Skimm for January 17th
THE STORY: A group of Islamist militants raided a natural gas facility in Algeria and took at least 40 hostages, including Americans. This is not good.
THE WHAT: An extremist group known as "Those Who Signed in Blood" (lovely) seized a gas facility, partially operated by BP, deep in the Sahara in eastern Algeria. At least two people (from France and Britain) were killed in the raid. Some of the hostages are European, Japanese, and at least seven are American.
WELL, S***T. Yeah, pretty much. US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said by all indications this was a terrorist attack. The US doesn't take kindly to this and it raises the question of whether or not the US could get involved militarily.
WHAT SPARKED THE ATTACK? The radicals behind the raid said the attack was to punish Algeria for allowing French jets to use its airspace in attacks against al-Qaeda linked rebels in Mali.
IS THIS "ARGO PT. 2"? Not quite. France is in an escalating battle in Mali, going after the al-Qaeda linked rebels in the North. France & friends are concerned the rebels would use their Mali stronghold as a base to plan a terror attack against the West and want the threat gone. Now. The radicals have warned France's president that he has "opened the gates of hell." How fun.
THIS IS TERRIBLE BUT WHY DO I NEED SKIMM? Hostage takers have just created a global issue. What may have appeared as a regional problem has now gotten Washington and Europe involved, as well as paralyzed a major gas facility for Algeria, an important gas supplier to parts of Europe. #LetThePeopleGo
REPEAT AFTER ME...What to say when you hear a sob story... Yeah, yeah, I'll hand you a tissue after you confirm it's true. We all just got a little more skeptical (and confused) after the story of Notre Dame's Manti Te'o. The linebacker led the school's football program back to glory as he battled personal tragedies. Or so we thought. It's been reported that Te'o learned both his grandmother and girlfriend had died in the span of six hours. He then found the strength to lead his team to an inspiring victory. Ehh, not so much, says Deadspin. His grandmother did die but there is no record of his girlfriend. Ever. Apparently, Te'o was the victim of a cruel hoax and an online relationship gone terribly wrong, as a friend allegedly crafted this woman's online identity, although it's unclear how much Te'o knew. It gets weirder: Another NFL player says he met the girlfriend and she's real. Notre Dame was looped in by Te'o's family in December and hired investigators to look into the digital relationship. WHAT??? (h/t Reuben H. Cohen, New York, NY)
What to say when you overachieve... Why suggest one change when you can suggest 23? President Obama called for Congress to approve a new ban on military-style assault weapons, require universal background checks, and limit high-capacity magazine clips in response to the recent mass shootings. His plan is a mix of legislation, which is going to meet friction on Cap Hill, and 23 "executive actions," meaning things that can be put into place immediately without waiting for Congress. The NRA says it is fired up for "the fight of the century."
What to say to your underlings... You better not do anything stupid and wind up costing me money. Let me tell you the tale of the "London Whale" (no, it's not a Vineyard Vines line). JPMorgan lost around $6 billion, that's with a b, last year from risky trading bets made by a trader nicknamed the "London Whale." That mess was considered a smear to the good name of JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon, who escaped the financial crisis largely with respect. The company's board has decided to dock Dimon's pay by about 50% because of management failures. He's still taking home over $10 million though, so don't send condolences just yet.
What to say while planning your long weekend... I'll go anywhere as long as I don't have to take a Dreamliner to get there. The FAA has temporarily grounded Boeing's 787s after one was forced to make an emergency landing in Japan yesterday because of battery failures, the latest in a string of recent incidents. The FAA says Boeing needs to prove the lithium-ion batteries involved are safe before the Dream can fly again.
What to say about the new guy... Don't get too comfortable, there's a lot of turnover here. Rumor on Pennsylvania Ave is that President Obama has chosen his new chief of staff--his fourth since taking office. Deputy National Security Adviser Denis McDonough would replace Jack Lew, who's been nominated for secretary of the Treasury. Like the test of any good friendship, McDonough and Obama have travelled together and came out still liking one another.
What to say when you crave a spa day... I'll just put my jeans on instead and go to the Denim Spa. Wrangler is launching the first pair of moisturizing jeans. Yup, that Olive Extract finish isn't dirt, just some natural oil and butters doing their thing. Don't get too excited though, these babies have an expiration date and the silky smooth lasts for only 15 days. Don't worry, you can buy some reloading spray to keep it fresh. Or you can just buy moisturizer and put on your regular jeans. (h/t Amanda; New York, NY)
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