Welcome home?
August 8, 2014

On Thursday, ESPN — like much of the Cleveland area — got word that one of its on-air personalities had welcomed LeBron James back to the Cavaliers with a not-terribly-welcoming billboard. Not amused, ESPN suspended South Florida TV and radio host Dan Le Betard, who had not-so-secretly financed at least six billboards in Akron with the following message:

James, an Akron native, is returning to Ohio on Friday, and he left many Miami fans cold not only by leaving the Heat with just two championship rings but also studiously not thanking Miami in his homecoming letter to Cleveland fans.

ESPN, through spokesman Josh Krulewitz, said that Le Betard will be off the air until Monday, adding: "His recent stunt does not reflect ESPN's standards and brand. Additionally, we were not made aware of his plans in advance." They could have gotten a hint from tuning in to his show, the TV version of which is called, for the record, "Dan Le Batard Is Highly Questionable." Peter Weber

fight against ISIS
6:35 p.m. ET
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

On Tuesday, Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced a specialized expeditionary targeting force will be deployed to Iraq to fight the Islamic State.

Carter told the House Armed Services Committee the U.S. will launch raids "at the invitation of the Iraqi government" and "conduct unilateral operations in Syria" against ISIS targets, with the goal of defeating ISIS "at its core." He did not say when the troops will arrive.

Department of Defense officials told NBC News about 100 to 150 special operations forces will be permanently based in Iraq, and will gather intelligence, free hostages or prisoners, and kill or capture ISIS leaders. They will also accompany and assist Iraqi and Kurdish forces in operations against ISIS. A senior defense official told NBC News the missions will be similar to the raid that was conducted in northern Iraq in October, where commandos helped Kurdish fighters free 70 ISIS prisoners. Catherine Garcia

they believe the children are our future
4:43 p.m. ET
David Ramos/Getty Images

Most parents dream of a better world for their children. Unfortunately, most parents are not Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan, who just announced the birth of their first child — a baby girl named Max.

Fortunately, Zuckerburg and Chan do have the resources to do their part to ensure that Max will grow up in a better world — and the rest of us will also get to reap the benefits! In an extended letter addressed to Max (and posted on Facebook), Zuckerberg and Chan have announced that over the course of their lifetimes, they will give away 99 percent of their Facebook shares — currently valued at $45 billion — in an effort to "advance human potential and promote equality."

"Max, we love you and feel a great responsibility to leave the world a better place for you and all children," the letter concludes. "We wish you a life filled with the same love, hope, and joy you give us. We can't wait to see what you bring to this world."

You can read the full letter here. Scott Meslow

Best of
4:00 p.m. ET
Mad Max/Facebook

The National Board of Review (NBR) named Mad Max: Fury Road the best film of 2015 Tuesday, surprising many who thought the group of 120 New York film fans from would pick a "less action-oriented film," The Wrap reports. The film, directed and produced by George Miller, stars Charlize Theron and Tom Hardy in the Mad Max series' fourth installment depicting a rebellion against a tyrannical ruler in post-apocalyptic Australia.

While the win is certainly a victory for Mad Max, "don't take this as a sign that Mad Max is all of a sudden guaranteed to be a gate-crasher at the Oscars," writes Kevin Lincoln at Vulture:

Last year the NBR made the genuinely idiosyncratic decision to recognize A Most Violent Year as the best film of 2014, a decision that didn't quite set the dominos falling for J.C. Chandor's mostly under-the-radar '80s crime epic. The year prior they went with Her, which at least snagged an Academy nomination. [Vulture]

This year, NBR selected Ridley Scott as Best Director and Matt Damon as Best Actor for The Martian. Best Actress went to Brie Larson for Room. See the full list of winners at Variety. Becca Stanek

2:59 p.m. ET

Has Jeb Bush already got a certain someone in mind for a running mate? Answering an audience question about vice presidents at a town hall meeting in Waterloo, Iowa, Bush let it slip that, "Should I be elected president, I would have my vice president — I think she will be a great partner."

It appeared to be almost an intentional "mistake" as he immediately joked, "I mean, did I say that out loud?" The audience laughed, and Bush went on: "We always talk about this with one gender in mind. I think we've reached the point I think in our country where maybe we should be a little less gender specific about this."

But as to who exactly he might be considering, Bush remained tight-lipped. Watch below. Jeva Lange

study says
1:13 p.m. ET
Andrew Burton/Getty Images

The U.S. saw its highest level of terrorism-related arrests since September 2001 this year, a study released Tuesday reveals. Through a review of social media accounts and legal documents, researchers at George Washington University found that 56 individuals were arrested in 2015 for either supporting ISIS or plotting to assist the extremist group. "The individuals range from hardened militants to teenage girls, petty criminals, and college students," GWU's director of the program on extremism Lorenzo Vidino told The New York Times. "The diversity is staggering."

That diversity, Vidino suggests, is exactly why identifying and monitoring potential terrorist threats can be such a challenge for law enforcement agencies. "For law enforcement, it's extremely difficult to determine who makes a big leap from keyboard jihadist to doing something," Vidino said.

The average age of the Americans arrested was 26, though individuals ranged from a 15-year-old boy to a 47-year-old former Air Force officer. The overwhelming majority of arrests made were American citizens or permanent residents. An estimated 40 percent of those arrested were converts to Islam and over half of those arrested had attempted to travel abroad.

The FBI has about 900 open inquiries into activity related to ISIS. Becca Stanek

This just in
12:57 p.m. ET
David Cannon/Getty Images

An explosion near a major subway station in Istanbul, Turkey injured at least five people, with some reports suggesting that the blast resulted from a handmade bomb. "The cause of the explosion is not known. We are assessing every possibility," Istanbul Gov. Vasip Sahin said.

Hurriyet newspaper and the Dogan news agency reported that the blast was the result of a bomb; the local mayor of the Bayrampaşa district, where the blast took place, also called the explosion the result of a bomb. An earlier report from Reuters suggested the explosion was caused by a power transformer.

Kurdish rebels have been responsible for several bombings in Istanbul in the past year. The Islamic State has also carried out attacks near the Syrian border as well as in the capital, Ankara. Jeva Lange

This just in
12:42 p.m. ET
Scott Olson/Getty Images

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel fired Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy Tuesday, less than a week after officials released dashcam video footage showing white police officer Jason Van Dyke shooting black teenager Laquan McDonald 16 times. The department had refused for over a year to release the video, which has since led to Van Dyke being charged with murder and sparked protests and demands for reform.

Emanuel hired McCarthy in 2011 to take over the city's law enforcement. The mayor has also requested a "top to bottom" review of the city's police department. Becca Stanek

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