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A1: The stories you need to read before your first conference call.
-- President Obama on Thursday told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu the U.S. is prepared to broker a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, according to a White House readout of the call. Earlier Thursday, Netanyahu told Knesset lawmakers a ceasefire is "not even on the agenda." (Jerusalem Post)
-- The German government on Thursday ordered the CIA's Berlin station chief to leave the country, a day after German authorities raided an apartment and an office in Berlin in an investigation of someone with ties to the German military suspected of working for U.S. intelligence. That's a separate case from the 31-year-old BND employee arrested last week, who was accused of selling secrets to the CIA. CIA veterans said they couldn't remember the last time a friendly country booted a U.S. intelligence official. (Washington Post)
-- Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Kabul on Friday seeking to broker a deal between Afghanistan presidential candidates Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai and Abdullah Abdullah. Kerry is trying to get both candidates to avoid declaring victory or setting up a government before the U.N. can audit fraud allegations in last month's vote. James Dobbins, the State Department's special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, said Abdullah's campaign in particular distrusts the election commission. (Associated Press, New York Times)
-- Speaker John Boehner said Thursday the House will sue President Obama over his unilateral delay of the Obamacare employer mandate. The House Rules Committee will take up the two-page right-of-action bill next Wednesday. (TPM)
-- A bipartisan sportsmen's bill pushed by Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) died on the Senate floor on Thursday after a handful of Democrats joined Republicans in protesting Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's move to prevent gun-related amendments from coming to the floor. Just 41 senators voted for the measure, two days after it advanced with more than 80 votes. (Washington Post, Roll Call)
-- Front Pages: WaPo leads with Germany's expulsion of a top CIA officer. LA Times leads with Obama's offer to broker a ceasefire in Israel. NYT leads with a setback for AIDS research after a Mississippi child once thought to be cured has redeveloped the virus. WSJ leads with stock market jitters over Europe's recovery, while USA Today fronts a look at FTC allegations against Amazon, along with the conflict in Israel. The Orlando Sentinel, the Florida Times-Union and the Gainesville Sun all front a judge's decision to nix local Congressional districts (see below).
National Roundup: What's happening outside the Beltway.
-- Florida: A Leon County circuit court judge on Thursday ruled Florida's new Congressional district map violates the state's Fair District amendment, thanks to the concerted efforts of Republican operatives. The ruling invalidates the entire 27-district map, though Judge Terry Lewis ruled that only two districts must be redrawn. Rep. Corrine Brown's (D) Jacksonville-to-Orlando 5th District and Rep. Dan Webster's (R) Orlando-area 10th District violate the standards. (Miami Herald) It's unlikely the ruling will change anything for this fall, given the approximately 1,000 appeals likely to be filed.
-- Ohio: The state Constitutional Modernization Commission is likely to take up a proposal to recommend a bipartisan redistricting commission to redraw both Congressional and legislative maps, similar to a plan passed by the Republican-controlled state Senate in 2012. (Columbus Dispatch) Any proposed amendments have to pass the legislature by three-fifths majorities. Then voters get to weigh in on the next Election Day.
-- Virginia: The Commonwealth ended the fiscal year with revenue falling $439 million short of expectations. Revenue collections dropped 1.6 percent for the fiscal year that ended June 30, the first time Virginia's revenues have fallen outside of a national downturn. Budget analysts attributed the decline to a one-time spike in capital gains tax collections mistaken for a long-term trend. (Washington Post) Seriously, Jerry Brown has been warning anyone who'll listen about the capital gains spike for three years.
-- Wisconsin: Gov. Scott Walker (R) and Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen (R) said they will appeal last month's U.S. District Court decision to strike down the state's ban on same-sex marriage. Wisconsin will appeal to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago, which is already hearing an appeal on a similar decision striking down Indiana's ban. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
-- Michigan: Almost 70,000 creditors owed money by the city of Detroit must vote by today on a restructuring plan that would allow the city to severely reduce its $18 billion in liabilities and emerge from Chapter 9 bankruptcy. Eligible voters include 32,000 pensioners; the restructuring plan is likely to pass, though results don't have to be released until July 21. (Detroit Free Press)
-- West Virginia: For the first time in more than 80 years, fewer than half of registered voters in West Virginia are Democrats. The Secretary of State's office said as of June 30 there are 612,288 registered Democrats among the state's 1,226,745 voters -- 49.9 percent. (NPR) Registration is a lagging indicator in states like Kentucky, West Virginia, even Mississippi. But those numbers should worry local Democrats, who still get elected to county and state offices.
-- One of our loyal readers asked us how many state legislative seats are up for grabs this year. The answer: Of 7,383 total state legislative seats in the U.S., voters will decide on 6,049 of them on Nov. 4. Seats in 46 states are up; only Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey and Virginia won't elect new legislators this year. Those states hold legislative elections in odd-numbered years. Full breakdown, with maps and charts, here.
DC Digest: What's on tap today in DC.
-- President Obama will meet with company executives and small business suppliers to talk economy. There will be a photospray at the top of the meeting, in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building.
