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10 things you need to know today: May 24, 2019

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Harold Maass
Donald Trump at a meeting with farmers and ranchers
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1.

U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May announces resignation after Brexit failure

British Prime Minister Theresa May on Friday announced her resignation after failing to pass a deal on the U.K.'s exit from the European Union. May said she felt "deep regret" that she could not fulfill her promise to lead the Brexit process to completion, saying she had "done my best." Parliament rejected the deal she negotiated with the EU three times, and she lost crucial support when she proposed a new plan that could have let lawmakers call for a second referendum on whether to leave the EU at all. May took over as prime minister shortly after the 2016 Brexit referendum, following David Cameron's resignation. She will step down as Conservative Party leader on June 7, triggering a leadership contest on June 10. [The New York Times, Vox]

2.

Trump reportedly agrees to disaster bill with money for Puerto Rico

Republican senators said Thursday that President Trump had signed off on a $19.1 billion disaster aid bill that provides flood, wildfire, and hurricane relief, but not the border funding he sought. The bill cleared the Senate on Thursday. The House was expected to pass it Friday and send it for Trump's signature. Negotiations had been bogged down for weeks as Republicans and Democrats clashed over Trump's call for money to address humanitarian needs at the U.S.-Mexico border, and how to help Puerto Rico contend with lingering problems from Hurricane Maria, which hit the U.S. Caribbean territory two years ago. "Let's just move forward and get disaster aid done," said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). "It's a good deal," said Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.). [CNN]

3.

Assange charged with publishing secret documents

Federal prosecutors on Thursday charged WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange with violating the Espionage Act by illegally obtaining and exposing secrets leaked by former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning. The 18 new counts added pressure on Assange, who recently was arrested for skipping bail in the U.K. after Ecuador expelled him from its London embassy, where he found refuge six years earlier to avoid being sent to Sweden for questioning on a rape allegation. Assange already has been charged by the U.S. with conspiring with Manning to hack into secret U.S. military and diplomatic documents. The latest charges raise questions about the limits of First Amendment protections for people who disclose government secrets, which journalists sometimes do. [The Washington Post]

4.

Trump unveils new bailout for farmers hurt by trade war

The Trump administration on Thursday announced a new $16 billion bailout for farmers hurt by tariffs China has imposed in response to President Trump's higher levies on Chinese goods. China's president, Xi Jinping, this week called for his people to brace for a "long march" like the periods of hardship endured throughout the country's history. Global stock markets, including the main U.S. stock benchmarks, plunged on Thursday as investors worried there was no end in sight for the escalating U.S.-China trade war, which Trump started to get China to drop policies he said were unfair to U.S. companies. "I do not see a path to a deal," said Council on Foreign Relations fellow Edward Alden. [The New York Times]

5.

Pelosi and Trump escalate their feud

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Thursday that President Trump has committed impeachable offenses and that he wants the House to impeach him so the Republican-controlled Senate can exonerate him. Pelosi said, however, that she is sticking to an effort to investigate him to get the truth out to the American people without resorting to impeachment, which she said was "a very divisive place to go in our country." Pelosi openly questioned Trump's fitness for office and said his family or staff should stage an "intervention" for the good of the country. Trump responded by calling Pelosi crazy. "She's a mess," Trump said. "I'm an extremely stable genius." [The Washington Post, USA Today]

6.

Trump gives Barr authority to declassify secrets related to Russia inquiry

President Trump on Thursday granted Attorney General William Barr "full and complete authority" to declassify secret intelligence related to the investigation into Russia's interference in the 2016 election. "Today's action will ensure that all Americans learn the truth," the White House said in a statement that Trump then tweeted. Trump has called the investigation into his campaign's ties to Russia a "political witch hunt," and his Republican allies say the early FBI investigation, including surveillance of campaign advisers, was improper. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), chair of the House Intelligence Committee, said Trump's move was "un-American" and part of an effort to "weaponize law enforcement and classified information against their political enemies." [The Washington Post]

7.

India's Modi thanks voters for 'historic mandate'

India's prime minister, Narendra Modi, thanked voters on Thursday for giving him a second five-year term and a "historic mandate." Modi's center-right, Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is projected to have won about 300 of the 543 seats in Parliament, a landslide that exceeded expectations. Modi's coalition allies added nearly 50 seats to that total. "We all want a new India. I want to bow down my head and say thank you," Modi said. The massive general election, the world's largest exercise in democracy, was widely considered a referendum on Modi's rule, and he came out on top despite fears of an economic slowdown. The main opposition Congress party appears likely to win fewer than 60 seats and conceded defeat. [BBC News]

8.

Lawyer: Pittsburgh synagogue massacre suspect wants plea deal

Pittsburgh synagogue massacre suspect Robert Bowers' lawyer said Thursday she still hopes to reach a deal for him to plead guilty in exchange for a life sentence. The attorney, Judy Clarke, said when Bowers was arraigned in February that he would be open to a plea bargain to avoid the death penalty. Bowers has been accused of killing 11 people and wounding seven others at the Tree of Life synagogue in October. Authorities said he opened fire with an AR-15 military-style semi-automatic rifle during worship services before fleeing. Police tracked him down and shot him. He later told investigators that "all these Jews need to die." Bowers was indicted on 63 charges, including hate crimes. [The Associated Press]

9.

Gas prices fall heading into summer driving season

Motorists will benefit from falling gas prices as they travel over the Memorial Day weekend, the traditional start of the summer driving season. AAA reported that the average pump price for a gallon of gas fell to $2.85, down 1 cent from a week ago. In early May, the nationwide average was $2.89 per gallon. "There's a large possibility we may have already peaked," AAA spokesperson Jeanette Casselano said. The average probably will stay below $3 per gallon for the fifth straight year, said Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis at fuel-savings app GasBuddy.

10.

Weinstein reportedly reaches $44 million deal with accusers

Disgraced film producer Harvey Weinstein has reached a tentative $44 million settlement with women who have accused him of sexual misconduct, creditors, and the New York attorney general. The Weinstein Co. filed for bankruptcy last year, and lawyers told a bankruptcy court judge on Thursday that a deal has been reached in which the alleged victims, former Weinstein Co. employees, and studio creditors would receive $30 million, with an additional $14 million going toward legal fees. The money would reportedly come from various insurance policies. Weinstein is set to go on trial in September on rape and other sexual assault charges. He denies ever engaging in nonconsensual sex. [The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times]