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

* Bahrain: “Tens of thousands of demonstrators poured into Pearl Square here late into the night as Shiite opposition leaders issued assurances they were not being influenced by Tehran and were not interested in transforming the monarchy into a religious theocracy like the Islamic Republic in Iran.”

* Egypt: “Egyptians staged protests and strikes Wednesday over a host of grievances from paltry wages to toxic waste dumping, defying the second warning in three days from the nation’s military rulers to halt all labor unrest at a time when the economy is staggering.”

* The Fed is slightly more optimistic about 2011, at least as far as growth is concerned.

* A very big deal in Madison: “Thousands of people descended on the Wisconsin state Capitol for a second day of powerful protests Wednesday as key votes approached on Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s plan to strip away the collective bargaining rights of public employees.”

* Josh Marshall offers some context: “If Gov. Walker (R) is able to push through big, big changes to collective bargaining rights and makes it stick, that will be picked up in many other states and it will shape perceptions of the public mood going into the 2012 election — from the top of the ticket all the way down to the bottom. On the other hand, if he gets shut down and the idea takes hold that he overreached, that will have similarly widespread effects in other states as well as in shaping the political terrain going into 2012.”

* Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) downplayed the prospects of a government shutdown in a Fox News interview. Here’s hoping he’s right.

* With Republicans bringing a machete to the budget, and aiming for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the Sesame Street crowd and their Democratic allies are speaking up.

* The Senate voted late yesterday to extend three counterterrorism provisions of the Patriot Act for 90 days. The vote was 86 to 12.

* Senate Dems have embraced White House messaging, and today released the caucus’ “Winning the Future” agenda. It’s not a bad set of ideas, but the list is more a vision statement than a to-do list — there’s no way the narrow Senate majority could overcome GOP filibusters, better yet a Republican-led House.

* Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) won’t allow the Senate to vote on a nominee to head the Fish and Wildlife Service until the administration does more to make oil companies happy. Have I mentioned lately that the Senate is broken?

* The guy in South Dakota with the “justifiable homicide” bill is apparently feeling quite a bit of heat, and is prepared to make some meaningful changes to his proposal.

* David Roberts flags a poll showing public opposition to congressional Republicans’ attacks on the EPA.

* Former Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) is getting back in the game and launching a liberal political action committee.

* President Obama wants America to be the country in the world with the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by 2020. Is that likely to happen? Not really.

* For what it’s worth, Paul Waldman, I always really liked The Gadflyer.

* I have no idea what Nir Rosen was thinking, but there’s no excuse for such ugliness in the wake of the assault on Lara Logan.

* On a related note, Jim Hoft blaming Logan for her assault is just disgusting.

* I liked this line from Greg Sargent: “[I]f Fox’s explicit goal has been to create a self-sustaining, self-perpetuating alternate reality, as many have alleged, it appears that when it comes to Americans’ views of Muslims, the network may be succeeding brilliantly.”

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.