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10 things you need to know today: July 12, 2019

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Harold Maass
Trump at a press conference
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1.

Trump drops push for census citizenship question

President Trump said Thursday he was ending his push to add a citizenship question to the 2020 U.S. census, reversing his vow to keep fighting even though the Supreme Court blocked the change. Trump said he would shift gears by signing an executive order instructing federal agencies that collect information on citizenship to send "all requested records" to the Commerce Department so it can come up with figures on citizens and non-citizens in the country. "We will leave no stone unturned," Trump said. The Commerce Department started printing forms for the 10-year census last week even as the Justice Department said it had been told to find a way to add the question that was consistent with the Supreme Court ruling. [The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times]

2.

Louisiana braces for floods from Tropical Storm Barry

Forecasters issued a hurricane warning Thursday for parts of the Louisiana coast as a strengthening Tropical Storm Barry headed for an expected Friday night landfall, possibly as the season's first hurricane. The storm, which had maximum sustained winds of 50 miles per hour early Friday, could drench some areas with 20 inches of rain and potentially life-threatening storm surge. Barry is moving slowly, which increases the threat of flooding from rain. "There are three ways Louisiana floods — storm surge, high rivers, and rain," Gov. John Bel Edwards said. "We're going to have all three." Oil production in the Gulf of Mexico was cut by more than half as energy companies evacuated drilling platforms as a precaution. [NBC News, MarketWatch]

3.

Raids targeting undocumented immigrants loom

Federal agents are gearing up for raids targeting undocumented families set to begin Sunday, The New York Times reported Thursday, citing two current and one former homeland security officials. The details of the project still were not fixed. The raids reportedly have President Trump's support, but have been delayed partly due to resistance from some immigration officials. Democratic lawmakers and activists criticized the plan and reminded immigrants of their legal rights. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) issued a statement providing information about a state-supported immigrant legal defense group, while Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) tweeted that "you do not have to open your door" to law enforcement or ICE agents "unless there is a signed judicial warrant." [The New York Times, CNN]

4.

Trump slams Ryan over criticism in book excerpt

President Trump lashed out at former House Speaker Paul Ryan late Thursday over excerpts from an upcoming book in which Ryan described his difficult relationship with Trump. In the book, American Carnage by Politico's Tim Alberta, Ryan said Trump "didn't know anything about the government." The Wisconsin Republican also said he and others in Washington "helped to stop him from making bad decisions." Trump responded with a flurry of tweets calling Ryan a "failed" vice presidential candidate who left behind an "atrocious" record as House speaker. "He quit Congress because he didn't know how to Win," Trump tweeted. When Ryan announced in April 2018 that he was leaving Congress, Trump called him "a truly good man" with "a legacy of achievement that nobody can question." [The Washington Post, MarketWatch]

5.

Teachers union sues DeVos over loan forgiveness program

The American Federation of Teachers filed a lawsuit against Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Thursday accusing her of mismanaging a loan forgiveness program. "This program was not supposed to be negotiable or debatable. It is a right under law. It shouldn't be a crapshoot, but under Betsy DeVos, that is exactly what it's become," union President Randi Weingarten said. The Public Service Loan Forgiveness program encourages federal student loan borrowers to work in the public sector, promising to cancel their debt balance once they have paid on time for 10 years. Participants say companies that service the loans for the Education Department have messed up paperwork and payment processing. [The Washington Post]

6.

Budget deficit jumps by 23 percent

The federal budget deficit increased by 23.1 percent in the first nine months of the current fiscal year compared to the same period in the year before, the Treasury Department reported Thursday. The deficit grew to $747.1 billion in the October to June period, up from $607 billion the previous year. Spending reached $3.36 trillion with revenue of $2.61 trillion. Both figures set records. The increase in receipts stemmed partly from a 78 percent increase in customs duties that came as President Trump hit Chinese goods with higher tariffs. The rising deficit was caused by several factors, including President Trump's $1.5 trillion 2017 tax cuts and a huge spending package. The Trump administration forecasts a deficit exceeding $1 trillion for the full year ending Sept. 30. [CNN, The Associated Press]

7.

Trump holds social media summit excluding Facebook and Twitter

President Trump on Thursday held what he called a "very important" social media summit at the White House, praising controversial right-wing personalities while acknowledging some go too far. "Some of you guys are out there," Trump said. "I mean it's genius, but it's bad." Representatives for Facebook and Twitter were not invited. Trump, who has repeatedly accused social media companies like Twitter of alleged suppression of conservative speech, claimed users were blocked from following him on Twitter, complained that media outlets decline to report on so-called "shadow-banning" of conservative thought leaders, and promised to direct his administration to enact some sort of regulation to end alleged bias against conservatives on major platforms. [The Associated Press, Politico]

8.

Turkey receives first part of Russian antiaircraft system

Turkey received the first shipment of a sophisticated Russian surface-to-air missile system on Friday, despite objections from the U.S. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was determined to buy the S-400 antiaircraft system despite Washington's threat to respond with economic sanctions against its fellow NATO member, and the cancellation of Turkey's purchase of U.S. F-35 fighter jets. The U.S. has argued that the Russian weaponry is incompatible with NATO equipment. Erdogan has warned the U.S. not to let the matter disrupt ties between the two allies, and said he was confident he could reach an understanding with President Trump to avoid sanctions. "They should think deeply, because losing a country like Turkey will not be easy," he said last month. [The New York Times]

9.

R. Kelly arrested on 1st federal sex crimes charges

Federal agents arrested singer R. Kelly in Chicago on Thursday night after a federal grand jury handed down a 13-count indictment earlier in the day. "The counts include child porn, enticement of a minor, and obstruction of justice," said Joseph Fitzpatrick, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Illinois. These are the first federal charges against Kelly, who also faces sexual assault charges in Illinois to which he has pleaded not guilty. He was acquitted of state child pornography charges in 2008. A law enforcement official tells The New York Times that Kelly will be moved to New York and prosecutors in Brooklyn will announce further details Friday. [NPR, The Associated Press]

10.

A dozen new alleged victims say Jeffrey Epstein abused them

More than a dozen new victims have come forward to say they were sexually abused by financier Jeffrey Epstein, who is now awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges, The Miami Herald reported Thursday. Palm Beach attorney Jack Scarola said he and a colleague have been contacted by five of the women. "The people we are speaking to are underage victims in Florida and in New York. They are not individuals whose claims have previously been part of any law enforcement investigation," Scarola said. Epstein was arrested in New Jersey on Saturday. His lawyers proposed letting him await trial at his Manhattan townhouse under a $77 million bond package, and said the new charges stem from allegations resolved years ago in Florida. [The Miami Herald]