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10 things you need to know today: August 8, 2014

Harold Maass
Obama authorizes limited airstrikes against ISIS. Getty Images
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Obama authorizes limited airstrikes and humanitarian airdrops in northern Iraq

President Obama on Thursday authorized limited airstrikes against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria insurgents in northern Iraq. Obama also announced airdrops of food and water to members of the Yazidi religious minority trapped on top of a mountain by extremists. The first supply drop took place on Thursday. The air strikes will be used if insurgents try to take the mountain or advance on Irbil, the Kurdish region's capital and site of a U.S. Consulate. [USA Today]


Israel says Hamas violated cease-fire in final hours

The Israeli military accused Hamas of firing two rockets from Gaza into southern Israel four hours before the Friday morning end of a three-day cease-fire, which Israel had offered to extend "indefinitely." Israel responded with renewed air strikes. Palestinian negotiators in Egypt said Israel was stalling long-term peace talks by refusing to discuss Palestinian demands, and that they would not extend the truce "if Israel continues its procrastination." [The Telegraph, BBC News]


Sen. Lamar Alexander survives his primary

Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander on Thursday became the latest mainstream Republican incumbent to fend off a challenge from Tea Party-backed candidates. Alexander had 50 percent of the vote with 85 percent of precincts in; the strongest of his six rivals had 40 percent. If Wyoming Sen. Michael Enzi — whose main rival, Liz Cheney, has dropped out — wins as expected later this month, every GOP Senate incumbent will have survived the primaries. [Politico]


Relief official says Ebola's toll is higher than reported

An official with the relief organization Samaritan's Purse told members of Congress on Thursday that the Ebola outbreak in West Africa — the deadliest in history — is even worse than has been reported. The World Health Organization, which declared the Ebola crisis an international public health emergency on Friday, says 932 people have been killed, but Samaritan's Purse Vice President Ken Isaacs said that was up to 50 percent below the actual toll. [McClatchy, The Associated Press]


Moscow extends Snowden's asylum for three more years

Russia gave fugitive National Security Agency whistle-blower Edward Snowden's three more years of temporary residency on Thursday. Moscow initially gave Snowden, who leaked piles of classified documents on NSA internet and phone spying, temporary asylum for just a year after he got stuck there while fleeing espionage charges in the U.S. The move marked the latest sign of deteriorating relations between Russia and the U.S. [The Washington Post]


Iselle is downgraded to a tropical storm as it hits Hawaii

Hurricane Iselle was downgraded to tropical storm status early Friday as it hit Hawaii's Big Island with heavy rains, high surf, and maximum sustained winds of 70 miles per hour. Iselle was the first tropical system to hit Hawaii since Hurricane Iniki, a devastating Category 4 storm, in 1992. To the east, Hurricane Julio gained strength, with top sustained winds of 120 mph. It was expected to pass slightly north of Hawaii by late Monday. [Reuters]


Obama signs bill aiming to improve health care for veterans

President Obama on Thursday signed a bill aiming to address the crisis over veterans' health care. The legislation earmarks $16.3 billion to improve care at Veterans Affairs facilities, including $5 billion for the VA to hire more doctors and nurses, and $10 billion to allow patients unable to get appointments at a VA facility to get care elsewhere. The bill easily passed both houses of Congress. []


NOAA says a mild hurricane season appears more likely

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on Thursday revised its forecast for the 2014 Atlantic hurricane season, saying it now appeared more likely that it would be relatively mild. Initially, NOAA said there was a 50 percent chance the season would be less active than normal (three to six hurricanes); now it puts the probability at 75 percent. There have been just two named storms so far. [NOAA]


Remains of nine Jonestown Massacre victims found after 35 years

More than 35 years after the Jonestown Massacre in Guyana, the cremated remains of nine of the roughly 900 victims have been found in a former funeral home building in Delaware. The remains were clearly marked. Many of the people who died in the tragedy were forced to drink grape punch laced with cyanide. Kimberly Chandler of the Delaware Division of Forensic Science said it was "simply a case of unclaimed cremains at a closed funeral home." [The Associated Press]


U.S. soccer scoring leader Landon Donovan retires

Soccer superstar Landon Donovan is retiring at the end of the 2014 Major League Soccer season. Donovan, 32, played in three World Cups for the United States before being cut from the final roster before this summer's tournament in Brazil. He was also a six-time member of MLS' Best XI squad, and the all-time U.S. World Cup scoring leader, as well as the all-time MLS leading scorer.


  [USA Today]

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