Start Here: Iran says it arrested 17 CIA spies and bipartisan budget deal reached

https://abcnews.go.com/US/start-here-iran-arrested-17-cia-spies-congress-reaches/story?id=64485379

It’s Tuesday, July 23, 2019. Let’s start here.

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1. Iran‘s Most Wanted list

Iran is claiming to have captured 17 Iranian nationals who were allegedly trained by the U.S. government’s Central Intelligence Agency and accused of spying on the country’s nuclear, military and cyber programs.

President Donald Trump dismissed the allegations at the White House on Monday, telling reporters, “That’s totally a false story. That’s another lie. They put out propaganda, they put out lies.”

The announcement from Iranian intelligence authorities comes amid rising tensions between the U.S. and Tehran after the Trump administration’s withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear agreement and its decision to re-impose economic sanctions.

Iran is walking a line trying to avoid confrontation with the U.S. military, but every escalation of tensions pushes them deeper into a crisis, ABC News Chief Global Affairs Correspondent Martha Raddatz tells “Start Here” today, “I think this is all about Iran being so nervous and so economically endangered because of the sanctions that they’re doing whatever they think they can, and getting away with whatever they think they can get away with.”

2. Let’s make a deal

The White House and Congress have reached a bipartisan agreement on a two-year budget and the debt ceiling, lessening the likelihood of a government shutdown ahead of the 2020 presidential election.

The deal would boost funding for defense and domestic agencies, while raising the limit on federal borrowing to avoid a default on U.S. payments, despite fiscal conservatives’ calls to cut back spending.

“That was going to be a very political fight over how much to raise that ceiling,” says ABC News’ Ben Siegel. “That has been taken off the table as a political football until after the election.”

Trump called the deal “a real compromise” in a tweet, and Democratic leaders said it would “enhance our national security and invest in middle class priorities.”

A vote could happen before the end of the week when lawmakers head home for summer recess.

PHOTO: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi speaks during a media briefing on Capitol Hill in Washington, July 17, 2019. Joshua Roberts/Reuters
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi speaks during a media briefing on Capitol Hill in Washington, July 17, 2019.

3. Polls vs. fundraising

Democratic presidential candidates have recently posted their fundraising numbers for the second quarter with South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg topping the list at nearly $25 million, but how much does fundraising matter this early in the Democratic primary?

Nate Silver, FiveThirtyEight’s editor-in-chief, says on “Start Here” that polling is the better leading indicator of a candidate’s support over fundraising data.

The 2020 hopefuls need both strong fundraising and polling at this stage, however, or they risk getting shut out of the debates thanks to thresholds set by the Democratic National Committee. For ABC News’ debate in Houston on Sept. 12 and 13, candidates need to reach a 2% polling threshold and donations from at least 130,000 individual donors, tough marks for a number of the 23 candidates to meet.

4. Where is Shemika Cosey?

Shemika Cosey was 16 years old when she disappeared without a trace from her cousin’s house outside of St. Louis. Now more than a decade later, her family is still fighting for her return.

Police classified Cosey as a runaway and never searched for her because they discovered an unlocked door at the house, according to Cosey’s mother, Paula Hill. She’s hoping new attention on the case will help bring her home.

Maj. Art Jackson, an officer with the Berkeley Police Department, said there was no evidence to support a physical search and that the department “has tried to do everything in our power to find Shemika Cosey.” The case is still active, Jackson added.

There are two forces at play in many unresolved missing persons cases involving people of color, the press and the police, according to ABC News’ Steve Osunsami, who is covering some of these stories, including Cosey’s for “Good Morning America’s” series, “Vanished.”

“Both of those groups are really representative of a larger feeling in our society, that these parents argue, which is that a black person missing isn’t as big of a tragedy as it is when that person who’s missing is of another race, and that’s why you can’t get the attention.”

If you have any information about Shemika Cosey, please call the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 1-800-THE-LOST / 1-800-843-5678.

PHOTO: Paula Hill is still searching for her daughter, Shemika Cosey, who went missing in 2008.
Courtesy Paula HIll
Paula Hill is still searching for her daughter, Shemika Cosey, who went missing in 2008.

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Elsewhere:

‘Sayoc found light in Donald J. Trump’: New defense filings arguing for a 10-year sentence for the man who pleaded guilty to mailing bombs to Democratic leaders paint a dark picture of Cesar Sayoc.

Violent turn: After a day of mostly peaceful protests in San Juan, police fired tear gas at protesters calling for the resignation of Puerto Rico’s embattled governor.

Country goes dark: Most of the country of Venezuela went dark on Monday night in what President Nicolas Maduro called an “electromagnetic attack.” His rival, Juan Guaido, blamed it on the country’s crumbling infrastructure.

From our friends at FiveThirtyEight:

How 13 Rejected States Would Have Changed The Electoral College: One way to understand just how skewed the Electoral College can be is by rearranging the states inside of it.

Doff your cap:

Perhaps they needed a bigger fishing pole?

VIDEO: Great white shark snags fish off boys fishing linePlay
Great white shark snags fish off boy’s fishing line

A group of father and sons on a fishing trip off the coast of Cape Cod had a once-in-a-lifetime moment when a shark jumped out of the water by their boat and snagged a tasty fish snack.

The video captured the wild surprise when a great white shark chomped down on a fish off a boy’s fishing line as a man is reeling it in for him.

But there were no grumpy gills on this trip. Three of the boys also posted photos of themselves holding a giant fresh catch.