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A1: The stories you need to read before your first conference call.
-- An elementary school housing hundreds of Palestinian refugees in U.N protection came under fire Thursday, leaving 16 dead and wounding 100. It wasn't clear whether the school was hit by Israeli or Hamas-fired shells or rockets, though the Israeli military is investigating. The attack sparked massive protests in the West Bank. (Washington Post) Secretary of State John Kerry has proposed a weeklong truce between Israelis and Hamas fighters, along with negotiations over economic, political and security concerns. Israel wants troops to remain in Gaza during the cease-fire, while it's not clear Hamas will agree to the plan. (New York Times)
-- President Obama meets with the presidents of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador at the White House today to discuss the wave of Central American immigrants pouring over the southern border. In an interview, Honduras President Juan Orlando Hernandez said the U.S. bears "enormous responsibility" for the situation in his country, because America's appetite for drugs inspires narco-trafficking that brings violence to his country. Obama called Mexico President Enrique Pena Nieto on Thursday to discuss regional solutions, the White House said. (Washington Post)
-- The Obama administration is considering allowing hundreds of Honduran migrants into the U.S. as refugees or on emergency humanitarian grounds, saving them the trip across Mexico. It would put Honduras, which has seen record levels of violence driven by drug gangs, on par with refugees from Haiti and Vietnam. The pilot program would allow 1,750 migrants to come to the U.S. at a cost of $47 million over two years, though no final decision has been made. (New York Times) The White House will issue an executive order on immigration in coming weeks, and pro-reform activists are expecting something big. (Time)
-- U.S. officials said Thursday that Russia is firing artillery across the border at Ukrainian military units, the first time Russia has directly engaged in the fight against Ukraine's government. European diplomats were moving toward imposing new sanctions on Russian access to capital markets and military goods. Russia denied it is firing on Ukraine. (Wall Street Journal)
-- An Air Algerie jetliner that crashed in a remote part of Mali likely hit the ground intact, French investigators said Friday. Weather likely brought down the Boeing MD-83, killing all 116 people on board. French soldiers reached the crash site, west of the city of Gao, early Friday after a drone spotted the wreckage. (New York Times)
-- On Sunday, Election Day will be 100 days away. Now is the appropriate time for everyone to panic.
-- Front Pages: WaPo and LA Times lead with the attack on the U.N.-run school in Gaza. NYT: "U.S. Considering Refugee Status for Hondurans." WSJ fronts reports of Russian shelling of Ukrainian targets, and USA Today takes a look at the spate of airplane crashes in the last week. Bozeman Daily Chronicle, two stories over six columns: "War College to investigate plagiarism allegations." Missoulian: "College to probe plagiarism allegations."
National Roundup: What's happening outside the Beltway.
-- WH'16: Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) addresses the National Urban League convention today in Cincinnati. He plans a three-day trip to Iowa Aug. 4-6, and a six-day trip to Guatemala to perform free eye surgeries Aug. 16-21. (Louisville Courier-Journal) Every cycle, it seems, one presidential candidate becomes the target for everyone else's arrows, not because he or she is the front runner, but because the others just don't like him or her. This cycle, that candidate might be New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R). Republican governors considering a 2016 bid are taking early shots at Christie, most notably Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R), his most obvious rival. (Time, Philadelphia Inquirer)
-- New York: The latest opportunity to take shots at Christie came after longshot gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino (R) was urged not to attend an RGA meeting in Aspen this week after Christie called his campaign "a lost cause." Astorino and Christie had a "very curt, brief meeting," an Astorino source said. The feud started on Monday when Christie said the RGA wouldn't invest in New York. The RGA spent $1.7 million on Christie's re-elect last year, when Christie won by 22 points. (CNN)
-- Montana: The U.S. Army War College will convene an Academic Review Board to look into allegations that Sen. John Walsh (D) plagiarized his master's thesis. The college could revoke his graduation status if Walsh is found to have intentionally copied others' work without attribution. (KTVM) Walsh's first major bill, a measure giving tax breaks to companies that bring jobs back to the U.S., was on the floor this week, though the headlines in Montana were universally negative. (Washington Post)
-- Mississippi: The state Supreme Court on Thursday rejected state Sen. Chris McDaniel's request for a rehearing of its decision to deny him access to poll books without voters' personal information removed. And a U.S. District Court judge and state attorneys raised questions about True the Vote's motives in wanting to examine birth dates of state voters. Judge Nancy Atlas said the group's suit wasn't about voter fraud; rather, it was about the National Voter Registration Act and whether it supercedes state statutes. (Jackson Clarion-Ledger) It's been a month since McDaniel lost the runoff election.
-- California: Gov. Jerry Brown (D) leads former TARP administrator Neel Kashkari (R) 52 percent to 33 percent, according to a new PPIC survey. Brown leads among independent voters 52 percent to 28 percent. (PPIC) That's almost identical to a Field Poll from last month and an L.A. Times/USC poll from May.
-- West Virginia: Dr. John Manchin II, a Fairmont physician, has sued his brothers, Sen. Joe Manchin (D) and Rock Manchin, though county officials would not say on Thursday what the lawsuit entailed. A spokesman for Sen. Manchin called it a family matter and declined to comment. (Charleston Gazette)
DC Digest: What's on tap today in DC.
