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10 things you need to know today: August 21, 2019

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Harold Maass
A child in a migrant caravan traveling to the U.S.
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1.

Trump postpones Denmark trip after rejection of Greenland sale

President Trump on Tuesday postponed a trip to Denmark after the country's prime minister said Greenland, a self-governing Danish territory, is "not for sale." Trump, who recently confirmed his interest in buying Greenland, said he would reschedule the visit. He thanked Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, who called the idea of selling Greenland "absurd," for saving "a great deal of expense for both the United States and Denmark by being so direct." Trump was invited to visit Denmark by Queen Margrethe II. He had been due to arrive Sept. 2. Trump said just days ago that his visit was not about talking about a possible Greenland deal, an issue he characterized as "not number one on the burner." The Danish Royal House said Trump's tweet announcing he was postponing his trip "was a complete surprise." [NPR, CNN]

2.

Trump to limit protections for migrant children

The Trump administration is expected to announce a new rule allowing longer detention of migrant families with children trying to cross the U.S.-Mexico border, ABC News reported Tuesday, citing two government officials. The plan could be unveiled as soon as Wednesday. The detention of children currently is supposed to be limited to 20 days under the 1997 Flores Settlement Agreement, but President Trump and many fellow Republicans say the time limit has encouraged undocumented migrants with children to attempt border crossings, because they expect the children to be promptly released. The Trump administration first suggested last year that children could be detained longer, provided the Flores agreement's requirement to treat them with "dignity, respect, and special concern" was still met. [ABC News]

3.

Trump confirms talk of a payroll tax cut

President Trump on Tuesday confirmed reports that he's considering a payroll tax cut. "Payroll taxes is something that we think about, and a lot of people would like to see that," Trump said. "That very much affects the workers of our country." Any such tax cut would have to be approved by Congress. Trump's comments came after White House officials denied there had not been any discussions about reducing taxes that fund Medicare and Social Security in an effort to boost the slowing economy. White House spokesman Hogan Gidley in a Fox News interview on Tuesday morning said a payroll tax cut is "not being considered at this time." White House officials also dismissed reports citing warning signs of a possible recession, and said the economy is strong. [CBS News , The New York Times]

4.

3 states challenge Trump effort to block some legal-immigrant visas

The states of New York, Connecticut, and Vermont have joined forces to file a lawsuit seeking to block the Trump administration's attempt to deny green cards and visas to legal immigrants who receive food stamps, Medicaid, and other public benefits. The Trump administration has proposed a rule labeling a person enrolled in such publicly funded programs as a "public charge" and denying them a pathway to citizenship. Some families have dropped out of the programs since the rule was unveiled. "Quite simply, under this rule, more children will go hungry, more families will go without medical care, and more people will be living in the shadows and on the streets. We cannot and we will not let that happen," said New York Attorney General Letitia James. [NBC News]

5.

Australian court upholds Pell sexual-abuse conviction

An Australian court on Wednesday rejected Cardinal George Pell's appeal of his sexual-abuse conviction. Chief Justice Anne Ferguson of the Supreme Court of the state of Victoria said Pell, the highest-ranking Roman Catholic leader convicted of abuse, would continue serving the six-year sentence he received in March. Pell, 78, a former adviser to Pope Francis, was found guilty in December of molesting two 13-year-old choirboys in 1996. The verdict was only unsealed in February after another trial involving Pell was canceled. In a statement, one of the former choirboys said: "I just hope that it is all over now." A Pell spokesperson said the cardinal, who maintains his innocence, was considering an appeal to the High Court of Australia. [The New York Times]

6.

Castro qualifies for next Democratic presidential debate

Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro on Tuesday became the 10th Democratic presidential candidate to qualify for the September Democratic primary debate in Houston, Texas. Castro had been close to qualifying for a while, after crossing the donor threshold and polling at 2 percent in three DNC-approved polls, but a new CNN poll, in which the former mayor of San Antonio hit 2 percent for the fourth time, put him over the line. Castro joins fellow Texan former Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-Texas), former Vice President Joe Biden, South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, entrepreneur Andrew Yang, and Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) on the stage in his home state. [Texas Tribune]

7.

Italian prime minister resigns

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte resigned Tuesday after a power play by his increasingly popular interior minister, Matteo Salvini, caused the nationalist-populist ruling coalition to collapse. By stepping down, Conte headed off a no-confidence vote advocated by Salvini, leader of the far-right League party. In a speech at the Italian Senate, Conte called Salvini's demand for new elections just 18 months after the last ones "irresponsible." He accused Salvini, who is believed to be angling to take over as prime minister, of prioritizing his personal ambitions over the national interest. Salvini said he would "do what I did all over again," adding that what he wanted was a "future of growth and prosperity" for Italians. [CNN]

8.

Trump accuses Jewish Democratic voters of 'great disloyalty'

President Trump said Tuesday that Jewish voters who back Democrats are showing "either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty." Trump did not clarify if he believed they were betraying Israel, the U.S., or their faith. The comments came after he was asked about the situation concerning Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and the Israeli government's decision to block their plan to visit the country, although Tlaib was allowed to visit her grandmother in the Palestinian-run West Bank. Trump slammed the congresswomen over their stances on Israel, and accused some Democrats of anti-Semitism. A Pew Research study found that 79 percent of Jewish voters supported Democrats in the 2018 midterms. [Yahoo News]

9.

E.U. rejects Johnson on proposed Brexit change

The European Union on Tuesday rejected U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson's latest request to scrap the Irish border backstop from a new withdrawal agreement. Johnson reportedly sent European Council President Donald Tusk a letter detailing alternative methods ahead of the Oct. 31 Article 50 deadline, but Tusk was having none of it, maintaining that the continuation of an open border in Ireland is vital. He said that Johnson offered no viable options for preventing a hard border from arising, while the EU dismissed Johnson's argument that the backstop was anti-democratic. Johnson said he still believes a deal can be reached before the deadline, though he has not relented on the necessity of the backstop's removal from negotiations. [The Guardian]

10.

Report: Trump tells NRA's LaPierre universal background checks are out

President Trump told National Rifle Association chief executive Wayne LaPierre on Tuesday that universal background checks for gun buyers were off the table, The Atlantic reported Tuesday, citing a person briefed on the call. Trump had tweeted support for "strong background checks" after his daughter and senior adviser, Ivanka Trump, proposed them in response to recent mass shootings. Trump earlier told LaPierre that people would "love us" for strengthening background checks, The Atlantic reported, but LaPierre rejected the idea. In their latest conversation, Trump said the White House was now focused on proposals intended to keep weapons from people who are mentally ill through such policies as "red flag" laws letting police temporarily confiscate guns from people deemed to pose a danger. [The Atlantic, The Washington Post]