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September 7, 2018

The presidents of Russia, Turkey, and Iran are meeting in Tehran on Friday to discuss Syria's future, as Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his Russian and Iranian allies gear up for an assault on the last rebel enclave, Idlib. Russian warplanes reportedly bombed southern Idlib Friday morning, but the Russian, Turkish, and Iranian leaders may still find a way to avoid a humanitarian disaster and massive bloodshed in a province with 3 million civilians and more than 10,000 hardcore fighters.

President Trump is not at the meeting, but he has agreed to a new U.S. strategy that involves keeping America's 2,200 troops in Syria indefinitely, said James Jeffrey, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's Syrian engagement envoy. "The new policy is we're no longer pulling out by the end of the year," he said, according to The Washington Post. Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton have communicated to Russia that Trump will be very angry with any slaughter in Idlib, he added.

"Any offensive is to us objectionable as a reckless escalation," Jeffrey said. "You add to that, if you use chemical weapons, or create refu­gee flows, or attack innocent civilians," and "the consequences of that are that we will shift our positions and use all of our tools to make it clear that we'll have to find ways to achieve our goals that are less reliant on the goodwill of the Russians."

The U.S., which has focused its efforts on eradicating the Islamic State, now wants all Iranian forces out of Syria and a stable, broadly acceptable government in Damascus. "Much of the motivation for the change, officials said, stems from growing doubts about whether Russia, which Trump has said could be a partner, is able and willing to help eject Iran," the Post reports. Trump has been known to change his mind, but Jeffrey said he is "confident the president is on board with this" more "active" approach. Peter Weber

7:16 p.m.

While speaking in Miami on Monday, President Trump said the Venezuelan military "must not" follow President Nicolas Maduro's orders to block humanitarian aid from coming into the country, and they are "risking their future" by supporting him.

Venezuela is dealing with hyperinflation, and many people aren't getting enough food, medicine, and other basic necessities. Trump said the U.S. delivered aid two days ago, but it's stuck in Colombia because "Maduro has blocked this life-saving aid from entering the country. He would rather see his people starve than give them aid. Maduro is not a Venezuelan patriot, he is a Cuban puppet."

Trump wants the military to start backing opposition leader Juan Guaido, who says that last year's election was a sham and he is the interim president. "We seek a peaceful transition of power, but all options are open," Trump said. Catherine Garcia

3:02 p.m.

The 2019 Oscars may not have a host, but the Academy will carry on, carry on with a performance from Queen.

The Academy announced Monday that Queen and Adam Lambert will perform at the Oscars. It had previously been reported that the Academy was hoping the rock band would open the show, and the Academy seemed to confirm this on Twitter, suggesting in their announcement that the performance will take place at the show's start time.

Queen was asked to perform in light of the success of Bohemian Rhapsody, the biopic centered around Freddie Mercury that made more than $800 million worldwide and is nominated for Best Picture. The Academy has also been much more desperate than usual this year to boost ratings, especially given there's no celebrity host to draw in viewers.

The Oscars' producers previously told The New York Times they expect the first Oscar this year to be given out after six or seven minutes, meaning the show will probably transition right from this performance into the first award; a host's monologue typically lasts around 10 minutes. But although the Oscars may be shorter than usual, the Academy is no longer committing to a three hour running time as was its goal, having recently abandoned a plan to hand out some awards during commerical breaks.

The 2019 Oscars will take place on Feb. 24. Brendan Morrow

2:28 p.m.

President Trump is reportedly eyeing four possible candidates for the role of U.S. ambassador to the United Nations after his pick withdrew from consideration.

Former State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert on Saturday unexpectedly said she wouldn't be taking the role, saying "the past two months have been grueling for my family," per The New York Times. She had reportedly dropped out because she had employed a nanny who didn't have a proper work visa.

With Nauert no longer in contention, Bloomberg reports Trump is looking at four candidates: former Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategy Dina Powell, U.S. Ambassador to Canada Kelly Craft, U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell, and businessman and former Republican candidate for Senate John James. Seeing Powell's name on the list is certainly surprising, though, considering she told Trump in October she didn't want the job, CNN reports.

