Today’s edition of quick hits:

* Irene: “Floodwaters finally started to recede from areas of the northeast devastated by Hurricane Irene but many communities were still under water on Wednesday and relief workers battled cut-off roads and raging rivers to deliver emergency supplies.”

* President Obama will visit some storm-ravaged areas in person this weekend.

* Gaddafi is reportedly cornered: “Rebel fighters believe they have cornered Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi in the desert town of Bani Walid, only 150 miles from the capital, and have called on him to give up peacefully to avoid further bloodshed, a top official of the transition government said Wednesday.”

* Gaddafi loyalists, meanwhile, are ignoring the rebel’s deadline: “The spokesman for Moammar Gaddafi’s collapsing government on Wednesday rejected a rebel ultimatum to surrender or face an all-out military assault.”

* Economy: “U.S. factory orders rose strongly in July on the biggest jump in demand for autos in more than eight years and a surge in commercial airplane orders. The increase suggests supply chain disruptions created by the Japan crisis are easing.”

* Telecom: “The Justice Department filed a lawsuit on Wednesday to block the proposed $39 billion merger between AT&T and T-Mobile USA on antitrust grounds, saying a deal between the nation’s second- and fourth-largest wireless phone carriers would substantially lessen competition, result in higher prices and give consumers fewer innovative products.”

* Good: “President Obama said during a Tuesday radio show that hiring discrimination against the jobless ‘makes absolutely no sense’ and that he supports legislation to ban the practice.”

* Dahlia Lithwick on Dick Cheney: he is “trying, in short, to draw us back into the same tiresome debate over the efficacy of torture, which is about as compelling as a debate about the efficacy of slavery or Jim Crow laws. Only fools debate whether patently illegal programs ‘work’ — only fools or those who have been legally implicated in designing the programs in the first place.”

* The LA Times‘ Andrew Malcolm insists the White House is trying to dictate to “regular American citizens” how to “observe” the 10th anniversary of 9/11. Malcolm is lying.

* Paul Glastris, the Monthly‘s editor-in-chief, was on NPR today, talking about our new College Guide and Rankings.

* How will fraternities and sororities get new members without the pledge system? I don’t know, but Cornell will have to figure it out.

* Former Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) laments the “astounding lack of responsible leadership by many in the Republican Party.” He’s a Republican — and he’s right.

* And finally, what was J.C. Penney thinking? “J.C. Penney is now selling a T-shirt for girls aged 7 to 16 that says, unabashedly, across its front: ‘I’m too pretty to do homework so my brother has to do it for me.’” The retailer agreed to pull the shirt today, but it’s hard to imagine why it was created and sold in the first place.

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.