Good morning, and TGIF! Here are some of the stories we're following today:
1. Fresh shelling in Ukraine as U.S. eyes sanctions
Just hours before expected talks to potentially hammer out a peace deal in eastern Ukraine, more shelling could be heard outside of the port city of Mariupol, where pro-Russian separatists have a hold on the region. Ukrainian, Russian and OSCE officials are expected to meet later Friday to discuss a truce. Any peace plan has the support of U.S. leaders, as well as Britain, France, Germany and Italy, which have been meeting this week to talk about world security during the NATO summit. Meanwhile, the U.S. is preparing more economic sanctions against Russia for its incursion into Ukraine, officials said — a way to put pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin to end the fighting. Read more in NEWS.
Friday, Britain's Royal Air Force and jets from eight other nations screamed over the NATO summit venue in Wales as world leaders gathered for talks.
2. Comedy legend Joan Rivers dies at age 81
Rivers, the tart-tongued queen of comedy who made many a red carpet her home, was remembered for her quick quips and trailblazing career. Don Rickles, a fixture of the 1950s stand-up circuit where Rivers honed her craft and perhaps the only living legend who rivals her longevity, said “working with her and enjoying the fun times of life with her was special.” Rivers, whose funeral service is scheduled for Sunday, once said she wanted her memorial to include paparazzi, a Valentino gown and Meryl Streep’s tears. Read more in POP CULTURE.
3. Ex-Va. Gov. Bob McDonnell, wife found guilty in fraud trial
McDonnell was found guilty Thursday of 11 counts of fraud, bribery and corruption charges while his wife was found guilty of nine. The estranged couple sobbed as the verdicts were read, while their adult children cried in the seats behind them. U.S. District Judge James Spencer set sentencing for Jan. 6. The ex-governor, who was accused of illegally accepting gifts and loans from a businessman while in office, has had a stunning fall from grace from his earlier clean-cut image. Read more in POLITICS.
4. Chuck Todd to interview President Obama on ‘Meet the Press’
Sunday marks Todd’s debut as permanent moderator of the Sunday talk-show staple, and he’ll be interviewing Obama about the big stories of the day — from ISIS to the Ukraine crisis to the upcoming midterm elections. Todd said last Sunday on the program that he hoped to reduce Americans’ cynicism toward politics and politicians. “Meet the Press” airs at 9 a.m. ET. Read more in POLITICS.
5. American doctor with Ebola headed for Nebraska hospital
Massachusetts doctor Rick Sacra will be treated at an isolation unit at The Nebraska Medical Center in Ohama for treatment to save his life. Sacra was infected with the Ebola virus while working in Liberia; his colleagues, Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol, were also infected but have recovered. Health care professionals have been hard hit by Ebola, which has infected more than 3,600 people in the West African epidemic and killed half of them. Read more in HEALTH.
6. Why the death of an old tree tells tale of Southwest drought
For six-plus centuries, a Douglas fir named Yoda lived through many harsh conditions in the El Malpais National Monument in New Mexico. But its recent death has stunned scientists who’ve been documenting a rash of mortalities in tree populations. For Yoda, they say, a combination of drought and higher temperatures may have been the tree’s undoing. Read more in SCIENCE.
… What’s trending today?
They want to pump him up! “Saturday Night Live” characters Hans and Franz (played by Dana Carvey and Kevin Nealon) return in a new State Farm commercial to teach Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers how to get buff for the football season. That evidently includes eating a lot of protein supplements and pulling a tank.