Good morning. Here are some of the stories we're following today:
1. Stars and Stripes to Fly Over U.S. Embassy in Cuba
The American flag will be unfurled over the U.S. Embassy in Havana for the first time in 54 years on Friday morning as Secretary of State John Kerry marks a major step in the thawing of relations between the former Cold War-era foes. Marines who lowered the flag in January 1961 will raise it once more as the ceremony begins at 9:45 a.m. ET. Read more in LATINO.
2. Is Al Gore Considering a 2016 Run for President?
A high-level Democratic source has poured cold water on rumors that the former presidential candidate has been considering a second run for the White House. Gore's name has been floated as a possible candidate for every primary since he lost the general election to George W. Bush in 2000. Read more in POLITICS.
3. Clinton Picks Up Key Endorsement in Iowa
Hillary Clinton has snagged a big endorsement — former Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin — as the Democratic presidential hopeful brings her presidential campaign to the Iowa State Fair. The endorsement kicks off a weekend of campaigning in the Hawkeye State, home of the nation's first presidential caucuses in February. Read more in POLITICS.
4. ISIS Used Mustard Gas Against Kurdish Forces: U.S.
U.S. defense officials believe the terror group used the chemical weapons in Iraq this week — the second time ISIS is believed to have used chemical weapons. The first occurred in "recent weeks" in Syria, but they declined to provide more details, citing operational security concerns. Read more in NEWS.
5. Firefighter Found Alive in China After Blasts
Crews made a miraculous recovery when they rescued a firefighter trapped for more than 31 hours underneath a blast site in the Chinese port city of Tianjin. At least 50 people, including 17 firefighters, were killed when twin explosions erupted late Wednesday local time, and several firefighters remain missing. Read more in NEWS.
6. Dad of Slain Family Reacts to Connecticut Death Penalty Ruling
The decision by Connecticut's highest court to spare 11 remaining inmates on death row from execution was heavily criticized by Dr. William Petit, who survived a 2007 home invasion robbery that left his family dead. The two men convicted in the crime were sentenced to death before the state abolished the death penalty in 2012. Read more in NEWS.
7. 'Godzilla' El Niño Could Be Among Strongest on Record
The phenomenon known as El Niño is brewing in the Pacific Ocean — and it could be one of the strongest on record, raising the risk of floods and mudslides this winter in Southern California, forecasters say. This year's ocean warming could even make for a Super El Niño, or as one climatologist put it: "the potential of being the Godzilla El Niño." Read more in NEWS.
Fans of the beloved children's series will soon be taking a detour from PBS to get it on cable through HBO.