Oct. 8, 2019
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We’re covering the aftermath of President Trump’s promise to withdraw from Syria, the N.B.A.’s latest response to a controversy involving China, and changes to the ACT.
Witness in Ukraine case is told not to speak
The Trump administration directed a top American diplomat not to speak to investigators in the impeachment inquiry today, according to two people familiar with the matter.
The diplomat, Gordon Sondland, is the U.S. ambassador to the European Union and has been deeply involved in Mr. Trump’s Ukraine policy.
Yesterday: The House issued subpoenas to the Defense Department and the Office of Management and Budget for documents that might help identify any ties between the withholding of U.S. aid from Ukraine and President Trump’s push for its government to investigate his political rivals.
The details: Impeachment investigators have been issuing near-daily requests or subpoenas. Here’s a look at the evidence they’ve collected.
Another angle: As part of U.S. policy to fight corruption in Ukraine, Energy Secretary Rick Perry has pushed for changes at a state-owned gas company. That effort has entangled him in the case at the center of the impeachment inquiry.
President Trump and military leaders at the White House on Monday.Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times
Mixed signals in the Middle East
After widespread criticism of the decision to clear the way for a Turkish military operation against U.S.-backed Kurdish fighters in Syria, President Trump switched gears on Monday and said he would restrain Turkey.
Mr. Trump has long pushed to leave “endless wars” — a position many Americans support, according to polls — only to be pulled back by the national security establishment and congressional allies. Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, warned on Monday against “a precipitous withdrawal” from Syria and urged Mr. Trump to “exercise American leadership.”
News analysis: Mr. Trump’s foreign policy “has largely abandoned the elaborate systems created since President Harry Truman’s day to think ahead about the potential costs and benefits of presidential decisions,” writes David Sanger, a national security correspondent for The Times.
What’s next: The Kurds have been among America’s most effective allies against the Islamic State, and analysts warned that a U.S. withdrawal could benefit Iran, Russia and President Bashar al-Assad of Syria. Here’s a look at what could happen.
The Daily: Today’s episode is about Mr. Trump’s shift in strategy.
N.B.A. tries to limit fallout in China dispute
The basketball league said today that its initial response to a controversy involving an executive’s support of the protesters in Hong Kong had left people “angered, confused or unclear on who we are or what the N.B.A. stands for.”
When Hurricane Irma crushed the Caribbean island of St. Martin two years ago, the French state promised swift assistance. Aid has flowed in, but a fight has followed about recovery plans, exposing racial and class tensions.
This article is the latest in a Times series that investigates whether promises made by those in power are kept.
Here’s what else is happening
Nobel in physics: Today’s award went to three scientists for their contributions to the understanding of the evolution of the universe and the Earth’s place in the cosmos.
Snapshot: Above, sea lions at Russkaya Bay on the Kamchatka Peninsula. At the end of a five-year assignment in Moscow, our former bureau chief traveled to the region, which most Russians consider the obscure end of the country.
Baseball playoffs: The Yankees swept the Twins to reach the American League Championship Series, and the Cardinals, Nationals and Rays all won, extending their respective series.
Late-night comedy: The hosts were focused on the Middle East. “There’s only one way out of this: Kurds, you’ve got 24 hours to dig up dirt on Joe Biden,” Stephen Colbert said.
What we’re reading: This Vox article on Fat Bear Week at Katmai National Park in Alaska. “To be clear, this is not about fat-shaming — it’s about celebration,” according to Katmai. Melina Delkic, on the briefings team, writes, “Use the sliding tool to look at my favorite bear Holly’s incredible transformation from July to September.”
Now, a break from the news
Read: In “Frankissstein,” Jeanette Winterson has stitched together that rarest of beasts: a novel that is deeply thought-provoking and provocative, yet unabashedly entertaining. Here’s our review.
Smarter Living: Nir Eyal wrote the Silicon Valley playbook for creating addictive apps, but he’s reversing course with “Indistractable: How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life.” His solution is to reclaim responsibility in myriad small ways, like silencing your phone.
Plus: Technology makes it easy for us to monitor our neighbors and families. But should we?
And now for the Back Story on …
After the attacks last month on Saudi oil facilities, The Times wrote an article headlined “The Urgent Search for a Cyber Silver Bullet Against Iran.” That prompted a briefings reader, Ariel Fromowitz, to ask us where the term “silver bullet” came from.
Silver itself has been known for its healing properties since at least the time of Hippocrates.
European legends holding that only a silver bullet could kill a werewolf or other supernatural malevolence (just as only a wooden stake to the heart kills a vampire) became common in the early 1800s.
And in the 1930s American radio show “The Lone Ranger,” the masked lawman would leave behind a silver bullet as a symbol of justice.
By the mid-20th century, a “silver bullet” came to mean a miraculous or fail-safe solution to a problem.
More recently, “magic bullet” has been used to convey the same idea, though in its earlier usage it referred more specifically to an undiscovered drug to cure a disease.
Thanks to Ariel for leading us to the silver bullet for the end of today’s briefing.
That’s it for this briefing, but more great journalism is available beyond your inbox. Subscribe to The New York Times for unlimited access.
See you next time.
Melina Delkic helped compile today’s briefing. Mark Josephson and Eleanor Stanford provided the break from the news. Victoria Shannon, on the briefings team, wrote today’s Back Story. You can reach us at [email protected]
• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Today’s episode is about President Trump’s new policy in Syria.
• Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: “Be the person your ___ thinks you are” (three letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
• “Caliphate,” by the Times reporter Rukmini Callimachi, has been named one of the 10 most influential nonfiction podcasts by Vulture, the pop culture website.