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10 things you need to know today: August 12, 2014
Robin Williams dies at the age of 63, Iraq nominates a new prime minister, and more
 
Fans pay tribute.
Fans pay tribute. (AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian)

1. Robin Williams dies at the age of 63
Robin Williams, the actor who gave us Good Morning, Vietnam, Mrs. Doubtfire, Dead Poets Society, and Good Will Hunting, has died. Though the investigation is ongoing, the Marin County Sheriff's Department said the coroner "suspects the death to be a suicide due to asphyxia." The Oscar-winning actor had been battling severe depression, according to one of his representatives. [Fox]

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2. Iraq nominates new prime minister, ignites impasse with Maliki
Iraqi officials on Monday nominated a new prime minister to replace embattled Nouri al-Maliki, who has been blamed for deepening sectarian divides across the country. Maliki vowed to fight the nomination of Haider al-Abadi through the courts and even by force, sparking fears that his threats could destabilize the country or even lead to a coup. President Barack Obama has publicly backed Abadi's nomination and made Maliki's replacement a prerequisite for further American military aid in Iraq's fight against the militant group ISIS. [The New York Times]

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3. Iraqi and Kurdish forces rescue about 20 Yazidis stranded in the desert
About 20 Yazidis were rescued from Mount Sinjar after Iraqi and Kurdish forces swooped in on a helicopter to airlift the people out. The mission also dropped off much-needed supplies, including diapers, food, and water, to the thousands of families who were left behind. The dramatic rescue comes as the Yazidis, a small Kurdish minority, have been targeted by the militant group ISIS. [CNN]

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4. FBI launches investigation of Michael Brown shooting in St. Louis
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is looking into whether the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown was a civil rights violation. Brown, who is black, was on his way home from a convenience store when he was shot by a police officer in the suburbs of St. Louis. He was shot multiple times; the officer said Brown got into a physical altercation with him and pushed him into his squad car while Brown's friend said he and Brown were unarmed and had their hands up. [New York Daily News]

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5. NATO warns Russia's humanitarian mission to Ukraine could be a prelude to invasion
Early Tuesday, Russia said it is sending a convoy of about 280 trucks carrying food, medicine, and other supplies to the Ukrainian city of Luhansk, controlled by pro-Russia separatists and under siege by Ukrainian troops. NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen on Monday warned that there is "a high probability" that Russia will stage a military intervention in Ukraine, saying that as Ukraine closes in on the major separatist-held cities, Russia's state-run media has increasingly warned about the humanitarian crisis. [Reuters]

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6. Talks resume as Israeli-Palestinian truce holds
Israeli and Palestinian negotiators are in Egypt in the hope the two sides will soon be able to reach a lasting cease-fire agreement. The two entities are currently in the middle of another 72-hour cease-fire designed to give both sides some breathing room to come up with a more long-term solution. It's not clear how much progress has been made. Hamas is demanding an end to the Gaza blockade, while Israel wants Hamas to fully disarm. [ABC]

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7. Drugmaker runs out of Ebola treatment
Mapp Biopharmaceutical of San Diego says it has exhausted its supply of a revolutionary new Ebola treatment credited with saving lives during the latest outbreak. Known as ZMapp, the last of the medication was sent to Liberia to treat doctors who have contracted the deadly disease. The announcement came amid heated debate as to the ethics of whom should receive the drug when hundreds are dying and there is such a limited supply. [The Washington Post]

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8. California school district shelves controversial sex ed book
After getting complaints from 2,200 parents and residents, the Fremont school district has decided to hold off using a controversial health textbook that discussed everything from sexual bondage to vibrators and sex games. The superintendent has asked that the book remain on hold until the matter is fully investigated. The book was supposed to be given to ninth-graders. [Los Angeles Times]

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9. Barneys settles over racial profiling allegations
Barneys has decided to settle over allegations that it racially profiled at its store in New York City. After a nine-month investigation, the retailer will pay a $525,000 fine and implement new policies designed to spot employees who profile. Last year, two black customers reported that the store had falsely accused them of credit card fraud. [NPR]

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10. Doctors in Mexico remove a 150-pound tumor
It took four hours, but surgeons in Mexico were able to remove a 150-pound tumor. The patient, 51-year-old Mercedes Talamantes, said that the tumor began growing in her ovaries five years ago, but that she had been housebound for only the last two. About a month ago, her daughter convinced her to see a doctor about the growth. [ABC]

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Laura Colarusso
Laura Colarusso is a freelance journalist based in Boston. She has previously written for Newsweek, The Boston Globe, the Washington Monthly and The Daily Beast.

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