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10 things you need to know today: July 4, 2014

Harold Maass
Wet but not broken.  (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
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Hurricane Arthur weakens after rattling North Carolina

Hurricane Arthur knocked out power to thousands of homes on the North Carolina coast on Thursday as it hit the state's Outer Banks. The storm — the first of the 2014 Atlantic season — gained strength to become a Category 2 storm with sustained winds of 100 miles per hour as it began pelting eastern North Carolina with high winds and heavy rain. Arthur delivered the area just a glancing blow, however, before weakening and continuing north over the Atlantic. [CNN]


Second birth-control ruling delivers another setback to ObamaCare

The Supreme Court on Thursday temporarily exempted Wheaton College, a Christian school in Illinois, from some ObamaCare contraception coverage requirements. Like Hobby Lobby, which won a similar case for private companies this week, the school objected to some coverage, such as morning-after pills, which it likened to abortion. Justice Sonia Sotomayor said the conservative majority had gone back on its word, because the Hobby Lobby decision endorsed making objecting non-profits sign a form transferring free contraception coverage to others. [The New York Times]


Stocks surge to record highs after unexpectedly strong jobs report

The Dow Jones Industrial Average surged to close above 17,000 for the first time on Thursday following a stronger than expected jobs report. The Labor Department reported that the economy added 288,000 jobs in June, far more than the 212,000 forecast. The hiring increase helped bring the unemployment rate down to 6.1 percent — the lowest since September 2008. The news also lifted the S&P 500 stock index to a record high, and the Nasdaq to its highest since 2000. [Reuters]


Dad charged with killing his toddler by leaving him in a hot car

A Georgia judge ruled Thursday that Justin Ross Harris, 33, would stand trial — without bond — on charges that he killed his 22-month-old son, Cooper, by leaving him in a hot car for seven hours while he was at work. Investigators said Harris, who had done internet searches on heatstroke deaths, exchanged sexually explicit texts with six women, including a 17-year-old, on the day his son died. Prosecutors said he dreamed of a "child-free life." Harris says he simply forgot to drop off the boy at child care. [People]


SunTrust's mortgage arm agrees to pay $320 million to resolve allegations

SunTrust Mortgage Inc. has agreed to pay up to $320 million to settle allegations that it misled customers trying to use government program to avoid foreclosure, the bank and federal prosecutors said Thursday. Customers who suffered financial harm will get up to $274 million of the money. Investigators said the firm — the mortgage arm of SunTrust Banks — failed to process applications for the federal Home Affordable Modification Program, and gave customers flawed information about the program. [The Associated Press]


Overpass collapses in deadly accident near Brazilian World Cup stadium

An unfinished highway overpass collapsed in one of Brazil's World Cup host cities, Belo Horizonte, on Thursday, killing at least one person and stoking local criticism of the rushed preparations for the global soccer championship. "Because of the World Cup they sped everything up to finish faster. That's why this tragedy has happened," said Leandro Brito, 23, a bank worker. The bridge — two miles from Mineirao Stadium — crushed a car and part of a passenger bus that were passing underneath. [Reuters]


Colorado sues county clerk for issuing same-sex marriage licenses

Colorado's Republican attorney general, John Suthers, on Thursday filed a lawsuit against Boulder County Clerk Hillary Hall for issuing same-sex marriage licenses. The legal spat came after a federal appeals court ruling last week overturned an amendment to the state's constitution defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman. The ruling was put on hold, so Suthers says the gay marriage ban remains in effect. Hall said Suthers is trying to force her to violate same-sex couples' rights. [The Christian Science Monitor]


Maliki rival steps aside in a bid to unite Iraqi Shiites

Former Iraqi parliament speaker Osama al-Nujaifi, a key rival of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, said late Thursday that he would bow out and not seek another term to make it easier for Shiite parties to settle on a replacement for Maliki. Shiite politicians have been deadlocked on the leadership question despite pressure from the U.S., Iran, and the United Nations to unite the nation against a Sunni extremist insurgency by forming a new government sharing more power with the other main ethnic blocs, Sunnis and Kurds. [Reuters]


Former editor Coulson goes to prison in U.K. hacking case

Andy Coulson, once editor of Britain's best-selling newspaper, went to prison on Friday after being sentenced to 18 months for conspiring to hack the phones of celebrities, royals, politicians, and crime victims. Judge John Saunders said Coulson, 46, "has to take the major share of the blame" for the eavesdropping done by reporters while he was editor of Rupert Murdoch's now-defunct News of the World between 2003 and 2007. "He encouraged it when he should have stopped it," the judge said. [The Associated Press]


A Western drought and East Coast hurricane alter July 4 plans

The weather is dictating how some communities across the country celebrate July 4 on Friday, with drought-stricken parts of the West cautioning against the use of fireworks and cities on the East Coast rescheduling events — including a traditional Boston Pops performance — due to Hurricane Arthur. In Washington, D.C., composer John Williams is debuting a new arrangement of "The Star-Spangled Banner" on the National Mall to mark the national anthem's 200th anniversary. [The Washington Post]

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