Daily Briefing

10 things you need to know today: August 29, 2014

Harold Maass
People assess the damage after shelling hit Donetsk, eastern Ukraine.  (AP Photo/Mstislav Chernov)
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Russian sends tanks into Ukraine

NATO confirmed Ukrainian government reports that two columns of Russian tanks and troops had invaded southern Ukraine, seizing a strategic town on the way to Crimea, a region annexed by Moscow in March. Ukrainian border guards fled their posts as the armored forces crossed into the country. The intelligence gathered by the Western military alliance was supported by claims made by a Russian-supported separatist leader that at least 3,000 Russian gunmen were fighting alongside Ukrainian rebels. [Los Angeles Times]


WHO warns Ebola could hit 20,000 people

The West African Ebola outbreak, which has killed at least 1,552, could infect 20,000 people before it is contained, the World Health Organization said Thursday. The warning that Ebola could spread to six times as many patients came as WHO, the United Nations' health agency, unveiled a strategy for containing the virus. Researchers said in a study published the same day in the journal Science that they had traced the outbreak to a single funeral in Guinea last May. [The Associated Press]


ISIS waterboarded James Foley and three other hostages

Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants waterboarded journalist James Foley and at least three other hostages in Syria early in their captivity, according to people with knowledge of the cases. Foley's captors later murdered him. ISIS reportedly appeared to model the waterboarding techniques on those used by the CIA during interrogations of several suspected terrorists after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. The U.S. has used airstrikes to slow an ISIS offensive in Iraq, but President Obama said on Thursday evening "we don't have a strategy yet" to deal with the growing threat the group poses in Syria and the rest of the region. [The Washington Post, NBC News]


Video shows ISIS fighters executing captured Iraqi soldiers

ISIS militants executed dozens of Iraqi soldiers captured when the Islamist terrorist group took over a government air base. Many of the killings, as well as the humiliating treatment of captives, were shown on video clips posted online and confirmed as genuine by an ISIS fighter. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights put the death toll around 120, although opposition activists said 490 people were killed after ISIS forces stormed the base. [The Wall Street Journal, Reuters]


Medical examiner finds execution drugs, not a heart attack, killed Oklahoma inmate

An autopsy released Thursday concluded that an Oklahoma death row inmate whose execution was botched in April was killed by the drugs injected into his system, not a heart attack as initially reported. Department of Corrections Director Robert Patton had attributed inmate Clayton Lockett's death to a heart attack suffered after the execution was ordered to be halted because Lockett was gasping and thrashing against his restraints. The controversial case led the state put executions on hold pending a review. [The Associated Press]


U.N. condemns capture of Golan Heights peacekeepers

The United Nations Security Council on Thursday demanded the release of 43 peacekeepers detained by militants on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights. The office of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said another 81 peacekeepers were trapped in a "period of increased fighting between armed elements and the Syrian Arab Armed Forces." The captured troops were from Fiji; the contingent whose movement was restricted was from the Philippines. [Aljazeera]


Malaysia Airlines announces layoffs

Malaysia Airlines unveiled a restructuring plan on Friday that includes cutting 6,000 jobs, or about 30 percent of its work force. The state-controlled company also will receive a nearly $2 billion bailout from the Malaysian government. The carrier had already been through several years of losses when it was hit this year with two disasters — the disappearance of Flight 370 over the Indian Ocean in March and the shooting down of Flight 17 in eastern Ukraine in July. [The New York Times]


NFL unveils tougher rules on domestic violence cases

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced new rules for handling domestic violence and sexual assault cases on Thursday. Players will be suspended without pay for six games for a first offense, and banished from the professional football league for a second offense. The change came a month after the league was criticized for suspending Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice for just two games after his arrest on domestic violence charges. "We have to do better," Goodell said in a letter to team owners. [NPR]


Pennsylvania signs on for Medicaid expansion

Pennsylvania reached a deal with the Obama administration on Thursday to expand Medicare to as many as 600,000 low-income people in the state. The deal made Pennsylvania the 27th state to accept federal money to expand Medicaid under ObamaCare. The state's governor, Tom Corbett, became the ninth Republican governor to sign on to the program, which the national GOP opposes. Corbett is trailing Democratic challenger Tom Wolf by 25 percentage points in polls in his fall reelection bid. [CNBC]


Pitt and Jolie get married

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie got married Saturday in a ceremony at their French chateau that was so private that the news only got out on Thursday. A small group of family and friends attended. Even Jolie's father, actor Jon Voigt, had no idea until a spokesman for the Hollywood power couple made the announcement. Angelina's eldest sons, Maddox and Pax, walked her down the aisle, while Zahara and Vivienne threw flower petals and Shiloh and Knox carried the rings. [Philadelphia Daily News]

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