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Syrian troops are massing near the Turkish border, one day after Bashar al-Assad’s government reached a deal to help protect the Kurds from Turkey’s deadly air and ground assault. The Kurds had been allied with the United States up until last week, when President Trump abruptly pulled U.S. troops from northern Syria, paving the way for Turkey’s assault. More than 130,000 people have already been displaced over the past five days since Turkey invaded northern Syria. The death toll is unknown. Turkey says over 500 “terrorists” have been “neutralized.” Turkey frequently refers to Kurdish groups as “terrorists.” The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights is reporting Turkish-backed proxies have shot dead nine Kurdish civilians, including a prominent political leader, Hevrin Khalaf, who was killed along with her driver on Saturday. She was the secretary-general of the Future Syria Party. Kurdish authorities are reporting 785 people affiliated with the Islamic State, including women and children, escaped from a Kurdish-controlled displacement camp in northern Syria. The New York Times is reporting U.S. forces failed to transfer five dozen “high value” Islamic State prisoners out of the country. This is Defense Secretary Mark Esper speaking with Margaret Brennan of “Face the Nation.”
Defense Secretary Mark Esper: “I spoke with the president last night after discussions with the rest of the national security team, and he directed that we begin a deliberate withdrawal of forces from northern Syria.”
Margaret Brennan: “A deliberate withdrawal from the entire country?”
Defense Secretary Mark Esper: “From northern Syria.”
Margaret Brennan: “From northern Syria.”
Defense Secretary Mark Esper: “Right, which is where most of our forces are.”
Margaret Brennan: “So, 1,000 troops.”
Defense Secretary Mark Esper: “That’s correct.”
Margaret Brennan: “How long? And over what time period will you be pulling back?”
Defense Secretary Mark Esper: “Well, it will be a deliberate withdrawal, and we want to conduct it as safely and quickly as possible.”
Turkey is facing increasing international condemnation for invading northern Syria. France and Germany have halted arms exports to Turkey as calls grow for an EU-wide arms embargo. Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan is slated to visit to visit the United States next month.
President Trump has defended his widely criticized decision to withdraw troops from Syria by saying it’s time to bring the troops home. This is Trump speaking at a rally in Minnesota Thursday.
President Donald Trump: “We were supposed to be in Syria for 30 days; we’ve now been there for 10 years. We were supposed to be in Afghanistan for a short period of time; we’re now going to be there for close to 19 years. It’s time to bring them home.”
In fact, Trump has not said the troops withdrawn from Syria will come back to the United States. And less than 24 hours after his Minnesota campaign stump speech, the Pentagon announced it was deploying an additional 1,800 troops to Saudi Arabia.
A New York Times investigation has revealed how Russian warplanes have repeatedly bombed hospitals in Syria — including four hospitals in a 12-hour period on May 5 and 6. It is a war crime to recklessly or intentionally bomb a hospital. From April to September, more than 50 hospitals and clinics in opposition-held Idlib province were attacked. Russia has backed Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad in his brutal effort to recapture territory from opposition groups.
A federal appeals court has ruled President Trump must comply with a House committee’s subpoena for eight years of his financial records. Friday’s ruling affirms an earlier ruling by a lower court. Last week, President Trump said he will not cooperate with the congressional impeachment inquiry, including refusing to turn over documents about his financial records.
President Trump is again facing allegations he is personally inciting political violence and violence against journalists, after news surfaced about the broadcast of a video in which a fake President Trump shoots, stabs and brutally assaults journalists and political opponents. The New York Times reports the video was broadcast at a Miami conference for Trump supporters last week. In the video, the fake Trump shoots a number of people whose faces have been replaced by the logos of news media organizations. He also physically assaults California Democratic Representative Maxine Waters, hits former President Barack Obama in the back and lights Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders’s head on fire.
In media news, Fox News veteran chief news anchor Shepard Smith has quit. Smith was one of the few prominent Fox News voices to express skepticism about President Trump, at times criticizing the president for his repeated lies and his xenophobia. To the shock of many, Smith announced his departure from the network at the end of his Friday newscast.
Joe Biden’s son Hunter says he’ll step down from the board of Chinese company BHR, after President Trump repeatedly attacked Hunter over his overseas business practices and openly called for the leaders of Ukraine and China to investigate his political rival Joe Biden and his son for corruption. Trump’s apparent effort to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Hunter is at the center of the House’s impeachment inquiry. On Sunday, Hunter Biden’s lawyer said if Biden is elected, his son would not “serve on boards of, or work on behalf of, foreign-owned companies.”
