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Inside Daily Brief (Sep 4th, 2019)

1. ✈️ United Airlines said it will allow passengers to rebook Boeing 737 Max flights for free when the flights are returned to service. The jet was involved in two fatal crashes that killed 346 people  — one in Indonesia in October and another in Ethiopia in March — and has since been grounded. At an investor conference on Wednesday, United's chief commercial officer said that passengers who arrive at a gate and discover that it's a Max flight can be placed on to another flight without having to pay a change fee. While it's currently unclear when the 737 Max will fly again, Boeing estimates a return to service “that begins early in the fourth quarter.” - CNN

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2. 📈 The U.S. trade deficit fell in July compared to the prior month, but still came in higher than economists' estimates, according to the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. Government data released Wednesday showed that the July deficit slipped to $54 billion from a revised $55.5 billion in June, as the U.S.-China trade war continues and new tariffs took effect last weekend. Economists had forecast a July deficit of $53.4 billion. While the drop was attributed to higher exports of oil, drugs, and autos, the gap is still higher than last year and the monthly trade gap has grown from $46.4 billion in January 2017, when President Trump took office. - REUTERS

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3. 📱 Democratic presidential contender Marianne Williamson deleted a tweet on Wednesday in which she suggested that the "power of mind" could deter Hurricane Dorian from striking Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas. The Category 2 storm devastated the Bahamas for two days, resulting in rising floodwaters and at least seven deaths. In a tweet that she has since removed, Williamson wrote that "millions of us seeing Dorian turn away from land is not a wacky idea; it is a creative use of the power of the mind." The post, which has since been replaced, asked for prayers and meditation and later drew some criticism on social media. As of Wednesday, Dorian was east of Florida's coast and moving north with maximum sustained winds of 105 mph. It is expected to reach the Carolinas coasts as a Category 2 later this week. - WAPO

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4. ⚖️ A North Carolina court ordered state lawmakers to redraw legislative maps after determining that the current ones unfairly favored Republicans. On Tuesday, a three-judge panel struck down the state's current legislative districts and said redistricting "perpetuated a Republican-controlled" General Assembly and diluted the "collective voting strength" of Democrats. The state Senate's Republican leader said they do not plan to appeal the decision, which gives the assembly two weeks to issue remedial maps and get them in place before the 2020 election. North Carolina lawmakers redrew its previous map, which was found to discriminate against black voters, before the 2018 election. - NYTIMES

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5. 🌏 Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam officially withdrew a controversial extradition bill on Wednesday, filling one of the five demands requested by local protestors. Lam said in a video that after months of protests and social unrest, it is "obvious to many that this discontentment extends far beyond the bill." The legislation would have allowed people in Hong Kong to be extradited to China for legal proceedings. The other demands include greater democracy for the city and an independent commission to look into police conduct. - CNN

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6. 🚬 Michigan became the first state to ban sales of most flavored e-cigarettes. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer ordered the statewide ban, which takes effect today and also limits "misleading" descriptions of vaping products such as the words “safe” and “healthy." Whitmer (D) told The Washington Post that her priority is to keep kids safe and protects the health of Michiganders, noting in a letter to state senators that e-cigarettes can send out nicotine more than twice as quickly as tobacco cigarettes. Groups like the American Heart Association and American Cancer Society have applauded the new law. - ENGADGET

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7. ⚖️ A federal court judge ordered the White House to restore the press credentials of Playboy magazine reporter Brian Karem. White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham suspended Karem’s press pass for 30 days - a decision that Karem appealed - after the Playboy writer and a former Trump administration aide engaged in a verbal altercation at Trump’s social media summit in July. Judge Rudolph Contreras, of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, ruled on Tuesday that Karem’s First Amendment rights offset the White House's need to maintain "decorum and order." Contreras ordered the White House to restore the pass while the case continues in court. - POLITICO

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8. 🏛️ A Maryland man faces multiple charges after intentionally plowing his truck into a local City Hall building. As of Wednesday, the Taneytown City Hall remains unsafe to enter after Rodney Davis, 55, drove his pickup truck into the building numerous times last Friday. Authorities said he was angry and made threats after the city shut off his water. Davis now faces charges of assault, burglary, destruction of property, and traffic violations. - WTAP

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9. 🔐 A new app that swaps users' faces with celebrities in videos has raised concerns about data privacy and identity theft. The ZAO app became China’s most-downloaded free app after it launched on Friday. Users upload a single image of themselves, which is switched out with a celebrity from a famous film or show. (Here's an example of a Twitter user imitating Sheldon from "The Big Bang Theory"). In an earlier user agreement, which has since been changed, ZAO said the app had permanent rights to all user-generated content. China's government has since ordered the developer to only collect and use personal data based on local laws and prevent its use for online fraud, which ZAO has agreed to do. - MIT TECH REVIEW

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10. ☄️ A loud "boom" noise heard across central New York on Monday night was likely a meteor entering Earth's atmosphere, according to the American Meteor Society (AMS). The astronomy organization received many emails about the boom, which was preceded by a burning object passing overhead, witnesses said. Mike Hankey, operations manager of the AMC, said the sight came from the light produced by the meteor colliding with the denser atmosphere, which also created a sonic boom. - SYRACUSE.COM

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CLICK ROULETTE

Clue IRL...

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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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