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Newsletter: What To Watch In Tonight’s Dem Debate

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Democratic Debate 2020

The stage is prepared where the CNN/New York Times will host the Democratic presidential primary debate at Otterbein University, Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2019, in Westerville, Ohio.

John Minchillo

Good afternoon! It’s Tuesday! And I convinced my boyfriend that the mansion in Downton Abbey gets blown up in the movie. Here’s what you need to know today. (PS: You can have this delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.)

1. The biggest-ever presidential primary debate

Tonight’s Democratic debate will have a whopping 12 candidates on stage, the most in history, and there’s no shortage of pressing issues.

How will the candidates handle the impeachment inquiry? Will Sen. Elizabeth Warren face more scrutiny now that she has front-runner status? And how will Sen. Bernie Sanders perform, given this is his first debate after suffering a heart attack? You can find out by listening to the debate on WBEZ beginning at 7 p.m. CST.

Here’s a handy video with NPR’s Scott Detrow and Asma Khalid that will help you get caught up on the big themes and issues in play. [NPR]

2. Most Chicago voters support teachers strike

That’s according to a new poll from the Chicago Sun-Times and ABC7, which found that 49% of surveyed voters support a strike while 38% are opposed. There’s a margin of error of plus or minus 3.9 percentage points.

If a walkout happens, 35% said they would blame Chicago Public Schools and city officials, and another 12% would specifically blame Mayor Lori Lightfoot. But the poll also found that Lightfoot’s approval rating is at 54%. [Chicago Sun-Times]

Meanwhile, today is a key date in determining whether a strike may be avoided. Chicago Teachers Union President Jesse Sharkey said he wants to provide teachers with a summary of the school district’s offers by tonight. If that happens, union delegates will meet Wednesday night to vote on whether to accept the offers or go on strike, Sharkey said.

WBEZ has a live blog where you can find the latest developments in contract talks. [WBEZ]

3. Russia fills void left by U.S. in northern Syria

Moscow said today its military forces are taking a more active role in the area, underscoring the loss of American influence and the rapidly changing power dynamic in northern Syria. Russia said it “will not allow” clashes between Syrian and Turkish forces.

In case you’re just tuning in, Turkey launched an offensive campaign against U.S.-backed Kurdish militias after President Donald Trump withdrew American troops from northern Syria. That led the Kurds to forge an alliance with a U.S. foe, the Syrian government, which is allied with Russia and Iran. [BBC]

In Washington, Trump faces bipartisan criticism that he essentially allowed the Turks to attack the Kurds when he removed U.S. forces. Now, the White House is reversing course by calling for a cease-fire and imposing economic sanctions on Turkey. [NPR]

4. Hunter Biden speaks out

The son of former Vice President Joe Biden said today in an interview with ABC News that while he did nothing wrong, his involvement with the Ukranian gas company Burisma was, in retrospect, “poor judgment on my part.”

President Trump has accused Joe Biden, without providing evidence, of using his position as vice president to pressure the Ukrainian government into firing a prosecutor whom Trump claims was looking into Burisma. Trump asked the leader of Ukraine to investigate the Bidens in a July 25 phone call, which sparked the impeachment inquiry. [NPR]

Meanwhile, House investigators are now focusing their attention on former Trump national security adviser John Bolton.

The move comes after a former aide, Fiona Hill, told House leaders yesterday that Bolton was alarmed by the effort to press Ukraine into investigating the president’s political opponents. [New York Times]

And Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani said today he will not comply with a congressional subpoena. [Wall Street Journal]

5. Lightfoot scales back downtown ban on pot shops

Mayor Lightfoot today modified her proposal that would have prohibited the sale of recreational marijuana in much of the downtown area — after facing criticism from businesses, residents and aldermen.

Under her new plan, dispensaries could open closer to the Magnificent Mile than before, but much of the downtown area is still off-limits. Downtown Ald. Brendan Reilly argues the cash-strapped city could rake in around $25 million if pot shops are allowed in the central business district. [Chicago Sun-Times]

Here’s what else is happening

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson appears to be close to reaching a Brexit deal. [Guardian]

Here’s an informative guide to an opioid lawsuit that’s heading to federal court. [NPR]

A federal judge in Chicago temporarily blocked the Trump administration’s efforts to make it more difficult for some poor immigrants to be granted legal permanent residency status. [WBEZ]

The late Whitney Houston is among the 16 artists and groups nominated for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. [NPR]

Oh, and one more thing …

Just in time for Halloween, you can now listen to how an audience reacted to John Carpenter’s Halloween in 1979.

Kyle J. Wood says he recorded audio of an audience watching the classic horror movie at a Hollywood Boulevard theater in 1979, when Halloween was only a year old. Wood says he matched up the audio to the film’s scenes, and it’s pretty hilarious hearing the audience go wild. [AV Club]

Tell me something good ...

Halloween can’t come soon enough. I’d like to know what’s your favorite candy, sweets or Halloween snacks?

Jeff writes:

“As a young dad, Halloween always provided that economics lesson for my three kids, called ‘Daddy Tax’: I always examined their loot and came away with a goodly share of Reese’s peanut butter cups, any dark chocolate items, and Bit-O-Honey candies. The ultimate prize, not found every year, would be a roll of Necco wafers, which my adult kids still now treasure.”

What’s your favorite candy, sweets or Halloween snacks? Feel free to email at or tweet me at @whuntah.

Have a nice night! I’ll see you tomorrow. And if you like what you just read, you can subscribe to the newsletter here and have it delivered to your inbox.

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