November 14, 2018

The Camp Fire in Northern California's Butte County, the deadliest blaze in state history, has killed at least 56 people, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection officials said on Wednesday evening.

The death toll is expected to grow even higher, as dozens of people remain missing and crews with cadaver dogs are looking in the rubble of destroyed homes for remains. The fire obliterated the town of Paradise, where most of the victims lived. Officials said 10,300 structures have burned and more than 138,000 acres were scorched. As of Wednesday night, the fire is 35 percent contained. The cause of the fire is under investigation, but about two dozen people who lost their homes have sued Pacific Gas & Electric Co., claiming the utility did not maintain or properly inspect power lines, and their negligence led to the fire.

In Southern California, the Woolsey Fire continues to burn in Los Angeles and Ventura counties, but the Santa Ana winds are not as strong as they were, which has helped firefighters. The cause of that fire, which has destroyed 482 structures, remains under investigation. About 98,362 acres — roughly the size of Denver — have burned, the Los Angeles County Fire Department said. Despite a flare-up early in the morning, the fire is 52 percent contained. The death toll from the Woolsey Fire now stands at three. Catherine Garcia

2:19 p.m.

Cannabidiol, one of the compounds in marijuana, has been all the rage lately. It's been in burgers, sodas, and even skin care products. Now, a new study suggests it might be useful as a medical treatment. The study, published in the American Journal of Psychiatry on Tuesday, found that cannabidiol, known as CBD, reduced cravings and anxiety in patients being treated for heroin addiction.

Other medications often prescribed for opioid addiction, such as buprenorphine and methadone, also work by reducing cravings for the drug. But in many cases, these medications are not pursued as part of the patient's treatment, because their use is highly regulated and restricted, CNN explained. So exploring less restricted methods of treatment may be key in continuing to stem the nationwide opioid epidemic.

While CBD is available in many over-the-counter products, the exact concentrations of the substance are difficult to determine. This study used an FDA-approved cannabis-based medication called Epidiolex in order to control the precise amounts of CBD being administered. "We are not developing a recreational cannabis," said Yasmin Hurd, the study's lead author. "We are developing a medicine."

Before this method is approved as a treatment for opioid addiction, further studies will have to be conducted, following patients over long periods of time to determine the long-term effectiveness. But "we need to utilize every possible treatment" to help those struggling with addiction, said Julie Holland, a psychiatrist not involved in the study. For that reason, "this is an extremely significant paper." Learn more at CNN. Shivani Ishwar

1:56 p.m.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team reportedly isn't so sure he should testify publicly before Congress.

The special counsel's team has "expressed reluctance" to the idea of him providing public testimony before the House Judiciary Committee, CNN reports, with the team noting that Mueller doesn't "want to appear political." Mueller never once spoke publicly during his investigation into Russian election interference and the Trump campaign's behavior surrounding the meddling. The probe concluded with a report that did not establish a criminal conspiracy with Russia but laid out several instances of potential obstruction of justice.

Negotiations between Mueller's team and the committee are still ongoing, and "numerous options" are reportedly being considered, but CNN notes that one would be for Mueller to provide testimony behind closed doors. This is not what Democrats have had in mind, though. Both House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) have said that Mueller providing public testimony is "the only way to begin restoring public trust" in the handling of his investigation.

House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) previously said Mueller "will come at some point" and that "if necessary, we'll subpoena him, and he will come." Brendan Morrow

1:46 p.m.

The creator has spoken.

The Game of Thrones' series finale was divisive, to say the least, but George R.R. Martin, the author of the HBO show's source material, the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, seemed fairly content with how it all played out. Martin didn't state specifically whether he enjoyed the episode or not in his most recent blog post on Monday evening, but he commended the showrunners, writers, directors, cast, and crew for all their work over the years. "There are so many memories," he wrote. "And no time to do them all justice."

While Martin's words certainly fall in the feel-good category, some fans likely care more about finding out if his forthcoming novels will conclude in the same way the show did. And Martin figured as much. He was a bit vague in his answer, but said that some parts will be the same, while others differ. He did write, however, that some of those differences will happen simply because he has created several characters in the books who never even made it onto the screen. So it's not unreasonable to infer that several of the major characters who were featured in the show could very well meet similar fates on the page.

Martin also said it's "silly" to ask whether the books or the show will be the "real" ending to the story. Instead, he wrote, he'll just let the internet argue about it. Read the full post here. Tim O'Donnell

1:30 p.m.

There's a whole lot of confusion about whether former White House Counsel Don McGahn is obligated to provide testimony concerning Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into 2016 Russian election interference before the House Judiciary Committee. But it might just boil down to standard legal ethics, Fox News' Andrew Napolitano said.

