A1: The stories you need to read before your first conference call.
-- Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon (D) ordered the National Guard to withdraw from Ferguson beginning Friday as tensions cooled. The streets of Ferguson were quiet on Thursday, 12 days after unarmed teenager Michael Brown was shot and killed by police. Only seven people were arrested, three of whom were from Detroit, and formal protests ended before midnight. Prosecutors have not yet been in contact with Darren Wilson, the officer who shot Michael Brown. (New York Times, Washington Post)
-- The Pentagon broke the law by failing to notify relevant congressional committees at least 30 days before swapping Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl for five Taliban prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay, the GAO said Thursday. The operation cost $988,400, money that hadn't been specifically appropriated, a violation of the Antideficiency Act. A Pentagon spokesman said the Defense Department acted with support from the Justice Department in swapping for Bergdahl. (Associated Press)
-- Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Gen. Martin Dempsey said at a Pentagon news conference that the military is "looking at all options" to halt the growth of Islamic State in Syria and northern Iraq. The U.S. launched six airstrikes against IS positions on Thursday near the Mosul Dam. Dempsey told reporters IS must be addressed in both Iraq and Syria to defeat the group. (Washington Post)
-- A 200-vehicle Russian aid convoy is going through customs at the Ukrainian border, bringing water, generators and sleeping bags for civilians in Luhansk, which has been under siege for weeks. The U.N. has called for a cease-fire as the aid is delivered, and the Red Cross says it needs assurances of safe passage. Ukrainian military officials worry the aid will halt their momentum after weeks of advances into rebel-held territory. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko will meet Russian President Vladimir Putin in Minsk next week. (Associated Press)
-- Front Pages: WaPo leads with Israeli airstrikes killing three Hamas leaders, with another four-column banner on the McDonnell trial. NYT: "U.S. General Says Raiding Syria Is Key to Halting ISIS." LA Times [pdf] spotlights egregious spending on iPads in the city's school districts, alongside a profile of the train that carries some undocumented immigrants from Central America to the U.S.
National Roundup: What's happening outside the Beltway.
-- New Hampshire: A new WMUR/UNH poll shows Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D) leading former Sen. Scott Brown (R) by a 46 percent to 44 percent margin, the narrowest gap that any public poll has shown since April. Gov. Maggie Hassan (D) leads challengers Walt Havenstein (R) and Andrew Hemingway (R) by 17 to 20 points. One reason to be skeptical of these numbers: Hassan's favorable rating dropped from 58 percent in July to 44 percent in August, and nothing really happened in Concord. (UNH Senate results, UNH Governor results)
-- Virginia: Former Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) testified Thursday to the strains in his marriage and said he and wife Maureen are living under separate roofs. McDonnell presented jurors with an email he wrote Maureen in September 2011 in which he asked her help to save their marriage; she didn't respond. McDonnell said he didn't know businessman Jonnie Williams paid for a shopping trip to New York, a Rolex watch or the $50,000 loan Williams provided the family. (Washington Post)
-- Nevada: A performance review conducted by attorneys at the firm employing Nevada Attorney General candidate Adam Laxalt (R) called him a "train wreck" who "doesn't even have the basic skill set." The law firm, Lewis Roca Rothgerber, said it was conducting an investigation on the breach that led to the documents' release to Nevada political analyst Jon Ralston. (Las Vegas Sun, Las Vegas Review-Journal, original Ralston story)
-- California: State lawmakers have formally voted to remove the last language from Proposition 187, the 1994 prohibition on undocumented immigrants' use of public services that so deeply wounded Republicans among Hispanic voters, from the legal code. California stopped defending Prop. 187 in court in 1998, but some language remained in place. The measure to remove it now heads to Gov. Jerry Brown's (D) desk. (Los Angeles Times)
-- Minnesota: State Supreme Court candidate Michelle MacDonald was banned from the Minnesota Republican Party's state fair booth on Thursday and removed by security officials, even though she's been endorsed by the state GOP. The party passed a rule this week barring access to its booth to candidates with pending criminal cases; MacDonald will stand trial in September for a drunken driving charge. (Minneapolis Star-Tribune)
DC Digest: What's on tap today in DC.
