NEED TO KNOW
The hostage crisis in Algeria is still a hostage crisis. At least 22 foreign captives remain unaccounted for after Algerian troops mounted their unilateral rescue operation yesterday. Some are thought to remain inside the In Amenas gas plant, still in the hands of the surviving hostage-takers and surrounded by Algerian special forces. Others, it's feared, are dead.
We know that anywhere between four and 30 hostages were killed in yesterday's strike, while at least four were freed. And that's about all we know. The Algerian government has been sparing with the details, to put it mildly, which hasn't gone down well with the other numerous countries involved. Long after this episode has ceased to be a hostage crisis, it will continue to be a diplomatic one.
Remember Mali? Right, because this whole mess in Algeria started – the kidnappers claim – when France sent its troops to fight Islamist rebels who were seizing Malian territory. The French force now numbers 1,400 soldiers, and reinforcements have begun arriving from Togo and Nigeria.
They face a tough battle against the well-armed fighters who have held much of northern Mali for almost a year. And, as events in Algeria have hammered home, the conflict could all too quickly spread beyond Mali's borders – raising fears of an Afghanistan-shaped quagmire. For French President François Hollande, declaring war was dangerous; but inaction could have been more so. GlobalPost's Paul Ames studies the chances that the gamble in Mali will pay off.
WANT TO KNOW
This what Lance Armstrong telling the truth looks like. We all knew it was coming, and last night we got the first helping of the disgraced cyclist's confession via the Oprah Winfrey Show. Testosterone, blood transfusions, growth hormone, EPO – you name it, he did it to win those seven Tour de France titles.
Armstrong called his previous denials "one big lie" and said he wanted to apologize. The first step to rehabilitation? We suspect forgiveness might be one victory it's harder for Lance to win.
Ballet can get ugly. The director of Russia's world-famous Bolshoi Theatre, Sergei Filin, is in hospital for severe burns after a masked attacker threw acid in his face. Doctors say he could lose his eyesight.
It's rumored the attack stemmed from in-fighting among the company over Filin's "uncompromising" management style. To borrow a phrase, dance isn't a matter of life or death; it's much more important than that.
STRANGE BUT TRUE
It's been a bad week for dogs. First Alan the dachshund, Tatler magazine's in-house pup, had a fatal run-in with some revolving doors. Then Oscar the globe-trotting mutt from South Africa was killed in a car crash during his travels in California.
Our only consolation is another Oscar, this one a three-legged stray from New Zealand, who's made the headlines by stealing sausages from a convenience store (not his first offense). The crafty canine is now awaiting adoption. We can only salute his survival instinct.