By Jack Fitzpatrick (@jackfitzdc)
TODAY IN ONE PARAGRAPH: Comcast still has to run its purchase of Time Warner Cable past the Justice Department and the Federal Communications Commission, and antitrust activists don't like the deal. But it could be good news for those who support net neutrality. The Afghan government released 65 prisoners despite protests from U.S. officials, who said some of the inmates were involved in attacks on Americans. Rep. Doc Hastings is the 18th member of Congress to announce his retirement this year. And Sen. Cory Booker has an impressive system of responding to critics on Twitter.
TIME WARNER DEAL SETS STAGE FOR ANTITRUST FIGHT: The Justice Department's Antitrust Division will review Comcast's $45.2 billion deal to buy Time Warner Cable, which consumer-advocacy groups said would allow Comcast to hike prices and act like a "bully in the schoolyard. (Sasso/Ryan, NJ)
BUT IT COULD BE GOOD FOR NET NEUTRALITY: Comcast has already agreed to abide by the Federal Communications Commission's net-neutrality rules until at least 2018, even though those rules were struck down in court. And Comcast's agreement would extend to Time Warner Cable if the deal goes through. (Brendan Sasso, NJ)
AFGHANS RELEASE 65 PRISONERS OVER U.S. OBJECTIONS: U.S. officials said some of the inmates released were insurgents "directly linked" to attacks on Americans, and warned that some of them might be potential threats. But one released prisoner said he was just a farmer and had never even been given a reason for his arrest. (Sukhanyar/Nordland, NYT)
U.K. PLAYS HARDBALL WITH SCOTLAND: United Kingdom Chancellor George Osborne said if Scotland leaves the U.K., it will lose the British pound. Pro-independence leaders called the move an attempt to bully Scotland. (Karla Adam, WaPo)
DOC HASTINGS TO RETIRE: The Washington Republican, who serves as the chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, is the 18th member of Congress to announce his retirement this year. His district is considered safe for Republicans--Mitt Romney won there in 2012 by a 22-point margin. (Abby Livingston, Roll Call)
D.C. SHUTS DOWN IN SNOWSTORM: The region has gotten up to 15 inches of snow in some areas, leading government offices, airports, and schools to close. More snow is possible this evening. (Hedgpeth/Halsey, WaPo)
TOMORROW IN ONE PARAGRAPH: The House Democratic Caucus continues its issues conference. The House is in session. The Senate is technically in a "pro forma" session but it's members aren't there, and aren't expected to return until Feb. 24.
THE CORY BOOKER GUIDE TO TWITTER: Most lawmakers shy away from interaction on social media, but when a tweeter calls him "corporate slime," the New Jersey Democrat responds with kindness. (Max Nisen, Quartz)
IS THE DEATH PENALTY DYING? In the last 20 years, public support for the death penalty has plummeted, while support for same-sex marriage has increased at about the same rate. (Scott Bland, NJ)
THE $350,000 FIGHT OVER A TENNESSEE MOSQUE: An "us vs. them" battle over the existence of a mosque in Murfreesboro, Tenn., has cost the county $343,176 in legal fees so far. (Abby Ohlheiser, The Wire)
THE 1 PERCENT OF THE 1 PERCENT: The wealth of America's richest 0.01 percent has expanded even more dramatically than has the 1 percent in the past few decades. (Derek Thompson, The Atlantic)
THE 60-DEGREE WINTER OLYMPICS: Sochi is hosting the warmest Winter Olympics in recent memory, which is making some events difficult to run. (Branch/Dolnick, NYT)
LAST NIGHT'S LATE-NIGHT FUNNIES IN UNDER 3 MINUTES: Everyone is still talking about Bill O'Reilly's Super Bowl Sunday interview with President Obama. Or at least O'Reilly is still talking about it. (Reena Flores, NJ)
LAWMAKERS READ LINES FROM HOUSE OF CARDS: Now This News gets members of Congress to act as Kevin Spacey's character, Frank Underwood. Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina has "zero tolerance for betrayal." (NBC News)