AP News in Brief at 10:58 p.m. EDT

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Associated Press

Posted on July 4, 2014 at 10:02 PM

Governor says NC dodges bullet from Arthur as it skirts along US Eastern Seaboard

KILL DEVIL HILLS, N.C. (AP) — Proving far less damaging than feared, Hurricane Arthur left tens of thousands of people without power Friday in a swipe at North Carolina's dangerously exposed Outer Banks, then brought lousy Fourth of July beach weather to parts of the Northeast as it veered out to sea.

The weather along the narrow barrier islands — where beaches draw hundreds of thousands of tourists every summer — had already cleared by Friday afternoon as Arthur scooted north and its outer bands scraped the Delaware and New Jersey shores. Forecasters predicted the storm would weaken before its center moves over western Nova Scotia in Canada early Saturday.

While state and local officials worked to restore access to Hatteras Island and help those who had suffered storm and flooding damage, the effects of the hurricane were mostly confined to that part of the state. Farther south, the beaches were once again packed with people soaking up the sun.

"The North Carolina beaches are open for business and they're open for tourists," Gov. Pat McCrory said. "The umbrellas are going up as we speak right now."

Arthur struck North Carolina as a Category 2 storm with winds of 100 mph late Thursday, taking about five hours to move across the far eastern part of the state.

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Pyrotechnics, parades, pigging out: Americans mark July Fourth despite Hurricane Arthur

The United States marks 238 years as an independent nation as it celebrates the Fourth of July with fireworks, food and music. Nature and politics also play a role this year, with Hurricane Arthur crashing holiday parties along the East Coast and subdued festivities in Moscow amid growing anti-American sentiment over the crisis in Ukraine. Here are some highlights of Independence Day celebrations across the globe:

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FIRE IN THE SKY

Tens of thousands of people crammed the narrow cobble stone streets of a landmark seaport and the closed lanes of a riverfront highway to watch the Macy's Fourth of July fireworks show in New York City.

A brilliant 25-minute show of reds, whites and blues lit up the sky from three barges on the East River, sandwiched between Brooklyn and lower Manhattan — and even some from the Brooklyn Bridge itself.

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Obama pushes for immigration overhaul at citizenship ceremony for foreign-born service members

WASHINGTON (AP) — Celebrating the ethnic diversity of America, President Barack Obama said more than two dozen foreign-born service members who became U.S. citizens at the White House on the Fourth of July are vivid reminders that welcoming immigrants "is central to our way of life."

He pleaded anew for new immigration policies, saying the vast range of backgrounds and experiences that has made America a melting pot for more than 200 years also makes the country stronger. He argued that the system must be retooled for the U.S. to remain the greatest nation on earth.

"The basic idea of welcoming immigrants to our shores is central to our way of life, it is in our DNA," Obama said after the 25 service members representing 15 countries raised their right hands and pledged allegiance to the United States.

"From all these different strands, we make something new here in America. And that's why, if we want to keep attracting the best and brightest from beyond our borders, we're going to have to fix our immigration system, which is broken," he said. "Pass common-sense immigration reform.

The immigration issue is earning renewed attention because of the influx to the U.S. of tens of thousands of unaccompanied children from Central America. Under U.S. law, they must be returned to their home countries, angering immigration advocates who already take issue with Obama's enforcement of deportations. They want Obama to allow the children to stay.

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Iraq's al-Maliki says he will fight until militants defeated; political impasse drags on

BAGHDAD (AP) — Despite mounting pressure to step aside, Iraq's Nouri al-Maliki vowed Friday not to abandon his bid for another term as prime minister and pledged to stay on until the Sunni militants who have overrun much of the country are defeated.

The sharp words are certain to prolong the political impasse gripping Iraq, which is facing urgent demands for a new government that can hold the nation together in the face of an onslaught that threatens to cleave it in three along ethnic and sectarian lines.

The offensive by militants who have swept across much of northern and western Iraq since last month has been fueled in part by grievances among the country's Sunni Muslim minority with al-Maliki and his Shiite-led government.

Al-Maliki, a Shiite who has been prime minister since 2006, has been accused by former allies and others of monopolizing power and contributing to the crisis by failing to promote reconciliation with Sunnis.

The U.S. has urged the formation of a more inclusive government but has not explicitly called for al-Maliki to bow out.

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Clashes erupt in Jerusalem as Palestinians bury Arab teen killed in alleged revenge attack

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli police clashed with rock-throwing Palestinian protesters in Jerusalem on Friday as thousands mourned at the funeral for an Arab teen who Palestinians say was killed by Israeli extremists in a revenge attack.

Palestinian militants, meanwhile, fired rockets and mortars from the Gaza Strip into Israel, and the Jewish state later carried out several airstrikes on what it described as "Hamas terror targets" in Gaza. There were no immediate reports of casualties.

Also, the Israeli military said its troops opened fire after spotting two Palestinians planting explosives near the Gaza border fence.

