Thursdays top story: Trump declares ceasefire permanent as Turkey sanctions are lifted. Plus, how the richest zipcodes in the US plan to vote in 2020
Good morning, Im Tim Walker with todays essential stories.
Russia steps up Syrian border presence after ceasefire
Donald Trump has lifted his administrations short-lived sanctions on Ankara and claimed the credit for a ceasefire deal curtailing the Turkish offensive against Kurdish-led forces in northern Syria. But with the Russian military still moving into the region to fill a vacuum left by the US withdrawal, the Kurds dream of local autonomy looks to be dead again for the foreseeable future. Let someone else fight over this long-bloodstained sand, the US president said on Wednesday.
Mass torture. The Assad regime inflicts at least 72 kinds of torture on prisoners, methods that have led to the deaths of more than 14,000 people during the Syrian civil war including at least 185 this year alone according to a new report.
Republicans disrupt impeachment hearing in pro-Trump stunt
A group of Republican House members temporarily disrupted the Trump impeachment inquiry on Wednesday, by barging into a closed-door committee hearing in protest at the private nature of the proceedings. The organisers of the stunt, which came a day after the US envoy to Ukraine delivered his damning testimony, have decried the process as partisan and demanded it be conducted entirely in public despite the fact that GOP members of the relevant House committees are taking part in the hearings.
Tax returns. One of the presidents personal lawyers has argued he could not be prosecuted by local authorities while in office even if he murdered someone on New Yorks Fifth Avenue while fighting a subpoena for Trumps tax returns.
AOC stumps Zuckerberg at congressional hearing on Libra
Mark Zuckerberg withered under tough questioning from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Wednesday, as the Facebook chief faced the progressive congresswoman and other lawmakers at a congressional hearing on his firms planned digital currency, Libra. California Democrat Brad Sherman said that rather than benefit the worlds poor, as Zuckerberg has claimed, Libra would help drug dealers and tax evaders. AOC took the opportunity to challenge him on political bias and the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
Financial leadership. Zuckerberg said Facebook would delay Libras planned 2020 launch until it satisfied all US regulatory concerns, but claimed that if the US did not act fast, China could introduce its own cryptocurrency first, threatening Americas financial leadership.