Everything You Need to Know, In a Single Daily Email.

9.27.2019

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Need To Know
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Whistleblower Complaint Released
The White House made public yesterday a whistleblower complaint at the heart of a controversial call between President Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. The anonymous complaint (read here) - reportedly made by a CIA agent on detail - outlines concerns around a request by Trump to Zelensky to look into corruption allegations made against Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. While appearing to be compiled from second-hand conversations, the account claims to be informed by multiple sources privy to conversations on the issue. The official complaint aligns with a call transcript released yesterday, while also claiming White House officials sought to "lock down" call details following the conversation. Critics argued nothing revealed in either the complaint or the call transcript constitute explicit quid pro quo, and the release came ahead of congressional testimony by Acting Director of National Intelligence, Joseph Maguire, who defended the office's handling of the complaint. 

Read the backstory on Biden's son Hunter's controversial board seat with a Ukrainian energy company. 
Chemical Attack in Syria
US intelligence officials confirmed yesterday that a May attack by Syrian government forces on a northern village involved the use of chlorine gas, violating international bans on chemical weapons. At least four people were injured in the attack targeting rebel fighters along the country's border with Turkey. Forces backing President Bashar al-Assad - near the tail-end of a bloody eight-year civil war - have been repeatedly accused of using chemical weapons, including an April 2018 attack in a Damascus suburb that killed dozens and injured over 100. At the time, the US, UK, and France responded with a series of airstrikes targeting Syrian government sites. The use of poison gases is prohibited by the International Chemical Weapons Convention, which Syria signed in 2013 to avoid international military action. Over 400,000 Syrians have been killed and 6 million displaced since fighting began in 2011. 
Jacques Chirac
Former French President Jacques Chirac, who led the country for two terms from 1995 to 2007, died yesterday at age 86. Chirac, who also served for two decades as the Mayor of Paris, is remembered as a champion for tighter relations across Europe, most notably through the strengthening of the European Union. Chirac became well-known in the US for objecting to the Iraq War, blocking a UN Security Council vote supporting action against Saddam Hussein - the backlash in the US famously led to, among other things, the renaming of french fries. Later in his career Chirac found himself embroiled in a number of scandals, including a 2011 conviction for embezzling funds, though he was given a two-year suspended sentence due to the onset of Alzheimer's.  
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​​​​​In The Know
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Sports, Entertainment & Culture
> Jennifer Lopez, Shakira tapped to co-headline 2020's Super Bowl LIV halftime show in Miami (More)
> Princess Beatrice, first cousin of Prince Harry and William, announces engagement to Italian property tycoon Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi (More)
> Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige to team up with Lucasfilm to produce new Star Wars film; Feige's films have a combined worldwide box office gross of over $26.8B (More)

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Science & Technology
> Analysis reveals prehistoric pottery artifacts contained traces of animal milk, are likely the oldest known baby bottles (More)
> US outbreak of mosquito-borne Eastern equine encephalitis becomes worst in a half-century; 28 cases across 7 states reported, with nine deaths (More)
> Facebook announces Horizon, a massive virtual reality universe where users can interact with friends, build environments, and more; beta launch set for early 2020 (More)
Business & Markets
> US House passes legislation that would allow US banks to provide services to cannabis businesses in states where cannabis is legal; bill awaits Senate approval (More) | Why can’t cannabis companies currently use banks? (More)
> General Motors will pay health insurance of workers on strike; sources say major issues still to be resolved in discussions (More)
> McDonald’s to test Beyond Meat’s plant-based burgers in Canada next week, Beyond Meat shares soar 11% (More)
Politics & World Affairs
> National Transportation Safety Board says Boeing overestimated pilots' ability to regain control of planes during two deadly 737 MAX crashes (More)
> US income inequality hit five-decade high in 2018 despite median household income reaching $68,000; census data says income gap accelerated in heartland states (More) | ...and read about the Gini Index, used to measure income concentration (More)
> Administration cuts US refugee quota for 2020 to 18,000, a 40% cut from 2019 and the lowest number since the program began in 1980 (More)
Weekend Reads
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Unbuilding Milwaukee
Curbed | Patrick Sisson. In many cities urban planing in the early and mid-20th century created a legacy of (literally) built-in segregation. In Milwaukee, a group of progressive developers is working to deconstruct the physical separation between wealthy and working-class neighborhoods. (Read)
Bold Experiments
Politico | Staff. Election season is made for bold, trailblazing proposals from visionary political candidates - but do they ever work in reality? Here's a look at five places that instituted innovative new ideas, and how they fared. (Read)
How TikTok Holds Our Attention
New Yorker | Jia Tolentino. Despite nearly a billion downloads, you may not be familiar with TikTok, the social media app that hosts user-generated uploads of themselves singing and dancing. How has it come to dominate the world's attention? In part by asking nothing serious of us. (Read, $$)
 
 
Best of Etcetera - Sept. '19
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Editor's Note: Over 500,000+ clicks can't be wrong - here are the most-read articles from last month!

(9/12) The hilarious finalists for the year's funniest wildlife photos.

(9/9) Read this grieving father's moving letter about work-life balance.

(9/18) Stunning discovery may change how we understand Shakespeare.

From our partners: Easily frame your favorite photos. For as little as $39, Framebridge makes it easy (and affordable) to frame all your favorite things. #Ad

(9/16) How to lose weight while barely moving.

(9/24) Renaissance painting worth millions found hanging above woman's stove.

(9/23) When a biker gang swarms your lemonade stand.

(9/18) The best places to live in the US according to 100,000+ data points.

(9/6) The best (and craziest) photos from Burning Man 2019.

(9/24) Angry walrus sinks Russian navy boat.

(9/9) The 20 most dangerous places to live across the globe.

(9/11) How blind luck decided the fate of thousands on 9/11.

(9/16) Daughter writes hilarious obituary for prankster dad.

(9/20) A simple test to predict what kids will earn as adults.

(9/17) Visualizing how your sleep changes as you get older.

(9/13) Ranking the happiest states in the US.

(9/13) Clickbait: Opportunistic deer notches the year's second-best photobomb.
Historybook: Samuel Adams (the person, not the beer) born (1722); Rosetta Stone is first deciphered (1822); Production of Ford Model T begins (1908); HBD Gwyneth Paltrow (1972); HBD rapper Lil Wayne (1982); RIP Playboy founder Hugh Hefner (2017).
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