Egypt

10 things you need to know today: August 5, 2014

A Palestinian flashes the victory sign in Gaza.

A Palestinian flashes the victory sign in Gaza. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)

The Week

Israel and Hamas start a 72-hour ceasefire, a second American Ebola patient returns for treatment, and more

1. Egypt’s proposed three-day ceasefire begins in Gaza
Israel pulled its last troops out of the Gaza Strip early Tuesday just before a 72-hour truce began at 8 a.m. local time. The ceasefire between Israel and Hamas was proposed by Egypt, which plans to broker indirect talks in an attempt to end a month of bitter fighting. “It’s clear now that the interest of all parties is to have a ceasefire,” said Bassam Salhi, a member of the Palestinian delegation in Egypt. [Los Angeles Times]

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2. Second aid worker stricken with Ebola returns from Liberia
A second American Ebola patient, Nancy Writebol, was flown out of Liberia on Tuesday to continue her treatment in the U.S. Writebol, like her fellow aid worker Dr. Kent Brantly, has improved after receiving an experimental serum that previously had been tested only in monkeys. Both were helping patients stricken in West Africa’s Ebola outbreak, the worst ever recorded. [Reuters]

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3. Toledo tap water is declared safe again
Health officials declared Toledo’s drinking water to be safe again on Monday, after more than 400,000 people were warned not to drink the Ohio city’s tap water for two days. Scientists said, however, that the algae blooms that released harmful toxins into the water were likely to persist in Lake Erie, and possibly even get worse. Officials are adding chlorine and activated carbons to the water to keep it safe. [NBC News]

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4. Judge calls Alabama restrictions on abortion clinics unconstitutional
A federal judge ruled that an Alabama law requiring doctors at abortion clinics to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals was unconstitutional, because it could interfere with a woman’s right to have an abortion. Supporters of the law said their aim was to make clinics safer. The judge, Myron Thompson, said the law would result in the closing of three of the state’s five abortion clinics. [Montgomery Advertiser]

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5. Obama starts “unprecedented” meeting with African leaders
President Obama is expected to announce Tuesday that U.S. businesses have committed to investing $14 billion in construction, banking, clean energy, and other projects across Africa. The news comes on the second day of what Obama called “an unprecedented gathering of African leaders” his administration is hosting on issues from food security to battling the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. [Reuters, Fox News]

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6. U.S. closes emergency shelters for undocumented child immigrants
The government said Monday it would soon close three emergency shelters at military bases where about 7,700 children illegally crossing the Mexican border alone have been housed. By law, the government must hold unaccompanied children until a relative can be found to take them in pending a deportation hearing. More than 57,000 kids, mostly from Central America, have been caught since Oct. 1, but the flow is slowing. [The Associated Press]

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7. A weakening Tropical Storm Bertha passes by the East Coast
Hurricane Bertha, the second named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season, weakened to tropical storm status overnight, with its top sustained winds dropping to 65 miles per hour. Bertha is expected to continue weakening as it passes between the East Coast and Bermuda on Tuesday. The storm poses no direct threat to the U.S., but it could cause potentially dangerous rip currents on the Jersey shore. [The Associated Press]

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8. Europe commemorates the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I
Dignitaries attended commemorative services in the U.K. and Belgium on Monday to mark the 100th anniversary of the day Britain declared war on Germany, and entered World War I. The Rev. Dr. Laurence Whitley said at Glasgow Cathedral that the start of the war was a day when the world changed. “Our nations and peoples found themselves in a war the like of which had never before been seen,” he said, “and the memory of which still haunts us all.” [ABC.net.au]

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9. Scrabble catches up with the times
Scrabble’s ultimate arbiter — Merriam Webster — is updating the classic word game with 5,000 new terms, including many of the trendiest words in pop culture. “Chillax,” “bromance,” “selfie,” “frenemy,” “buzzkill” — will all be fair game when the new Merriam-Webster’s Official Scrabble Players Dictionary hits stores August 11. “These are words that have become part of the culture,” says Peter Sokolowski, editor at large for Merriam-Webster. [New York Daily News]

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10. Former Reagan press secretary James Brady dies
Former White House press secretary James Brady, who suffered a gunshot to the head in the 1981 assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan, has died at age 73, his family said in a statement Monday. Brady was erroneously pronounced dead after his injury, which left him partially paralyzed. He became a leading advocate of gun control after his injury, helping to pass the landmark Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act — or the Brady Bill — in 1993. [Reuters]

10 things you need to know today: June 22, 2014

Iraqi troops pass through a checkpoint in Kalak, Iraq

Iraqi troops pass through a checkpoint in Kalak, Iraq Dan Kitwood / Getty Images

The Week

ISIS captures a key border town in Iraq, John Kerry arrives in Egypt, and more.

