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

-- The Missouri Highway Patrol on Thursday took over security operations in Ferguson, Mo., led by Capt. Ronald Johnson, a Ferguson native. Riot gear and SWAT trucks disappeared Thursday night as Johnson marched with a crowd of protestors. Attorney General Eric Holder said a Justice Department probe will take time to conduct; Holder met with President Obama on Thursday to discuss the case. (Washington Post)

-- Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki stepped aside Thursday to clear the way for his successor, Haider al-Abadi, to form a new government. In a televised appearance, Maliki and Abadi stood side by side, resolving a political crisis that threatened stability even as a military crisis unfolds around Baghdad. The White House had warned that greater assistance in fending off ISIS militants depended on Maliki's replacement. (Washington Post)

-- Prosecutors rested their case against former Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) and wife Maureen on Thursday by listing the major gifts and loans provided by Jonnie Williams. FBI Special Agent David Hulser physically showed jurors the dresses, shoes, golf shirts and other items given to the First Family, which totaled more than $177,000 in value. Prosecutors called 45 witnesses over three weeks. (Washington Post)

-- NBC News president Deborah Turness announced Thursday that political director Chuck Todd will replace David Gregory as host of "Meet the Press." Todd will take over on Sept. 7. Gregory said he will leave NBC, though he didn't say what his next career move would be. (CNN, Washington Post) Congratulations to a fellow former Hotliner. Have a good laugh at Chuck's first appearance on C-SPAN, from way back in 1997, courtesy Howard Mortman.

-- Front Pages: WaPo, NYT and WSJ lead with a calmer atmosphere in Ferguson. The LA Times and USA Today lead with Maliki's decision to step aside.

National Roundup: What's happening outside the Beltway.

-- WH'16: New HUD Secretary Julian Castro had dinner last week with Bill Clinton at the former president's D.C. home, the latest in a concerted effort to link the two political families. (Washington Post) Will Gov. Chris Christie (R) run for president? "I'm thinking about it," he told residents at a town hall meeting in Ocean City on Thursday. (Newark Star-Ledger) Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) called for demilitarizing police in a Time op-ed. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is "strongly" against a ballot initiative in his state that would legalize medical marijuana because it would harm Florida's reputation. (Miami Herald) Wait, that's what's going to make us think differently about Florida?

-- Hawaii: Voters will cast ballots today in two precincts in Puna, on the eastern edge of the Big Island, after a federal judge ruled the state Office of Elections could go ahead with its plans. Judge Greg Nakamura ruled against Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D), who wanted the election delayed due to storm damage, though he said an election held after so much storm damage invites a post-election legal challenge. Sen. Brian Schatz (D) leads Hanabusa by 1,635 votes; there are about 8,200 voters in Puna. (Honolulu Star-Advertiser)

-- Mississippi: State Sen. Chris McDaniel (R) finally filed his challenge to the results of the June 24 runoff on Thursday, asking that results from Hinds County be disqualified and removed from the statewide count. Sen. Thad Cochran (R) won Hinds County by almost 11,000 votes. McDaniel argues the state prevented Republican voters from exercising their First Amendment rights by allowing Democrats to vote in the GOP primary. A special judge appointed by the state Supreme Court's chief justice will weigh the case in coming weeks. (Jackson Clarion-Ledger)

-- Louisiana: Initial projections show the state is headed toward a $1.2 billion budget gap, thanks to over-reliance on one-time funding and volatile revenue streams like property sales taxes. Gov. Bobby Jindal's (R) chief budget adviser said the gap can be closed in part with $215 million in savings identified by an efficiency consultant and $240 million in private donations for nursing homes. (Baton Rouge Advocate) All to avoid a tax hike.

-- Arkansas: Poor Rep. Tim Griffin (R) just can't catch a break. As he leaves Washington to campaign for lieutenant governor, two state senators are launching a new effort to get rid of the state's number two office. The senators will try to get a constitutional amendment on the 2016 ballot. They propose to put the Attorney General first in the line of succession in the lieutenant governor's absence. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette)

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

-- President Obama got in another round of golf after addressing the situation in Ferguson on Thursday. He'll be in Martha's Vineyard until Sunday, when he returns to D.C. for a few days of meetings.

-- Vice President Biden is on Long Island today. Next Wednesday, he travels to East Hartford, Conn., for an event on workforce development.

-- The Silver Line opens access to hiking, biking and maybe even shopping at Tyson's Corner. Check out The Washington Post's guide to trails and roads that are now just a metro ride away.

