Daily Briefing

10 things you need to know today: July 26, 2014

Sarah Eberspacher
Gaza residents are using the short cease-fire to salvage what belongings are left. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
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Israel, Hamas enter 12-hour cease-fire as death toll passes 1,000

Gaza residents are taking advantage of today’s 12-hour humanitarian cease-fire to gather supplies, inspect damaged homes, and recover bodies from the rubble. Israeli forces are continuing to search for Hamas-built tunnels; meanwhile, the Palestinian health ministry reported that the death toll has passed 1,000. The lull in fighting comes less than a day after Israeli cabinet members "unanimously rejected" U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s week-long cease-fire proposal. [The Associated Press, NPR]


U.S. embassy in Libya evacuates staff

The State Department evacuated its staff from the U.S. embassy in Libya today due to "the ongoing violence resulting from clashes between Libyan militias." The embassy, located in Tripoli, was already running with very few staff members. Heavily armed Marines drove the remaining personnel to Tunisia early this morning, with air support in the form of two American F-16 fighter jets, along with several unmanned drones. In addition to evacuating the embassy, the State Department issued a travel warning, urging U.S. nationals not to enter the country, and those already in Libya to depart. [BBC News, NBC News]


Russia reportedly firing across border on Ukrainian forces

Russia is carrying out artillery attacks on Ukrainian soldiers and gathering more sophisticated weaponry along its side of the border, likely to be used by separatist insurgents in the neighboring country, according to reports from Ukrainian and American officials. As the Ukrainian military has made inroads on retaking militant-controlled areas of the country in the last few weeks, Moscow has answered with drone attacks and the sending of more high-powered weaponry, such as tanks and rocket launchers, to Pro-Russia separatists. American officials say the attacks are likely meant to keep Ukrainian soldiers away from the border, which then clears the way for Russia to interact freely with the militants. [The New York Times]


Iran confirms arrest of four journalists

Iran confirmed the arrest of Jason Rezaian, a correspondent for The Washington Post, on Friday. Rezaian, 38, is a U.S.-Iranian dual national. He was reportedly detained on Tuesday, along with his Iranian wife, Yeganeh Salehi, who works as a correspondent for the National, a United Arab Emirates-based newspaper. Two other American citizens working as photojournalists were also detained with the couple, according to Gholam-Hossein Esmaili, director general of the Tehran Province Justice Department. The reason for the reporters' arrest is unknown, and because the U.S. and Iran do not have a formal diplomatic relationship, negotiating a release may be difficult. [The Washington Post]


Australia, Netherlands to send police to Flight 17 crash site

Both Australia and the Netherlands are negotiating with Ukraine to send dozens of police to the debris field from downed Flight MH17. The Netherlands, which lost 193 citizens to last week's tragedy, hopes to send 40 unarmed military police, while Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said he intends to send an additional 100 Federal Police, to bolster 90 Defense Force troops already on the ground. Both countries' decisions come following a week in which Russian-backed separatists, blamed for shooting down the jetliner, first tampered with and then impeded Ukrainian officials' attempts to secure the crash site. [NPR]


Bose files lawsuit against Beats over headphone patents

Less than three months after Apple agreed to buy Beats Electronics for $3 million (that deal is pending regulatory approval), Bose is suing Beats for what it claims are five different patent violations. Bose filed the lawsuit in a U.S. District Court in Delaware on Friday, claiming Beats' Studio noise-canceling headphones are in patent violation for use of technologies such as "dynamically configurable ANR filter block technology." Bose is seeking an award for damages, along with an injunction to stop Beats from selling the headphones. [Time]


Emergency contraceptives still effective for overweight women

The European Medicines Agency announced that Norlevo, a European drug "identical" to Plan B One-Step, would be an effective emergency contraceptive even for heavier women after all. The new report came after the EMA warned last fall that Norlevo might not work as well for women with BMIs over 25. The agency now says there "isn't enough data to support the previous warning to women about weight." The U.S. Food and Drug Administration had not issued any similar warnings about Plan B's effectiveness. [Time]


Pope Francis reportedly plans visit to United States in 2015

Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Caput told mass attendees at a Thursday mass in Fargo, North Dakota, that Pope Francis has accepted an invitation to attend next September's World Meeting of Families, to be held in Philadelphia. "Pope Francis has told me that he is coming," the archbishop said, although the Philadelphia Archdiocese subsequently released a press release noting that the Vatican has not officially accepted the invitation, and probably will not do so until about six months before the event. Still, a spokesman for the Vatican said that Pope Francis is interested in making a trip to the U.S., and that he is also considering invitations from other cities. [Catholic News Service]


New study shows Tylenol does not help ease back pain

Researchers published a new study which shows Tylenol and similar forms of acetaminophen may be no more effective than a placebo at treating back pain. Participants divided into three groups all reported similar variation in pain and recovery time, regardless of whether they were taking acetaminophen or a placebo. And, 75 percent of the participants reported being satisfied with their treatment results — including those given placebos. [Time, The Lancet]


Russians lose control of gecko-filled satellite

Russian scientists sent a satellite filled with geckos into space on July 19, with the hopes of studying "the effects of weightlessness on lizard mating." The geckos apparently put out a "do not disturb" sign, though, because Russian space firm Progress reported on Thursday that the scientists have lost control of the satellite, which is currently set to autopilot. While the scientists can still watch videos of the on-the-lam subjects, Progress said the satellite is not yet "responding to commands." [Al Jazeera America]

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