CNN — Every weekday morning, we'll hit the top five stories of the day and clue you in on a few other buzzy items.
1. EMBASSIES CLOSED
The only people at almost two dozen U.S. embassies in the Middle East and Africa right now are security guards. A recently intercepted al Qaeda message set off such alarm bells that the U.S. closed 19 embassies and consulates for the rest of the week. At first, the closures were supposed to have been just for Sunday. But tacking on extra days is strategic.
"Once you take targets away, it buys you additional time to try and disrupt, to identify the cell, the operators in country and the region, and ... disrupt the plot"
-- CNN national security analyst Fran Townsend
2. ALEX RODRIGUEZ
Expect an all-out blitz from sports media folks today trying to get a word with A-Rod as he tries to rejoin the Yankees for their game at Chicago. Two sources told CNN that MLB will probably suspend him today. And a bunch of news outlets are saying it could go on until the end of the 2014 season.
The 38-year-old slugger's accused of taking performance-enhancing drugs. He's denied it. "There's more than one party that benefits from me not ever stepping back on the field," says the guy with the largest contract ever in American sports ($275 million over 10 years).
3. CALIFORNIA BOARDWALK CRASH
'Bent on doing evil':
It was a nice summer Saturday evening at a popular spot in Venice Beach for tourists and locals to enjoy an evening out. But then a car pummeled its way across a crowded boardwalk, killing a honeymooning vacationer from Italy and injuring a dozen other people.
One witness said the driver swerved back and forth, trying to hit as many people as possible. Cops have charged a 38-year-old man with murder. But they haven't been able to say why he did it. "There's no indication that he knew anybody that he hit," a police commander said. "It looks like this guy wanted to run over a bunch of people. One guy bent on doing evil."
4. SKYDIVING DEATH
Tandem jump goes wrong:
It was a routine plunge from thousands of feet in the air. But something tragic happened in the final seconds of the skydive. The 66-year-old instructor and his student jumper, who were free-falling in tandem, never landed at the airport where they were supposed to.
The instructor died. The student's in critical condition with broken bones and head injuries. This happened in southern Mississippi on Saturday. This week, investigators will try to figure out what went wrong. The instructor seems to have cut away the main parachute and deployed a backup.
5. SAN DIEGO MAYOR
I'll be back:
It's August 5, which means it's time for San Diego's 70-year-old mayor to begin two weeks of what he describes as "intensive therapy" for inappropriate behavior. Bob Filner will start his sessions knowing yet another woman has accused him of unwanted sexual advances. That's 10 for those keeping count. But the mayor says he's not quitting -- his office, that is.
Those are your five biggies for the day. Here are a couple of others that are brewing and have the Internet buzzing.
The best best man:
Christine Swidorsky and Sean Stevenson were planning to get married next summer. But with her 2-year-old son losing his battle with leukemia, they quickly moved up the date and had a tear-inducing ceremony this weekend. Now, they hope for what would be the ultimate wedding present: a miracle in which their best man, little Logan, gets better.
What is a spelling controversy, Alex?:
"Emanciptation proclamation." That's pretty close, right? You know what he meant. That's what Thomas Hurley III's dad says about his son's mistake during a Kids Week episode of "Jeopardy!"
His son was pretty embarrassed, and the show's staff made it more difficult, Hurley says, by their "smug" reaction. The Internet was not amused. But here's the thing: Even if he'd spelled it right, the 12-year-old would still have come in second.
That's some summer:
Football has been very, very good to Johnny Manziel. And the 20-year-old has been very, very good to football -- and to the gossip websites. Seems the Texas A&M player keeps showing up in more videos or movies than Kim Kardashian. But now he's in a sticky situation that has the potential to end his collegiate career. ESPN reports the NCAA is looking into hundreds of items autographed by the Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback. The issue: Did he get paid to sign?
Will new Twitter feature help?:
Twitter is rolling out a "Report" abuse button to appear in-tweet on mobile devices and the desktop version of the social media site. The move comes after two women in the UK received multiple rape and death threats. But critics say it may not work.
Powerless to help:
You can hear the 13-year-old boy yelping in pain as his 15-year-old attackers just pummel him on the school bus. But does the 64-year-old bus driver step in to help? No. And, according to his school's policy, the driver did nothing wrong. He's only required to call dispatch for help -- and he did that.
There you go. All you need to know to get an early start to your morning.
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