A change in the wind could mean disaster. Sharp, shifting gusts have been blowing fires across Northern California since Sunday, as 22 blazes have raged across seven counties and forced the evacuation of 25,000 people, some of whom may not be able to return for weeks. At least 21 have died and about 180 are missing, with officials warning the death toll is expected to rise. With the blazes still burning, their cause remains unknown — as does the extent of the damage to Northern California’s famous wine country.
The Presidential Daily Brief
The tide’s been unleashed. The sexual harassment allegations against producer Harvey Weinstein are piling up as more women, including Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie, speak out against him. Yesterday Weinstein denied that he ever had nonconsensual sex, contradicting several women’s accounts of rape. Now Georgina Chapman, Weinstein’s wife, says she’s leaving him over his “unforgivable” conduct, and his former production company has promised to cooperate with any investigation into his behavior. Meanwhile, USC has rejected $5 million Weinstein offered as a fund for female filmmakers after the scandal broke.
They’re walking it back. Following days of tense speculation, Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont announced yesterday that while he accepts his region’s vote to secede from Spain, he’ll seek negotiations with the central government first. Puigdemont proposed suspending a formal independence declaration for the moment — disappointing some hard-line secessionists — despite his earlier promise to seek independence within days of the Oct. 1 referendum. Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has demanded clarity on Puigdemont’s position, and observers say Madrid could impose direct rule if they’re not satisfied with the response.
Knowledge is power. A South Korean lawmaker revealed that last year’s North Korean hack of its military systems gave Pyongyang access to classified war plans devised with help from the U.S. — including a scheme to assassinate Kim Jong Un. Meanwhile, American and South Korean war planes flew an unprecedented night training mission over the peninsula, a clear warning to North Korea, and President Donald Trump called in defense officials to discuss options. China’s state media tried to tamp down the tension, warning that military plans could “backfire bigly.”
Know This: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is expected to fight to save NAFTA in talks with the U.S. today. After President Trump claimed to have a higher IQ than Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, MENSA’s offered to administer tests. And the MacArthur Foundation has named its 2017 “genius” grant winners.
Remember This Number: 124 million. That’s how many obese children there are worldwide, up from just 11 million in 1975, as the World Health Organization calls for global action.
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All dogs may go to heaven, but only some get buried next to their owners. While many states prohibit burying animals in human graveyards, Americans’ attachment to their pets, even in death, has sparked the rise of “whole-family cemeteries” that allow multiple species to rest in the same plot. Pet burial advocates hoping to change states’ funeral laws are fighting centuries of dogma about what’s culturally appropriate — but they’re aiming to keep people from having themselves buried in pet cemeteries to remain close to Fido in the afterlife.
It’s the new kid on the blockchain. The small Baltic nation has become a world leader in digital citizenship thanks to blockchain technology, which keeps information secure and underpins cryptocurrencies like bitcoin. Estonians can pay taxes, buy and sell property, sign contracts and even vote online. Now others are jumping on the blocktrain: Britain and Australia are testing blockchain-based payment and passport systems, while Russia and China are developing state-sponsored cryptocurrencies. But the tech’s success depends on how comfortable citizens feel about taking everything online.
It’s a low-pressure job. Land-based windmills have long provided alternative energy, but their effectiveness is limited by “wind shadows” caused by each turbine slowing the air and reducing the energy available to others. But a new study suggests that offshore wind farms could be the solution: Low-pressure systems on open water keep speed and power more constant. Researchers say that not only could offshore turbines more than triple the output of their land-based counterparts, but that one massive North Atlantic wind farm could potentially power the entire world.
Time to choose. Eminem unleashed his rage against President Trump last night in a four-minute freestyle rap video at the BET Hip Hop Awards. Covering a lot of ground — from the border wall to the KKK to NFL protesters — the Detroit rapper called out Trump’s use of Twitter as a distraction, referring to him as “a kamikaze that’ll probably cause a nuclear holocaust.” Eminem, whose next album is reportedly nearing release, also issued an ultimatum to his fans to choose between him and the president.
You can’t fight the numbers. The U.S. men’s national team, which has played in every World Cup since 1990, won’t be going to next year’s competition in Russia after losing 2-1 to Trinidad and Tobago. The Americans seemed to have an easy road to the 2018 World Cup: They only needed a tie against a team that had lost eight of its last nine games and had no chance of qualifying. But the loss, along with wins by Honduras and first-time qualifier Panama, sealed the deal.