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

* As unrest continues in Egypt, ElBaradei returns to his country: “Mohamed ElBaradei, the Nobel laureate who has become a leading opponent of President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, returned to Cairo on Thursday in an attempt to galvanize youth-led street protests that extended into a third day across the country.”

* Tunisia, then Egypt, now Yemen: “Yemen, one of the Middle East’s most impoverished countries and a haven for Al Qaeda militants, became the latest Arab state to witness mass protests on Thursday, as thousands of Yemenis took to the streets in the capital and other regions to demand a change in government.”

* Tragedy in Uganda: “David Kato knew he was a marked man. As the most outspoken gay rights advocate in Uganda, a country where homophobia is so severe that Parliament is considering a bill to execute gay people, he had received a stream of death threats, his friends said…. On Wednesday afternoon, Mr. Kato was beaten to death with a hammer in his rough-and-tumble neighborhood.” Also note, the murder generated an official White House statement, reinforcing its significance.

* Iraq: “A car bomb exploded outside a funeral tent Thursday in a mainly Shiite area of Baghdad, killing at least 48 people — the latest in a wave of attacks that has triggered fury over the government’s inability to stop the bloodshed.”

* A sharp and painful reversal: “The number of people applying for unemployment benefits rose sharply last week as snowstorms in some parts of the country forced companies to lay off workers. Applications surged by a seasonally adjusted 51,000 to 454,000, the highest level since late October.”

* How well is GM doing? It’s withdrawing its application for $14.4 billion in federal loans to upgrade its manufacturing operations.

* On a related note, Republicans were wrong about Chrysler, too.

* Major White House staffing announcements are underway, including Jay Carney replacing Robert Gibbs as press secretary.

* This should be interesting: “President Obama has renominated Donald Berwick to be administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, a pivotal position in implementing the president’s health care law.”

* House Speaker John Boehner is walking back his own Social Security policy.

* Bush/Cheney took unprecedented steps to undermine the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. Obama is putting things right.

* There are ways to improve college investments.

* Right-wing bloggers are accusing White House speechwriters of plagiarism in the SOTU. James Joyner didn’t love the speech, but he knows nonsensical attacks when he sees them.

* Similarly, Obama didn’t come up with “Win the future.” Neither did Gingrich. Let it go, conservatives.

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.