-- President Obama has two more days in Martha's Vineyard. Vice President Biden is in Wilmington, Del., with no public events on the menu.
-- Anonymous editors using the House of Representatives' IP address have been blocked from editing Wikipedia after a bunch of crazy edits about transgendered people that Wiki users found offensive. The ban comes after a House staffer edited the page of "Orange is the New Black" to describe a transgender woman as "a real man pretending to be a woman." That same account had been used to edit entries for "tranny," Camp Trans and transphobia. (The Hill) Here's to you, soon-to-be-former-Hill-intern. Way to be super transphobic.
TV Time Out: Our exclusive look at who's advertising, and where.
-- Colorado: NextGen Climate Action, the Tom Steyer PAC, will drop $600,000 in ads on behalf of Sen. Mark Udall (D) -- or, rather, against Rep. Cory Gardner (R) -- this week. Steyer's group has run ads in Iowa and Florida, along with Colorado, this year.
-- New Hampshire: NextGen is also running a new spot hitting former Sen. Scott Brown (R) for alleged ties to the Koch brothers. It's the group's first foray into the race between Brown and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D). (Concord Monitor) Mayday PAC, the super PAC designed to get big money out of politics, will kick off a $600,000 ad buy on behalf of former state Sen. Jim Rubens (R), who's challenging Brown in the GOP primary. (Concord Monitor)
The Buried Lede: The nuggets that deserve the spotlight.
-- Aides to Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) promised journalists the ability to document his trip to Guatemala to perform eye surgeries in real time on social media networks. But once Paul and his relatively small entourage got to Guatemala, they told journalists not to use social media, due to security reasons. It was unclear whether the orders were issued by U.S. or Guatemalan officials.
-- Paul was in Guatemala as part of a group of ophthalmologists sponsored by the University of Utah, the Hope Alliance and the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery. Paul paid his own way and asked donors, including Donald Trump, to chip in to help pay for almost 200 cataract surgeries and the distribution of 8,000 pairs of eyeglasses. (Washington Post)
B1: Business, politics and the business of politics
-- NASA is expected to announce a multi-billion dollar contract to build a reusable spacecraft for U.S. astronauts. NASA wants to be able to rent the spacecraft from the private sector firm, instead of paying Russia more than $70 million for a seat in Soyuz spacecraft. SpaceX, Sierra Nevada and Boeing are the front-runners for the new vehicle. (Washington Post)
-- Markets are trading lower today after rising slightly on Thursday. Most world markets were down today, though the Hang Seng in Hong Kong closed higher. (CNN)
C1: The long reads you'll need to check out before tonight's cocktail party.
-- The most interesting interview you'll listen to today: Major Gen. Allen Batschelet, who heads the U.S. Army's recruitment program, says more and more recruits are showing up overweight, and that more recruits have rap sheets including infractions that police didn't used to consider crimes. "Today about 15 percent [of recruits] are disqualified for obesity, and we think by 2020 that number could go to 50 percent," Batschelet said. About 70 percent of Americans between 17-24 are not qualified to join the Army. (Here And Now)
C4: The comics page, fun things to read when you're bored at work
-- Watch Montana Gov. Steve Bullock (D) get a bucket of ice water dumped over his head. (Helena Independent Record) And Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead (R). And South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard (R). And Rep. Mike Coffmnan (R) and his opponent, Andrew Romanoff (D). We're sure there will be others.
Attn HuffPo: What outrages liberals today
-- Arizona State House Speaker Andy Tobin (R) said this week it's possible migrant children crossing the border into the U.S. could bring the Ebola virus. Tobin acknowledged that Ebola has been limited to outbreaks in Africa, "to the extent that they're really aware of that." (Arizona Republic) Tobin is the business-backed candidate in the race against Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D); Mitt Romney recorded a robo-call for him this week.