Happy Fourth of July! We astute MUI PR bloggers realize you are just too damn busy grilling, chilling and setting off glorious reams of blatantly illegal firecrackers to track the hottest news of the week. Thus, as always, we did it for you. You’re welcome. We demand choice steaks in recompense.

Check out our picks for the top five stories of the week!


1. Hobby Lobby Decision Sparks Uproar

As your correspondent noted, the Supreme Court’s narrow 5-4 ruling allowing Hobby Lobby and other closely-held for-profit corporations to obtain religious exemptions from ACA-mandated contraception coverage has sparked its share of controversy, split along predictable partisan lines. Hillary Clinton, Elizabeth Warren and other left-leaning luminaries have denounced the decision as a disastrous step back for women’s access to healthcare and warned of possible future challenges to the Affordable Care Act along the same lines. Conservatives have championed the decision as a major victory for religious liberty. All told, American are split on the issue. 


2. The U.S. Leaves the World Cup in Spectacular Fashion

Farewell, valiant America. You played your hearts out on the pitches of Brazil, and the world loves you for it. The U.S. team exited the World Cup on Tuesday after a 2-1 loss to a surging Belgian squad in extra time, but the dramatic play of keeper Tim Howard (a record-setting sixteen saves) and a late American surge packed the match full of suspense and emotion. The noble defeat solidified an excellent World Cup for the U.S. squad, rendered sweeter around the edges by widespread American engagement in the sport and a growing popularity among other nations. Sure, the match may not warrant comparisons to the Alamo or renaming D.C.’s Ronald Regan National Airport after Tim Howard, but it sure was a lovely time.


3. Ebola Rising

There is a growing shadow in Western Africa, and the rest of the world is not paying attention. The worst Ebola outbreak in decades has claimed over 450 lives in the nations of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, with containment efforts rendered impotent by the lightning spread of the virus in crowded metropolitan areas. The disease commands an astonishing 90% fatality rate, with victims often succumbing in a matter of days. Health officials are calling the epidemic “out of control.”


4. Israel Strikes Gaza Strip in Retaliation For Hamas Murders, Asks Hamas to Calm Things Down

The Israeli Defense Force has launched a number of highly-publicized airstrikes on the Gaza Strip in recent weeks, in severe retaliation for the murders of four Israeli teenagers by the militant Islamist terrorist group, Hamas. The airstrikes, along with a retaliatory abduction and murder of a young Palestinian teenager by a group of right-wing Israeli extremists, have fostered bitter unrest in Gaza and the rest of Palestine. The IDF has made public attempts to connect with Hamas via back channels, as they seek to restore some semblance of calm to the restive region. The maelstrom further muddies the political waters in the West Bank and makes any attempt at jumpstarting peace talks all but impossible.


5. ISIS Declares Islamic Caliphate in Iraq and Syria

The Islamic State In Iraq And Syria (ISIS), an extremist militant group that currently controls vast swaths of the two countries, declared their captured territory a caliphate on Sunday. A caliphate — an Islamic state controlled by a supreme political and religious ruler — subscribes completely to Sharia law with all the delightful accoutrements and accompanying human rights abuses contained therein. Nearly 12 million people currently live within the arbitrary borders of the newborn caliphate, and redemption of any sort seems unlikely in the near future.


What do you think about this week in news? Are there any stories that pricked your attention? Start the dialogue in the comments below or connect with me on Twitter @aa_murph