Daily Briefing

10 things you need to know today: June 17, 2014

Harold Maass
Iraqis flees their insurgent-controlled hometown of Mosul.  (AP Photo)
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The U.S. and Iran consider collaborating against militants in Iraq

American and Iranian diplomats met in Vienna on Monday to discuss working together to thwart the Sunni militants who have overrun much of northern Iraq, although the Pentagon said there would be no military cooperation. The discussions came on the sidelines at this week's talks on Iran's controversial nuclear program. President Obama also announced that the U.S. would send up to 275 troops to help protect the U.S. embassy in Baghdad. [The New York Times, USA Today]


Obama plans executive order protecting gay federal contractors

President Obama plans to sign an executive order prohibiting federal contractors from discriminating against employees because they are gay, a White House official said Monday. The move would mark a major victory for gay rights activists. Obama has called on Congress to pass a ban on discrimination by all employers against LGBT employees, but the Republican-controlled House has blocked it. [NBC News]


Russia shuts off Ukraine's natural gas supply

Russia cut off natural gas supplies to Ukraine on Monday after a payment deadline passed. Negotiators failed to reach a deal on prices and Ukraine's unpaid bills. The loss of gas, which Ukraine needs to heat homes and fuel factories, could prove devastating as the country battles pro-Russia separatists. The conflict, if unresolved, threatens to disrupt Europe's long-term energy supplies. [USA Today]


Ex-con arrested on suspicion of killing Phoenix priest

Police arrested a homeless ex-convict, Gary Michael Moran, on Monday for last week's killing of Rev. Kenneth Walker at the Mother of Mercy Mission in Phoenix. Police believe Moran hit another priest, Rev. Joseph Terra, with a metal rod. Terra ran to get a handgun from his bedroom, but police said the assailant wrestled it away and shot Walker as he tried to help Terra. The attacker also stole a camera and a car, police said. [The Associated Press]


GM recalls another three million vehicles

General Motors on Monday recalled three million more cars over faulty ignition switches. The move nearly doubled the number of vehicles GM has called back for repairs of ignition switches that can slip out of the "run" position, which can affect power steering and brakes, as well as air bags. The glitch is related to a defect that has been linked to 13 deaths and provoked an earlier recall of Chevrolet Cobalts and other small cars. [Reuters]


Palestinian killed during search for kidnapped Israeli teens

Israeli soldiers searching for three kidnapped teenagers shot and killed a 24-year-old Palestinian at a refugee camp Monday. Israeli forces also have arrested dozens of Palestinians. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blames the Islamist group Hamas for the abduction. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas condemned both the kidnapping and Israel's response. [Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post]


Tornado devastates Nebraska town

Twin tornadoes ripped through parts of Nebraska and leveled most of the town of Pilger, about 100 miles northwest of Omaha, on Monday. A 5-year-old there was killed and another 19 people injured as more than half of the buildings in Pilger, a town of 380 people, were destroyed. The town has been evacuated. "It looks like a war zone," Stanton County Commissioner Jerry Weatherholt said. [Lincoln Journal Star, Omaha Herald-World]


Hall of Fame hitter Tony Gwynn dies at 54

San Diego Padres Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn died Monday after battling mouth cancer attributed to years of chewing tobacco. He was 54. Gwynn, who won eight National League batting titles and had a lifetime .338 batting average, was diagnosed in 2010. He underwent disfiguring surgery and returned to work as baseball coach at his alma mater, San Diego State, but took a leave of absence in March to start more treatment. [New York Daily News]


Ford's injury changes Star Wars filming plan

The shooting schedule of Star Wars: Episode VII appears likely to be disrupted due to Harrison Ford's broken ankle. The actor, who is returning to update his role as daring pilot Han Solo, was injured on set when a hydraulic door on the Millennium Falcon fell on him. Ford is expected to miss six to eight weeks of shooting. [San Jose Mercury News]


U.S. wins its first match in the 2014 World Cup

The U.S. national soccer team beat Ghana on Monday in its first game of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. The victory was all the sweeter because Ghana beat the U.S. in the last two World Cups. The U.S. scored in the first minute. Ghana briefly tied the score in the 82nd minute, but John Brooks Jr. drove in a header minutes later to put the U.S. in the lead for good. [Los Angeles Times]