2018 FIFA World Cup kicks off as Russia faces Saudi Arabia

Soccer's biggest extravaganza — the FIFA World Cup — kicks off Thursday in Russia, with 32 teams vying over the course of a month for their shot at international glory. The U.S. will not be competing after it failed to qualify for the first time in nearly three decades. But there's some consolation for the USA: Soccer's governing body announced Wednesday that the United States, Canada and Mexico will host the 2026 World Cup. Not sure who to root for? USA TODAY Sports has you covered. The first match will begin at 11 a.m. ET on FOX between Russia vs. Saudi Arabia in Moscow. Check out the rest of the World Cup schedule, as well as our fearless predictions

Watchdog expected to rebuke Comey over Clinton email case

A Justice Department watchdog will release a report Thursday on the Obama administration's handling of the Hillary Clinton email scandal in the runup to the 2016 election. The report — by Inspector General Michael Horowitz — is widely expected to criticize Comey, the former FBI director, for his public statements in July 2016 and October 2016 about the federal investigation into Clinton's use of private email while she was secretary of state. Congress and the White House have anxiously awaited the report, which has taken more than 16 months to complete and could affect Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia's interference in the 2016 election. For her part, Clinton has blamed her election defeat on Comey's public disclosure of reopening the investigation

Kim Kardashian West to appear on TV with woman she helped free

Reality-TV star Kim Kardashian West will appear on NBC's "Today" show Thursday with Alice Johnson, the woman she helped win a presidential commutation, in their first joint interview. Johnson, now 63, was convicted in 1996 of five counts of drug trafficking and one count of money laundering and sentenced to life in prison — despite the fact that it was her first offense. Kardashian West was able to plead her case directly to President Donald Trump in an Oval Office meeting, after which Trump agreed to commute her sentence to time served after 22 years in prison. Today host Hoda Kotb will conduct the interview.

One year later, U.K. remembers Grenfell Tower

In memory of the 72 people that died in the Grenfell Tower fire on June 14, 2017, the United Kingdom will honor those fallen through a nationwide silence on Thursday. The fire marks the deadliest tragedy the country's capital, London, has encountered since World War II.  In the 12 months since the tragedy, a public inquiry has been opened into the fire and is expected to last about 18 months. U.K. leaders including Prime Minister Theresa May have faced criticism in their response to the fire, with May expressing regret about meeting with emergency workers but not with survivors soon after the tragedy. While the community is still rebuilding, survivors are spreading green hearts as a symbol of remembrance so that the incident may never be forgotten.

Tiger Woods and the field look to tame U.S. Open

The hardest challenge in golf is ready to tee off as the men's U.S. Open gets started at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in Southampton, N.Y.  A full field of the world’s top players are ready for the second men’s major championship of 2018, including Tiger Woods, who is still looking for his first major championship victory since 2008. And his yacht has become a bit of a celebrity on its own. But there’s plenty of competition (Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson and many more) and USA TODAY Sports’ Steve DiMeglio breaks down the best bets and his pick to win the title. Here are the tee times for Thursday and Friday action.

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