1. ISIS insurgents capture key Iraqi border town
Sunni militants expanded their offensive against the Iraqi government over the weekend, capturing the key border town of Al-Qaim along with three other towns in the area. The territories lie along the border with Syria, raising the threat of foreign militants and weapons pouring into the fray, and of a cross-border conflict spreading well beyond Iraq. Hence, President Obama on Sunday warned, “We’re going to have to be vigilant generally” because the violence “could spill over into some of our allies like Jordan.” [CNNAssociated Press]

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2. John Kerry arrives in Egypt for talks with new president
Secretary of State John Kerry landed in Egypt on Sunday to meet with the nation’s newly-elected president, Abdel Fatah al-Sisi. Kerry is the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit al-Sisi since he was inaugurated earlier this month. A State Department official told reporters the visit came at a “difficult juncture” for Egypt, adding that the U.S. had “serious concerns about the political environment” there. [NBCThe Guardian]

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3. Putin endorses Ukrainian cease-fire
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday publicly backed the Ukrainian government’s call for a cease-fire to the violence between government and separatist forces. Putin called on both sides to find a middle ground, saying in a statement that they should “halt any military activities and sit down at the negotiating table.” Separatists in the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, who have sparred with the government in a series of deadly clashes over the past few months, have sought to break away from Ukraine and join Russia. [Politico]

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4. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei opposes U.S. intervention in Iran
Iran’s top leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Sunday came out strongly against the idea of a U.S. intervention to mitigate the escalating crisis in Iraq. In a statement, Khamenei said the Iraqi government was capable of handling the situation itself, and he accused the U.S. of “seeking an Iraq under its hegemony and ruled by its stooges.” U.S. officials had suggested, then dismissed, the possibility of coordinating militarily with Iran inside Iraq. And though President Obama last week said the U.S. would not be sending troops back to Iraq, he left open the possibility of launching targeted air strikes to beat back the insurgency. [Reuters]

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5. Gov. Bobby Jindal warns of “hostile takeover” of D.C.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) on Saturday suggested an anti-government rebellion was percolating around the nation, one that could take down Washington, D.C. Speaking at the annual Faith and Freedom Coalition conference, Jindal said he could “sense right now a rebellion brewing amongst these United States,” adding that “people are ready for a hostile takeover of Washington, D.C., to preserve the American Dream for our children and grandchildren.” Jindal is believed to be considering a White House run in 2016, and has made a habit of excoriating Washington in general and the Obama administration in particular of late. [CBS]

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6. Hope Solo arrested on domestic violence allegations
Soccer star Hope Solo was arrested Saturday after allegedly assaulting her sister and nephew during a party at her home. The goalkeeper for the U.S. women’s soccer team was “intoxicated and upset,” according to the police report, which noted that there were visible injuries to her two relatives. Solo was charged with two counts of domestic violence, and is being held without bail. [The Washington Post]

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7. Mass graves uncovered in Texas
Forensic scientists in Texas made a surprising discovery when they exhumed burial sites in a local cemetery, finding dozens of bodies dumped into the graves. The researchers were attempting to identify immigrants who died along the U.S.-Mexico border, but instead, when they began the exhumations at the Sacred Heart Burial Park in Falfurrias, in 2013, they found unidentified remains carelessly scattered in trash bags, or dumped bare into the ground. “To me, it’s just as shocking as the mass grave that you would picture in your head,” Krista Latham, a University of Indianapolis forensic anthropologist said. “And it’s just as disrespectful.” [Corpus Christi Caller-TimesThe Guardian]

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8. Pitcher helmets make their MLB debut
San Diego Padres reliever Alex Torres on Saturday became the first pro player to wear the newly-approved protective headgear for pitchers during a game. Major League Baseball approved the bulky caps for use starting this year, though many pitchers, including some proponents of protective headgear, criticized the approved design as a work in progress. Torres explained that a close call in spring training spooked him badly enough to make him switch from soft to hard hat. [Yahoo Sports]

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9. U.S. plays Portugal for spot in World Cup knockout round
The United States men’s national soccer team takes on powerhouse Portugal Sunday in its second World Cup match. After beating Ghana in it’s opening contest, the U.S. can advance to the knockout round with a win. Portugal’s star player, Cristiano Ronaldo, has been dealing with a knee injury, and the team’s top defender, Pepe, will miss the match altogether after receiving a red card against Germany in the team’s last game. [ESPN]

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10. Rosario Dawson joins ‘Daredevil’ cast
Actress Rosario Dawson has signed on to Netflix’s upcoming series based on Marvel’s Daredevilfranchise. It’s unknown what role Dawson will play, though its rumored she could be the titular character’s love interest. Dawson is no stranger to the comic book-turned live-action genre; she had a starring role in the film adaptation of Sin City. [Entertainment Weekly]

10 things you need to know today: June 8, 2014

California Chrome can't catch up to win the Triple Crown

California Chrome can’t catch up to win the Triple Crown Rob Carr / Getty Images

The Week

California Chrome fails to win the Triple Crown, Egypt gets a new president, and more.

