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OBAMA AGENDA: “Degrade and destroy”

Obama vowed to "degrade and destroy" ISIS during a press conference early Wednesday in Estonia after the slaying of a second American journalist, Steven Sotloff, writes. "Those who make the mistake of harming Americans will learn that we will not forget and that our reach is long and that justice will be served."

Earlier this morning, the White House confirmed that the recently released video showing Sotloff's execution is authentic.

Breaking in Ukraine, from the AP: "The office of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said Wednesday that he and Russian President Vladimir Putin are in agreement on a cease-fire in eastern Ukraine, but the statement was ambiguous and a top rebel figure said no cease-fire was possible without Ukraine withdrawing its forces."

The New York Times writes that an "initial statement, posted on the presidential website, went too far in describing the results of a telephone call between the two leaders as having reached a cease-fire, said a spokesman, noting that a revised version would be posted shortly. The presidents exchanged opinions about a cease-fire, but there was no formal agreement, said the spokesman, who, in line with protocol, did not give his name."

Asked about the reported agreement, Obama expressed skepticism early Wednesday, noting that the Kremlin hasn't followed through on previous announcements of cease-fires.

Obama has authorized the deployment of 350 more troops in Baghdad to increase security at the city’s embassy facilities.

To economic news… “Debate the strength of the U.S. job market all you want, but one thing is clear: It’s getting better here faster than most places,” the Washington Post says.

OFF TO THE RACES: Begich pulls controversial ad

One of us(!) wrote yesterday that Republicans have consistently gotten the candidates they wanted this primary season. But if they come up short on Election Day, they won't have any Todd Akins to blame.

Clip and bookmark: Here's Roll Call's latest list of the 10 most vulnerable House members.

The Washington Post's Paul Kane notes that the closure of an Atlantic City casino and hotel Tuesday deals a blow to Gov. Chris Christie, who called it a "game-changer" in 2012.

O'Malley 2016 watch, from The Wall Street Journal: "Democratic fundraisers say Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley has told them he would enter the presidential race even if front-runner Hillary Clinton is a candidate, suggesting she would face at least some competition for her party's nomination from an established elected official if she runs."

“Several Republican candidates for Senate have embraced an unorthodox issue as the midterm election approaches — support for over-the-counter birth control pills,” the Washington Post notes. “At least three GOP hopefuls have spoken during the summer in favor of allowing certain types of contraception to be sold without a prescription. Rep. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), who is challenging incumbent Sen. Mark Udall (D), on Tuesday released a television ad in which he tells a room full of nodding women, ‘I believe the pill ought to be available over the counter, around the clock, without a prescription. Cheaper and easier for you.’”

ALASKA: After an attorney for the family of victims of a murder and sexual assault case blamed Mark Begich for causing an "emotional storm" for his clients with a campaign ad referencing the crime, Begich and opponent Dan Sullivan have both pulled down commercials. More, from the Alaska Dispatch News: "The dispute began Friday with an initial ad that Begich’s campaign launched accusing Republican opponent Dan Sullivan, a former state attorney general, of giving light sentences to sex offenders, including Jerry Active, who is charged with killing a couple and sexually assaulting their toddler granddaughter and an elderly woman in a Mountain View home last year. Sullivan’s campaign quickly produced its own commercial in response, and the back-and-forth erupted by Tuesday into the biggest controversy of the campaign so far."

Here's the initial ad from Begich that caused the firestorm.

More, from's Benjy Sarlin: "According to a spokesman for Begich’s campaign, his staff had reached out to family members of the victim as well as members of their Cambodian community in Anchorage before running the ad and received no indication anyone objected to its content. Nonetheless, they are honoring Collins’ request and trying to determine how the miscommunication happened."

ARKANSAS: Crossroads GPS is responding to Mark Pryor's health care ad, making sure to point out that the legislation the Democrat touts in his commercial- but not by name - is Obamacare.

FLORIDA: Gov. Rick Scott leads Charlie Crist by five points in the Florida governor's race, a new Tampa Bay Times poll finds.

ILLINOIS: The Chicago Sun-Times: “Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner is known for wearing an $18 watch in TV campaign ads. But when it comes to wine, he’s not exactly popping open bottles of “Two-Buck Chuck.” On Tuesday, Rauner disclosed he belonged to an invitation-only, exclusive wine club that cost upward of $100,000 to join.”

LOUISIANA: From the Times-Picayune: "Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore said he will not pursue a residency challenge against U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu in court, despite a request from Rob Maness, a Republican opponent, to do so. Maness did not tell Moore he wanted the district attorney to pursue legal action against Landrieu until late Friday afternoon, less than two hours before the deadline for Moore to file a legal complaint. So Moore did not have enough time to consider Maness' request, the district attorney said."

MINNESOTA: The LA Times’ Mike Memoli writes that SNL alum Al Franken is “just dull” nowadays. “It's not that Franken is no longer funny — he is, though it's mostly out of public view. But one of the more noteworthy aspects of the former comic's first Senate term has been his effort to avoid the spotlight and to play against type.”

NEW HAMPSHIRE: Scott Brown is getting heat from New Hampshire Democrats after he "joked" (per his campaign) that out-of-staters should "come on down" and vote for him, per NHJournal.

NORTH CAROLINA: Thom Tillis and Kay Hagan will have their first face-to-face TV debate tonight at 7p.m.

VIRGINIA: No verdict yet in the McDonnell case as the jury begins deliberations, the Washington Post reports.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch's Jeff Schapiro writes about possible outcomes of the jury deliberations.

Eric Cantor's new gig as the managing director for a global investment bank will pay more than a million dollars a year, Roll Call writes.


*** Wednesday’s “News Nation with Tamron Hall” line-up: Craig Melvin interviews Infectious Disease specialist Dr. Amy Edwards on the American doctor in Liberia testing positive for Ebola and Nancy Writebol’s live news conference; Former Ambassador to the United Nations Bill Richardson and Fmr. Asst Special Agent in Charge of FBI-NYPD Joint Terrorism Task Force, Don Borelli with the latest on ISIS and the Steven Sotloff killing; and Legal Analyst Lisa Green on Theodore Wafer’s sentencing for the shooting to death of Renisha McBride on his porch last year.

*** Wednesday’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports” line-up: NBC’s Andrea Mitchell interviews Camden County, NJ Police Chief Scott Thomson, msnbc Counterterrorism Expert Michael Leiter, Managing Editor Bobby Ghosh, National Journal’s Ron Fournier, Bloomberg Deputy Managing Editor Jeanne Cummings, the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza and NBC’s Dr. Nancy Snyderman.