The Latest: Mississippi River won’t be as high as feared
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Forecasters expect the Mississippi River to crest about 2 feet (0.6 meters) lower in New Orleans than previously predicted — good news for those who feared the river might spill over the levees that protect the city.
The National Weather Service said Friday night that the river will rise as high as 17.1 feet (5.2 meters) over the weekend in New Orleans.
Forecasters had earlier thought the river would crest Saturday at about 19 feet (5.8 meters) in New Orleans. The levees protecting the city range from about 20 to 25 feet (6 to 7.5 meters) high.
TROPICAL STORM-STAY OR GO?
As Barry approaches, New Orleans residents debate evacuation
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Go or stay?
It is a question people in and around New Orleans ask themselves every time a threatening storm lurks in the Gulf of Mexico.
They asked it before Katrina, a major 2005 hurricane that devastated the area when levees failed.
And they’re asking it again with Tropical Storm Barry. Forecasters say Barry is unlikely to become a major hurricane, but could still bring historic levels of rain and devastating floods.
Residents who survived Katrina remember the heartaches and hardships that befell them — whether they fled their homes or rode it out.
Evacuees remember the deplorable conditions of the overcrowded Superdome that served as a shelter. Those who stayed put were forced to cling to rooftops as the record floodwaters swirled around them, sweeping some to their deaths.
Pence acknowledges ‘tough stuff’ at border detention center
WASHINGTON (AP) — Acknowledging “this is tough stuff,” Vice President Mike Pence says he was not surprised by what he saw Friday as he toured a Texas Border Patrol station, where hundreds of men were being kept in cages with no cots amid sweltering heat.
Pence said later, “I knew we’d see a system that was overwhelmed.”
The vice president visited the McAllen Border Patrol station Friday. When detainees saw reporters arrive, many began shouting, saying they had been there for 40 days or more and they were hungry and wanted to brush their teeth. Agents guarding the cages were wearing face masks.
The press pool covering the vice president was pulled out within 90 seconds.
Pence says he has pushed for more federal spending to deal with the situation.
CONGRESS-MUELLER TESTIMONY-THE LATEST
The Latest: Mueller testimony delayed until July 24
WASHINGTON (AP) — Special counsel Robert Mueller’s testimony to Congress has been delayed until July 24 under an agreement that gives lawmakers more time to question him.
Mueller had been scheduled to testify July 17 about the findings of his Russia investigation. But lawmakers in both parties complained that the short length of the hearings would not allow enough time for all members to ask questions.
Under the new arrangement, Mueller will testify for an extended period of time with the House Judiciary and intelligence committees.
Mueller has expressed his reluctance to testify and said he won’t go beyond what’s in his report.
The Judiciary Committee is expected to focus on episodes in Mueller’s report where Trump attempted to influence the investigation.
SEXUAL MISCONDUCT-EPSTEIN-CHILDREN’S CAUSES
Epstein philanthropy since sex plea included all-girl school
NEW YORK (AP) — Financier Jeffrey Epstein has over the past decade sought to portray himself as a generous benefactor to children, giving to organizations including a youth orchestra, a baseball league and a private girls’ school a few blocks from his Manhattan mansion.
But Epstein’s guilty plea in 2008 for soliciting a minor for prostitution has not made that easy. Some donations, including $15,000 to the all-girls Hewitt School, were returned once recipients learned where they came from.
In other cases, some of the donations from Epstein’s foundations fell far short of what was trumpeted in gushing news releases. “Critical funding” that Epstein’s foundation said he provided to Rising Stars Youth Steel Orchestra in the U.S. Virgin Islands, for example, turned out to be just $175.
Trump abandons bid to include citizenship question on census
WASHINGTON (AP) — Just a week after insisting that he was “absolutely moving forward,” President Donald Trump has abandoned his effort to insert a citizenship question into next year’s census.
Instead, he directed federal agencies to try to compile the information using existing databases.
The president said it is essential to have a clear breakdown of the number of citizens and non-citizens that make up the U.S. population. The decision was clearly a reversal, after the Supreme Court blocked his effort by disputing his administration’s rationale for demanding that census respondents declare whether or not they were citizens.
Trump wanted to pursue that effort, but the administration said that census deadlines made it impossible.
SEPT 11-VICTIMS FUND
House approves 9/11 victims bill, sends it to Senate
WASHINGTON (AP) — The House has overwhelmingly approved a bill ensuring that a victims compensation fund for the Sept. 11 attacks never runs out of money.
The 402-12 vote Friday sends the bill to the Senate, where Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has agreed to call it up before the August recess.
Lawmakers from both parties hailed the House vote, which comes a month after comedian Jon Stewart sharply criticized Congress for failing to act. Stewart, a longtime advocate for 9/11 responders, told lawmakers they were showing “disrespect” to first responders now suffering from respiratory ailments and other illnesses as a result of their recovery work at the former World Trade Center site in New York City.
Stewart said Friday that replenishing the victims fund was “necessary, urgent and morally right.”
Labor Secretary Acosta resigns amid Epstein deal scrutiny
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump says Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta is stepping down following criticism of his handling of a plea deal with a wealthy financier Jeffrey Epstein, who is accused of sexually abusing dozens of underage girls.
Trump announced the news with Acosta by his side at the White House as Trump left on a trip to the Midwest.
Acosta says stepping aside was the right decision.
He was the U.S. attorney in Miami when he oversaw a 2008 nonprosecution agreement with Epstein. Epstein avoided federal charges and served 13 months in jail.
Similar charges recently filed against Epstein by federal prosecutors in New York had put Acosta’s role in the 2008 deal under renewed scrutiny.
Report: FTC approves roughly $5B fine for Facebook
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A Wall Street Journal report says the FTC has voted to approve a fine of about $5 billion for Facebook over privacy violations. The report Friday cites an unnamed person familiar with the matter.
Facebook declined to comment; the FTC did not immediately respond to messages for comment. The report says the 3-2 vote broke along party lines, with Republicans in support and Democrats in opposition to the fine.
The Journal says the FTC report has been moved to the Justice Department for review. It is not clear how long it will take to finalize.
The fine would be the largest the FTC has levied on a tech company. But it won’t make much of a dent for Facebook, which had nearly $56 billion in revenue last year.
UCLA GYNECOLOGIST-SEXUAL ABUSE
9 more women file lawsuits against UCLA gynecologist
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Nine more women have alleged in two lawsuits they were sexually assaulted by a former gynecologist who worked for the University of California, Los Angeles.
The lawsuits say the women were assaulted by Dr. James Heaps during examinations between 1989 and 2017. The women allege the inappropriate touching was not for any legitimate medical purpose and solely for Heaps’ sexual gratification.
Heaps has been criminally charged with the sexual battery of two patients but denies any wrongdoing. He has pleaded not guilty.
The state medical board’s website shows no records of discipline against Heaps and he has a current license to practice medicine.
Three other women have filed lawsuits against Heaps since he was arrested last month.
He is due in court on July 30.
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