police officials said there had been no radiation leak. Some five hours after the explosion, the authority announced that the episode was over. The site, about 20 miles from Avignon, has no nuclear reactors, the authority said.”

* Afghanistan: “A suicide bomber driving a truck of firewood attacked a NATO base in central Afghanistan on Saturday afternoon, killing two civilians and injuring 77 foreign soldiers, NATO-led forces said, but none of the injuries were life-threatening…. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack.”

* Middle East: “Israel scrambled its diplomatic staff out of Egypt early Saturday after protesters tore down a wall and broke into the Israeli Embassy. As thousands more protesters torched police vehicles and clashed with security forces, an Egyptian commando squad rescued six embassy guards trapped inside the building.”

* Turkey: “The Obama administration is considering a request from Turkey to base a fleet of Predator drones on Turkish soil for counterterrorism operations in northern Iraq, a decision that could strengthen a diplomatic alliance but drag the United States deeper into a regional conflict.”

* FAA: “Unions were breathing a sigh of relief Friday morning after House Republicans punted a contentious anti-union issue preventing funding for the Federal Aviation Administration to the end of December, providing back pay to agency workers and giving opponents more time to organize and fight GOP-backed anti-labor provisions.”

* I hope Brits realize he doesn’t speak for all of us: “Tomorrow, the British Parliament will hold a hearing on the ‘roots of violent radicalisation’ in the Muslim community in that country. The first witness before the committee will be Rep. Peter King (R-NY). King will reportedly be the first member of Congress to ever address a committee of Parliament.”

* Not bad: “President Obama’s address to a joint session of Congress was watched by 31 million television viewers, according to Nielsen.”

* Daniel Luzer on student-loan debt: “Shouldn’t no debt be the norm? Currently three out of five college students graduate, begin their professional lives, with debt they have to pay back for their education. What might be more interesting is the geographic and racial diversity of those who graduate without education debt. Certain states, those with more expensive state universities, probably leave their college students with higher debt.”

* Dick Cheney isn’t done fighting in support of torture.

* And Rush Limbaugh wouldn’t mind seeing George W. Bush being added to Mt. Rushmore. No, he did not appear to be kidding.

Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.

Our ideas can save democracy... But we need your help! Donate Now!

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.