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Wednesday's Mini-Report

Today's edition of quick hits:

* Secretary of State John Kerry delivered his first big speech in his new post earlier today, and offered a spirited defense of foreign aid. Good for him.

* It's hard to believe, but Rajiv Chandrasekaran reports that for the first time in six years, no American servicemembers were killed in enemy action in Afghanistan over the last 30 days.

* Housing starts plummeted in January. Don't panic.

* Sequester: "The Defense Department officially notified its 800,000 civilian employees on Wednesday that they are likely to be placed on periods of unpaid leave, as the Obama administration scrambled to deal with congressionally mandated budget cuts set to kick in next week."

* Guilty: "A remorseful and emotional Jesse L. Jackson Jr. faced the criminal charges against him in federal court Wednesday, admitting to misusing campaign funds to benefit himself and his wife."

* Why gas prices have gone up so quickly, and so unexpectedly given the time of year.

* Senate Democrats now assume that the sequestration cuts are unavoidable, and believe "the real action on the sequester has yet to come, and will ramp up in earnest in March."

* Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) did the right thing last night, standing up in defense of comprehensive immigration reform during angry town-hall meetings in Arizona yesterday.

* Former Sen. Pete Domenici (R) fathered a child with a woman who was not his wife -- in fact, she was the daughter of one of his colleagues. He then voted for the Defense of Marriage Act and voted for articles of impeachment against President Clinton.

* Smart choice: "Late-night comedian Conan O'Brien has agreed to headline this year's White House Correspondents' Association dinner, a source tells POLITICO."

* What was Fox News' Bob Beckel thinking when he asked, in all seriousness, "When was the last time you heard about a rape on campus?"

Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.