Good morning, and happy Friday. Here are some of the stories we’re following today:
1. Cold snap hits East as New England braces for more snow
The coldest air in two decades is expected to blanket the Northeast for the next four days. This arctic onslaught began Friday, and the windchill is forecast between -15 degrees and -30 degrees Fahrenheit. It is set to be "one of the coldest air masses we have seen in the Northeast in 20 years," said Weather Channel senior meteorologist Michael Palmer. "Stepping outside, it will be quite a shock to the system," he added. The blast of cold air will be riding on the back of a weekend storm expected to impact Maine to Philadelphia and as far west as the Great Lakes and Ohio. Meanwhile, the winter misery will also continue in New England. Up to 14 more inches of snow is expected in Boston this weekend, after 42 inches — a record — has already fallen in February. Read more in NEWS.
2. Obama to announce executive action on cybersecurity
President Barack Obama is scheduled to join a cybersecurity summit at Stanford University on Friday, and is expected to announce an executive order to encourage information-sharing between the private sector and the government. Ahead of it, White House officials said the conference will focus on how to increase cybersecurity for government and businesses and how to bolster consumer protections. The summit comes on the heels of the cyberattack on Sony Pictures Entertainment, which the U.S. says was carried out by North Korea. Read more in POLITICS.
3. FBI launches inquiry into deaths of three slain students
The fatal shootings of three young Muslims — a husband and wife and her sister — near the University of North Carolina are being described as a "hate crime" by their families. Local police officials, however, have described the brutal slayings on Tuesday as the result of a parking dispute with a neighbor. But the FBI said Thursday they have launched a "preliminary inquiry" into the killings to make sure that all the evidence is evaluated. A preliminary inquiry is short of a full investigation. Read more in NEWS.
4. Troops killed despite Ukraine peace deal
Will the latest peace deal stick? World leaders gathered Thursday to announce a cease-fire agreement between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian separatists, set to begin this weekend. But in the hours leading up to it, another eight Ukrainian troops have been killed and 34 wounded in overnight fighting Friday. The U.S., meanwhile, has given the deal a very cautious welcome. Secretary of State John Kerry noted that there is "a long road ahead before achieving peace and the full restoration of Ukraine's sovereignty." Read more in NEWS.
5. ISIS launches fresh offensive near U.S. military base
The Islamist terrorists descended on the town of Al-Baghdadi in western Iraq on Thursday, taking over a police station and burning down a civic building where Iraqis obtain national ID cards. The offensive is just seven miles from Ain Al-Asad Air Base, where U.S. military advisers are located. Sounds of explosions were reported close to the base, a senior security official said. This latest effort by ISIS to regain territory comes as an NBC News/Marist poll found that a majority of Americans back President Obama's request for authorization of force against the terror network. Read more in NEWS.
6. Military approves hormone therapy for Chelsea Manning
Convicted military intelligence leaker Chelsea Manning will receive hormone therapy in prison. Manning, born Bradley Manning, became the first military inmate to ask for treatment for gender dysphoria. She asked for a treatment plan that would consider three measures: dressing and living as a woman, hormone therapy and possible surgery. She is currently serving a 35-year prison sentence for leaking classified intelligence. Read more in NEWS.
7. NFL legend Tony Dorsett: ‘I will conquer’ brain tumor
The former Dallas Cowboys running back and Hall of Famer first went public in 2013 that he was diagnosed with a degenerative brain disorder. In an exclusive interview with NBC News' Lester Holt, Dorsett said that he does forget directions and suffers from mood swings — but is keeping his fighting spirit alive. "Sometimes it's — it's frustrating," Dorsett said. "Very frustrating. But, you know, I understand the fact that I can ... conquer this. But there's just gonna take some time." Read more in SPORTS.
... What's trending today?
The erotic novel-turned-movie "Fifty Shades of Grey" is coming out this Valentine's Day weekend, and already London fire officials are poking fun at it. The London Fire Brigade says it will be documenting all of the more risque calls for help, which could certainly be on the rise after the "Fifty Shades" film is released. For instance, when the book first launched, handcuff removal incidents were at a peak.