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A1: The stories you need to read before your first conference call.
-- Russia sent armored troops across the Ukrainian border Wednesday, according to Ukrainian and Western officials, the third incursion into their neighbor's territory this week. At least five armored personnel carriers crossed the border near Novoazovsk, south of rebel strongholds in Donetsk and Luhansk. The Russian forces fired on Ukrainian troops, who beat a hasty retreat. (Washington Post, New York Times)
-- Health authorities in Nigeria say the country has suffered its first Ebola death outside the city of Lagos. A man who came into contact with a sick air traveler from Nigeria infected a doctor in Port Harcourt, the center of the country's oil industry. The doctor later died. (New York Times) The World Health Organization says the Ebola outbreak could eventually infect more than 20,000 people. So far, about 3,000 cases have been reported in four countries, 40 percent of whom have contracted the disease in the last three weeks. Half, 1,552, have died. (Associated Press)
-- A bipartisan group of lawmakers wants the White House to seek Congressional approval for military action against ISIS extremists, though it's unlikely Congress would vote before the November elections. House Armed Services Committee ranking member Adam Smith (D-Wash.): "There is simply no way on earth that members of Congress are going to come together and agree on what the language for an authorization for the use of force in Syria is -- it’s just not going to happen." (New York Times)
-- The FBI is probing a possible Russian hacker attacks this month on JPMorgan Chase and at least one other bank, potentially retaliation for U.S. government sanctions. Attacks on the U.S. financial sector from Russia and Eastern Europe have spiked in recent months as tensions with the West have grown. (Bloomberg)
-- The budget deficit for the fiscal year ending in September will fall to $506 billion, congressional budget analysts said, lower than earlier years but higher than initially expected thanks to smaller corporate tax receipts. The CBO also lowered its 10-year deficit forecast; the country is likely to generate an additional $7.2 trillion in new debt by 2024, down from an estimate of $7.6 trillion previously forecast. (Washington Post)
-- Both Democrats and Republicans are worried about fallout if President Obama takes aggressive executive action on immigration before the midterm elections. Democratic candidates have criticized the idea of sweeping action, and party strategists believe big moves would be a sign Obama has given up on trying to keep the Senate. Republicans worry their base could erupt into shutdown threats and impeachment threats, risking overreach and over-dramatization at a time when voters are just tuning in. Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.): Obama "is going to determine his legacy with the immigrant community in the next 30 days." (Washington Post)
-- Front Pages: WaPo leads with partisan anxieties over the White House's intentions on immigration. NYT: "Ukraine Reports Russian Invasion On A New Front." WSJ and USA Today lead with cyber attacks on big banks. LA Times fronts an increase in California film tax credits. (Today's choices perfectly reflect those five papers: WaPo leads with politics, NYT with international news, WSJ and USA Today the big business story and LAT with a California-based piece.)
National Roundup: What's happening outside the Beltway.
-- Wisconsin: A new survey shows Madison School Board member Mary Burke (D) leads Gov. Scott Walker (R) by a 49 percent to 47 percent margin among likely voters, though Walker leads among registered voters by a 48 percent to 44 percent gap. Women favor Burke by a 7-point margin, while men favor Walker by a 15-point gap. (Marquette) A statistically insignificant edge for Burke, but once again, the poll suggests Walker has a hard ceiling. Just 4 percent of voters said they didn't have an opinion on Walker; 48 percent view him favorably, and an equal number view him unfavorably.
-- Iowa: Suffolk University surveyed 500 likely voters on the race for an open Senate seat; 201 chose Rep. Bruce Braley (D), and 200 chose state Sen. Joni Ernst (R). Another five percent of voters said they would back one of the four third-party candidates. Hard to find a poll closer than that. (USA Today) What we're hearing from Republicans: They're more optimistic about Ernst than they are about candidates in Alaska or North Carolina. What we're hearing from Democrats: Ernst's unfavorable rating is rising, and fast.
-- Michigan: Former Rep. Mark Schauer (D) leads Gov. Rick Snyder (R) by a 45 percent to 43 percent margin, according to a new EPIC-MRA poll conducted over the last weekend. Schauer's growth comes from much higher name identification, and from a widening gender gap, pollsters said. Schauer leads among women voters by 15 points, while Snyder leads among men by 12. (Gannett) Snyder, Walker, Corbett, LePage, Abercrombie and another half-dozen in some measure of danger: This election could be remembered as The Year The Governors Lost.
-- Arizona: The state Supreme Court will hear an appeal from Gov. Jan Brewer's (R) administration of a lower court ruling against Medicaid expansion she sought last year. The lower court ruled an assessment on hospitals meant to cover the expansion was a tax, meaning it would have required a two-thirds vote of the state legislature in 2013. Brewer says it wasn't, and that the conservative lawmakers who brought suit didn't have standing to do so. (Arizona Republic)
-- Iowa: Former state Sen. Kent Sorenson (R) faces up to 25 years in prison after pleading guilty to two charges that he covered up payments from former Rep. Ron Paul's (R) 2012 presidential campaign and obstructed an investigation into those payments. Sorenson received $73,000 from the Paul campaign in a way that helped obscure them from the FEC. At the time, Sorenson had insisted he wasn't being paid by Paul's campaign. (Des Moines Register) Iowa state legislators aren't allowed to receive pay for political work. Sorenson first got in trouble for taking money from Rep. Michele Bachmann's (R) campaign.
-- New Hampshire: Ending Spending Action Fund had to edit a negative ad the group is running against Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D) after Shaheen's attorneys claimed the spot distorted her net worth. Shaheen's personal financial disclosure statements show her net worth has dropped by between $500,000 and $1 million, though Ending Spending said that amount shouldn't include debts like the 10 mortgages she reported. A Boston TV station asked Ending Spending to edit the ad to include additional citations. (Associated Press)
DC Digest: What's on tap today in DC.
