9.19.2019

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Need To Know
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Justin Trudeau
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he was deeply sorry for a photo that surfaced yesterday showing the politician wearing brownface as part of a costume. The photo, which dates from 2001 when he was a private school teacher, threatens to upend Trudeau's reelection bid and comes just one month ahead of national elections. The 47-year-old began his term in office with high approval rates but has watched his poll numbers dwindle, damaged in particular by a scandal in which he allegedly pressured his attorney general to drop charges against Canadian engineering firm SNC-Lavalin. During his apology, Trudeau also admitted to wearing blackface for a rendition of a Jamaican folk song during a high school talent show. Recent polls, taken before the photo was revealed, had Trudeau's Liberal Party in a dead heat with rival Andrew Scheer's Conservative Party. 
Fed Cuts Rates
The US Federal Reserve lowered its benchmark interest rate by a quarter-point to 1.75-2.0% yesterday, citing a slowing global economy and weakened US exports. It is the second rate cut in six weeks after a series of increases beginning in late 2015 lifted the rate from zero, where it had sat since the 2008 recession. Interest rates usually determine how expensive it is for consumers and businesses to finance things like buying a car or starting a new business - lower rates make financing cheaper and tend to promote economic growth, but have added downsides like inflation risks (see 101). While the Fed has been under pressure from the White House to drop rates, there was little consensus ($$, WSJ) on future plans, with 7 of 17 officials projecting one more rate cut this year, 5 projecting no more cuts, and 5 saying rates should've stayed at 2.0-2.25%. 

Kind of know what the Fed does, but kind of don't? Start here
Iran Blamed in Saudi Attack
Officials in Saudi Arabia say they have recovered evidence suggesting regional rival Iran was complicit in a series of weekend strikes on the country's oil infrastructure. Saudi oil output was cut nearly in half when two separate facilities were attacked by what investigators now say was a combination of cruise missiles and drone-delivered explosives. In the aftermath, Houthi rebels - currently engaged in a civil war with the Saudi-backed Yemeni government to the south - claimed responsibility for the attack. However, officials say surveillance footage and other evidence suggests the attack came from the north. The accusations fall short of accusing the Iranian government of directly carrying out the attack, a conclusion that would likely constitute an act of war, amplifying already heightened tensions. 

President Trump announced expanded sanctions on Iran over the attack. 
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Insurance: simplified.
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In The Know
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Sports, Entertainment & Culture
> 2019 National Book Awards longlist for poetry announced; finalists from the ten poems on the longlist will be named October 8 (More) | ...and check out the longlist in the Young People's Literature category (More)
> Massage therapist who accused Kevin Spacey of 2016 sexual assault dies; trial had been set for June 2020 (More)
> Rapper Tekashi 6ix9ine testifies for the prosecution against two fellow gang members who allegedly kidnapped him in 2018; the platinum-selling artist pleaded guilty to racketeering charges earlier this year (More)
Science & Technology
> Babies born via c-section have different gut microbiomes than those born vaginally, picking up bacteria from hospital settings; may explain higher rates of allergies, asthma (More)
> Uber expands self-driving car tests to Dallas; represents fourth pilot city but first major expansion since a fatal crash in April 2018 (More)
> Astronomers release first image of second-ever interstellar object observed traveling through the solar system (More
Business & Markets
> India bans e-cigarettes and Juul Labs e-cigarette sales halted on China’s ecommerce platforms (More)
> Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to with lawmakers today on Capitol Hill to discuss “future internet regulation” (More) | Poll: % of Americans who support breaking up Big Tech companies (More)
> US new housing starts, building permits rise to 12-year high in August (More)
Politics & World Affairs
> With over 90% over the vote counted, Israel's Blue and White Party appears to win 32 seats to current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud Party's 31 seats; no clear majority, rivals seeking to form unity government (More)
> US abortion rate drops to lowest level since the procedure became legalized in 1973; no relationship between drop in abortion rates and closure of abortion clinics found (More)
> Robert O'Brien named as next National Security Adviser following departure of John Bolton; having worked for both Bush and Obama, O'Brien is currently State Department's chief hostage negotiator (More)
In Depth
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The Shootings that Shook Malibu Creek
Outside | Devon O'Neil. Just 25 miles from LA, Malibu Creek State Park might seem like a perfect hotspot for city dwellers looking to get a break from urbanity. But after police and park rangers failed to alert the public of frequent and unexplained shootings in the park, one woman sued the county for $90M over her husband's death. (Read)
Where Saying the Wrong Thing Can be Fatal
GQ | Sean Williams. A messianic president, state-sanctioned kidnappings, and simmering ethnic conflict. See how Burundi - long overlooked by the international community - is the most brutal dictatorship you've never heard of. (Read)
 
 
Etcetera
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New Mexico wants to make college free for all residents

Visualizing the rise and fall of America's great cities
Massive, stinging jellyfish are swarming beaches in Maine
Competition captures the best images of the ocean's beauty and fury
Merriam-Webster adds the gender non-binary pronoun "they".
A plea for beer turns into charity for children
How scientists are prepping for the largest and longest Arctic expedition ever.  
Amish man, teen flee after being pulled over in a  suspicious horse and buggy.
 
Clickbait: Fashion company somehow thinks school shooting hoodies are a good idea
Historybook: President James Garfield dies from gunshot wounds (1881); HBD British cultural icon and model Twiggy (1949); First-ever underground nuclear test takes place in Nevada (1957); HBD Jimmy Fallon (1974); Deepwater Horizon oil spill is sealed after 5-month oil leak (2010).
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- Lesley "Twiggy" Lawson
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