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Government shutdown looms and David McCallum dies: Morning Rundown

Kevin McCarthy faces a huge decision this week — one that has the potential to alter his career: Save his speakership, or keep the government open? 
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Kevin McCarthy battles far-right Republicans and a ticking clock as a government shutdown looms. New Orleans officials fear a drinking water emergency. And an NBC News poll reveals which issues voters think Republicans are handling better than Democrats.

 Here’s what to know today.

Facing a potential government shutdown, McCarthy confronts a ‘career-altering’ question

Kevin McCarthy faces a huge decision this week — one that has the potential to alter his career: Save his speakership, or keep the government open? 

Conservative hard-liners, such as Rep. Matt Gaetz, are threatening to overthrow McCarthy if he works with Democrats to pass a stopgap measure to keep the government open. It doesn’t help McCarthy that former President Donald Trump spoke out in support of a shutdown.

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If McCarthy wants to stave off a shutdown when money for the federal government runs out at midnight Saturday, he may have to put a continuing resolution, or CR, on the floor in the coming days. However, there is no guarantee McCarthy can round up enough GOP votes to pass either a funding package or short-term bill. And he’s suggested he is not quite ready to team up with Democrats to keep the lights on. 

With five days before a potential shutdown, here’s where things stand.

New Orleans braces for drinking water emergency

The availability of safe drinking water in New Orleans and its surrounding areas could diminish in the coming weeks as water levels in the drought-stricken Mississippi River remain low. The concern prompted Mayor LaToya Cantrell to sign an emergency order last week, and residents south of New Orleans have already been relying on bottled water this summer. 

The concern is that salt water from the Gulf of Mexico encroaching upriver will infiltrate the area’s water systems. Excess salinity in drinking water can cause elevated sodium levels in the body, which increases blood pressure. State and federal officials are already preparing for the impact.

Some Maui residents return to Lahaina for the first time

After nearly seven weeks of cleanup following the Lahaina wildfire, an initial round of residents were allowed to re-enter the city for the first time to see their empty properties. For resident Erwin Miyamoto, pictured above, re-entry can’t come soon enough, but he predicts he’ll have to wait at least a few weeks before he can return to where his home once stood.

“They are standing in front of a loved one and saying goodbye,” a volunteer said. “It’s very important for these homeowners to look through the ash and see what’s there.”

Darryl Oliveira, interim administrator of the Maui Emergency Management Agency, said he expects to announce the reopening of more zones by the end of the week, with the goal of completing Lahaina re-entries within two months. 

Ruby Franke’s arrest puts spotlight on her business partner

Before she was arrested alongside family YouTube vlogger Ruby Franke on child abuse charges, Jodi Hildebrandt was counseling Mormon couples and families in Utah. But former patients described her life coaching service, ConneXions, as a program that isolated them from loved ones and destroyed marriages. 

Seven former patients who used her services between 2008 and 2019 said that Hildebrandt methodically separated spouses, pathologized patients’ behaviors as evidence of various addictions and encouraged people to cut off others who weren’t living in accordance with her teachings. Reporter Daysia Tolentino describes the former patients’ experiences and their thoughts about Hidebrandt years later.

A blood test for long Covid is possible, a study suggests

More than three years into the pandemic, the millions of people who have suffered from long Covid finally have scientific proof that their condition is real. Scientists have found clear differences in the blood of people with long Covid — a key first step in the development of a test to diagnose the illness.

The findings, which were published yesterday, also offer clues into what could be causing the elusive condition that has perplexed doctors worldwide and left millions with ongoing fatigue, trouble with memory and other debilitating symptoms. The research is among the first to prove that “long Covid is, in fact, a biological illness,”  said David Putrino, principal investigator of the new study.

Today’s Talker: Gymnastics Ireland apologized after a judge appeared to...

… ignore the only Black girl at a medal ceremony after a video of the March 2022 incident went viral. In the video, a judge places medals around children’s necks but then skips over a Black girl. The girl is seen smiling at first, but then appears confused. “What happened on the day should not have happened and for that we are deeply sorry,” Gymnastics Ireland said yesterday. 

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Politics in Brief

GOP debate: Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson will not participate at tomorrow’s second Republican presidential primary debate, the only candidate who participated in last month’s debate to fall short of qualifying.

NBC News poll: Voters overwhelmingly say they trust Republicans to do a better job than Democrats dealing with border security, crime, the economy and immigration, a new national NBC News poll found. There are a few other issues voters said Democrats are better on.

2024 election: President Joe Biden will meet with striking autoworkers in Michigan today after Donald Trump had already announced plans to meet with voters in the state, illustrating how both presidential candidates have turned their attention to a likely rematch sooner than expected. 

Georgia election case: A judge granted Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis’ request to restrict identifying information about jurors in the state’s election interference case, a new court filing shows.

Bribery charges: Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey suggested that he will not resign from his Senate seat despite federal corruption charges and predicted he would be cleared of wrongdoing.

Staff Pick: ‘Balut’ is not what Doja Cat says it is

Balut is a Filipino delicacy, consisting of a cooked fertilized duck egg that's eaten from the shell. But rapper Doja Cat upset some fans when she bungled the definition of balut, which is also the name of her new single. Reporter Kimmy Yam's look at why Doja Cat’s comments struck a nerve is both a gastronomy lesson and a reminder of the ways that Asian food and culture have long been stereotyped. — Elizabeth Robinson, newsletter editor

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In Case You Missed It

Select: Online Shopping, Simplified

Even if you’re careful when it comes to your tech, accidents happen, and seeing a crack on your phone screen after a hard fall can be frustrating. Our Select team spoke with technology experts about what makes a good screen protector and shared five great options.

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