Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: October 12, 2017

President Trump escalates his attacks on the press, winds give California wildfires new momentum, and more


Trump slams press freedom, calls NBC News report 'pure fiction'

President Trump on Wednesday lashed out at NBC News for reporting that he said in a summer meeting that he wanted to increase the U.S. nuclear stockpile tenfold, calling the report "pure fiction." He said NBC had "made up" its account, and that it was "disgusting" that the media could freely report what it wanted. "With all of the Fake News coming out of NBC and the Networks," he tweeted, "at what point is it appropriate to challenge their License?" Several nuclear experts said calling for such a massive and expensive nuclear buildup would be "absurd." NBC attributed its account to three people who were in the room when they said Trump expressed a desire for the additional nukes.


Death toll in California wine country wildfires rises to 23

The deadly wildfires that have incinerated entire neighborhoods in Northern California's wine country regained momentum on Wednesday, fanned by resurgent winds. The death toll continued to rise, reaching 23. Hundreds of people have been reported missing, although many have been found safe. The fires threatened more densely populated areas in hard-hit Sonoma County, where deputies banged on doors telling people to leave after authorities ordered more evacuations. "It's rapidly changing, it's moving quickly," said Misti Harris, a Sonoma County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman. Nearly two dozen fires in Northern California have burned 170,000 acres and destroyed more than 3,500 buildings. "This is a serious, critical, catastrophic event,” Cal Fire Chief Ken Pimlott said.


Trump to sign executive order aimed at unwinding ObamaCare

President Trump, after Congress failed to replace ObamaCare, plans to sign an executive order on Thursday to relax some of former President Barack Obama's health-care law on his own. Trump is expected to ease standards on small businesses that band together to buy health insurance. He also might tell federal agencies to allow the sale of health plans that are cheaper and less comprehensive than the health law requires. White House officials said Trump's goal is to promote choice and competition. Democrats and some state regulators say that the moves would create low-cost insurance options for the healthy, driving up costs for older and sicker people, and destabilizing the Affordable Care Act's insurance marketplaces.


Canada's Trudeau calls for saving NAFTA during White House visit

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met with President Trump at the White House on Wednesday and called for maintaining a "fairer" North American Free Trade Agreement that would "produce better outcomes" for the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. The meeting came as a fourth round of NAFTA negotiations began outside Washington as business leaders expressed growing concern that Trump is leaning toward scrapping the trade deal and replacing it with bilateral agreements. "We'll see what happens," Trump said in the Oval Office when asked if NAFTA was dead. "We have a tough negotiation, and it's something you will know in the not too distant future."


Boy Scouts to start admitting girls

The Boy Scouts of America announced Wednesday that it would start admitting girls into the Cub Scouts next year, and launch a new program for older girls modeled on the Boy Scouts. Cub Scout dens, the program's smallest groups, will be single-gender, but larger Cub Scout packs will have the option of being single-gender or co-ed. Leaders said the changes would help the organization serve families better. The plan did not go over well with the Girl Scouts of the USA. Girl Scouts President Kathy Hopinkah Hannan wrote her counterpart in the Boy Scouts urging the organization to "stay focused on serving the 90 percent of American boys not currently participating in Boy Scouts" instead of "expanding to recruit girls."


Trump taps Kelly deputy Kirstjen Nielsen to run Homeland Security

The White House announced on Wednesday that President Trump planned to nominate Kirstjen Nielsen to be Homeland Security secretary. Nielsen, 45, is White House Chief of Staff John Kelly's chief deputy, and she served as his top aide when he was DHS secretary. Kelly's recommendation helped vault her past other candidates to the top of Trump's short list. Nielsen is a cybersecurity expert and lawyer, and has extensive experience in homeland security. "She would be the first person to run the department who has actually worked there," a person close to the administration said. "She has a deep familiarity."


Spain warns of punishment if Catalonia declares independence

The Spanish government on Wednesday warned Catalonia's separatist leader, regional president Carles Puigdemont, that it would curb the region's autonomy unless he backs away from his vow to declare independence. Madrid gave Puigdemont five days to explain whether his statements on seceding amounted to an attempt to break away from Spain, and said his answer would determine whether the Spanish government invokes a never-applied constitutional power to strip some of the region's autonomy. Puigdemont this week stopped short of declaring independence outright, instead calling for dialogue with the national government in the wake of the region's recent indepence referendum.


Trump discusses North Korea with defense team, shows force with bomber drill

President Trump met with top defense officials on Wednesday to discuss how to respond to any military threats from North Korea. In a show of force, the U.S. flew two strategic bombers over the Korean peninsula late Tuesday, with two South Korean fighter jets accompanying them. The U.S. military also said it had conducted drills with Japanese fighters, marking the first joint nighttime training with U.S. bombers and Japanese and South Korean aircraft. The American aircraft took off from Andersen Air Force Base in Guam, a U.S. Pacific territory that North Korea has threatened to attack with missiles. North Korea's foreign minister, quoted by a Russian state news agency, said Trump had "lit the wick of the war."


British ISIS recruiter reportedly killed in drone strike in Syria

British Islamic State recruiter Sally Jones was killed in a June U.S. drone strike near the Iraq-Syria border, Britain's The Sun reported Wednesday. Jones, Britain's most wanted female terrorist, joined ISIS after converting to Islam and traveling to Syria in 2013. A former punk musician, Jones had been married to Islamist militant Junaid Hussain, who was killed in a 2015 drone strike. U.S. intelligence sources were confident Jones had been killed in the strike, although it was impossible to be certain because there was no attempt to put special forces on the ground to get DNA confirmation. The fate of Jones' 12-year-old son Joe, or Jojo, was not clear.


Yankees beat Indians to advance to ALCS

The New York Yankees defeated the Cleveland Indians 5-2 Wednesday night in Game 5 of the American League Division Series to dethrone the AL champions and advance to play the Houston Astros in the American League Championship Series. Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman, who helped the Cubs beat the Indians by pitching in five of the seven games in last season's epic World Series, pitched two innings and got the save. The Indians beat the Yankees in the first two games of the series, but by winning Games 3, 4, and 5, the Yankees became the 10th team in MLB history to win a best-of-five postseason series after being down 0-2. Game 1 of the ALCS is scheduled for Friday night in Houston.


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