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Good morning, NBC News readers.
President Donald Trump's decision to pull U.S. troops out of Syria has unleashed a political tsunami — with members of his own party breaking ranks with the commander-in-chief in unprecedented ways.
Here's what we're watching today.
Chaos in Syria, Washington after Trump call with Erdogan unleashed Turkish military
Confusion ensued in Syria and Washington in the hours after President Trump agreed during a phone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to move U.S. troops out of northeastern Syria and clear the way for a Turkish military operation in the area.
The White House's announcement of the decision late Sunday night blindsided not just America's Kurdish partners in the fight against the Islamic State in Syria, but almost everyone else — senior officials at the Pentagon, the State Department and the White House, lawmakers on Capitol Hill, and U.S. allies in Europe and the Middle East, according to multiple current and former U.S. officials.
The response from Republicans was particularly fast, furious and unprecedented as a long list of GOP lawmakers — including several top Trump allies — lined up in vehement opposition to the president’s decision.
In a lengthy tweetstorm, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., a fierce Trump loyalist, tore into the decision, calling it a “disaster in the making.”
While Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said in a statement that "a precipitous withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria would only benefit Russia, Iran, and the Assad regime."
Trump hit back against the torrent of criticism in a series of tweets in which he said he would "totally destroy and obliterate" Turkey's economy if the country "does anything that I, in my great and unmatched wisdom, consider to be off limits."
Meantime, the Syrian Kurds, America's partners in the fight against the Islamic State group in the region who have been guarding thousands of captured ISIS militants and their families, said they are now rushing toward the border ahead of an expected attack by Turkish forces.
General Mazloum Kobani Abdi, commander of the Syrian Democratic Forces, said watching over the ISIS prisoners locked up in Syria has become a "second priority" now that the U.S. has cleared the way for a Turkish assault likely targeting the mostly Kurdish forces along the border.
"This is a very big problem," said Mazloum.
House Democrats look for paper trail on blocked military aid to Ukraine
The White House's decision to block the release of nearly $400 million in aid to Ukraine for more than two months offers a potentially fertile paper trail that House Democrats believe could bolster their case for impeachment against President Trump, congressional sources and former U.S. officials told NBC News.
House Democrats leading the impeachment inquiry issued subpoenas on Monday to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Defense Department, hoping to get their hands on documents that could shed light on how White House officials sought to hold up the funding package, and how they communicated the decision to the Defense and State departments.
"Given the administration was putting career officials between a rock and a hard place, I would be very surprised if they didn't take steps to document their concern," said Sam Berger, a former senior official at the OMB and now vice president at the left-leaning Center for American Progress think tank.
Meantime, Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, will be deposed behind closed doors by three House committees as part of their impeachment inquiry Tuesday.
Sondland emerged as a central player in Trump’s bid to persuade Ukraine to commit publicly to investigate corruption and the president’s political opponents in text messages released by Congress last week.
Ex-prisoners in Nevada look forward to something new: Voting in 2020
For Kenneth Dorsey, a new Nevada law has been a life-changer.
Dorsey, 61, spent 11 years in prison for several burglary and theft felonies. He was released in 2013 and placed on lifetime parole, which made him unable to vote in Nevada.
But on July 1, a new state law went into effect that automatically restored the voting rights of people who had been released from prison, without any conditions, enabling them to register to vote. It was retroactive, and it applied to Dorsey.
"It gave me a sense of citizenship," said Dorsey, who since his release has stayed sober and found steady work as a maintenance manager at an apartment complex.
"Now, I feel more like a regular person."
NBA's Silver says he won't regulate what players, employees say amid China anger
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver backed down Tuesday on the league’s criticism of Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey who triggered fury in China when he tweeted his support for Hong Kong's protesters.
"The NBA will not put itself in a position of regulating what players, employees and team owners say or will not say on these issues," Silver said at a news conference in Japan on Tuesday, where Houston Rockets are playing this week.
“The long-held values of the NBA are to support freedom of expression, certainly by members of the NBA community,” Silver said.
Opinion: Morey's tweet on Hong Kong shows how China is calling the shots in the NBA.
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- Physics Nobel was awarded on Tuesday to three scientists who shed light on "Earth's place in the cosmos."
- The FBI confirmed Samuel Little's confession: He is the worst serial killer in U.S. history.
- The creators of "South Park" responded to Chinese censorship in classic "South Park" style.
- Whale hello there: A humpback was spotted in the River Thames just east of London.
THINK about it
Everyone has heard the message that meat is unhealthy. But many people aren’t listening, and it’s not even clear they should.
It’s time we offer up better evidence to a public that is hungry for the truth, Tiffany Doherty, an assistant research professor and science communicator at the Indiana University School of Medicine, writes in an opinion piece.
Science + Tech = MACH
The life-saving science behind the 2019 Nobel Prize for Medicine.
What to cook this week: Easy one-skillet meals.
Quote of the day
"The people who fought with you against international terrorism, against ISIS, are under risk right now and they are facing a big battle alone."
— General Mazloum Kobani Abdi, commander of the Syrian Democratic Forces
One fun thing
It's true: Having a four-legged friend can help keep you healthy.
Dog owners live longer and fare better after a heart attack or stroke compared with those who have no canine companions, two studies published Tuesday suggest.
"We know that loneliness and sedentary lifestyle is a major risk factor for premature death," said one of the study's co-authors Tove Fall, a professor of molecular epidemiology at Uppsala University in Sweden. "Dogs are an excellent motivation for their owners to get outdoors and walk them."
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