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Washington's Top News -- Monday, August 18, 2014

Monday - 8/18/2014, 5:58am  ET

Here's a look at some of the day's top stories from WTOP:

U.S. launches airstrikes near Irbil and Mosul Dam

The U.S. is widening its air campaign in Iraq.

The latest attacks are aimed at helping Iraqi forces regain control of the strategic Mosul dam. The Islamic State extremist group took control of the dam less than two weeks ago. Military officials say U.S. forces conducted nine strikes Saturday and another 16 on Sunday. Kurdish forces have reportedly captured part of the dam.

Groups claim insurance discrimination in new forms

Leading patient groups say insurance companies are beginning to find ways around anti-discrimination provisions which are a central goal of the nation's health care law.

The insurance industry responds that critics are confusing legitimate cost-control with bias. Some state regulators, however, say there's reason to be concerned about policies that shift costs to patients and narrow their choices of hospitals and doctors. More than 300 patient advocacy groups recently wrote Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell to complain about some insurer tactics that ``are highly discriminatory against patients with chronic health conditions and may … violate the (law's) nondiscrimination provisions.''

Missouri governor sends National Guard to Ferguson

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon ordered the National Guard to Ferguson early Monday, hours after police used tear gas to clear protesters off the streets following a week of demonstrations against the fatal police shooting of a black Missouri teenager.

In a statement, Nixon said the National Guard would help ``in restoring peace and order'' to this the St. Louis suburb that has been filled almost nightly with angry, defiant crowds.

Disabilities in kids rise; not physical problems

A 10-year analysis finds U.S. children's mental and developmental problems on the rise, more so in those from wealthier families.

Researchers say disadvantaged kids still bear a disproportionate burden and that the increases may partly reflect more awareness and recognition that conditions, including autism, require a specific diagnosis to receive special services. Overall, disabilities of any kind affected 8 percent of children by 2010-2011, compared to close to 7 percent a decade earlier. For children living in poverty, the rate was 10 percent, versus about 6 percent of kids from wealthy families.

The study finds physical disabilities declined.

What to watch for in tonight's Redskins-Browns game

The obvious story line for Monday night's preseason game at FedEx Field comes from the dynamic quarterbacks on each sideline: RG3 and Cleveland rookie "Johnny Football" -- Johnny Manziel. But that's not all, says WTOP's Redskins reporter, George Wallace. The Browns will bring in former Washington offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan; Skins coach Jay Gruden's brother will be in the booth, calling the game for Monday Night Football, and position battles are going on all over the field. On WTOP's Sports page, Wallace tells you what to look for.

A fantasy world comes to a D.C. stage

It's the 1990s in suburban Ohio and Tilly lives among the most fearsome creatures known to man: high school students. In the play ‘She Kills Monsters,' now playing in D.C., she escapes into the world of the role-playing game Dungeons and Dragons in a play that's funny and poignant and, according to the New York Times, ‘rather ingenious.' On WTOP's Entertainment page, find out when and where you can see it.

The Chromebook wave is swamping the PC

The Chromebook is essentially a cross between a tablet and a notebook PC, says WTOP's Tech Guy, Greg Stebben, and in the age of the cloud, it's all a lot of people need. On WTOP's Tech page, find out how they work, how easy they are to use, and how bad it's looking for the old-school desktop and laptop.

Kids and money: When to start financial education

What's the best way, and the best age, to teach kids about money? On WTOP's Living page, several experts tell Randi Martin that it's almost never too early to begin their education. Of course, telling a 6-year-old about IRAs isn't going to do much good, but find some age-appropriate ways to get kids thinking about saving and spending wisely.

Emerging solar plants scorch birds in mid-air

A new form of solar energy is having an unwanted side effect: It makes some birds ignite in midair.

California's energy commission is studying the issue of bird deaths at a new kind of solar plant that works with concentrated sun rays. The technology has proved unexpectedly deadly to birds at a new solar plant in the Mojave Desert. It's owned by Google and two California energy companies.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is urging the state to hold off on permitting another plant of the same kind.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. Follow @WTOP on Twitter and WTOP on Facebook.

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