Today’s edition of quick hits:

* Italy: “Italy pulled back from the brink on Thursday, as lawmakers seemed poised to usher out Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and replace his government with a cabinet of technocrats most likely led by a former European Commissioner, Mario Monti.”

* Greece: “Lucas Papademos, a respected economist with an avuncular style, was named prime minister of Greece on Thursday. He will lead a unity government that has pledged to quickly approve the tough terms of a European aid package and save the country from bankruptcy. The choice of Mr. Papademos, a former vice president of the European Central Bank, came after four days of tense negotiations that put Greece’s feuding political parties on full display.”

* State Department delays pipeline decision: “The Obama administration on Thursday said it was delaying a decision on the contested Keystone XL pipeline while it studies an alternate route through Nebraska, effectively pushing any action well past the 2012 election and into 2013.”

* The White House approves of the delay.

* We’re starting to see some noticeable progress: “The Labor Department on Thursday said initial jobless claims fell by 10,000 to a seasonally adjusted 390,000 in the week ended Nov. 5, below the 398,000 forecast in a MarketWatch-compiled economist poll and the lowest level since April 2.”

* The federal budget deficit was down sharply in October as compared to last October. (thanks to R.S. for the tip)

* Penn State: “Joe Paterno, who has the most victories of any coach in major college football history, was fired by Penn State on Wednesday night in the wake of a sexual abuse scandal involving a prominent former assistant coach and the university’s failure to act to halt further harm.”

* Senate Republicans, led by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), pushed a measure today to repeal net neutrality rules. Thankfully, the GOP failed on a 52 to 46 vote.

* I’m often frustrated by the Fed, but at least it’s not the European Central Bank.

* Murdoch media scandal continues: “James Murdoch turned on his former News of the World colleagues on Thursday as he fought to survive a second grilling over phone-hacking by British lawmakers and keep his place in his father’s media empire.”

* Congratulations to Matt Yglesias, as he makes the transition from ThinkProgress to Slate.

* I rather doubt Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) was listening, or can even understand the argument, but Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) did a terrific job explaining the ways in which marriage has evolved over time.

* Daniel Luzer: “Our workers just don’t have the skills they need to succeed in today’s economy, say America’s business leaders. Back to school with you! Well, maybe.”

* And Rush Limbaugh suggested today that women who’ve accused Herman Cain of sexual harassment may be coordinating a joint press conference “to synchronize their menstrual periods.” Remember, Rush Limbaugh is one of the most powerful and influential voices in Republican politics.

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.