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10 things you need to know today: July 28, 2014
Violence declines under Palestinian-Israeli truce, Congress reaches a deal on veterans' health care, and more
 
Palestinian girls celebrate the beginning of Eid al-Fitr, the festival to end Ramadan.
Palestinian girls celebrate the beginning of Eid al-Fitr, the festival to end Ramadan. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

1. Strikes ease under Palestinian-Israelis humanitarian truce
Israeli airstrikes and Palestinian rocket fire declined sharply on Monday as a humanitarian cease-fire took hold at the start of Eid al-Fitr, the three-day Muslim holiday marking the end of Ramadan. Hamas said it wanted a 24-hour truce. Israel said it would respect "an unlimited truce" but would respond to any attack. Palestinian health officials said the death toll in the Gaza Strip had reached 1,032, most of them civilians. [The Wall Street Journal]

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2. Politicians agree on a plan to improve veteran health care
The leaders of veterans' affairs committees in the House and Senate reached a deal to fix the health-care system for the nation's veterans. The Veterans Affairs Department has been gripped by scandal for months since reports surfaced of patients waiting months for care at VA facilities and attempts to cover up the failings. VA committee leaders scheduled a 1:30 p.m. news conference Monday to announce their proposal. [Bloomberg News]

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3. Ukrainian separatists agree to let Malaysian investigators see crash site
Ukrainian troops launched an offensive to retake the area where Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 went down, stalling international investigators' efforts to reach the site hours after Malaysia reached a deal with pro-Russian separatists to let 68 Malaysian police officers visit the site. Officials in Australia and the Netherlands, where some of the victims were from, also plan to send officers. [The New York Times]

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4. Judge overturns Washington, D.C., handgun ban
A federal judge has ruled that Washington, D.C.'s ban on carrying handguns in public is unconstitutional. The overturning of the city's ban marked a setback for local politicians, who — faced with the nation's highest murder rate two decades ago — imposed gun laws once seen as some of the toughest in the country. City officials plan to ask for a stay while they decide whether to appeal. [Al Jazeera America]

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5. Liberia closes borders to keep Ebola from spreading
Liberia closed most of its border crossings on Sunday as part of a campaign to impede the spread of the deadly Ebola virus. Ebola has killed at least 660 people — including two Americans — in West Africa. Only Liberia's main entry points will remain open, and people there will be subject to inspections and testing. Ebola can kill 90 percent of those it strikes, but the current outbreak has killed about 60 percent. [Reuters, CBS News]

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6. Beach goers hit by lightning at Venice Beach, Calif.
A 20-year-old man was killed and nine other people were injured in a lightning strike at California's Venice Beach on Sunday. A witness said the jolt blasted roof tiles off nearby buildings. Around the time of the afternoon incident the National Weather Service tweeted a warning, urging people to stay indoors if they heard thunder. Three other people were injured by the same rare lightning storm elsewhere in Southern California. [Los Angeles Times]

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7. Washington says it has proof Russia is shooting at Ukraine
The U.S. released satellite images on Sunday indicating that Russia was shooting rockets and artillery at Ukrainian forces from across the border to support pro-Russian separatists. Secretary of State John Kerry spoke on the phone with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov about the need for an immediate cease-fire. Kerry also reportedly told Lavrov that Russia must stop shooting and sending weapons over the border. [The Washington Post]

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8. Man killed by plane crash-landing on Florida beach
A father walking with his daughter was killed on a Florida beach on Sunday when a single-engine plane crash-landed in the sand. The pilot and passenger in the 1972 Piper Cherokee sent a distress signal before bringing the plane down. Neither person on board was hurt as the plane came to a bumpy stop, but Ommy Irizarry, 36, of Georgia was killed, and his 9-year-old daughter, Oceana, was airlifted to a hospital in critical condition. [New York Daily News]

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9. Sarah Palin Channel launches online
Sarah Palin launched a subscription-based online video network — the Sarah Palin Channel — that she said would allow her to reach Americans while avoiding a "politically correct" media filter. "I want to talk directly to you on our channel on my terms," she said in a video greeting viewers, "and no need to please the powers that be." The site promises video chats, interviews, and clips from Palin's events. Access costs $9.95 per month. [MarketWatch]

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10. Vincenzo Nibali wins the Tour de France
Italy's Vincenzo Nibali won the Tour de France on Sunday. The 29-year-old Sicilian — who calls himself "a flag-bearer of anti-doping" — was the first Italian to win cycling's biggest race in 16 years. He won by picking up a second on his rivals wherever he could, then dominating in the grueling mountain phase, where he took three of the four stages he won in the tour. [CBS News]

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Harold Maass is a contributing editor at TheWeek.com. He has been writing for The Week since the 2001 launch of the U.S. print edition. Harold has worked for a variety of news outlets, including The Miami HeraldFox News, and ABC News.

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