Good morning, and happy Wednesday. Here are some of the stories we're following today:
1. American fighting for ISIS killed in Syria
More than 10,000 foreign fighters are believed to have joined the ranks of the Islamic State terror network in Syria and Iraq. Among them was 33-year-old Douglas McAuthur McCain, of San Diego, California, who was killed over the weekend in Syria, NBC News first reported Tuesday. But the State Department believes he was only one of a hundred or more Americans who are willing to put their lives on the line for the Islamic extremists. The Obama administration and other officials believe they pose a threat to Americans abroad and at home. Read more in NEWS.
2. Israel, Hamas agree to open-ended truce
Some seven weeks of intense fighting and casualties has led to an Egyptian-brokered cease-fire to put a stop to the daily violence in Gaza. Israel and Hamas have tried, unsuccessfully so far, to a truce. So what does this latest one entail? It’s made up of immediate actions, including Israel agreeing to more border crossings with Gaza to allow the easier flow of goods, as well as longer-term solutions. Those include Hamas wanting Israel to release hundreds of Palestinian prisoners rounded up in recent weeks and Israel wanting Hamas to hand over personal belongings of its soldiers killed in battle. Read more in NEWS.
3. Captured American writer returns home
Family and friends of Peter Theo Curtis, who went missing nearly two years ago in Syria, are overjoyed after he returned to the U.S. on Tuesday afternoon. He took a connecting flight into Boston, where he was reunited with his mother, Nancy Curtis. “I have been so touched and moved, beyond all words, by the people who have come up to me today — strangers on the airplane, the flight attendants and, most of all, my family to say welcome home,” Peter Theo Curtis said. His return comes days after shocking video was released showing the beheading of another American journalist, James Foley. Read more in NEWS.
4. FBI probing alleged audio of Michael Brown shooting
An audio recording purportedly reveals the moment the unarmed 18-year-old was fatally shot by a police officer earlier this month — a killing that touched off a week of protests in Ferguson, Missouri. Prosecutors say the feds are trying to validate the audio’s authenticity. Autopsy reports say that Brown was shot at least six times, but up to 11 shots are heard on the recording. It’s not clear why there is a pause in the middle, and the recording only contains 12 seconds of audio. Read more in NEWS.
5. Why is Burger King coughing up so much dough?
The American burger chain announced Tuesday it is acquiring Tim Horton, Canada’s dominant doughnut eatery, to create the world’s third-largest quick-service restaurant. The deal is worth roughly $11 billion, or about $85.70 per share. Despite all of the hubbub over potential tax advantages if Burger King decides to pick up and relocate north, the financing deal isn’t exactly cheap. Instead, Burger King can turn a potential profit by expanding its international footprint. Read more in BUSINESS.
In a statement, Burger King made it clear to customers it isn’t moving its headquarters out of Miami:
6. Hurricanes take aim on both coasts bringing rough surf
Surf’s up! The waves along Southern California lured surfers Tuesday as Hurricane Marie remained a category 2 off Mexico’s Pacific coast. The waves reached 10 feet high, and some surfers were hoping for swells of up to 30 feet Wednesday. Meanwhile, in the Gulf of Mexico, Hurricane Cristobal has been upgraded from a tropical storm, slowly churning toward Bermuda. While it’s expected to miss the U.S. East Coast, it should still bring heavy surf and rip current conditions from Florida to North Carolina. Read more in NEWS.
… What’s trending today?
Miley Cyrus created a lot of buzz at this year’s MTV Video Music Awards when she invited a homeless man, Jesse Helt, to accept her award. The singer says she wanted to raise awareness about homeless youth, but it turns out Helt, 22, also has a record: Four years ago, he was arrested on a drug-related burglary attempt and is wanted in Oregon on a probation violation, authorities told NBC News.
Cyrus used Twitter to respond to all of the media attention: