Today’s edition of quick hits:
* Libya: “The transitional government of Libya’s triumphant rebels decided Thursday to extend by up to a week the deadline given to Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi and his remaining fighters to surrender, but the fugitive leader rejected the ultimatum and raged at his enemies in a new broadcast that called for the country to be ‘engulfed in flames.’”
* Better, but still too high: “Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 12,000 to a seasonally adjusted 409,000, the Labor Department said, still pointing to a jobs market struggling to find strength, but well short of a recession signal.”
* Iraq: “Under increased pressure from the United States, an Iraqi crackdown on Iranian-backed Shiite militias has helped produce a previously elusive goal: For the first time since the American invasion of Iraq, an entire month has passed without a single United States service member dying.”
* Maybe someone should do something: “The Obama administration downgraded its forecast for economic growth Thursday, predicting turmoil in the economy will likely keep unemployment above 9 percent through next year’s election.”
* On the other hand, the federal budget deficit will run “20% lower than expected this year.” Tea Partiers will be celebrating the Obama administration’s progress on deficit reduction, right?
* Counter-terrorism: “On a steady slide. On the ropes. Taking shots to the body and head. That’s how White House counterterrorism chief John Brennan described al-Qaida on Wednesday as he offered the first on-record confirmation that al-Qaida’s latest second-in-command was killed last week in Pakistan.”
* The White House’s new “We The People” online petition initiative looks pretty good.
* Liu lands on his feet: “After a protracted and ultimately losing battle for a seat on a federal appeals court, UC Berkeley law professor Goodwin Liu sailed through his state confirmation hearing Wednesday to join the California Supreme Court.” The state Commission on Judicial Appointments confirmed him unanimously.
* Did Florida’s school voucher program boost test student test scores? Of course not.
* Condoleezza Rice is the latest loyal Bushie who doesn’t like Dick Cheney’s book. “You can talk about policy differences without suggesting that your colleague somehow misled the president,” Rice told Reuters. “I don’t appreciate the attack on my integrity that that implies.”
* Elon Green on FEMA: “By most accounts, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has done an excellent job in response to Hurricane Irene, even drawing praise from Bob McDonnell, chairman of the Republican Governors Association, and Chris Christie. Unfortunately, the agency may not be as well-equipped for the next natural disaster — or even to finish the cleanup for this one.”
* Chauncey DeVega, after interviewing Whiteness, ponders Rep. Andre Carson’s (D-Ind.) charge that Tea Partiers are the same people who, in another time, would have loved to see black people “hanging on a tree.” Chauncey says Carson’s rhetoric could have been more “nuanced and precise,” but a common “political wellspring” is apparent.
* Daniel Luzer: “Given that this is college savings month, maybe now is a good time to encourage the United States of America to set a savings strategy for higher education.”
* And finally, despite this being the 21st century, Republican lawmakers in Florida aren’t ready to scrap laws unenforced criminal laws against “cohabitation.”
Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.