Good morning, and happy Wednesday. Here are some of the stories we're following today:
1. Second shooting involves cop in tense St. Louis suburb
A third night of protests rocked the suburb of Ferguson, Missouri, on Tuesday after the killing of unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown by a police officer. Authorities said early Wednesday that a police officer was involved in another shooting of an allegedly armed man, while a woman was shot in the head in an apparent drive-by. It wasn’t clear if the incidents were related to the protests. Meanwhile, several unanswered questions remain about Brown’s death, and police say they won't identify the officer involved in the shooting in order to protect his safety. Witnesses say the officer is white, while Brown was black — stoking racial tensions. Read more in NEWS.
2. Heavy rains, flash floods slam parts of Northeast, Arizona
Parts of the Southern State Parkway in Long Island was flooded with water overnight Tuesday, forcing drivers to abandon their vehicles. Flash-flood warnings remained in effect in Nassau and western Suffolk counties through the morning as a powerful rain system moved out of the region. More than 12 inches of rain have fallen on Islip, New York, since midnight. Meanwhile, the Phoenix area in Arizona also suffered flash floods as at least 16 people had to be rescued after an overflowing canal flooded a street. Read more in NEWS.
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3. Robin Williams’s family thanks fans for support
An autopsy of the beloved actor reveals he died from hanging due to asphyxia, the Marin County Sheriff’s Office in California said Tuesday. His three children thanked fans for their outpouring of support, and said that while they will “never, ever understand how he could be loved so deeply and not find it in his heart to stay, there’s minor comfort in knowing our grief and loss, in some small way, is shared with millions.” Williams’ death also brings to light his troubles with severe depression — and mental health advocates hope it will bring the “silent epidemic” to the forefront of national discussion. Read more in HEALTH.
4. Hollywood legend Lauren Bacall dies at 89
Lauren Bacall bounced onto the silver screen opposite Humphrey Bogart in 1944’s “To Have and Have Not” — famously asking if he knows how to whistle — and became a star in the making. The husky-voiced actress of classic film noir died Tuesday of a stroke in New York, and her family said in a statement that she had a “good long life.” Bacall, who would later marry Bogart, was nominated for an Academy Award in 1996, and also won two Tony Awards in 1970 and 1981. Read more in POP CULTURE.
President Barack Obama has ordered 130 military advisers to northern Iraq to “assess the scope of the humanitarian mission,” an official told NBC News. Minority sects continue to be threatened by Islamic militants known as ISIS, and the U.S. has been conducting airstrikes and dropping humanitarian aid in an effort to thwart the rebel fighters. U.S. officials say the advisers will not be engaged in a combat role but instead will work with representatives from the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development. Read more in NEWS.
6. Donald Sterling loses Clippers to ex-Microsoft CEO
It’s official: Embattled Donald Sterling no longer owns an NBA team. The Los Angeles Clippers were sold to fellow billionaire Steve Ballmer for $2 billion, the NBA said Tuesday, following a contentious court case that had Sterling locked in battle with estranged wife Shelly Sterling over the sale. But the off-the-court drama is far from over. The NBA is counter-suing Donald Sterling and his trust in federal court for the “devastating and incalculable harm” he allegedly caused the league. Read more at NBC SPORTS.
7. Mourners to remember dirt-track racer Kevin Ward Jr.
The investigation into how Kevin Ward Jr. was killed during Saturday’s fatal sprint crash could take at least two more weeks, police in Ontario County, New York, said Tuesday. The actions of NASCAR driver Tony Stewart, who was caught on camera hitting Ward during the race, remains the focal point of the probe. “When the investigation is completed, we will meet with members of the Ontario County District Attorney’s Office and discuss with them all aspects of the investigation into the crash that occurred … at the Canandaigua [Motorsports Park],” said Ontario County Sheriff Philip Povero. Meanwhile, a viewing is planned Wednesday afternoon for Ward, with a funeral scheduled for Thursday morning. Read more at NBC SPORTS.
… What’s trending today?
Has the whodunit been solved? The two white flags that appeared atop the Brooklyn Bridge last month — replacing American flags — puzzled police and New Yorkers alike. But now, a pair of Berlin-based artists are claiming responsibility, according to The New York Times. Their names are Mischa Leinkauf and Matthias Wermke — and they say the stealthy stunt has nothing to do with terrorism. So what exactly was the reason for the display?