Today’s edition of quick hits:
* Peter Theo Curtis: “Held for nearly two years in a prison run by an affiliate of Al Qaeda in Syria, an American freelance writer was unexpectedly freed on Sunday, following extensive mediation by Qatar, the tiny Gulf emirate and United States ally that has successfully negotiated the release of numerous Western hostages in exchange for multimillion-dollar ransoms.”
* Earthquake: “Residents of Napa, Vallejo and other places hit hard by a 6.0-magnitude earthquake took stock of the damage and cleaned up Monday as many schools remained closed and some of the more than 200 people who were injured recovered in hospitals.”
* Baghdad: “Iraq’s prime minister-designate called Monday on the country’s numerous Shiite militias and tribes to come under government control and stop acting independently, as violence killed at least 58 people in areas where the Muslim sect dominates.”
* Libya: “An alliance of Islamist militias said it wrested control of Tripoli’s international airport from a rival force after weeks of fighting that triggered an exodus of foreigners and threatened to plunge Libya deeper into chaos.”
* And speaking of Libya, this is a surprise: “Twice in the last seven days, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates have secretly teamed up to launch airstrikes against Islamist-allied militias battling for control of Tripoli, Libya, four senior American officials said, in a major escalation between the supporters and opponents of political Islam.”
* Ukraine: “Russia hopes to send a second convoy of humanitarian aid to east Ukraine sometime this week, Foreign Minister Sergey V. Lavrov of Russia said on Monday, just days after the border crossing of the first convoy drew international condemnation.”
* Gen. Martin Dempsey in Kabul: “The Pentagon has developed plans that would allow American forces to remain in Afghanistan beyond the end of the year if the contested presidential election drags on and a security agreement isn’t signed soon, the top U.S. military officer said Monday.”
* Fort Lee shooting: “An all clear was given by Fort Lee officials after an “active shooter incident” was reported at the U.S. Army base in Virginia early Monday morning. U.S. military and law enforcement officials confirmed to NBC News that the shooting incident was an apparent suicide.”
* No one seems to know how this happened: “A 55-gallon drum of nuclear waste, buried in a salt shaft 2,150 feet under the New Mexico desert, violently erupted late on Feb. 14 and spewed mounds of radioactive white foam. The flowing mass, looking like whipped cream but laced with plutonium, went airborne, traveled up a ventilation duct to the surface and delivered low-level radiation doses to 21 workers.”
* French shake-up: “France was thrown into fresh crisis on Monday as President Francois Hollande told his prime minister to form a new government after damaging splits within the ruling Socialist party burst into the open.”
* A great annual exercise: “Today the Washington Monthly releases its annual College Guide and Rankings. This is our answer to U.S News & World Report, which relies on crude and easily manipulated measures of wealth, exclusivity, and prestige for its rankings. Instead, we rate schools based on what they are doing for the country – on whether they’re improving social mobility, producing research, and promoting public service.” [Disclosure: I’m a Monthly alumnus.]
* Clearly, the publication of the “no angel” phrase was a bad idea.
* Motivated reasoning and conspiracy theorizing aren’t the same thing.
Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.