Tuesday morning news: July 23, 2019

U.K. moves to secure shipping lanes after Iran’s seizure of tanker » British Prime Minister Theresa May held an emergency meeting on Monday with top leaders in the UK to consider its response to Iran. That after Iran’s military seized a British tanker in the Strait of Hormuz last week. 

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said Monday that his government will work to ensure it doesn’t happen again. 

HUNT: Because freedom of navigation is a vital interest of every nation, we will now seek to put together a European-led maritime protection mission to support safe passage of both crew and cargo in this vital region. 

Hunt also rejected Iran’s explanation that its seizure of the British-flagged Stena Impero was a “reciprocal action.” Iran said the move was a response to the UK detaining a tanker carrying Iranian crude—suspected of violating EU sanctions. Hunt said the two things are in no way comparable. 

U.S. government disputes Iran’s CIA spy ring claim » Meantime, the Trump administration refuted a claim from Iran’s government on Monday that it had discovered a CIA spy ring. 

Iran announced that it arrested 17 people accused of spying on the country’s nuclear and military sites for the United States. An Iranian official said those arrested worked on “sensitive sites” in military and nuclear installations. And he said some have been sentenced to death. 

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said nothing coming out of Tehran should be believed.

POMPEO: It’s part of the nature of the ayatollah to lie to the world. I would take with a significant grain of salt any Iranian assertion about actions that they’ve taken. 

And President Trump called the claim “propaganda” and a “lie.” 

President, Democratic leaders announce budget deal » The president and congressional leaders announced Monday that they’ve struck a deal on a two-year budget and a debt ceiling hike. WORLD Radio’s Kristen Flavin has more. 

KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: President Trump touted the deal on Twitter—celebrating funding increases for the military, while Democratic leaders trumpeted bigger spending on domestic programs. 

The deal would suspend the federal debt limit for two years. That gives Washington free rein to borrow and spend without concern of defaulting on federal debt. And it would be the last nail in the coffin for the 2011 bipartisan budget deal, which mandated spending cuts. 

The agreement reportedly gives domestic spending programs an average increase of 4 percent—with a 3 percent hike for Defense. 

Monday’s announcement comes as budget deficits are rising to $1 trillion levels—requiring the government to borrow a quarter for every dollar it spends. And it ignores recent warnings from the Congressional Budget Office that the overspending is not sustainable. 

The measure will have to clear both chambers of Congress before lawmakers take their annual August recess next week. 

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Kristen Flavin. 

Trump, Pakistan prime minister discuss path to Afghanistan peace in White House meeting » President Trump welcomed Pakastani Prime Minister Imran Khan to the White House on Monday. 

Afghanistan topped the agenda, as the two leaders discussed a path to a peace deal. The United States wants Pakistan to use its leverage to get the Taliban to negotiate with the Afghan government, which so far it has refused to do. 

For his part, Khan told reporters he’s optimistic. 

KHAN: This is the closest we’ve been to a peace deal in Afghanistan. 

President Trump raised eyebrows when he said he had “plans on Afghanistan” that could wipe it —quote—“off the face of the earth.” But he made it clear he wants to avoid a tragic toll. 

TRUMP: We could do a number the likes of which they’ve never seen before and win it very quickly. I don’t want to do that. I don’t want to do that because you’re talking about millions of people and I don’t want to do that. 

Trump stressed that he wants a peaceful resolution and said “we’re working with Pakistan and others to extricate ourselves.”

Protesters clog highway in P.R. demanding governor’s resignation » AUDIO: [Sound of Puerto Rico protests]

In Puerto Rico, tens of thousands of people jammed a major highway on Monday in a massive demonstration calling on the governor to resign. Protesters banged pots and pans, waved flags, and shouted. 

The demonstration appeared to be the biggest on the island in nearly two decades.

Governor Ricardo Rosselló has faced growing calls to step down after leaks of offensive chat messages between him and his advisers.

The governor said he’s heard the protests and has done some soul searching. 

ROSELLO: And I did. I’ve made a decision. I’m not going to run. I’m not going to seek reelection, and that way I can focus on the job at hand. I’ve had the biggest recovery effort in the modern history of the United States on our hands. 

But protesters say that’s not enough. 

The leak has poured fuel on smoldering anger in the U.S. territory. Residents are tired of persistent corruption and mismanagement by the island’s two main political parties. They’re also fed up with the severe debt crisis and the slow recovery from Hurricane Maria. 

Equifax agrees to massive settlement over 2017 data breach » Equifax has agreed to pay $700 million, and potentially more to settle with the U.S. government and states over a 2017 data breach. The security breakdown exposed the Social Security numbers and private information of nearly 150 million people.

Under the settlement, Equifax will initially pay nearly $400 million dollars into a special fund. It will cover costs related to potential identity theft and other damages. And the company’s total payout could dramatically increase from there—potentially into the billions.

And it will have to spend at least $1 billion over five years to bolster its cybersecurity practices. Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro said Monday…

SHAPIRO: This settlement requires significant corporate change. And we send a clear message to corporate America that attorneys general are going to hold companies accountable for being irresponsible with Americans’ data. 

Affected consumers may be eligible to receive money if they paid to protect or monitor their credit after the breach.

(AP Photo/Alex Brandon) President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan in the Oval Office of the White House, Monday, July 22, 2019, in Washington. 

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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