RIP
July 17, 2014

Legendary actress and singer Elaine Stritch, whose career spanned 70 years in Broadway, film, and television, has died. She was 89.

Stritch was a pioneer — a consummate performer who prided herself on unrepentant honesty in both her work and her life. Her first Tony nomination came just a decade into her career, for her role in 1956's Bus Stop. Over the years, she appeared in dozens of plays, becoming particularly noted for her association with Stephen Sondheim. Here's Stritch performing Sondheim's "The Ladies Who Lunch," which quickly became one of her defining anthems:

But for all the strengths of her performances, Stritch was just as well known for her indomitable, outspoken personality, which made her a uniquely beloved figure among her colleagues and friends. She spoke about everything from her tumultuous love life to her battle with alcoholism with humor and candor, refusing to censor herself in any way. Here's her 2004 Emmy acceptance speech, which perfectly captures her spirit:

In addition to her shows, Stritch was most recently visible on NBC's 30 Rock as Colleen Donaghy, the tough-love matriarch of Alec Baldwin's character. (She netted an Emmy for the performance in 2007.) She was also the subject of an acclaimed documentary, Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me — a warm tribute that is packed with footage of Stritch at her vibrant, irascible best. Watch a trailer below. --Scott Meslow

laws
8:10 p.m. ET
John Gress/Getty Images

Despite pressure from opponents, Indian Gov. Mike Pence (R) signed a "religious freedom" bill into law on Thursday during a private ceremony not open to the press.

Senate Bill 101 prohibits state or local governments from burdening a person's ability to exercise their religion, and takes effect July 1, The Indianapolis Star reports. While it does not mention sexual orientation, critics of the bill are afraid it could lead to people being able to deny services to gays and lesbians on religious grounds. Opponents say the timing of the bill is also suspicious, as it comes after last year's unsuccessful attempt to get a same-sex marriage ban added to Indiana's constitution.

Pence, who was flanked by Franciscan monks and nuns, Orthodox Jews, and evangelical Christians as he signed the bill, said that it is "not about discrimination, and if I thought it legalized discrimination I would have vetoed it." Several convention organizers and business executives have said they will no longer come to Indiana, and Pence said he is open to speaking with those concerned about the measure.

ISIS
7:10 p.m. ET
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

An Army National Guard member and his cousin have each been charged with one count of conspiring to provide material support to ISIS, federal prosecutors announced Thursday.

Spc. Hasan Edmonds, 22, was arrested Wednesday night as he tried to board a plane from Chicago Midway International Airport to Cairo, where he planned to join ISIS, federal officials said. His cousin, 29-year-old Jonas "Yunus" Edmonds, was arrested at his home in Aurora, Illinois, in connection to an alleged plot to attack the U.S. military facility in northern Illinois where Hasan Edmonds trained.

An undercover FBI informant posing as an ISIS fighter living abroad sent a friend request to Hasan Edmonds on Facebook late last year, CNN reports. In private messages, Hasan Edmonds said he wanted to fight for ISIS along with Jonas Edmonds, and in February said that they were willing to conduct an attack in the United States. Prosecutors say that Jonas Edmonds told the informant he planned to purchase AK-47s and grenades for the attack at the military installation, and would go through with it after his cousin left for Egypt. If they are found guilty, the cousins face a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

By the numbers
4:57 p.m. ET
CC BY: DonkeyHotey

Move over, New York. Florida is now the nation's third-most populous state, and if trends continue, The Sunshine State could soon give even California (38.8 million people) a run for its money.

According to U.S. Census Bureau data, The Villages, a Floridian city west of Orlando, ranked as the nation's fastest-growing metro area last year, as its population increased by a remarkable 5.4 percent. The report also revealed that Florida "contained seven of the nation's top 50 numerically gaining metro areas" — enough to reverse the long-standing "more deaths than births" statistic.

Also seeing a population boom last year was Texas, the nation's second-most populated state (27 million people). The Lone Star State had the largest growth of people by counties, and claimed four cities in the top 20 fastest-growing metro areas.

Rounding out the top ten fastest-growing cities list behind The Villages were: Myrtle Beach, South Carolina; Austin, Texas; Odessa, Texas; and St. George, Utah.

ObamaCare
4:48 p.m. ET
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Senate Republicans are determined to destroy ObamaCare. While the 85 proposed amendments to the healthcare law are largely symbolic, they serve as an indicator of lawmakers' priorities. 

Included among the amendments proposed by Republican senators are attempts to fully repeal ObamaCare, ban any ObamaCare marketing, and make Medicaid a matter of states' control.

Senate Democrats, for their part in the epic all-day voting session, will try to protect the Affordable Care Act by making it less easy for the budget to affect the bill and by increasing funding to the IRS in order to enforce ObamaCare.

Developing story
4:28 p.m. ET

An explosion tore through a building in Manhattan's East Village Thursday afternoon, causing it to partially collapse. One person was reportedly critically injured, while six people were treated at the scene and two firefighters were injured.

A stop-work order had apparently been issued on the commercial and residential building, according to the New York Buildings Department. The fire "could be seen tearing through at least two buildings," but the surrounding vicinity has been evacuated. —Stephanie Talmadge

This just in
4:24 p.m. ET
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) declared a public health emergency in Scott County, Indiana, on Thursday in response to an HIV outbreak, and authorized a temporary needle-exchange program.

The Associated Press reports that Scott County has seen 79 new HIV infections this year, all of which resulted from intravenous drug use. State epidemiologist Pam Pontones told AP that the majority of infections occurred when people injected themselves with the prescription painkiller Opana using shared syringes.

Indiana is creating a command center for substance abuse treatment, Pence announced Thursday. There will also be a mobile unit to help enroll residents in a state health program.

Under regular circumstances, Indiana law prohibits needle-exchange programs, but Pence agreed to the temporary program because of the "emergency nature of the infections," AP notes.

"This is all hands on deck. This is a very serious situation," Pence said at a news conference Thursday. The executive order will go into effect for a 30-day period.

team player
3:59 p.m. ET

University of North Carolina coach Dean Smith spent more than 30 years at the helm of the Tar Heels basketball team before retiring in 1997. And though Smith — who never coached at any other school — passed away last month at the age of 83, he's still giving back to the players he led.

Tim Breedlove, the trustee of Smith's trust, is sending letters to each of Smith's former lettermen attached to a $200 check from Smith's estate. "Each player was important and special to Coach Smith," the letter explains. "Accordingly, Coach directed that following his passing each letterman be sent a two hundred dollar ($200.00) check with the message 'enjoy a dinner out, compliments of Coach Dean Smith.'"

Breedlove told ESPN.com that about 180 checks were sent Monday to Smith's former UNC players. That's roughly $36,000 from the late coach's estate that is going to his former lettermen. "That's the kind of man he was," Breedlove said. "It's one more example of his thoughtfulness."

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