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A1: The stories you need to read before your first conference call.

-- Israel accepted an Egyptian proposal for a cease-fire after a week of fighting, but Hamas leadership rejected the deal, saying they had not been consulted. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu threatened to escalate operations in Gaza after Hamas launched several rockets over southern Israel Tuesday morning. The death toll in Gaza stood at 185 as of Tuesday morning. (Washington Post)

-- Iran's chief nuclear negotiator said his country could accept a deal that virtually freezes its capacity to produce nuclear fuel at current levels, extending a number of limited concessions Iran made last year in order to begin negotiations with the U.S. and five other countries, in exchange for sanctions relief. Iran wants the limits to be in place for three to seven years, while U.S. negotiators have said they will press for limits to exist for at least a decade. Talks are scheduled to end on Sunday. (New York Times)

-- A Ukrainian military transport plane was shot down over eastern Ukraine late Monday, while NATO officials said Russia had amassed an estimated 10,000 to 12,000 troops along the border. The plane was flying at 21,000 feet, well beyond the range of shoulder-fired missiles; Ukraine's defense minister said the plane was likely taken down by a missile launched from within Russian territory. (New York Times)

-- A new Washington Post-ABC News poll finds overwhelming public disapproval of the way President Obama and Republicans in Congress are handling the flood of migrants over the southern border. Fifty-eight percent of Americans disapprove of Obama's performance on immigration issues, while 66 percent disapprove of the way Republicans are addressing the crisis. (Washington Post)

-- At a contentious hearing Monday, Veterans Affairs Committee chairman Jeff Miller (R-Fla.) said he didn't believe the VA's claims to have reduced the backlog of those waiting for benefits by 55 percent from its peak. In a report issued Monday, VA Inspector General Linda Halliday said the VA has made benefits payments totaling more than $85 million to veterans who didn't show proof they deserved the money. (Associated Press)

-- Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl has refused to speak with his parents since being released from captivity in Pakistan. His family has asked the military not to give updates about Bergdahl's condition or communications between the soldier, who returned to regular duty on Monday, and his family. (Wall Street Journal)

-- Front Pages: WaPo leads with a look at Israel's Iron Dome, while NYT looks at the revenge killing of a Palestinian teenager. WSJ goes five columns and USA Today leads with Egypt's attempt to broker peace. LA Times highlights a chartered flight returning immigrants to their native Honduras, the first of many such trips.

National Roundup: What's happening outside the Beltway.

-- WH'16: Vice President Joe Biden held a conference call with alumni from his past campaigns on July 1, promising to set up a reunion at the Naval Observatory this fall. The call lasted just a few minutes. (Washington Post) A few Biden veterans hastened to point out that alumni calls happen all the time. Biden and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) will speak at the National Urban League Conference, held next week in Cincinnati. (Associated Press) And Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) tells Mark Z. Barabak he's "seriously considering" running, during an interview in Des Moines. (Los Angeles Times)

-- Texas: The Justice Department on Monday told federal judges in San Antonio that Texas lawmakers carefully drew electoral maps aimed at marginalizing minority voters and protecting Republican incumbents. But attorneys representing the legislature said it had to draw maps that would pass the GOP-led House and Senate. If the three-judge panel rules Texas meant to discriminate, the state could be required to continue seeking pre-clearance for elections changes under section 3 of the Voting Rights Act. The case is expected to last a week, with a decision months away. (Dallas Morning News)

-- Tennessee: Conservative radio host Laura Ingraham said she's "all in" for state Rep. Joe Carr (R), mounting an uphill challenge to Sen. Lamar(!) Alexander (R) in next month's GOP primary. Ingraham, who spent weeks boosting Dave Brat (R) over Rep. Eric Cantor (R) in last month's Virginia primary, is angry over Alexander's support for immigration reform legislation. (Washington Post) Reid's Take: Alexander has taken his challengers a lot more seriously than Cantor did, and he's spent significantly on TV ads. Ingraham is on a grand total of one station in Tennessee, in Memphis. Also, style guide note: Alexander will forever appear in this newsletter with a (!) after his first name.