-- Vice President Biden travels to Nashville to hang out with a bunch of governors. Biden will headline a fundraiser for the Democratic Governors Association before delivering remarks at a National Governors Association meeting a few hours later. Biden heads to Wilmington this evening.
-- The House meets at 9 a.m., with first and last votes expected between 10:30 and 11:30 a.m. They're voting on a measure to make permanent a bonus depreciation provision in the tax code, sponsored by Rep. Pat Tiberi (R-Ohio). The White House said Thursday Obama would veto the legislation if it reached his desk.
-- The Senate is out until Monday.
-- A short list of possible sites for a future FBI headquarters is likely to come in the next few days as Maryland and Virginia elected officials push and shove to win what would be the largest new federal campus since the CIA's headquarters in Langley was completed in 1961. Sites that may be in contention include a parking lot at the Greenbelt Metro station, land in Springfield, the former Landover Mall and a waterfront property in Southeast D.C. (Washington Post)
TV Time Out: Our exclusive look at who's advertising, and where.
-- Iowa: The DSCC and the NRSC are proving their commitment to Rep. Bruce Braley (D) and state Sen. Joni Ernst (R). The NRSC has bought almost $1.7 million in ads running Sept. 9 through Election Day, while the DSCC has reserved more than $2.3 million in time beginning Sept. 2. Freedom Partners, the Koch brothers outfit, is kicking in about $500,000 at the beginning of September as well.
-- North Carolina: Because what would a day without even more ad spending in the Tar Heel State look like? This time it's the League of Conservation Voters, going up with about $540,000 in new ads on Greenville, Raleigh, Greensboro and Charlotte broadcast television starting today, running through July 24.
-- Kansas: Rep. Mike Pompeo (R) is going to have more money than former Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R), but Tiahrt has friends like Wink Hartman, a wealthy Wichita oilman whose super PAC is running ads beating up on Pompeo. The PAC, Kansans for Responsible Government, just dropped $122,000 on television spots attacking the two-term incumbent. (FEC)
The Buried Lede: The nuggets that deserve the spotlight.
-- The new hot demographic in the book publishing industry: Conservatives. For proof, look no farther than Edward Klein's "Blood Feud," his highly implausible take on the Clinton-Obama relationship. Klein will land at no. 2 on the New York Times best-seller list this week, knocking Hillary Clinton's "Hard Choices" down a notch.
-- "Hard Choices" has sold 177,234 copies, not including e-books, which means Simon & Schuster is unlikely to recoup the advance it fronted. The company shipped one million copies to bookstores. (New York Times)
B1: Business, politics and the business of politics
-- Competing politics and the Highway Trust Fund: House Republicans want a 10-month patch because they think they'll control the Senate next year, when they can mold a real long-term solution in their own image. Senate Democrats are pushing for a 5-month fill, until just after Election Day, in case they actually do lose the majority. Democrats think they can force a better solution, one they'll be able to mold, in a lame duck session. (Roll Call)
-- Markets are trading higher before the bell today after losing about half a percent on Thursday. Asian markets traded lower today, though European markets are posting small gains. (CNN)
C1: The long reads you'll need to check out before tonight's cocktail party.
-- Customs and Border Protection will run out of money by mid-August unless Congress approves President Obama's $3.7 billion budget request, DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson told the Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday. Top House and Senate Democrats said Thursday the door was open to faster deportations of unaccompanied minors from Central American countries. (Associated Press)
-- Getting out of the bubble, or avoiding the problem? President Obama's forays to Denver, Dallas and Austin are the latest examples of the bear, as the White House calls the boss, breaking loose. But Republicans and Obama critics say the president is just avoiding responsibility. Smart Juliet Eilperin analysis here.
C4: The comics page, fun things to read when you're bored at work
-- This is too much fun: Who said it, Al Gore or Chris McDaniel? Take the Jackson Clarion-Ledger's quiz.
Attn Matt Drudge: Things conservatives will get outraged by today.
-- Holy condescending urban-dwellers, Batman! Former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg says the NRA helped recall two pro-gun control state senators in parts of Colorado "where I don't think there's roads." Take that, you backwater residents of Colorado Springs and Pueblo. The interview is gone from Rolling Stone's website, but the Colorado GOP managed to grab it before it went down. (Colorado Observer) Next up: "My goodness, they don't even have proper cappucino machines!"
-- AFSCME President Lee Saunders this week said his union would break ties with the United Negro College Fund because the group had accepted a $25 million grant from Koch Industries and the Charles Koch Foundation. AFSCME will end its participation in the Union Scholars Program, which allows sophomores and junions to work at the union in exchange for scholarships. (BuzzFeed)
Attn HuffPo: What outrages liberals today
-- Military officers have told Congress there was no "stand-down order" to prevent troops from saving Ambassador Chris Stevens during a 2012 raid on the diplomatic compound in Benghazi. The nine officers who testified before the House Armed Services and Government Reform Committees said no help could have arrived in time. (Associated Press)