1. California Chrome falls short in Triple Crown bid
Needing only a win in the Belmont Stakes to pull off horse racing’s first Triple Crown in 36 years, California Chrome slogged to a disappointing fifth-place finish Saturday. Tonalist won the 146th Belmont Stakes instead. None of the top three finishers raced in both the Preakness and Kentucky Derby — the other two legs of the Triple Crown — leading Chrome co-owner Steve Coburn to blast their owners for taking “the coward’s way out.” [CNNAssociated Press]

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2. Al-Sisi sworn is as Egypt’s new president
Former army chief Abdul Fattah al-Sisi was sworn in Sunday as Egypt’s new president, roughly one year after he helped overthrow predecessor Mohamed Morsi. With the inauguration, Sisi became Egypt’s fifth head of state since 2011, the year longtime leader Hosni Mubarak stepped down amid widespread protests. In a nod to the chaos that has since hindered the nation’s halting efforts at governance, al-Sisi said Sunday, “the time has come to build a more stable future.” [BBC,The Guardian]

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3. Bowe Bergdahl recounts torture endured during captivity
One week after being rescued in a controversial prisoner exchange, Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl says he was tortured while held captive in Afghanistan. Bergdahl told the medical personnel attending to him that he was regularly beaten and, when he tried to escape, locked in a metal cage in complete darkness for weeks on end. “These are Taliban, not wet nurses,” a Defense Department official told The New York Times. [The New York TimesAssociated Press]

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4. Pope to unite Israeli, Palestinian presidents in historic prayer
Pope Francis is slated to host a peace prayer Sunday with the heads of Palestine and Israel in hopes of reinvigorating stalled negotiations between the two nations. During a Middle East trip last month, the Pope invited Israel’s Shimon Peres and Palestine’s Mahmoud Abbas to meet with him at the Vatican. On Sunday, Pope Francis said he hoped the meeting would “re-create a desire, a possibility” for furthering the peace process. [Al JazeeraReuters]

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5. Obama to announce plans to ease student debt
President Obama on Monday will announce new executive actions aimed at easing the burden of unwieldy college loans. Specifically, the president will expand a 2010 law that capped loan repayments at 10 percent of a borrower’s monthly income, a tweak expected to aid about 5 million people. The president is also expected to announce that the Education Department will work with loan providers to incentivize repayment over delinquency and default. [The New York Times,Politico]

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6. Maria Sharapova wins her second French Open
Maria Sharapova defeated Simona Halep in three sets to capture the French Open title on Saturday. It was Sharapova’s second French Open trophy and her fifth major title overall. On the men’s side, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic will meet Sunday in the final. [Sports IllustratedThe Washington Post]

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7. Bill Watterson made a secret return to comics
Famed Calvin and Hobbes creator Bill Watterson retired from the comic business two decades ago, but he made a surprise return last week to collaborate, in secret, on another comic’s work. The reclusive artist contributed a few panels to Stephen Pastis’ syndicated strip Pearls Before Swine,and then revealed his involvement this weekend to The Washington Post. The original doodles will be donated to raise money for Parkinson’s research. [The Washington Post]

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8. Truck driver charged in wreck that killed one, injured Tracy Morgan
A truck driver from Georgia was charged Saturday in the multi-car crash that killed one man and seriously injured several others, including comedian Tracy Morgan. Prosecutors charged 35-year-old Kevin Roper with death by auto and four counts of assault by auto. Morgan remained in intensive care as of Sunday morning. [Associated PressCNN]

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9. Kings win in OT again, take 2-0 series lead
The Los Angeles Kings squeaked past the New York Rangers in double-overtime on Saturday to push their Stanley Cup finals edge to two games to none. The Rangers were livid over the outcome because a controversial no-call on what appeared to be goalie interference allowed the Kings to claw within one in the third period. The series shifts back to New York Monday. [Los Angeles Times]

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10. Family, friends mourn Maya Angelou
Mourners remembered poet Maya Angelou, who died last month at the age of 86, in a private ceremony Saturday. Among the attendees were former President Bill Clinton and First Lady Michelle Obama, the latter of whom offered a touching tribute about how Angelou’s words “sustained me on every step of my journey” and “carried a little black girl from the South Side of Chicago all the way to the White House.” [Chicago Tribune]

10 things you need to know today: March 27, 2014

United and... unionized?

United and… unionized? (Facebook)

The Week

Northwestern football players get a chance to unionize, Egypt’s military chief quits to run for president, and more

1. Government says Northwestern players have the right to unionize
In a move that is rekindling the debate over amateurism in NCAA sports, the National Labor Relations Board on Wednesday declared that Northwestern University football players on full scholarships are in essence school employees, so they have the right to unionize. The NLRB said it would supervise the vote. If the majority backs a union, athletes at other private schools could follow. [Reuters]

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2. Egyptian military chief quits to run for president
Egypt’s Field Marshal Abdul Fattah al-Sisi announced on state TV that he was resigning as head of the country’s military to run for president later this year, a move that many had long expected. Field Marshal Sisi was the one who yanked Egypt’s elected Islamist president, Mohamed Morsi, from office in July. His supporters see him as the key to ending Egypt’s turmoil, but opponents say he has presided over widespread abuses. [BBC News]

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3. The number missing in Washington’s mudslide drops to 90 
The number of people listed as missing after Washington’s massive mudslide dropped to 90 on Wednesday, from 176 the day before. Some names were believed to be duplicates. Twenty-five people have been confirmed dead, but several bodies have yet to be recovered from the mud and wreckage, which is 40 feet deep in some places. Firefighter Jan McClellan said the likelihood of finding survivors is dwindling, but that, “We live for that hope.” [CNN]

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4. Charlotte mayor resigns after his arrest on corruption charges
Mayor Patrick Cannon of Charlotte — North Carolina’s largest city — resigned Wednesday night after being arrested and accused of taking tens of thousands of dollars in bribes. The 49-year-old Democrat, who took office just four months ago, allegedly accepted a briefcase stuffed with $20,000 in his office last month, and was scheduled to meet undercover FBI agents posing as businessman for another payoff in exchange for his influence. [Charlotte Observer]

