Good morning, and happy Thursday! Here are some of the stories we're following today:
1. Iraqi cities under siege as militants aim for Baghdad
Al Qaeda-aligned insurgents have taken over Iraq’s second-largest city, Mosul, and are now looking to march on the capital of Baghdad, according to a recording purportedly from the group’s spokesman. “March to Baghdad ... We have a score to settle,” the voice says. The rapid advance of the Sunni fighters has ignited fears of a sectarian bloodbath, prompting the U.S. and United Nations to express grave concerns and urge unity from Iraq’s leadership. Read more in NEWS.
2. Tea Party candidates look to capitalize on Cantor loss
Virginia Congressman Eric Cantor’s stunning defeat in Tuesday’s GOP primary race has emboldened the Tea Party, which backed winner Dave Brat. Chris McDaniel, the Tea Party state senator who’s challenging U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran in an upcoming June 24 runoff, used Cantor’s loss as a rallying cry in a fundraising email: “What does [Cantor losing] have to do with the Senate race in Mississippi? I'll tell you: It’s one more example of what can happen when true conservatives band together and demand better from Washington.” Read more in POLITICS.
Cantor, meanwhile, has decided to step down as the House’s majority leader:
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3. World Cup fever: Tournament kicks off amid concerns
The biggest global sports spectacle held every four years begins with a match-up between host country Brazil and Croatia at 4 p.m. ET on ESPN. While soccer fans will be glued to their televisions for the next month, officials in Brazil will have much to contend with behind the scenes. Security experts say the threat of rioting and crime will be more of a concern than any terrorist attack. Read more at NBC SPORTS.
4. Lawmakers grill Defense chief over Bergdahl release
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel defended the Obama administration’s decision to release Taliban prisoners at Gitmo in exchange for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. GOP lawmakers have criticized the administration for failing to tell members of the swap beforehand. “The exchange needed to take place quickly, efficiently and quietly,” Hagel said. The hearing got testy when Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., demanded to know why Bergdahl, who is recuperating in Germany, had yet to be returned to the U.S. Meanwhile, it was also revealed Wednesday that Bergdahl was discharged from the Coast Guard in 2006, prior to joining the Army. Read more in POLITICS.
5. Truck driver in Tracy Morgan crash pleads not guilty
Walmart truck driver Kevin Roper is accused of slamming into a limo bus on a New Jersey highway, killing one of its passengers and seriously injuring comedian Tracy Morgan. Prosecutors say Roper, who pleaded not guilty in court Wednesday, had not slept for more than 24 hours. Walmart, however, has claimed that Roper “was operating within the federal hours of service regulations.” Read more in NEWS.
6. Police revisit O.J. Simpson Bronco chase 20 years later
Ninety-five million Americans watched Simpson and friend Al Cowlings driving a white Ford Bronco down a Southern California freeway on June 17, 1994. The moment captivated the nation and kicked off the bizarre murder trial that would find Simpson not guilty of killing his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her boyfriend Ronald Goldman. “I had a lot of strange days and I’ve seen a lot of weird things, but this is Number 1 in my list,” said the retired Orange County sheriff's deputy who first spotted Simpson in the Bronco. Read more in POP CULTURE.
… What’s trending today?
Break out your craziest pair of socks.
Former President George H.W. Bush turns 90 today, and visitors to his presidential library and museum at Texas A&M University are being asked to come wearing their wackiest socks.
Fans of the 41st president can even get their hands on his limited-edition hosiery if they contribute $35 or more to the GOP.