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Thursdays top story: Trump declares ceasefire permanent as Turkey sanctions are lifted. Plus, how the richest zipcodes in the US plan to vote in 2020

Good morning, I’m Tim Walker with today’s essential stories.

Russia steps up Syrian border presence after ceasefire

Donald Trump has lifted his administration’s short-lived sanctions on Ankara and claimed the credit for a ceasefire deal curtailing the Turkish offensive against Kurdish-led forces in northern Syria. But with the Russian military still moving into the region to fill a vacuum left by the US withdrawal, the Kurds’ dream of local autonomy looks to be dead again for the foreseeable future. “Let someone else fight over this long-bloodstained sand,” the US president said on Wednesday.

Republicans disrupt impeachment hearing in pro-Trump stunt

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Republicans disrupt closed-door Trump impeachment inquiry hearing – video

A group of Republican House members temporarily disrupted the Trump impeachment inquiry on Wednesday, by barging into a closed-door committee hearing in protest at the private nature of the proceedings. The organisers of the stunt, which came a day after the US envoy to Ukraine delivered his damning testimony, have decried the process as partisan and demanded it be conducted entirely in public – despite the fact that GOP members of the relevant House committees are taking part in the hearings.

AOC stumps Zuckerberg at congressional hearing on Libra

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‘So you won’t take down lies?’: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez challenges Facebook CEO – video

Mark Zuckerberg withered under tough questioning from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Wednesday, as the Facebook chief faced the progressive congresswoman and other lawmakers at a congressional hearing on his firm’s planned digital currency, Libra. California Democrat Brad Sherman said that rather than benefit the world’s poor, as Zuckerberg has claimed, Libra would help “drug dealers and tax evaders”. AOC took the opportunity to challenge him on political bias and the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

  • ‘Financial leadership.’ Zuckerberg said Facebook would delay Libra’s planned 2020 launch until it satisfied all US regulatory concerns, but claimed that if the US did not act fast, China could introduce its own cryptocurrency first, threatening America’s “financial leadership”.

Rose McGowan: Weinstein’s ‘diabolic’ effort to silence me

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Rose McGowan at the Edinburgh fringe festival in August. Photograph: Murdo MacLeod/The Guardian

The actor Rose McGowan has launched a new lawsuit against the disgraced film producer Harvey Weinstein – the man she alleges raped her – accusing him of a “diabolical” effort to silence her when she threatened to speak out. McGowan, one of the first and most prominent of dozens of women to publicly accuse Weinstein of sexual misconduct, says in the suit that he hired high-profile lawyers and the private intelligence agency Black Cube in “a sprawling smear campaign to defraud, malign, and marginalize” her.

  • Publicity seeker. Weinstein has denied all allegations of non-consensual sex. his lawyer Phyllis Kupferstein, responding to the filing on Wednesday, told the Hollywood Reporter that McGowan was “a publicity seeker looking for money.”

Cheat sheet

Must-reads

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Saudi Arabia’s decades-long ban on female drivers was lifted in June 2018. Photograph: Nariman El-Mofty/AP

A moving documentary: Saudi Women’s Driving School

Saudi Arabia at last lifted its decades-long ban on female drivers in June 2018. A new documentary airing on HBO this week follows the stories of several Saudi women as they hit the road, writes Adrian Horton, with surprising, frustrating and moving results.

How western liberalism failed in eastern Europe

After the fall of communism, western liberalism promised to transform central and eastern Europe – but those promises were never fully realised. And now, in Poland, Hungary and across the eastern bloc, we are witnessing the authoritarian backlash, as Ivan Krastev and Stephen Holmes explain.

Who are America’s richest zip codes backing in 2020?

The Guardian has analysed campaign finance filings for the first nine months of 2019 to find out which candidates the wealthiest communities in the US are backing for president. And the answer appears to be: moderate Democrats. Julia Carrie Wong and Peter Andringa report.

How social media companies plan to read our minds

Social media algorithms already seem remarkably adept at guessing our thoughts, by triangulating our likes, clicks and conversations. But now surveillance capitalism is set to go a step further, says Oscar Schwartz, using something called brain-computer interface technology.

Opinion

Jill Stein says Hillary Clinton’s description of her as a “Russian asset” is just an attempt to shift the blame for her 2016 defeat. Rather than chasing conspiracy theories, Democrats should ask why the party establishment still opposes progressive policies that are broadly popular.

The Clinton camp’s attempts to shift responsibility for their electoral failure to “Russian assets” has fueled a new era of McCarthyism – a toxic brew of warmongering, political repression and censorship now poisoning our public discourse.

Sport

The Washington Nationals have taken a commanding 2-0 lead in the World Series after shocking the Astros again with a 12-3 win in Houston. They now head home to DC for the next three games – if, indeed, they need that many.

Toronto FC have returned to the last four of the MLS Cup playoffs after a surprise 2-1 win over top seed New York City FC on Wednesday night. On the West Coast, meanwhile, Galaxy and LAFC are set to clash on Thursday for the LA derby dubbed El Tráfico.

Read more: www.theguardian.com