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5. Obama meets with Pope Francis
President Obama met Pope Francis for the first time on Thursday at the Vatican. The talk came after several years of tensions between the Obama administration and Catholic church leadership over the Affordable Care Act’s coverage of contraception and other issues. The White House said the meeting would focus on area’s where the two leaders agree, such as their “shared commitment to fighting poverty.” [CNN]

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6. Judge declares Oklahoma’s execution law unconstitutional
A judge in Oklahoma ruled the state’s capital punishment law unconstitutional on Wednesdaybecause it prevents death-row prisoners from knowing what drugs will be used in executions. The challenge was filed by lawyers for two convicted murderers, Clayton Lockett and Charles Warner, who were scheduled to be executed this spring. The state maintained secrecy to protect suppliers, who have been running short of the drugs. [The Associated Press]

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7. Chicago train operator fell asleep before crash
The operator of commuter train that crashed at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport reportedly told investigators she dozed off. “She did not awake until the train hit,” National Transportation Safety Board investigator Ted Turpin said Wednesday. Thirty people were injured when the eight-car train jumped onto the platform at the end of the track and crashed part of the way up an escalator and staircase leading into the airport on Monday. [The Associated Press]

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8. Bank of America settles mortgage bond lawsuit for $9.3 billion
Bank of America has agreed to pay $9.3 billion to settle a lawsuit filed by the Federal Housing Finance Agency claiming that the bank sold faulty mortgage bonds to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The deal, announced Wednesday, ends one of the bank’s main legal problems left over from the financial crisis. The bank and its former CEO, Kenneth Lewis, also settled another suit alleging it misled investors about losses at Merrill Lynch & Co. [Reuters]

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9. Scientists find another dwarf planet far beyond Pluto
Astronomers have discovered a dwarf planet, 2012 VP113, far beyond Pluto, according to a study unveiled Wednesday in the journal Nature. The orbit of the 280-mile-wide rock — nicknamed “Biden” for its “VP” designation — comes to within 7.4 billion miles of the sun. Scientists long thought the zone was an empty wasteland, but this find, along with the 2003 discovery of another dwarf planet, Sedna, suggest it could be full of icy objects. [Los Angeles TimesCNN]

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10. Pope Francis accepts big-spending bishop’s resignation
Famously frugal Pope Francis has reportedly accepted the resignation of Germany’s Monsignor Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst — the “bishop of bling.” Tebartz-van Elst had been on leave since October pending an inquiry into the $43 million he spent on his residence complex. He busted his renovation budget with purchases such as a $20,000 bathtub, but said the site’s historical status drove up costs. [Los Angeles Times]

10 things you need to know today: December 24, 2013

Activists from the Internet Party of Ukraine perform during a rally supporting Edward Snowden in front of the U.S. embassy in Kiev on June 27.

Activists from the Internet Party of Ukraine perform during a rally supporting Edward Snowden in front of the U.S. embassy in Kiev on June 27. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich

The Week

Snowden says “mission accomplished,” Americans get an extra day to enroll for ObamaCare coverage, and more…

