Daily Briefing

10 things you need to know today: July 1, 2014

Harold Maass
A demonstrator at the Supreme Court. (AP Photo/Martinez Monsivais)
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Supreme Court says companies can deny contraception coverage for religious reasons

A bitterly divided Supreme Court ruled Monday that family-owned corporations — such as Hobby Lobby, the plaintiff in the case — could not be forced to pay for insurance coverage for contraception under the Affordable Care Act because it violated a federal law protecting religious freedom. In a dissenting opinion, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said companies could now use religion to justify denying health coverage of vaccines, or according women equal pay for similar work. [The New York Times]


Israel strikes Hamas after finding the bodies of three kidnapped teens

Israel bombed 34 sites in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip on Tuesday, hours after soldiers found the bodies of three Jewish seminary students abducted two weeks ago. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blamed Hamas for the kidnappings — a charge the Palestinian Islamist group has neither confirmed nor denied. Netanyahu had vowed a swift response. "They were kidnapped and murdered in cold blood by beasts...," he said Monday. "Hamas is responsible and Hamas will pay." [Reuters, CTV News]


GM recalls another 7.6 million vehicles

General Motors on Monday recalled another 7.6 million vehicles in six separate actions, some of which concerned a potentially fatal ignition-switch flaw like the one that has been implicated in at least 13 deaths. The news was announced on the same day that GM unveiled a plan to compensate victims of accidents caused by the ignition-switch defect. GM has now recalled nearly 30 million cars and trucks this year alone. [The Christian Science Monitor]


Ukraine ends truce with pro-Russian rebels

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on Tuesday announced that his government would end a cease fire and renew an offensive against pro-Russia separatists. Poroshenko revealed his decision after a four-way conference call with European leaders and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Poroshenko said the rebels had violated the truce — 27 Ukrainian soldiers had been killed since the cease fire began on June 20, he said. "We will attack and free our lands," he said. [Reuters]


Obama tells Congress he is sending more troops to Iraq

President Obama announced Monday that he was sending as many as 200 more American soldiers to Iraq to help the Shiite-led government fight off Sunni extremist insurgents who are seizing wide swaths of territory. The troops will join 300 U.S. advisers already in the country. Their tasks will include protecting the U.S. embassy in Baghdad along with the country's main international airport. The forces will be "equipped for combat," Obama wrote to Congress, and will remain until they are "no longer needed." [Fox News]


Nigeria makes first arrest in mass kidnapping case

Nigeria's Defense Ministry said Monday that it had arrested a businessman who "participated actively" in the April abduction of more than 200 high-school girls. The businessman, Babuji Ya'ari, was the first person to be detained in the case. Military officials accused him of joining a vigilante group fighting Boko Haram, the Islamist militant group blamed for the kidnappings, in an attempt to collect intelligence information for Boko Haram "while remaining an active terrorist." [News.com.au]


Researchers find no link between immunizations and autism

An analysis of 67 research studies found "strong evidence" that the measles vaccine did not increase the risk of autism in small children. The analysis, published Monday in Pediatrics, came as several vaccine-preventable diseases, including measles, have been making comebacks in areas with low vaccination rates. The authors said misinformation about vaccines was rampant. "This report should give parents some reassurance," co-author Courtney Gidengil, a pediatrician, said. [USA Today]


Obama vows to bypass Congress on immigration

President Obama on Monday slammed Congress for failing to pass an overhaul of the nation's immigration laws, and announced that he would use executive actions to "fix as much of our immigration system as we can" starting by the end of the summer. Obama said he was directing immigration enforcement officials to focus on stopping a recent rise in the numbers of children crossing the U.S.-Mexico border illegally. "If Congress will not do their job, at least we can do ours," he said. [The Washington Post]


Scandal-plagued Toronto Mayor Rob Ford returns to the job after rehab

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford returned to office Monday after a two-month stint in rehab. Ford got treatment for substance abuse after a year of scandals that included a video in which Ford appeared to be smoking crack cocaine. The City Council has stripped Ford of most of his powers but he says he will stay in office until October, when voters will decide whether to give him a second chance. Ford said he was "ashamed, embarrassed, and humiliated" by his actions, but that rehab had saved his life. [CBC]


Sarkozy detained for questioning in France

Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy was detained for questioning in a corruption investigation on Tuesday. French media characterized the move as an unprecedented grilling of a former French leader. Anticorruption police are looking into evidence that Sarkozy, through a lawyer, tried to get information from a magistrate about an investigation into whether he received $68 million in illegal campaign contributions from the late Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi in 2007. [The New York Times]