Good morning, and happy Tuesday. Here are some of the stories we're following today:
1. ‘Heavy gunfire’ in Ferguson during night of unrest
An outside criminal element is being blamed on turning the earlier peaceful protest on Monday night into one of more violence. Capt. Ron Johnson of the Missouri State Highway Patrol said Molotov cocktails were thrown and police were targeted by gunfire. Police say two people were shot and 31 were arrested — some coming from as far away as New York and California. Police were backed up overnight for the first time by National Guard troops, who were deployed to the St. Louis suburb to help quell the unrest which first boiled over in the wake of 18-year-old Michael Brown’s death at the hands of police. Meanwhile, the parents of Michael Brown appeared on the TODAY show on Tuesday and said only “justice” can restore peace to the city of Ferguson. Read more in NEWS.
2. Iraqi forces help to retake key dam from militants
With the help of U.S. airstrikes, Iraqi and Kurdish fighters stopped Sunni extremists from holding the Mosul Dam — an important strategic stronghold in Iraq. The dam is the largest in Iraq and is a key source of water and electricity. But despite the success in recapturing the dam, President Barack Obama warned Iraqi leaders on Monday that “the wolf is at the door” and that it will ultimately be up to them to ensure the stability of the country. Read more in NEWS.
3. U.S. finishes destroying Syrian chemical weapons
The stockpile of weapons has been destroyed at sea after no countries were willing to accept the shipments of the dangerous agents. The destruction — declared a “milestone” by Secretary of State John Kerry — involved mixing the chemical weapons in sealed containers with hot water and sodium hydroxide. Syria agreed to give up its chemical arsenal last fall when President Obama threatened missile strikes in retaliation for an attack carried out by the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad. Read more in NEWS.
4. Gaza truce extended another 24 hours
The cease-fire has been renewed and is expected to end by 5 p.m. ET Tuesday. The announcement came late Monday, less than an hour before a temporary truce was set to expire in the Gaza conflict, which has killed more than 2,000 Palestinians and 67 Israelis. Palestinian and Israeli leaders have failed to see eye-to-eye. The end of the truce, meanwhile, also raises questions about Gaza’s future and whether rebuilding efforts can begin in earnest. Read more in NEWS.
5. Pope Francis suggests a short time in papacy
After a triumphant tour of South Korea this past week, the pontiff hinted that his time as leader of the world’s more than 1.2 billion Catholics may not be a long legacy. The 77-year-old said that he might have to one day resign from the papacy, and even joked that he probably won’t live past his 80s. “I know this will last a short time, two or three years, and then to the house of the Father,” Francis said. He has revealed that he suffers from nerve problems, which he treats with a South American tea-like drink. Meanwhile, the pope tweeted that he hopes to visit Asia again soon. Read more in NEWS.
6. Ice bucket challenge raises cool $15.6M
You can’t log onto Facebook without seeing someone getting a bucket of ice water dumped on them. It turns out the so-called “Ice Bucket Challenge,” which is raising money for ALS (or Lou Gehrig’s disease), has been a monetary success. It has now raised over $15.6 million from July 29 through Monday, the ALS Association told NBC News. Big-name athletes, celebrities and philanthropists, from LeBron James to Oprah Winfrey to Bill Gates have taken part in the viral campaign. Read more in POP CULTURE.
7. The iconic voice of ‘Saturday Night Live’ silenced
Don Pardo, who started as the announcer of the sketch comedy show when it first premiered in 1975, has died at age 96. His long career included stints lending his legendary voice to “The Price is Right,” Jeopardy!” and “NBC Nightly News.” Pardo was a staple of “Saturday Night Live,” having only missed one season and more recently, two episodes in 2013 because of a broken hip. Read more in POP CULTURE.
… What’s trending today?
After several weeks of getting the runaround trying to buy the Los Angeles Clippers, ex-Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has something to shout about. The new owner of the embattled NBA team came out to raucous applause during a pre-season pep rally with team members. The pumped-up new owner had one request for fans: Call him Steve.