1. Snowden says his mission is accomplished
Former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden told The Washington Post — in his first in-person interview since seeking asylum in Russia — that he had “already won” in his effort to expose what he felt was a surveillance system growing out of control. Since he began leaking top-secret NSA documents in April the government has come under intense pressure to curb the spying. “The mission’s already accomplished,” Snowden said. [Washington Post]
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2. ObamaCare signup extended by 24 hours after last-minute rush
The Obama administration extended the deadline to enroll for health coverage taking effect Jan. 1 by one day after people swamped HealthCare.gov in a last-minute rush to sign up. More than one million people had visited the ObamaCare website by 5 p.m., five times as many as the Monday before. The one-day grace period was the latest in a series of accommodations the administration has made to make up for the site’s disastrous Oct. 1 launch. [New York Times]
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3. Obama signs up for ObamaCare insurance in a symbolic gesture
As the deadline to enroll for ObamaCare health coverage to begin Jan. 1 arrived, President Obama signed up for a new insurance plan through the Affordable Care Act’s online exchange, the White House said Monday. Obama’s enrollment in a Bronze plan on the Washington, D.C., exchange was just symbolic, though, because he receives care from the White House Medical Unit’s military doctors. [TIME]
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4. Retailers get creative to get procrastinators into stores
Sales at brick-and-mortar stores fell by 2.1 percent last weekend compared to last year, according to data firm ShopperTrak. The dip on the final weekend of holiday shopping — the busiest of the year — followed a weak Thanksgiving weekend at the start of the season. Retailers are experimenting with new ways to lure in Christmas procrastinators, including expanding lists of items people can purchase online and pick up in stores. [Reuters]
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5. Judge refuses to delay his ruling allowing gay marriage in Utah
A judge in Utah declined to delay his own decision that gay marriages must be allowed in the state. U.S. District Judge Robert Shelby ruled last week that Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional, making the state the 18th in the nation to allow same-sex couples to get married. Utah Governor Gary Herbert was trying to block the granting of marriage licenses while he appeals to a higher court. [Reuters]
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6. U.S. Marines prepare to enter South Sudan if necessary
The U.S. military has moved a force of 150 Marines to the Horn of Africa so they would be ready to enter South Sudan to help evacuate Americans and protect the U.S. Embassy if fighting between government forces and rebels gets worse, American officials said Monday. Some Americans have already been evacuated, but there are still many U.S. citizens in the world’s newest country. [CNN]
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7. Family fights to keep girl on life support
The family of California teen Jahi McMath, who was declared brain dead on Dec. 12 after routine tonsil surgery, said she would probably be kept on life support through Christmas. The girl’s mother, Nailah Winkfield, won a court restraining order barring the hospital from removing Jahi, 13, from her respirator. The hospital wants the restraining order lifted, but the family is fighting to keep the girl alive, hoping she’ll recover. [ABC News]
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8. Egyptian government calls the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist group
A car bombing killed 13 people and wounded 130 more at a police compound in Egypt’s Nile Delta on Tuesday. It was one of the deadliest attacks since the military ousted president Mohamed Morsi in July. The army-backed government’s cabinet responded by labeling the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization, without specifically blaming the now-banned pro-Morsi Islamist group for the attack. The Muslim Brotherhood condemned the bombing, too. [Reuters,Ahram Online]
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9. The father of the AK-47 dies in Russia
Lt. Gen. Mikhail T. Kalashnikov, designer of a Soviet assault rifle that became the most widely used firearm ever, died Monday in the Russian republic of Udmurtia. He was 94. Kalashnikov was born a peasant and used self-taught mechanical skills to develop the now-ubiquitous guns with trademark curved magazines. His role in the AK-47’s creation vaulted him to high positions in the Red Army and six terms on the Supreme Soviet legislative body. [New York Times]
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10. Auburn’s Malzahn named AP‘s coach of the year
Auburn football coach Gus Malzahn has been named The Associated Press national coach of the year after taking a demoralized team coming off its worst season in decades and turning it into one of the best teams in the country. Malzahn, with his aggressive offense, led the second-ranked Tigers to a Southeastern Conference championship and into a Jan. 6 national championship game against No. 1 Florida State. [Associated Press]

10 things you need to know today: August 16, 2013

An Egyptian woman identifies the body of a family member, a supporter of deposed Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi killed during a violent crackdown by security forces in Cairo.

The Week

Egypt braces for a “day of rage,” Hannah Anderson makes her first public appearance, and more

1. SNOWDEN DOCUMENTS SAY THE NSA VIOLATED PRIVACY RULES
The National Security Agency has broken privacy rules thousands of times every year since Congress gave it wider surveillance powers in 2008, The Washington Post reported, citing an internal audit and other secret documents provided by NSA leaker Edward Snowden. Most of the missteps involved the unauthorized surveillance of Americans or foreigners in the U.S. “We’re a human-run agency,” an NSA official said. “So at times we find ourselves on the wrong side of the line.” [Washington Post]
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2. EGYPT’S MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD CALLS FOR “DAY OF RAGE”
Egyptians braced for more violence on Friday as the Muslim Brotherhood called for a “day of rage” to denounce an assault by security forces on supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi. The crackdown left at least 638 people dead. The violence spread on Thursday, with state TV blaming pro-Morsi forces for attacking government buildings and Christian churches. President Obama canceled joint U.S.-Egyptian military exercises scheduled for next month, saying the violence “needs to stop.” [CBS News]
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3. PENTAGON ANNOUNCES ITS RESPONSE TO SEXUAL ASSAULTS
The Pentagon on Thursday unveiled its plan to combat an epidemic of sexual assault in the military by providing more support for victims and spelling out more uniform policies for going after attackers. Critics in Congress, who had been pressuring the Defense Department to act, said the measures did not go far enough. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said the initiatives were “substantial, but only a step along a path toward eliminating this crime from our military ranks.” [Columbus Dispatch]
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4. DEATH TOLL RISES FROM CAR BOMB IN LEBANON
A deadly car bombing ripped through a Beirut suburb known as a stronghold of the militant Shiite movement Hezbollah Thursday night. A government official said Friday that the death toll from the blast had risen to 22, making it the deadliest bombing in Lebanon in more than eight years. The attack — and a similar bombing last month — was assumed to be payback for Hezbollah’s support for government forces in the civil war in neighboring Syria. [New York Times,ABC News]
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5. HANNAH ANDERSON ATTENDS FUNDRAISER FOR HER FAMILY
Hannah Anderson, the 16-year-old Californian who was allegedly abducted by a family friend suspected of killing her mother and brother, on Thursday made her first public appearance since her rescue Saturday, appearing at a restaurant holding a fundraiser for her family. [Washington Times]
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6. NASA SAYS KEPLER’S PLANET-HUNTING DAYS ARE OVER
NASA announced Thursday that its Kepler space telescope, disabled by a glitch in May, could not be fixed and would not be able to resume its hunt for faraway Earth-like planets. Kepler has four reaction wheels. It needs at least three to be functional to point accurately at distant stars, but two are broken. Since its 2009 launch, the spacecraft has discovered 3,548 possible planets, and scientists expect to find more as they search through the trove of data Kepler has compiled. [New York Times]
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7. EARTHQUAKE RATTLES NEW ZEALAND
A 6.5-magnitude earthquake rattled central New Zealand on Friday, destroying a bridge and sending office workers scrambling for cover in the capital city of Wellington. No injuries were reported, but several buildings were evacuated and rescuers had to free people from disabled elevators. New Zealand, part of the Pacific’s “Ring of Fire,” is prone to earthquakes. It felt a similar tremor three weeks ago, and a severe quake in 2011 killed 185 people in Christchurch. [Associated Press]
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8. NEW MAMMAL DISCOVERED
Scientists on Thursday announced the discovery of the first new carnivore found in the Western Hemisphere in 35 years — a two-pound animal that looks like a cross between a raccoon and a teddy bear and lives in the high cloud forest of the Andes mountains in Ecuador and Colombia. (See a photo here.) The animal — the olinguito — was overlooked for decades, even though a Chicago museum had a specimen for years. [Bloomberg]
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9. THAT ’70s SHOW ACTRESS DIES
Actress Lisa Robin Kelly, best known as a star of the sitcom That ’70s Show, died this week at a rehab center, her agent said Thursday. She was 43. No cause of death was immediately released. Kelly had been contending with personal troubles — her estranged husband was arrested after a disturbance at their North Carolina home in November, and she was charged with DUI in June. [CNN]
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10. BASEBALL EXPANDS INSTANT REPLAY TO FIGHT BAD CALLS
Major League Baseball announced Thursday that it planned to expand the use of instant replay in the 2014 season, implementing it on virtually every call other than balls and strikes. Managers will get three challenges per game, giving them unprecedented influence and providing a tool to reduce bad calls that can decide games. Critics argue that the change will make already-long games even longer, while still letting bad calls sneak through. [New York Daily News]

