Good morning. Here are some of the stories we’re following today:
1. South Carolina cop charged with murder in shooting of black man
Authorities in the city of North Charleston announced murder charges against officer Michael Slager, 33, after viewing a dramatic video of him shooting a man following a routine traffic stop. The video, which was first obtained by The New York Times, shows Slager, who is white, shooting 50-year-old Walter Scott eight times as he runs away in a vacant lot. The officer said Scott, who is black, took his Taser and that he feared for his life, but the video appears to contradict his claims — outraging Scott's family. Read more in NEWS.
Scott's father told TODAY on Wednesday that his "heart was broken" over his son's death:
2. Who was the officer involved in the South Carolina shooting?
Michael Slager, a Coast Guard veteran, had two complaints lodged against him during his five years with the North Charleston Police Department, documents show. In one of them, Slager was cleared of a complaint regarding use of force. A man alleged Slager had used his Taser for no reason and slammed him to the ground in September 2013. The officer was exonerated upon investigation, documents from North Charleston police show. Read more in NEWS.
3. Russia hacked White House last year: U.S. officials
Russia was behind a cyberattack on an unclassified White House system last year, but the international hack allegedly did not impact any classified information, U.S. officials said. The system contained the president's private schedule. A National Security Council spokesman would not confirm that Russia is believed to have carried out the hack. Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes said the Obama administration was up front when it disclosed the "cyber intrusion" last year, and the White House takes regular steps to prevent hackers from gaining access. Read more in POLITICS.
4. Dad who died with seven kids never connected electricity
The father who was found dead with his seven kids in their southern Maryland home — due to carbon monoxide poisoning as the result of a running generator — never asked for electricity service to be connected to the home, a utility company said Tuesday. Rodney Todd Sr., 36, and his five daughters and two sons, who ranged in ages 6 to 16, died after a generator was left running inside their Princess Anne home. Todd's family told The Associated Press on Monday that the father had bought a generator to keep the family warm after power to the home was cut because of an outstanding bill. But the local utility company said in a statement that last October, the owner of the home requested that service be disconnected. Read more in NEWS.
5. Two black candidates win election to Ferguson City Council
Voters in Ferguson, Missouri, elected two black candidates to the City Council on Tuesday in the first election since Michael Brown was fatally shot by a white police officer. The shooting set off an explosion of protests and sparked a national conversation about race and policing. The election of Wesley Bell and Ella Jones to Council means three of the body's six members will be African-American, NBC station KSDK reported. Until Tuesday, five of the six members were white. "This community came out in record numbers to make sure our voices were heard," said Councilman-elect Bell. "When you have a community engaged, the sky is the limit." Read more in NEWS.
6. How Palm Springs is grappling with California’s drought
America's oasis, known for its golf course greens and swimming pool-specked resorts, sits in the desert in a state struggling with a four-year drought. Faced with a dry future, Palm Springs and the region are stepping up ways to ensure they can survive. A year ago, before Brown ordered mandatory restrictions, Mayor Steve Pougnet said he wanted to bring water use at city facilities down 50 percent by 2020, and asked residents to make voluntary cuts of 30 percent. The city and the Desert Water Agency also both run "turf buy back" programs that pay residents to replace their water-guzzling lawns with desert-style landscaping, a practice known as xeriscaping. Read more in NEWS.
7. Midwest, Plains brace for possible tornadoes
Around 30 million Americans were under threat Wednesday from a fierce storm promising large hail, high winds and a strong chance of tornadoes in parts of the Midwest and Plains, meteorologists warned. The severe weather outbreak would likely bring the greatest tornado threat seen anywhere in the nation this calendar year, said Weather Channel lead meteorologist Kevin Roth. "We are likely to see multiple tornadoes, and fairly strong ones as well," Roth said, adding that the danger zone for twisters was expected to be in parts of Texas, Kansas and Missouri from late afternoon until midnight. Read more in NEWS.
8. New York teen gets accepted to all eight Ivy League schools
Harold Ekeh, of Elmont, Long Island, applied to 13 colleges, hoping to "maybe" get into one of his safety schools. But the straight-A student accomplished a rare feat: Not only did he get into every school, he was also accepted to all eight Ivy League institutions. He credited his parents' work ethic for setting an example and a desire to strive in his adopted homeland after emigrating from Nigeria 10 years ago. "It's very, like, stunning — it's like getting hit with a brick, honestly," Ekeh, a 17-year-old senior at Elmont Memorial High School, told NBC News. Read more in NEWS.