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

* Watch this closely: “The Obama administration is seeking to use the killing of Osama bin Laden to accelerate a negotiated settlement with the Taliban and hasten the end of the Afghanistan war, according to U.S. officials involved in war policy. Administration officials think it could now be easier for the reclusive leader of the largest Taliban faction, Mohammad Omar, to break his group’s alliance with al-Qaeda, a key U.S. requirement for any peace deal.”

* On a related note: “Osama bin Laden’s death is likely to revive a debate within the Afghan Taliban about their ties to al-Qaida — a union the U.S. insists must end if the insurgents want to talk peace.”

* Seeking an explanation from Pakistan: “Obama administration officials here and in Islamabad are demanding that Pakistan quickly provide answers to specific questions about Osama bin Laden and his years-long residence in a bustling Pakistani city surrounded by military installations.”

* In the latest New York Times/CBS News poll released this morning, President Obama’s approval rating jumped 11 points, from 46% to 57%. Support for his handling of the economy, however, reached the lowest point of his presidency.

* Despite the fact that his remarks came very late on a Sunday night, President Obama’s speech announcing the killing of bin Laden was watched by 56.5 million Americans. That’s 8 million more viewers than watched his State of the Union address.

* Any lingering doubts on whether Obama’s call to raid the compound in Abbottabad was gutsy? Consider this piece on “the debacle that didn’t happen.”

* Scandalous: “U.S. mining regulators found multiple safety violations at a West Virginia mine owned by Massey Energy Co., saying Tuesday that the conditions were ‘nothing short of outrageous’ and accusing the company of failing to clean up its act after the 2010 explosion at its Upper Big Branch mine.”

* Paul Krugman 1, Casey Mulligan 0.

* The company formerly known as Blackwater has a new ethics chief. It’s former Attorney General John Ashcroft.

* Conor Friedersdorf put together his top 100 pieces of journalism from the last year, and it’s good to see a couple of pieces from the Washington Monthly print edition in there.

* On the lookout for the next economic bubble? Is higher education on the list?

* Virginia’s truly bizarre, hyper-conservative state attorney general, Ken Cuccinelli, published one of the strangest tweets I’ve ever seen this morning: “How much would I give to be one of the 72 Virginans Osama is ‘hanging out’ with since Sunday?” I suppose there’s supposed to be some kind of pun in there about “Virgins” and “Virginians,” but he spelled the latter wrong and the whole message was just a distasteful mess.

Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.

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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.