Daily Briefing

10 things you need to know today: July 29, 2015

Harold Maass
Mullah Omar, the Taliban leader, is dead, according to Afghan officials
Getty Images
Our '10 things you need to
know' newsletter
Your free email newsletter subscription is confirmed. Thank you for subscribing!


Spy Jonathan Pollard to be released on parole

The United States Parole Commission announced Tuesday that Jonathan Pollard, who has served 30 years of a life sentence for spying for Israel, will be released before Thanksgiving. Pollard, who was a Navy intelligence analyst, was convicted of passing classified materials to Israel. The government for the first time did not oppose his parole. "Thank God," Pollard, 60, said, according to one of his lawyers. "Right now, after many, many years of hoping for this day, we are going to sit back and celebrate." [The New York Times]


Taliban leader Mullah Omar is reportedly dead

Afghan officials said Wednesday that Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar is dead. The reclusive leader, who has not been seen in public since the U.S. and its allies ousted the Taliban government following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, died two or three years ago, according to Afghan and intelligence sources. There have been several previous reports of his death, but this is the first confirmed by top government sources. A source told Pakistan's Express Tribune the cause of death was tuberculosis. The official line from the Afghan government is that they are still investigating claims of Omar's death. [BBC News, The Express Tribune]


Migrant dies as 1,500 try to rush into Eurotunnel to Britain

A Sudanese man died Tuesday as 1,500 migrants tried to illegally enter the French side of the Eurotunnel to hop freight trains into Britain. A record 2,100 people made the attempt Monday. Thirty-seven people have been blocked from entering the tunnel illegally this year; eight have died since mid-June. About 10,000 migrants from Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Syria, Sudan, and North Africa are camped near the French city of Calais hoping to make the crossing to get housing and apply for asylum. [Voice of America]


Hunter says he thought lion hunt was legal

Zimbabwean police are seeking an American bow hunter — Walter James Palmer of Eden Prairie, Minnesota — for allegedly killing a protected lion named Cecil, officials in Zimbabwe said Tuesday. Cecil, who was 13, was popular with visitors to Zimbabwe's Hwange National Park. He was allegedly lured out of the park with bait by two guides Palmer paid $50,000 for the kill. The guides have been arrested on poaching charges. Palmer said he did everything he could to make sure the hunt was legal. [CNN]


GOP representative launches bid to oust Boehner as speaker

A Republican congressman, Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina, filed a bid to oust House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) on Tuesday. If successful, the "motion to vacate the chair" would force the election of a new speaker. Meadows' move is a longshot. Such a challenge has only worked once, more than a century ago. The matter now goes to the Rules Committee, which is chaired by Boehner ally Pete Sessions (R-Texas). Meadows said his real goal was starting "a conversation on making this place work." [The Hill]


Turkey continues new push against Kurds

Turkish jets pounded Kurdish rebel targets in northern Iraq overnight as tensions continued to mount, threatening a peace process with the separatist group. Turkey's opposition pro-Kurdish party called for ending the strikes and resuming peace efforts. Turkey began attacking Kurdish positions in northern Iraq and southeastern Turkey just as it agreed to President Obama's pleas to fight the Islamic State more aggressively. The Kurds are key U.S. allies in the war against ISIS. [The Associated Press]


Texas releases new jail video to dispel Sandra Bland rumors 

Texas officials on Tuesday released new video of Sandra Bland showing her being booked into Waller County Jail after her controversial arrest over a tense traffic stop. The clip reportedly was shown to prove that Bland was alive when she entered jail, contrary to social media rumors that she was fatally injured before being placed in a cell. Bland, who was black, was found dead three days later. A coroner concluded she committed suicide by hanging, but her family disputes that. [Los Angeles Times]


Trump aide apologizes for rape remark

Donald Trump's personal aide Michael Cohen apologized on Tuesday for telling a Daily Beast reporter that "You cannot rape your spouse." Cohen attributed the remark to "shock and anger" over a Daily Beast exposé claiming that Trump's ex-wife Ivana had used the word "rape" to describe an incident between the couple while they were married. Ivana Trump has since said the story was "totally without merit," and that her comments were made during a time of "very high tension." [The New York Times]


New York prison worker makes plea deal in escape case

Former New York prison seamstress Joyce Mitchell, 51, pleaded guilty Tuesday to bringing tools into Clinton Correctional Facility to help two convicted murderers, David Sweat and Richard Matt, break out. Under a plea deal, Mitchell will not be prosecuted for an alleged plot to kill her husband, or for having sexual contact with Matt, who was killed after the escape. Mitchell will be sentenced in September. She faces up to seven years in prison for the felony contraband charge. [NBC News]


NFL upholds Tom Brady's suspension for "Deflategate"

The NFL announced Tuesday that Commissioner Roger Goodell had upheld the four-game suspension of New England Patriots star quarterback Tom Brady over the so-called Deflategate scandal. Brady was suspended — and his team fined $1 million, and docked two draft picks — after an investigation concluded that Patriots staff had underinflated footballs during the AFC championship game last season, presumably to make the ball easier to handle in bad weather. Brady had appealed; the team did not. [The Dallas Morning News]