Good morning, and happy Thursday. Here are some of the stories we’re following today:
1. World leaders announce cease-fire in Ukraine
The central government and Russian-backed separatists agreed Thursday on a truce that would kick in midnight Saturday. The deal was announced by Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has been accused of funding the separatists and allowing Russian fighters to cross the border. After marathon talks between the two countries, as well as France and Germany, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko confirmed the cease-fire and said that heavy weaponry would be pulled out of the conflict zone within 14 days. Read more in NEWS.
2. Obama asks Congress to use military force against ISIS
President Barack Obama on Wednesday asked Congress to approve military force against ISIS, but insisted he doesn't want another war like in Afghanistan or Iraq. If granted, the war powers authorization would "not call for the deployment of U.S. ground combat forces to Iraq or Syria" — where the terror network is trying to create its own state. Any fighting would prohibit an "enduring offensive" ground fight. Still, the request quickly drew skepticism from both parties. House Speaker John Boehner questioned whether Obama's plan will get the job done, and a leading Democrat in the Senate expressed concern about "a loophole that could lead to another major war." Read more in POLITICS.
Here's the evolution of Obama's stance on ISIS over the past year:
3. Parking dispute led to deadly Chapel Hill shootings: police
The slaying of a young husband and wife and her sister near the University of North Carolina rocked their quiet neighborhood and caused fear in the Muslim community that the family was killed because of their faith. But authorities said Wednesday that Deah Barakat, a 23-year-old UNC dentistry student; his wife, Yusor Abu-Salha, 21; and her sister, Razan Abu-Salha, 19, were murdered simply because of a neighborhood dispute over a parking space. The 46-year-old suspect remains jailed. Hundreds, meanwhile, turned out for a candlelight vigil at the UNC campus on Wednesday night to pay tribute to the victims, whose funerals are scheduled for Thursday. Read more in NEWS.
4. Bob Simon, '60 Minutes’ correspondent, killed in crash
The veteran newsman, who had a more than four-decade career, was killed Wednesday night in a car accident in New York City, police said. Simon, 73, was riding in a livery cab that collided into another car on the West Side Highway before hitting a pedestrian expansion. Simon suffered injuries to his head and stomach. In a televised special report late Wednesday, a visibly emotional Scott Pelley, anchor of "CBS Evening News," called Simon a "true legend" and his death a "tragic loss." Read more in NEWS.
5. Did you win the $564.1M Powerball?
If you bought a ticket in Texas, North Carolina or Puerto Rico, check your numbers. The lucky three ticket holders will split the $564.1 million jackpot — the fifth largest lottery prize in U.S. history. In addition, there were 33 players whose tickets matched all but the Powerball and are eligible for an estimated $1 million prize. No one had won the Powerball jackpot for more than two months, so the prize had grown gradually from its $40 million starting point. Read more in NEWS.
6. Little League scandal shows flaws in pint-sized honor code
Chicago's Jackie Robinson West team won last year's Little League World Series in an inspiring story that inspired America. But on Wednesday, the team was stripped of its title and its top officials were suspended after it was revealed some of the players didn't live in the district or attend school there. The cheating scandal highlights the unsavory aspect of the famed World Series for kids, and how teams might bend the rules just to win. Read more in SPORTS.
... What's trending today?
Was this a politically savvy move or a publicity stunt? "House of Cards" fans that are hungry for the new season thought Netflix was giving them an early gift Wednesday when the show became available to watch on the streaming platform — seemingly out of nowhere. But the episodes were quickly pulled when Netflix realized the mistake. While some fans thought it was a marketing ploy, Netflix says the unintended tease was caused by a bug in the system, CNBC reported. The season will still premiere Feb. 27.