Captive. The family of a U.S. soldier taken captive in Afghanistan in 2009 is rejoicing after the military announced it had obtained a new video showing him alive. In the footage, Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl references former South African President Nelson Mandela’s death, which leads U.S. officials to believe it was shot within the last month. Although alive, Bergdahl appears gaunt in the footage, suggesting his health may be failing, officials said. It is believed that the Taliban-linked Haqqani network in Pakistan is holding Bergdahl. The militants claim they captured him after he stumbled out of his garrison, drunk. But in the first video the Taliban released showing Bergdahl, he said he was captured after lagging behind during a patrol. In a statement, a Defense Department spokeswoman said the U.S. government was working for Bergdahl’s “safe and immediate release.”
Abortion funding ban. On Wednesday, the House Judiciary Committee approved the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act,” a bill that would end all federal funding for abortions. One Democrat—Rep. Pedro Pierluisi of Puerto Rico—joined the committee’s 21 Republicans to approve the measure. The remaining 12 Democrats voted against it. The legislation now goes to the House for a full vote. While likely to win approval in the Republican-controlled chamber, it will be greeted with much less enthusiasm in the Senate, where Democrats hold the majority.
Legal help. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has hired an outside law firm to help him deal with a scandal that ultimately threatens to derail his political ambitions. The lawyers will assist Christie’s administration with an internal review and cooperate with a U.S. attorney’s inquiry into a traffic jam retribution scheme. During a two-hour press conference last week, Christie said he had no idea one of his most trusted staffers had orchestrated a lane closure in Fort Lee, N.J., at the base of the George Washington Bridge, to punish the town’s mayor for refusing to support her boss’ reelection bid. Christie will be sworn in to his second gubernatorial term next week.
Charged. New Mexico authorities have charged the 12-year-old accused of opening fire with a shotgun in a middle school gym with aggravated battery with a deadly weapon. The attack injured two students. An 11-year-old boy remains in critical condition after birdshot struck him in the face and neck. A 13-year-old girl is in stable condition after being hit in the shoulder. The alleged shooter is in a psychiatric hospital in Albuquerque. Despite initial reports the injured boy might have been the attacker’s target, officials now say it appears the suspect fired randomly into the crowd.
Oscars. Members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced their Oscar nominees this morning, with few surprises. American Hustle and 12 Years a Slave will vie with Gravity, Captain Phillips, Nebraska, Her, Philomena, and The Wolf of Wall Street for Best Picture. You can see a full list of the nominees in other categories here. Awards will be handed out March 2.