Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: September 3, 2014


ISIS video shows beheading of a second U.S. reporter

The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) released a video Tuesday showing the apparent beheading of American freelance journalist Steven Sotloff, who was kidnapped in Syria in August 2013 and appeared in the video of fellow American journalist James Foley's murder last month. In the new clip, verified as authentic by U.S. intelligence, a masked figure said the killing was in retaliation for the U.S. air campaign against ISIS in Iraq. President Obama said Wednesday that the U.S. would "not be intimidated" by ISIS' acts of "barbarism."


Ukraine announces a long-term truce, then retracts it

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on Wednesday unexpectedly announced a "lasting cease-fire" in eastern Ukraine — then promptly retracted. Poroshenko made the premature announcement after speaking by telephone with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Russian leader, however, denies any involvement in the conflict, and his office said he and Poroshenko had merely agreed on steps needed for peace. Pro-Russian separatists said they had not yet agreed to any cease-fire.


The Ebola outbreak is nearly out of control, CDC director says

The number of Ebola cases in West Africa is increasing faster than once feared, and the outbreak could soon spread out of control, Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, warned Tuesday. "There is a window of opportunity to tamp this down," said Frieden after returning from a week in affected areas, "but that window is closing — we need action now to scale up the response." So far at least 3,069 people have been stricken with Ebola, and 1,552 have died.


Iraqi military families shut down parliament demanding answers

Relatives of Iraqi soldiers stormed parliament and shut it down on Tuesday, demanding information on the fate of members of the military who were at a base overrun by Islamist State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) fighters in June. The families have been protesting outside Baghdad's heavily fortified International Zone, also known as the Green Zone, for weeks. ISIS reportedly massacred soldiers at the base near Tikrit in what has been described as one of the worst atrocities of the Islamist extremist group's recent offensive.


Home Depot investigates report of a massive security breach

Home Depot announced Tuesday that it was investigating a possible security breach involving customer credit and debit card information. The announcement came after independent security investigator Brian Krebs reported that a "massive" trove of stolen card data had been posted for sale online, and that several banks had indicated the source might be Home Depot. Krebs said the hacking might have started as early as May, which could make the breach even bigger than a similar one at Target last year.


Obama sends 350 more military personnel to Iraq

President Obama announced Tuesday that he is sending 350 more U.S. soldiers to Iraq as that country's military struggles to contain an offensive by Islamic State (ISIS) fighters. The reinforcements will help protect U.S. diplomatic facilities and workers in Baghdad. As of mid-August, there were another 1,000 American military personnel in the country assessing the situation and advising Iraqi security forces on countering ISIS attacks.


DNA evidence clears N.C. inmates after 31 years

Citing DNA evidence, a North Carolina judge declared two half-brothers, Henry McCollum and Leon Brown, innocent 31 years after they were convicted for the 1983 rape and brutal murder of an 11-year-old girl, Sabrina Buie. Both men have IQs in the 50s and 60s, and said their confessions were coerced. The case was notorious — Justice Antonin Scalia once cited McCollum to support lethal injection. Later, though, DNA evidence on a cigarette butt found near the crime scene was linked to a convicted sexual predator who lived a block from where Buie's body was found.


Apple denies hackers got nude photos through an iCloud security breach

Apple said Tuesday that the leak of nude photos of Jennifer Lawrence and other women celebrities was not the result of a breach of its systems, such as iCloud or Find my iPhone. Instead, the company said, its engineers determined in more than 40 hours of internal investigation "certain celebrity accounts were compromised by a very targeted attack on user names, passwords, and security questions, a practice that has become all too common on the Internet." The FBI also is investigating.


Cantor starts his post-congressional career at a Wall Street bank

Former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor has landed his first post-congressional job. A Wall Street investment bank, Moelis & Company, announced Tuesday that it had hired the Virginia Republican as vice chairman and managing director. Cantor was stunningly defeated in a June primary by Tea Party challenger Dave Brat, an economics professor. In his new career, Cantor will make at least $1.2 million in salary and $400,000 in restricted stock next year. As majority leader he made $193,400.


Michael Sam gets a shot at joining the Cowboys' practice squad

Michael Sam is scheduled to take a physical on Wednesday for the Dallas Cowboys, and if he passes, the team is expected to sign him to its practice squad — which is not the same as making the team roster. Sam was on his way to becoming the first openly gay player in the NFL, but the St. Louis Rams, which drafted him in the seventh round, cut him on Sunday. Sam, a defensive end, got a shot in Dallas after rookie defensive end, DeMarcus Lawrence, was sidelined after surgery on a broken foot.


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Fidel Castro.
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