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Syria, Matt Lauer, Washington Nationals: Your Thursday Briefing




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Good morning.

We’re covering the latest developments in Turkey’s operation against the Kurds in Syria, an anti-Semitic attack in Germany, and Apple’s decision to remove an app that had angered China.


The Nobel Prize in Literature for 2018 was awarded to the Polish author Olga Tokarczuk. The prize for this year was awarded to the Austrian author Peter Handke.

By allowing Turkey to attack America’s Kurdish allies in Syria, the U.S. risks repeating a scenario that helped pave the way for the Iraq war, according to military and national security officials.

“It takes time to build trust,” said Paul Eaton, a retired major general and veteran of the Iraq war. “And any time you erode trust, like this, it’s that much harder to bring it back.”

At the end of the Persian Gulf war nearly 30 years ago, the U.S. allowed Saddam Hussein to crush insurgents in Iraq, including Kurdish groups, leaving him in power until the U.S. invaded more than a decade later.

Catch up: At least 16 Kurds were reported to have been killed in Turkey’s assault in Syria, a monitoring group said today. The attack on the Kurds, a crucial American ally in the fight against the Islamic State, came days after President Trump agreed to let the operation proceed. Here’s a quick look at the history behind the conflict.

What’s next: It’s too soon to say what will happen, but Pentagon officials express fear that Turkey’s incursion into Syria could lead to the release of tens of thousands of ISIS fighters and the return of the self-proclaimed caliphate that the U.S. and its partners have spent the past five years destroying.

Related: The American military was working to remove as many as several dozen Islamic State detainees from Syria. The U.S. already has two British men in custody who tortured and killed Western hostages, according to officials.

Response: Mr. Trump said Turkey’s offensive, which has prompted criticism in Congress, was “a bad idea” but reiterated his opposition to “senseless wars.” He also said that the Kurds had fought with the U.S. only out of self-interest, and that “they didn’t help us in the Second World War.”

House chairmen leading the impeachment inquiry into President Trump plan to issue additional subpoenas for information related to his dealings with Ukraine as soon as today, lawmakers and aides said.

Their push comes despite the White House’s vow to put a “full halt” on cooperating with an inquiry it considers illegitimate.

Related: Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, said today that Mr. Trump had not sought to blackmail him over military aid when the two leaders spoke this summer, a conversation that led to the impeachment inquiry.

The gunman who killed two people in the eastern city of Halle on Wednesday made clear in a manifesto he published online before trying to storm a synagogue that he hoped to kill as many Jews as possible.

The manifesto was written in English, suggesting also that the attacker was seeking to draw the attention of extremists beyond Germany. He was wearing a head-mounted camera that streamed the attack to Twitch, the Amazon-owned video platform.

The police identified a suspect today as a German citizen. The gunman was unable to enter the synagogue, where 51 congregants were gathered for Yom Kippur, but fatally shot two people outside before driving away.

Related: Twitch, which has struggled to police its content, apologized and said that only five people had watched the shooting live. About 2,200 people viewed a recording before it was removed.


Snapshot: Above, a delivery to a cafe in darkened downtown Sonoma, Calif., on Wednesday. Pacific Gas and Electric shut off power to hundreds of thousands of customers as a precaution against wildfires. More outages are planned today.

Overlooked obituaries: Mitsuye Endo was the lead plaintiff in a Supreme Court case that successfully challenged mass internment of American citizens during World War II. She’s the latest entry in our series about people who didn’t receive obituaries in The Times.

Baseball playoffs: The Nationals hit a grand slam in extra innings to beat the Dodgers and advance to the National League Championship Series. Game 1 against the Cardinals is Friday.

52 Places traveler: In his latest dispatch, our columnist visits Lyon and Marseille, two French cities a quick train ride apart, but worlds away in other respects.

Late-night comedy: The White House continued to keep the hosts occupied.

What we’re reading: This article from Slate, about America’s most-produced playwright. “A smart, eye-opening profile of Lauren Gunderson,” writes Dan Saltzstein, our senior editor for special projects. “Despite her massive success, I’d never heard of her — and maybe you haven’t either.”

A show known for raunchy satire and the delight it takes in offending large groups of people has had such scuffles before.

Catholic groups weren’t thrilled with the show’s depiction of the Virgin Mary. Neither were Mormons when the show mocked their history.

But in two decades of impropriety, actual censorship has been rare.

In 2006, Comedy Central stopped airing reruns of an episode mocking the Church of Scientology and Tom Cruise, which coincided with the release of a Cruise film from the network’s parent company.

In 2010, an episode satirizing the Prophet Muhammad drew a warning from a Muslim group. In the next episode, the show’s creators, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, covered the prophet’s cartoon image with a “CENSORED” graphic and bleeped mentions of his name.

Comedy Central altered the episode — with even more bleeps.

That’s it for this briefing, but before you close this email, please consider subscribing to The New York Times. Your subscription helps support our in-depth, independent reporting.

See you next time.

— Chris

Thank you
Mark Josephson, Eleanor Stanford and Chris Harcum provided the break from the news. Nancy Coleman, a newsroom fellow on our Culture desk, wrote today’s Back Story. You can reach the team at [email protected].

• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Today’s episode is about Republicans’ strategy in the impeachment inquiry.
• Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Habitat explored by a scuba diver (four letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
• Two Times journalists, Michael Barbaro and Taffy Brodesser-Akner, have been named to Variety’s New Power of New York list.

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