The White House explicitly ordered McGahn to defy a subpoena for his testimony, while the committee, chaired by Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), says his appearance is "not optional." McGahn followed the White House's orders on Tuesday when he didn't show up for the scheduled hearing. In the end, though, the courts will decide what will happen going forward.

Napolitano, Fox News' judicial analyst, told Fox & Friends on Tuesday that McGahn certainly could defy President Trump's orders, but if he did he would be burdened by "very, very serious legal ethics issues." When any lawyer — White House-affiliated or not — is asked by a former client to withhold information about their relationship, they should honor the request until a judge makes an official decision on the matter, Napolitano explained. "Now the client says 'don't say anything.' You follow the client's instructions until a court tells you otherwise," Napolitano said. Read more at Fox News. Tim O'Donnell

1:13 p.m.

U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit push is getting desperate.

After three consecutive Parliamentary rejections of her deals to exit the EU, May on Tuesday told MPs that she'd let them vote to hold a second Brexit referendum and possibly make the whole plan disappear altogether. There's just one condition: MPs have to vote for May's most recent EU-approved deal first, Reuters reports.

May will execute her fourth and likely final Brexit deal vote in June. And to make that last effort count, May said Tuesday that she'd include a provision in the deal that allows the House of Commons to vote to hold a second referendum, which "must take place before the Withdrawal Agreement can be ratified," CNBC reports. That effectively means that MPs could opt to hold another nationwide vote on leaving the EU, but if voters reject Brexit in a second referendum, that deal and Brexit will be scrapped altogether.

Since the U.K. voted to leave the EU two years ago, every deal May and other MPs have put on the table to do so have been flatly rejected. May has since narrowly survived two confidence votes in her leadership, and said in March that she'd resign if Parliament just agreed to the Brexit plan she'd proposed so many times. Yet even May's sacrificial lamb move wasn't enough for May's opposition Labour Party. Its leader Jeremy Corbyn started calling for a second Brexit referendum in February, and said last week that the talks "have gone as far as they can." That revelation left May accepting calls to officially draft her departure plan. Kathryn Krawczyk

1:10 p.m.

The Game of Thrones series finale continues to draw some scathing reviews — not just from average fans but now from three prominent Democrats.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) teamed up in a spoiler-filled video posted on Warren's Twitter account on Tuesday to pan the finale, with Ocasio-Cortez describing herself as "disappointed" and "sad" and Warren saying she's feeling "meh" about it. In particular, they were critical of the show's treatment of its female characters.

"I feel like we were getting so close to having this ending with just women running the world, and then last two episodes, it's like 'Oh, they're too emotional," Ocasio-Cortez said. "'The end.' It's like, ugh, this was written by men."

Warren strongly agreed, expressing disappointment over Daenerys Targaryen's conclusion and that Sansa Stark did not end up on the Iron Throne. "Come on, Sansa!" Warren said. "Go for the big one!" Ocasio-Cortez concluded that "we need to get some feminist analysis up in HBO," and Warren concurred, adding, "they need some help on this."

This analysis comes after Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) previously offered an even more withering assessment of the highly-divisive Thrones finale, telling Now This she's "so pissed off" about it. "I hated it," Gillibrand said, complaining that the show "destroyed" her two favorite characters, Daenerys Targaryen and Jon Snow. "I'm angry and upset," she said.

With two 2020 Democrats now coming out swinging against Thrones, perhaps that petition to remake the last season, which has racked up more than 1.4 million signatures, may soon become an official campaign platform. Brendan Morrow

12:28 p.m.

The return of New Coke? Stranger things have happened.

Coca-Cola is bringing back the infamous and widely-hated drink for a limited time as part of a partnership with the Netflix series Stranger Things, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Beginning this Thursday, cans of New Coke will be available in a Stranger Things package sold on the Coca-Cola website. Stranger Things' upcoming third season is set during 1985, the year when Coke rolled out its unpopular new formula that was discontinued after just 79 days. New Coke will evidently appear in several episodes of Stranger Things, and Coca-Cola says it invited Netflix to visit its archives "to study New Coke packaging, memorabilia, advertising."

About 500,000 cans of New Coke will be made available, Variety reports, after a six-month process that involved digging up the old formula and faithfully recreating the can design. Matt and Ross Duffer, the creators of the show, evidently brought up the idea of a New Coke return as a joke during a meeting with Netflix — but everyone else legitimately thought it was a good idea.

Barry Smyth, Netflix’s head of partnership marketing, told The New York Times that at a 2017 meeting, "We asked the question, ‘What would really blow it out of the water for this campaign?’ They jokingly said, 'Bring back New Coke.' They thought it was a joke. We took it as a brief." Netflix approached Coke with the idea.

Beyond this Thursday, Stranger Things-themed vending machines will give out free cans of New Coke in some select cities, beginning in New York on May 23. Stranger Things's third season hits Netflix on July 4. Brendan Morrow

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