Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi, Russia, today, as the five-day ceasefire between Turkey’s military and Syrian Kurdish groups expires today at noon Eastern time. Turkish President Erdogan has vowed to restart the military offensive in northern Syria and has threatened to “crush the heads” of Syrian Kurdish forces if they don’t withdraw from the Turkey-Syria border. The Turkish invasion into Kurdish-controlled areas of northern Syria began after President Trump spoke to Erdogan on the telephone and then announced he was abruptly withdrawing U.S. troops from the region, clearing the way for the offensive. Convoys of these U.S. troops have been departing northern Syria for western Iraq, where the Pentagon says they will be restationed. But the Iraqi government says the U.S. does not have permission to station those troops in Iraq. Meanwhile, President Trump now says some U.S. troops will remain in northern Syria in order to protect oil fields. The New York Times also reports that despite President Trump’s vow to end “endless wars,” about 200,000 U.S. troops are deployed overseas and that there are now more troops deployed to the Middle East than when Trump first took office.
In Washington, the top U.S. diplomat to Ukraine, William Taylor, is slated to testify to congressional lawmakers as part of the ongoing impeachment hearings. Text messages released by House committees show Taylor repeatedly questioned the decision to hold up millions of dollars in funding to Ukraine as part of a potential quid pro quo aimed at pressuring Ukraine to investigate Trump’s rival Joe Biden and his son Hunter. On September 1, Taylor texted, “Are we now saying that security assistance and WH meeting conditioned on investigations?” Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union and a wealthy Oregon hotel magnate who received the ambassadorship after donating a million dollars to Trump’s inauguration, texted back, “Call me.” On September 9, Taylor also texted, “I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign.” On Monday, President Trump lashed out at Utah Republican Senator Mitt Romney for signaling that he might be open to President Trump’s impeachment.
President Donald Trump: “But two things they have: They’re vicious, and they stick together. They don’t have Mitt Romney in their midst. They don’t have people like that. They stick together. You never see them break off. You never see somebody go out and … The Republicans have to get tougher and fight.”
Meanwhile, House Democrats blocked a House Republican resolution Monday to censure Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff over handling of the impeachment inquiry. The resolution had been introduced last week by Republican Arizona Congressmember Andy Biggs.
The New York Times reports the United States has been quietly withdrawing some troops from Afghanistan. On Monday, the top American commander in Afghanistan said about 2,000 U.S. troops have left the country over the last year. There are still between 12,000 and 13,000 U.S. troops stationed in Afghanistan.
In Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party held onto power in Monday’s tight national elections. The Liberals did not win a majority, with the Conservative Party gaining seats in Parliament. The election was widely seen as a referendum on Trudeau’s four years in power, including his highly controversial approvals of new pipelines, including the Trans Mountain oil pipeline expansion project and occasional scandals, including photos of him appearing in blackface.
In Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has failed to form a coalition government following last month’s election. Netanyahu’s rival, former army chief of staff Benny Gantz, will now have a chance to assemble a majority of lawmakers. Netanyahu and Gantz’s parties both won a nearly identical number of seats in September’s elections, with neither winning a controlling majority.
In Chile, massive protests continued across the capital Santiago Monday, where the government has extended the curfew for the third straight day. Eleven people have been killed in the ongoing unrest, which was sparked by a subway fare hike two weeks ago and has grown into a mass uprising against rising inequality, high cost of living and privatization. On Monday, the protests spread to Argentina, where demonstrators gathered outside the Chilean Consulate in Buenos Aires. This is Argentine protester Juan Carlos Giordano.
Juan Carlos Giordano: “They talked about a Chilean economic miracle, until it all exploded. They raised the subway fares. There was a rejection, and the government reversed itself. But the capitalist plans are terrible. The people say they don’t have access to water, to electricity. Everything costs the prices of the First World, and the salaries are in the Third World.”
Northern Ireland has decriminalized abortion and legalized same-sex marriage. The changes came after Northern Ireland’s regional government collapsed in 2017, giving British lawmakers the opportunity to mandate the changes in an amendment to a bill passed in July. On Monday, lawmakers in Northern Ireland met for the first time in nearly three years but were unable to stop the changes from taking effect at midnight.
In Indonesia, President Joko Widodo has asked opposition leader and former military commander Prabowo Subianto to join the Cabinet. General Prabowo lost to President Joko Widodo in April’s elections. Had he obtained the presidency, the general had planned mass arrests of opponents. The general has been implicated in mass killings in East Timor, Papua and Aceh, as well as the kidnapping and torture of activists in Jakarta. He also worked directly with the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency and U.S. Special Forces in Indonesia. Click here to see our full coverage of the Indonesian elections and the history of General Prabowo.
In New York, ExxonMobil is going on trial today over accusations it deceived shareholders over the financial risks of climate change. In 2015, a damning report by InsideClimate News and the Los Angeles Times revealed that Exxon knew that fossil fuels contributed to climate change as early as the 1970s, but did not take any action even as it covered up the science.
In Ohio, four major drug companies have reached a last-minute deal to settle with two Ohio counties that sued the drug distributors and manufacturers over the opioid epidemic. The $260 million settlement includes companies AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health, McKesson and Teva Pharmaceuticals. Just hours after this settlement was announced Monday, a group of state attorneys general said they had reached a tentative $48 billion agreement with the same four companies and Johnson & Johnson. It’s not clear whether the lawyers for the over 2,000 cities and counties that have sued over the opioid epidemic will accept the nationwide deal.
The clothing retail store Macy’s says it will stop selling fur products by early 2021, after years of pressure from the Humane Society. Macy’s announcement comes after other major companies, including Michael Kors and Gucci, also stopped selling fur products in recent years.
In New York City, former City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and six others were arrested Monday at a protest demanding that the Museum of Modern Art, or MoMA, cut ties with trustee Steven Tananbaum, whose vulture fund owns at least $2.5 billion of Puerto Rico’s debt and has profited off the island’s financial crisis. GoldenTree Asset Management is one of the top three holders of Puerto Rico’s debt. Former City Council Speaker Mark-Viverito said, “We cannot allow these cultural institutions to be used as a way of whitewashing money. Puerto Rico is suffering, people are losing their pensions, there are privatization of resources, schools are closing down. These practices must end.”