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A1: The stories you need to read before your first conference call.
-- Pro-Russian rebels turned over black box recorders from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 and released a train filled with hundreds of bodies collected from the crash site near Donetsk. The train arrived in Kharkiv, controlled by Ukraine's government, after a 17-hour trip early Tuesday. Pieces of wreckage show perforations by high-velocity shrapnel, evidence of a supersonic missile strike. (Washington Post, New York Times, New York Times)
--E.U. foreign ministers are meeting today to consider further sanctions against Russia over the downing of Flight 17. Britain has been pushing for tougher sanctions, while France and Germany have resisted. Prime Minister David Cameron said Monday the missile strike had dramatically changed the situation. (Associated Press)
-- Hamas said Monday it would not agree to a cease-fire until its demands were met, and Israel warns its incursion into Gaza could continue for days or weeks, positions that offer little hope of a halt to the two weeks of violence. At least 560 Palestinians and 27 Israeli troops have been killed in the fighting. Israeli artillery hit a hospital near a site it said was hiding anti-tank missiles. The military also hit a house in Khan Younis, which collapsed and buried 28 people in rubble, the Gaza Health Ministry said. (Washington Post)
-- DHS and Treasury Department officials are targeting suspicious deposits and withdrawals from "funnel accounts" at U.S. banks in an effort to root out money used to smuggled thousands of Central American children into the U.S. The agents, who are used to investigating drug cartel financing, are examining human-smuggling networks that are fueling the crisis on the border. (Los Angeles Times)
-- More than half of states that have held primary elections so far have seen record low turnouts, even as spending on campaigns and elections increases. A survey from the Center for the Study of the American Electorate shows just 18 million of the 123 million registered voters have cast ballots; states with same-day voter registration actually saw turnout rates drop. It's the 11th consecutive midterm election in which primary turnout has dropped. (Associated Press)
-- A federal judge has thrown out a lawsuit brought by Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) aimed at forcing members of Congress and their staffs to drop subsidies for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. U.S. District Judge William Griesbach ruled Monday that Johnson and aide Brooke Ericson didn't have standing to bring the case because they hadn't been injured by the law. Johnson is reviewing the decision before deciding whether to appeal. (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)
-- Even senators have senses of humor: Tucked in the Senate Appropriations Committee's Defense appropriations bill is $25 million for a new program to develop a new domestic rocket engine, allowing the U.S. to stop buying its rocket engines from Russia. The program is called the Competitive Rocket Innovation - Modern Engine Arrangement -- C.R.I.M.E.A. (Senate Appropriations Committee)
-- Bookmark This Link: Today, The Washington Post debuts Storyline, a new narrative site telling the stories behind the big data. You're going to want to keep up with editor Jim Tankersley and the whole team.
-- Front Pages: WaPo: "Gaza conflict offers little hope of truce," next to a four-column photo of the train filled with remains from Flight 17. NYT: "Russia's Message on Jet: Conciliation and Bluster," with two three-column photos from Gaza. WSJ leads with Gaza next to a photo from the train. USA Today: "Rebels give up 'black boxes.'" LA Times: "ISRAEL AND HAMAS REFUSE TO YIELD."
National Roundup: What's happening outside the Beltway.
-- WH'16: Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon (D) visits an ethanol plant in Emmetsburg, Iowa, today, with all the subtlty of a sledgehammer. Nixon's office announced the visit in a statement, even though the event is closed to the media. Nixon has said the Democratic ticket should have a "voice in the heartland." (PoliticMo) Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) told NPR Hillary Clinton would be "a 20th century candidate." "I think she does not offer an agenda for moving America forward in the 21st century, at least not up till now," he said. (NPR) Note to Nixon advisors: Avoid the slogan "tanned, rested and ready." It might send the wrong message.
-- Georgia: Rep. Jack Kingston (R) and businessman David Perdue (R) meet in a runoff today after finishing 1-2 in the May 20 primary. There hasn't been much reliable polling, but the Chamber of Commerce has weighed in heavily for Kingston, and most observers think he's ahead by a small margin. Polls close at 7 p.m. ET. The winner faces philanthropist Michelle Nunn (D) in November.