This report also states that "top White House aides have also discussed nominating Trump’s daughter and senior adviser Ivanka Trump if no front-runner emerges." The president had previously floated the idea of his daughter getting the U.N. ambassador role, saying "everyone" wants it and she would be "incredible," although he suggested this probably wouldn't happen because "I can already hear the chants of Nepotism!" Ivanka Trump in October reportedly "laughed" off speculation that she would get the job. Brendan Morrow

1:36 p.m.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe won't confirm or deny nominating President Trump for the Nobel Peace Prize after Trump himself said he did, CNN reports.

Trump had said as much Friday, revealing that "Prime Minister Abe of Japan gave me the most beautiful copy of a letter that he sent to the people who give out a thing called the Nobel Prize. He said 'I have nominated you, respectfully, on behalf of Japan.'" This was reportedly because of Trump's summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

A report in the Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun subsequently suggested that Abe had indeed nominated Trump for the prize, but only after the U.S. government "informally" asked him to.

On Monday, Abe said that he is "not saying that it is not the fact." But he said that "the Nobel Committee has decided not to disclose nominators and nominees for 50 years. I would like to refrain from commenting on it." Abe did, however, say he appreciates Trump's leadership and the fact that he “decisively responded toward North Korea's nuclear and missile issues, and held the historic summit meeting with North Korea last year, per The New York Times. Brendan Morrow

1:09 p.m.

Netflix and Marvel have officially broken up.

The streaming platform on Monday canceled its two remaining Marvel shows, Jessica Jones and The Punisher, Deadline reports. A third season of the former series starring Krysten Ritter is still on the way, but there won't be a fourth. Deadline reports that the ending of the upcoming third season "will serve as a savory series finale." But The Punisher's second season, which debuted last month, will now be its last.

"We are grateful to Marvel for five years of our fruitful partnership and thank the passionate fans who have followed these series from the beginning," Netflix said in a statement.

This news was widely expected after Netflix previously canceled three other Marvel shows, Daredevil, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist. A team-up show, The Defenders, already was not expected to get a second season.

Now that it's parting ways with Netflix, Marvel Television is working on new shows for Disney's upcoming streaming service, Disney+, as well as Hulu, the streaming platform that Disney will own a 60 percent stake in once its purchase of Fox gets final approval. The Verge notes, however, that existing episodes of Daredevil, Iron Fist, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and The Punisher will stay on Netflix.

Marvel Television's Jeph Loeb on Monday hinted that these heroes could return in some form, though, saying that "our Network partner may have decided they no longer want to continue telling the tales of these great characters ... but you know Marvel better than that." Brendan Morrow

12:36 p.m.

Facebook should be subject to new regulations so that it can not be allowed to behave like "digital gangsters," a U.K. parliamentary committee's report has concluded.

A report from the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, which was issued Monday after an 18-month investigation, said that the social media giant "intentionally and knowingly" violated data privacy and competition laws, The New York Times and CNN report.

The committee had examined Facebook's internal emails as part of the investigation, and it recommends a watchdog be set up for the technology industry, as well as for Facebook and other companies to be legally compelled to remove harmful content.

"Companies like Facebook should not be allowed to behave like 'digital gangsters' in the online world, considering themselves to be ahead of and beyond the law," the report reads, CNN reports. The report also criticizes CEO Mark Zuckerberg, saying he showed "contempt" for the committee by refusing to appear before them and accusing Facebook of deliberately sending witnesses who weren't briefed on key issues.

Facebook expressed openness to "meaningful regulation," the Times reports. Brendan Morrow

12:19 p.m.

France's justice minister, Nicole Belloubet, said Monday that her government would not immediately act on President Trump's call for European allies to bring home and prosecute hundreds of Islamic State fighters captured in Syria, Reuters reports.

Trump had demanded that France, Britain, and Germany repatriate more than 800 ISIS fighters who are from European countries. He tweeted this request Saturday while writing, "The alternative is not a good one in that we will be forced to release them." He also said that "the U.S. does not want to watch as these ISIS fighters permeate Europe, which is where they are expected to go."

French policy has been to refuse to take back fighters and their wives, on the grounds that they are "enemies" of the nation who should face justice where they are. The U.S.-backed Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces are holding 150 French citizens, many of them children, in northern Syria, and their status is in question following President Trump's decision to withdraw U.S. troops from the country. Brendan Morrow

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