Briefing: Militias say Raqqa battle is over, Philippine president claims win in Marawi

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  •  U.S. Senators Patty Murray (Democrat) and Lamar Alexander (Republican) crafted bipartisan legislation that largely preserves the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
    • President Donald J. Trump announced support of the deal.
    • In the bill, democrats were able to extend federal subsidies for the Affordable Care Act insurance exchanges for two more years. The law is a departure from President Trump’s plan to abandon via executive order on October 12. Republicans achieved greater state autonomy in forming which healthcare plans can be offered.
  • U.S.-backed militias said they have taken the Islamic State’s de-facto capital of Raqqa in Syria after a four month battle. A Syrian Democratic Forces spokesperson said the fighting was over and operations were underway to remove landmines. Civilians were celebrating in the streets, according to The New York Times. However, the newspaper cautioned that the U.S. military had stopped short of fully declaring the city liberated from ISIS.
  • The European Court of Human Rights has ordered Russia to pay compensation to opposition leader Alexei Navalny after ruling that his conviction for fraud in 2014 had been arbitrary and unfair. Navalny and his brother were convicted of money laundering and defrauding business partners in a case that the opposition leader said was politically motivated.


  • Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte says the city of Marawi has been liberated from “terrorist influence”. The southern city on the island of Mindanao had since May 23 been under siege from local armed groups whose leader pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (IS). More than 1,000 people, including 800 militants, have reportedly been killed in the battle.
  • A day after being driven out of the city of Kirkuk by Iraqi forces, Kurdish fighters have withdrawn from the town of Sinjar. The escalating crisis between Iraqi and Kurdish forces – which both have received support from the U.S. in the past – prompted President Donald J. Trump to say Washington was not “taking sides.”
  • Two key members of the Catalan independence movement are in jail while they are investigated for sedition. Jordi Sánchez, who heads the Catalan National Assembly, and Jordi Cuixart, leader of Omnium Cultural, are being held without bail after a Catalan independence vote earlier this month. The central government in Madrid said the vote was illegal. Following the referendum, Catalonia’s regional head Carles Puigdemont signed a declaration of independence but called for talks with Madrid to take place over the next two months.
  • Two neutron stars in a nearby galaxy have for the first time been observed colliding. The collision created the first observed instance of a single source emitting ripples in space-time, known as gravitational waves, as well as light, which was released in the form of a two-second gamma ray burst. The observations confirmed that gold, platinum and other heavy metals were blown into space by the aftermath of the merger of the stars, supporting the theory that such events are likely the source of these metals.
  • Iraqi forces pushed their Kurdish allies out of the disputed city of Kirkuk on Monday, seizing oil fields amid tensions over last month’s Kurdish vote for independence. Full story.

What we are reading

  • Reuters profiles China’s “Bubble Generation”, a reference to Chinese citizens who were born after the activism of Tiananmen Square, and within a rapidly growing economy.
  • The journalist who led the Panama Papers investigation into corruption in Malta was killed Monday in a car bomb near her home. Daphne Caruana Galizia was recently described by Politico as a “one-woman WikiLeaks.” Her most recent revelations looked to Malta’s prime minister, Joseph Muscat, and two of his closest aides and the offshore companies that linked to the three men with the sale of Maltese passports and payments from the government of Azerbaijan.
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