Daily Briefing

10 things you need to know today: August 21, 2014

Harold Maass
Holder meets with Captain Ron Johnson in Ferguson. (Getty Images)
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Obama vows justice for James Foley

President Obama on Wednesday called the beheading of freelance journalist James Foley by an Islamic State (ISIS) terrorist "an act of violence that shocks the conscience of the entire world," and vowed "to see that justice is done." The White House confirmed the authenticity of an online video clip showing the murder. The Pentagon said U.S. commandos had tried this summer to rescue Foley and other journalists kidnapped in Syria. [Los Angeles Times, ABC News]


Holder arrives in Ferguson promising a fair investigation of Brown shooting

Attorney General Eric Holder arrived Wednesday in Ferguson, Missouri, and promised a fair investigation of the killing of unarmed black teen Michael Brown by a white police officer. The shooting set off 12 days of racially charged protests, both peaceful and violent. A St. Louis County grand jury began hearing evidence in the case on Wednesday. Demonstrators outside the county justice building called for the appointment of a special prosecutor. [The Christian Science Monitor]


Justices block gay marriages in Virginia until a final ruling on the state's ban

The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday stayed an appeals court ruling striking down Virginia's same-sex marriage ban. The decision came less than 24 hours before gay and lesbian couples would have been able to start applying for marriage licenses. The ruling has no effect on the outcome of the case, but, like a similar order delaying gay marriages in Utah, it blocks gay marriages until all appeals are exhausted. [Reuters]


Soldiers and residents clash after Liberia slum quarantined over Ebola

Liberia quarantined a Monrovia slum known as West Point to contain the Ebola outbreak, triggering violent clashes with angry residents. Hundreds of men charged barbed-wire barricades in an attempt to break out. Soldiers responded by shooting live rounds to keep the neighborhood's 50,000 residents inside. The outbreak in West Africa — the worst ever — has killed at least 1,350 people. [The New York Times]


Fed hints it might let interest rates rise sooner than anticipated

Minutes from the Federal Reserve's latest policy meeting suggest the central bank is considering raising interest rates sooner than expected due to improving jobs data and rising inflation, which is nearing the Fed's two-percent target. The minutes, released Wednesday, indicated that the Fed's leaders remain divided, but acknowledge that pressure is rising to let rates rise. "Change is in the air," one analyst said. [Los Angeles Times]


Tsarnaev friend plans to plead guilty to obstruction of justice

A friend of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzokhar Tsarnaev plans to plead guilty to obstruction of justice charges, the man's attorney said Wednesday. Dias Kadyrbayev is accused of removing a backpack, which contained fireworks, and a computer from Tsarnaev's dorm room after the 2013 bombing, which killed three people and wounded more than 200. The lawyer, Robert Stahl, said Kadyrbayev would make the plea change Thursday. [CNN]


Perry pleads not guilty to abuse-of-power charges

Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) pleaded not guilty to charges that he abused his power by vetoing funding for anti-corruption prosecutors, according to court documents posted online Wednesday. A grand jury indicted Perry for allegedly using the veto to try to force out a Democratic prosecutor in charge of the anti-corruption unit after she resisted his call to resign after her conviction for drunken driving. [Austin American-Statesman]


Gaza airstrike kills three Hamas commanders

An Israeli airstrike killed three senior Hamas military commanders in the Gaza Strip on Thursday as hostilities intensified following the unraveling of a cease-fire and peace talks. The commanders — Mohammed Abu Shamala, Mohammed Barhoum, and Raed al-Attar — died in a blast that killed six people in the town of Rafah. Israel said Palestinian militants had fired 213 rockets into Israel since the talks collapsed Tuesday. [BBC News]


SeaWorld agrees to stop putting trainers in the water at killer whale shows

SeaWorld has decided not to appeal a ruling ordering it to stop putting trainers in the water during its killer whale shows. A federal appeals court in April upheld a citation by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration accusing SeaWorld of putting the trainers in danger. OSHA spent six months investigating the theme parks after the 2010 death of Orlando trainer Dawn Brancheau, who was killed by an orca. [Orlando Sentinel]


In ice-bucket challenge video, ex-pro football player reveals he has ALS

Former Tennessee Titans linebacker Tim Shaw revealed Wednesday that he has ALS in a video showing him taking the ice-bucket challenge to raise money for research of the incurable and fatal neurodegenerative disease. The challenge has gone viral, with celebrities from former president George W. Bush to NBA star LeBron James dousing themselves with ice water to raise awareness about ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. [Reuters]