1. Ukraine rebels promise safe passage to MH17 investigators
Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine agreed Friday to allow investigators access to the scattered crash site of a Malaysian airliner that was shot down, killing all 298 aboard. U.S. intelligence officials confirmed that Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 was downed by a surface-to-air missile near Ukraine's border with Russia on Thursday, but have yet to determine where that missile originated.
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2. Israeli soldier killed in Gaza ground offensive
The Israeli military confirmed that one of its soldiers was killed during a ground operation into the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip on Thursday night after several hours of heavy rocket fire into southern and central Israel by Gaza militants. The goal of the operation is to target Hamas infrastructure, including tunnels, storage facilities, launching pads and any structures the group uses to launch its rockets, Lt. Libby Weiss, a Defense Forces spokeswoman told USA TODAY.
3. Mandela Day is celebrated across the globe
Former South African president Nelson Mandela, a pioneer against Apartheid violence in his home country, will be celebrated today for the sixth annual Nelson Mandela International Day – a day of service in his name. Voted on unanimously by the UN General Assembly in 2009, it honors Mandela's contributions to combatting social injustice and challenges the next generation to make similar commitments in their communities. This year marks the first Mandela Day since his passing late last year.
4. Detroit continues to work through bankruptcy
Detroit filed the largest municipal bankruptcy claim in the nation's history one year ago and is still working to overcome the $20 billion debt. The Detroit Institute of Arts on Wednesday announced $26.8 million in gifts toward its $100 million contribution to the grand bargain– the plan on which much of the city's exit from bankruptcy is based.
Detroit’s historic filing for the nation’s largest-ever municipal bankruptcy on July 18, 2013, ushered in a year of protest, pain and promise.
5. Michelle Obama hosts kids' 'State Dinner' at the White House
The first lady will welcome 54 children and their families to the White House Friday for the third annual kids' "State Dinner." The children were selected from over 1,500 entries of the Healthy Lunchtime Challenge – a contest for kids to come up with delicious and nutritious lunch meals. Attendees will have a chance to dine with the first lady an
Clinton: The Musical will open stateside at the New York Musical Theatre Festival for the first time. The play splits the former commander-in-chief into two separate characters, following the two Bills and Hillary in a comedic take on his time as president.
And, the essentials:
Weather: Expect showers and thunderstorms in the lower Mississippi Valley, evening storms along the Gulf, and scattered showers and storms in the Rockies, Ohio and Tennessee Valleys.
Stocks: Futures trading in a narrow range as tensions in Gaza and Ukraine test Wall St. sentiment.
TV Tonight: Wondering what to watch tonight? TV critic Robert Bianco looks at For Better or for Worse and Endeavour
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Contributing: Mark Stryker, Detroit Free Press