In Fort Worth, Texas, outrage is growing after a white police officer shot and killed an African-American woman by shooting through the window of the woman’s home while responding to a non-emergency call for a wellness check. A neighbor had called the non-emergency line after seeing that 28-year-old Atatiana Jefferson’s front door was open. When the police officer arrived, Jefferson and her 8-year-old nephew were playing video games. The officer shouted through Jefferson’s bedroom window to put her hands up, and then opened fire, killing her. She is the sixth person since June who has been killed by one of the police department’s officers. Her killing comes after white off-duty police officer Amber Guyger was convicted of murder for killing her black neighbor, Botham Jean, in his own apartment in Dallas. She said she shot him after mistaking his apartment for her own.
In Japan, at least 40 people have died and over a dozen are still missing after Typhoon Hagibis swept through central and eastern Japan Saturday. Experts say it was the worst storm to hit Japan in at least 60 years. It dumped record levels of rain across parts of the country, causing at least 25 rivers to burst their banks. This is typhoon survivor Rie Hasegawa.
Rie Hasegawa: “Water came in immediately, and I felt the water gradually go up in dark. It was scary, and I was worried about our lives. I even thought that might be the end.”
In Ecuador, two weeks of massive indigenous-led protests have forced the government to cancel austerity measures that led to a doubling of disel prices. The major victory came after televised negotiations between the Ecuadorian government and indigenous groups on Sunday. At least seven people were killed in the protests. Over 2,000 more were arrested or wounded. Celebrations broke out in Ecuador’s capital Quito Sunday night after the deal was reached. This is Marco Casagallo.
Marco Casagallo: “It’s a celebration for us, because we can rest easy after so many days of deaths, massacres and other things that Ecuador has gone through.”
In Uganda, LGBT activists are fighting against the possible reintroduction of a bill that could make homosexuality punishable by death. The law, known as the “Kill the Gays” law, was passed in 2014 but was annulled by the constitutional court on a technicality. In late September, Democracy Now! interviewed Ugandan Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda at the United Nations General Assembly here in New York City.
Amy Goodman: “Can I ask you a tough question about LGBT rights in Uganda? Although a court has struck down the anti-LGBT legislation, still there’s intense discrimination against the gay and lesbian and trans community. As prime minister, what can you do?”
Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda: “I’m not aware of the discrimination that you’re talking about. And the courts of law in Uganda have taken a position, and we stand by the decision taken by court in Uganda over the matter.”
Amy Goodman: “Do you think LGBTQ people should be respected and protected like any other individual in Uganda?”
Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda: “No single human being should be discriminated.”
In Tunisia, retired law professor Kaïs Saïed is poised to be the next president, after preliminary results from Sunday’s election showed him with a landslide lead over his opponent, a multimillionaire TV mogul who had been arrested on charges of money laundering and tax fraud. Celebrations filled the streets of Tunis after the early results were announced.
Latifa: “I am so very happy. I am so happy with youth, who in 2011 held a revolution and have today nominated the president with wisdom. With hope, I salute Tunisia’s youth. They are our future. They are everything. They are the ones who brought back our revolution today.”
Professor Kaïs Saïed helped parliament draft Tunisia’s post-Arab Spring constitution and ran on a message of integrity and anti-corruption. But some have criticized his conservative views, which include opposing equal inheritance for men and women and plans to reinstate the death penalty.
Spain’s Supreme Court has sentenced nine Catalan separatist leaders to 9 to 13 years in prison over their role in Catalonia’s bid for independence. In 2017, the Spanish central government cracked down on separatists, arresting political leaders and charging them with “rebellion,” following an independence referendum and the Catalan Parliament’s declaration of independence.
Simone Biles has become the most decorated gymnast in world championship history. On Sunday, the African-American gymnast won her 24th and 25th world medals. Many consider her to be the greatest gymnast of all time. Biles has also been an outspoken survivor of sexual abuse. In August, she called out USA Gymnastics for failing to protect young athletes from Larry Nassar, the former team doctor, who was sentenced to up to 175 years in prison for sexually assaulting and abusing more than 160 young female athletes. Biles is a survivor of Nassar’s abuse.
Simone Biles: “It’s hard coming here for an organization and having had them fail us so many times. And we had won gold. We’ve done everything that they asked us for, even when we didn’t want to, and they couldn’t do one damn job. You had one job. You literally had one job, and you couldn’t protect us.”
Cities and states from coast to coast are celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ Day today, rejecting the official federal holiday of Columbus Day. Last week, Washington, D.C., became one of the latest of over 130 cities, counties and states to recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Sunrise ceremonies are being held this morning from Randall’s Island to Alcatraz. We’ll have more on Indigenous Peoples’ Day later in the broadcast.