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A1: The stories you need to read before your first conference call.
-- Malaysia Airlines flight 17 was carrying as many as 100 HIV/AIDS researchers to a conference in Australia when it was brought down by a surface-to-air missile in eastern Ukraine, killing all 298 people aboard. Advanced U.S. satellites tracked the missile's path toward the airliner. Pro-Russian rebels say they have possession of the data recording devices from the plane, a 777-200ER. The White House said it was reaching out to the U.N. and OSCE countries to get them involved in an investigation quickly, to prevent evidence-tampering at the site in rebel-held territory near Donetsk. (Washington Post, Los Angeles Times)
-- Still no word on how many Americans were on the flight. The State Department said late Thursday it is still reviewing the passenger manifest. The Ukraine Security Service released a recording of what it said was pro-Russian separatists discussing shooting down the plane, though separatists say they don't have the technical capability to reach an aircraft flying at 30,000 feet. (Washington Post, New York Times, Associated Press) NYT's Sabrina Tavernise, reporting on the conflict in Eastern Ukraine, saw the wreckage, and the bodies strewn about, first-hand.
-- Israel launched a ground offensive into the Gaza Strip on Thursday, targeting tunnels that Hamas militants use to cross the border. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday ordered the military to prepare for "a substantive broadening" of the offensive. One Israeli soldier and 26 Palestinians were killed, while thousands of Palestinians were displaced by the fighting. (Washington Post, Jerusalem Post)
-- House Speaker John Boehner said Thursday he doubts Congress will come to an agreement on funding to address the immigration crisis on the southern border before the August recess. Democrats are becoming more resistant to changing a 2008 law that grants additional protections to young immigrants from Central American countries. Republicans want policy changes in exchange for the $3.7 billion the White House has requested. (Wasington Post)
-- Front Pages: WaPo, LA Times, NYT, WSJ and USA Today all lead with the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight 17, alongside above-the-fold coverage of Israel's invasion of Gaza. The Sun, published in Kuala Lumpur, has a four-column photo of the wreckage on its front. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's trip to Iowa got front page bottom coverage in the Quad City Times.
National Roundup: What's happening outside the Beltway.
-- WH'16: Vice President Biden opened the Netroots Nation conference in Detroit with a fiery defense of the Obama administration, and a left-leaning pitch of his own resume. He told attendees he was sympathetic to the undocumented immigrants facing deportation and reflected on his role pushing the administration to come out for same-sex marriage. (Detroit News) New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) dismissed presidential speculation during his three-city swing through Iowa on Thursday. (Newark Star-Ledger)
-- Mississippi: The state Supreme Court ruled Thursday that circuit clerks must redact voter birthdays before opening poll books to inspection, a blow to state Sen. Chris McDaniel's team. McDaniel attorneys say they need to see birthdates to identify voters, but justices said the poll books are governed by a state public records law that specifies dates of birth be redacted before the public can see certain documents. (Associated Press)
-- Wisconsin: Gov. Scott Walker (R) on Thursday called on the Republican-dominated state legislature to repeal Common Core standards. It's Walker's most aggressive statement against the national standards. State law has to change to delay new tests and cirriculum, set to debut this coming school year. (Wisconsin State Journal)
-- Florida: Former Gov. Charlie Crist (D) chose Miami-Dade County Democratic Party chairwoman Annette Taddeo-Goldstein as his running mate Thursday, balancing a ticket with a South Florida Hispanic woman. Gubernatorial candidates usually wait until after winning primaries before naming a running mate. Taddeo briefly ran for Congress in 2012; she runs a translating company in Miami. (Miami Herald)
-- Indiana: Gov. Mike Pence (R) is starting to feel pressure from Republicans to decide between a preisdential campaign or a re-election bid in 2016. Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R), who wants Pence to run for president, told Howey Politics Indiana he doesn't think Pence can explore a White House run while using re-election as a fall-back, especially if former Sen. Evan Bayh (D) tries to reclaim the governorship. Bayh was in Indianapolis this week to offer support to Joe Hogsett (D), who's considering running for Indianapolis mayor. If Pence runs for president, state House Speaker Brian Bosma (R) is likely to run for governor in 2016. (HPI)
-- Massachusetts: Attorney General Martha Coakley (D) leads businessman Charlie Baker (R) by a tiny three-point margin, 39 percent to 36 percent, according to the latest Boston Globe poll. Coakley leads the Democratic primary by 34 points, but her edge in the general election has fallen significantly in the last few weeks. (Boston Globe)
DC Digest: What's on tap today in DC.
-- President Obama meets with Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and Secretary of State John Kerry this afternoon, before HHS Secretary Sylvia Matthews Burwell swings by the Oval Office. This evening, Obama takes a rare trip to Camp David for a weekend away.
-- Vice President Biden joins Obama's meeting with Lew before heading to Wilmington for the weekend.
-- The House and Senate are out for the week. That means none of your phone calls to Hill staffers will be returned after about 3 p.m.