Egypt’s bloody crackdown: What does Obama do now?

Will Obama stand by Egypt's military?

Will Obama stand by Egypt’s military?

The Week

The president faces mounting pressure to hold Egypt’s military accountable as blood runs in Cairo’s streets

After a day’s worth of bloody violence, Egypt finds itself at a crossroads — as does the administration of President Barack Obama.

The White House on Wednesday condemned the Egyptian military’s brutal crackdown on Islamist protesters demanding the reinstatement of ousted president Mohamed Morsi. A spokesman for Obama also criticized the interim Egyptian government for declaring a state of emergency, which gave the army unchecked power to restore order, and said the U.S. would hold Egypt accountable for keeping its promise to restore democracy.

Obama, however, faces mounting pressure to do more. The latest violence, which pitted heavily armed soldiers against rock-throwing civilians, has killed more than 230 people. There have been renewed calls for the U.S. to cut off the $1.3 billion in annual aid it sends to Egypt’s military. And Turkey, a valuable NATO ally, went so far as to call for the United Nations and Arab League to intervene to stop the violence.

It doesn’t help the U.S. that Mohamed ElBaredei, the interim government’s vice president, resigned in protest today, withdrawing crucial liberal support and cementing the impression that the oppressive tactics of the Hosni Mubarak era have returned.

There are plenty of reasons to tread carefully in Egypt. Ending America’s military aid to Egypt could remove the only leverage Obama has to steer events in the country. “The country’s military would be even harder to influence, and given its current power over the country, this is clearly a dangerous prospect,” Khairi Abaza argued this week at CNN.

But an end to the current relationship would also have a direct and deleterious impact on American interests more broadly. An end to aid would threaten the durability of Egypt’s critical peace treaty with Israel, not to mention the current agreement that guarantees the safe and reliable passage of U.S. military ships and equipment through the Suez Canal. [CNN]

That has been the consensus realpolitik stance since Morsi was ousted. But the argument sways fewer and fewer people as horrifying images stream out of Cairo and the death toll rises.

Here’s Marc Lynch at Foreign Policy:

With blood in Egypt’s streets and a return to a state of emergency, it’s time for Washington to stop pretending. Its efforts to maintain its lines of communication with the Egyptian military, quietly mediate the crisis, and help lay the groundwork for some new, democratic political process have utterly failed… As long as Egypt remains on its current path, the Obama administration should suspend all aid, keep the embassy in Cairo closed, and refrain from treating the military regime as a legitimate government. [Foreign Policy]

As Andrew Sullivan puts it at The Dish, “There is no way the U.S. can aid a government that guns down its citizens in the streets.”

Furthermore, what is the U.S. really getting from all the aid it has provided? Here’s Amy Davidson at The New Yorker:

Every side blames the United States for something—talking to Morsi, abandoning Morsi, being too involved or abdicating. But the Egyptian military is the one most responsible for staging a battle on the streets of Cairo today. It is also the one funded, in part, by a billion dollars in American aid every year. Does that money get us a hearing? And does Obama even know what, specifically, he would ask for? [The New Yorker]

Indeed, threatening to withdraw the aid may be the last card Obama has to play, particularly when you consider that Egypt has been the recipient of billions of dollars in additional funding from Sunni autocracies — like Saudi Arabia and the UAE — that are more than glad to see the Muslim Brotherhood on its heels.

