Today’s edition of quick hits:
* Afghanistan: “Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday said a final draft of key U.S.-Afghan bilateral agreement has been reached after a series of phone calls with President Hamid Karzai this morning. The agreement would govern relations between the U.S. military and the Afghan government for years to come.”
* Iraq: “A wave of bombings hit mainly Shiite commercial areas in and outside Baghdad on Wednesday, killing at least 35 people, Iraqi officials said.”
* Egypt: “Ten Egyptian soldiers were killed on Wednesday after a booby-trapped car exploded next to their bus in the northern Sinai Peninsula, according to a military spokesman. At least 35 people were wounded in the bombing, near the town of Sheikh Zuwayed, the military said.”
* Iran: “Senior officials from six world powers met Wednesday in Geneva in a new bid to reach an agreement with Iran on its nuclear program despite opposition from Israel, some members of the United States Congress and Iranian hard-liners.”
* The United States today issued its harshest travel warning against North Korea in 18 years. Why? No one knows.
* Virginia: “At least three hospitals near Bath County had available beds the day before the son of Virginia state Sen. R. Creigh Deeds apparently stabbed his father and then shot himself to death, officials confirmed Wednesday…. It remained unclear Wednesday which hospitals were called and why Austin Deeds was not taken to one of the available facilities.”
* Mental health matters: “Nationally, the number of psychiatric beds has been steadily declining as hospitals moved away from institutionalizing patients and budget cuts have taken hold. The number of hospital beds in freestanding psychiatric hospitals has dropped 13% between 2002 and 2011, according to the American Hospital Association. But the need hasn’t declined as quickly, and there haven’t been adequate alternatives to pick up the slack.”
* Economy: “An increase in shopping last month during the partial government shutdown suggests that the U.S. economy may be more resilient than some have feared.”
* President Obama is open to piecemeal immigration reform – so long as all the pieces are completed.
* Fortunately, Meng wasn’t seriously injured: “Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY) was attacked and robbed in the Eastern Market neighborhood of Washington, D.C. on Tuesday night. Meng, a first-term congresswoman representing New York’s 6th congressional district, was struck in the back of the head as she was walking to her apartment after dinner at a local restaurant. The attacker took her handbag and then fled on foot, her office announced.”
* Obama awarded this year’s Presidential Medals of Freedom today.
* And if you or someone close to you is in the sliver of the population that received a health care cancelation notice, and you’re wondering what happens now, read Jonathan Cohn’s latest gem.
Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.