Today’s edition of quick hits:

* The best data since early April: “Claims for unemployment insurance payments in the U.S. unexpectedly fell last week to a four-month low, signaling the recent slowdown in payroll gains is due to a lack of hiring rather than more firings.”

* This coupled with some corporate profit reports sent Wall Street soaring: “Stocks on Wall Street surged higher Thursday, with the broader market closing up more than 4 percent, buoyed by bargain-hunting investors, positive economic data and some easing of concerns over Europe’s finances.”

* Another deadly day in Afghanistan: “A roadside bomb killed five American troops in southern Afghanistan on Thursday, the U.S. military said, less than a week after American forces suffered their worst single loss of the Afghan war when Taliban insurgents shot down a helicopter.”

* On a related note, the Pentagon today released the names of the 30 U.S. servicemen killed in Afghanistan on Saturday.

* England: “After four nights of lawlessness, Britain is weighing whether to block statements of violence on social media sites and give police authority to order people to remove face coverings in areas where criminality is suspected, Prime Minister David Cameron said Thursday.”

* Europe: “A European market regulator is considering recommending a temporary ban on negative bets against stocks across the Continent in an effort to stop the tailspin in the markets.”

* Greg Sargent has a good report on Senate Democrats who want the debt-reduction “super committee” to focus on job creation. They have a good idea; it’s worth the political world’s time to consider it.

* Somehow, this punishment doesn’t seem quite severe enough: “A longtime northeastern Pennsylvania judge was ordered to spend nearly three decades in prison for his role in a massive juvenile justice bribery scandal that prompted the state’s high court to toss thousands of convictions.”

* Daniel Luzer: “The trouble with this ‘less money will promote efficiency’ line of thinking is basically from the mythical fantasy land of college administration. It’s just not how colleges operate.”

* With the end of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” gay troops were discharged unfairly can now re-enlist and serve their country again. That’s good news for everyone.

* Fox News is not above mocking children when the network doesn’t like the kids’ politics.

* During the Cuban Missile Crisis, the United States reached DEFCON 2. On 9/11, we were at DEFCON 3. As far as Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) we should currently be at DEFCON 1. He told Fox News, “I think that we’re at that point in time right now.” This guy really is frightening.

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.