10 things you need to know today: July 15, 2023

Biden forgives $39 billion in student loan debt, 'extremely dangerous heatwave’ to scorch parts of US, and more

President Biden and Education Secretary Miguel Cardona.
The Biden administration has announced a plan to forgive $39 billion in student loan debt
(Image credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

1. Biden forgives $39 billion in student loan debt

The Biden administration announced Friday that it was forgiving the debt of 800,000 student loan borrowers, totaling an estimated $39 billion in federal student loan forgiveness. In a statement, the U.S. Department of Education said the forgiveness would derive from a loophole "to ensure all borrowers have an accurate count of the number of monthly payments that qualify toward forgiveness under income-driven repayment (IDR) plans." These plans allow borrowers to have their remaining loan balances forgiven after 20 or 25 years of payments, but past payments that "should have moved borrowers closer to forgiveness were not accounted for." The move comes weeks after the Supreme Court struck down President Biden's student loan forgiveness program.

CNBC The Hill

2. ‘Extremely dangerous heat wave’ to scorch parts of US

Temperatures across the United States are expected to soar this weekend, as much of the country deals with a sweltering heat wave that could set records in many areas. Much of this heat will be centered in the western and southern U.S., where a "sweltering and extremely dangerous heat wave" will cause temperatures to "reach levels that would pose a health risk," the National Weather Service said. The NWS added that the heat would potentially be deadly to anyone without proper hydration. More than 34 million people awoke to excessive heat warnings on Friday, with another 61 million under heat advisories — and that figure is only expected to rise.

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

NBC News USA Today

3. Actors take to the picket lines following SAG-AFTRA strike

Hollywood actors took to the picket lines on Friday following the calling of a strike by SAG-AFTRA, the union representing entertainment industry performers. Famous faces could be seen throughout strikes in both Los Angeles and New York City, where actors such as Jason Sudeikis, Susan Sarandon, and others were joined by SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher. The actors' strike represents the second industry walkout after the Writers Guild of America also began striking for a new contract in May, with the dual strikes effectively shutting down Hollywood. The actors are striking for fairer pay, as well as protections against the use of AI in projects, and other grievances against the major studios.

NPR The New York Times

4. Most abortions banned in Iowa following signing of ‘fetal heartbeat’ law

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) signed a law Friday that will effectively ban most abortions in her state. The law, commonly known as a 'fetal heartbeat' doctrine, prohibits abortions after doctors can detect cardiac activity in an embryo. This can happen as early as six weeks into a pregnancy — which is notably before some women know they are pregnant. The law does provide some exceptions for rape, incest, and in cases of a medical emergency. Reynolds' signing came amidst a flurry of protests outside of the Iowa Legislature, where lawmakers voted the bill into law this past Tuesday. The state's GOP was nearly universal in supporting the bill, while Democrats were universally opposed.

The Des Moines Register CNN

5. US sending F-16s to protect ships from Iranian seizures

A Pentagon official said Friday that the United States will send additional F-16 fighter jets to the Strait of Hormuz to protect ships from potential Iranian seizures. The official told reporters that the jets will be sent to the strait this weekend to supplement a series of A-10 attack airplanes that have already been patrolling the area for a week. The choice to send additional F-16s comes after Iran tried to seize a pair of oil tankers near the strait, only backing off when an American destroyer, the USS McFaul, arrived on the scene. The official also said the U.S. was worried about continuing partnerships between Iran, Russia, and Syria throughout the region.

The Associated Press Al Jazeera

6. More than 20 dead in South Korea after torrential flooding

At least 20 people died and thousands were forced to evacuate their homes following torrential flooding in South Korea, officials said Saturday. The country's Interior Ministry said that 4,763 people had been evacuated nationwide as of the weekend's start, as a third straight day of flooding caused large landslides throughout South Korea and also led to the overflow of a dam. The tally of evacuations — and deaths — is expected to rise throughout the weekend as the Korean Peninsula is slated to see continuing heavy rain. The worst-affected area, the North Gyeongsang province, saw entire houses that "were swept away whole," by the flooding, locals told state media.

Reuters BBC News

7. Brazil urges 10-year pause on deep-sea mining

Brazil on Friday implored a 10-year pause on deep-sea mining in international waters, just days after large companies and countries were given the green light to start applying for new mining licenses. Brazilian officials made the call during a conference of the International Seabed Authority, a United Nations body that failed to approve new regulations for deep-sea mining by the July 9 deadline. Brazil's representative at the conference, Elza Moreira Marcelino de Castro, said that proper care "must be given to the protection of the international seabed until conclusive and comprehensive studies … are available." Brazil joins a growing list of countries and companies that have called for a similar pause.

The Associated Press

8. Suspect charged in Gilgo Beach murder spree

A suspect was charged Friday in the Gilgo Beach murders on Long Island, New York, bringing a new development to a case that law enforcement has been chasing for more than a decade. Rex Heuermann, 59, pleaded not guilty to three counts of first-degree murder. Suffolk County Police Commissioner Rodney Harrison described Heuermann as "a demon that walks amongst us, a predator that ruined families." Prosecutors allege that Heuermann was responsible for the deaths of Melissa Barthelemy in 2009, and Megan Waterman and Amber Costello in 2010. A bail application also alleges that Heuermann is the prime suspect in the death of a fourth woman, Maureen Brainard-Barnes, in 2007.


9. Mega Millions grows to 7th-highest jackpot in game’s history

The Mega Millions jackpot has grown to $640 million after no winners were pulled during Friday's drawing. This represents the seventh-largest prize in the game's history, lottery officials said, with a lump-sum cash value estimated at $328 million. While there were no grand prize winners, a number of people did change their lives in other ways, with a $2 million ticket sold in South Carolina and three tickets with second-tier prizes totaling thousands of dollars. The next drawing will be this coming Tuesday at 11 p.m. ET. The last Mega Millions jackpot was sold this past April, winning a grand prize of $483 million.

Fox Business

10. Arrest made in connection with death of Robert de Niro’s grandson

A 20-year-old woman was arrested on Thursday night in connection with the death of Robert De Niro's grandson. Sophia Haley Marks is alleged to have sold drugs to 19-year-old Leandro De Niro-Rodriguez, who later passed away. While De Niro-Rodriguez's official manner of death is undetermined, detectives have been investigating it as a possible drug overdose. Marks was charged with one count of distributing and possessing with intent to distribute fentanyl and alprazolam, as well as two counts of distributing and possessing with intent to distribute fentanyl. Each of these carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

ABC News

Continue reading for free

We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.

Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.

Justin Klawans

Justin Klawans is a staff writer at The Week. Based in Chicago, he was previously a breaking news reporter for Newsweek, writing breaking news and features for verticals including politics, U.S. and global affairs, business, crime, sports, and more. His reporting has been cited on many online platforms, in addition to CBS' The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

He is also passionate about entertainment and sports news, and has covered film, television, and casting news as a freelancer for outlets like Collider and United Press International, as well as Chicago sports news for Fansided.