Thursday’s Mini-Report

Today’s edition of quick hits:

* Clearing one hurdle in Europe: “Clearing another significant hurdle in the European debt crisis, the German Parliament voted overwhelmingly on Thursday for the expansion of the bailout fund for heavily indebted European countries. With that, the front now shifts to tiny Slovakia amid questions about an approval process already months long and still not complete.”

* I’m glad he’s noticed: “Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said the U.S. is facing a crisis with a jobless rate at or above 9 percent since April 2009, and that fiscal discipline would help spur the economic recovery. ‘This unemployment situation we have, the jobs situation, is really a national crisis,’ Bernanke said in response to questions after a speech yesterday in Cleveland.”

* Speaking of jobs: “New applications for unemployment benefits sank by 37,000 last week to 391,000 to mark the lowest level since April, but a government official suggested the surprising drop may have stemmed from a variety of ‘technical’ issues not captured by normal seasonal adjustments.”

* By unanimous consent, the House approved a short-term spending measure that will keep the government’s lights on through Tuesday. The whole process took about 20 seconds.

* For more background on the European debt crisis, I’d recommend Matt Yglesias FAQ, Brad Plumer’s interview with UC Berkeley’s Barry Eichengreen, Ezra Klein’s interview with the AEI’s Desmond Lachman, and Suzy Khimm’s interview with GW’s Henry Farrell.

* Syria: “The United States ambassador to Syria, Robert Ford, and embassy staff are safe after being violently confronted by a pro-regime mob while Ford met with an opposition politician in Damascus, the State Department said Thursday.”

* Immigration: “The Obama administration is escalating its crackdown on tough immigration laws, with lawyers reviewing four new state statutes to determine whether the federal government will take the extraordinary step of challenging the measures in court.”

* I remember, two years ago, when Republicans decided this was the basis for a major national controversy: “President Obama welcomed the nation’s students back to school on Wednesday with a simple appeal: Keep going to school.” His comments focused on “values like perseverance and hard work.”

* Infuriating customers is a bad idea: “Some customers are so angry about the news that Bank of America plans to start charging customers a $5 monthly debit card fee they say they will boycott the struggling bank.”

* If Occupy Wall Street had a cable news network co-sponsoring its protests, it would probably be the focus of considerably more attention.

* Understanding the college rat race: “The problem isn’t that some high school student will ruin his life because he picks Carnegie Mellon over Tufts because it’s six notches higher on the U.S. News ranking. The problem is that colleges are making their most fundamental decisions about undergraduate education based on prestige-based rankings.”

* Oh my: “In the acknowledgements page of his forthcoming book, MSNBC analyst Pat Buchanan gives ‘special thanks to Marcus Epstein for the invaluable assistance and untold hours he devoted to researching ideas, issues, and anecdotes.’ Epstein, a writer and activist with a history of inflammatory statements about race and immigration, was previously arrested for attacking a woman with a ‘karate chop’ and calling her the n-word.”

Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.