A1: The stories you need to read before your first conference call.
-- Israel said Tuesday morning it is withdrawing ground forces from the Gaza Strip as an Egyptian-brokered three-day cease-fire begins. Hamas and Israel both agreed to terms of the cease-fire; a Hamas representative in Cairo said the militant group is ready to begin indirect negotiations on a longer-term truce. Both sides launched last-minute attacks before the cease-fire began at 8 a.m. An IDF spokesman said Israel had destroyed all 32 known tunnels between Israel and Gaza. (Washington Post)
-- Russia has stationed 19,000 to 21,000 troops on the Ukrainian border, doubling the number of battalions in recent weeks. Russia has also dramatically increased the number of surface-to-air missile units and artillery batteries, allowing them to strike across borders without warning. (New York Times) Meanwhile, Ukrainian troops have taken control of a checkpoint on the western edge of Donetsk, and of the town of Yasinuvata, along a key supply root the pro-Russian militants relied on for arms. (Associated Press)
-- Insurgents fighting for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria have used tunnels built during Saddam Hussein's rule to advance on Baghdad, with support from Sunni tribesmen. ISIS has seized a major dam, five oilfields and three new towns in the northern Kurdish region. They have also won territory just 40 miles south of Baghdad, in the city of Jurf al-Sakhar. (Reuters)
-- Senate Democrats are using social issues like abortion, same-sex marriage and contraception to accuse Republican opponents of being outside the mainstream, aiming to repeat President Obama's strategy of driving a wedge between the GOP and moderate voters. What's most telling is that Democrats are pursuing the strategy even while facing an older, whiter, more conservative electorate in November. (New York Times) The difference between the way same-sex marriage was viewed in 2004 and is viewed today still stuns us.
-- The two American missionaries who contracted Ebola in West Africa were treated with an experimental serum developed with funding from the National Institutes of Health that had so far only been tested on monkeys. In the days since, both have seen their conditions improve. Missionary Nancy Writebol is expected to arrive at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta today. A spokesman for the relief group that employs Writebol says she is walking, and that her appetite has returned after getting a second dose of the serum. (Washington Post)
-- Front Pages: WaPo and WSJ lead with the cease-fire in Gaza. NYT fronts a Justice Department report critical of New York City's handling of young prisoners on Rikers Island. USA Today fronts the obituary of the late James Brady, and the LA Times spotlight nasty storms coming off the Pacific, causing flash flooding across the state.
National Roundup: What's happening outside the Beltway.
-- WH'16: Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) is forming RickPAC, a new federal PAC that will donate to candidates. McKenna Long & Aldridge attorney Stefan Passantino, a longtime Newt Gingrich advisor, will serve as treasurer. Operative Corry Bliss will be the assistant treasurer. (Dallas Morning News)
-- Mississippi: State Sen. Chris McDaniel (R) has finally filed his challenge of the June 24 runoff election results. The challenge seeks to show a "pattern of conduct" of illegitimate voting, though there aren't any new revelations in the documents, submitted to the state Republican Party. McDaniel's campaign says it's found more than 15,000 problematic votes, twice the margin by which Sen. Thad Cochran (R) won. (Jackson Clarion-Ledger)
-- Hawaii: Another new survey shows Gov. Neil Abercrombie (D) trailing in this Saturday's primary. The Honolulu Star-Advertiser poll shows state Sen. David Ige (D) leading Abercrombie 54 percent to 36 percent. Both Ige and Abercrombie trail former Lt. Gov. Duke Aiona (R) in the general election, thanks to former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann (I), who's got a spot on the ballot. The same poll also shows Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D) leading Sen. Brian Schatz (D), 50 percent to 42 percent. (Honolulu Star-Advertiser, pdf) Grain of Salt: Polling in Hawaii is notoriously difficult. But these margins are really bad for Abercrombie.
-- Tennessee: Americans for Prosperity and Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey (R) are funding a campaign to oust three members of the state Supreme Court. Ramsey's PAC has donated $425,000, while the Republican State Leadership Committee has thrown in almost $200,000 more. The three judges at risk, Chief Justice Gary Wade and Justices Cornelia Clark and Sharon Lee, have collectively raised more than $1 million. Critics blame justices for appointing a Democratic attorney general (Tennessee is the only state in the country to allow the Supreme Court to pick the AG) who didn't join a lawsuit against ObamaCare, among other things. The election, deciding whether to retain or boot the justices, is Thursday. (Tennessean)
-- Colorado: Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) said Monday he had reached agreement with sponsors of two ballot initiatives involving fracking. Both initiatives, one supported by environmentalists and the other backed by industry, will be withdrawn from the ballot. Hickenlooper will appoint a commission that will advise state legislators on ways to reduce land-use conflict. (Denver Post) This is a big win for Democrats, not least Hickenlooper himself. They didn't want to be running alongside $20 million in pro-fracking ads.
-- Vermont: The state will replace CGI, the vendor initially hired to develop and host an online health insurance marketplace, after the company repeatedly missed deadlines to complete the exchange and fix bugs. CGI will cede technology development to another firm, Optum, which was hired in June to erase the backlog of 14,000 customers who require changes to their applications. (Burlington Free Press)
-- Primary Preview: Voters head to the polls in Kansas, Michigan, Missouri and Washington today. Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) is the most at risk, while Reps. Kerry Bentivolio (R-Mich.) and Justin Amash (R-Mich.) are fighting off primary challengers. We previewed the primaries in yesterday's Read In; read it here.
