Monday’s Mini-Report

MONDAY’S EXTRA-EARLY MINI-REPORT…. Today’s edition of quick hits:

* As of yesterday, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ (D-Ariz.) condition had been upgraded, from critical to serious. She is also now breathing on her own.

* Giffords’ husband, Mark Kelly, spoke publicly yesterday, the first time since the shooting. Taking the stage at Gabriel Zimmerman’s memorial service, Kelly said, “I know someday she’ll get to tell you how she felt about Gabe herself.” He added that Giffords loved Zimmerman “like a younger brother,” and was inspired by “his idealism, his strength and his warmth.”

* Tunisia: “The interim government of Tunisia struggled Monday to contain a new wave of protests as the prime minister announced a new unity coalition cabinet with members of ousted President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali’s ruling party in all the most significant posts. The popular response was immediate. More than a thousand demonstrators swelled into the streets of downtown chanting for the complete eradication of the old ruling party and demanding their freedom. ‘Citizens and martyrs, the government is still the same!’ they chanted.”

* Elections in southern Sudan appear legit, helping advance the cause of a new nation: “International observers gave south Sudan’s independence referendum their seal of approval on Monday and said a vote for secession was now “virtually certain” in their first official judgment on the poll.”

* Why, exactly, was Baby Doc Duvalier allowed back into Haiti? “In the past 12 months, Haiti — already the western hemisphere’s economic basket case — has suffered an epic earthquake that according to latest estimates killed more than 250,000 people and leveled the country’s infrastructure, a cholera epidemic that has claimed thousands more lives and a powder-keg political crisis tied to the fraud-tainted Nov. 28 presidential election. All the country needed now was the return of a brutal exiled dictator.”

* Evidence suggests delays in Iran’s nuclear program are a direct result of the Stuxnet computer worm, a destructive program created by U.S. and Israeli officials. The Stuxnet has reportedly “wiped out roughly a fifth of Iran’s nuclear centrifuges and helped delay, though not destroy, Tehran’s ability to make its first nuclear arms.”

* Is the Israeli Labor Party unraveling? Ehud Barak’s latest move suggests that it is.

* Steve Jobs is taking a medical leave of absence from Apple, telling employees he’s stepping aside “so I can focus on my health.” Jobs said he will remain involved in major strategic decisions.

* More of this, please: “The Obama administration on Friday announced the broadest liberalization of travel to Cuba in a decade, making it easier for American students and religious and cultural groups to visit the Communist-ruled island.”

* Daniel Luzer: “A recent report from the American Enterprise Institute indicates that providing American high school students and their families with more information might dramatically change college applications in the United States.”

* And finally, a clip to help honor the holiday:

Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.