Snowbound: Commuters in the Plains and Midwest had to shovel and plow their way through towering snowdrifts to get to work this morning. The latest winter storm, although not big enough to warrant its own name, dumped more than a foot of snow from Nebraska to Michigan, closing airports, canceling classes, and clogging roadways.
Spilling secrets: A German government official said on Friday U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told him America’s plan to leave between 8,000 and 12,000 troops in Afghanistan after the end of the military’s official involvement in the country in 2014. If it’s true, Panetta and his eventual successor may want to be more careful who they trust with tactical secrets. U.S. officials have declined to say anything about future troop levels, in part because they don’t know what kind of funding they’ll have to work with after the March 1 sequester spending cuts.
Hagel vote nears: Fifteen Republican senators sent President Barack Obama a letter yesterday asking him to withdraw Chuck Hagel’s nomination to head the Department of Defense. But that’s not likely, especially after several other Republicans announced support for their former colleague. The Senate likely will vote on the nomination next week.
Sprinting out of jail: A South African court granted Olympian Oscar Pistorius bail this morning. The double amputee who made history last summer as the first Paralympic athlete to compete against able-bodied runners is charged with premeditated murder in the shooting death of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. Prosecutors warned Pistorius was a flight risk.
Still getting sick: This year’s flu shot wasn’t very effective at keeping people from getting sick, especially the elderly. According to a report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only 56 percent of people who got the injection avoided having to go to the doctor for a flu-related illness. Among elderly patients, who are most at risk, the shot proved only 9 percent effective against this season's most prevalent flu strain, H3N2.