1. militant troubles

    U.S., Niger Sign Military Agreement

    French military personnel board a U.S. Air Force transport aircraft before departing for Mali from Istres airbase, near Marseille, southern France, Thursday, Jan.  24, 2013. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)

    Claude Paris/AP

    We're inching near, folks. On Monday, the United States signed an agreement with Niger that allows an American military presence on the border of conflict-ridden neighbor, Mali. The U.S. is in the beginning stages of building an intelligence-gathering hub in Niger that will be assisting France with its escalating military campaign and using drones to monitor nearby militants in Mali's northern desert. It is not yet known how many troops will be stationed in Niger or what exactly they will be doing. The agreement comes as French forces move into Timbuktu, and is a major sign of an increased U.S. role in the conflict.

    Read it at The Wall Street Journal