Thursday’s Mini-Report

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

* BP oil spill disaster: “BP conceded Thursday that more oil than it estimated is gushing into the Gulf of Mexico as heavy crude washed into Louisiana’s wetlands for the first time, feeding worries and uncertainty about the massive monthlong spill.”

* On a related note, the Obama administration today ordered BP to use a less-toxic chemical dispersant to break up the oil in the Gulf.

* ABC News’ Jake Tapper reports that President Obama will replace the Director of National Intelligence, Admiral Dennis Blair (ret.), possibly as early as tomorrow.

* It looks pretty clear that North Korea fired a torpedo in March that sank a South Korean ship, killing 46. Tensions are quickly escalating.

* The weekly jobless claim numbers were not at all encouraging: “New jobless claims filed last week rose by 25,000 to 471,000, the government reported moments ago, defying predictions that they would drop. It’s the largest rise in three months.”

* On a related note, Frank Ahrens has a good summary of why things are so ugly on Wall Street right now.

* Mexican President Felipe Calderon addressed a joint session of Congress today, and singled out the Arizona anti-immigrant law for criticism.

* Sen. Jeff Sessions (R) of Alabama, who’s had quite a difficult time with racial issues, described Rand Paul’s opposition to the Civil Rights Act as “wrong.”

* The House Democratic caucus is back to 255 members, as Rep. Mark Critz (D-Pa.) was sworn in this afternoon. Critz won a special election in Pennsylvania’s 12th on Tuesday.

* There’s something decidedly sketchy about universities paying admissions personnel bonuses based on the number of students they enroll.

* For reasons I’ll never understand, CNN.com published a piece on the newly-crowned Miss USA, a Lebanese-American, with this headline: “Miss USA: Muslim Trailblazer Or Hezbollah Spy?”

* And finally, Bruce Bartlett reflects on Rand Paul: “As we know from history, the free market did not lead to a breakdown of segregation… Thus we have a perfect test of the libertarian philosophy and an indisputable conclusion: it didn’t work. Freedom did not lead to a decline in racism; it only got worse. I don’t believe Rand is a racist; I think he is a fool who is suffering from the foolish consistency syndrome that affects all libertarians.”

Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.

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Steve Benen

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.