With Iraq plunging deeper into chaos, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel on Saturday ordered the aircraft carrier USS George H. W. Bush into the Persian Gulf. The move, which came one day after President Obama ruled out a ground campaign but said he was considering other military options to push back against Iraqi insurgents, gives the U.S. a launching pad to conduct air strikes within the country. Meanwhile, the Iraqi government said it was increasing a counteroffensive against the Sunni rebels who last week captured parts of northern and western Iraq in hopes of pushing the insurgents further from Baghdad.
U.S. sends aircraft carrier to Persian Gulf
Ukrainian military plane shot down
Separatist forces on Saturday shot down a Ukrainian military plane as it approached the eastern city of Luhansk, killing all 49 people on board. It was the deadliest single attack in the months-long battle between the fledgling Ukrainian government and insurgent forces who lean toward Russia. Rebels from the People's Republic of Luhansk claimed credit for the attack, adding that they would continue to target all military craft in the area.
Afghanistan votes in presidential election runoff
Afghans cast ballots on Saturday in the second and final round of voting in the nation's presidential election. The race, between former Foreign Affairs Minister Abdullah Abdullah and former Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani, went to a runoff after neither candidate cracked 50 percent. Abdullah garnered more support in the first round of voting, though there is as yet no indication whether he maintained that edge in the runoff.
Costa Rica stages huge World Cup upset
In a stunning upset with huge implications for the rest of the World Cup, Costa Rica upended mighty Uruguay 3-1 on Saturday. Uruguay, the reigning South American champions and FIFA's seventh-ranked team in the world, now seem headed for early elimination given their tough grouping with two other strong teams in Italy and England. Costa Rica, one of the weakest teams in the tournament, had only won three World Cup games ever entering Saturday.
Iran's Rouhani says nuclear deal possible by July 20
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Saturday that a deal concerning the nation's nuclear program could be reached by July 20, though he added that negotiations would continue even if that benchmark is not met. "If our counterparts have the necessary determination and goodwill, it's possible to reach an agreement in five weeks," he said. Iran and six global superpowers, including the United States, have been working for months toward a long-term agreement that would curtail Iran's nuclear ambitions. The sides are scheduled to meet again this week in Vienna.
Same-sex marriage put on hold in Wisconsin
One week after ruling that Wisconsin's ban on gay marriage was unconstitutional, a federal judge temporarily halted same-sex marriages there pending appeal. U.S. District Court Judge Barbara Crabb said she issued the stay at the request of Wisconsin officials, and to avoid confusion for country clerks tasked with issuing marriage licenses.
Obama intervenes to end Philadelphia transit strike
President Obama on Saturday stepped in to halt Philadelphia's rail strike by creating an emergency board to resolve the multi-year labor dispute. In the system's first strike in three decades, workers walked off the job at 12:01 am Saturday to protest pension and wage issues. Obama's order, which came at the behest of Gov. Tom Corbett (R), created a three-member board to resolve the dispute, and barred workers from striking for 240 days while the mediation plays out.
San Antonio Spurs aim to win title Sunday
The San Antonio Spurs can close out the NBA Finals at home on Sunday with a Game 5 win over the Miami Heat. After losing last year's title to Miami in a heartbreaking Game 7, the Spurs are one win away from earning their revenge and capturing a fifth championship since 1999.
Alex Trebek sets Guinness World Record
Jeapordy! host Alex Trebek is himself now the answer to a trivia question. Trebek on Friday set a Guinness World Record for "most game show episodes hosted by the same presenter (one show)" when he presided over his 6,829th episode. Trebek is the show's second host, a role he has held since Jeapordy! relaunched in 1984.
Kelly Clarkson gives birth to first child
Pop star Kelly Clarkson announced the birth of her first daughter with a tweet on Saturday. The 32-year-old singer, who won the first season of American Idol, said she gave birth to River Rose Blackstock on June 12, adding that she and her husband were "on cloud 9."