foreign affairs
July 5, 2014
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Perhaps hoping to snag a last-minute invite to D.C's fireworks extravaganza, Russian President Vladimir Putin called President Obama on Friday to wish him a happy Fourth of July. Putin told Obama he hoped the two nations could "continue successful development on a pragmatic and equal basis despite the current differences and difficulties," according to a Kremlin statement.

"The president also stressed that Russia and the United States are both countries bearing particular responsibility for ensuring international stability and security," the statement went on, "and should therefore cooperate not just for the benefit of their own peoples but also in the entire world's interest." Jon Terbush

9:44 p.m. ET
Rob Stothard/Getty Images

Instead of fighting crowds for doorbuster deals, more people shopped for bargains this Thanksgiving and Black Friday weekend from the comfort of their own home.

The National Retail Federation estimates that more than 103 million Americans shopped online, and almost 102 million shopped in brick-and-mortar stores. Adobe Systems Inc. says consumers spent around $4.45 billion online during Black Friday, up 14 percent from 2014. Adobe also estimates that more than 50 percent of those shoppers used mobile devices to make purchases. "This holiday may be a wake-up call for store-based retailers to recognize they are going to have to transform their store models to compete with online retailers," Steve Barr, a retail consultant at PricewaterhouseCoopers, told The Wall Street Journal.

Several retailers offered the same promotions online and in store, and some, like Walmart, put major deals up online hours before they were available in stores. It's not just big box stores trying to woo shoppers online; companies like Expedia are also offering special deals for Black Friday and Cyber Monday. "Ultimately, retailers are in a race to capture their share of consumer spending," Barr said. Catherine Garcia

time to say goodbye
8:31 p.m. ET
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

In an open letter posted online Sunday, Lakers guard Kobe Bryant announced the current NBA season will be his last.

"My heart can take the pounding, my mind can handle the grind, but my body knows it's time to say goodbye," the 37-year-old wrote on The Players Tribune. Bryant, now in his 20th season, has been with the Lakers since 1996, when he was a 17-year-old brought to the team after Vlade Divac was sent to the Charlotte Hornets. He has won five NBA championships and two Olympic gold medals, and was an NBA All-Star selection 17 times and an NBA MVP. In a statement, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver called Bryant "one of the greatest players in the history of our game." Catherine Garcia

keeping up with the republicans
2:15 p.m. ET

Gov. Chris Christie (R-N.J.) hasn't really succeeded yet in standing out in a large pool of Republican presidential hopefuls. His polling numbers are no great shakes, and they even caused him to miss out on one recent primetime debate.

But the governor got some good news in Sunday's newspaper — an endorsement from the New Hampshire Union Leader, a big conservative outlet in an early voting state:

Chris Christie is a solid, pro-life conservative who has managed to govern in liberal New Jersey, face down the big public unions, and win a second term. Gov. Christie can work across the aisle, but he won't get rolled by the bureaucrats. We don't need as President some well-meaning person from the private sector who has no public experience.

Gov. Christie is right for these dangerous times. He has prosecuted terrorists and dealt admirably with major disasters. But the one reason he may be best-suited to lead during these times is because he tells it like it is and isn't shy about it. [Union Leader]

It would appear the Union Leader is a paper Christie actually reads, unlike, say, The New York Times. Julie Kliegman

Legal battles
1:30 p.m. ET

Philip Williams, a 69-year-old U.S. Navy veteran, said he returned to West Hempstead, New York, in August after recovering from a knee replacement and ensuing complications to find that his home had been demolished.

Williams has filed a notice of claim, the first step in filing a lawsuit against the town, The Associated Press reported Saturday. The veteran is seeking reimbursement for the house itself and for his belongings, which include his clothing, photos of his children, and his late wife's engagement ring. He has also asked police for a criminal inquiry.

"I'm angry and I'm upset. It's just wrong on so many levels," Williams told AP. "My mortgage was up to date, my property taxes were up to date...everything was current and fine."

Town officials said they held a public hearing before demolishing the house, which they considered a "dilapidated dwelling," after looking into neighbors' complaints. They also said they made attempts to notify Williams of the decision while he was recovering in Florida, a claim the veteran has disputed.

"You see people who went through a tornado or a flood and they say they lost everything, but that's not preventable," Williams said. "This was preventable." Julie Kliegman

we'll never be royals
12:42 p.m. ET

Not only is baby Princess Charlotte fourth in line for the British throne, but she also continues to be unfairly cute. Kensington Palace tweeted out two new photos of the 6-month-old Sunday that were captured by her mother Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge. Brace yourself for the adorableness of the baby and her stuffed animal below:

"The Duke and Duchess continue to receive warm messages about Princess Charlotte from all around the world and they hope that everyone enjoys these lovely photos as much as they do," USA Today reports the palace said in a statement. Julie Kliegman

12:18 p.m. ET

Republican presidential hopefuls including Donald Trump, Mike Huckabee, and Carly Fiorina have condemned Friday's fatal shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, Colorado, while denying a link between the attack and pro-life rhetoric.

Authorities have identified Robert Lewis Dear, 57, as the suspected gunman. He reportedly expressed his pro-life sentiments to law enforcement officials when they took him into custody Friday. Trump dismissed the gunman as a "maniac," on NBC's Meet the Press, and defended the edited video footage that pro-life advocates have used to question how Planned Parenthood handles fetal tissue donations.

Huckabee also sought to separate the pro-life movement from Dear's alleged actions.

"Regardless of why he did it, what he did is domestic terrorism," Huckabee said on CNN's State of the Union. "And what he is did is absolutely abominable, especially to those of us in the pro-life movement, because there's nothing about any of us that would condone or in any way look the other way at something like this."

On Fox News Sunday, Fiorina criticized liberals for their response to the shooting, which has included a defense of Planned Parenthood's women's health services.

"This is so typical of the left, to immediately begin demonizing a messenger because they don't agree with the message," she said. Julie Kliegman

paris attacks aftermath
11:39 a.m. ET

French police officers used tear gas to disperse a crowd of hundreds of demonstrators at the Place de la République on Sunday. They also detained about 100 people who had projectiles or other suspicious objects, The Associated Press reports.

The demonstrators were protesting to call on world leaders for a global commitment to curbing climate change, one day before the start of a landmark summit in Paris.

The Paris police chief said the demonstrators violated the ban on protests being enforced under France's ongoing state of emergency, which authorities put in place after the Nov. 13 terrorist attacks.

Watch AP video footage of police officers breaking up the protest below. Julie Kliegman

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