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

* Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) is now able to stand on her own, and even look at an iPad. Remarkable.

* A step in the right direction, which exceeded expectations: “New claims for unemployment benefits fell by 37,000 last week to 404,000, reversing a sharp increase two weeks ago, the Labor Department reported Thursday.”

* The latest in a string of violent incidents in Iraq: “Three suicide car bombers struck Shiite pilgrims south of Baghdad on Thursday, killing at least 51 people and wounding more than 180 in a third straight day of attacks across Iraq. The string of assaults, reminiscent of the bloodiest days of the Iraq war, shattered a two-month lull and presented a major challenge to the new government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.”

* A massive crackdown on organized crime: “In a blanket assault against seven mob families in New York, New Jersey and Rhode Island, the F.B.I. and local authorities began arresting close to 130 people on Thursday on charges including murder, racketeering and extortion, federal law enforcement officials said.”

* Hu Jintao makes the rounds in DC: “Chinese President Hu Jintao called Thursday for deeper engagement with the United States on a broad range of issues, warning that only by working together in some areas and respecting national differences in others will the two nations avoid friction in the years ahead.”

* When congressional Republicans call the Affordable Care Act “job-killing,” they’re lying.

* “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was an awful policy. It was also awfully expensive. (Dead-enders should be asked how they’d pay for reinstatement.)

* Travis Corcoran, a libertarian blogger in Massachusetts, following the attempted Giffords assassination, wrote, “1 down and 534 to go,” and encouraged violence against officials and their aides. Today, police seized a “large amount” of weapons and ammunition from Corcoran.

* If the GOP were serious about deficit reduction, it could support the parts of the Affordable Care Act that reduce the deficit.

* The debate over the Department of Education’s coming “gainful employment” rules heats up.

* I’ve never been a big fan of Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), but he certainly wasn’t all bad.

* As much as I’ve criticized Condoleezza Rice over the years, I have no tolerance for the ridiculous questions Piers Morgan asked her on the air last night about Rice’s personal life.

* In June, Glenn Beck told his Fox News viewers, “You’re going to have to shoot them in the head,” in reference to the perceived “radicals” who “believe in communism.” This is not O.K.

* Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R), after telling the NAACP, “Kiss my butt,” said he’s immune to criticism on race because he has an adopted black son. That’s a dumb defense, but it’s much worse now that we know he doesn’t actually have an adopted black son.

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.