Wednesday’s Mini-Report

Today’s edition of quick hits:

* ECB starts making offers: “After more than a year of frustrating and mostly fruitless summit meetings of European political leaders, the European Central Bank appears to have found a more promising way to ease the euro zone crisis: give money to banks at bargain-basement rates.”

* A very serious dispute in Iraq: “A political crisis unfolding in Iraq intensified Wednesday when Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki demanded that Kurdish officials hand over the country’s Sunni vice president to face criminal charges and threatened to purge the fragile coalition government of lawmakers who refuse to work with him.”

* Slayings in Syria: “Syrian rights activists and opposition groups said on Wednesday that forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad had killed more than 100 defecting soldiers, civilians and antigovernment activists over the last three days in northwestern Syria. If confirmed, the killings would constitute one of the worst spasms of violence in the nine-month-old uprising.”

* Countrywide settles: “The Justice Department on Wednesday announced the largest residential fair-lending settlement in history, saying that Bank of America had agreed to pay $335 million to settle allegations that its Countrywide Financial unit discriminated against black and Hispanic borrowers during the housing boom.”

* Nice job, Republicans: “Some say they’ll spend less on groceries. Others expect to cut back on travel. For many, there would be fewer meals out. Across the country, Americans are bracing for another financial hardship: smaller paychecks starting in January, if Congress doesn’t break a deadlock and renew a Social Security tax cut.”

* POTUS starts working the phones: “President Obama on Wednesday reached out in telephone calls to House Speaker John A. Boehner and Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the majority leader, in an effort to find a resolution to the nasty battle over the expiring payroll tax holiday.”

* Add education “reform” to the list of Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s (R) failures.

* Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), through the Democracy Restoration Act, wants to restore the voting rights of citizens convicted of a felony after they complete their sentence. Given the number of states who permanently disenfranchise felons, even after they’ve served their time, Cardin’s bill sounds like a very good idea.

* There was a chance we’d see some movement on the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) this week, but the House Judiciary Committee won’t act again on it until the new year.

* Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) debunks his own report on wasteful government spending.

* And if Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) is going to invoke “Schoolhouse Rock,” he should at least try to get it right.

Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.