DC Digest: What's on tap today in DC.
-- President Obama delivers remarks at the U.S.-Africa Business Forum, where he will announce U.S. companies intend to invest more than $14 billion in the continent. (Washington Post) Later, Obama meets with Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel in the Oval Office before welcoming African heads of state to the South Lawn for dinner. Late night at the White House: The dinner isn't scheduled to begin until 9:30 p.m.
-- Vice President Biden has bilateral meetings this morning with South African President Jacob Zuma and Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan. This afternoon, he delivers remarks at the U.S.-Africa Business Forum. Later, he formally swears in Shaun Donovan as the next director of the Office of Management and Budget. He attends Obama's meeting with Hagel before another bilateral meeting, this one with Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki. Biden attends the White House dinner this evening.
-- Secretary of State John Kerry spends his day meeting with African leaders as well. He'll sit down with Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, South Sudanese President Salva Kiir, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and Namibian President Hifikepunye Pohamba before heading to the White House dinner this evening.
-- The House and Senate are out (in recession?) through the end of the month.
TV Time Out: Our exclusive look at who's advertising, and where.
-- Colorado: Former state House Speaker Andrew Romanoff (D), challenging Rep. Mike Coffman (R) in one of the most closely-watched House contests in the country, is going up with his first set of ad buys this week. Romanoff will spend $160,000 on broadcast ads in the pricey Denver market.
-- West Virginia: Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R) isn't letting off the gas. After running her first ads last week, Capito's campaign is spending about $150,000 on broadcast ads across five West Virginia markets.
-- Georgia: Businessman David Perdue (R) may be reloading after his costly runoff, but Ending Spending Action Fund is there to help. The group, funded by conservative donors like Joe Ricketts and Sheldon Adelson, dropped $160,000 on television last week and $180,000 on ads this week -- about 200 gross ratings points per market -- in six markets and on Atlanta cable. Philanthropist Michelle Nunn (D) bought $350,000 in ads that will run between Aug. 1 and Aug. 11.
-- Connecticut: Gov. Dannel Malloy (D) is highlighting his response to the mass shootings in Newtown in 2012 to underscore his leadership during tough times. Malloy's second paid ad features the mother of one of the 20 children killed at Sandy Hook Elementary. (Associated Press) So many things could go wrong in an ad like that.
The Buried Lede: The nuggets that deserve the spotlight.
-- After the event in which her husband endorsed Mitt Romney for president, former Virginia First Lady Maureen McDonnell pitched Ann Romney on the dietary supplement now at the heart of the corruption trial the McDonnells face. McDonnell told Ann Romney the drug, Anatabloc, could "potentially cure MS." Testifying on day six of the trial, RGA executive director Phil Cox, Bob McDonnell's 2009 campaign manager, said the scene was a "train wreck." (Washington Post)
B1: Business, politics and the business of politics
-- The average roundtrip ticket within the U.S., including taxes, cost $509.15 in the first six months of the year, up $14 over last year. The price of domestic airfare is rising faster than inflation. The average price of a hotel room is $113.80, up 4 percent over the same period in 2013. (Associated Press)
-- Stocks are trading slightly lower this morning after making gains on Monday. Most world markets are trading higher today, but the Nikkei lost 1 percent. (CNN)
C1: The long reads you'll need to check out before tonight's cocktail party.
-- Former White House Press Secretary James Brady died Monday at a retirement community in Alexandria. He was 73. Brady, Ronald Reagan's first press secretary, was shot in the head during the 1981 assassination attempt at the Washington Hilton. He became an advocate for gun control, along with his wife, Sarah. During his career in politics, Brady worked in the Nixon and Ford administrations, as an assistant to then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld; for Sen. William Roth (R-Del.); and for John Connally's 1980 presidential campaign, until Reagan beat Connally in the South Carolina primary. (Washington Post)
-- The U.S. workforce is older than ever. More than one in five workers, 22.2 percent, are over the age of 55, the highest level since record-keeping began in 1948. Baby Boomers' share of the workforce jumped from 30 percent in the early 1990s to 40 percent today. And fewer of them are working part-time jobs, meaning they're more likely to be putting in full eight-hour days. (Bloomberg Businessweek)
C4: The comics page, fun things to read when you're bored at work
-- Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber (D) is engaged to his longtime partner, Cylvia Hayes. Hayes has served as first lady since Kitzhaber took office in 2011. The two haven't set a wedding date. (Oregonian)
Attn Matt Drudge: Things conservatives will get outraged by today.
-- A franked mailer sent by Rep. Julia Brownley (D-Calif.), featuring photos of supposed constitutents, included one woman in what looks like a Navy uniform. The only problem is the woman is actually wearing a gold insignia of the German Luftwaffe. (Daily Caller) We'll never understand this kind of gaffe. Note to members: You've got 700,000 constituents, go take a photo with some of them! Unless mingling with the hoi polloi is simply too much.
Attn HuffPo: What outrages liberals today
-- Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) says the Democratic Party is "waging a war on whites." In an interview with AL.com, Brooks added: "They're attacking, by the Democrats opening [sic] soliciting votes of people based on skin color, they in turn are attacking whites based on skin color and that's wrong. Nobody should be attacked based on skin color. ... The Democrats do it on a regular basis and you can see it in the campaign appeals that they make based on skin color." (AL.com)