Here’s The Washington Post in an editorial:

If the United States wishes to have some chance to influence a country that has been its close ally for four decades it must immediately change its policy toward the armed forces. That means the complete suspension of all aid and cooperation, coupled with the message that relations will resume when — and if — the generals end their campaign of repression and take tangible steps to restore democracy. [The Washington Post]

10 things you need to know today: July 7, 2013

An Asiana Airlines passenger airplane lies burned on the runway after it crash landed at San Francisco International Airport July 6 in San Francisco.

An Asiana Airlines passenger airplane lies burned on the runway after it crash landed at San Francisco International Airport July 6 in San Francisco.

The Week

1. SFO RUNWAYS PARTIALLY REOPEN AFTER 777 CRASH LANDING

Two runways have reopened at San Francisco International Airport, one day after an Asiana 777 aircraft crash landed at the airport, killing two passengers. The flight, which originated in Seoul, South Korea, was carrying several high-profile tech figures including Samsung executive David Eun and was originally Facebook CFO Sheryl Sandberg’s flight back to the U.S. before she rescheduled her tickets. The two victims were teenagers from China. [USA TodayHuffington Post]

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2. DOUBTS OVER NEW EGYPTIAN PRIME MINISTER CONTINUE
As Egyptians clash in the streets of Cairo and around the country, Egypt’s new president says pro-reform leader Mohamed El Baradei has not yet been appointed as interim prime minister despite earlier reports. An earlier announcement that El Baradei, a former head of the UN’s nuclear watchdog, had been chosen, caused anger among deposed former President Morsi’s supporters. According to presidential advisor Ahmed al-Muslimani, El Baradei is “the logical choice” among a list of names being considered. [BBC]

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3. DERAILED OIL TRAIN IN QUEBEC EXPLODES, KILLS ONE
A train carrying crude oil derailed Saturday in eastern Quebec, sparking several explosions and a blaze that destroyed the center of the town of Lac-Megantic (about 155 miles east of Montreal) and killed at least one person. An unspecified number of people were reported missing. The cause of the derailment was not immediately known. [TIME]

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4. MILITANTS KILL AT LEAST 30 AT NIGERIAN BOARDING SCHOOL

Islamic militants attacked a boarding school in Nigeria’s embattled northeast before dawn Saturday, dousing a dormitory in fuel and igniting it as students slept, survivors said. Authorities blamed the deadliest attack thus far on Boko Haram, a radical group whose name means “Western education is sacrilege.” The militants have been behind a wave of recent attacks on schools in the northeast. [Washington Post]

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5. SENATOR PRESCRIBES CALM RESPONSE TO EGYPT
Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said Sunday that America should urge “calmness” in Egypt following the ousting former Egypt President Mohammed Morsi. “I received a call from the administration, and I know they’re involved in trying to calm all sides,” the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said on Fox News Sunday via satellite from Afghanistan. “I think that’s what our role should be.” [Politico]

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6. NICARAGUA OFFERs ASYLYUM TO SNOWDEN
The president of Nicaragua offered to grant asylum to Edward Snowden, joining Venezuela in opening its doors to the NSA leaker. President Obama has publicly displayed a relaxed attitude toward Snowden’s movements, saying last month that he wouldn’t be “scrambling jets to get a 29-year-old hacker,” but the drama surrounding the flight of Bolivian president Evo Morales, whose plane was abruptly rerouted to Vienna after apparently being denied permission to fly over France, suggests that pressure is being applied behind the scenes. [NBC News]

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7. WHOLE FOODS RECALLS LISTERIA-LINKED CHEESE PRODUCTS
Whole Foods removed Crave Brothers cheese products from its shelves after the cheese company voluntarily recalled several lots of its products with production dates of July 1, 2013, or earlier due to possible Listeria monocytogenes contamination. Listeria was recently identified as the cause of one death and four others being sickened in four states; the Listeria was linked to cheese distributed by Wisconsin-based Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese Company. [Forbes]

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8. DJOKOVIC AND MURRAY PLAY FOR WIMBLEDON TITLE
No. 1 Novak Djokovic and No. 2 Andy Murray are battling it out in the Wimbledon final Sunday morning. Djokovic, the 2011 champion, is seeking his second Wimbledon title and seventh Grand Slam title. Murray is trying to become the first British man to win the title since Fred Perry in 1936. France’s Marion Bartoli won the women’s title on Saturday. [Sports IllustratedABC News]

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9. NBA’S HOWARD RECEIVES FLAK FOR JOINING ROCKETS
NBA star Dwight Howard chose to leave the Los Angeles Lakers for the Houston Rockets, saying that Houston gave him the best chance at winning an NBA title. Former Laker Shaquille O’Neal criticized Howard’s move, saying, “We’ve all been in L.A., and not a whole lot of people can handle being under the bright lights…I think it was a safe move for him to go to a little town like Houston. That’s right, little town. I said it.” [ESPN]

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10. CHARLES SAATCHI AND NIGELLA LAWSON TO DIVORCE
Chef Nigella Lawson’s husband announced he’s divorcing her, expressing disappointment that she failed to publicly defend him during the fallout over a public fight in which he appeared to choke his wife. Charles Saatchi, a wealthy art collector and global ad agency co-founder, and Lawson had been married since 2003. [People]

10 things you need to know today: July 5, 2013

People dance and cheer in Tahrir Square the day after former Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi was ousted from power.

