Good morning, happy Thursday and so long, July. Here are some of the stories we're following today:
1. Israel says no to cease-fire until tunnels destroyed
Israel has ruled out a truce with Hamas until its main objective of shuttering tunnels used by the militants is complete, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday. Israel also plans to call up another 16,000 reserves in the effort. The nation’s airstrike offensive in Gaza launched three weeks ago has come at a deadly price: More than 1,360 Palestinians have been killed, among them 315 children and 166 women, according to Palestinian health officials. A total of 56 Israeli soldiers have been killed, along with three civilians. Read more in NEWS.
2. Sierra Leone declares emergency to fight Ebola
Health officials in Sierra Leone, one of three West African countries struggling to suppress the spread of Ebola, declared a state of emergency on Wednesday — forcing restrictions on movement and drafting in security forces. The decision comes as the Peace Corps has pulled out its volunteers from the country, as well as Liberia and Guinea. Meanwhile, two Americans in Liberia remain in serious condition after they were infected by the disease. One of them, an aid worker named Nancy Writebol, is receiving medical treatment but is also being isolated in a bungalow. Her husband must wear a containment suit when he visits her. “Dad will not leave mom,” son Jeremy Writebol told NBC News. Read more in NEWS.
3. House votes to sue Obama along party lines
In an unsurprising turnout, House Republicans voted for a bill authorizing a lawsuit against President Barack Obama, accusing him of exceeding his constitutional authority by changing how Obamacare was implemented. No Democrats voted for the bill, but they had plenty to say on the matter. Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said she believes the lawsuit is merely a precursor to impeachment talks. But House Speaker John Boehner denied impeachment is Republicans’ end game. “This isn’t about Republicans and Democrats, it’s about defending the Constitution that we swore an oath to uphold,” Boehner said before the 225-201 vote. Read more in POLITICS.
4. Taxpayers’ dollars wasted in Obamacare website: report
The rollout of the website was fraught with failures and a complete rush job, according to a new report to be released Thursday. Federal officials had just three-and-a-half years to design, build and launch the online marketplace from the time the Affordable Care Act was signed in March 2010 to the time it had to be ready in October 2013. But the Obama administration launched the site “without effective planning or oversight practices” and continued wasting taxpayer money in the process, says the nonpartisan General Accountability Office. Read more in HEALTH.
5. Russia dismisses U.S. claim it violated nuclear treaty
The U.S. and Russia still can’t see eye-to-eye. Obama earlier this week sent a letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin accusing Russia of violating a nuclear treaty signed in 1987. But Russia dismissed the accusations on Wednesday, calling them “unfounded” and even saying it’s the Americans’ production of armed drones that may be violating the accord. The United States has called for senior-level talks, while Russia’s Foreign Ministry said that the problems over the treaty should be resolved “in working regime.” Read more in NEWS.
6. Kansas foster dad charged with murder in hot-car death
Prosecutors say they’ve reviewed the evidence against Seth Jackson, 29, who left his 10-month-old foster daughter to die in a hot car last week. Temperatures were around 90 degrees when Jackson realized after two hours that he “somehow forgot” the girl outside their home, police in Sedgwick County said. But are murder charges too far? Jackson’s defense lawyer, John Stang, told NBC News that the facts of the case don’t support the charges, which carry a life sentence with a minimum of 20 years behind bars. “Overcharged, in my opinion,” Stang said, adding, “The death of a child is an awful thing. But this person is looking at 15 more years than someone who was driving drunk and ran into a car and killed someone.” Read more in NEWS.
… What’s trending today?
“Girls” star Allison Williams will be flying into the role of a lifetime. NBC announced Wednesday that she will star in the live theatrical telecast of “Peter Pan” later this year. The 26-year-old’s dad, “NBC Nightly News” anchor Brian Williams, gave a nod to the announcement during last night’s broadcast. “Family members confirm she’s been rehearsing this role since the age of 3 and they’re looking forward to seeing her fly,” he said.