Daily Briefing

10 things you need to know today: September 9, 2014

Harold Maass
"RIP MH17" (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
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Iraq gets a new unity government

Iraq's parliament approved a new unity government on Monday led by Prime Minister Haider Abadi. The new leader is a Shiite Muslim, like his predecessor Nouri al-Maliki, whose government alienated minority Sunnis. Critics accused Maliki of angering Sunnis so badly that they welcomed a spring offensive by Sunni extremists in the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. Abadi is under pressure to be more inclusive. The swearing in of the new government removes an obstacle to expanding the U.S. role in the fight against ISIS. [Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post]


Dutch investigators say Malaysian airliner destroyed by "high-energy objects"

Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was likely downed by "high-energy objects from outside the aircraft" that caused it to break apart over rebel-held territory in eastern Ukraine, the Dutch Safety Board said in a preliminary investigation report published Tuesday. The objects hit the cockpit and front fuselage, supporting the theory that the airliner was struck by a missile fired from eastern Ukraine or western Russia. All 298 people on board were killed when the Amsterdam-to-Kuala Lumpur flight went down on July 17. [The New York Times]


Ferguson council plans to set up a police review board

The City Council in Ferguson, Missouri, is scheduled to meet Tuesday to discuss a plan to establish a review board to guide the police department in the wake of the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, on Aug. 9 by a police officer. The council will be meeting for the first time since the shooting, which touched off weeks of unrest. Council members also plan other changes to restore trust in the community, such as reforming city court procedures. [The Associated Press]


Amazon cuts prices on its new Fire smartphone as low as 99 cents

Amazon is slashing the price for its new Fire phone from $200 to 99 cents for the 32GB version with a two-year contract, the online retail powerhouse announced Monday. The 64GB version of Amazon's first smartphone will cost $100 with a two-year contract, down from $300. The drastic move, according to analysts, suggested that sales of the Fire were weak in the face of stiff competition from Samsung's Galaxy line and Apple's iPhone. [CNET]


Home Depot confirms data breach

Home Depot confirmed Monday that hackers had breached its payment database. The home improvement retail chain said customers who paid with credit or debit cards at its U.S. and Canadian stores might have been affected. Last week the company said it was cooperating with banks and law enforcement officials to investigate a report that it had been targeted. The breach appeared to have started in April, potentially making it larger than one that compromised 40 million cards used at Target last holiday season. [Fox Business]


Record rains send deadly flash floods through the Southwest

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) declared a statewide emergency on Monday after parts of the state were doused with a record downpour. Torrential rains prompted flash-flood warnings in Arizona and three other Southwestern states. Two women were killed in separate tragedies in Arizona. Phoenix got a record 3.29 inches at Sky Harbor International Airport, beating a mark of 2.91 inches set in 1939. A community outside the city got 5.5 inches. "If you must travel, please do so with caution & BE SAFE!" Brewer tweeted. [Reuters]


Chilean authorities blame subway blast on anarchists

A bomb at a fast-food restaurant injured at least 14 people at a Santiago, Chile, subway stop on Monday. Authorities called the blast a "terrorist act" targeting innocent people and blamed it on anarchists. It was the 30th explosion this year in Chile's capital city. Government spokesman Alvaro Elizalde said authorities were preparing to restore anti-terrorism laws dating to the 1973-90 dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet to give investigators more leeway to hold and interrogate suspects. [The Associated Press]


Cilic wins the U.S. Open for his first Grand Slam title

Fourteenth-seeded Marin Cilic trounced Kei Nishikori 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 on Monday to win the U.S. Open men's singles title. It was the first Grand Slam tennis championship for Cilic, a 6-foot-6, 25-year-old Croat. Cilic missed the Open last year due to a two-year ban for testing positive for a banned substance, but he appealed and got the suspension lifted, saying he had ingested the substance unintentionally. "Everything I was working for and dreaming came today," he said after the win. [The New York Times]


Study finds climate change could threaten half of North America's birds

Half of the bird species in the U.S. and Canada face the risk of severe population decline by 2080 if the pace of global warming doesn't slow down, the National Audubon Society said in a report released Monday. One of the birds under pressure is the bald eagle, which could have its habitat reduced by 75 percent. "The scale of the disruption we're projecting is a real punch in the gut," said Gary Langham, chief Audubon scientist. [Los Angeles Times]


Ravens cut Ray Rice over video showing him punching his wife

The Baltimore Ravens fired running back Ray Rice on Monday after TMZ posted casino security video showing the 220-pound athlete punching his wife, then-fiancee, in the face, appearing to knock her out. The NFL suspended Rice for two games after his arrest. The team stood by him, saying it respected his attempts to become the "best partner and father he could be." Head coach John Harbaugh said the video, which he saw for the first time on Monday, "changed things." [TMZ, Fox Sports]