Having wrested a key U.S. demand from Turkey, President Donald Trump welcomed American pastor Andrew Brunson to the White House Saturday. Brunson’s release by a Turkish court Friday had nothing to do, Trump said, with the growing tensions between Ankara and Riyadh over the Oct. 2 disappearance of dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. If, as Turkish officials claim, Saudis agents murdered their countryman, Trump vowed ”severe punishment” for the kingdom, although he’s said it would be “foolish” economically to scrap $110 billion worth of arms sales to the kingdom.
The Presidential Daily Brief
Guided by cries for help, rescue crews pried and cut their way into wrecked houses Saturday, finding survivors desperate for food, water and medical treatment. In one house in Panama City, Florida, they found a mother and daughter in need of insulin, trapped in a closet. The death toll, at 18, is expected to tick upward as crews aided by cadaver dogs find more victims of Hurricane Michael, which cut a swath of destruction from Florida’s panhandle to Virginia last week. Officials say it’ll take weeks to assess the extent of the devastation.
A deal is “within reach.” The European Union’s Brexit negotiator is confident entering the homestretch to March’s drop-dead departure date, and European leaders summiting Wednesday and Thursday intend to forge amicable divorce terms. British Prime Minister Theresa May’s recent haranguing of deal skeptics among fellow conservatives seems to have helped. Key questions to be resolved include the status of Gibraltar, the European Court of Justice’s jurisdiction and Northern Ireland’s nettlesome border. What’s become painfully clear is that the conflict is more among Britons than between the mainland and its anxious neighbor.
The Fed must be crazy. At least that’s what President Donald Trump told reporters as traders ran for the equities exits on Wednesday, when the Dow dropped more than 800 points, followed by a 500-plus drop on Thursday. In two days, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos lost $15 billion (he was still worth $140 billion). The reason? Higher interest rates were blamed, but other factors like the China-U.S. trade war came up. Then on Friday, markets from Shanghai to New York recovered their footing, allowing optimism to prevail until markets reopen on Monday.
The Week Ahead: In a test of Germany’s weakened ruling conservative bloc, Bavarians vote today for state legislators. The National Basketball Association begins its 2018-2019 season Tuesday, with LeBron James playing his first regular game with the L.A. Lakers on Thursday. And on Wednesday, marijuana becomes legal in Canada.
Know This: Peace advocate Archbishop Óscar Romero, who was giving mass when assassinated by government soldiers in a Salvadoran church in 1980, has been canonized by Pope Francis. Many Native Americans may be prohibited from voting in North Dakota’s Nov. 6 midterms because of a new requirement that their IDs have street addresses. And a New York Times investigation has determined that presidential son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner paid virtually no income taxes between 2009 and 2016.
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Dr. Strangelove, we presume? Research into helping the disabled walk has attracted understandable attention from the U.S. military. Now the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, which helped develop the internet, is researching not just enabling wounded veterans but enhancing soldiers. New neurotechnology gives hope for mind-controlled prosthetics, memory enhancement and even a Matrix-like knowledge-transferring “memory prosthesis.” Although the science is in its infancy, and a healthy skepticism prevails, the military is invested. Only later will the hard part come: determining the tech’s ethical and social implications.
E-commerce is power. Helped by millions of Chinese tourists flooding across Asia, WeChat has blanketed the continent, not just as a messaging service, but as a seamless payment method preferred over credit cards. By making itself indispensable, the app’s crushing the competition — while paving the way to win hearts and minds. Like Voice of America did in the early days of the People’s Republic, WeChat can steer the conversation among 20 million Malaysian users, for example, with Beijing looking over its shoulder.
While the nation’s gaze is trained on ICE, there’s another agency immigrant advocates want you to know about: U.S. Customs and Border Protection, with its ability to set up checkpoints, and search and detain people without a warrant. The problem, some say, is that its definition of “border” includes anywhere within 100 miles of the coast or actual border — where about 200 million people call home. It’s led to the “Southwest stop-and-frisk,” which experts say targets Latinos. Seeing the danger, some are fighting to push the control back to the border.
Ukrainian-born Len Blavatnik made his billions during the lawless days following the Soviet Union’s collapse. Now, he’s the powerful owner of the Warner Music Group and in the crosshairs of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russian meddling investigation. The mogul’s political donations ballooned and made a “sharp right turn” just as Donald Trump became a candidate. Millions of dollars in Blavatnik contributions went to the Trump campaign and other Republican candidates, raising eyebrows and stoking speculation about whether the naturalized U.S. citizen could be a conduit for Russians prohibited from such largesse.
If he made it there, he’ll make it anywhere. That’s one theory, anyway, about Boston Red Sox manager (and former infielder) Alex Cora, until recently a bench coach for the Houston Astros. There were no regrets last week, the Sox having knocked out the Yankees in four games, proving, in team owner John Henry’s words, “He was a magician.” Now it’s time to use that mojo on his old team, who happen to be world champs, as the Sox begin the American League Championship Series Saturday at Fenway Park.