Daily Briefing

10 things you need to know today: August 2, 2014

Sarah Eberspacher
An Israeli soldier went missing during fighting in the Gaza Strip on Friday. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
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1.

Hamas denies kidnapping Israeli soldier

The Qassam Brigades, Hamas' armed wing, released a statement early this morning saying the Islamist Palestinian faction is not responsible for the Friday disappearance of an Israeli officer. "Until now, we have no idea about the disappearance of the Israeli soldier," the statement read. "We do not know his whereabouts or the conditions of his disappearance." A spokesman for the Israeli military refuted the statement, saying that the search for Second Lt. Hadar Goldin is ongoing and that Hamas is responsible for the abduction.

2.

WHO warns Ebola outbreak moving too fast to control

An Ebola outbreak that has spread to three African capitals — a historical first — is moving more quickly than doctors can control, the World Health Organization warned on Friday. More than 700 people have died in the outbreak so far, and the fatality rate has hovered around 60 percent. WHO said it plans to deliver $100 million in funding to health care workers. "Constant mutation and adaptation are the survival mechanisms of viruses and other microbes," Dr. Margaret Chan, director-general of the WHO, said. "We must not give this virus opportunities to deliver more surprises."

3.

The U.S. economy added 209,000 jobs in July

The U.S. economy added 209,000 jobs in July, less than the 298,000 created in June, but still significantly more than July 2013's numbers, which were below 150,000. The July numbers marked the first time since 1997 that the economy added at least 200,000 jobs for six straight months. Unemployment rose back to 6.2 percent, but the overall figures were still relatively positive, as they demonstrate an economy continuing to recover in spite of the Fed's taper and ongoing geopolitical turmoil.

4.

Uganda court throws out anti-gay law

A strict anti-homosexuality law in Uganda that was signed into law by President Yoweri Museveni in February was overturned on Friday by the country's constitutional court. The "Anti-Homosexuality Act" sentenced those found guilty of "aggravated homosexuality" to life in prison. While it received widespread support in religiously conservative Uganda, many Western countries withheld aid in response to the law's passing - problematic for a country that relies on aid for about 20 percent of its budget. The new ruling could still be appealed.

5.

American tourists detained in North Korea ask the U.S. for help

Two American tourists who have been detained in North Korea for more than three months are asking the U.S. government for help in avoiding prison sentences. Charged with "anti-state" crimes, Jeffrey Edward Fowle allegedly left a bible in a nightclub, although his family said he was not in the country on a church mission; Matthew Todd Miller's alleged crime is less clear. A specific court date has yet to be set, but both men said they expect to be tried soon. "I don't know what the worst-case scenario would be, but I need help to extricate myself from this situation," Fowle said.

6.

ObamaCare support hits all-time low

A new poll from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation shows a majority of Americans are unsatisfied with ObamaCare. In July, 53 percent of those polled had a negative opinion of the Affordable Care Act, which is up eight percent from June and marks an all-time high disapproval rating since the law was created. In addition to the disapproval numbers, 56 percent of those polled said they were not directly affected by ObamaCare, while 28 percent polled said the ACA had harmed them or their family.

7.

Obama, Putin speak for first time since new round of sanctions

Following a new round of economic sanctions slapped on Moscow, President Barack Obama called Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday to again voice his concern at ongoing aggression toward neighboring Ukraine. Russia has amassed at least 12,000 troops near the Ukrainian border, and the White House has accused Russia of sending artillery and rocket fire into Ukraine. Moscow said Putin found the conversation counterproductive, because the new sanctions would affect Russia's ability to cooperate internationally and help create global stability.

8.

Taiwan gas blasts leave at least 25 dead

At least 25 people are dead and more than 260 are injured following a series of gas explosions in Taiwan on Thursday night. Officials said ruptured pipelines caused the blasts, although they are unclear on what prompted the ruptured pipelines. Firefighters are still searching the rubble for additional victims, and the local government had set up an emergency response center for people trying to find relatives. "It felt like an earthquake," one witness said.

9.

Florida judge orders redrawing of congressional map

Florida Judicial Circuit Judge Terry P. Lewis said lawmakers were making a "mockery" of a voter-approved anti-gerrymandering amendment in their attempts to submit a congressional map that divides the voting boundaries for two congressional seats. He ordered them to submit a new map within two weeks, lest the legislature delay upcoming November elections. Top Republican lawmakers had fought to keep the current map until after this election cycle, but Judge Lewis wrote in his ruling that doing so would deprive voters of "the equal right of having a say in who represents their interests in Congress for two years."

10.

Pacers' Paul George suffers leg injury in Team USA scrimmage

Friday night's Team USA scrimmage ended in one of the worst possible ways. As the Indiana Pacers' Paul George chased down James Harden, he instead slid past the opposing player, slamming into the base of the basket and snapping his leg sideways. Following a late-night surgery to repair the open tibia-fibula fracture, sources began reporting that George will likely miss the entire 2014-15 season. George led the Pacers to the conference finals last season, averaging 21.7 points and 6.8 rebounds, and he was considered likely to land on Team USA's final roster for the FIBA World Cup, which starts later this month.