National editor's pick of the top news stories in the nation and world at this hour:
Nancy Pelosi got off to a rough start as House minority leader Friday, defending a doctored picture she posted on Flickr in which four women were added to a photo of female House Democrats taken on the Capitol steps Thursday. The four were added in the back row because they arrived late for the photo shoot. "It was an accurate historical record of who the Democratic women of Congress are," Pelosi told a news conference. "It also is an accurate record that it was freezing cold and our members had been waiting a long time for everyone to arrive and ... had to get back into the building to greet constituents, family members, to get ready to go to the floor." What it wasn't was an accurate photograph, and had it happened at a newspaper it would have been a firing offense.
The House on Friday overwhelmingly approved $9.7 billion in aid for victims of superstorm Sandy -- two days after politicians from the storm area expressed fury over Speaker John Boehner's decision to delay such a vote. The measure passed 354-67, with all no votes cast by Republicans. The bill gives borrowing authority to the National Flood Insurance Program to pay about 115,000 pending claims.
Malala Yousufzai, the 15-year-old Pakistani girl shot in the head by the Taliban for promoting girls' education, left a British hospital Friday. She still needs reconstructive surgery in the next month to rebuild her skull, but she will live with her family in Britain until then. Photos and video from the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham showed her hugging nurses, waving, smiling and walking down a hall, appearing a bit unsteady. Hospital officials say she is recovering well. The Taliban targeted Malala for murder because of her opposition to their efforts to deny girls education, pulling her off a bus and shooting her in the head in front of classmates
Hamas, the hard-line Palestinian faction that rules the Gaza Strip, allowed the more moderate Fatah party to hold its first rally in Gaza on Friday since the two groups clashed in battle in 2007. Tens of thousands of Fatah supporters waved yellow flags, danced and chanted slogans in a rally that marks improving relations between the two factions. "We feel like birds freed from our cage today," said Fadwa Taleb, 46, a police officer for Fatah before the Hamas takeover. "We are happy and feel powerful again." Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was not among the top Fatah officials who attended, though he addressed the crowd on a large screen, saying, "There is no substitute for national unity." The rally, however, was canceled halfway through because of injuries caused by overcrowding and shoving matches between rival Fatah factions.
One day into retirement and apparently having second thoughts, ex-Rep. Barney Frank said Friday that he would like to be appointed temporarily to John Kerry's Massachusetts Senate seat. "Coach, put me in," Frank said on MSNBC's "Morning Joe," saying he had asked Gov. Deval Patrick to appoint him interim senator until a special election is held to replace Kerry, who has been nominated for secretary of state. Frank clarified that he does not intend to run in the special election to fill the seat until 2014, so he would serve only a few months. But with major battles looming on spending cuts and the debt limit in the wake of a limited "fiscal cliff" deal, he said, "That deal now means that February, March and April are going to be among the most important months in American financial (history)."
The Wire, a summary of top national and world news stories from the Associated Press and other wire services, moves weekdays. Contact Karl Kahler at 408-920-5023; follow him at twitter.com/karl_kahler.