Good morning! Here’s what you need to know for Thursday.
1. President Barack Obama on Wednesday imposed the toughest sanctions on Russia so far, targeting a number of large banks and energy defence firms. The companies — including Russia’s largest oil producer Rosneft and largest private bank Gazprombank — don’t have access to U.S. debt markets.
2. Israel said it would halt attacks on Gaza for five hours on Thursday morning after four Palestinian boys were killed on a beach by an Israeli gunboat. Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the country planned to escalate military operations after Hamas militants rejected a cease-fire proposed by Egypt earlier in the week.
3. A California judge ruled the death penalty unconstitutional, responding to the case of a prisoner who was sentenced to death nearly 20 years ago but hasn’t been executed yet. The waiting period to carry out the death penalty is so long that it can be considered a form of cruel and unusual punishment and is therefore unconstitutional, according to U.S. District Court of Orange Country Judge Cormac J. Carney.
4. Rupert Murdoch’s $US80 billion bid for Time Warner was rejected, but the media mogul’s attempt at a takeover is likely not over. While “no talks are underway,” The New York Times’ Dealbook reports, “Mr. Murdoch is determined and unlikely to walk away anytime soon, people briefed on the matter said.”
5. Scientists are mystified by a giant hole large enough to fit two helicopters that suddenly appeared in Russia’s tundra. An explosion triggered underground by “the pressure of meltwater from the thawing solid” during the summer is the most likely cause of the crater, The Telegraph said.
6. The latest allegations against drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline involves the bribing of Chinese officials by staff as early as 2001, The Financial Times reports. The British company is currently being investigated for allegedly bribing doctors to get them to prescribe their medicines.
7. Scientists developed a biological pacemaker made from actual heart cells by injecting a human gene into the hearts of pigs with a condition. This is a major step forward in developing alternatives to electronic pacemakers.
8. Mexico is going to war on the nation’s obesity epidemic by banning television ads for soda and high-calorie foods. Commercials for sugary drinks and junk food can’t be shown between 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. on weekdays, and between 7:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. on weekends, The Daily Beast reports.
9. Kabul’s airport was closed early Thursday after it was attacked by Taliban fighters. “Militants fire rockets into the airport almost every week,” Reuters notes, “but frontal attacks on the heavily guarded facility are rare and represent an ambitious target for insurgents.”
10. Typhoon Rammasun, the strongest storm to hit the Philippines this year, killed at least 38 people and led to the evacuation of more than 400,000 people. The storm churned through areas badly damaged by Typhoon Haiyan, which killed more than 6,000 people last November.
Ron Howard is going to be directing a documentary on the Beatles. It will focus on the group’s touring years between 1964 and 1966, the height of “Beatlemania.”