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

-- California: The long arm of Steven Law is coming to a handful of House districts near you. Crossroads GPS will begin a two-week, $300,000 ad campaign in the San Diego market, where city councilman Carl DeMaio (R) is challenging Rep. Scott Peters (D). They'll also drop nearly $600,000 into Sacramento, the market that covers California's 7th District, where ex-Rep. Doug Ose (R) is running against Rep. Ami Bera (D).

-- Illinois: More from Crossroads GPS: They've got a three-week, $640,000 buy starting Saturday against Rep. Brad Schneider (D-Ill.) and another $565,000 in Illinois 12, where Rep. Bill Enyart (D) is running for a second term.

-- West Virginia: The last race where Crossroads GPS will make their first big foray onto the House battlefield this year is the 3rd District, where Rep. Nick Rahall (D) is trying to fend off state Sen. Evan Jenkins (R). This one is a $335,000 broadcast and cable buy running for two weeks starting today.

The Buried Lede: The nuggets that deserve the spotlight.

-- Nearly half of the 500 federal counterterrorism convictions since Sept. 11, 2001 have been information-based cases, and 30 percent of those were sting operations, according to a new Human Rights Watch report. The group says the FBI is encouraging people who otherwise would not move forward with plans to carry out attacks. Last year, federal prosecutors dropped several terrorism-related charges against a Tunisian man accused of plotting an attack; the man was eventually convicted on two counts of fraud and misuse of visas. (Washington Post)

B1: Business, politics and the business of politics

-- Same sex marriage could generate nearly half a billion dollars in 11 states where gay marriage remains illegal or under court challenge, according to the UCLA School of Law's Williams Institute. And that's just in the first year of legal gay marriage; the study estimates that three years of nuptials would generate at least $723 million for those states. (Washington Post)

-- Hackers have broken into computer networks at Supervalu grocery stores, accessing account information and other sensitive data at more than 200 stores in Minnesota, Maryland, Virginia, Illinois and Missouri between June and July. The company said there was no evidence yet that the information had been used. (Associated Press)

-- Markets are trading higher in pre-bell action today after the Dow added 61 points on Thursday. Most world markets are trading higher today. (CNN)

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

-- We missed this outstanding profile of former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist (D), published last week: "But who is Charlie Crist? Charming or scheming? Focused or distracted? Disciplined or reckless? A lover of people or a user of people? Uncommon empath or unrelenting opportunist? The answer to all: Yes."

-- "The failure of his first marriage ... made [Crist], his father thinks, more reluctant to make that level of commitment again." On rumors about his sexuality: "After Crist got into politics, [aides] worried not about whether he was gay; they worried about his tendency to hit on co-eds and the potential for a reputation as a womanizer." Crist's relationships with just about all of his former top allies have soured. Former Sen. George LeMieux (R), Crist's one-time chief of staff, is called an "arch political opponent." His former state Republican Party chairman, Jim Greer, went to jail and wrote a tell-all book. (Tampa Bay Times)

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

-- Turnout in Los Angeles elections is low. It's really low. It's so low that the L.A. Ethics Commission voted unanimously on Thursday to recommend the city council consider cash prizes for voting. A commissioner suggested taking money from a pot set aside for matching funds to fund the lottery -- perhaps $25,000 or $50,000 per election. (Los Angeles Times)

-- Watch Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D), a "musically limited incumbent," according to the Denver Post's Joey Bunch, strum a tune with Ryan Tedder of OneRepublic, which initially formed in Colorado Springs.

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

-- A new video game previewed at Gamescom in Germany this week will allow players to take on a white power gang that, just by chance, happens to prominently display the Gadsden flag. The rather ambitious headline: "Gamescom: Shoot racist Tea Partiers in 'Battlefield Hardline.'" (Breitbart)

Attn HuffPo: What outrages liberals today

-- Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) plus Newsmax will pretty much always equal something fit for this section. In an interview posted Thursday, the Iowa Republican says residents of Ferguson, Mo. should "straighten up and fly right." He also said a tattoo parlor in town wasn't looted because residents "might have some of the strongest, friendliest relationships there." And racial profiling wasn't an issue, King said, because everyone in Ferguson seems to be of the same race. "[T]hey all appear of a single origin, I should say, a continental origin might be the way to phrase that." (Des Moines Register) At this point, even Michele Bachmann is smacking her head.