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

* I’m looking forward to seeing some serious consequences for this: “Halliburton knew weeks before the fatal explosion of the Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico that the cement mixture they planned to use to seal the bottom of the well was unstable but still went ahead with the job, the presidential commission investigating the accident said on Thursday.”

* Death toll in Indonesia tops 400.

* It’s still too high, but this is encouraging: “Fewer people applied for unemployment benefits last week, the second drop in a row and a hopeful sign the job market could be improving. The Labor Department said Thursday that initial claims for jobless benefits dropped by 21,000 to a seasonally adjusted 434,000 in the week that ended Oct. 23.” This far exceeded analysts’ expectations.

* Had it not been for pointless GOP obstructionism, this could have happened months ago: “Just one month after the President signed the Small Business Jobs Act, SBA has supported nearly $3 billion in loans to more than 5,000 small businesses across the country. That’s more than 5,000 small business owners who’ve felt first-hand, within one month, the impact this new law is having on our economy.”

* Remember, GM keeps paying us back. That’s a good thing.

* Offensive anti-gay rhetoric is, alas, not uncommon. But Arkansas District School board member Clint McCance’s rant was more disgusting than most.

* On a related note, Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), who struggling to a surprising degree to keep up with current events, continues to really dislike Muslims.

* I wonder if RNC Chairman Michael Steele realizes that Democrats hope he stays on for another term. I’m guessing not.

* Fox News, in an apparent attempt to become a parody of itself, has created an email address so its Republican fans can alert them to non-existent examples of “voter fraud.” Seriously.

* Pundits didn’t seem especially pleased with the appearance, but I actually kind of liked President Obama’s interview with Jon Stewart on “The Daily Show.”

* What college costs and how Americans buy it.

* The right gets pretty worked up if a court cites foreign precedent, but what about Vulcans?

* I’m not a parent, but if I were, I wouldn’t want my kids anywhere near Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-Ohio).

Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.

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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.