Daily Briefing

10 things you need to know today: August 5, 2014

Harold Maass
A Palestinian flashes the victory sign in Gaza. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)
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Egypt's proposed three-day ceasefire begins in Gaza

Israel pulled its last troops out of the Gaza Strip early Tuesday just before a 72-hour truce began at 8 a.m. local time. The ceasefire between Israel and Hamas was proposed by Egypt, which plans to broker indirect talks in an attempt to end a month of bitter fighting. "It's clear now that the interest of all parties is to have a ceasefire," said Bassam Salhi, a member of the Palestinian delegation in Egypt. [Los Angeles Times]


Second aid worker stricken with Ebola returns from Liberia

A second American Ebola patient, Nancy Writebol, was flown out of Liberia on Tuesday to continue her treatment in the U.S. Writebol, like her fellow aid worker Dr. Kent Brantly, has improved after receiving an experimental serum that previously had been tested only in monkeys. Both were helping patients stricken in West Africa's Ebola outbreak, the worst ever recorded. [Reuters]


Toledo tap water is declared safe again

Health officials declared Toledo's drinking water to be safe again on Monday, after more than 400,000 people were warned not to drink the Ohio city's tap water for two days. Scientists said, however, that the algae blooms that released harmful toxins into the water were likely to persist in Lake Erie, and possibly even get worse. Officials are adding chlorine and activated carbons to the water to keep it safe. [NBC News]


Judge calls Alabama restrictions on abortion clinics unconstitutional

A federal judge ruled that an Alabama law requiring doctors at abortion clinics to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals was unconstitutional, because it could interfere with a woman's right to have an abortion. Supporters of the law said their aim was to make clinics safer. The judge, Myron Thompson, said the law would result in the closing of three of the state's five abortion clinics. [Montgomery Advertiser]


Obama starts "unprecedented" meeting with African leaders

President Obama is expected to announce Tuesday that U.S. businesses have committed to investing $14 billion in construction, banking, clean energy, and other projects across Africa. The news comes on the second day of what Obama called "an unprecedented gathering of African leaders" his administration is hosting on issues from food security to battling the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. [Reuters, Fox News]


U.S. closes emergency shelters for undocumented child immigrants

The government said Monday it would soon close three emergency shelters at military bases where about 7,700 children illegally crossing the Mexican border alone have been housed. By law, the government must hold unaccompanied children until a relative can be found to take them in pending a deportation hearing. More than 57,000 kids, mostly from Central America, have been caught since Oct. 1, but the flow is slowing. [The Associated Press]


A weakening Tropical Storm Bertha passes by the East Coast

Hurricane Bertha, the second named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season, weakened to tropical storm status overnight, with its top sustained winds dropping to 65 miles per hour. Bertha is expected to continue weakening as it passes between the East Coast and Bermuda on Tuesday. The storm poses no direct threat to the U.S., but it could cause potentially dangerous rip currents on the Jersey shore. [The Associated Press]


Europe commemorates the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I

Dignitaries attended commemorative services in the U.K. and Belgium on Monday to mark the 100th anniversary of the day Britain declared war on Germany, and entered World War I. The Rev. Dr. Laurence Whitley said at Glasgow Cathedral that the start of the war was a day when the world changed. "Our nations and peoples found themselves in a war the like of which had never before been seen," he said, "and the memory of which still haunts us all." [ABC.net.au]


Scrabble catches up with the times

Scrabble's ultimate arbiter — Merriam Webster — is updating the classic word game with 5,000 new terms, including many of the trendiest words in pop culture. "Chillax," "bromance," "selfie," "frenemy," "buzzkill" — will all be fair game when the new Merriam-Webster's Official Scrabble Players Dictionary hits stores August 11. "These are words that have become part of the culture," says Peter Sokolowski, editor at large for Merriam-Webster. [New York Daily News]


Former Reagan press secretary James Brady dies

Former White House press secretary James Brady, who suffered a gunshot to the head in the 1981 assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan, has died at age 73, his family said in a statement Monday. Brady was erroneously pronounced dead after his injury, which left him partially paralyzed. He became a leading advocate of gun control after his injury, helping to pass the landmark Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act — or the Brady Bill — in 1993. [Reuters]

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