People dance and cheer in Tahrir Square the day after former Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi was ousted from power.

The Week

Islamists protest Morsi’s overthrow, a California fireworks accident injures 28 people, and more

1. ISLAMISTS DEMONSTRATE AGAINST MORSI’S OUSTER
Egyptian Islamists are rallying on Friday to protest the army’s overthrow of the country’s first freely elected president, Mohamed Morsi, and the arrest of dozens of leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood. The military said it had acted to “correct the path of [Egypt's] glorious revolution” and reunite a nation divided over Morsi’s pro-Islamist policies. “What kind of national reconciliation starts with arresting people?” asked the son of one Brotherhood official who was arrested. [New York Times]
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2. FIREWORKS ACCIDENT INJURES 28
At least 28 people were injured Thursday night after an explosion shot fireworks into a crowdof 10,000 people in Simi Valley, Calif., near Los Angeles. A few minutes into the Fourth of July fireworks show — after several rockets had lit up the sky — witnesses heard a boom, and fireworks began zooming and exploding along the ground. “People were screaming,” said Justice Allen, 17. “Everybody was just terrified.” [Los Angeles Times]
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3. TUTU URGES MANDELA RELATIVES TO STOP A PUBLIC FAMILY FEUD
South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu is pleading with relatives of Nelson Mandela to end an ugly family feud, saying it is tainting the anti-apartheid icon’s name as he lies near death in a hospital. Mandela’s oldest grandson buried the remains of three of Mandela’s children near his village to attract tourists to a visitor’s center he built. His relatives won permission from a court to rebury them in the family cemetery. Tutu said the fight is “like spitting in [Mandela's] face.” [BBC News]
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4. MORALES THREATENS TO CLOSE THE U.S. EMBASSY IN BOLIVIA
Bolivian President Evo Morales is threatening to close the U.S. embassy in his South American country in retaliation for the grounding of his plane in Europe on Tuesday over suspicions that he had fugitive NSA leaker Edward Snowden on board. Several other Latin American leaders have rallied to Morales’ side, calling the incident an outrage and violation of Bolivia’s sovereignty. “Without America,” Morales said, “we are better off politically and democratically.” [BBC News]
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5. SAN FRANCISCO TRANSIT WORKERS RETURN TO WORK
Commuter trains will start running again in the San Francisco Bay area Friday afternoon after transit workers agreed to end a strike they began on Monday. Their union still has not signed a contract, but “both parties have agreed and are putting good faith in the continuing negotiations,” said Marty Morgenstern, the leader of the state Labor and Workforce Development Agency. The union workers want better pay and benefits. [CNN]
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6. PAKISTAN ENDS ITS BAN ON THE DEATH PENALTY
Pakistan’s new government has ended the country’s moratorium on the death penalty in a push to discourage rampant crime and extremist militancy. The government of Pakistan’s new prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, says there are 400 people on death row, although other estimates put the number as high as 8,000. Amnesty International said the decision not to renew the ban, in effect since 2008, was “shocking and retrograde” at a time when 150 nations have abolished executions. [Reuters]
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7. VOLCANIC ERUPTION FORCES MEXICAN AIRPORTS TO CANCEL FLIGHTS
Six U.S. airlines — U.S. Airways, Delta, United, American, Spirit, and Alaska Airlines — canceled about 50 flights into and out of Mexico City and Toluca airports on Thursday, after the Popocatepetl volcano spewed out ash, steam, and glowing rocks into the sky. On clear days, the 17,886-foot volcano serves as a backdrop for Mexico City’s skyline. [USA Today]
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8. NASCAR SEIZES ILLEGAL PARTS FOUND ON 31 RACE CARS
NASCAR confiscated illegal parts from 31 race cars on Thursday after inspectors spotted them before practice runs at Daytona International Speedway. Officials said that all of the teams involved had made changes to reduce the weight of part of the roof flaps that keep cars on the ground during spins and high-speed wrecks. The teams were cleared to practice with new, unaltered roof flaps, but NASCAR is considering imposing penalties. [ESPN]
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9. U.K. OPENS INQUIRY INTO MADELEINE MCCANN’S DISAPPEARANCE
British police said Thursday they were opening a new investigation into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann, who vanished at age 3 during a family vacation in Portugal six years ago. Portuguese authorities closed their case in 2009. Scotland Yard, however, said it had “new evidence and new witnesses” suggesting that the girl might still be alive, and it is looking at 38 “persons of interest.” [Reuters]
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10. CHESTNUT SETS A RECORD TO WIN HIS SEVENTH STRAIGHT HOT DOG EATING CONTEST
Joey Chestnut of San Jose, Calif., inhaled a record 69 hot dogs in 10 minutes to win his seventh straight Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest championship on New York’s Coney Island. “Things came together today,” he said. “The hot dogs were really good.” Sonya “Black Widow” Thomas won the women’s competition, downing almost 39 franks. [USA Today]

Egyptian military announces Morsi is out

Egyptian military announces Morsi is out

Salon

They have also suspended the Islamist-backed constitution and called early elections

CAIRO (AP) — Egypt’s military has suspended the Islamist-backed constitution and called early elections.

The military also announced that embattled President Mohammed Morsi will be replaced.

Cheers erupted among millions of protesters nationwide who were demanding Morsi’s ouster.