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10 things you need to know today: June 30, 2014
Obama picks a new Veterans Affairs secretary, ISIS declares the creation of an Islamic state, and more
 
A Sunni insurgent guards a checkpoint in Iraq.
A Sunni insurgent guards a checkpoint in Iraq. (AP Photo, File)

1. Obama taps former Procter & Gamble chief to run Veterans Affairs
President Obama on Monday will nominate former Procter & Gamble CEO Bob McDonald, a West Point graduate, to serve as the next secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, White House officials say. The department has faced months of criticism for allegedly covering up long waits for veterans seeking medical care. The nomination comes four weeks after former Army general Eric Shinseki resigned from the post over the scandal. An acting undersecretary and the VA general counsel have also quit. [The Washington Post]

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2. ISIS declares it has created a formal Islamic state
The Sunni extremist group fighting to take over Iraq and Syria declared Sunday that it was forming an Islamic state to restore the 7th-century Islamic caliphate. The group, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), said its name would now be simply the Islamic State. It declared all other Islamist factions "invalid." The move represented an open challenge to other affiliates of al Qaeda, which has long named restoring the caliphate as one of its main goals. [NBC News]

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3. Russia sends fighter planes to Iraq's air force
Iraq said Sunday that Russia was contributing 12 new Russian warplanes to help fight Sunni extremist insurgents. The move was seen as an attempt to focus criticism on the U.S. for being too slow to supply the Iraqi army with American F-16 fighter jets and attack helicopters, both of which are now on the way. Congress had balked at selling Iraq Apache helicopter gunships over fears that the country's Shiite-led government would use them to target political opponents. [The New York Times]

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4. North Korea prepares to indict two U.S. tourists
North Korea plans to charge American tourists Miller Matthew Todd and Jeffrey Edward Fowle with committing "hostile acts" against the country, Pyongyang's official Korean Central News Agency reported Monday. Fowle entered the county in April. Diplomatic sources said he was detained for leaving a Bible in his hotel room, although his family denied he was on a mission for his church. KCNA claimed Miller tore up his tourist visa upon arrival in April and asked for asylum. [CNN]

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5. By-standers injured in New Orleans gun battle
Nine people were injured in crossfire during a shootout in the heart of New Orleans' famed, tourist-packed Bourbon Street on Sunday. Two of the victims were in critical condition. New Orleans Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas said the perpetrators were "two cowardly young men trying to hurt one another." New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu promised police would catch the gunmen. "Our No. 1 priority is to keep New Orleans safe," he said. [The Times-Picayune]

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6. Mexico cries foul after Holland knocks it out of the World Cup
Holland advanced to the World Cup round of eight on Sunday with a last-minute penalty goal that gave it a 2-1 win over Mexico. The Mexican team had led for 40 minutes before the Dutch team tied the match with a spectacular goal by Wesley Sneijder with two minutes remaining in regulation time. Then, deep in overtime, Holland's Arjen Robben went down in the penalty area. The referee said he was tripped, setting up the winning goal. Mexican players insisted Robben faked the fall and stole the game. [The Telegraph]

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7. Dozens trapped for hours in stalled SeaWorld ride
Forty-eight people were stranded 220 feet above ground for four hours on Sunday when a power outage stalled a ride at SeaWorld San Diego. City fire officials said 46 park visitors and two employees were riding in a revolving capsule on the Skytower when it suddenly stopped. Park officials said they never lost communication with the group, and that the employees on board passed out water and snacks. There were no injuries, but a 17-year-old boy was taken to a hospital for anxiety. [The Associated Press]

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8. Pharrell emerges as the BET Awards' big winner
"Happy" singer Pharrell Williams continued his award-show winning streak on Sunday by winning Video of the Year and Best Male R&B/Pop Artist at the 2014 BET Awards on Sunday night. Beyonce, another big winner, took home the awards for Best Female R&B/Pop Artist and Best Collaboration, which she won with husband Jay Z for Drunk in Love. Host Chris Rock got good reviews for jokes at the expense of everyone from Chris Brown to embattled Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling. [Variety]

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9. Global warming threatens emperor penguins, report says
Antarctica's 600,000-strong emperor penguin population will fall by at least a fifth by 2100 as global warming melts sea ice where the birds breed, according to a study published Sunday in the journal Nature Climate Change. The authors of the report urged governments to declare the penguins endangered to help protect them, even though some colonies are expected to grow through 2050. [Reuters]

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10. Heat stars opt out of contracts to help rebuild their team
Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade joined fellow Miami Heat star LeBron James in opting out of their contracts, meaning they will become free agents this week. This does not mean the Heat — who came up short this month in their bid for a third straight NBA Finals win — will be breaking up. Heat President Pat Riley will now try to re-sign Bosh and Wade with pay cuts that will allow the team to strengthen its roster with other free agents to build another championship team. [New York Daily News]

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Harold Maass is a contributing editor at TheWeek.com. He has been writing for The Week since the 2001 launch of the U.S. print edition. Harold has worked for a variety of news outlets, including The Miami HeraldFox News, and ABC News.

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