Israel has pulled its ground forces out of the Gaza Strip as a proposed 72-hour ceasefire enters its seventh hour (at the time of this broadcast). Israeli and Palestinian factions have agreed to attend talks in Cairo to negotiate a longer-term agreement. Gaza officials say at least 1,865 Palestinians, most of them civilians, died during Israel’s offensive which began on July 8. Israel says 64 of its soldiers and three civilians have been killed. Protests against the Israeli offensive have continued across the United States and around the world. In Britain, a prominent Foreign Office minister, Sayeeda Warsi, has resigned, saying Britain’s policy on the crisis in Gaza is "morally indefensible."
Human Rights Watch has accused Israel of illegally shooting and killing Palestinian civilians who were attempting to flee. Witnesses described a series of incidents late last month in the southern town of Khuza’a where Israeli troops opened fire on civilians who had been ordered to leave homes where they were sheltering. We’ll have more on Gaza after headlines.
Documents provided by Edward Snowden have revealed the deep ties between Israeli and U.S. intelligence agencies. Writing at The Intercept, Glenn Greenwald says the leaks show "Israeli aggression would be impossible without the constant, lavish support and protection of the U.S. government." A 2013 document describes a "far-reaching technical and analytic relationship" between the National Security Agency and its Israeli counterpart against "mutually agreed upon geographic targets." The partnership includes a "dedicated communications line" supporting "the exchange of raw material, as well as daily analytic and technical correspondence."
The German publication Der Spiegel has reported based on anonymous intelligence sources, that Israel spied on U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry during peace negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians last year.
A public library in Evanston, Illinois, has reversed its cancellation of a talk by Palestinian-American journalist Ali Abunimah following public protest. The library had tweeted plans to "reschedule" Abunimah’s talk about his book, "The Battle for Justice in Palestine," citing the need to add "more speakers" on "this complex issue." Abunimah denounced what he called political censorship, and his supporters wrote to the library, which has now reversed course, saying the talk will take place as planned.
In West Africa, the death toll from a historic outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus has risen to 887, with more than 1,600 people infected. The disease is spreading in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, with four suspected cases, including one death. In Liberia, health centers have reportedly closed down amid fears they are not equipped to handle the highly infectious virus. A physician’s assistant there said many health workers are afraid.
Amos B. Richards: "The health workers think that they are not protected, they don’t have the requisite materials to use as to protect themselves against the Ebola disease, so many of the health workers, including physician’s assistants, nurses and so forth, are staying home."
An American nurse who contracted Ebola in Liberia was due to arrive in Atlanta, Georgia, today to join an American doctor already receiving treatment. In New York City, a patient who recently returned from West Africa is undergoing testing after falling ill, but officials said it was unlikely he had Ebola.
In northern Iraq, Kurdish security forces are battling Sunni militants near the site of the country’s largest dam. Militants from the Islamic State attacked the town of Sinjar over the weekend, forcing up to 200,000 people to flee and stranding many in the mountains. The U.N. Children’s Fund said 40 children from the Yazidi religious minority had died from violence, displacement or dehydration. Sinjar was previously a haven for civilians forced to flee other parts of Iraq. The Iraqi government has sent its air force to assist the Kurdish militias.
A federal court has ruled an Alabama law requiring abortion providers to obtain admitting privileges at a nearby hospital is unconstitutional. The law would have closed three of five abortion clinics in the state. While abortion opponents claim such requirements make patients safer, U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson ruled the law would actually undermine patient care and place an undue burden on access. The ruling comes just days after an appeals court struck down a similar law in Mississippi which threatened to close the state’s lone abortion clinic.
In Texas, half of abortion providers have closed under an admitting privileges requirement similar to those in Mississippi and Alabama. Texas providers have launched a new legal challenge to the restrictions passed in the face of mass protests last summer. The law’s next phase, which imposes hospital-style building standards, could leave Texas with fewer than 10 abortion clinics, if it takes effect on September 1.
Newly released documents show a death row prisoner in Arizona was injected 15 times with a new drug cocktail during a botched execution last month. Attorneys for Joseph Wood have called his death "the most prolonged bungled execution in recent history." Wood gasped for air, choked and snorted during the two-hour-long ordeal. He had been injected with a relatively untested drug cocktail, eventually receiving 15 times the intended dosage of each drug. Arizona has halted executions pending a review of its protocols.
The mayor of Toledo, Ohio, has lifted a water ban impacting 400,000 people, saying the city’s drinking water is now safe. The ban went into effect Saturday after prior tests found high levels of the toxin microcystin, which is tied to algae blooms fueled by climate change and industrial farming.
Former White House press secretary and leading gun control advocate James Brady has died at the age of 73. In 1981, while serving as press secretary for President Ronald Reagan, Brady was shot in the head during an assassination attempt on Reagan. Brady suffered brain damage, which impaired his speech and memory and left him partially paralyzed and in a wheelchair. He went on to become a leading advocate for gun control, successfully pushing for a 1993 law bearing his name which imposes background checks on many gun sales. In 2011, 30 years after he was shot, Brady continued to call on Congress to take action on gun control.
James Brady: "I know I would not be sitting here in this damn wheelchair if we had commonsense legislation. I used to be a track runner. No more. But I’m not going to run away from this."
Brady died in Alexandria, Virginia, on Monday after a series of health problems.