Good morning. Here are some of the stories we’re following today:
1. Unmasking 'Jihadi John': Evolution of an executioner
The identity of the enigmatic ISIS executioner — dubbed "Jihadi John" — was revealed Thursday as a London-raised college grad named 26-year-old Mohammed Emwazi. But some family members of the hostages beheaded by Emwazi aren't dwelling on him specifically. "Discovering who he is might be important to some people, but it's not important to me," said the father of slain U.S. journalist John Foley. Emwazi remains at large in Syria and Iraq. Meanwhile, unmasking him has revealed a seemingly normal upbringing of a child who liked pop music and soccer. "What I want to be when I grow up is a footballer," the would-be killer wrote in his yearbook. Read more in NEWS.
2. Clock is ticking toward Homeland Security shutdown
The Department of Homeland Security could see a partial shutdown at midnight Friday unless Congress approves a short-term funding measure. GOP House members met behind closed doors late Thursday to plot a plan forward, even as the Senate prepared to approve a "clean" DHS bill not tied to measures that would halt the president's executive actions on immigration. If the agency does shut down, the majority of its 230,000 workers would still need to go to work — they just wouldn't get their paychecks. Read more in POLITICS.
Meanwhile, House Speaker John Boehner's news conference Thursday drew attention for an unusual response to one reporter's question:
3. Eric Holder to call for lower bar in civil rights prosecutions
The outgoing attorney general wants Congress to lower the standard of proof in federal civil rights cases. The potential law change comes on the heels of a Justice Department finding this week that there was insufficient evidence to pursue criminal charges in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. "There needs to be a change with regard to the standard of proof," Holder said Thursday. To bring a federal case, federal prosecutors must prove that a person used excessive force, willfully — meaning on purpose — with the knowledge that it was wrong. Read more in NEWS.
4. More frigid winter records in jeopardy
Records are falling in several winter-weary areas of the country socked with snow and freezing temperatures. And it's not going to let up any time soon. Another arctic blast was already descending on two-thirds of the country early Friday, with meteorologists predicting everywhere east of the Rockies except for Florida would be 10 to 30 degrees below average. "We're almost into March now, so it's pretty late to see this kind of cold," said The Weather Channel's Michael Palmer. Meanwhile, tens of thousands of homes from Alabama to the Carolinas have been without power since a snowstorm two days ago. Read more in NEWS.
5. Missouri auditor dies in ‘apparent suicide’
In a bizarre turn of events, Missouri Auditor Tom Schweich fatally shot himself Thursday — minutes after inviting reports to his St. Louis home, police said. Schweich, 54, had recently launched a campaign to run for the state's governor on the GOP ticket. In an interview just before his death, he told The Associated Press that he had plans to go public that afternoon with allegations that the head of the Missouri Republican Party had made anti-Semitic comments about him. Police said there was no immediate indication that Schweich was under any type of investigation. Read more in NEWS.
6. Kanye West makes mea culpa: ‘I’m sorry Beck’
Looks like Kanye is on a Yeezus Apology Tour. The big-mouthed rapper took to Twitter to apologize to fellow musician — and album of the year winner — Beck for comments made at this year's Grammy Awards. "I would like to publicly apologize to Beck, I'm sorry Beck," West tweeted Thursday. During the show, he jokingly interrupted Beck's acceptance speech but later said he thought the alt rocker didn't deserve to win album of the year over Beyoncé. Read more in POP CULTURE.
And now this ...
This is Zipperbot, the world's only robotic zipper zipper-uper. Zipperbot will zip your zippers for you. And, all jokes aside, the MIT-created robot will be a big help to people with disabilities.