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Morning Brief

Worldwide Climate Strikes Begin

Plus: Rouhani cleared for U.N. visit, Trudeau's troubles deepen, and the other stories we’re following today.

Schoolchildren attend a protest march as part of the worlds largest climate strike in Sydney, Australia on Sept. 20, 2019.
Schoolchildren attend a protest march as part of the worlds largest climate strike in Sydney, Australia on Sept. 20, 2019. PETER PARKS/AFP/Getty Images

Here is today’s Foreign Policy brief: Climate strikes begin worldwide, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is cleared to attend the U.N. General Assembly, and Justin Trudeau’s racism crisis continues. Audrey Wilson, Foreign Policy’s newsletter editor, is away today, so I’ll be standing in.

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Children Lead Climate Strikes Across the Globe

Hundreds of thousands of people worldwide are expected to join youth-led demonstrations protesting inaction on climate change today in what are expected to be the largest such demonstrations in history. Overall, organizers estimate over 5,000 separate protests across seven continents. Today’s protests take place in advance of next week’s United Nations General Assembly, which will include a United Nations Climate Action Summit.

Large demonstrations are expected in London where Mayor Sadiq Khan has lent his backing to demonstrators. “I fully support the thousands of young people peacefully and lawfully protesting around the country today who feel so strongly about the climate change emergency and I share their frustration,” he said. “The stark reality is we are running out of time for meaningful change.”

Protests are also taking place in other cities such as Sydney, Dhaka, Johannesburg, and Berlin—where protesters surrounded Angela Merkel’s residence Friday morning in an appeal for her to back tougher climate policies.

The 16-year-old Swede Greta Thunberg, who has become the face of the movement, will lead a march in New York, after a trans-Atlantic voyage by boat and a week in Washington, which included meetings with former U.S. President Barack Obama and appearances before U.S. Congressional leaders.

What We’re Following Today

Rouhani coming, Bibi staying home. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and his foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif have both been granted visas to attend the U.N. opening. Speculation surrounded Iran’s attendance in New York as U.S. and Saudi officials continue to ponder a response to Iran’s alleged attack on Saudi oil facilities last weekend.

With government coalition talks ongoing in Israel, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to send foreign minister Israel Katz to New York in his stead. It will be the first time in nine years that the Israeli leader will not address the assembly.

Whistleblower limits. After the news that acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire refused to hand over details of a whistleblower complaint to the House Intelligence Committee as is usually required under law, FP’s Amy Mackinnon outlines how U.S. whistleblower laws weren’t made with a president in mind.  

Trudeau’s crisis continues. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has made further apologies after a 1990s-era video surfaced of the leader appearing in blackface and was posted by a Canadian news organization. This followed other evidence of Trudeau wearing blackface and brownface that became public earlier this week. Speaking on Thursday, Trudeau admitted still more photos could surface. Justin Ling, writing in FP, argues that “this saga—and Trudeau’s handling of it—is sure to turn off voters across the political spectrum.”

Cubans sent home from U.N. The State Department on Thursday announced it had ordered two members of Cuba’s permanent mission to the United Nations in New York to leave the country over “attempts to conduct influence operations against the United States.” The State Department also announced it would restrict travel for all other members of the Cuban mission to just Manhattan. The Trump administration has accused Cuba of helping prop up embattled Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro after Washington declared his government illegitimate. 

Australia state visit. The White House will throw its first state dinner in over a year when it hosts Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison for a state visit. It’s the first time since 2006 that Australia has been afforded the honor of a state dinner, the Associated Press reports. Golfer Greg Norman and News Corp. founder Rupert Murdoch are expected to attend.

World leaders will soon convene in New York for the 74th U.N. General Assembly, and next week, Foreign Policy will publish a one-week-only newsletter devoted to on-the-ground coverage and in-depth analysis of the goings-on at UNGA. Sign up here for U.N. Brief, written by FP’s Colum Lynch and Robbie Gramer.

Keep an Eye On

Afghanistan turmoil. A missile fired from a U.S. drone killed over 30 civilians in the Wazir Tangi province of Afghanistan after a strike intended for an Islamic State hideout hit a group of farm laborers. Meanwhile, a Taliban car bomb killed at least 22 people and destroyed a hospital in Kabul as violence appears to be escalating in advance of the country’s presidential elections, the Wall Street Journal reports. 

Tunisia elections. Tunisia’s largest political party, the moderate Islamist Ennahda, has said they will back candidate Kais Saied in the country’s presidential election run-off after their candidate failed to advance to the final round of voting. The endorsement puts Saied in a more advantageous position heading into the run-off, expected at the end of the month.

AMLO meets Alejandro. Guatemela’s new right-wing president-elect Alejandro Giammattei meets with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador in the Mexican city of Merida today. Economic cooperation between the two countries is expected to be high on the agenda.

Odds and Ends

Geopolitical heavyweights Russia and hosts Japan face off today in the opening game of the Rugby World Cup in Tokyo. It’s the first time in the game’s history that the tournament is taking place in Asia, and Japan’s pubs have been warned by tournament organizers to stockpile beer and get ready for an influx of heavy-drinking foreign fans.

Tune In

Later today on FP’s podcast, First Person: Harvard University historian Jill Lepore talks to FP’s Sarah Wildman on the difference between American patriotism and nationalism.

That’s it for today.

For more on these stories and many others, visit, subscribe here, or sign up for our other newsletters. Send your tips, comments, questions, or corrections to 

Colm Quinn is the newsletter writer at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @colmfquinn

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