-- President Obama meets this afternoon with HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell in the Oval Office. He spends the rest of his day in private meetings at the White House.
-- Vice President Biden heads to Philadelphia for a fundraiser for the New Hampshire-Louisiana Victory Fund this afternoon. Late, he heads to Pittsburgh, where he'll appear at a fundraiser for the DNC, this one at a private residence. He's back in D.C. tonight.
-- Arch Campbell, the movie critic for WJLA and NewsChannel 8, will make his final appearances on TV today at 5 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. before hanging up his trademark fedora. The 68-year-old has been on air for 40 years. He told a reporter to pick one reason he might be retiring: "A. The rigors of my three day a week schedule have left me exhausted. B. WTOP called the other day wanting a sound bite on Lauren Bacall. They thought we grew up together. C. Have you been inside a movie theater lately?" (Washington Post)
TV Time Out: Our exclusive look at who's advertising, and where.
-- North Carolina: State House Speaker Thom Tillis (R) will announce a new direct-to-camera spot this morning in which he highlights the 7 percent pay raise for teachers the state legislature passed earlier this year. Democrats have tied Tillis to the unpopular legislature he helps lead in Raleigh; his new spot virtually embraces that legislature and banks on the hope that President Obama is even less popular.
-- Alaska: VoteVets Action Fund will jump into the U.S. Senate race on Labor Day with a $675,000 week-long TV and digital ad buy attacking former Attorney General Dan Sullivan (R) for supporting the Pebble Mine, which could threaten salmon runs. Sen. Mark Begich (D) opposes the mine. Meanwhile, a group called Alaska SalmonPAC is spending $130,000 on phones and field canvassing for Begich. (FEC)
-- West Virginia: Have we got an actual race for Rep. Shelley Moore Capito's (R) seat? Former state Democratic chairman Nick Casey kicked off a $640,000 ad blitz last week, averaging about 500 gross ratings points a week through Election Day. His rival, former Maryland GOP chairman Alex Mooney (R), started running his own ads this week with a $40,000 buy. Remember, Capito's seat was last held by Democrat Bob Wise, so it's not totally unwinnable for Democrats. That being said, the DCCC is conspicuously absent here.
-- New Hampshire: Here's another group running ads against Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D): The Independent Leadership for New Hampshire PAC just plopped down $126,000 for TV ads against the Democratic incumbent, and another $10,000 for a digital component. The PAC has been funded by big-time Republican donors, including $10,000 from former Connecticut Senate candidate and WWE executive Linda McMahon. (FEC and CRP)
The Buried Lede: The nuggets that deserve the spotlight.
-- The Republican Party's "reboot" was supposed to include better relationships with minority voters and women. It's not going so well with women, according to an internal survey conducted for Crossroads GPS and the American Action Network. The GOP "fail[s] to speak to women in the different circumstances in which they live," the poll found. And two of the party's initiatives aimed at making inroads with women spearheaded by former Rep. Eric Cantor (R) -- establishing charter schools and flexible work schedules -- are actually least popular among women. (Politico)
B1: Business, politics and the business of politics
-- Gas prices are down, and AAA predicts more Americans will hit the road this Labor Day weekend than any year since 2008. They say 34.7 million people will travel 50 miles or more from home this weekend. The group also predicts that 395 people will die in car accidents this weekend, or about 1 in every 87,848 motorists on the road. Gas averages $3.44 a gallon. (Washington Post)
-- Stock futures are lower today after a mixed close on Wall Street Wednesday. International markets are lower across the board; the German DAX is down more than 1 percent in afternoon trading. (CNN)
C1: The long reads you'll need to check out before tonight's cocktail party.
-- In case you missed it yesterday, don't forget to check out Jonathan Martin's deep dive into the Kentucky Senate race, and the mind of Mitch McConnell. "I half-jokingly asked if he knew the exact percentage he needed to carry in each congressional district to win re-election. He looked at me as if I had seven heads. 'Uh, yeah,' he said."
-- But McConnell's performance at Fancy Farm earlier this month convinced some observers that he's not the politician he once was. "After the festivities, I found myself standing in the buffet line behind Al Cross, who has written about local politics for decades for The Courier-Journal of Louisville. I asked Cross about McConnell’s performance that day. He didn’t hesitate. 'He has lost a step,' Cross replied." Jonathan reports the tomatoes and corn at the aforementioned buffet were "out of this world."
C4: The comics page, fun things to read when you're bored at work
-- What Not To Say To A Woman (or anybody, really): "Good thing you're working out, because you wouldn't want to get porky!" "You know, Kirsten, you're even pretty when you're fat." "Don't lose too much weight, now. I like my girls chubby." Yes, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) says in her new book that male members of Congress all used those charming pick-up lines on her since she won election back in 2006. You stay classy, fellas! (New York Post)
Attn Matt Drudge: Things conservatives will get outraged by today.
-- The Justice Department has decided to allow Guatemalan women qualify for asylum if they were victims of domestic violence. The Board of Immigration Appeals announced the decision on Tuesday, likely adding to the number of asylum claims granted by the Justice Department. Asylum claims jumped to more than 30,000 last year, three times the 2012 rate. (Daily Caller)
Attn HuffPo: What outrages liberals today
-- Last month, the left was keeping tabs on the number of Republicans who suggested impeachment. Next month, they'll be on the lookout for variations on the word "shutdown." Earlier this week, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) suggested using "funding mechanisms" to respond to likely executive actions on immigration. Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) says "all bets are off" on a continuing resolution to fund the government. (ThinkProgress) Who's next?