Tuesday’s Mini-Report, 8.26.14

Today’s edition of quick hits:
 
* Cease fire: “Israel and Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday reached a long-term cease-fire after seven weeks of fighting, according to officials on both sides, halting the longest, bloodiest battle either side has experienced in years – but without resolving many of the bigger issues underlying the conflict.”
 
* Well, this complicates things: “Ukraine said Tuesday its forces detained a group of Russian paratroopers who crossed the border into eastern Ukraine, and the U.S. ambassador to Kiev warned of a possible “Russian-directed counteroffensive” by pro-Moscow separatists, raising tensions between the two countries as their presidents attended a regional summit.”
 
* ISIS: “President Obama on Tuesday vowed to address the threat posed by the ‘barbaric terrorists’ of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), as the administration weighs the possibility of expanding U.S. airstrikes to target militants operating in Syria. Airstrikes are already taking place in Iraq.”
 
* Syria: “The battle in itself seemed tragically normal. Two Syrian opposition groups fought and there were heavy casualties on both sides. Then victorious rebels rifled through the pockets of the dead. One contained about $800 in cash – and an American passport. Douglas McAuthur McCain, of San Diego, California, was killed over the weekend fighting for the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), according to the Free Syrian Army.”
 
* On a related note: “President Obama has authorized surveillance flights over Syria, a precursor to potential airstrikes there, but a mounting concern for the White House is how to target the Sunni extremists without helping President Bashar al-Assad.”
 
* Congress has some work to do: “The Obama administration must get congressional approval before carrying out airstrikes against Islamist militants in Syria, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said Tuesday. ‘We should certainly authorize this,’ Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said on MSNBC.”
 
* A lot of the early reporting on this turned out to be wrong: “Investigators found no conclusive proof that delays in medical care caused patient deaths at the Phoenix VA Health Care System.”
 
* Climate: “Runaway growth in the emission of greenhouse gases is swamping all political efforts to deal with the problem, raising the risk of ‘severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts’ over the coming decades, according to a draft of a major new United Nations report.”
 
* Ebola: “That makes five. The first was Guinea. Then, three days later on March 27, the World Health Organization reported that there were ‘suspected’ cases of Ebola in Liberia and Sierra Leone. Months passed before the disease, which has now killed 1,427 people across West Africa, reached Nigeria in early August. Now it’s the Democratic Republic of Congo.”
 
* On a related note, much of this isn’t rational: “According to a Harvard School of Public Health/SSRS poll, 68 percent of the US population believes Ebola spreads ‘easily.’ Four in 10 are worried there will be a large outbreak in the United States. And a quarter of Americans are afraid the virus will infect them or someone in their families.”
 
* Unexpected: “Two big-name billionaires have hopped on the anti-gun bandwagon. In an unusual move, Bill and Melinda Gates donated $1 million to the Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility, a reform group attempting to reduce violence in the Evergreen State. The billionaires’ combined contribution was applied directly to Initiative 594, a policy sponsored by the organization that would require criminal background checks on all firearms sales and transfers in Washington – including at gun shows and on the Internet.”
 
* Smart choice: “The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced Tuesday that Kevin Counihan, executive director of Connecticut’s health insurance exchange, would be the first CEO of HealthCare.gov.”
 
Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.
 

Tuesday's Mini-Report, 8.26.14