Debt limit — House Republicans may seek a quick, short-term extension of the government’s debt limit, a move that would avoid an immediate default by the Treasury as the party seeks to maximize leverage in negotiations over spending cuts with President Barack Obama this spring, officials said Thursday. “All options are on the table as far as we’re concerned," Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin said at a news conference during a three-day retreat of the rank and file. He said private discussions focused on how best to “achieve progress on controlling our deficits and controlling our debt."
Pakistan protests — The firebrand cleric who led a massive street rally aimed at bringing down the Pakistani government called off the protests Thursday after negotiating a settlement with ruling coalition leaders. The agreement between religious scholar Tahir-ul-Qadri and government officials ended a four-day crisis that threatened to upend the country’s political landscape.
Gun poll — The massacre of children at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., appears to be profoundly swaying Americans’ views on guns, galvanizing the broadest support for stricter gun laws in about a decade, according to a New York Times/CBS News poll. As President Barack Obama tries to persuade a reluctant Congress to pass new gun laws, the poll found that a majority of Americans — 54 percent — think gun control laws should be tightened, up markedly from a CBS News poll in April that found that only 39 percent backed stricter laws.
Colorado theater — The Colorado cinema where 12 people were killed and dozens injured in a shooting rampage nearly six months ago reopened Thursday with a remembrance ceremony and a private screening of the fantasy film “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" for survivors — but for some Aurora victims, the pain is still too much, the idea too horrific. Several families boycotted what they called a callous public relations ploy by the theater’s owner, Cinemark. They claimed the Texas-based company — which has been publicly silent since the July 20 shooting — didn’t ask them what should happen to the theater.
Indonesia flooding — Torrential rains caused flooding that paralyzed much of the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, on Thursday, resulting in the deaths of at least four people and forcing the evacuations of tens of thousands of others. Parts of the capital were under at least six feet of water, and even the presidential palace was not spared as waters rushed into the complex. In the central business district, water levels rose to at least 18 inches. Cars, buses and motorcycles were stranded in the streets, and soldiers in rubber boats rescued people trapped in their homes.
Iran investigation — Senior investigators from the U.N. nuclear watchdog ended two days of intensive talks with Iranian officials on Thursday over allegations the Islamic Republic may have carried out tests on triggers for atomic weapons. The semiofficial Fars news agency said the two sides agreed to hold another round of negotiations on Feb. 12.
Terror sentence — A Chicago businessman was sentenced to 14 years in prison Thursday for providing material support to overseas terrorism, including a Pakistani group whose 2008 attacks in Mumbai, India, left more than 160 people dead. Tahawwur Rana did not address the court before U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber imposed the sentence and did not react afterward. But his defense attorneys said the judge was right to reject prosecutors’ arguments that Rana deserved a stiffer sentence because the charges were related to terrorism.
Syria video game — A new video game based on Syria’s civil war challenges players to make the hard choices facing the country’s rebels. Is it better to negotiate peace with the regime of President Bashar Assad, for example, or dispatch jihadist fighters to kill pro-government thugs? The British designer of “Endgame: Syria" says he hopes the game will inform people who might otherwise remain ignorant about the conflict.
Natalie Wood inquiry — Robert Wagner has declined to be interviewed by detectives in a renewed inquiry into the drowning death of his wife Natalie Wood three decades ago, an investigator said Thursday. Wagner was interviewed by authorities soon after Wood’s drowning in 1981, but the actor is the only person who was on the yacht the night Wood died who has not spoken to detectives as part of the latest inquiry, despite repeated requests and attempts, sheriff’s Lt. John Corina said.
Florida voting — Two months after Florida was denounced for its chaotic election process, Gov. Rick Scott on Thursday endorsed three major changes proposed by the state’s election supervisors. Scott said he would support increasing the number of early voting days, including adding back the Sunday before Election Day, widening the range of polling places and reducing the length of ballots.
— From wire reports