-- Florida: Trial lawyer John Morgan has collected pledges of up to $6 million to pass a ballot initiative to legalize marijuana for medical purposes. Morgan said he, too, would write a big check to help the pro-legalization campaign; he's already contributed $3.75 million of the $5 million the campaign has raised. Critics say Morgan is trying to drive turnout for his employee, former Gov. Charlie Crist (D). Sheldon Adelson has given $2.5 million to the campaign against the initiative. (Tampa Tribune)

-- South Carolina: Former Treasurer and convicted felon Thomas Ravenel submitted 16,469 signatures to the state Election Commission on Monday, far more than the 10,000 he needed to make the ballot to run against Sen. Lindsey Graham (R) as an independent. Ravenel said he and his girlfriend will not appear on the second season of Bravo's "Southern Charm." (The State) Ravenel told the paper he's "done a lot of repeat business with people because they trusted me." Is that the smartest thing for someone with a drug conviction to say?

-- New Jersey: Since January, four of Atlantic City's 12 casinos have said they will shut down if they cannot find buyers, including Trump Plaza, where workers received notices on Monday that the facility could close as soon as Sept. 16. If all four casinos close, it would mean 8,000 jobs lost. Atlantic City has suffered as gambling has expanded in Delaware, Maryland, New York and Pennsylvania, where there are more than 20 casinos operating now. (New York Times)

-- California: The campaign to split California into six different states said Monday it had collected more than the approximately 808,000 signatures it needs to get the measure on the November 2016 ballot. Billionaire venture capitalist Timothy Draper will file signatures with Secretary of State Debra Bowen (D) today. (Reuters) The six states would be called Silicon Valley, Jefferson, North California, South California, West California and Central California. Proposed map here.

DC Digest: What's on tap today in DC.

-- President Obama heads to McLean, Va., to tour the Turner-Faiirbank Highway Research Center, where he will deliver more remarks on the economy. This afternoon, ObamaIn meets with Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel at the White House today.

-- Vice President Biden attends meetings at the White House today and sits in on Obama's meeting with Hagel. Dr. Jill Biden travels to Minneapolis to attend Major League Baseball's All Star Game and to meet teachers who won an MLB contest.

-- The House meets at 10 a.m. today, with first votes expected between 2:30 and 3:30 p.m. The House will consider the Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act and a measure to fix the Highway Trust Fund. On Monday, the Club for Growth said it would score the Highway Trust Fund bill. The House continues consideration of the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act, to be voted on by week's end.

-- The Senate meets at 10 a.m. for morning business before taking cloture votes on two nominations for Federal Energy Regulatory Commission seats at noon. After weekly party lunches, the Senate will vote to confirm both FERC nominees.

-- The Peace Corps on Tuesday will announce a series of steps aimed at boosting applications amid a rising number of potential volunteers who drop out of the application process. The number of applicants has dropped 34 percent between Fiscal Year 2009 and Fiscal Year 2013, to about 10,000. The Corps will allow candidates to choose the country where they want to serve and shorten the year-long application process while recruiting more minorities and students fresh out of college. (Washington Post)

TV Time Out: Our exclusive look at who's advertising, and where.

-- Iowa: Yesterday, it was Freedom Partners. Today, it's American Crossroads. The GOP outside group kicks off a $415,000 ad blitz on behalf of U.S. Senate nominee Joni Ernst (R) beginning today, in addition to the $3.1 million in fall advertising time they've already reserved. Ernst is participating in Iowa National Guard training over the next two weeks. (Associated Press)

-- Georgia: Annals of Smart Politics: Patriot Majority, the Democratic outside group that backs Senate candidates, is spending at least $163,000 on TV ads in Atlanta, Savannah and Augusta to promote Reps. Hank Johnson (D), David Scott (D) and John Barrow (D). Why? Johnson and Scott have no opponents, but Barrow isn't going to win without heavy African American turnout. Of course, the higher the African American turnout, the better for Senate candidate Michelle Nunn (D). (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

-- Connecticut: Gov. Dannel Malloy (D) is out with his first ad, a 30-second spot touting his record as a strong leader. Malloy, who faces a tough challenge from 2010 rival Tom Foley (R), registers well in polls for his handling of Superstorm Sandy and the Newtown shootings. Malloy's team is spending $254,000 for a week of airtime in the Hartford and New York media markets. (Hartford Courant)

-- Doctors: Oregon Senate candidate Monica Wehby, a pediatric neurosurgeon, has appeared in hospital settings in all three of her ads. Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) calls for repealing Obamacare with a stethoscope draped around his neck. And both Bob Johnson (R) and Buddy Carter (R), the two candidates facing off in a July 22 runoff to replace Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.), have appeared in their white coats in their ads. Carter mentions he's a doctor in all eight of his ads, and that he's a state senator in just two. (Bloomberg)

The Buried Lede: The nuggets that deserve the spotlight.

-- Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) wears an oversized New Orleans Saints belt buckle. But he worries the GOP will take "the wrong lesson" from possible wins in 2014.

-- Jindal: "My worry is that there are a lot of consultants in DC who are running around saying just run against Obamacare. It's very unpopular, be against a president whose poll numbers are falling, and don’t give them anything to shoot at. ... [T]hat's no way to govern. We have to earn the right to be the majority party for the long term. And second, if as conservatives we really think these are dangerous times for our country, if we really believe that, we need to be in the business of persuading people, trying to change the direction of government, getting the country back on track. And you can't do that unless you are willing to put out specific ideas." (Time)

B1: Business, politics and the business of politics

-- After years of cuts and deficits, state budgets are starting to show surpluses. California reported a $1.9 billion surplus at the end of the Fiscal Year, which closed June 30; Ohio reported an $800 million surplus. New Hampshire, South Dakota, Indiana, Arkansas and Georgia have all reported budgets in the black, though revenue has yet to rebound to pre-recession levels.

-- Not every state has a surplus. Virignia tax revenue missed projections by more than $400 million, and Kentucky's general fund and road fund fell short by a combined $110 million. Officials in New Jersey and Pennsylvania are still dealing with budget deficits. States will finalize their FY 2013-2014 figures by the end of this year. (Washington Post)

-- Stock futures are basically flat this morning after the Dow added 111 points on Monday. Asian markets closed higher on Tuesday, while European markets are trading lower. (CNN)

C1: The long reads you'll need to check out before tonight's cocktail party.

-- Could anti-Affordable Care Act advertisements actually be driving sign-ups? A new report from the Brookings Institute found a positive association between anti-ACA spending and ACA enrollment. Kantar Media's CMAG has found the most anti-ACA spending in Kentucky, Arkansas, Louisiana and North Carolina, all states with hot Senate races this year. Arkansas and Kentucky have seen their uninsured rates plunge by mor than all but three other states. (Center for Public Integrity)

C4: The comics page, fun things to read when you're bored at work

-- Congratulations Airbus, you've created the most uncomfortable plane seats in the history of plane seats! Seriously, who wants to sit on a bicycle seat from Dulles to Dallas? (Washington Post) Actual Airbus news: The company launched a new more fuel efficient model of its A330 widebody at the Farnborough Air Show on Monday, Airbus's response to the Boeing 787. (Seattle Times)

Attn Matt Drudge: Things conservatives will get outraged by today.

-- Rep. Bruce Braley (D-Iowa) complained to neighbors and his community association over four "therapeutic hens" (what?) kept by a neighbor wandered onto his property earlier this year. Braley called the community association's lawyer, which billed the association $1,700 to solve the dispute. Neighbors aren't happy that Braley acted so fowl (Ba doom, ching!) (Iowa Republican) This story is getting a lot of traction in conservative media outlets, but Iowa papers haven't picked it up yet.

Attn HuffPo: What outrages liberals today

-- Fox News host Bob Beckel is sorry he "apparently offended some people" by using the word "Chinaman." "[T]here's billlions of them. All they do is hack into our stuff," Beckel said on last Thursday's episode. Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.) and state Sen. Ted Lieu (D), one of two Democrats likely to succeed retiring Rep. Henry Waxman (D), called on Beckel to quit "The Five." (Reuters)

-- Former Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) on Monday compared attacks on him to the late Sen. Joe McCarthy (R-Wis.), "an example of someone who was assassinated by the media, so he had no credibility." Akin said he, too, has been pilloried with "intentional and dishonest" distortions of what he said during his 2012 Senate race. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch) Come on, you can come up with a better comparison than McCarthy.