10 things you need to know today: February 11, 2015

Jon Stewart.
(Image credit: YouTube.com/MichaelRusch)

1. Kayla Mueller's family says it has received confirmation the ISIS hostage is dead

The family of Kayla Mueller, an American aid worker held hostage by the Islamic State for 18 months, confirmed Tuesday that she is dead. ISIS said Friday that Mueller had been killed when Jordanian warplanes bombed the building outside the ISIS stronghold of Raqqa. The U.S. and Jordan questioned the Islamist extremist group's account, but Mueller's family received an email and photo last weekend that enabled intelligence officials to determine she had been killed.


2. Daily Show host Jon Stewart announces his departure

Jon Stewart said Tuesday that he would be stepping down as anchor of Comedy Central's The Daily Show after 15 years as the "fake" news show's anchor. "I'm going to have dinner on a school night with my family, who I have heard from multiple sources are lovely people," Stewart said in an emotional farewell on Tuesday's show. He said he would stick around until at least September. Stewart, 52, turned the already popular show into a source of cutting commentary on news makers and the media.

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The New York Times Entertainment Weekly

3. Three young Muslim family members murdered in N.C.

Three young members of a Muslim family — Yusor Abu-Salha, 21, her husband Deah Barakat, 23, and her sister, Razan Abu-Salha, 19 — were found shot dead execution-style in their apartment near the University of Chapel Hill campus on Tuesday. A suspect, Craig Stephen Hick, 46, surrendered to police, and was charged with three counts of first-degree murder. Police did not disclose any theory about the motive, but Hicks has reportedly made anti-Muslim comments on his Facebook page.

New York Daily News

4. NBC suspends anchor Brian Williams

NBC suspended Nightly News anchor Brian Williams late Tuesday for six months without pay over revelations that he had exaggerated events. The scandal began last week when Williams said a helicopter he traveled in while covering Iraq in 2003 was hit by enemy fire and forced to land. In truth, Williams was in a helicopter riding as much as an hour behind. Next, critics questioned details of his coverage of Hurricane Katrina. Williams said Saturday that he planned to take several days off.

The Washington Post

5. New York cop indicted for manslaughter in killing of unarmed black man

A rookie New York City police officer, Peter Liang, was indicted for manslaughter on Tuesday for the fatal shooting of an unarmed black man in a housing project stairwell. The second-degree manslaughter charge means that Liang is being accused of being reckless. He allegedly was opening a door with the same hand that was holding his gun when he accidentally fired, killing Akai Gurley, 28. Liang, 27, could get up to 15 years in prison if convicted.

New York Daily News

6. U.S., Britain, and France shut down embassies in Yemen amid rebel gains

The U.S. suspended operations at its embassy in Sanaa, Yemen, on Tuesday due to security concerns. Britain did the same on Wednesday; France said its embassy would close Friday. The U.S. ambassador in Sanaa will reportedly leave the country by Wednesday. The news comes as Shiite rebels seized the Bayda province on Tuesday, shortly after they dissolved the parliament and took control of the government. Bayda is key for the Houthi rebels because it is a gateway to the country's south and east, which they don't yet control.

The Associated Press The New York Times

7. Judge might force Alabama holdouts to allow gay marriages

A federal judge on Thursday will hear a case that could compel local officials in Alabama to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The Supreme Court on Monday cleared the way for gay marriage to begin in the state, but most counties refused to comply with the decision. The dissonance prompted lawyers for same-sex couples to sue, and U.S. District Court Judge Callie Granade — who issued the original ruling striking down the state's gay marriage ban — agreed to hear the case.

The New York Times

8. Three sentenced for hate-crime murder in Mississippi

Three white Mississippi men received sentences ranging from seven to 50 years in prison on Tuesday for their roles in the murder of a man who was targeted because he was black. The defendants all pleaded guilty to committing the 2011 hate crime. Deryl Dedmon, 22, received 50 years for running over an already beaten James Craig Anderson with his truck, fatally wounding him. Anderson and co-defendants John Rice and Dylan Butler were in a group that prowled Jackson harassing and attacking African Americans.

The Christian Science Monitor

9. Samsung counters critics, saying its smart TVs don't eavesdrop

Samsung's smart TVs got a double blast of unwanted publicity on Tuesday, as reports emerged that the sets were inserting short advertisements directly into video streaming apps, without the involvement of the app providers. That news came a day after a flurry of criticism over news that the TVs' voice-recognition systems captured random conversations by users. Samsung said Tuesday that its smart TVs never eavesdrop.

CNET ComputerWorld

10. Alex Rodriguez apologizes to Yankees about Biogenesis scandal

Alex Rodriguez met with New York Yankees executives on Tuesday to apologize for his connection to the doping scandal surrounding the Biogenesis clinic. Rodriguez requested the meeting two years after his name was linked to the now-shuttered facility. "There was an honest and frank discussion on all of the issues," Rodriguez and Yankees leaders said in a joint statement. "As far as the Yankees are concerned, the next step is to play baseball in spring training."

USA Today

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Harold Maass

Harold Maass is a contributing editor at TheWeek.com. He has been writing for The Week since the 2001 launch of the U.S. print edition. Harold has worked for a variety of news outlets, including The Miami Herald, Fox News, and ABC News. For several years, he wrote a daily round-up of financial news for The Week and Yahoo Finance. He lives in North Carolina with his wife and two sons.