WEDNESDAY’S MINI-REPORT…. Today’s edition of quick hits:

* The WHO signals governments around the world: “The World Health Organization raised its pandemic alert to 5, its second-highest level Wednesday, indicating the outbreak of swine flu that originated in Mexico is nearing widespread human infection.”

* A 23-month-old child is the first confirmed death as a result of the swine flu in the United States. The toddler was from Mexico City, but was visiting Texas.

* More bloodshed in Iraq: “Six car bombings in four hours killed 48 people and wounded 81 in various Baghdad neighborhoods Wednesday, according to Iraq’s Interior Ministry.”

* North Korea is threatening a second nuclear test and the launch of an ICMB unless the U.N. Security Council says it’s sorry for censuring North Korea earlier this month.

* The House passed a hate-crimes measure this afternoon, but not before some far-right Republicans made some pretty nauseating comments.

* The New Hampshire Senate approved a gay-marriage law today. The measure now heads for the state House. (There’s also been progress in Maine.)

* The regular ol’ flu kills about 36,000 Americans a year. I didn’t realize the number was that high.

* First quarter GDP numbers were really ugly.

* The Federal Reserve believes the recession may be easing and that the economic outlook has “improved modestly” since March.

* Remember when Arlen Specter hated lawmakers who switched parties?

* Judge Bybee? Pat Leahy would like a few words with you.

* To his credit, Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) will support Dawn Johnsen’s nomination.

* House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) said the Democratic agenda “makes me want to throw up.” Classy.

* Apparently, Fox News is encouraging Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) to leave the Republican Party, too.

* Believe it or not, George W. Bush’s public support keeps managing to get worse.

* With a cramdown provision in real trouble on the Hill, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), a champion on bankruptcy reform, conceded what he’s up against. “[T]he banks — hard to believe in a time when we’re facing a banking crisis that many of the banks created — are still the most powerful lobby on Capitol Hill,” Durbin said this morning. “And they frankly own the place.”

Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.

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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.