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Thursday's Mini-Report, 10.24.19

Today's edition of quick hits:

* The plot thickens: "The White House's trade representative in late August withdrew a recommendation to restore some of Ukraine's trade privileges after John Bolton, then-national security adviser, warned him that President Trump probably would oppose any action that benefited the government in Kyiv, according to people briefed on the matter."

* The story about A. Wayne Johnson is fascinating: "A senior student-loan official in the Trump administration said he would resign Thursday and endorse canceling most of the nation's outstanding student debt, calling the student-loan system 'fundamentally broken.'"

* So is the story about Trump's VA: "One of President Trump's signature initiatives to turn around a culture of retaliation against whistleblowers at the Department of Veterans Affairs is an office in disarray that instead has punished them -- and held almost no wrongdoers accountable."

* Brazil: "It washed ashore in early September, thick globs of oil that appeared from out of nowhere and defied explanation. In the weeks since, the mysterious sludge, the largest spill in Brazil's history, has tarred more than 1,000 miles of shoreline, polluted some of the country's most beautiful beaches and killed all sorts of marine life. But despite the time that has passed — and the damage done — the most important questions remain unanswered. Where is the oil coming from? And how can it be stopped?"

* Maybe Republicans should pretend to care about this: "The National Archives and Records Administration has launched an investigation into Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross' use of private email for official business, according to a letter made public this week."

* Why do this? "A Marine combat veteran whose supporters were seeking a pardon from the governor of California was suddenly deported to El Salvador this week, according to advocates and immigration authorities."

* Brexit: "Prime Minister Boris Johnson called on Thursday for a general election on Dec. 12 to break Britain's Brexit impasse, a goal the leader has sought but so far failed to push through parliament."

* The new push for spheres of influence: "Russia landed two nuclear-capable bombers in South Africa on a training mission on Wednesday, a flight apparently timed to coincide with President Vladimir Putin's opening of a flagship Russia-Africa summit designed to increase Russian influence."

* Hey look, a bipartisan bill passed: "The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill to make acts of animal cruelty a federal crime. The Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture (PACT) Act was unanimously passed Tuesday, expanding a prior law that criminalized the creation and distribution of 'obscene' videos of animal abuse. The law, however, did not prohibit acts of violence toward animals itself."

See you tomorrow.