10 things you need to know today: July 29, 2023


Congress breaks for August recess without path to avoid shutdown

Lawmakers left Congress for their August recess at the end of this week without a clear path forward to avoid a looming government shutdown. Both the House and Senate had entered recess by Saturday, and are not due back in the nation’s Capitol until they reconvene in mid-September. This will give lawmakers just a few weeks to reach a deal on budget appropriations before the Sept. 30 deadline that would shut down the government. The biggest issue for House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) may be uniting Republicans around spending, as the GOP-led House Freedom Caucus is reportedly pressing for additional funding cuts below what had been agreed to with President Biden on the debt ceiling deal. 

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GOP candidates mostly ignore Trump’s legal troubles during event

A dozen candidates for the GOP nomination for president, including frontrunner Donald Trump, attended an Iowa Republican dinner on Friday night. However, the looming issue of Trump’s legal troubles, including the additional charges that were filed in his federal indictment just one day prior, were largely ignored, with Republicans mostly using the time to go after President Biden and the Democrats. Trump himself only briefly mentioned that he was the target of a criminal investigation, and the only Republican candidate to directly attack him was former Texas Rep. Will Hurd. Telling the crowd that Trump “is running to stay out of prison,” Hurd was largely booed off the stage, though a smattering of applause was heard. 

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Biden publicly acknowledges 7th grandchild for first time

President Biden publicly acknowledged his 7th grandchild, Navy, for the first time on Friday. In a statement to People magazine, the president said that he wants “what is best for all of our grandchildren, including Navy,” who is the daughter of his son Hunter Biden and an Arkansas woman, Lunden Roberts. “Our son Hunter and Navy’s mother, Lunden, are working together to foster a relationship that is in the best interests of their daughter, preserving her privacy as much as possible going forward,” Biden added. “This is not a political issue, it’s a family matter.” In recent months, Republicans have taken to criticizing Biden for not publicly acknowledging Navy’s existence. 

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Niger general declares himself country’s new leader following coup

A Niger general who runs the country’s presidential guard declared himself the nation’s new leader on Friday, two days after his soldiers overthrew the country’s president in a coup d’etat. General Abdourahmane Tchiani made the announcement on Niger’s state-run television, calling himself president and saying the coup was necessary to avoid “the gradual and inevitable demise” of Niger. Tchiani and his soldiers seized power after detaining Niger’s democratically elected President Mohamed Bazoum in the presidential palace this past Wednesday, and his location remains unclear. The coup was condemned by African leaders as well as Western nations, with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken saying that American aid to Niger was in jeopardy. 

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US announces $345M weapons package for Taiwan amidst Chinese tensions

The White House announced Friday that President Biden had signed a $345 million military aid package for Taiwan. Biden announced the package in a brief statement, an unsurprising move given that Congress had previously authorized up to $1 billion of military aid to be provided to Taiwan. Ahead of the signing, National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said that the U.S. “[takes] our responsibilities to Taiwan and to improving their self-defense capabilities very, very seriously.” The move is likely to cause further rifts between the U.S. and China, as the latter considers Taiwan its own sovereign territory. While administration officials have recently visited China, little headway in mending relations seems to have been made. 

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San Francisco opening investigation into ’X’ logo atop Twitter building

San Francisco, California, officials have opened an investigation into a large ‘X’ logo that was installed atop Twitter headquarters on Friday. The logo was placed on the building seemingly as part of Twitter owner Elon Musk’s ongoing rebranding of the social media company. However, erecting signs on top of buildings requires a specialized permit, something the city has alleged that Musk did not obtain. “Planning review and approval is also necessary for the installation of this sign. The city is opening a complaint and initiating an investigation,” Department of Building Inspection Patrick Hannan told The Associated Press. Police had previously stopped workers from removing Twitter’s existing branding from the building, which also requires a permit.

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Ukraine reportedly using captured North Korean rockets to attack Russia

Ukraine has begun using captured North Korean rockets to attack Russia, The Financial Times reported Saturday. While the exact origins of the missiles are unclear, the outlet reported that they were likely weapons that were seized from Russia. North Korea has been accused by the United States and other Western countries of providing the Russian military with weapons as part of an ongoing arms deal. However, widespread usage of North Korean weaponry has not been seen on the Ukrainian battlefield. Both North Korea and Russia have denied these allegations, however, the two countries remain close. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu visited the North Korean capital of Pyongyang this past week and was photographed alongside missiles. 

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Prosecutors ask for Sam Bankman-Fried’s bail to be revoked over witness tampering

Federal prosecutors asked a judge to revoke the bail of FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried on Friday, claiming that he had intimidated and tampered with witnesses in his case. Prosecutors argued that “no set of release conditions can ensure the safety of the community,” adding, “What the defendant may not do, and what he has now done repeatedly, is seek to corruptly influence witnesses and interfere with a fair trial through attempted public harassment and shaming.” If his bail is revoked, Bankman-Fried would return to jail, where he would continue awaiting his trial on money laundering and fraud charges after the collapse of his cryptocurrency business, which caused billions of dollars in investments to evaporate. 

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Lost theater of Roman Emperor Nero discovered

The long-lost ruins of Roman Emperor Nero’s private theater were discovered near the Vatican this week, ending a mystery that had puzzled archeologists for decades. The site is known in legends as the place where the infamous 1st Century emperor would practice music and write poetry. The existence of Nero’s theater has been well documented, having been uncovered in numerous ancient texts. However, archeologists were unable to pinpoint its location until a nearby renovation project uncovered gold leaf and marble columns, leading experts to dig out the rest of the theater. Officials said that most of the antiquities found in the theater will be given to museums once cataloged and studied. 

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Mega Millions jackpot climbs past $1 billion

There is still a chance for one lucky winner to change their life, as the Mega Millions jackpot has ballooned past $1 billion after nobody won Friday night’s drawing. In a statement, lottery officials said that the Mega Millions prize would equal approximately $1.05 billion for the next drawing, which will take place this coming Tuesday. If a single person were to win the drawing and choose to take a lump sum of cash, they would receive an estimated $527.9 million, Mega Millions officials said. However, while the jackpot remains, there were some other big winners on Friday, including a $5 million ticket drawn in Pennsylvania.  

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