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

* We’re getting closer to where we need to be: “The number of people seeking benefits edged down by 3,000 to a seasonally adjusted 420,000, the Labor Department said Thursday.”

* There’s other encouraging economic news, too: “Economic reports suggest employers are laying off fewer workers, businesses are ordering more computers and appliances, and consumers are spending with more confidence. Combined, the data confirm the economy is improving, and further job gains are expected in 2011.”

* Terrorists strike in Rome: “Parcel bombs exploded at two embassies in Rome in a coordinated attack Thursday that raised new fears in Europe, which has been on high alert for a possible terrorist attack by Islamist radicals ahead of the holidays. But Italy’s interior minister said that an initial investigation indicated the bombs might have been the work of anarchists, and an Italian anarchist group claimed responsibility for at least one of the attacks.”

* The terrorist threat closer to home: “Just days before Christmas, the White House asked Americans to be vigilant this holiday season, warning of a possible — though unspecified — terror threat from Al Qaeda. The caution echoed a weeks’ worth of warnings from law enforcement authorities.”

* The saber rattling on the Korean peninsula is intensifying: “One month after a deadly exchange of artillery fire, the two Koreas ramped up their rhetoric Thursday, with South Korea’s president pledging unsparing retaliation if attacked again and a top North Korean official threatening a “sacred” nuclear war if provoked.”

* More of this, please: “The Environmental Protection Agency announced Thursday that it would regulate greenhouse gas emissions from power plants and oil refineries next year, targeting the nation’s two biggest sources of carbon dioxide.”

* I do find it rather odd to see prominent Republicans and Bush administration officials supporting an Iranian terrorist group.

* For the for-profit college industry, the bad news just keeps on coming.

* Here’s a radical thought: maybe fewer executive branch positions should require Senate confirmation. At this point, the process is farcical.

* Pondering Clinton-era hack Lanny Davis’ latest deals, Isaac Chotiner asks a good question: “How low can one man sink?

Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.

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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.