Good morning, and happy Wednesday. Here are some of the stories we're following today:
1. U.S. lawmakers to vote on training Syrian rebels
The House will decide Wednesday whether to give President Barack Obama the authority to train and aid the Syrian rebels fighting against ISIS. But the State Department on Tuesday was adamant that the U.S. will not be coordinating with the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad, who is far from an American ally. Meanwhile, the specter of ISIS hit home again after federal prosecutors charged a Rochester, New York, man with trying to recruit members for the jihadist extremists. The man was under close investigation for the past several months, and it appears he would not have been able to carry out his plans. Read more in NEWS.
2. Vikings reverse course on Adrian Peterson
The star running back was expected to return to the field before Sunday’s game. But Vikings officials said early Wednesday they’ve decided to put him on the exempt/commissioner’s permission list — essentially ensuring he won’t play until the resolution of his legal woes. Peterson is facing child abuse charges in Texas for hitting his son with a switch earlier this year. The pressure began mounting against the Vikings to act after sponsors and politicians called for Peterson to be pulled. Read more at NBC SPORTS.
Peterson and dropped Ravens running back Ray Rice aren’t the only NFL players who’ve faced domestic violence-related charges, a controversy throwing the league into turmoil.
3. Who’s the American general leading Ebola fight?
Maj. Gen. Darryl A. Williams, a 1983 West Point grad who served in the Persian Gulf, has been tapped to lead the American response in West Africa against Ebola. Some 3,000 military personnel, including engineers and medical specialists, will be on the ground in Liberia and the region to help those countries build medical units and stop the spread of the virus, Obama announced Tuesday. Operation Unified Assistance comes as the Ebola death toll climbs to 2,500 and threatens more lives. Read more in HEALTH.
4. Firefighters battle destructive Calif. blaze
More than 1,000 firefighters are trying to beat back a massive blaze in Northern California near the Oregon border that nearly wiped one small town off the map. The so-called Boles Fire damaged some 150 homes and structures in the area of Weed, where about half the town had to be evacuated. While there were no reported deaths or injuries, the aftermath was stark: Perhaps a quarter of the town has been burned down. “Feeling completely helpless, standing there with everyone not knowing what to do or where to go, was the scariest thing I’ve ever had to deal with,” one resident told NBC News. Read more in NEWS.
5. Grand Jury will weigh fate of NASCAR’s Stewart
An Ontario County, New York, district attorney has decided there’s enough evidence to support possible charges against NASCAR driver Tony Stewart, who fatally struck another driver during an August race. The frightening incident was caught on video as driver Kevin Ward Jr. got out of his car, visibly upset at Stewart, and then was struck by his car. Ward died from his injuries. A grand jury must decide whether to indict Stewart on criminal charges. Read more in SPORTS.
6. Get ready for the taxi ride of the future
The Russians have been giving American astronauts rides to the International Space Station since the retirement of the U.S. space shuttle fleet in 2011. But that is expected to change with NASA awarding a contract to Boeing and SpaceX to build Apollo-style spaceships, which the space agency hopes will also save the U.S. money in the long run. These “space taxis” to the ISS are the latest phase in a years-long commercial effort aimed at weaning the U.S. off of Russian reliance. Read more in SCIENCE.
… What’s trending today?
If other cities want to run on all-renewable energy, they could use Burlington, Vermont — population 42,000 — as their blueprint. The tiny city has been doing so with a combination of wind, water and biomass. Most of the state is expected to follow suit, as Vermont has a goal of running on 90 percent renewable energy by 2050.