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5 things to know for October 31: Fires, N. Korea, impeachment, car makers, Facebook

It looks like the scariest thing about this Halloween may be the weather. Rain will blanket big parts of the country, possibly forcing some neighborhoods to reschedule their trick-or-treating evenings.

Here’s what else you need to know to Get Up to Speed and Out the Door. (You can also get “5 Things You Need to Know Today” delivered to your inbox daily. Sign up here.)

1. Wildfires

Hurricane-force winds are ripping across parts of California, stoking the more than 20 wildfires that have ravaged the state for days. The Getty Fire is still going strong near Los Angeles, the week-old Kincade Fire near San Francisco is not even 45% contained, and several new fires have erupted, including the Easy Fire near the Southern California town of Simi Valley. That is home to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, where fire crews have scrambled to create a safe perimeter to keep the blaze at bay. One of their trusty fire prevention methods? Hundreds of ravenous goats that munched brush that would have fueled the approaching fire. About 200,000 Californians are still without power as the fires rage on, and power companies are facing mounting criticism for the way they’ve handled this latest rash of fire emergencies.

2. North Korea

North Korea fired two “unidentified projectiles” today into the waters between South Korea and Japan, according to the South Korean government. It’s not clear what exactly was launched, but both South Korean and Japanese officials are treating them as missiles. If they’re right, it would be the first missile test by Pyongyang in nearly a month and the 12th since May. The country said it tested a new type of submarine-launched ballistic missile at the start of this month, just days before the US and North Korea held working-level nuclear talks. Those talks didn’t end in any formal agreement. The early October launch was especially concerning because it was the first missile test by North Korea in some time that didn’t involve a shorter-range weapon.

3. Impeachment inquiry

Today, the full House is due to vote on formalizing impeachment proceedings against President Trump. The vote was set up by a key House panel’s resolution that could shape how the proceedings go. The House Rules Committee measure allows for public impeachment hearings and the release of deposition transcripts, and it outlines the Judiciary Committee’s role in considering potential articles of impeachment. House Republicans offered several amendments to the resolution in hopes some pushback would give them more of a say in impeachment hearings, but all of them failed along party lines. As it stands, key Republican figures remain critical of how the impeachment inquiry has unfolded, while Democrats accuse Republicans of doing anything they can to protect Trump.

4. Auto industry 

There’s been a rush of wheeling and dealing among some major car companies in the last few days. Fiat Chrysler and Peugeot owner PSA Group agreed to a blockbuster merger early this morning that would create a new trans-Atlantic auto-making giant with roughly 410,000 employees and combined revenues of $190 billion. Meanwhile, Ford has reached a tentative labor agreement with the United Auto Workers union. The quick deal was an obvious attempt to avoid a repeat of the painful, expensive strike that crippled GM for weeks. That strike ended earlier this week, and the fallout has put other auto companies on the defensive in labor negotiations.

5. Facebook

Facebook may be facing some serious scrutiny about its place in the political conversation, but that’s not hurting its bottom line. During an earnings call, the company’s top brass revealed that third quarter growth beat analyst expectations, with revenue and stock value both enjoying a big rise. CEO Mark Zuckerberg also used the call to defend Facebook’s decision to keep running political ads on its platform. He argued that transparency around these ads is more important than banning them outright. But as this call was going down, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey announced his platform will go a different route and stop accepting political ads, saying the impact of political messages “should be earned, not bought.”


The Washington Nationals have won the World Series for the first time in franchise history

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The number of wins by the home team in this year’s seven-game World Series between the Washington Nationals and the Houston Astros. (Three games were played in Washington, and four were played in Houston.) That has never happened before in any best-of-seven series in any major American sport, ever. See, we told you the stats were cool!


“I wish I had known sooner that the persistent stomach pain I experienced before my diagnosis was a symptom of pancreatic cancer.”

“Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebeck, in a new PSA about pancreatic cancer. The TV icon announced his stage 4 diagnosis in March.



Happy Halloween!

Keep this spooky science experiment in mind for next year’s festivities. You’ll be the most popular (and messiest?) porch on the block. (Click here to view.)

Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated the name of the auto maker that was crippled for weeks by a strike. It was GM.

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