Syria, Economics Nobel, Houston Astros: Your Monday Briefing

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Good morning.

We’re covering the latest developments in Syria, Tuesday’s Democratic presidential debate and a fatal shooting by a police officer in Texas.

ImageGovernment troops entered the strategic town of Tel Tamer in northeastern Syria today.
CreditDelil Souleiman/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Syrian troops entered Kurdish-controlled territory today for the first time in years after a deal between the government and Kurdish leaders.

The agreement came in the face of a Turkish invasion and President Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops who had long fought alongside the Kurds against the Islamic State. Here are the latest updates.

The American pullback effectively cedes control of the region to President Bashar al-Assad of Syria — who is supported by Iran and Russia — and jeopardizes hard-won gains against ISIS.

Related: The Kurds have operated detention sites in northern Syria that held about 11,000 ISIS fighters, whose fate is now unclear. The U.S. had been working to get dozens of high-value detainees out of northern Syria, but has extracted only two.

The Daily: Today’s episode is about the commander of the Kurdish-led militia.

Another angle: The Russian Air Force has repeatedly bombed Syrian hospitals to crush resistance to Mr. Assad, according to a video investigation by The Times.

Two weeks after having a heart attack, the Vermont senator will be trying to convince voters that he has the strength to run a forceful campaign when he joins the Democratic debate on Tuesday.

Yesterday: In an acknowledgment that his overseas business dealings have become a political liability for his father, Hunter Biden intends to step down from the board of a Chinese investment fund manager, his lawyer said. Hunter Biden also said he would agree not to work for foreign-owned companies if Joe Biden became president.

Another angle: Last week, Trey Gowdy, the former South Carolina congressman known for leading investigations of Hillary Clinton, was named to President Trump’s impeachment defense team. That arrangement has fallen apart.

The Weekly: The latest episode of The Times’s TV show is about Rudy Giuliani, who was hailed as “America’s Mayor” after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and is now at the center of the impeachment inquiry. Read behind-the-scenes notes about the episode, which is available on FX and Hulu.

E-cigarettes and vaping devices, with $7 billion in annual sales, have become a part of daily life for millions of Americans, particularly teenagers. The federal government has repeatedly delayed or weakened efforts to regulate the devices.

In interviews with The Times, federal officials and public health experts blamed an intense lobbying effort, fears of a political backlash in tobacco-friendly states and a late reprieve by an F.D.A. commissioner who had served on the board of a chain of vaping lounges.

Quotable: “If this was romaine lettuce, the shelves would be empty,” a woman whose daughter nearly died after vaping told a House panel last month. Manufacturers and retailers say their products offer a potentially safer alternative to traditional cigarettes.

Go deeper: John Steffen, a 68-year-old from Nebraska, tried e-cigarettes in an effort to quit smoking. He is one of at least 29 people who have died of a vaping-related illness.

Closer look: This is more than just a sports story, our reporter writes: “American history is dotted with revolutions in sports that speak to culture and politics, from racial integration to worker rights, war protests to civil rights.”

Related: A homemade bomb was detonated for the first time during the Hong Kong protests, the police said today. The explosion over the weekend caused no injuries or damage.

Another angle: An interim trade deal between the U.S. and China came together as both countries’ leaders faced mounting political pressures and rising economic worries.

Today is Columbus Day, a federal holiday to honor the Italian explorer Christopher Columbus. But the day was also central to the process through which Italians became fully ratified as white in the U.S.

Our Opinion section tells how racial hierarchies changed, as Italian immigrants went from a pariah status in the 19th century to white Americans in good standing in the 20th.

Pictured above are Italians at Ellis Island around 1905.

Texas police-shooting death: Atatiana Jefferson was at home in Fort Worth playing video games with her nephew when she was fatally shot by a police officer outside. A neighbor had called the police after seeing her door open.

Metropolitan Diary: In this week’s column, recalling a thwarted childhood prank, moving a car and more reader tales of New York City.

What we’re reading: This dive into “The End of Silence,” in The Atlantic. “If you have any kind of sound sensitivity, or live near a data center, or just want to track another element of our strange modern life, you’re likely to find it fascinating,” writes Andrea Kannapell, the briefings editor.

Our Parenting team put together a guide on what to know about surrogacy.

Childlike, informal to the point of frivolity: Comic Sans turns 25 this month.

Its designer, Vincent Connare, says he was helping develop an easy-to-use operating system for Microsoft in 1994 when he sketched a talk bubble for “a cute little yellow dog” — and needed to invent a typeface suitable for dog talk.

There were haters from the start.

Twitter once said that its most reliable sources of traffic were complaints about airlines and Comic Sans. Designers call the font the “punch line” of the artistic community. A couple in Indiana — Holly and David Combs — started a “Ban Comic Sans” movement.

Still, it keeps showing up. In 2010, the owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers used it to reassure fans when LeBron James left the team, and in 2012, CERN used it for the landmark announcement of the Higgs boson particle.

Last week, it got another 15 minutes of fame. A lawyer representing two of Rudy Giuliani’s associates told Congress that his clients wouldn’t comply with impeachment inquiry demands — in a letter printed in Comic Sans.

That’s it for this briefing.

A correction: The Weekend Briefing on Sunday misstated the number of customers who lost electricity in California when service was cut to try to avert wildfires. It was more than 700,000, not 70,000.

Journalism is worth paying for. Please subscribe to The New York Times to support our mission: to seek the truth and help people understand the world.

See you next time.

— Chris

Thank you
Melina Delkic helped compile today’s briefing. Mark Josephson and Eleanor Stanford provided the break from the news. Emma Goldberg, a researcher for the Times editorial board, wrote today’s Back Story. You can reach the team at

• We’re listening to the fifth episode of “The 1619 Project,” which is about discriminatory lending practices that have robbed black farmers of their land.
• We’re also listening to “The Daily.” Our latest episode is about the Kurdish forces in Syria.
• Here’s today’s Mini Crossword puzzle, and a clue: Sea, to the French (three letters). You can find all our puzzles here.

Girl AAT

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