Good morning, and TGIF! Here are some of the stories we're following today:
1. Price to pay for James Foley’s release came at high cost
Foley vanished in November 2012 while covering the fighting in Syria for the news outlet the Global Post. But it wasn’t until last November when his family and colleagues got solid proof via emails that he was still alive. His captors, suspected to be members of the ISIS terror network, demanded a ransom of 100 million euros. But just as soon as the line of communication opened up, it went dark again. This week, ISIS posted video online of Foley getting beheaded — in apparent retaliation of U.S. airstrikes in Iraq. The video featured narration from a British-sounding militant, which has raised questions into why Britain is a breeding ground for ISIS terrorists. Read more in NEWS.
2. As tensions ease in Ferguson, what will help town heal?
A second night of relative calm on Thursday in the St. Louis suburb included only seven arrests — and a ratcheting down of violence after Molotov cocktails and gunfire had plagued protests earlier in the week. Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon ordered the National Guard to begin pulling out of Ferguson earlier Thursday, saying “the situation has greatly improved” as businesses began reopening 12 days after the shooting death of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown by police. But even as the clashes seem to die down, locals say there will be no easy or quick fix in helping Ferguson heal. In fact, returning to “normal” will be a lot more complicated. Read more in NEWS.
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3. ‘Miraculous’ recovery for 2 Americans infected with Ebola
Dr. Kent Brantly appeared in good health on Thursday as he shared his recovery from the Ebola virus that afflicted him while working as a missionary in West Africa. Brantly and a second American, Nancy Writebol, were discharged from an Atlanta hospital following a dramatic turnaround that included both getting airlifted out of Liberia and brought back to the U.S. for treatment. “Today is a miraculous day. I am thrilled to be alive,” Brantly said at a news conference. But was an experimental drug called ZMapp — given to them while in Liberia — the remedy that did the trick? Read more in HEALTH.
4. Hamas accused of killing 11 suspected Israeli informers
Promising revenge after its senior leaders were killed in air raids, Hamas is believed to have killed the informers who had been previously sentenced by Gaza courts. Informers are used by Israel to help pinpoint where Hamas leaders are stationed. The apparent killings follow a breakdown this week of truce talks in Egypt after Israel says Hamas militants fired rockets over the border. Read more in NEWS.
5. Chelsea Manning: Military still denying gender treatment
Manning has been locked up in a Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, military prison since getting sentenced last year on espionage charges. But there’s a deeper struggle for the 26-year-old soldier who was born male — she is struggling to get treatment for gender reassignment. In a statement to NBC News, Manning says the promises from the military to help has basically amounted to “lip service.” Read more in NEWS.
6. Russia sends in aid convoy with Ukraine's OK
Russia sent dozens of aid trucks into rebel-held eastern Ukraine on Friday without Kiev's approval, and Ukraine's Security Service chief called the move a "direct invasion." Valentyn Nalyvaichenko said those driving the aid trucks are Russian military men who are trained to drive combat vehicles. He said the half-empty trucks will be used to transport weapons to the rebels and take the bodies of Russian fighters away from eastern Ukraine. Read more in NEWS.
7. Day of mourning as bodies of downed Malaysian jet return home
Flags flew at half-staff and two minutes of silence were observed Friday as 20 remains of passengers on doomed Flight MH17 were returned to their home country. These were the first remains of Malaysian victims being brought back following the plane being shot down by a ground-to-air missile over Ukraine last month. Remains of another 23 Malaysian nationals are awaiting return from Amsterdam, where the bodies were brought for examination after the plane crashed in a field in a rebel-held area of the Ukraine. Read more in NEWS.
… What’s trending today?
Plan on staying in this weekend? Die-hard fans of “The Simpsons” will want to grab some Duff as the FXX cable network airs all 552 episodes of the long-running show over 12 days. And just like binge-eater Homer Simpson, binge-watchers of the first family of animated comedy are already savoring every moment: