Today's edition of quick hits:
* Earthquake in Amatrice, Italy: "Homes opened up, like dollhouses, revealing shards of life interrupted by the 6.2-magnitude earthquake before dawn Wednesday.... Amatrice, considered among the most beautiful of Italy's historic towns, has survived centuries of war, weather and earthquakes, but never one like this. 'Three quarters of the town is not there anymore,' Amatrice Mayor Sergio Pirozzi told state broadcaster RAI."
* Afghanistan: "Gunmen stormed the American University of Afghanistan in Kabul on Wednesday night, engaging with Afghan special forces who were responding to reports of gunfire and an explosion. A senior U.S. intelligence official told NBC News that the attackers 'got inside the compound,' but there were no immediate reports of casualties or hostages."
* Middle East: "Turkish tanks, American warplanes and Syrian rebels joined forces Wednesday in a major cross-border assault into northern Syria that quickly pushed Islamic State forces from a strategic border town, officials from the U.S. and Turkey said."
* Indiana: "An Indianapolis homeowner who called police to report an attempted armed robbery at his house was mistaken for the suspect and was shot in the stomach by the responding officer, authorities said."
* Federal aid for communities that need a hand: "Officials say 29 projects in nine Appalachian states and in Texas are being funded by nearly $39 million from a federal initiative aimed at stimulating economic development in U.S. communities hard hit by coal industry layoffs. Officials for the Appalachian Regional Commission and other agencies announced the projects Wednesday at a news conference in Huntington."
* The worthwhile executive action: "With its time in the White House winding down, the Obama administration plans to add yet another executive order to its list on Wednesday -- one that will bar companies from receiving federal contracts if they recently violated labor laws."
* Oh my: "Army Maj. Gen. David Haight, Army Ranger, decorated combat veteran and family man, held a key post in Europe this spring and a future with three, maybe four stars. He also led a double life: an 11-year affair and a 'swinger lifestyle' of swapping sexual partners that put him at risk of blackmail and espionage."
* More protected land: "President Obama designated a large swath of Maine's North Woods as a new national monument Wednesday, creating what is likely to be the last large new national park ever established on the East Coast."
* Don't pack your bags just yet: "After scanning the vast reaches of the cosmos for Earth-like planets where life might exist, astronomers have found one right next door."
Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.