Wednesday morning news – July 15, 2020

Pence visits La. in White House push to reopen schools » Vice President Mike Pence traveled to Louisiana’s capital of Baton Rouge on Tuesday, continuing a White House push to reopen schools in the fall. 

Pence acknowledged the alarming surge of new coronavirus cases across the Sun Belt. Still, he said, officials have the needed tools to safely reopen classrooms. 

PENCE: The people of Louisiana and this team have what you need when you need it, and we’re going to stay with you every step of the way.  

The vice president heard there at Louisiana State University … where he met with lawmakers, college officials, and Governor John Bel Edwards.

Edwards, a Democrat, praised Pence’s response to the pandemic in his state. 

EDWARDS: He has been paying attention, close attention, to the state of Louisiana from the very beginning of this emergency. He has communicated with me frequently and his team—he runs the White House Coronavirus Task Force—has been extremely responsive to the state of Louisiana. 

But Louisiana is not throwing open classroom doors this fall. Instead, the state is taking a measured approach to restarting schools. Local school systems are determining whether to resume classes on site. Some are planning in-person instruction, others preferring online distance learning and some districts announcing a hybrid approach. 

At LSU, some students will be able to attend classes on campus, though many other courses will be held online.

Also on Tuesday, the Trump administration walked back a rule that would have stripped visas from foreign college students if their schools shifted entirely to online classes.

Facing eight federal lawsuits, the Trump administration backed down. 

The decision was announced at the start of a hearing in a federal lawsuit brought by Harvard and MIT. U.S. District Judge Allison Burroughs said federal immigration authorities agreed to pull the July 6 directive and “return to the status quo.”

Federal deficit shatters records » The federal government incurred the biggest monthly budget deficit in history in June. WORLD’s Anna Johansen reports. 

ANNA JOHANSEN, REPORTER: The record shortfall comes amid big spending on programs to combat the economic fallout from the coronavirus, along with lower tax revenue after shutdowns.

The government last month spent $864 billion more than it took in. The mountain of red ink for June surpassed most annual deficits in the nation’s history. 

The previous monthly record was $738 billion this past April. 

For the first nine months of this budget year, which began October 1st, the deficit totals more than $2.7 trillion. That puts the country well on the way to hitting a $3.7 trillion deficit for the whole year as forecast by the Congressional Budget Office.

That would shatter the previous annual record of $1.4 trillion set in 2009.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Anna Johansen. 

Federal inmate executed after Supreme Court ruling » For the first time in nearly two decades, the government executed a federal inmate on Tuesday.

Daniel Lewis Lee died of lethal injection. The 47-year-old was found guilty of murdering three people, including a child. He maintained that he was falsely convicted, and his final words were: “You’re killing an innocent man.”

Lee died just after 8 a.m. after a series of legal volleys that ended at the Supreme Court. In a 5-4 decision earlier Tuesday morning, the justices tossed out a lower court’s ruling clearing the way for the execution to proceed. 

Amazon introduces smart shopping cart » Amazon has a new cure for long supermarket lines: a smart shopping cart. WORLD’s Kristen Flavin has that story. 

KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: The cart, unveiled Tuesday, uses cameras, sensors and a scale to automatically detect what shoppers drop in. It keeps a tally and then charges their Amazon account when they leave the store. No cashier is needed.

The cart, called the Dash Cart, will first show up at a new Los Angeles supermarket Amazon’s opening later this year. The store will have cashiers, but the company said it wanted to give shoppers a way to bypass any lines. 

In the future, it could be used at Amazon’s Whole Foods grocery chain or other stores, if it sells the technology. But there are no plans for either right now.

Amazon has already opened a cashier-less supermarket and about two-dozen convenience stores that use cameras and sensors in the ceiling to track what shoppers grab and charge them as they leave. 

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Kristen Flavin. 

Tuberville defeats Sessions in Ala. GOP Senate primary » Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Tuesday lost his bid to reclaim his old U.S. Senate seat in Alabama. Tommy Tuberville soundly defeated Sessions in last night’s GOP primary runoff election. 

President Trump helped Tuberville’s campaign, heaping criticism on Sessions. The president soured on Sessions after the then-attorney general recused himself from the Russia probe, paving the way for the special counsel’s investigation. 

The 65-year-old Tuberville is a familiar name to many in Alabama. He spent a decade as Auburn University’s head football coach. Tuberville will face incumbent Senator Doug Jones in November, who’s widely seen as the most vulnerable Democrat in the Senate.

(Scott Clause/The Daily Advertiser via AP) Vice President Mike Pence arrives at Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport where the Vice President meets with Governor John Bell Edwards, and others Tuesday, July 14, 2020. 

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