THURSDAY’S MINI-REPORT…. Today’s edition of quick hits:
* Still high, but better (and beating expectations): “New U.S. claims for unemployment benefits unexpectedly fell last week, touching their lowest level in nearly three months, according to a government report on Thursday that pointed to some stability in the troubled labor market.”
* A possible environmental catastrophe unfolding in Hungary: “The toxic red sludge that burst out of a Hungarian factory’s reservoir reached the mighty Danube on Thursday after wreaking havoc on smaller rivers and creeks, and downstream nations rushed to test their waters.”
* Blue Dog Rep. Bobby Bright (D-Ala.) became the first House Dem to declare today he wouldn’t support Nancy Pelosi for another term as House Speaker next year, if there’s a Democratic majority. He said he wouldn’t support John Boehner (R-Ohio) for Speaker, either.
* It’s not exactly swift-moving progress with Middle East peace talks: “The Arab League meeting on Friday in Libya, widely anticipated as a deadline when Israeli-Palestinian peace talks would either be renewed or definitively cut off, appears likely to pass without either occurring.”
* I know he’s a Republican darling, but it’s hard to imagine what he’s thinking here: “Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey said on Thursday that he has decided to terminate the construction of a commuter train tunnel between northern New Jersey and Manhattan because of escalating estimates of the project’s cost.” Paul Krugman called it “arguably the worst policy decision ever made by the government of New Jersey — and that’s saying a lot.”
* The economy’s problem isn’t structural: “For months, companies have been sitting on the sidelines with record piles of cash, too nervous to spend. Now they’re starting to deploy some of that money – not to hire workers or build factories, but to prop up their share prices.”
* Nicholas Kristof explains that “the strong implication is that Republican rule would lead to the Trifecta of Torment: higher unemployment, worse deficits and greater inequity. That might be more important to ponder this fall than the ups and downs of the mud-wrestling competitions.”
* Daschle’s remarks on the public option have caused a stir, but they don’t exactly shed any new light on the subject.
* Ryan Grim reports on the CFPB: “The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will be the first real agency of the 21st century, Elizabeth Warren said in an interview with the Huffington Post, and it will rely on interaction with the public in order to accomplish its mission.”
* It’s only fair to note there are a couple of degrees of separation between the NRSC and the “hicky” attack ad in West Virginia. They bought it so they own it, but “hicky” wasn’t part of the Republican script.
* Wait, Tea Partiers have begun hating puppies, too?
* Americans want better colleges. They just don’t want to pay for them.
* There’s something pretty amusing about the idea of Lou Dobbs hiring undocumented immigrants to work at his horse farm. Apparently, Dobbs will be addressing this tonight on MSNBC’s “The Last Word,” which should be interesting.
Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.