-- Tennessee: Rafael Cruz, father of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), spoke Saturday at a Tea Party rally in Nashville, where he spoke with state Sen. Joe Carr (R), who's challenging Sen. Lamar(!) Alexander (R) in the Aug. 7 primary. Carr will campaign alongside radio host Laura Ingraham today in Nashville. (Tennessean, Washington Post) Overlooked: Ingraham doesn't quite have the reach in Tennessee that she does elsewhere. Her program is only on one station in the state, KLCN in Memphis.
-- Pennsylvania: Moody's Investor Services downgraded Pennsylvania's debt rating Monday, citing the state's reliance on one-time revenue sources. Gov. Tom Corbett (R) and the Republican-led state legislature have been debating what to do about massive, looming pension bills, and the state faces a budget shortfall. Fitch downgraded Pennsylvania's debt in July. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
-- Ohio: For the first time, working-class whites will make up less than half of the eligible voter pool in Ohio, both as the population ages (a good thing for Republicans) and gets more diverse (a good thing for Democrats). New Census data will show 4.1 million Ohio voters are working-class whites, those between 18-64 with less than a bachelor's degree. That's 48 percent of the electorate; in 1980, they made up 66 percent of all eligible voters. Working-class whites backed Republicans in Ohio by 10 points in 2012. (Associated Press)
DC Digest: What's on tap today in DC.
-- President Obama meets members of the Apollo 11 team to celebrate the 45th anniversary of the first mission to the Moon. This afternoon, he signs H.R. 803, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, and delivers remarks on the economy in the South Court Auditorium. Later, Obama departs for Seattle, where he will appear at fundraisers for the DNC and the Senate Majority PAC. The Senate Majority PAC event will be held at the home of former Costco CEO Jim Sinegal, who's hosted the president before. (Seattle Times) Obama leaves Seattle late tonight for San Francisco, where he'll spend the night.
-- Vice President Biden attends the bill-signing this afternoon before hosting visiting Australian leaders for coffee at the Naval Observatory. Tonight, Biden hosts an Iftar Dinner, celebrating Ramadan, at a private residence.
-- The House returns at noon, with first votes kicking off at 6:30 p.m. They'll vote on 14 bills under suspension.
-- The Senate meets at 10:45 a.m. for cloture votes on three District Court judicial nominees, from the Central District of California, the Southern District of Florida and the Middle District of Louisiana. Confirmation votes on all three nominees will take place this afternoon.
-- Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Monday he doesn't think a conference committee can reach agreement on a bill to fix the Veterans Affairs Department or to address the crisis at the southern border. He blamed Republicans for being unwilling to appropriate the money necessary. "The conference is not being completed," Reid told reporters. (Roll Call)
-- Is President Obama moving to California? The First Family is said to be in the process of purchasing a $4.25 million home (four beds, 4.5 baths, gym, pool with 20-foot waterfall, two spas, putting green, sand trap) in a gated community in Rancho Mirage, where Frank Sinatra, Bob Hope and Bing Crosby once lived. The White House denied the report. (Los Angeles Times) More believable than Asheville, N.C., right? (And we mean no offense to lovely Asheville)
TV Time Out: Our exclusive look at who's advertising, and where.
-- Today marks 16 weeks before Election Day. Over the next four months, we'll take a time out on Tuesdays to spotlight who's spending, and where, over the coming week. Here are the five most expensive races of the week:
-- North Carolina: What state did you expect would be on top? Crossroads GPS is the biggest Republican spender this week, at $365,000 of the $500,000 being spent against Sen. Kay Hagan (D). The League of Conservation Voters is responding with $245,000 going after state House Speaker Thom Tillis (R).
-- Arkansas: Republican groups are spending $545,000 this week, compared with $530,000 by Democrats backing Sen. Mark Pryor (D). Americans for Prosperity is shelling out $310,000 this week, the top spender on the Republican side; the Arkansas Democratic Party is nearly matching them, at $255,000 over the next week.
