10 things you need to know today: February 4, 2015

A Jordanian child holds photo of pilot
(Image credit: (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser, File))

1. Jordan executes prisoners in retaliation after ISIS burns captured pilot alive

The Islamic State on Tuesday released a video that appeared to show terrorists burning captured Jordanian fighter pilot Moaz al-Kasasbeh alive in a cage. Jordan vowed an "earth-shaking" response, and swiftly hanged two jihadist prisoners. One of the executed prisoners was Sajida al-Rishawi, a failed suicide bomber whose release ISIS had demanded in a proposed prisoner exchange. Al-Kasasbeh's father called for Jordan, which has participated in the U.S.-led air campaign against ISIS, to execute all ISIS-linked prisoners.

Reuters CNN

2. Harper Lee to publish second novel

To Kill a Mockingbird author Harper Lee, 88, is releasing her second novel on July 14, her publisher, Harper, announced Tuesday. The recently rediscovered book, Go Set a Watchman, will appear to be a sequel to her Pulitzer-Prize-winning first novel, but it was actually the first one she completed. It tells the story of Mockingbird's main character, Scout, returning to her Alabama hometown during the early days of the Civil Rights movement. Her original editor was the one who encouraged Lee to make her first novel about Scout's youth.

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up


3. Democrats block GOP bill stripping funding for Obama's immigration actions

Senate Democrats on Tuesday blocked a Homeland Security funding bill over a measure Republicans proposed to dismantle President Obama's executive actions shielding as many as five million undocumented immigrants from deportation. The GOP wanted to prevent any of the $40 billion going to the department from being used to enforce Obama's immigration actions, but Obama has threatened to veto any such bill. The showdown could steer the department into crisis, as its funding runs out at the end of February.

The New York Times

4. Seven die in fiery New York train wreck

A crowded New York commuter train hit an SUV on Tuesday night, causing an explosion and killing the driver of the vehicle and six train passengers. The Metro-North train had left Grand Central Terminal about 45 minutes earlier with at least 400 passengers, and was passing through Valhalla in Westchester County when it hit the SUV, a black Jeep Cherokee. Passengers were evacuated through the rear of the train, taken to a makeshift shelter, and bused to nearby stations.

The Wall Street Journal

5. TransAsia plane crashes in Taiwan, killing at least 19

A TransAsia Airways turboprop plane carrying 53 passengers and five crew members crash-landed in a river in Taiwan's capital, Taipei, on Wednesday, killing at least 19 people and injuring over a dozen more. Others remained missing, and rescuers feared the death toll could rise. The pilot reported an engine flameout before the crash, which occurred just after takeoff from Taipei Songshan Airport on a domestic flight. The plane's wing hit a bridge, injuring a taxi driver, before it plunged into the water. This is the second TransAsia Airways plane to crash in the past year.

Reuters The Washington Post

6. Three French soldiers stabbed while guarding a Jewish community center

A knife-wielding attacker wounded three French soldiers patrolling a Jewish community center in Nice on Tuesday. Police arrested a suspect, identified as Moussa Coulibaly. Just days ago, Coulibaly had flown to Turkey — a gateway for entering Syria — and been expelled, then questioned upon his return to France. Coulibaly shares a surname with Amedy Coulibaly, the gunman who killed four people in a Paris kosher supermarket last month, but officials do not think they are related.

BBC News

7. Warrant to arrest Argentina's president found in dead prosecutor's trash

Investigators in Argentina say prosecutor Alberto Nisman, whose body was found in his Buenos Aires apartment last month, had drafted a warrant for the arrest of the country's president, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, shortly before his death. The 26-page document, found in his garbage, accused Kirchner of trying to shield Iran from responsibility for the 1994 bombing of a Buenos Aires Jewish center. If the warrant had been filed, political analyst Sergio Berensztein said, "It would have been a scandal on a level previously unseen."

The New York Times

8. Pope declares slain Salvadoran archbishop a martyr

Pope Francis has declared that slain Salvadorean Archbishop Oscar Romero died as a martyr, a step toward sainthood for the slain proponent of Liberation Theology. Romero was shot to death while celebrating Mass 25 years ago during El Salvador's civil war. He was an outspoken critic of the military regime, and his Marxist views kept Vatican officials from pursuing his beatification. Martyrs can attain beatification without being credited with a miracle, although they need one to reach sainthood.

BBC News

9. Alibaba launches drone delivery test in China

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba is testing a drone delivery system, starting Wednesday. The tests will be run in three Chinese cities — Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou. About 450 customers of Alibaba's Taobao service will receive a package of ginger tea in the one-time tests. Even if successful, the experiment won't mean widespread drone delivery any time soon, as Chinese regulators limit drone flights for security reasons. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos also is developing plans for drone deliveries.


10. Lance Armstrong accused of hitting parked cars after letting girlfriend take blame

Disgraced former cyclist Lance Armstrong was ticketed in January for a hit-and-run December crash in Aspen, Colorado, after first letting his girlfriend, Anna Hansen, take the blame, the Aspen Daily News reported Tuesday. According to police reports, the couple's vehicle hit two parked cars after they left a gala at a hotel. Police said Hansen initially said she was behind the wheel, and allegedly lied about whether Armstrong had been drinking, to avoid extensive press coverage of the incident.

Aspen Daily News The Denver Post

Continue reading for free

We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.

Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.

Harold Maass

Harold Maass is a contributing editor at TheWeek.com. He has been writing for The Week since the 2001 launch of the U.S. print edition. Harold has worked for a variety of news outlets, including The Miami Herald, Fox News, and ABC News. For several years, he wrote a daily round-up of financial news for The Week and Yahoo Finance. He lives in North Carolina with his wife and two sons.