-- President Obama meets with Guatemala President Otto Perez Molina, Honduras President Juan Orlando Hernandez and El Salvador President Salvador Sanchez Ceren to discuss the crisis on the Southern border.
-- Vice President Biden hosts the three Central American presidents for a working lunch in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building before their joint meeting with Obama. This evening, Biden leaves for Wilmington, where he'll spend the weekend.
-- The House meets at 10:00 a.m. to debate a measure ordering U.S. troops out of Iraq, and a bill to revise the Child Tax Credit. First and last votes are expected between 12:00 and 1:30 p.m.
-- The Senate is gone. They're back Monday for five confirmation votes.
-- The Silver Line is scheduled to begin operating on Saturday, five years after construction began on the 11.7-mile, $2.9 billion line. The second phase, extending another 11.4 miles west from Reston to just beyond Dulles, will be operational by 2018, and is expected to cost $2.7 billion. (Washington Post)
TV Time Out: Our exclusive look at who's advertising, and where.
-- West Virginia: Expanding the map, or throwing Hail Marys? Senate Majority PAC will drop $200,000 on broadcast ads in the Beckley, Charleston and Clarksburg markets over the next week. Democrats say the only thing worse than being associated with President Obama is being associated with House Republicans. Still, Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R) has the edge here.
-- Maine: Rep. Mike Michaud (D) is buying late time in his bid to oust Gov. Paul LePage (R). >Michaud has purchased about $250,000 in ads running Sept. 2 through Election Day on Portland and Bangor broadcast television; that's about a quarter of the cash on hand Michaud reported at the end of June. A pro-Michaud PAC, funded largely by the DGA and Maine unions, have already bought almost $2 million in airtime.
-- Iowa: Concerned Veterans for America, a Koch brothers-affiliated group, will launch a million-dollar statewide ad buy against Rep. Bruce Braley (D), critical of Braley's attendance record at House Veterans Affairs Committee hearings. The new ad, available here, starts running today.
The Buried Lede: The nuggets that deserve the spotlight.
-- The Office of Congressional Ethics took 69 cases for review in its first two years in existence. But in each of the last two Congresses, the number of cases the agency has taken on has been about half that. In the second quarter of this year, OCE initiated just one preliminary review. About half the complaints lodged in the last five years have been campaign-related, while 17 percent involved member travel. (Washington Post)
B1: Business, politics and the business of politics
-- Mitch Stewart and Jeremy Bird, two top field operatives in President Obama's re-election bid, are launching a new training program for operatives eager to follow in their footsteps, all for the low, low price of $5,000. But it's okay because their firm, 270 Strategies, is offering discounts and scholarships! (BuzzFeed) Call us old-fashioned, but back in our day, aspiring campaigners learned the trade by volunteering on a race.
-- The DNC has raised $116 million this cycle, through the end of June, cutting its debt load from $22.5 million last March to just $3 million last month, thanks to 18 big-dollar party fundraisers President Obama has attended since the end of February. (Washington Post)
-- Stock futures are down a hair this morning after a relatively flat day on Wall Street on Thursday. Asian markets closed higher on Friday, while European markets are trading lower. (CNN)
C1: The long reads you'll need to check out before tonight's cocktail party.
-- Russia President Vladimir Putin eats breakfast shortly after noon. He eats cottage cheese, he likes quail eggs, and he swims for up to two hours a day. Putin doesn't like commuting to the Kremlin, a 25-minute drive from his residence at the palace at Novo-Ogaryovo. He's learning English, he enjoys playing ice hockey and the Kremlin won't allow him to eat food they haven't specifically approved. His inner circle, which used to call him "Boss," now calls him "Tsar." Fascinating look into Putin's bubble in this week's Newsweek.
-- Pro-life Republicans are offering candidates tips on how to talk about abortion without straying into dangerous territory. Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser tells candidates to keep comments to two sentences or less. Another consultant advises purging the word "rape" from vocabularies. Republicans are trying to assuage social conservatives who worry they're being overlooked. (New York Times)
C4: The comics page, fun things to read when you're bored at work
-- Gov. Rick Perry's (R) Texas Emerging Technology Fund has distributed $205 million in taxpayer dollars to startups that could bring high-paying jobs to his state. But much of the money has gone to companies that are either headquartered in or use the money to hire people in other states. At least 16 of the 130 companies the fund has supported have already gone out of business. (Associated Press) Hey Solyndra, we hear Texas is great for solar farms!
Attn Matt Drudge: Things conservatives will get outraged by today.
-- Black Hawk County, Iowa Democrats have apologized after posting a photo illustration that called former President Ronald Reagan a "white supremacist." The party chairwoman blamed a volunteer who runs their Facebook page for posting the image. Rep. Bruce Braley (D), the Democratic U.S. Senate nominee, hails from Black Hawk County. (Des Moines Register)
-- A pregnant woman in labor across the street from a Los Angeles hospital had to wait for President Obama's motorcade to pass before entering Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. L.A.P.D. officers called an ambulance just in case. (NBC-Los Angeles)
Attn HuffPo: What outrages liberals today
-- Warren, Mich. Mayor Jim Fouts (R) has banned atheist groups from setting up a booth in city hall. Fouts compared atheists to Nazis and the KKK. The ACLU and two other religious freedom groups are suing the city, which has allowed religious organizations space in city hall since 2009. (Talking Points Memo)