National News

Abolitionist Frederick Douglass.

Freedom To NOT Celebrate Independence Day

Celebrating Independence Day on July Fourth is as American as burgers and dogs on the grill, lemonade in plastic cups, apple pie on paper plates, baseball, fireworks and Sousa marches.

Except for those Americans who don't celebrate it at all.

A demonstrator dressed as the Bible stands outside the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., awaiting the court's decision on the Hobby Lobby case Monday.

Did Supreme Court Tip Hand On Future Contraception Cases?

The Supreme Court's opinion Monday holding that some for-profit firms don't have to provide women contraceptive coverage required under the Affordable Care Act if the companies have religious objections addressed only half of the continuing legal battle over the birth control mandate.

But those on both sides of the issue think the court's majority may have telegraphed which way it could rule when one of those other cases reaches the justices.

German Labor and Social Affairs Minister Andrea Nahles, center, and Chancellor Angela Merkel, right, cast their votes for a national minimum wage Thursday. The legislation sets a requirement of more than $11.50 in hourly pay.

Germany Votes For First-Ever Minimum Wage, Around $11.50

The German parliament has approved a minimum hourly wage of 8.50 euros, backing a controversial proposal that would cover many workers starting next year. The amount is equal to more than $11.50 at today's exchange rate.

The Future Internet Is Not So Free Or Open, In Pew's New Survey

What we know as the World Wide Web — the main way by which most of us access the Internet — just turned 25 this year. Its existence has allowed for all kinds of learning and free expression, coding and making, rule-breaking and platform-making.

Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al-Saud listens to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speak before a meeting at the King's private residence in Jeddah last month. Saudi Arabia has reportedly moved 30,000 troops to its border with Iraq.

Saudi Arabia Reportedly Moves 30,000 Troops To Iraqi Border

Amid reports that Saudi Arabia has deployed some 30,000 troops to its border with Iraq, President Obama has called King Abdullah to discuss the developments in the region.

Reuters quotes the Saudi-owned al-Arabiya television as saying the kingdom has deployed forces to its border after Iraqi troops abandoned their positions amid a Sunni-led insurgency.

According to Reuters:

Louis Zamperini at a news conference in May in Pasadena, Calif. Zamperini, a onetime Olympic runner who in World War II survived a brutal internment in a Japanese POW camp, has died at 97.

Olympian, WWII Hero Louis Zamperini Dies At 97

Louis Zamperini, an Olympic runner who later survived the brutality of a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp after his bomber crashed in the Pacific, has died at age 97. Zamperini's life story was chronicled in the best-seller Unbroken, and a film based on the book is set to be released in December.

In a statement, his family said that Zamperini had "recently faced the greatest challenge of his life with a life-threatening case of pneumonia.

U.S. Added 288,000 Jobs In June, Labor Dept. Says

Analysts' expectations of continued growth in the jobs report for June were surpassed by federal data issued this morning, as the Labor Department says U.S. employers added 288,000 jobs last month. The government released the numbers one day early, due to the July 4 holiday.

Update at 8:35 a.m. ET: 288,000 Jobs Added

"Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 288,000 in June, and the unemployment rate declined to 6.1 percent," the Bureau of Labor Statistics says.

Hurricane Arthur is moving up along the eastern U.S. coast, bringing complications to July 4 travel and holiday plans. A satellite image shows the storm's position at 5 a.m. ET.

Now A Hurricane, Arthur Steams Along Eastern Seaboard

Evacuations are under way in parts of North Carolina, where Hurricane Arthur threatens to drench coastal areas today. The National Hurricane Center upgraded the storm to a hurricane early this morning.

Arthur is now packing maximum sustained winds of 75 mph; it could bring hurricane conditions to North Carolina tonight.

The shrine of Imam Ali in Najaf, shown here in 2007, is one of the holiest Shiite Muslim sites. The quiet city is home to numerous clerics, who traditionally do not involve themselves in politics.

In Iraq's Sacred City Of Najaf, Clerics Call On Shiites To Fight

Sunni militants claimed vast swaths of Iraq last month, thanks largely to the collapse of the Iraqi army.

But three weeks later, the army has been able to win back some territory. The gains come after a call to arms by Shiite religious leaders in the holy city of Najaf, where deep emotion and symbolism are inspiring Shiite volunteers.

Najaf is home to the ancient Valley of Peace cemetery, which seems crowded. Miles of desert stretch under blistering sun, the gilded domes of mausoleums pressed up against the dusty headstones of the ordinary dead.

Fighters from the Islamic State hold a parade in Raqqa, in northeastern Syria, displaying U.S.-made Humvees, heavy machine guns and missiles captured from the Iraqi army. This undated image was posted by the Raqqa Media Center, a Syrian opposition group, on Monday.

For Once, The U.S., Russia And Iran Actually Agree On Something

The ferocious charge across much of Iraq by militants now calling themselves the Islamic State has created something almost unheard of in the highly divisive Middle East: international consensus.

The U.S. and its allies, as well as some American rivals, including Russia and Iran, are all opposed to the Sunni group formerly known as ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, noted Rachel Bronson, a Mideast expert with the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.

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