10 things you need to know today: February 17, 2015

Egyptian president el-Sissi meets with the head of the Coptic church.
(Image credit: (AP Photo/WAM, File))

1. Federal judge halts Obama's immigration action

A federal judge in Texas on Monday blocked the federal government from enacting President Obama's executive order deferring deportations for up to five million undocumented immigrants. U.S. District Judge Andrew S. Hanen said the preliminary injunction was necessary to allow Texas and 25 other states to proceed with a lawsuit challenging Obama's immigration moves. "The genie would be impossible to put back in the bottle," Hanen said.

NBC News

2. Egypt bombs ISIS again as more Egyptians kidnapped

Egypt launched a second wave of airstrikes against the Libyan branch of the Islamic State on Monday, stepping up its retaliation against the Islamist group for beheading 21 Egyptian Christians on a Libyan beach. The murders of the Egyptian hostages, if confirmed, would be the first such crime by ISIS outside Iraq and Syria. After the first bombing wave, militants reportedly kidnapped 35 more Egyptians in ISIS-controlled areas.

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CNN Libya Herald

3. Heavy fighting in contested Ukrainian town despite ceasefire

A day after a cease-fire in Ukraine was scheduled to take effect, heavy fighting continued in the government-held town of Debaltseve, a strategic railway hub that the separatists claim to have surrounded. Both sides missed a Tuesday deadline for pulling heavy weapons back from the front lines. Kiev said that five Ukrainian soldiers have been killed and another 25 wounded since the cease-fire started.

The Associated Press USA Today

4. Stocks and the euro fall after Greece bailout talks collapse

Bailout talks between Greek leaders and their country's European creditors broke down on Monday, sending the euro and global stocks tumbling. The negotiations for a six-month extension of Greece's bailout fell apart when the recession ravaged country's new leaders, who have vowed to dismantle austerity measures demanded by lenders, rejected the proposed terms for the extension. Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem gave Athens until Friday to request extending the bailout beyond the end of the month.


5. South gets its share of extreme winter weather

With the Northeast wrestling with the aftermath of its fourth blizzard in less than a month, the South was the one that got a taste of harsh winter weather on Monday. Snow and ice hit the Southern states from Oklahoma to the Carolinas, forcing the cancellation of nearly 2,000 departures and arrivals at airports across the region, and cutting off power to thousands of customers. "You are not going to see bare pavement for a number of days, probably," Louisville Metro Public Works spokesman Harold Adams said.

NBC News

6. Oil train derails and burns in West Virginia

An oil train derailed and caught fire in West Virginia on Monday, forcing the evacuation of two towns. Fourteen rail cars on the 109-car CSX train and one house burned, and at least one tanker leaking Bakken shale oil tumbled into an icy river along the tracks. There were reports that several of the 33,000-gallon tankers had fallen into the river. The train had been headed to a refinery in Yorktown, Va., according to Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin's office.

USA Today

7. Princeton receives rare book collection worth $300 million

Princeton University announced Monday that it had received its biggest gift ever — a rare book and manuscript valued at $300 million. The 2,500-volume trove includes the first six printed editions of the Bible, an original printing of the Declaration of Independence, and Beethoven's autographed music sketchbook. Musician, bibliophile, and philanthropist William H. Scheide, a 1936 Princeton graduate, left the collection to the school when he died in November at age 100.

The Inquirer

8. U.S. plants spyware in foreign networks, cybersecurity firm says

Russian cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Lab said Monday that the U.S. has been embedding surveillance and sabotage tools into computers and networks in Iran, Russia, Pakistan, and other countries. The implants allegedly were placed by the "Equation Group," which "appears to be a veiled reference to the National Security Agency and its military counterpart, United States Cyber Command," The New York Times reports.

The New York Times

9. Debonair French actor Louis Jourdan dies at 93

French actor Louis Jourdan, who sealed his position as a romantic idol with his work in the 1958 Oscar winner Gigi, died over the weekend in California at age 93. The handsome and debonair Jourdan was cast in roles that exploited his Gallic charm — so much so that he referred to himself as Hollywood's "French cliche." Later he played villains, including James Bond's nemesis in the 1983 film Octopussy.

BBC News

10. Lesley Gore, who sang "It's My Party," dies at 68

Singer-songwriter Lesley Gore, who hit the top of the charts at age 16 with "It's My Party," died Monday of lung cancer. She was 68. "She was a wonderful human being — caring, giving, a great feminist, great woman, great human being, great humanitarian," said Gore's partner of 33 years, Lois Sasson. Gore followed up her first No. 1 song with a string of hits, including Judy's Turn to Cry and You Don't Own Me, which became a feminist anthem.

The New York Times

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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.