THURSDAY’S MINI-REPORT…. Today’s edition of quick hits:
* Not exactly what response teams in the Gulf need right now: “BP’s ruptured well will remain capped if ships evacuate the Gulf of Mexico because of a looming storm, the federal government’s oil spill chief said Thursday. Retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen said growing confidence in the cap’s security convinced scientists it was safe to leave it unmonitored for a few days.”
* In the meantime, China is dealing with a massive oil spill of its own.
* As of 5:15 p.m. (ET), the bill to extend unemployment benefits was literally in the car, on the way to the White House.
* Last week, the new jobless claims were encouraging. This week, not so much: “New U.S. claims for jobless benefits climbed more steeply than anticipated last week, the latest sign that the moribund labor market is struggling to recover.”
* The signing of the Improper Payments Elimination and Recovery Act (IPERA) shouldn’t get lost in the shuffle today: “In a bid to show voters his administration is concerned with reducing wasteful government spending, President Obama signed a bill aimed at cutting improper payments to individuals, organizations, and contractors.”
* The next step in the two-year review into Charlie Rangel: “The House ethics committee has launched a separate panel to determine whether Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) has violated House ethics rules. The panel, called an adjudicatory subcommittee, will hold a public organizational meeting July 29.”
* Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner praised Wall Street bailout watchdog Elizabeth Warren today, saying she’d be “a very effectively leader” of the Consumer Financial Protection Agency. He added, “She is one of the most effective advocates of reform in the country.”
* The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has been fighting tooth and nail against initiatives launched by the Obama White House — but it’s the USCOC that keeps losing.
* If Senate Republicans block ratification of the New START treaty, “American credibility on nuclear issues would evaporate,” and every country that’s signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty would ask itself, “If the U.S. is unwilling to live up to its commitments, why should we live up to ours?”
* Ugh: “Nonprofit BlueCross and BlueShield health plans in several states, including Tennessee, stockpiled billions of dollars during the past decade, yet continued to hit consumers with hefty premium increases that could have been reduced in some cases, a new consumer study contends.”
* Given the interest in the Obamas’ travel plans: “Before beginning their long-planned summer vacation on Martha’s Vineyard, America’s first family will head to Florida’s oil-stricken Gulf Coast.”
* One of the unfortunate side effects of Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) siding with Republicans on Wall Street reform? He wanted the bill to get stronger, but Feingold’s efforts inadvertently made it weaker.
* Megyn Kelly, still confused about current events.
* Welcome transparency: “Soon, families might have a slightly better idea what they might actually pay to attend college.”
* If I haven’t mention it lately, Sam Seder is a very clever man.
Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.