Good morning, and happy Tuesday. Here are some of the stories we're following today:
1. U.S. battles Belgium in World Cup’s knockout round
Belgium is the better team on paper in this Sweet 16, but the U.S. won’t go down without a fight with a semifinals berth on the line. The U.S. managed to advance out of one of the most difficult groups it has ever played in at the tournament, giving fans hope that head coach Jurgen Klinsmann can keep this team focused. Also helping the U.S. is that a lot of its leadership has played in the World Cup before and knows what the pressure is like. The action kicks off at 4 p.m. ET. Read more at NBC SPORTS.
2. Israel vows revenge in deaths of three kidnapped teens
Israel bombed 34 targets in Gaza overnight, leading Hamas to threaten to “open the gates of hell” if the country goes after the Gaza Strip. The bombings come as the families of three kidnapped students prepare to hold a joint funeral for the teens, who had gone missing last month. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said Hamas “will pay” for the kidnappings, although the militant group has not taken responsibility for what happened. Read more in NEWS.
3. Hobby Lobby ruling called victory for religious freedoms
The Supreme Court ruled in favor Monday of three family-owned businesses that have refused to pay for certain contraceptives for their employees under Obamacare. The businesses, including a craft store called Hobby Lobby, have claimed the Affordable Care Act violates their religious freedoms. The ruling, a 5-4 decision written by Justice Samuel Alito, sends a cultural and social signal about respecting religious beliefs, according to observers. Read more in NEWS.
4. Iraqi deaths on rise as U.S. ships in more troops
The United Nations says more than 2,400 Iraqis were killed in June as a violent militant uprising swept through the country. The fear is the fighting could devolve into a civil war as Sunni rebels threaten to destroy Shiite Islam’s holiest sites. Tensions have existed between Shiites and Sunnis for 1,400 years. Meanwhile, the U.S. has sent another 300 troops to Iraq — most of which will provide security for the American Embassy and other facilities, such as Baghdad’s airport. That brings the number of additional U.S. soldiers to nearly 800. Read more in NEWS.
5. Obama to bypass Congress on immigration reform
President Obama, fed up with inaction in the House, plans to move ahead with executive actions to address immigration. He’s under intense pressure after a growing tide of undocumented immigrants from Central America, including children, have flooded the southern border in recent months. Last year, the Senate passed a sweeping immigration bill that would have offered a path to citizenship for many who are in the country illegally, but the GOP-led House refused to vote on the measure. Read more in POLITICS.
6. Childhood vaccines deemed generally safe
A new review of childhood vaccines has found that while they can cause certain side effects, the serious ones remain rare. The RAND Corp., which conducted the study, said such risks need to be balanced against the benefits of vaccines. Additionally, researchers found that there’s no evidence linking vaccines with leukemia or autism, despite persistent rumors. Read more in HEALTH.
… What’s trending today?
So THAT’s what’s in the White House pies.
President Obama joked Monday that Executive Pastry Chef Bill Yosses’ pies are so good he has a special ingredient.
“We call Bill the crustmaster, because his pies, I don’t know what he does, whether he puts crack in them,” the president said during an LGBT Pride Month reception with the first lady.
“No he doesn’t,” Michelle Obama quickly interjected. “There’s no crack in our pies.”