The Qassam Brigades, Hamas' armed wing, released a statement early this morning saying the Islamist Palestinian faction is not holding an Israeli officer who Israel claims was abducted in an ambush after a short-lived ceasefire had begun.
"Until now, we have no idea about the disappearance of the Israeli soldier," the statement, reported on by The New York Times, read. "We do not know his whereabouts or the conditions of his disappearance." Saying it had lost contact with its troops in the ambush, Hamas also suggested that the abducted soldier could have been killed by a subsequent Israeli assault: "Our account is that the soldier could have been kidnapped and killed together with our fighters."
Hamas and Israeli officials differ on the timing of a Friday clash that collapsed a 72-hour ceasefire brokered by the United Nations and Secretary of State John Kerry. A spokesman for the Israeli military, though, refuted the statement released by the Qassam Brigades, saying that the search for Second Lt. Hadar Goldin is ongoing and that Hamas is responsible for the abduction. Sarah Eberspacher
On Friday, New York Mets relief pitcher Jenrry Mejia made Major League Baseball history by becoming the first player to be permanently banned from the league for using performance-enhancing drugs. This marks Mejia's third positive test for PED use in a single calendar year, after he failed a drug test in April 2015 and then another three months later. The Mets said in a statement they were "deeply disappointed" in Mejia, who can apply for reinstatement to the MLB in one year, but would have to sit out a minimum of two years before returning to major league action. Kimberly Alters
On Friday afternoon, former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore announced the suspension of his campaign for president. Although, one could be forgiven forgetting he was even in the race — the long-shot Republican candidate's decision comes after dismal performances in both the New Hampshire primary and Iowa caucus, where he received the support of a measly 12 caucusgoers.
Gilmore's fellow GOP hopefuls Chris Christie and Carly Fiorina also dropped out of the race earlier this week after poor showings in New Hampshire.
And then there were six. Stephanie Talmadge
A Pennsylvania judge posted a sign outside his courtroom reminding citizens that pajama bottoms should not be worn in court. Judge Craig Long said that too many people have been appearing before him without bothering to put on a proper pair of pants. "We have a growing problem of people not dressing appropriately," Long said. "It's just there as a reminder."
With House Republicans still divided on how to move forward with plans to pass the budget, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) reminded lawmakers Friday that there's always the option to just skip the budget altogether. "It would be a shame, but the sky won't fall if we don't do a budget," Ryan said to members at a closed-door meeting. Because of a two-year deal struck last fall between then-Speaker John Boehner and the Obama administration, Ryan contends Congress is not "staring down a cliff" that would force them to make a final call.
However, Ryan warned members, this choice would not come without repercussions. If House Republicans decided against doing a budget, Ryan said the Republican Party would essentially be missing out on a chance to "do big things" in 2017. The GOP would not be able to present their fiscal solutions to the public ahead of the presidential election, nor would they be able to pass all 12 appropriations bills, essentially forcing Congress back into its "crisis-driven cycle of passing spending bills" that Ryan has been trying to avoid, The Hill reports.
Republicans are at an impasse over the prospect of passing a budget that sticks to the previously agreed upon $1.07 trillion spending level. Others are pushing for increased military spending, which Ryan pointed out could only increase by $40 million within current spending levels. "Are House Republicans willing to give up appropriations bills, a balanced budget, entitlement reform, and reconciliation for $40 million?" Ryan asked Friday.
House Republicans have until the beginning of March to reach a decision on how to proceed with the budget plan. Becca Stanek
On Friday, Donald Trump threatened fellow GOP presidential contender Ted Cruz with a lawsuit over Cruz's eligibility to run for president:
If @TedCruz doesn’t clean up his act, stop cheating, & doing negative ads, I have standing to sue him for not being a natural born citizen.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 12, 2016
Though Cruz, who was born in Canada to an American mother and a Cuban father, has maintained that he is a natural-born citizen and thus eligible to run for office, the constitutionality of his presidential run has been challenged — particularly by Trump.
Meals on a yacht or private jet were such cheerless affairs before the Hemisphere Marine Blue Collection ($78) came along. The new porcelain set, produced by silver retailer Michael C. Fina and based on a classic pattern by the house of Jean-Louis Coquet, brightens such repasts with its splashes of "jaunty" blue, said Michalene Busico at RobbReport. More than that, though, the set is thinner and lighter than traditional china, and features stabler bases plus more generous rims for catching spills. If you're waiting on delivery of a yacht, don't rule out using the set at a summer home.
While there is a lot of money and research that goes into the study of relationships, a certain amount of mystery remains about why people tend to cling to the memory of their first love. Speaking to a number of psychologists who study relationships and romance, The Washington Post floated several theories as to why we still can't get over that certain someone, no matter how many years go by. Below, a selection of some experts' most illuminating quotes. Jeva Lange
It was sort of scary, and that makes it memorable.
"Your first experience of something is going to be well remembered, more than later experiences. Presumably there'd be more arousal and excitement, especially if it's somewhat scary. And falling in love is somewhat scary — you're afraid you'll be rejected, you're afraid you won't live up to their expectations, afraid they won't live up to yours. Anxiety is a big part of falling in love, especially the first time." -Art Aron, State University of New York at Stony Brook psychology professor
It was when we learned what love is.
"I [...] think it becomes, to some degree, a template. It becomes what we measure everything else against.”
-Jefferson Singer, Connecticut College psychologist
"Together you decide what love is."
-Nancy Kalish, California State University at Sacramento psychology professor
We experience a 'memory bump.'
"[People between 15 and 26] recall more memories, and they tend to be more positive memories... [And] we have more opportunity to rehearse it and replay it, rethink it, reimagine it, re-experience it." -Singer
We like who were were then.
"I think it's not just about the other person. It's about who we were at that time. We're relishing the image of ourselves. They give us license to be the person we were once again — young and vibrant and beautiful." -Singer