1. World Cup Comes to an End
It all comes down to this! After a month of soccer –- hailed as the best World Cup yet -– the competition reaches its climax on Sunday as Germany takes on Argentina in Rio’s Maracanã stadium. The two teams met in South Africa four years ago -– when Germany beat La Albicelestes 4-0 in the quarterfinals.
Both teams have lifted the trophy before -– Germany 3 times, Argentina twice. And while Die Nationalmannschaft start as the favorites, much will depend on the two star players: Germany’s Thomas Müller and Lionel Messi of Argentina. One will likely win the competition’s golden boot for the most goals –- Müller is currently the competition’s second leading goal scorer, with five, while Messi –- probably the most gifted player in the world –- has scored half Argentina’s eight goals. The two popes -– Francis and Benedict -– will be cheering for opposite sides. But the Vatican says they won’t be hosting a joint watch party in Rome. Kick-off 3 p.m. ET on ABC!
2. Bastille Day
Monday marks Bastille Day in France. La Fête Nationale commemorates the beginning of the French Revolution with the Storming of the Bastille on July 14, 1789. Since 1918 on every Bastille Day, the Champs-Élysées has hosted the largest military parade in Europe –- the President of La République taking the salute. Last year, First Lady Valérie Trierweiler watched from the front row of the stand, and was pictured with U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. But this year, there’ll be no first lady watching. Trierweiler was dramatically dumped by François Hollande in January. And it’s not just France that marks Bastille Day. More than 50 cities across the United States will go all French for the day to join in La Fête. And if you think the fireworks here on the Fourth of July were spectacular, you ain’t seen nothing yet.
3. Malala Day
Saturday is Malala Day –- a day the Taliban in Pakistan never wanted to see -– a day Malala Yousafzai turns another year older and completes another year of school. Last year on her birthday, Malala stood before the United Nations and spoke up for girls’ rights. One year later, she will travel to Africa to show that the world is stronger than the enemies of education.
“They thought that bullets would silence us, but they failed,” she said. Of the more than 110 million children not in school around the world, 60 percent are girls. By age 18, girls have received an average of 4.4 years less education than boys. Charities around the world will use Malala’s birthday to raise awareness and help girls realize their right to an education.
“My birthday wish this year is that we all raise our voices for those under oppression, to show our own power and that courage is stronger than their campaign of fear," Malala said.
4. Iran's Nuclear Program Reaches Its Final Stages
The race to do a deal with Iran over its nuclear program is reaching its final stages. Iran and the six international powers -- the United States, France, Germany, Britain, Russia and China -- aim to reach a long-term deal to end the decade-old nuclear standoff by a deadline of July 20. The goal is to reach an agreement under which Iran would curb its nuclear program in exchange for a gradual lifting of sanctions.
Talks resumed last week with still no sign of substantive progress on the main sticking points, which include uranium enrichment, the length of any agreement and the speed at which sanctions would be lifted. secretary of State John Kerry is set to arrive in Vienna this weekend to try to help break the log jam –- but wide gaps remain in the negotiating positions.
5. Costa Concordia Begins Its Final Journey
It’s been a long time coming, but on Monday, the Costa Concordia will begin its final journey -– two and a half years after its last ended in tragedy.
The cruise liner has been lying, shipwrecked, off the coast of Giglio Island since disaster struck on the night of Jan. 13, 2012. Thirty-two people lost their lives -– and the ship’s captain, Francesco Schettino, is on trial for manslaughter. Crews flipped the wreck upright last fall –- but now the real challenge begins.
The ship is resting upright on an underwater platform, with 30 water-filled metal tanks arranged along the side of its hull. On Monday, the tanks will be filled with air, lifting the 230 million pound ship off the platform. The wreck will then be towed 150 miles to Genoa. At the end of a five-day voyage, the Costa Concordia will be broken up for scrap -– a job that will take several years.