Good morning, and TGIF. Here are some of the stories we're following today:
1. Body found in ashes of California wildfire
Better weather today could help firefighters in Southern California who’ve been battling nine separate blazes since Tuesday and Wednesday. The fire claimed its first known victim Thursday — a transient encamped near Carlsbad in San Diego County. The worst of the fires, devouring the San Marcos hillside, was still only 5 percent contained late Thursday. Read more in NEWS.
2. Aaron Hernandez indicted for double murder
The former New England Patriots tight end — already in jail in another murder case — is accused of shooting two Boston nightclub goers to death in a drive-by in July 2012, while Hernandez's career was taking off in the NFL. Prosecutors said Thursday that he used a .38-caliber revolver to shoot the men from an SUV. “Their chance encounter inside the club triggered a series of events that ended in the murders,” a prosecutor said without revealing other details. Hernandez’s attorney said the disgraced athlete is innocent. Read more in NEWS.
3. Nigeria’s president cancels trip to hometown of schoolgirls
Citing security concerns, President Goodluck Jonathan won’t be visiting the hometown today of the nearly 300 schoolgirls kidnapped by terror group Boko Haram. His decision to bail comes as a top U.S. defense official charged Thursday the country hasn’t done enough to adequately respond to Boko Haram. The Islamist fighters are also blamed for attacks that have killed more than 1,000 people this year alone. Read more in NEWS.
4. Death toll in Turkish mine disaster to top 300
At least 284 miners’ bodies have been pulled from the Soma mine with nearly 20 still believe entombed inside, authorities said. An explosion and fire filled tunnels with deadly carbon monoxide on Tuesday, but it’s unclear what sparked the disaster. Turkish officials have vowed to prosecute those responsible, saying, “We won’t take any notice of their tears.” Read more in NEWS.
5. Donald Sterling will put up a fight against NBA
The disgraced owner of the Los Angeles Clippers is threatening to sue the league after it banned him from games and imposed a $2.5 million fine after he was caught making racist remarks on tape. Sterling has so far failed to pay up, and a letter sent to the league by Sterling’s lawyer says he “rejects our demand for payment.” Read more at NBC SPORTS.
6. Senate rips VA’s Shinseki as scandal widens
VA Secretary Eric Shinseki told a Senate Committee on Thursday that he is troubled and angered by the allegations that at least 40 veterans may have died waiting for treatment at a Phoenix VA hospital. While senators had several questions about the VA’s practices, Shinseki said an internal investigation would help uncover the cause of any alleged misconduct. Read more in POLITICS.
Some veterans groups remained dissatisfied with Shinseki’s answers:
… What’s trending today?
Iconic interviewer and journalist Barbara Walters is retiring from regular television when her final episode of “The View” airs today. Among the special guests giving her a sendoff include Oprah Winfrey and Hillary Clinton.
Walters, who was a TODAY show anchor and producer in the 1960s and 70s, will still serve as an executive producer of the long-running show. For the taping of her final episode, Walters was joined by other famous newswomen: