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Daily Briefing

10 things you need to know today: June 19, 2014

Harold Maass
To reinforce its beleaguered army, the Iraqi government has turned to Shiite volunteers.  (AP Photo/Karim Kadim, File)
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1.

Iraq asks the U.S. for air support against insurgents

Pentagon officials told Congress on Wednesday that the Iraqi government had requested U.S. air power to help repel an offensive by the al Qaeda splinter group ISIS (the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria). The Sunni insurgents have take over several cities and are battling for control of a major oil refinery. The U.S. is already flying surveillance missions over Iraq, and President Obama is weighing other military options with lawmakers.

2.

Patent office rescinds Redskins' trademark registration

The U.S. Patent and Trade Office on Wednesday canceled the Washington Redskins' trademark registration, calling the professional football team's name "disparaging to Native Americans." The ruling limits the team's ability to go after anyone who makes unauthorized use of its name. The decision also adds to mounting pressure from Native American activists and politicians to get the NFL team to change its name.

3.

Florida joins Missouri and Georgia in resuming executions

Florida became the third state in 24 hours to execute a convicted murderer late Wednesday, ending a halt to lethal injections that followed a botched April execution in Oklahoma. The Supreme Court earlier declined to step in to spare inmates in Missouri and Georgia, suggesting the high court's willingness to let states resume capital punishment. John Ruthell Henry, 63, was put to death for killing his wife and her 5-year-old son in 1985.

4.

Charney out at American Apparel

American Apparel's board ousted founder and CEO Dov Charney on Wednesday due to an "ongoing investigation" into "alleged misconduct," an apparent reference to sexual harassment allegations that have dogged Charney for years. "We take no joy in this, but the board felt it was the right thing to do," Allan Mayer, a director of American Apparel, said. A source close to Charney said he was shocked and would "fight like hell" to get the company back.

5.

Fed further curbs its stimulus program as the economic outlook brightens

The Federal Reserve continued its policy of ratcheting down its economic stimulus program, cutting its monthly purchase of Treasury bonds and mortgage-backed securities by another $10 billion, from $45 billion to $35 billion. The move was an indication that the central bank remains confident that the economy is slowly improving. Harsh weather weighed on the economy in early 2014, but forecasts call for rising employment ahead.

6.

Amazon enters the smartphone war

Amazon.com made a fresh bid to challenge Apple and Samsung on Wednesday with the release of its Fire phone. Users can control the 4.7-inch phone by tilting it, and its screen gives a 3D perspective. The Fire also is equipped with technology that allows users to point it at a an object, such as a book, or listen to a movie or song and immediately buy them at Amazon.com. The phone starts at $199 and comes with a year of Amazon Prime service.

7.

Luxembourg becomes 19th country to legalize gay marriage

Luxembourg lawmakers overwhelmingly approved legislation legalizing same-sex marriage on Wednesday. Gay couples will also be able to adopt children. The bill marked the first changes to the small European country's marriage laws since 1804. It came six months after Xavier Bettel, who is openly gay, became prime minister. Luxembourg is the 19th country worldwide to grant "full marriage rights" to all, according to the Human Rights Campaign.

8.

Alleged former Auschwitz guard arrested in Philadelphia

An alleged former Nazi concentration camp guard, Johann (John) Breyer, was arrested in Philadelphia on Wednesday after living in the U.S. since the 1950s. Breyer, 89, is wanted in Germany for complicity in the deaths of over 200,000 Jews at Auschwitz. Breyer is being held without bail pending an August extradition hearing. Breyer has acknowledged working as an Auschwitz guard but says he did it involuntarily, and had nothing to do with the gassings.

9.

Felipe VI is crowned king of Spain

Felipe VI became Spain's king on Thursday following the abdication of his father, Juan Carlos. Felipe, 46, takes over a crown tainted by scandal — his sister, Princess Cristina, is implicated in a corruption case, and his high-living father's popularity sank after he went on a luxury safari to hunt elephants while the public suffered through 25-percent unemployment. Felipe's low-key coronation was meant to show a break from the past.

10.

Chile eliminates defending champion Spain from the World Cup

Chile handed Spain its second defeat, 2-0, on Wednesday, eliminating the defending champion in the first round of the World Cup in Brazil. Chile is now assured a spot in the next round, while Spain goes on to play Australia in a match with zero significance in the tournament. Spain is the third defending champion to get knocked out this early in the last four World Cups. The same thing happened to France in 2002 and Italy in 2010.