-- Colorado: Senate Majority PAC is spending $259,000 this week, the bulk of the $286,000 being spent by Democratic groups. Crossroads GPS is dumping $240,000 into advertising, while Rep. Cory Gardner (R) is spending almost $130,000 on air. The Environmental Defense Action Fund is getting into the mix with a two-week, $400,000 buy in Denver, beginning today.
-- Kentucky: Senate Majority PAC is up with a $96,000 buy, about a quarter of the size of the KY Opportunity Coalition, a pro-Mitch McConnell outside group. KYOC is dumping $370,000 on TV ads this week.
-- Iowa: Republicans are the only ones on the air this week, dropping $450,000 on broadcast and cable ads backing state Sen. Joni Ernst's (R) U.S. Senate bid. Americans for Prosperity and American Crossroads are funding the ads.
-- Nationwide: Candidates and outside groups are spending a total of $5.6 million on ads this week alone. And the campaign committees -- the DCCC, NRCC, DSCC and NRSC -- haven't even started weighing in.
The Buried Lede: The nuggets that deserve the spotlight.
-- Things we learn about Air Force Two in The New Yorker's mammoth Joe Biden profile: The 757 has seen better days. An armrest came off in a passenger's hands. The Vice President's private cabin has a bed, a desk and a chair, and a cooler on which a second guest can perch. (New Yorker)
B1: Business, politics and the business of politics
-- Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld reported earning $8.6 million in lobbying revenue in the second quarter of the year, the first time in a decade Patton Boggs has not been the top-grossing lobbying firm in D.C. Patton Boggs reported revenues of $8.36 million last quarter, down from $10.9 million the year before. The merger with Squire Sanders, making Squire Patton Boggs, is likely to send lobbying receipts tumbling in the third quarter. (The Hill)
-- Yesterday, you read about Art Pope, the mega-donor funding conservative causes in North Carolina. Today, check out Rex Sinquefield, the retired St. Louis-based money manager who has poured $30 million into conservative Missouri politics in the last six years. Sinquefield has lost more races than he's won, but observers say he's succeeded in pushing Jefferson City to the right. (Kansas City Star) Fun fact: There are no limits on donations or gifts to state candidates in Missouri. One state Democrat told us last week their rules are like Texas on steroids.
-- Stock futures are up this morning on a positive (so far) earnings season. The Dow dropped 48 points on Monday, but world markets are trading higher across the globe. (CNN)
C1: The long reads you'll need to check out before tonight's cocktail party.
-- Russian media are telling very different versions of the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 story than we're hearing. Among the rumors state-run media outlets are spreading: The plane was full of corpses when it took off, moved off its standard flight path, was ordered to fly lower or was shot down because the Ukrainian military mistook it for Russian President Vladimir Putin's plane. State media says the whole incident is an American ploy aimed at starting a war. (The New Republic) The cable news shout-fest isn't looking so bad, is it?
C4: The comics page, fun things to read when you're bored at work
-- Just in time for August recess: FXX will begin broadcasting all 522 episodes of The Simpsons, beginning Aug. 21 and running through Labor Day. The ultra marathon celebrates the show's permanent home on the cable channel; every episode will be available for cable subscribers on demand. (USA Today) "Are you saying 'Boo,' or 'Boo-urns?'" "I was saying 'Boo-urns.'"
Attn Matt Drudge: Things conservatives will get outraged by today.
-- IRS deputy associate chief counsel Thomas Kane told investigators for the House Oversight Committee his agency is looking for backup tapes that might hold emails from former top official Lois Lerner that haven't yet been recycled. Kane told investigators the IRS believed the tapes had been recycled when it told Congress it couldn't find Lerner's emails last month. (The Hill)
Attn HuffPo: What outrages liberals today
-- Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) says the 1,000 National Guard troops he's sending to the border will be a "force multiplier" that would help other officials deal with criminal activity. Local sheriffs said they hadn't been consulted, and they questioned why the state would send military personnel who can't stop, question or arrest anyone. Border sheriffs say they're handling the uptick in crimes just fine. (Dallas Morning News)