10 things you need to know today: August 9, 2014

(Image credit: (AP Photo/U.S. Air Force, Staff Sgt. Vernon Young Jr.))

1. Obama addresses Iraq airstrikes as ISIS advances

President Barack Obama used his weekly Saturday address to describe the United States' military airstrikes and humanitarian airdrops in Iraq. "The United States can't just look away," he said, when "countless innocent people are facing a massacre." Obama authorized the use of airstrikes against ISIS targets on Thursday, and the U.S. has since sent two rounds aimed at stopping the militants' march toward Erbil, Iraq's Kurdish capital. The Sunni insurgents have continued their advance, though, forcing thousands of Iraqis to flee into the nearby mountains, reliant on aid drops for fresh water and food.

TheWeek.com The Wall Street Journal

2. Former Reagan press secretary James Brady's death ruled homicide

A medical examiner for the Northern District of Virginia on Friday ruled former press secretary James Brady's Monday death a homicide. John Hinckley, Jr. shot President Ronald Reagan, along with three others including Brady, on March 30, 1981. He has since been treated at St. Elizabeth's psychiatric hospital, after being found not guilty for the assassination attempt by reason of insanity. The shooting wounded Brady, who died on Monday at age 73, and left him partially paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair. The medical examiner determined that those injuries led to Brady's death, albeit 33 years later.

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The Washington Post NBC4 Washington

3. Afghanistan's presidential candidates pledge to honor audit

Following a contentious runoff vote in June, Afghanistan's rival presidential candidates finally agreed to honor — and speed along — an audit of more than eight million ballots on Friday. Former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah and former finance minister Ashraf Ghani are vying for leader of a country which should have instated its new president last weekend, but arguments between the candidates' camps and disruptions of the audit have pushed that timeline back. The United Nations, along with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, worked to broker the most recent agreement, which supersedes a previous truce that quickly stalled.

The Washington Post

4. Malaysia Airlines to be de-listed and taken private

Two high-profile disasters in less than five months, capped off by three straight years of losses for Malaysia Airlines prompted the Malaysian government to announce that the company will be de-listed and taken private on Friday. The move had been expected following the March 8 disappearance of Flight 370 and the July 17 shooting-down of Flight 17 over Ukraine. Khazanah Nasional, a state investment fund, proposed a $436 million buy-out of the airline's shares. The company said it expects to completely "overhaul" the airline. This will include eliminating popular routes, trimming payroll, and installing new management.


5. U.S. Ebola patient says he is 'growing stronger every day'

Dr. Kent Brantly wrote in a statement released by international relief agency Samaritan's Purse that he is "growing stronger every day," as doctors at Emory University Hospital treat him for the deadly Ebola virus. Brantly contracted Ebola while working in Liberia as part of a post-residency program. He has been in the United States receiving treatment for a week. The World Health Organization declared the Ebola outbreak an international health emergency on Friday. More than 900 people in West Africa have died from the virus so far.


6. State Attorneys General implore FDA to regulate e-cigarettes

A group of 29 state attorneys general sent a letter to the Food and Drug Administration, requesting that e-cigarettes be regulated the same as traditional cigarettes. "E-cigarettes have all the addictive qualities of regular, combustible cigarettes," New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman said. "Each year, electronic cigarette companies spend millions of dollars advertising their product…glamorizing smoking in the same way combustible cigarettes did before these commercials were banned." Courts have struck down previous attempts by the FDA to regulate e-cigs, which come in thousands of flavors and are sold everywhere from corner stores to the internet.


7. Facebook purchases cybersecurity firm

Facebook announced on Thursday that it has acquired cybersecurity firm PrivateCore, although terms of the deal were not released. The Palo, Alto-based startup uses "vCage technology" to protect servers from malware and other malicious hardware devices. "I've seen how much people care about the security of data they entrust to services like Facebook," Joe Sullivan, Facebook's chief security officer, wrote in a post announcing the acquisition.


8. Congress adds $20 billion in extra projects to military budget

Congress added more than 300 glorified earmarks to the current defense spending bill, tacking on an additional $20 billion in costs for projects such as cancer research at historically black colleges and informing troops of the gym locations on military bases. The Pentagon did not request the additions, as the U.S. already spends more on war and defense than the next eight nations combined. American military spending totaled about $718 billion in 2013.

The Washington Times

9. Judge rules against NCAA in O'Bannon case

U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken ruled on Friday in favor of Ed O'Bannon and 19 others in a lawsuit claiming the NCAA had violated antitrust law by not allowing athletes to be paid for their names, images, and likenesses. The decision is a victory for Football Bowl Subdivision and Division I men's basketball players in the sense that they can now receive up to $5,000 a year in compensation for their role in the NCAA's live television broadcasts. And, Wilken determined the NCAA's arguments that it was not a monopoly and that payments to players were unreasonable based on the definition of amateurism did not hold — "that could haunt the NCAA in other litigation," ESPN's Lester Munson says.

The Associated Press ESPN

10. Giant, newly discovered jellyfish species baffles scientists

Researchers caught a new species of jellyfish off Australia's northwest coast in 2013, and nearly a year later, the find still has the scientists flummoxed. The Keesingia gigas is a type of Irukandji jellyfish, but unlike its tiny cousins, this jellyfish is about the length of a human arm. It carries fatal venom, which can cause pain, nausea, and even heart failure. What Keesingia gigas does not appear to have is tentacles, and that's stumping Lisa-ann Gershwin. "Jellyfish always have tentacles…that's how they catch their food," the director of Australia's Marine Stinger Advisory Services said. "I just don't know what it is."

The Guardian

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