Good morning, and happy Friday. Here are some of the stories we’re following today:
1. Calmer night in Ferguson as protests continue
Protesters gathered near the Ferguson, Missouri, police department Thursday and chanted slogans like "the whole damn system is guilty as hell," a day after two police officers were shot as another demonstration began to disperse. The crowd of more than 100 protesters appeared to be peaceful. Demonstrators briefly blocked a road and rebuffed police who asked them to leave. Earlier, a group of religious leaders and demonstrators held a candlelight vigil and prayed not only for the wounded officers and their families, but for protesters and for the nation as a whole. Both the White House and the parents of Michael Brown condemned the shooting. Read more in NEWS.
2. President Obama on Ferguson shooting: 'No excuse for criminal acts'
The president bantered with late-night television host Jimmy Kimmel on Thursday and addressed the topic of a pattern of racially biased policing in Ferguson. Obama said he was thankful that two police officers who were shot in the St. Louis suburb as a protest wrapped up Wednesday survived and are expected to recover. "I think that what had been happening in Ferguson was oppressive and objectionable and was worthy of protest, but there was no excuse for criminal acts," Obama said. Read more in NEWS.
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The president made time to take part in a popular staple of Kimmel's show: having guests read mean tweets about themselves.
3. Oklahoma fraternity in racism controversy hires attorney
The Sigma Alpha Epsilon chapter disgraced and disbanded after a video over the weekend showed members singing a racist chant has reportedly hired an attorney who represented Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh. High-profile lawyer Stephen Jones told NBC affiliate KFOR that the group he's representing is unhappy that the chapter was closed by University of Oklahoma President President David Boren, and is planning legal action against the college. Read more in NEWS.
4. American infected with Ebola returns to U.S. for treatment
An American healthcare worker infected with Ebola in Sierra Leone landed in the United States on Friday for treatment at a specialist unit in Maryland. The unidentified patient was set to be the 11th Ebola case treated in the U.S. since August. The person was flown back from West Africa in isolation on a chartered flight, the National Institutes of Health said in a statement Thursday. Read more in HEALTH.
5. Iranian 'Shadow Commander' leading ISIS fight in Iraq
Iraqi forces are in a major offensive attempting to squeeze out ISIS from Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit. It's an important fight that could symbolize the terror group's eroding power in the region, although ISIS is still trying to flaunt its influence by accepting the declaration of allegiance from Nigerian Islamist militants Boko Haram. The man leading the fight against ISIS in Tikrit is actually an Iranian, Gen. Qassem Soleimani, who has raised his profile in recent months. Read more in NEWS.
6. Obama to visit Phoenix VA hospital at center of scandal
The president will spend Friday at the embattled Veterans Affairs hospital that was investigated last year for long wait times and poor record keeping that is believed to have contributed to the death of dozens of veterans. Meanwhile, another VA hospital, this one in Tomah, Wisconsin, is in the spotlight after an internal review uncovered "an apparent culture of fear" and unusual medication practices there. The Department of Veterans Affairs looked into allegations that psychiatric patients at the medical center had been overprescribed powerful narcotic medications and concluded there were grounds for a more in-depth investigation, according to a VA memo released this week. Read more in NEWS.
And now this ...
NASA test-fired a 177-foot motor, a milestone toward the debut flight of the space agency's deep-space launcher.