By Kaveh Waddell (@kavehewaddell)
TODAY IN ONE PARAGRAPH: Israel will probably invade Gaza. Four boys were killed today on a Gaza beach; Israel announced a five-hour pause in air strikes. The death penalty was struck down in California. Senate Republicans blocked Democrats' bill to make contraception available to women working for companies with religious exemptions. President Obama announced new, wide-reaching sanctions on Russia. He will speak about the situation in Ukraine at 5:15 p.m.
GAZA GROUND INVASION LIKELY. "Every day that passes makes the possibility more evident," said a senior Israeli security official. "We can hurt them very hard from the air but not get rid of them." (Jodi Rudoren, New York Times) Today, four young boys were killed on a Gaza beach. (Barnard and Hicks, New York Times) Israel agreed to a five-hour pause in air strikes.
DEATH PENALTY STRUCK DOWN IN CALIFORNIA. A federal judge reasoned that the death penalty is not carried out in any reasonable, timely, or organized manner. (Dustin Volz, National Journal)
SENATE GOP BLOCKS CONTRACEPTION BILL. The Democrat-sponsored bill tried to roll back the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby decision and restore free contraception for women who get their health insurance from companies with religious objections. (Donna Cassata, AP)
U.S. ESCALATES SANCTIONS ON RUSSIA. The new sanctions target large banks and defense and energy firms. European allies are also considering weaker penalties. (Peter Baker, New York Times)
TOMORROW IN ONE PARAGRAPH: At 10 a.m., the House Budget Committee will hold a hearing on the president's request for overseas contingency operations. At the same time, the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee will hold a hearing called "Examining Accountability and Corporate Culture in the Wake of the GM Recalls." At 2:10 p.m., President Obama will speak about transportation policy in Delaware.
SELF-DRIVING CARS WORRY THE FBI. The prospect of bad guys shooting at the police while their getaway cars drive themselves, or of hacking into their cars to override safety features, are nightmares for law enforcement—but the technology could also make high-speed chases a lot easier. (Mark Harris, The Guardian)
THE ASYLUM APPLICATION IS NOT EASY. The process for the tens of thousands of children entering the United States to gain asylum in America is incredibly complicated—and many kids are attempting to navigate it with no legal help. (Rachel Roubein, National Journal)
THIS IS HOW AMERICANS FEEL ABOUT RELIGIOUS GROUPS. Asked to rate different religious groups on a thermometer, Americans had the most positive view of Jews and Catholics. Muslims and atheists were almost tied for the group Americans feel most negatively about. (Pew Research)
THE DEVIL'S GAMBIT. How Bashar al-Assad went from facing an American military campaign to becoming a de facto ally of the U.S. in its fight against extremism. (Dominic Tierney, The Atlantic)
THE SUNNI-SHIA DIVIDE. A beautiful, interactive explainer of sectarianism in the Middle East, then and now. (Council on Foreign Relations)
A DISAPPEARING PLANET. "Animal species are going extinct anywhere from 100 to 1,000 times the rates that would be expected under natural conditions." Scroll through interactive infographics for a sense of scale of the destruction. (Anna Flagg, ProPublica)
PLAY OF THE DAY: Jon Stewart provided a walkthrough of the asylum application process—see Rachel Roubein's story above—for undocumented children who need a helping hand. (Mauro Whiteman, National Journal)