THURSDAY’S MINI-REPORT…. Today’s edition of quick hits:
* Libya: “President Barack Obama has approved the use of armed Predator drone aircraft in Libya to improve the precision of low-level attacks on ground targets, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Thursday.”
* More from Libya: “Rebels fighting to oust the Libyan leader, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, took control of a border crossing into Tunisia on Thursday in the first significant crack in his control of the country’s western region since his security forces tamped down riots across the country two months ago.”
* Japan: “Japan sealed off a wide area around a radiation-spewing nuclear power plant on Friday to prevent tens of thousands of residents from sneaking back to the homes they quickly evacuated, some with little more than a credit card and the clothes on their backs.”
* I hope he’s right, but we’ve heard this before: “Defense Secretary Robert Gates says the U.S. and its allies in Afghanistan may reach a turning point in the war by the end of this year…. If the Taliban can be prevented from retaking those areas when the fighting picks up this summer, and if the areas under Afghan government control are further expanded at the same time, then by the end of 2011, in Gates’ words, ‘We will have turned a corner.'”
* It’s better, but still too high: “First-time claims for state unemployment benefits fell in the latest week but remained above 400,000 for the second straight week, the Labor Department reported Thursday. The number of initial claims in the week ending April 16 fell 13,000 to 403,000.”
* Did you know we’ve been on orange alert continuously for about six years? “The federal government is adopting a simple, two-tiered alert system to warn the public of terrorist threats and possible attacks.”
* Paul Ryan’s budget plan included an interesting tidbit: it calls for the debt ceiling to be raised, repeatedly.
* Labor loses another fight, this time in Oklahoma.
* Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) needs a surprising amount of coaching to keep up on current events in his own state.
* Sean Hannity wants examples of Fox News “dividing Americans along religious lines” and “scapegoating the Muslim community.” Well, Sean, if you insist.
* Apparently, Glenn Beck and Mike Huckabee are feuding.
* It is interesting to have, for the first time, a president “with a personal relationship to federal student loans and other financial aid.”
* And The Onion‘s brilliance shines again: “Though Mitt Romney is considered to be a frontrunner for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, the national spotlight has forced him to repeatedly confront a major skeleton in his political closet: that as governor of Massachusetts he once tried to help poor, uninsured sick people.”
Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.