Thursday’s Mini-Report

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

* Yemen: “Yemeni jets launched an aerial assault Thursday against suspected senior al Qaeda operatives meeting in a remote location, and about 30 militants were killed, according to the Yemen news agency SABA…. One of the militants may have been the radical Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, the embassy said.”

* Encouraging: “The Labor Department said the number of new claims for unemployment benefits fell to 452,000 last week, down 28,000 from the previous week, providing the latest sign the job market is gradually improving. It was the best figure since September 2008, before the credit crisis peaked. A recovery in the job market is vital to a strong recovery.”

* There was one other vote in the Senate this morning: “The Senate voted Thursday to raise the ceiling on the government debt to $12.4 trillion, a massive increase over the current limit and a political problem that President Barack Obama has promised to address next year.” The final vote was 60 to 39, though George Voinovich’s (R) broke ranks and voted with Dems, and Indiana’s Evan Bayh (D) voted with the GOP.

* Uganda may “soften” its insane anti-gay legislation, with the country’s Ethics and Integrity Minister Nsaba Buturo suggesting life sentences may replace execution for “offenders.”

* What you need to know following the Copenhagen climate summit.

* Fatigue and nerves can cause trouble: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) accidentally voted against health care reform this morning, before quickly correcting himself.

* In the U.S., we’re talking more and more about students getting their college degrees in three years instead of four. In the U.K., they’re pondering a similar shift — from three years to two.

* I’ve long thought this would be a good idea: “A group of judges, political officials and lawyers, led by the retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, has begun a campaign to persuade states to choose judges on the basis of merit, rather than their ability to win an election.”

* And at Chicago’s Second City, the comedy troupe held a weekend-long 50th anniversary bash. Stephen Colbert, a Second City alum, was on hand, and reflected on Fox News’ Glenn Beck, who makes satire so difficult because he’s genuinely deranged. Beck “raised the stupid bar and now it’s nearly inapproachable,” Colbert said. “I worry that if we use that as a model….if somebody doesn’t believe what they’re saying, it’s very hard to out-stupid them. Because then there’s no place to sink our hook into, there’s no mountain to climb there. I can’t climb Glenn Beck since there’s nothing there.”

Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.