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October 12, 2017
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Thousands of buildings and businesses have burned down in Northern California since wildfires started to sweep through the region Sunday night, and several marijuana farms in the so-called Emerald Triangle have gone up in smoke.

It's a heavy hit for owners, who don't have insurance on their crops because of federal laws against marijuana. Derek Peterson, CEO of Terra Tech, told CNN Money farmers on average invest $5 million in their facilities and up to $3 million on growing the crop, and "if their facilities burn down, a lot of these people won't be able to get any economic relief for them from an insurance claim. There's no mechanism for recovery to repay them for their loss. It's a tremendous risk for these people."

Medical marijuana has been legal in California since 1996, and in 2016, sales totaled $2.8 billion. Californians voted to approve recreational marijuana last year, and the retail market will open in January 2018. Growers whose crops haven't been burned down are frantically harvesting early, to save the crops should the flames reach their farms and to keep the cannabis from being tainted by the smoke. There are an estimated 10,000 to 15,000 marijuana farms in California, and it's unclear how many have burned down. "Here comes this fire at the worst possible time for them," Peterson said. "I have a lot of friends who are really troubled right now." Catherine Garcia

4:21 p.m. ET
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Most people agree that climate change is a huge problem for the modern world. And for many, stopping the warming of the Earth — let alone reversing the damage that has already been done — seems impossible.

But maybe not for much longer.

A group of scientists from Trent University in Ontario, Canada, have discovered a way to use a naturally-occurring mineral to tackle one of the biggest culprits behind climate change: carbon dioxide. The buildup of it and other greenhouse gases in our atmosphere are what causes the Earth's temperature to rise. But the formation of magnesite, a mineral comprised of magnesium, oxygen, and carbon, has the power to take that harmful carbon dioxide back out of our atmosphere, Popular Mechanics reported.

On its own, magnesite forms incredibly slowly in nature — it can take up to hundreds or even thousands of years, Newsweek explained. But this team of researchers has created a method to form the mineral in just 72 days. The process is sustainable and "extremely energy efficient," said Ian Power, the project leader, in a statement at the Goldschmidt Conference, an international conference on the field of geochemistry.

Of course, forming magnesite in a lab is still a far cry from actually deploying it to fight climate change, Inverse reported. But reducing atmospheric carbon is seen as the single most powerful thing we can do to protect the Earth from worsening climate change — and this promising research may develop into a real strategy.

Read more about magnesite and the way it works at Popular Mechanics. Shivani Ishwar

3:35 p.m. ET
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President Trump has revoked security clearance for John Brennan, the former director of the CIA. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced the decision Wednesday, reading a statement from Trump at the press briefing that claimed Brennan had displayed "erratic conduct," including "wild outbursts on the internet and television."

Brennan has frequently criticized Trump, taking to Twitter to call the president "treasonous" and "imbecilic." Sanders said the White House is additionally reviewing the clearances of other officials, such as former FBI agent Peter Strzok; former national security officials Susan Rice, James Clapper, and Michael Hayden; and current Justice Department official Bruce Ohr. Many of the officials listed have also been critical of Trump, reporters pointed out, but Sanders denied that revoking the security clearances was a form of retaliation against those who have voiced their criticism.

Former FBI Director James Comey and former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe also made the list, though they haven't had security clearance for months. Instead, Sanders said Trump was reviewing whether he wanted to prevent them from ever re-obtaining clearance. Last month, when Sanders first announced that Trump was considering rescinding clearances, Clapper called the threat "petty" and warned it could set a "terrible precedent."

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), at the time, said he believed Trump was just "trolling people, honestly." Clearly, Trump was very serious, since the statement about Brennan was dated July 26, coincidentally a day when the White House was not frantically picking up the pieces of a very-public ex-employee scandal. Summer Meza

2:44 p.m. ET
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A California congressional candidate says his campaign was the victim of ongoing cyberattacks that are now under investigation by the FBI, Rolling Stone reported Wednesday.

Hans Keirstead, who was running to unseat Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), fell just short of moving to the general election, losing out by just 125 votes back in June. His campaign manager, Kyle Quinn-Quesada, said some outside entity carried out persistent attempts to hack the campaign website, gain access to Keirstead's email accounts, and take over the campaign's Twitter account.

"It is clear from speaking with campaign professionals around the country that the sustained attacks the Keirstead for Congress campaign faced were not unique but have become the new normal for political campaigns in 2018," Quinn-Quesada told Rolling Stone. Last month, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) said Russia unsuccessfully targeted her campaign with cyberattacks, and Sen. Bill Nelson (D) of Florida said Russia had "penetrated" some of the state's voting systems. The FBI hasn't told the Keirstead campaign whether it has identified who was perpetrating the attacks.

Rolling Stone notes that 15-term incumbent Rohrabacher is one of the most pro-Russia members of Congress, voting against Russian sanctions and supporting President Trump's effort to improve relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin. While the Keirstead campaign has no evidence that Russia was behind the attacks, and Quinn-Quesada says he does not believe the cyberattacks affected the election results, the investigation fits in with intelligence officials' warnings of pervasive cyber threats to the midterm elections. Read more at Rolling Stone. Summer Meza

1:38 p.m. ET
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Just one day after another round of primary elections, two polls found Democrats enjoying a solid lead over Republicans on the generic ballot.

