Did they use her as a human shield? The militant group claimed today that a U.S. woman died when Jordanian airstrikes, launched in revenge for the burning of a pilot, brought down a building where she was being held captive. But there was no evidence that Kayla Mueller, a 26-year-old aid worker from Arizona, perished in the attack. Officials warned that the message could be a ploy to prevent further airstrikes. After all, the militants were negotiating with Jordan to free its captured pilot — weeks after having set him on fire.
The Presidential Daily Brief
Three months, one million jobs added — those are stats not seen since 1997. That’s the totals as of Jan. 30, in new data released today by the Labor Department. In all, the first month of the New Year welcomed more than 250,000 jobs, the best numbers in six years and more than analysts predicted. In another measure of strength, more people started looking for work, too. Skeptics say it remains to be seen if the good times can continue, but 2015 is looking awfully rosy right now.
Shia rebels say they have taken control in Yemen. The Houthis announced today that they’re dissolving government and installing a five-member transitional council. The move follows months of fighting around the capital, which culminated in President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi’s resignation last month. Some Sunni groups refuse to acknowledge the new council’s authority, and the UN refuses to acknowledge the rebels. Many fear this will lead to greater secular divisions and more fighting in the region.
The electronics retailer filed for bankruptcy protection yesterday with a plan to sell nearly half of its 4,000 locations — slotted to become co-branded RadioShack/Sprint outlets — while closing the rest. The 94-year-old brand ran out of things to sell, as many stand-alone gadgets like GPS devices and music players got squeezed into smartphones. Its slow-motion collapse also underscores the dominance of Amazon and big-box stores. Plans are afoot to borrow nearly $300 million to provide liquidity through the sale.
They’ve got a cunning plan. Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande are heading to Moscow today to meet with Vladimir Putin in a bid to end the fighting between Ukrainian troops and pro-Russian separatists that has flared in recent weeks. Details have not yet been released, but Petro Poroshenko says the plan raises “hope for a ceasefire,” and Hollande assures that the proposal is “based on the territorial integrity of Ukraine.” Many expect it to provide greater autonomy for a large swath of the eastern region.
Amman wasn’t bluffing. Jordanian fighter jets have begun bombing targets in Iraq to bolster U.S.-led airstrikes against the militants. Jordan’s foreign minister says it’s just the “beginning of our retaliation” following the gruesome murder of a captured pilot. The strikes reportedly destroyed training centers and weapon storage facilities — and reportedly killed an American woman being held hostage. King Abdullah II has visited the pilot’s family, citizens are writing deadly messages on missiles, and the nation is hell-bent on fighting ISIS “with everything [they] have.”
Tony Abbott’s having a bad week. Conservatives want him gone, and he’s relying on potential liberal challengers to keep the wolves at bay. He’s come out swinging, calling for a united front and insisting his foreign minister, Julie Bishop, will convince others to vote down next Tuesday’s motion. But her support has been lukewarm, and Abbott’s critics say he’s misrepresenting her intentions. A poll out today suggests the public would prefer Bishop or Malcolm Turnbull at the helm, so Australia may soon have its fourth prime minister in five years.
Alexis Tsipras says Greece will take no more lectures. (DW)
Africa Cup of Nations semi-final matchup becomes a ‘war zone.’ (BBC)
NY train was not speeding before crash. (Reuters)
TransAsia pilots suffered repeated stall warnings. (CNN)
Oregon governor embroiled in scandal over fiancée. (LA Times)
He’s teetering on the edge of his anchor chair. The embattled managing editor of NBC Nightly News is facing an internal probe by his network’s own investigative unit and a storm of criticism after recanting an oft-repeated tale about being in a Chinook helicopter shot down by enemy fire in Iraq. There are now questions about his reporting during Hurricane Katrina and even the account he gave in his apology is being challenged. After years of reporting from war zones, Williams is battling his biggest conflict yet.
Willy Loman should’ve been a trucker. Census data reveals that delivering goods is now Everyman’s job, the most common profession in 29 U.S. states. Secretaries had their heyday in the ’80s as America moved away from manufacturing toward a service economy, but computers made them somewhat obsolete. Trucking, though, is a task that can’t be outsourced or automated. Meanwhile, the most common job in D.C. switched from janitor in 1996 to lawyer in 2014. And if you’re a farmer — well, it’s time to get yourself a truck.
Keeping Your Job 101: Teach in the classroom, not the bedroom. The Ivy League school has a new policy that prohibits professors from having “sexual or romantic relationships” with undergraduates. In the past, consensual hookups were allowed as long as the student wasn’t in the professor’s class. The change comes amid a federal probe into the school’s handling of harassment and sexual assault cases. But some fear that forbidden fruit will prove even more tempting. The cliché of the sexy professor, after all, isn’t going away.
Following last month’s deadly attacks, the City of Light is banning some cinematic action sequences — namely car chases and outdoor scenes with actors in police or military costumes — because they don’t want Parisians mistaking them for the real thing. Officials say it’s also to protect actors from being targeted by terrorists. Trouble is, the city is a favorite for iconic chase scenes. So Jason Bourne will have to find a new location in order to chase his past — or lead-footed assassins — in future sequels.
They’re getting warmer. University of Leeds Professor Peter Stockley says he and fellow researchers have cracked the viral equivalent of the “Enigma Code,” a genetic message within the common cold’s RNA that tells it how to replicate and disrupt the immune system. While Stockley warns that a cure isn’t imminent, he also says that if scientists can learn to scramble the RNA’s messaging it could create breakthrough treatments for any number of viruses, including polio, HIV, hepatitis C and the winter vomiting bug.
He’s more than bruised but not quite broken. Six-time Olympic medalist Bode Miller suffered a gruesome leg injury in his return to downhill skiing on Thursday. The 37-year-old was already facing enormous odds and grappling with a lingering back injury as he took to the slopes against much younger opponents. Yet Miller delighted spectators by surging to an early lead before the crash, which resulted in a deep cut that required surgery. Miller managed to finish the race, but it may have been his last.
It’s Tinder for stoners. Developed by a smoker annoyed that potential partners weren’t always down with the green, High There! matches folks according to their preferences for inhaling. For example, a high-energy Don Juan who likes to vape might not sit so well with a low-key Mary Jane who rolls her own joints. The “cannabis community” app is only available in the 23 states where marijuana is legal. So, where permissible, you can light up and seek love at first toke.
It’s almost as painful as his short game. The former world No. 1 withdrew after 11 holes of yesterday’s Farmers Insurance Open, citing back trouble, for his third no-finish in nine tournaments. A fog delay at Torrey Pines made the California native’s surgically repaired back freeze up, and he struggled to recover. After scoring 82 at last week’s Phoenix Open — a career worst that left him tied for last — Woods was two over par and visibly in pain before heading to the parking lot.