Daily Briefing

10 things you need to know today: June 13, 2014

Harold Maass
Gooooooooal!  (AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo)
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Bergdahl returns to the U.S.

Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl arrived back in the United States early Friday, five years after he was captured by the Taliban, and two weeks after he was released in a controversial exchange for five members of the Afghan Taliban held at the U.S. base at Guantanamo Bay. Bergdahl traveled from a military hospital in Landstuhl, Germany, to San Antonio, Texas, where his rehabilitation will continue at Brooke Army Medical Center. [CNN]


Brazil beats Croatia in World Cup's first match

Host country Brazil won the first game of the World Cup on Thursday, coming back from an early deficit with two goals from star Neymar to beat Croatia 3-1. Raucous home fans took to the streets after the win. The match went off with no major logistical problems despite fears that the new Sao Paulo stadium, which still lacks finishing touches and hadn't been tested, would not be able to handle capacity crowds. [Reuters]


Sessions withdraws, leaving just one candidate for Cantor's leadership post

Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas) dropped out of the running to replace Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) as House majority leader, leaving Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) as the lone contender. Cantor announced that he would step down at the end of July after suffering a shocking primary defeat by Tea Party-backed challenger Dave Brat. Cantor said McCarthy, currently the No. 3 House Republican, would "make an outstanding majority leader." [The Huffington Post]


Kurds take advantage of turmoil to take over Kirkuk

Iraqi Kurds on Thursday exploited the chaos created as Sunni-extremist insurgents advanced toward Baghdad, and seized the strategic northern oil city of Kirkuk. Meanwhile, Shiite militias vowed to step in to fill a void left by fleeing government soldiers, and repel an advance of al Qaeda-linked insurgents. President Obama said he would not rule out airstrikes to help Iraq's crumbling military hold off the insurgents. [The Washington Post, Bloomberg]


Perry under fire for comparing homosexuality with alcoholism

Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) faced angry criticism from Democrats and gay rights groups after he compared homosexuality with alcoholism. Perry was asked while speaking in San Francisco about a plank in the state GOP platform calling for therapy to "cure" homosexuality. Perry replied that, just like people genetically inclined to be an alcoholic, gays "have the ability to decide not to do that." [The Dallas Morning News]


Ontario elects first openly gay premier

Canada's largest province, Ontario, elected the first openly gay head of government in North America on Thursday. Kathleen Wynne is also the first woman to be elected to premier, Ontario's equivalent to a governor. Wynne had already risen to the post last year when she won a leadership contest in her Liberal Party, but this was the party's first victory with her as premier. [Metro]


South Korean leader shakes up cabinet after ferry disaster

South Korean President Park Geun-hye replaced seven cabinet members on Friday in a bid to restore public trust in her government after a ferry disaster in April left 304 people dead or missing. Park's popularity plummeted as her administration faced angry criticism over its handling of the sinking of the ferry Sewol. Park had already nominated a new prime minister and replaced her defense and intelligence chiefs. [The Associated Press]


Harrison Ford injured on Star Wars set

Harrison Ford, 71, was taken to a hospital Thursday after suffering an injury on the set of Star Wars: Episode VII in the U.K. The actor, who is reprising his role as Han Solo, reportedly was injured by the door of the Millennium Falcon, the spaceship his character pilots in the original films. The movie features a slate of newcomers as well as original stars including Ford, Carrie Fisher, and Mark Hamill. [The Hollywood Reporter]


San Antonio comes takes commanding lead in NBA finals

The San Antonio Spurs routed two-time defending champion Miami Heat on the Heat's home court in Thursday's game four of the NBA finals, taking a commanding 3-to-1 lead in the best-of-seven series. No team has ever come back to win the professional basketball crown after trailing 3-to-1 in the finals. The series now moves back to San Antonio as the hot-shooting Spurs try to win their fifth title since 1999. [Reuters, The Washington Post]


George H.W. Bush skydives to mark 90th birthday

Former president George H.W. Bush celebrated his 90th birthday by going skydiving in Maine on Thursday. It was the 41st president's eighth — and, he says, last — jump. Bush also jumped out of planes to mark his 80th and 85th birthdays, and, when he was 88, told granddaughter Jenna Bush Hager, "I’ve got one more in me." Bush floated safely to the lawn of St. Ann's Episcopal Church, to the cheers of hundreds of relatives and friends. [The Associated Press]

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