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No One Knows For Sure What's Happening in Algeria: Washington Post: "The Algerian government on Thursday launched a high-stakes military strike against Islamist militants who took scores of hostages including Americans at an international gas complex in the Sahara, with reports on the ground suggesting a tragedy of some scale had unfolded in the desert. Details from the remote outpost near Algeria’s border with Libya remained sketchy, with conflicting accounts nevertheless indicating a potentially significant number of casualties among hostages and captors."
An Ongoing Situation: New York Times: "In a statement on national radio, [Algeria's] communications minister, Mohand Saïd Oublaïd, said that many of the hostages had been freed, but he warned that the military assault was not yet complete and that some captives remained trapped inside the remote facility in the Algerian desert. ... He also said 'the operation is ongoing, given the complexity of the site, to liberate the rest of the hostages and those who are trapped inside.' The announcement was the most detailed official information given by Algeria on the crisis. It began more than 24 hours earlier when Islamist militants seized the hostages at the internationally managed gas field in the Sahara near the Libyan border, in what they called retaliation for the French military intervention in neighboring Mali. The seizure of the gas field was one of the boldest abductions of foreign workers in recent years."
Back in the United States: Associated Press: "Vice President Joe Biden said the nation could not wait any longer to respond to gun violence, telling mayors on Thursday that the White House would 'take this fight to the halls of Congress.' Biden outlined President Barack Obama's sweeping proposal, announced Wednesday, during a speech to the United States Conference of Mayors, providing a rationale for a plan that includes a ban on assault weapons, the limiting of high-capacity ammunition magazines and requiring background checks for all gun buyers."
Four More Years! Four More Years (of Karl Rove)!: Politico: "Fox News Channel is expected to announce shortly that Karl Rove has signed a multi-year deal to remain a Fox contributor through the 2016 election. The contract assures the ratings-leader cable news network that it will retain one of its most popular commentators, and someone whose views continually make news, especially in the heat of a campaign." No word on how Megyn Kelly feels about that.
GOP Looks To Maximize Debt Leverage: Associated Press: "House Republicans may seek a quick, short-term extension of the government's debt limit, a move that would avoid an immediate default by the Treasury as the party seeks to maximize leverage in negotiations over spending cuts with President Barack Obama this spring, officials said Thursday. 'All options are on the table as far as we're concerned,"'Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin said at a news conference during a three-day retreat of the rank and file. He said private discussions focused on how best to 'achieve progress on controlling our deficits and controlling our debt.'"
RIP, Dear Abby: New York Times: "Pauline Phillips, a California housewife who nearly 60 years ago, seeking something more meaningful than mah-jongg, transformed herself into the syndicated columnist Dear Abby — and in so doing became a trusted, tart-tongued adviser to tens of millions — died on Wednesday in Minneapolis. She was 94. Her syndicate, Universal Uclick, announced her death on its Web site. A longtime resident of Beverly Hills, Calif., Mrs. Phillips, who had been ill with Alzheimer’s disease for more than a decade, had lived in Minneapolis in recent years to be near family. If Damon Runyon and Groucho Marx had gone jointly into the advice business, their column would have read much like Dear Abby’s."
Latest From Slate on Manti Te'o And His (Literally) Unreal Girlfriend:
- The Slatest: Manti Te'o Reportedly Promised Notre Dame That He'd Be the One To Go Public With Hoax Story
- The Slatest: Notre Dame Says Manti Te'o Fell For a "Catfish" Scam. What's Exactly Is That?
- Brow Beat: Manti Te’o: Catfish? Or Catfish Victim?
- Sports Nut: Why Sportswriters Were So Easily Duped by the Fake Story of Manti Te’o’s Dead Girlfriend
- XX Factor: A Tale of Two Dead Girls and Notre Dame Football
- Brow Beat: You Could Just Buy a Fake Internet Girlfriend
- Future Tense: Here Are Five Other Bizarre Tales of Alleged Internet Dating Imposters
Instagram Wants You To Know It's Doing Just Fine: AllThingsD: After weeks of accusations that Instagram has seen a sharp drop in its user numbers, the photo-sharing service released new data that gives better insight into the actual number of people using the service on a regular basis. At last count, more than 90 million people use Instagram on a monthly basis, the company said on Thursday. Moreover, the company is seeing growth rather than decline; that number is up ten percent, month on month, in the period from December to January."
FLOTUS Gets Worst B-Day Gift Ever: Washington Post: "Michelle Obama’s office debuted a new official Twitter account on Thursday with a tweet seeking well wishes for the first lady on her 49th birthday. ... The set up is similar to that of the official @WhiteHouse account and President Obama’s @BarackObama. There are already Twitter accounts associated with the first lady’s Let’s Move and Joining Forces initiatives. @FLOTUS is quickly amassing followers (8,000 within 45 minutes of its first tweet), birthday greetings, and snark."
A Few More Quick Hits From Slate—
- The Slatest: Whole Foods CEO Rethinks Decision To Compare Obamacare to "Fascism"
- Weigel: The Voting Rights Act and the GOP's Gerrymandering Advantage
- The Slatest: Most Americans No Longer Think the Abortion Debate is All That Important
- The Vault: Hitler the Cat, Star of the 1939 World's Fair
- TNC: Former Miss Alabama Katherine Webb, Ogled by Brent Musburger, Lands TV Job
- XX Factor: Can We Really "Cure" Autism?
- Behold: America’s Next Top Weather Reporter: 1980s Edition
- XX Factor: The Real Problem With Esquire's Insane Megan Fox Profile
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