Today’s edition of quick hits:
* Israel: “After nine days of aerial assaults on Gaza that have killed more than 200 people, Israel announced late Wednesday that it would suspend the attacks for five hours on Thursday as a humanitarian gesture at the request of the United Nations. But a senior Israeli military official said that the likelihood of a ground invasion to eliminate militants’ rockets launched from Gaza was ‘very high.’”
* Russia: “The United States imposed new sanctions Wednesday on lucrative Russian energy and defense entities, as well as major banks, as the Obama administration struggles for a way to quell an insurgency in eastern Ukraine widely believed to be backed by Moscow.”
* Guantanamo: “Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has secretly notified Congress that the military intends to transfer six low-level Guantanamo Bay detainees to Uruguay as early as next month, according to people with knowledge of the communication. All six have been approved for transfer for more than four years…. The group would be the largest to depart the prison at once since 2009, and the transfer would reduce the Guantánamo Bay inmate population to 143. That figure includes 72 prisoners who are recommended for transfer, and 71 who are not.”
* California: A federal judge in California has ruled that the state’s death penalty is unconstitutional…. [Federal Judge Cormac J. Carney’s] determination that the death penalty in California is unconstitutional as applied is based on the often interminable delay between sentencing and execution. As a result, Carney concludes, the system does not serve society’s interest in deterring crime or seeing it properly punished.”
* Bergdahl: “Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl is ‘grateful’ to President Barack Obama for returning him to the United States after nearly five years of captivity in Afghanistan, said Eugene Fidell, the lawyer hired to represent the former prisoner of war. ‘He’s very grateful to President Obama for having saved his life,’ Fidell told NBC News on Wednesday.”
* What a farce: Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said administration claims that White House political director David Simas was immune from testimony were ‘absurd’ and ‘deeply disturbing.’”
* A great piece from Rebecca Leber: “Republicans who are bad at math want to give child migrants one-way plane tickets.”
* Following up on yesterday’s news, Jose Antonio Vargas was detained by the Border Patrol for most of the day yesterday, but was then released.
* General Motors: “G.M.’s response, as well as its replies to queries in other crashes obtained by The New York Times from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, casts doubt on how forthright the automaker was with regulators over a defective ignition switch that G.M. has linked to at least 13 deaths over the last decade.”
* Fifteen years ago, Senate Republicans blocked Missouri’s Ronnie White, one of President Clinton’s judicial nominees, following a racially charged debate. Today, White “got a rare second chance. The Senate voted to confirm him to the same court, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, by a vote of 53 to 44.”
* This seems bizarre and dangerous: “Asbestos abatement continues following the July 10 outbreak that briefly closed the House side of the Capitol, and one congressman might be in hot water for his conduct that morning. Republican Rep. Don Young … allegedly barged through the police line established to prevent members of Congress and staff from entering the Capitol following the spill.”
* Much of the right is eager to privatize America’s public schools through a voucher system. Sweden tried that. It produced awful results.
* And in case anyone’s forgotten, the gold standard really is a terrible idea.
Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.