Today's edition of quick hits:
* Crisis in Algeria: "Three Americans were among dozens of foreign nationals kidnapped by heavily armed militants who attacked a gas field in Algeria on Wednesday, U.S. officials said. A militant group claimed the raid was launched in retaliation for France's military intervention in neighboring Mali, Reuters reporting, citing media reports in the region."
* Mali: "French soldiers encircled a desert village in central Mali on Wednesday, a Malian Army colonel said, in the first direct operations involving Western troops since France began its military campaign here last week to help wrest this nation back from a militant advance."
* Another cabinet departure: "Ken Salazar, the blunt-spoken lawyer and rancher who took over the scandal-ridden Interior Department at the outset of the Obama administration, said Wednesday that he would step down in March to return to his home in Colorado."
* More good economic news: "U.S. factory production rose in December for the second straight month, buoyed by more output of autos, electronics and business equipment."
* Ready to move: "Representative Luis Gutierrez and five other members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus met with White House officials Tuesday in the Roosevelt Room to discuss the administration's plan to move forward on comprehensive immigration reform."
* Already slipping into irrelevance: "Former Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) announced Tuesday that he will begin hosting an Internet television program for conservative website PJ Media."
* Are President Obama's executive actions on gun policy legally problematic? Reagan's solicitor general really doesn't think so.
* I occasionally forget just how odd Whole Foods CEO John Mackey's political beliefs really are.
* And in an apparent bid to curtail frivolous questions, the White House has quadrupled the number of signatures required to receive an official response to a petition on its "We the People" website. That will cut down on entertaining interactions, but it's probably for the best.
Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.