5 things to know for October 18: Syria, impeachment, Brexit, GM, storms

Former Defense Secretary James Mattis makes light of President Trump calling him "the world's most overrated general" during his keynote address at the annual Al Smith dinner, a philanthropic event where roasts are tradition.

Posted: Oct 18, 2019 8:20 AM
Updated: Oct 18, 2019 8:20 AM

Go ahead, pass Go, collect $200. Monopoly has leaped off the board and is now a fully immersive, real-world attraction.

Here's what else you need to know to Get Up to Speed and Out the Door. (You can also get "5 Things You Need to Know Today" delivered to your inbox daily. Sign up here.)

1. Syria

Is it a ceasefire or just a pause? Vice President Mike Pence called the deal he helped negotiate with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan a ceasefire that halts Turkey's incursion into northern Syria. But Turkey insists it's just a pause, a five-day window to let the Kurds leave their safe zone in northern Syria. Mideast observers say the deal appears to give Turkey what it really wanted: to annex a piece of Syria and kick the Kurds out. President Trump hailed the agreement as "a great day for civilization." But critics, like GOP US Sen. Mitt Romney, slammed the deal, declaring that Trump's actions on Syria "will stand as a bloodstain" on US history.

2. Politics

Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney stunned Washington when he brashly admitted that the Trump administration froze nearly $400 million in military aid to Ukraine in part to pressure that country to investigate Trump's political rivals. This quid pro quo is at the heart of the impeachment inquiry that the Democrats are running, so Mulvaney's confirmation of it was shocking.

President Trump was reportedly miffed by Mulvaney's admission, and even the Justice Department distanced itself from Mulvaney's statement. So, of course, Mulvaney later tried to walk it all back, denying he ever said the words that he said. House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff said Mulvaney's acknowledgment means things are "much, much worse." It puts Republicans in a tight spot, too. "No quid pro quo" was a big GOP talking point -- which Mulvaney just destroyed.

And that wasn't the only news Mulvaney broke during his news briefing. He also announced that the 2020 G7 summit will be held at Trump National in Doral, Florida. Mulvaney said Doral was "far and away the best physical facility for this meeting." But critics immediately pounced, saying hosting the event at Doral is a conflict of interest because the President would financially profit from it. Taken together, all the day's events show that the guardrails are off the Trump presidency, CNN political analyst Stephen Collinson says.

3. Brexit

The United Kingdom and the European Union strike a deal on Brexit, but it faces long odds of getting through Britain's Parliament. Haven't we seen this movie before? There was an "air of euphoria" in Brussels yesterday as a new deal was announced to get the UK out of the EU by the end of the month. But that euphoria may dissipate in London this weekend, when British lawmakers are expected to vote on it. Former Prime Minister Theresa May failed three times to get similar deals approved, and the agreement current Prime Minister Boris Johnson helped broker faces an uphill battle. Some lawmakers say they won't vote for it because the issue of the Irish border remains a big sticking point for them.

4. General Motors strike

Almost 50,000 GM workers will stay out on the picket lines for at least another week. The union has recommended that a tentative deal with GM be ratified, so the workers will vote on the agreement soon. The deal would give workers higher pay, protect their health insurance coverage and provide an easier path for temporary workers to obtain permanent status. The deal won't save an assembly plant in Lordstown, Ohio, though, or two US transmission plants. GM workers, local officials, business leaders and families in Lordstown enacted a high-profile campaign to keep the plant open after GM announced last year that it would be shut down.

5. Weather

A storm known as a bomb cyclone "parked" itself over New England and wreaked havoc yesterday, knocking out power and disrupting travel in the region. Thousands of customers from New York to Maine are still without electricity this morning, and hundreds of flights have been canceled at area airports. Heavy rain and tropical-storm-force wind gusts were the order of the day. Meanwhile, down in the Gulf of Mexico, tropical storm warnings are being issued as a disorganized area of storms is expected to develop into a tropical or subtropical storm later today.

BREAKFAST BROWSE

Weather wonders

Bombogenesis. Polar vortex. Steam fog. We've heard some pretty strange weather terms over the past few years. Here's a new one: Stormquakes.

Mirror, mirror

Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, but according to science at least, model Bella Hadid is the world's most beautiful woman.

Helping hand

Thousands of students in Chicago need a place to go while the city's teachers are on strike. Here are the groups that have stepped in to help them out.

What is it?

This blob at the Paris zoo has 720 sexes and can heal itself if it's cut in two. So, obviously it's a threat to all mankind.

TOTAL RECALL

Quiz time

The judges for which literary award broke the rules this week, awarding two authors instead of one?

A. Booker Prize

B. National Book Award

C. Pulitzer Prize

D. Newbery Medal

Play "Total Recall," CNN's weekly news quiz, to see if your answer is correct.

TODAY'S QUOTE

"So I guess I'm the Meryl Streep of generals."

Former Defense Secretary James Mattis, laughing off President Trump's recent criticism of him. Trump, who once called Oscar winner Meryl Streep an "overrated actress," called Mattis "the world's most overrated general."

TODAY'S NUMBER

6%

How much China's gross domestic product grew during the latest quarter. That's the weakest quarterly growth the country has seen in almost 30 years and a clear sign that China is feeling pain from the trade war with the US.

AND FINALLY

Hello, hello, hello

Let's end the week with a little pizzazz, like this umbrella cockatoo putting on a little show. (Click to view.)

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