10 things you need to know today: October 21, 2019


Kurdish militia leaders said Sunday they had evacuated a Syrian border town, the first such withdrawal under a five-day ceasefire deal with Turkey. Kurdish officials said after fighters and civilians have cleared out of the town, Ras al-Ayn, Kurdish-led forces also will pull out of a broader section of northern Syria along Turkey's border. The withdrawal is supposed to be completed by late Tuesday, when the ceasefire is scheduled to expire. Turkey launched its military operation into the region after President Trump said he was pulling out U.S. troops who had fought alongside the Kurds against the Islamic State. Turkey views the Kurds as terrorists, and is demanding a terrorist-free "safe zone" along its border. [The Associated Press]


Demonstrators set fire to buses and subway stations and clashed with police in Chile on Sunday as the South American nation faced its worst unrest in decades. More than 1,400 people have been arrested. Eight people died in fires — three at supermarkets that were looted, and five at a garment factory that allegedly was burned by rioters. The demonstrations over living costs erupted two weeks ago in response to a planned subway fare hike. President Sebastián Piñera canceled the fare increase on Saturday, but the violence continued. A state of emergency was declared in the capital, Santiago, and five other cities. About 5,000 travelers were stranded at Santiago's airport overnight as at least two airlines canceled or rescheduled flights. The country is bracing for a national strike called for Monday. [The New York Times, BBC News]


Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) said Sunday that "in the next few weeks" she will release a plan for how to pay for her Medicare-for-all goal. Democratic presidential rivals have been attacking Warren on her refusal to specify how she proposes to fund the plan, and reporters continue to ask her if she would raise taxes, not just lower total health-care costs, for the middle class. "Right now, the cost estimates on Medicare-for-all vary by trillions and trillions of dollars. And the different revenue streams for how to fund it — there are a lot of them," Warren said. "So this is something I've been working on for months and months and it's got just a little more work until it's finished." [The Washington Post, USA Today]


British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is pushing for a "meaningful vote" on his Brexit deal Monday afternoon, after Parliament denied one he asked for on Saturday. Johnson's government sent the European Union an unsigned letter as required under newly passed legislation requesting a delay on Britain's departure from the EU, currently scheduled for Oct. 31, but he also sent a signed letter presenting all of the reasons he sees for going ahead with Brexit as planned. One of Johnson's most senior ministers on Sunday reiterated that the government is still moving ahead with plans to leave the trading bloc without a delay. "We are going to leave by Oct. 31," said Michael Gove, the minister leading Brexit preparations. "We have the means and the ability to do so." [Reuters, The Washington Post]


President Trump was surprised by the bipartisan opposition to his now-rescinded decision to host next year's Group of 7 summit at his Doral resort near Miami, acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney said on Fox News Sunday. "At the end of the day, he still considers himself to be in the hospitality business," Mulvaney said, "and he saw an opportunity to take the biggest leaders from around the world and he wanted to put on the absolute best show, the best visit that he possibly could and he was very confident of doing that at Doral." Trump had promised to do the event "at cost." Critics had accused Trump of trying to use his position for his own financial benefit by filling up rooms that would otherwise be mostly empty during South Florida's sweltering off-season summer. [Reuters]


Canadians go to the polls Monday to elect a new Parliament, and polls suggest that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau could become the first Canadian leader in 84 years to be ousted after one four-year term. Polls show Trudeau's Liberal Party neck-and-neck with the Conservative Party and its leader, Andrew Scheer, though it seems likely neither party will win an outright majority of Parliament's 338 seats. If the election results in Canada's first coalition government since 1972, the likely combinations would be Trudeau being joined by the New Democratic Party, and the Conservatives pairing up with the separatist Bloc Quebecois. Preliminary results are expected Monday night. [USA Today, The Associated Press]


The first federal opioid trial is scheduled to begin on Monday, following a breakdown in settlement talks last week. In this trial, Cuyahoga and Summit counties in Ohio are suing drug manufacturer Teva Pharmaceuticals, four distributors, and drug-store chain Walgreens, accusing them of contributing to the opioid epidemic by conspiring to sidestep a federal law requiring them to spot and report massive sales signaling illegal distribution of the highly addictive painkillers. Purdue Pharma, Johnson & Johnson, and three other drug makers already have settled. The trial is seen as a test case for more than 2,300 lawsuits filed across the country by state and local governments against opioid producers and distributors. [USA Today, The New York Times]


Lebanon's cabinet is expected to approve a package of reforms on Monday in an effort to address an economic crisis that has triggered five days of massive protests. The proposals include cutting government ministers' salaries in half, and dropping new taxes. Reuters reported that officials said Sunday that Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri and his coalition government partners had agreed to the reforms. Demonstrators prepared for a sixth day of protests on Monday, but some said they were pleased to hear about the looming government action. "I am with the reforms. I am against the destruction of Lebanon," said Beirut protester Rabih Zghaib. "Lebanon has been badly damaged by the politicians for 30 years. Today their thrones are shaking." [The Associated Press]


A tornado crashed through Dallas late Sunday, destroying numerous homes and businesses along a miles-long path, and cutting power to tens of thousands of people. There were no immediate reports of deaths or severe injuries, although some people were injured by broken glass. Police and fire-rescue crews were going door to door in hard-hit areas to check on the wellbeing of residents, and assess damage. Many residents and motorists said they had close calls. Tina Devlin of Dallas said her home was a "total loss" after the tornado blew by. "I heard all the snapping of the trees and the wind blowing," she told NBC Dallas-Fort Worth, "and so I climbed into this bedroom closet, and just as I got in there, the roof blew off." [The Dallas Morning News, NBC News]


Thomas D'Alesandro III, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's (D-Calif.) brother and a former Baltimore mayor, has died at age 90. "My husband Paul and our entire family are devastated by the loss of our patriarch, my beloved brother, Thomas D'Alesandro III," Pelosi said in a Sunday statement. "Tommy was the finest public servant I have ever known." D'Alesandro served as Baltimore's mayor from 1967 to 1971, a single tumultuous term that included 1968 riots as well as racial tensions and strikes by city laborers, bus drivers, and symphony musicians, The Baltimore Sun reported. D'Alesandro pushed through an $80 million bond issue that allowed the city to build and open new schools. He took office promising to "root out every cause or vestige of discrimination," and made civil rights a focus of his political career. [The Baltimore Sun, CNN]