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TOP STORIES

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JULY FOURTH

NEW YORK— Americans are marking Independence Day with parades, fireworks and, for some, a renewed sense of pride in their 242-year-old nation. For others, a sense of a United States divided weighs heavy on its quintessential holiday. From New York to New Mexico, July Fourth events will celebrate what Americans have in common. Festivities are as elaborate as Macy's July Fourth fireworks show, as gulp-worthy as Nathan's Famous hot dog eating contest and as easygoing as backyard barbecues. But in a country roiled with debate over what it means to be an American, there are even competing televised Independence Day events in the nation's capital. SENT: 447 words, photos. Will be updated throughout the day.

HOT DOG CONTEST

NEW YORK— It's frankly amazing. Chowdown champions will face off Wednesday at Nathan's Famous July Fourth hot dog eating contest, where the men's record stands at 72 frankfurters and buns in 10 minutes. SENT: 130 words, photos. UPCOMING: 350 words following competitions at 10:50 and 12 p.m.

INDEPENDENCE DAY

BOSTON— In these complex times, a simple question about the quintessential American holiday of fireworks, cookouts and parades isn't always so simple. As Americans prepare to celebrate the nation's 242nd birthday, some feel a deeper sense of patriotism. For others, the social issues roiling the country weigh heavy this Independence Day. By Philip Marcelo. SENT: 890 words, photos, video.

IN BRIEF:

—HOLIDAY ROAD CONSTRUCTION: New York state will temporarily halt work on highway construction projects to ease traffic associated with the July 4 holiday.

—TEEN SHOT IN FRONT OF HOME: A New York man says he found his 17-year-old son shot to death in front of their Long Island home.

—PLANTING TREES: New York state has $525,000 in grants available for tree-planting projects.

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SPORTS

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SOC--WCUP-US RATINGS

MOSCOW— The lack of a U.S. team caused a big viewership drop for World Cup telecasts. The 48 group stage broadcasts on Fox and FS1 averaged 2,069,000 viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research. That is down 42 percent from the 3.54 million average on ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC four years ago and down 15 percent from the 2,429,000 average on ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC eight years ago. SENT: 269 words, photo.

BBO--BRAVES-YANKEES

NEW YORK— Yankees slugger Giancarlo Stanton gave New York a scare with an awkward fall in right field. An inning later, he showed everyone in the Bronx that he was just fine. Stanton, Aaron Hicks and Kyle Higashioka each homered and New York went ahead early and hung on to beat the Atlanta Braves 8-5 on Tuesday night. By Charles O'Brien. SENT: 961 words, photos.