Daily Briefing

10 things you need to know today: August 7, 2014

Harold Maass
A map of global health issues at the CDC's Emergency Operations Center.  (AP Photo/David Goldman)
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CDC raises its alert level over Ebola

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday declared its highest state of alert over the Ebola outbreak that has killed 932 people in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, and Guinea. The move will allow the CDC to deploy dozens more staff to West Africa, and indicates that the agency believes the crisis — the worst Ebola outbreak ever — could continue for a long time. [NBC News]


Israel proposes extending its three-day truce in the Gaza Strip

Israel has offered to extend its three-day Gaza cease-fire with Hamas, which held as it entered its final day on Thursday. Hamas, which controls Gaza, did not immediately comment on the proposal. Indirect talks are continuing in Egypt, but no agreement has been reached on permanently ending the month-long conflict, which has killed more than 1,800 Palestinians and 67 Israelis. [BBC News]


Hurricane warning declared in Hawaii as two storms approach

Hawaii is bracing for a rare double blast of hurricanes, with Hurricane Iselle — Hawaii's first hurricane in 22 years — expected to hit on Thursday night. Hurricane Julio is due a few days later. Hawaii County was placed under a hurricane warning on Wednesday. "The surfers get excited about these storms, but everyone else is freaking out," said Chris Owens, owner of East Side Builders. Both storms were expected to weaken before landfall. [CNN]


Khmer Rouge leaders sentenced to life for crimes against humanity

A United Nations-backed war crimes tribunal in Cambodia sentenced two former Khmer Rouge leaders to life in prison on Thursday for their part in the "killing fields" of the 1970s. "Brother Number Two" Nuon Chea and ex-president Khieu Samphan were found guilty of crimes against humanity for their complicity in forced evacuations and executions during the Khmer Rouge regime's ultra-Maoist revolution, which roughly two million people died. [NBC News]


Russia bans U.S. and European food imports in response to sanctions

Russia raised the stakes in the diplomatic war over the Ukraine crisis, banning food imports from the United States, and fruit and vegetables purchases from Europe, the state news agency reported on Wednesday. Moscow is responding to intensifying Western sanctions imposed as punishment for Russia's support for Ukrainian separatists. Fighting in Ukraine has escalated in the three weeks since a Malaysian airliner was shot down over rebel territory. [Reuters]


Bank of America agrees to record $16 billion settlement

Bank of America has tentatively agreed to a settlement worth more than $16 billion to put an end to investigations into its sale of toxic mortgage assets. If the deal is finalized, it will be the largest federal settlement ever for a U.S. corporation. Bank of America had been sticking to much lower offers, but it lost considerable leverage last week when a judge ordered it to pay $1.3 billion for selling defective loans. [The New York Times]


Iraqis stranded on northern mountain by Islamist extremist fighters

Islamic State in Iraq and Syria fighters have trapped 40,000 members of Iraqi minority groups on Mount Sinjar, the United Nations and human rights groups said Wednesday. Some of the people who fled into the mountains ahead of an Islamic State advance reportedly have died of thirst and starvation. The embattled Iraqi government made two air drops to the refugees on Wednesday, but activist said they weren't nearly enough. [The Telegraph, The Washington Post]


Walgreens abandons plan to trim taxes by moving operations abroad

Walgreens, the largest U.S. drugstore chain, said Wednesday that it was dropping a proposal to cut its tax bill by reorganizing overseas. The company had faced a backlash over the move, and said in a statement that the public reaction had something to do with its decision. Walgreens said in a statement that it had changed its mind partly out of recognition of its "unique role as an iconic American" store. [The Associated Presss]


Rosetta spacecraft pulls up close to comet

The European Space Agency's Rosetta spacecraft got the first extended up-close look at a comet on Wednesday after a 10-year, four-billion-mile chase. In November, Rosetta's 220-pound lander is scheduled to touch down on its target — Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko — in what will be the first soft landing on a comet. [The New York Times]


Phelps bombs out in 100-meter freestyle final

Michael Phelps finished a distant seventh in the 100-meter freestyle final at the U.S. Nationals on Wednesday. The swimming superstar did his comeback bid no favors in the race, losing momentum when he barely touched the wall in the turn at 50 meters. Still, rivals aren't counting Phelps out. "It's always scary," Olympic backstroke champion Matt Grevers said. "You can never doubt him." [Chicago Tribune]

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