-- Reps. Kevin Brady (R-Texas), Erik Paulsen (R-Minn.), John Shimkus (R-Ill.) and Steve Scalise (R-La.) are tasked with convincing colleagues to fork over NRCC dues. They also happen to be roommates, and the guy who does the worst job bringing in money has to do the chores. Brady says he's especially concerned about vacuuming. "[W]e don't have a vacuum," he said. (Roll Call)
TV Time Out: Our exclusive look at who's advertising, and where.
-- Oregon: The Koch brothers are heading west. Freedom Partners, the new outside group moving Koch money around these days, has purchased almost $1.9 million in new ads set to run on cable and broadcast in the Bend, Eugene, Medford and Portland markets between Aug. 6 and Election Day. Their first week on the air, the group will drop $637,000 on television -- three times more than Sen. Jeff Merkley (D) has spent on TV during the entire campaign.
-- New Hampshire: Freedom Partners isn't giving up on former Sen. Scott Brown (R). The group will spend about $1.8 million on 20 Boston cable stations beginning Sept. 9 and running through Election Day. The stations they're targeting range from the Food Network to ESPN to Syfy and National Geographic.
-- Louisiana: Big late spending coming from, you guessed it, Freedom Partners. They plan to spend $890,000 on ads set to run between Nov. 5 and Dec. 6, when Sen. Mary Landrieu (D) is likely to face a runoff. Interesting, that's the first post-Election Day buy we've seen in Louisiana.
-- Maine: Supporters and opponents of a ballot initiative that would ban the use of bait, traps and dogs in bear hunting have purchased a combined $1.6 million in TV advertising. Maine rejected a similar ballot question in 2003. (Portland Press-Herald)
The Buried Lede: The nuggets that deserve the spotlight.
-- The reason Democrats are keeping the Hobby Lobby decision front and center: In 2010, the number of unmarried women who voted in midterms was 22 million lower than the number who voted in 2008. Unmarried women, who lean Democratic, are much less likely to turn out in midterms than married women, who split their votes between parties. (Los Angeles Times)
B1: Business, politics and the business of politics
-- Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) has teamed with bankers formerly of Credit Suisse and Lehman Brothers to open an investment firm based in Coral Gables, Fla. Britton Hill Holdings is raising cash to buy stakes in oil and gas concerns. One of the first investments the company made was in a shipping startup aiming to deliver U.S. shale oil and gas to Asian markets. (Bloomberg)
-- >Three in five financial professionals say the market is on the verge of a bubble or already in one, while nearly half of those surveyed said the equity market is near unsustainable levels. The economy has been in bull market territory since March 2009; the S&P 500 is 193 percent up over that time. (Bloomberg)
-- U.S. markets are higher in futures trading after losing about 1 percent on Thursday. International markets are trading lower as tension across the globe makes investors nervous. (CNN)
C1: The long reads you'll need to check out before tonight's cocktail party.
-- Two years ago, Elizabeth Warren and Scott Brown spent $82 million battling over a Senate seat. What chump change. This year's battle between Sen. Mitch McConnell (R) and Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes (D) is likely to cost north of $100 million, when all is said and done. The two candidates have raised a total of $36 million combined. (The Fix)
-- The funny thing is the Kentucky race won't even be the most expensive this year. Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) and his allies are on track to spend more than $100 million on their own, before Charlie Crist (D) spends a dime.
C4: The comics page, fun things to read when you're bored at work
-- Members of Congress spent more than $26 million on franked mail to constituents between January 2013 and March 2014. How much did your boss/rival/local congressman spend? The Lexington Herald-Leader put up this handy database to show you. An oppo researcher's dream!
-- Do NOT forget your belt if you're headed to Ocala, Fla. The City Council this week voted to fine anyone wearing pants sagging two inches below their natural waist in a way that exposes underwear or their rear ends. Councilmember Mary Rich, the sponsor of the measure, said she isn't trying to profile anyone. "It doesn't matter what color they are. They all wear their pants down," she said. (Ocala Star Banner) Darn kids and their saggy pants...
Attn Matt Drudge: Things conservatives will get outraged by today.
-- Vice President Biden's trip to Brazil, part of a multi-country Latin America swing in June, cost U.S. taxpayers $2.2 million -- in hotel rooms alone. Blame the World Cup, which hiked hotel prices up to three times higher than normal. (Weekly Standard)
Attn HuffPo: What outrages liberals today
-- Rep. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) said in a July 8 tele-town hall meeting he favors reforms to food stamp programs to deal with people "who are addicted." Cotton: "I don’t think that we should be using farmers as a way to pack more welfare spending into Barack Obama’s government. Nor should we have a food stamp program that isn’t reformed, that doesn’t have job training and work requirements, that doesn't have drug testing requirements, so we can get people who are addicted the help they need. Or make sure that long-term addicts or recidivists are not abusing taxpayer dollars." (Huffington Post) Well at least somebody is still listening to Newt Gingrich's tapes.
-- The Quechan Tribe in Arizona has turned down what it called a "blank check" from the Original Americans Foundation, the fund controlled by Redskins owner Dan Snyder. The foundation had offered to build a memorial skate park on the tribe's Fort Yuma Reservation. "We know bribe money when we see it," the tribe said in a statement. (Arizona Republic)