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

* Some of the best economic news in a long while: “The number of people applying for unemployment benefits fell sharply last week, with applications hitting the lowest level in two and a half years. The Labor Department said applications dropped by 34,000, to 388,000, the lowest number since the week of July 12, 2008.” In general, applications below 425,000 signal modest job growth.

* Two million American veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan return home and struggle to find work: “Some experts say the grim employment landscape confronting veterans challenges the veracity of one of the central recruiting promises of the nation’s all-volunteer force: that serving in the military will make them more marketable in civilian life. ”

* One never knows what Joe Miller will think of next, but the Senate race in Alaska appears to be officially over: “The state of Alaska has certified Sen. Lisa Murkowski as the winner of the state’s Senate race, allowing Murkowski to be sworn in with the rest of the Senate next week, according to the Associated Press.”

* Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) is getting some good news as he walks out the door — the Senate ethics committee has dismissed a complaint against him.

* MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann wants to make it clear that, in his words, “Fox News is 100% bullshit.” That seems like a reasonable assessment.

* Lanny Davis was subjected to some rather fierce criticism for taking on President Laurent Gbagbo of Ivory Coast as a client. Yesterday, Davis reversed course.

* Great piece from Ben Smith on Richard Ben Cramer, who apparently isn’t fully aware of the fact that his “What it Takes” is “now widely considered the greatest modern presidential campaign book.” (I read it — yes, the whole thing — in grad school, and still consider it an exceptional piece of work.)

* I’m starting to think Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) has a problem with black people. Try not to be surprised.

* Daniel Luzer: “College is still ‘worth it’ in the long run (the amount of money one pays to attend college will be returned in terms of additional income over a lifetime) but the increasing cost of college means that the payoff now seems to take a damn long time.”

* R.I.P., Geraldine Hoff Doyle, best known as the inspiration for “Rosie the Riveter.” She died Sunday at the age of 86.

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.