Inside Daily Brief - November 13th, 2019

Inside Daily Brief (Nov 13th, 2019)

Impeachment testimony update / First Ebola vaccine / Facebook removes fake accounts


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1. During the first public hearings of the impeachment probe Wednesday, U.S. diplomat William Taylor provided new information that could further corroborate President Trump's alleged attempts to pressure Ukraine’s president to investigate the Bidens. Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, told the House Intelligence Committee that a member of his staff overhead a phone conversation between Trump and Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, that allegedly occurred in July. The staffer apparently heard the president ask Sondland about the "investigations," and Sondland told Trump that "the Ukrainians were ready to move forward," Taylor said. After the call, the staffer asked Sondland what Trump thought about Ukraine. The ambassador responded that Trump "cares more about the investigations of Biden.” George Kent, a deputy assistant secretary at the State Department, also testified on Wednesday. This story is developing. - NYTIMES

2. Regulators officially approved the world's first Ebola vaccine, which they called "a major step forward in saving lives in Africa and beyond." Five years ago, no Ebola vaccine existed. But thanks to one-dose vaccine manufactured by Merck and another from Johnson & Johnson, the virus is "now preventable and treatable," said Vytenis Andriukaitis, a European Commission official in charge of health and food safety. On Tuesday, the World Health Organization (WHO) said it pre-qualified Merck's vaccine, meaning that it meets the agency's quality, safety and efficacy standards. Two days before that, the European Commission approved marketing of the vaccine known as Ervebo, which is already in use in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where an ongoing Ebola outbreak has killed more than 2,000 people. - NATURE.COM

3. Facebook says it removed 3.2 billion fake accounts between April and September, which is more than double the number it removed in the same period last year. Facebook's latest Community Standards Enforcement Report shows an ongoing, staggering amount of child abuse, suicide-related, terrorist, and illicit-goods content that continues to be shared. There were 11.6 million pieces of content on Facebook and 754,000 on Instagram depicting child nudity during the third quarter, which were removed. And there were 2.5 million posts removed that "depicted or encouraged suicide or self-injury." Facebook boasts that it now detects and automatically removes 98.5 percent of terrorist propaganda from Facebook using AI, and 92.2 percent in the case of Instagram. - REUTERS

A version of this story first appeared in Inside Social.

4. U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) called on White House senior adviser Stephen Miller to resign over leaked emails, which suggest that Miller supports white nationalism and hatred toward black and Hispanic communities. In a tweet on Tuesday, Ocasio-Cortez said Miller is "still at the White House shaping U.S. immigration policy" despite being "exposed as a bonafide white nationalist." Katie McHugh, a former Breitbart editor, leaked the emails to the Southern Poverty Law Center's Hatewatch section. More than 80 percent of the over 900 emails, sent between 2015 and 2016, pertain to race or immigration and "tout eugenics and white nationalist conspiracy theories," according to Newsweek. The White House rebuffed the claims and called the law center “an utterly-discredited, long-debunked far-left smear organization." - WAPO

5. Famed former Major League Baseball catcher Mike Piazza says he will come out of retirement to manage the Italian national baseball team. In a tweet on Wednesday, the Hall of Famer wrote that the deal includes managing the team for the 2020 European Baseball Championship and the 2021 World Baseball Classic. Piazza spent most of his 16 seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Mets before his retirement from baseball in 2008. He has never coached or managed a team before. - ESPN

6. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg missed oral arguments on Wednesday due to a stomach bug, a court spokeswoman said. The high court heard two arguments that day, including a high-profile racial discrimination case against the cable giant Comcast. Ginsburg, 86, will still participate in considering and deciding the cases through briefs and recording transcripts, Chief Justice John Roberts said from the bench. For 25 years, Ginsburg had a perfect attendance record, until she underwent surgery for cancer in December. She is a four-time cancer survivor. - CNBC

7. Singer-songwriter Summer Walker has canceled most of her U.S. tour dates, citing "social anxiety" and an "introverted personality." The "Girls Need Love" singer will perform in only nine of the original 29 cities that she had originally scheduled, according to the BBC. In an Instagram post, Walker wrote: "I'm a person, I have feelings. I get tired, I get sad and it's just a lot." The announcement comes after several fans complained that Walker wasn't as affectionate as they had hoped during meet-and-greets. - BBC

8. Rapper Kodak Black was sentenced to 46 months in prison after he admitted to falsifying information so he could buy guns. A Miami federal judge handed down the sentence on Wednesday, saying that “young people do stupid things" and often deserve a break but Black has been "doing stupid things since 15.” Black, 22, pleaded guilty to lying on federal background forms when he purchased handguns from a Miami-area gun shop on two occasions earlier this year. The Florida native, known for his songs “ZeZe” and “Roll in Peace," faces drug, weapons, and sexual assault charges in other states. - MIAMI HERALD

9. A cat who kept freeing himself and his companions from a Houston shelter has turned into an internet sensation. Quilty the cat was placed in solitary confinement after his caregivers said he frequently opened the door to a shelter room, letting out all the cats into a separate room. Security footage showed the culprit was Quilty, 6, who managed to pull down the door's handle at least three times. According to CNN, many people have expressed a desire to adopt Quilty, who has won over fans on social media. - CNN

10. Apple opened pre-order sales of its 16-inch MacBook Pro, which replaces the previous 15-inch version. The notebook, which starts at $2,399, is available for pre-order as of today and will begin selling in authorized stores later this week, according to the company. Besides having a bigger screen, the laptop comes with better speakers and new processors, according to The Verge, which praised its improved stability over the predecessor and keyboard as being "blissfully quiet." Also on Wednesday, Apple announced that its Mac Pro, its most powerful computer ever, will be available to buy in December, at a starting price of $5,999. - ENGADGET

Written and curated by Beth Duckett in Orange County. Beth is a former reporter for The Arizona Republic who has written for USA Today, Get Out magazine and other publications. Follow her tweets about breaking news and other topics in southern California here.

Editor: Kim Lyons (Pittsburgh-based journalist and managing editor at Inside).

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