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

* A modicum of preliminary progress at the source: “Delicately manipulating a 20-foot-long shear at depths of nearly a mile, technicians successfully snipped a key riser pipe on Thursday in their effort to contain the oil spewing into the Gulf of Mexico from a stricken undersea well. They prepared to cap the severed pipe later in the day with a dome that they hoped would allow them to funnel the oil to tankers on the surface.”

* President Obama will return to the Gulf Coast for another visit tomorrow — his third trip in a month. He also put all new oil drilling in the Gulf on hold, and sent BP a bill for $69 million.

* Louisiana’s plan to dredge up walls of sand to protect coastal marshes has been approved by the White House. BP will have to fully fund that, too.

* There are new projections that show the enormous spill reaching Florida soon, and heading up the Atlantic Coast in the coming weeks and months.

* No, we’re not going to nuke the spill.

* One of the fatalities aboard the flotilla headed for Gaza was a 19-year-old American, who was shot five times, including four shots to the head.

* Another slight improvement in the number of Americans filing for jobless benefits. It’s still too high.

* Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) stopped by the White House for a chat with the president.

* The Obama administration is crafting new protections for airline passengers.

* Even the Republican-led state Senate in Kentucky has no use for Rand Paul’s extremism on the Civil Rights Act.

* Terrific move by the NYT: “The New York Times said Thursday that it would begin hosting the popular blog FiveThirtyEight and make its founder, Nate Silver, a regular contributor to the newspaper and the Sunday magazine.”

* On a related note, Greg Sargent had an insightful item about the new model of ideological journalism.

* George W. Bush, still O.K. with torture.

* Great column on former Supreme Court Justice David Souter’s approach to “originalism,” and its “tenuous connection to reality.”

* The three-year bachelor’s degree may not be a great idea.

* The Blagojevich trial gets underway in Chicago.

* The right’s rhetoric about the Community Reinvestment Act is so tiresome.

* Did Bill O’Reilly compare gay people to al Qaeda last night? Yep, pretty much.

Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.

Steve Benen

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.