Today’s edition of quick hits:

* Greek referendum scrapped: “After a tumultuous day of political gamesmanship, Prime Minister George A. Papandreou called off his plan to hold a referendum on Greece’s new loan deal with the European Union and vowed to continue in office despite rumors he would resign and growing pressure from within his own party to do so.”

* It’s good to get below the 400k plateau: “New U.S. claims for unemployment benefits fell below 400,000 last week for the first time in five weeks and a trend reading also edged lower, suggesting a modest improvement in the still-moribund labor market. Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped by 9,000 in the week ending October 29 to a seasonally adjusted 397,000, the Labor Department said on Thursday.”

* Afghanistan: “The Obama administration is exploring a shift in the military’s mission in Afghanistan to an advisory role as soon as next year, senior officials said, a move that would scale back U.S. combat duties well ahead of their scheduled conclusion at the end of 2014.”

* Violence in Oakland: “Tear gas hung over Oakland for the second time in two weeks after a small group of demonstrators faced off against police early Thursday following a peaceful march of thousands of Occupy Oakland protesters. A roving group of about 100 mostly young men broke from the main group of protesters in a central plaza and roamed through downtown streets spraying graffiti, burning garbage and breaking windows.”

* House Republicans sure seem to enjoy wasting time on nonsense: “Over the protests of its Democratic minority, a House subcommittee voted on Thursday to authorize the chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee to subpoena documents from the White House related to the solar manufacturer Solyndra.”

* House Energy and Commerce ranking member Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) highlighted the subpoenas as an example of why “the public holds this Congress in such low regard.”

* Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), meanwhile, compared the Republican preoccupation with Solyndra to right-wing activists’ preoccupation with the president’s birth certificate.

* PJ Media, a conservative outlet, thought it had a big Cain-related scoop. Instead, it screwed up every relevant detail in rather dramatic ways.

* Daniel Luzer considers the White House’s moves on student loans: “The United States has been financing higher education through student debt for decades. With the recent economic downturn many have been struggling to make payments on student loans. The policy change will help address this problem. It also won’t cost taxpayers anything. This seems to make a lot of sense.”

* And despite what you may have heard earlier, Grover Norquist really isn’t “some random person” to House Speaker John Boehner.

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.