The Presidential Daily Brief


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    5 Found Dead as Wildfires Rage Through California

    As fire erupted on Thursday, the Butte County Sheriff’s Office said the bodies were found in vehicles overcome by flames – additional reports of fatalities couldn’t be confirmed as the fire is still active. By Friday morning, nearly 110 square miles had burned, damaging hundreds of buildings with 15,000 structures under threat and tens of thousands evacuated. The blaze rapidly transformed from a brush fire in Griffith Park, Los Angeles to a raging inferno spreading between southern and northern California. Gusty winds, dry fuels and low relative humidities could exacerbate conditions, say experts.


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    California Victims Mourned as Police Probe Shooter

    “He knew what he was doing.” So said one eyewitness about 28-year-old Ian Long, the former Marine who gunned down 12 people Wednesday night at the Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks. While mourners staged a vigil Thursday, many survivors’ thoughts turned to last year’s mass shooting at a Las Vegas country music festival. Some who survived that attack were at Borderline, where at least one was killed. “I learned from Vegas not to think twice, but to just get out,” one survivor said. Police have not yet identified Long’s motive.

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    White House to Restrict Asylum Claims

    President Donald Trump is expected to issue a proclamation today limiting the eligibility for asylum-seekers entering the U.S. from Mexico. Published yesterday by the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security, the new rule — following Trump’s campaign pledge to crack down on illegal immigration — would only allow migrants to seek asylum at official border crossings. Several rights groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union, have challenged the rule’s legality, saying both U.S. and international law give refugees the right to claim asylum regardless of where they enter the country.

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    Hong Kong Bars British Journalist

    Victor Mallet, Asia news editor for the Financial Times, was denied re-entry to the semi-autonomous region yesterday, prompting fears that Hong Kong is increasingly cracking down on free speech. Last month, authorities refused to renew Mallet’s work visa after he hosted a panel at the territory’s Foreign Correspondents’ Club featuring the leader of a recently banned political party. The newspaper says it hasn’t received an explanation, while Hong Kong’s secretary of security, John Lee, said Thursday’s refusal had “nothing to do with freedom of expression.”

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    Federal US Court Blocks Keystone XL Pipeline

    Claiming the government failed to fully analyze the long-delayed pipeline’s environmental impact, a federal judge in Montana has halted construction, delivering a victory to environmentalists and indigenous rights groups and a blow to the Trump administration. The project, meant to carry crude oil from Alberta to Steele City, Nebraska, was approved by President Trump last year in order to lower prices, boost jobs and diversify the country’s oil supply. Thursday’s ruling requires authorities to update a 2014 environmental review to examine greenhouse gas emissions and the risk of oil spills.

  6. Wildfires, Artificial Intelligence and the PDB Quiz

    Know This: A sweeping wildfire in Northern California has ravaged local communities and forced thousands of residents to flee. China’s state-run Xinhua news agency has reportedly unveiled the world’s first “artificial intelligence anchor.” And a man who stabbed three people in Melbourne, Australia, including one fatally, has died in the hospital after being shot by police.

    Try This: Feeling presidential after a week of briefings? Prove it with the PDB Quiz.

    We’re hiring: OZY is looking for a talented media and ad-ops strategist to manage and optimize our cross-platform digital campaigns. Could this be you? Check out the job description for more details … and find all our open jobs right here.


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    Report: One-Fifth of China’s Urban Housing Is Empty

    Need a place to stay? More than 50 million apartments and homes in China are sitting vacant, according to an upcoming report from Chengdu’s Southwestern University of Finance and Economics. “There’s no other single country with such a high vacancy rate,” one researcher said. China’s 22 percent empty housing stock dwarfs America’s 12.7 percent and Japan’s 13.5 percent. Experts blame rampant property speculation, despite stern criticism of the practice by President Xi Jinping, and they warn that a dip in the property market could seriously hurt the economy.

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    Google Updates Misconduct Policies After Walkout

    Following last week’s walkout of 20,000 employees worldwide to protest the tech giant’s sexual misconduct policy, CEO Sundar Pichai announced in an email to employees Thursday that Google would meet some of their demands. He agreed to end forced arbitration in misconduct cases, which will give employees the right to sue, and committed to improving the reporting process. Pichai also pledged to seek more diverse senior employees, though he didn’t address a demand to share data on compensation gaps. Walkout organizers applauded the changes, but noted there’s still more to be done.

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    Researchers Reveal How Pesticides Harm Bee Colonies

    Have you heard the buzz? By fitting hundreds of bumblebees with tiny QR codes that tracked their movement, biologists from Harvard University say they’ve learned how pesticides negatively affect colonies. Researchers observed dramatic changes in bees’ behavior after being exposed to neonicotinoids — the world’s most common class of insecticide. Affected bees were less social and energetic, spending less time caring for their young and regulating nest temperatures by fanning their wings. Biologists hope the study’s high-tech surveillance system could eventually be used to test pesticides more effectively.

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    TV Star, Fox Reporter Mourn Niece Slain in California Shooting

    A spokesman for Sister, Sister actress Tamera Mowry-Housley and her husband, former Fox News correspondent Adam Housley, has confirmed that their niece, Alaina Housley, was one of the 12 people gunned down at a Thousand Oaks bar this week. Until Thursday afternoon, the 18-year-old’s fate was unknown, and the celebrity couple took to social media to try to find her — and later to ask for prayers and support. “Our hearts are broken,” they said in a statement, in which they also asked for privacy.

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    Elusive Steelers Running Back Expected to Report Next Week

    He’s cutting and dodging. For 10 weeks, Le’Veon Bell has avoided signing a $14.5 million franchise tag in hope of forcing a better deal. But Pittsburgh Steelers president Art Rooney II expects to see him back by a Nov. 13 deadline — or else Bell will forfeit the season. In a pair of cryptic tweets written in upside down text, the running back lashed out at critics and defended his absence as the right thing for himself and his family. Bell’s already lost out on $8.52 million this season.