54 LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE

James Foley is the 31st journalist killed on the job this year

The video is real. Freelance journalist James Foley, 40, was beheaded on camera by the Islamic State. That's the group that's been terrorizing religious minorities in Iraq. They said Foley was killed as retaliation for U.S. airstrikes. At the end of the video titled "A Message to America," the killer threatened to execute another journalist, American Steven Joel Sotloff. The killer, who may be a British national, holds Sotloff and warns Obama that his life "depends on your next decision." Obama made a statement Wednesday, without mentioning Sotloff, and basically said the fight is still on. He called for Iraq to unify around a new government to fight the extremists, saying, "There has to be a common effort to extract this cancer so it does not spread." The murder of Foley is the 31st death of a journalist on the job this year, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. Foley's parents said on Wednesday, "We are just very proud of Jimmy." We are, too.

Autoplay
Show Thumbnails
Show Captions

Should Darren Wilson be arrested? A hearing is underway to decide

The ultimate question: Will Darren Wilson be arrested? A grand jury began hearing evidence Wednesday on whether the Ferguson, Mo., police officer who shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown on Aug. 9. will be charged. Protesters hit up the St. Louis County Justice Center in Clayton where the grand jury will convene. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is in Ferguson now. He wrote in an op-ed for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that "hundreds" of potential witnesses have been interviewed and said the inquiry will "take time to complete." Oh, and in case you missed it, a CNN anchor is in hot water after asking why the police were using tear gas instead of water cannons to get Ferguson protesters to break up. Remember those images of civil rights protesters being blasted with fire hoses during the 1960s? Not cool.

Autoplay
Show Thumbnails
Show Captions

Prediction: Johnny Football starts for Cleveland by Week 5

Cleveland Browns head coach Mike Pettine announced Wednesday that Brian Hoyer will begin the season as starting quarterback. Given Johnny Manziel's inability to make any highlight-reel plays in the preseason that didn't involve a middle finger, this was a smart decision. But Hoyer's ascendance to the starting role isn't all it's cracked up to be. Cleveland opens its 2014 campaign at Pittsburgh, vs. New Orleans and vs. Baltimore, before heading into a Week 4 bye. The Browns are unlikely to have suspended wide receiver Josh Gordon in any of those games, which means coming out of the gate 0-3 is a serious possibility. Even if the Browns are better than expected, it's hard to imagine them winning more than one of those games. If that happens, it'll be easy for Pettine to give Hoyer the hook and start Manziel in Week 5, making the whole preseason quarterback controversy nothing but a distant memory.

USA TODAY Sports' Jim Corbett breaks down the Browns' quarterback situation.

Supreme Court blocks gay marriage in Virginia day before couples to wed

The Supreme Court blocked gay and lesbian couples from marrying in Virginia Wednesday as it edges closer to deciding whether same-sex marriage should be legalized nationwide. Couples were set to start getting hitched on Thursday morning. The ruling puts on hold a federal appeals court's verdict last month striking down the state's ban on gay marriage. That case, like others that ended similarly in Utah and Oklahoma, is being appealed to the Supreme Court. "While we are disappointed that marriages will have to wait, this was not unexpected," said Tim Bostic, the lead plaintiff in the case. "We feel that this case deserves to be heard by the Supreme Court and be finally decided for all Americans."

Trainers will never again swim with orcas at SeaWorld

It's the end of an era. SeaWorld will end the practice of having trainers in the water during killer whale shows. After a trainer died in 2010, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited the park and recommended trainers stop going in the water with the whales. At first, SeaWorld fought back, but a federal appeals court upheld the citations. Last week, the park said it wouldn't appeal to the Supreme Court. The trainer's death was the subject of last year's documentary Blackfish, which raised questions about whether these highly intelligent and social animals should be in captivity. It also did a real number on the SeaWorld brand. No, I still haven't watched it. No, you can't make me.

Extra Bites

Day in Pictures: Our favorite photo from today's gallery.

George W. Bush donated to a good cause, protected his wife's hair and gave Bill Clinton a birthday gift all in the name of ALS.

Accepting the challenge of his daughter and others, former president George W. Bush became the latest famous figure to have ice water dumped on his head to raise money for ALS research. Bush challenged former president Bill Clinton to follow suit. AP

If you use Vine, this is important.

Is Tay-Tay's new music video racist? Some think so.

This is a compilation of stories from across USA TODAY.

Contributing: Richard Wolf, Gregory Korte, Catalina Camia, John Bacon, Kim Hjelmgaard, Hoai-Tran Bui, USATODAY; Chris Chase, USA TODAY Sports; Jessica Durando, Jolie Lee, USA TODAY Network

54 LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE
Read or Share this story: http://usat.ly/1oSv9Ef