An ambulance carried the body of 16-year-old Mohammed Abu Khdeir, wrapped in a Palestinian flag and traditional headscarf, to a mosque in the east Jerusalem neighborhood where he lived. Then mourners carried the open casket through the crowd to a cemetery.

During the procession, scores of masked Palestinians threw rocks at Israeli police on duty nearby, and they responded with stun grenades, spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said. He said more than 2,000 people attended the funeral.

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Germany summons US envoy over arrest of man reported to have spied for US

BERLIN (AP) — Germany summoned the U.S. ambassador in Berlin on Friday following the arrest of a man reported to have spied for the United States, heightening friction between the two countries over alleged U.S. eavesdropping in Germany.

U.S. Ambassador John B. Emerson was called in "in connection with an investigation by the federal prosecutor," the German Foreign Ministry said in a statement. The U.S. envoy "was asked to help in the swift clarification" of the case, it added.

Federal prosecutors say a 31-year-old German man was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of spying for foreign intelligence services. They did not identify the suspect or the intelligence services.

German government spokesman Steffen Seibert told reporters that Chancellor Angela Merkel been personally informed of the arrest.

He declined to comment on reports by Der Spiegel magazine and the daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung that the man worked for Germany's foreign intelligence service, known by its German acronym BND.

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California Highway Patrol investigating video of officer punching woman on Los Angeles freeway

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The California Highway Patrol said Friday it is investigating video of one of its officers straddling a woman and punching her in the head as she lay on the shoulder of a Los Angeles freeway.

The woman had been walking on Interstate 10 west of downtown Los Angeles, endangering herself and people in traffic, and the officer was trying to restrain her, CHP Assistant Chief Chris O'Quinn said at a news conference.

Passing Driver David Diaz recorded the Tuesday incident and provided it to media outlets including The Associated Press.

The officer is on administrative leave while the patrol investigates. He has not been identified.

O'Quinn said the incident report listed no injuries for the woman, who would not give her name. She is undergoing psychiatric evaluation, he said.

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Amid declines in private sector union membership, unions for government workers are gaining

WASHINGTON (AP) — Unions representing government workers are expanding while organized labor has been shedding private sector members over the past half-century.

A majority of union members today now have ties to a government entity, at the federal, state or local levels.

Roughly 1-in-3 public sector workers is a union member, compared with about 1-in-15 for the private sector workforce last year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Overall, 11.3 percent of wage and salary workers in the United States are unionized, down from a peak of 35 percent during the mid-1950s in the strong post-World War II recovery.

The typical union worker now is more likely to be an educator, office worker or food or service industry employee rather than a construction worker, autoworker, electrician or mechanic. Far more women than men are among the union-label ranks.

In a blow to public sector unions, the Supreme Court ruled this week that thousands of health care workers in Illinois who are paid by the state cannot be required to pay fees that help cover a union's cost of collective bargaining.

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Brazil striker Neymar to miss rest of World Cup after fracturing a vertebra against Colombia

FORTALEZA, Brazil (AP) — With tears streaming down his face after being kneed in the back, Neymar was carried off the field on a stretcher.

He won't be coming back. Not to this World Cup, anyway.

The 22-year-old Brazil striker, the one with the hopes of a nation on his shoulders, was ruled out of the rest of the tournament after fracturing his third vertebrae during Friday's 2-1 quarterfinal win over Colombia.

"It's a big loss for us," Brazil midfielder Fernandinho said. "We need to find a way to stay together and become stronger after losing our greatest player. We will try to win this World Cup and for sure we will dedicate it to Neymar."

Neymar is the biggest football star in Brazil, and one of the biggest at the tournament along with Argentina forward Lionel Messi. His face has been plastered on billboards and shown on television continuously, leading many of his staunchest supporters to copy his dyed-blonde fauxhawk.

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Brazil wins again, but injured striker Neymar ruled out of the rest of the World Cup

FORTALEZA, Brazil (AP) — Not long after celebrating another all-important win at the World Cup, Brazil was jolted by the loss of Neymar.

The tournament's poster boy with the dyed-blonde fauxhawk fractured a vertebra in his back during Brazil's 2-1 quarterfinal victory over Colombia on Friday. The injury has ruled the striker out of the rest of the competition, dealing a massive blow to the team's chances of finally winning a World Cup at home.

Brazil advanced to the semifinals for the first time in 12 years, with the goals coming from defenders Thiago Silva and David Luiz. But the jubilation was quickly tempered when Brazil team doctor Rodrigo Lasmar said Neymar broke his third vertebrae and is expected to be out for several weeks, ruling him out of Tuesday's semifinal match against Germany in Belo Horizonte.

"It's a situation that leaves us in a difficult position for the match against Germany," Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari said. "But we have great players and if I have to change something I will do it and we will be OK."

The 22-year-old Neymar has been the focal point of both the Brazilian team and the entire World Cup, and he lived up to expectations with four goals in the first three matches.

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