Per a CNN/SSRS poll released Wednesday, if congressional elections were held today, 52 percent of registered voters would pick the Democratic candidate compared to just 41 percent who would choose the Republican. A second poll, from Quinnipiac, found similar results albeit with a slightly slimmer margin, with 51 percent of respondents opting for the Democrat and 42 percent for the Republican.

Democrats are banking on their generic ballot lead to translate to victory come fall, and they're additionally hoping to benefit from high voter turnout. Back in June, a nationwide poll using a generic ballot found Democrats with an 8-point lead. While the specific margins have varied month-to-month and poll-to-poll, the surveys have consistently found Democrats in the lead. In the CNN poll, the percentage of respondents who say they'd vote Republican hasn't cracked 45 percent since before President Trump took office.

The CNN/SSRS poll was conducted Aug. 9-12, interviewing 1,002 people by phone. The margin of error is 3.9 percentage points. The Quinnipiac poll was conducted Aug. 9-13, surveying 1,175 voters by phone with a margin of error of 3.4 percentage points. See more poll results at Quinnipiac University and CNN. Summer Meza

12:17 p.m. ET

Tuesday's round of primaries revealed who would face off in this November's midterm elections — and made a blue wave seem even more imminent.

When it comes to turnout, Democrats outperformed Republicans in all four states that voted Tuesday, NBC News points out. While that doesn't guarantee the party will dominate this fall, it does reflect strong Democratic enthusiasm that's translated into high turnout throughout the 2018 primary season.

The Democratic difference was most obvious in Minnesota, a reliably blue state that saw 261,000 more Democratic voters than Republicans on Tuesday. Yet even with a competitive GOP Senate nomination up for grabs, Wisconsin, which went for President Trump in 2016, saw 80,000 more Democrats than Republicans show up. Incumbent Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin is still likely to win in the general election, per Cook Political Report, but the skewed turnout has implications for the state capitol: Incumbent GOP Gov. Scott Walker is only slightly favored to prevail this fall, meaning some extra Democratic voters could easily turn his seat blue.

Republicans can still likely count on more voters to turn up this fall for general elections, NBC News says. But there's no denying that things are looking up for Democrats. Just take it from conservative radio host and former Republican Rep. Joe Walsh (Ill.). Kathryn Krawczyk

11:17 a.m. ET

Rudy Giuliani is flipping the script again. President Trump's attorney appeared on CNN's Cuomo Prime Time and pushed a new narrative about Trump and former FBI Director James Comey.

Cuomo asked why Giuliani was suddenly saying that Trump never had any conversation about the investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn with Comey. Comey has said that Trump asked him to "let this go," hoping Flynn's investigation could be dropped, but Trump denies it. The president fired Comey three months after the alleged conversation, which Giuliani now insists never happened. The attorney has previously told media outlets that Trump was simply suggesting Flynn get a "break," not pressuring Comey to do anything untoward.

"I've said it from the very beginning," he told Cuomo, who pointed out that he had only previously disputed the subject matter. Why argue hypothetically about a meeting that never happened? "Because I can get him out of it legally, and I can get him out factually," said Giuliani. He then pivoted to an argument that Comey may have committed a felony by not reporting the apparently non-existent meeting, claiming that Trump never spoke to Comey about Flynn, but that if he had, only Comey would be in legal trouble.

"For this to be true, Jim Comey has to be a crazy liar," said Cuomo doubtfully. Giuliani concurred. Watch the moment below, via CNN. Summer Meza

11:02 a.m. ET
Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Turner

The #MeToo movement brought what's been widely called a "reckoning" against men accused of sexual misconduct. But some of Hollywood's most powerful still aren't facing any consequences.

Much of the entertainment elite slammed with allegations — Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, Charlie Rose — can't find work, and some have even faced legal consequences. Yet for the likes of James Franco, Casey Affleck, and some other men ensnared in #MeToo allegations, not much has changed, The Hollywood Reporter says.

Franco faced five accusations of sexually exploitative behavior in a Jan. 11 Los Angeles Times story. Six months later, it was leaked that he was in talks to direct a Focus Features film about ESPN. And he's still onboard to star in a second season of HBO's The Deuce because "the fact of the matter is that James is in the show," HBO president Casey Bloys told The Hollywood Reporter. "It's business as usual. There is no effort to hide the fact that [Franco] is in the show," Bloys continued.

That's not sufficient for activist website Care2. It successfully petitioned director Matthew Newton, accused of domestic violence, off of the upcoming film Eve, and is hoping to do the same with Franco. "Crisis PR," like what HBO has said to justify Franco's continued employment, is growing even more common, Care2 senior director Rebecca Gerber tells The Hollywood Reporter. "In Hollywood, they make business calls about whether people can make a comeback."

Franco has already skipped out on media appearances for The Deuce, something Gerber says is typical of actors hoping to outlast sexual harassment allegations. They'll disappear for a while, "hoping that it all dies down," she tells The Hollywood Reporter.

Care2 is prepared to make sure that doesn't happen. Read more about the road ahead for Franco, Affleck, and others at The Hollywood Reporter. Kathryn Krawczyk

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