Today’s edition of quick hits:

* Libya: “In another sign that Colonel Qaddafi’s regime had come unglued, loyalists holding more than 30 foreign journalists captive in Tripoli’s luxury Rixos hotel abruptly let them go.”

* The bounty: “Even as the Libyan rebels claimed to have most of the capital of Tripoli under their control, the whereabouts of Moammar Gadhafi remain a mystery. Libya’s opposition National Transition Council said Wednesday it was offering a $1.7 million bounty for Gadhafi’s capture, dead or alive.”

* Gaddafi, meanwhile, delivered a radio address overnight, calling his retreat “tactical,” and vowing “martyrdom.”

* Economy: “New orders for long-lasting U.S. manufactured goods rose in July, offering hope the ailing economy could dodge a second recession even though a gauge of business spending fell.”

* Yesterday’s earthquake caused a crack in the Washington Monument that’s four feet long and one inch wide.

* Watching Irene: “Evacuations began on a tiny barrier island off North Carolina as Hurricane Irene kept strengthening near the Bahamas Wednesday, with the U.S. East Coast in its sights. Still a Category 3 hurricane, Irene could grow to a Category 4 on Thursday, the National Hurricane Center in Miami said.”

* The Congressional Budget Office projects GDP growth of 2.3% this year and 2.7% next year, with unemployment dropping to 8.5% by the end of 2012. But — and this is a key “but” — the CBO projections were completed in July, and the last few weeks have been unkind.

* Hmm: “House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) has for months argued for closing tax loopholes as a way to pay for his proposed tax cuts. But it turns out he has a penchant for creating those same loopholes when it comes to helping out his biggest donors.”

* Republicans don’t want to hear this, but raising Medicare’s eligibility age would “increase overall health spending and shift costs to seniors, states, and employers.”

* I’d never heard of gay affirmative action: “Elmhurst College, a small private college about 20 miles west of Chicago, Illinois, will apparently be the first college in the country to make sexual orientation a part of its admissions process.”

* It was only a matter of time before some far-right crank said yesterday’s mid-Atlantic earthquake was a divine message. WorldNetDaily editor Joseph Farah was up to the task.

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.