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Morning Briefing: Barack Obama basking in approval - for now

President Barack Obama speaks about immigration reform Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2013, at Del Sol High School in Las Vegas.

Isaac Brekken/AP

A summary of what you need to know today, compiled by The Globe's news desk on Jan. 30, 2013

Obama basking in approval – for now

Call it a post-inaugural bounce, but President Barack Obama is getting rave reviews from Americans. A Washington Post-ABC poll has the President at a 60 per cent approval rate – the highest in three years, with signs that the intensity of opposition to the President has waned. The biggest gains have been among liberals, minorities and people under 40, the paper reported. Mr. Obama will need whatever leverage he can gain in the coming months to tackle signature issues like gun control, immigration reform and the country's budget woes.

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French take last Islamist stronghold

French forces have entered the last urban stronghold of Islamist militants in north Mali, meeting no resistance. Completing a rapid advance across rebel-held territory, French troops landed near the Kidal, retook the airport and entered the town, according to reports. Kidal is the last of three provincial capitals to be retaken by French and African troops who have pushed back a rebel army that only weeks ago threatened to overrun the government. Here is Globe columnist Lysiane Gagnon's take  on the stakes in Mali.

Pakistan girl to get skull surgery

Malala Yousufzai, the teenager shot in the head by Taliban for campaigning for the rights of women to be educated, will return to a U.K. hospital for skull surgery, her doctors said today. Ms. Yousufzai will undergo a procedure known as titanium cranioplasty which will replace bullet-damaged part of her skull with a plate.

Rim's big day

After months of delays and fevered speculation, Research in Motion will unveil its latest smartphone today, a make or break moment for the one-time world beating corporation. The Blackberry 10, a touch-screen phone with a re-tooled operating system, will be unveiled at events in Toronto and New York today. Early reviews, including this take from The Globe's Iain Marlowe, have been positive.  For our live coverage of this morning's event come here.

Markham, Ont. approves mega arena plan

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Markham appears to be making big financial bet – that the small city north of Toronto will be able to bag a NHL franchise go occupy a $325-million arena. City council narrowly approved a financing plan  early Wednesday morning for the project after an eight hour meeting. While backers assert the arena can be a financial success without an NHL team, most believe only a new franchise justifies the project – a prospect that will provoke fierce opposition by the Toronto Maple leafs.

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