Good morning, and happy Thursday. Here are some of the stories we're following today:
1. Pistorius trial hears closing arguments from prosecution
After five months of testimony and drama, the prosecution and defense have the chance to lay out their closing arguments in the Blade Runner's murder trial. Prosecutor Gerry Nel attacked Oscar Pistorius' testimony on Thursday, calling the defendant's account "devoid of any truth." The defense will present their closing arguments on Friday. Experts say the judge's verdict can be expected in four to six weeks, and sentencing, if applicable, will be determined after that. Read more in NEWS.
2. CDC activates highest alert level for Ebola response
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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a "Level 1 activation" in response to the Ebola outbreak. Level 1 is reserved only for the most serious health emergencies, and signals that the agency sees the outbreak as a serious one. The current Ebola outbreak is believed to have killed 932 people in the African nations of Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria and Guinea. Read more in HEALTH.
3. Slain Major General Harold Greene returns to U.S.
The remains of the American two-star general killed Tuesday while visiting Afghanistan's military academy was expected to arrive at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware for a dignified transfer ceremony on Thursday morning. Maj. Gen. Harold Greene was the highest-ranking fatality in the war in Afghanistan. His family described him as a "true hero." Read more in NEWS.
Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl and his lawyer spent eight hours with investigators on Wednesday and will continue answering questions on Thursday. The investigation is exploring the circumstances surrounding Bergdahl's disappearance in Afghanistan five years ago. Bergdahl was held by the Taliban and swapped on May 31 for five prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay. Read more in NEWS.
5. Russia bans U.S. imports over sanctions
In what sounds like a grocery list, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev told a meeting Thursday that Russia will not allow fruit, vegetables, meat, fish, milk or dairy imports from the United States, the European Union, Australia, Canada and Norway. The ban is in response to economic sanctions placed on Moscow in response to its support of rebels in eastern Ukraine and the annexation of Crimea. Read more in NEWS.
6. Hawaii braces for first hurricane in 22 years
Since 1950, Hawaii has only been hit by hurricanes three times, but that stat is likely to change on Thursday night as Iselle heads for the Big Island. Iselle could bring heavy rains, winds gusting up to 85 mph and flooding. Iselle will be followed by Julio, which was a Category 2 hurricane Thursday, but would likely weaken to a tropical storm by the time it makes landfall. Read more in WEATHER.
What’s trending today?
As if Lester Holt needed to add more to his plate, he jammed with The Roots on Wednesday night, and many wouldn't mind if he was a permanent fixture. The Weekend TODAY anchor, Weekend Nightly anchor and Dateline host and his bass guitar joined the legendary Roots crew on The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon. Does this mean he will be spared from a Brian Williams-style rap video? We hope not.