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

* The Pentagon is sending an additional 1,400 marines to Afghanistan over the next couple of months. The goal is “to try to solidify progress in areas of the south before troop reductions begin in the summer, a senior military official said on Thursday.”

* The dip below the 400k level, alas, only lasted a week: “The number of Americans filing for their first week of unemployment benefits rose 18,000 to 409,000 last week. While the latest data puts a damper on the prior week’s eyebrow-raising headlines — when the figure had fallen below 400,000 for the first time in two years — the slight increase does not come as a complete surprise either.”

* Talks continue to try to find a compromise on Senate reform measures: “Sen. Charles Schumer (N.Y.), chairman of the Senate Democratic Policy Committee, met Wednesday evening with Sen. Lamar Alexander (Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, to hash out a compromise.”

* On a related note, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), realizing he has some leverage, isn’t afraid to pursue reforms without Republican input: “We hope that Republicans see the light of day and would work with us. If not, we’ll do it on our own.”

* At last count, there are 26 firm “aye” votes for the Udall/Merkley reform package.

* Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.), one of Congress’ more ridiculous and unhinged members, is the new chair of the House Subcommittee on Higher Education, Lifelong Learning, and Competitiveness. This is bad news for America’s colleges — and America in general.

* Remember the NPR exec who fired Juan Williams? She’s been forced out, too.

* In recent years, House Republicans tormented House Democrats with politically-awkward motions to recommit. Now in the minority, Dems are learning to play the same game.

* Elizabeth Warren announced today that Holly Petraeus will take on a new role at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Petraeus, the former director of the Better Business Bureau (BBB) Military Line, is married to the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

* It wasn’t a mistake; it was fraud: “The British Medical Journal on Wednesday accused a disgraced British doctor of committing an ‘elaborate fraud’ by faking data in his studies linking vaccines with autism.”

* When Murdoch’s Fox News and New York Post consider it important to consider what kind of shoes President Obama was wearing on vacation, you know the Republican Attack Machine needs some new material.

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.