Morning Update: Accept It — Parrots Swearing Is Never Not Funny

Trump revokes John Brennan's security clearance, historic primary wins, picking up Facebook's slack. Your BuzzFeed News newsletter, August 16.

Trump has revoked the security clearance of a vocal critic, former CIA director John Brennan

This move is out of the ordinary.

First, some background: It's common for former intelligence officials to retain their clearances in order to consult with government agencies who may need their expertise or historical knowledge farther down the road.

Here’s what just happened: In this case, President Donald Trump revoked the clearance of former CIA director John Brennan while saying that “any benefits that senior officials might glean from consultations with Mr. Brennan are now outweighed by the risks posed by his erratic conduct and behavior.”

Brennan has taken to attacking Trump on Twitter, criticizing him for moves like meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The larger context: Trump’s move immediately raised questions about whether it was political in nature — especially given that the list of clearances under review includes those belonging to other former officials who have been critical of Trump.

Also on the list: former FBI director James Comey, former deputy FBI director Andrew McCabe, and former director of national intelligence James Clapper.

This week’s primary races saw some significant firsts

Here are two stories you need to know about.

The first: Christine Hallquist, a former energy company executive, made history by becoming the first openly transgender candidate for governor. Hallquist clinched the Democratic nomination for governor of Vermont by beating out three other candidates and will take on the Republican incumbent in November.

In her own words: “This isn’t something I was thinking about doing,” Hallquist said. “I say, in the physics world, for every action, there’s an opposite and equal reaction. This is a reaction to 2016.”

The second: Ilhan Omar, the first Somali American state lawmaker in the US, is on her way to making history again. After winning her Democratic primary race, she has a shot at becoming one of the first Muslim women elected to Congress.

Omar won a heated primary in Minnesota, beating out six other candidates. The win nearly guarantees her a victory in November — the district has been sending Democrats to the US House of Representatives since the 1960s.

In her own words: “I have always said you get what you organize for. And today you all organized for this big victory.”


Twitter has temporarily restricted Alex Jones’ Infowars account. Twitter took the action after finding that a video the conspiracy site shared had violated its terms of service. Infowars' account will be prevented from tweeting for seven days under the enforcement action. The move comes less than a day after Twitter temporarily limited Infowars proprietor Jones for a week after he tweeted a link to a video in which he called on his supporters to get their “battle rifles” ready.

That same Christian baker in Colorado is back in court — this time for turning away a transgender customer. Remember Jack Phillips? He’s the baker whose Supreme Court case gained national attention after he refused to sell a custom wedding cake to a gay couple. He’s back in federal court, this time because his shop refused to create a blue-and-pink cake for a transgender woman’s birthday. His lawyers say the cake’s design “would have celebrated messages contrary to his religious belief that sex — the status of being male or female — is given by God, is biologically determined, is not determined by perceptions or feelings, and cannot be chosen or changed.”

A former ICE agent is accused of sexually assaulting women. John Jacob Olivas was arrested on Wednesday on suspicion of sexually assaulting two women while he was an agent with US Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Olivas allegedly told both women that police wouldn't take action against him because of his position as a special agent with ICE's Homeland Security Investigations. On Wednesday, he was taken into custody and arraigned in a federal court.

A single mother was killed saving her children from an out-of-control car in a school parking lot. Kharisma James, 33, threw herself in front of the speeding car in an attempt to shield three children, including two of her own. The car was reportedly driven by a man who was disoriented and had apparently pressed the accelerator instead of the brakes. The elementary school has set up a GoFundMe campaign for James’ family.

A “potty-mouthed” parrot told a firefighter who tried to rescue her from a rooftop to “fuck off.” The macaw had escaped from her owner’s home and sat on a neighbor’s roof for three days. After the owner and an animal welfare group failed to get her down, they called the firefighters in because of concern she might be injured. She was not: Soon after she said “fuck off” to the firefighters, she flew to another roof. The very rude bird then “returned home of her own accord.”

Meet the people who spend their free time trying to fix Facebook

While Facebook drops the ball on addressing its problems, there’s a loose network of volunteers who spend their free time trying to pick up the slack.

We spoke to Kathy Kostrub-Waters and Bryan Denny, two people who estimate they've spent more than 5,000 hours over the past two years monitoring Facebook to report scammers who steal photos from US military members. The scammers create fake accounts using their identities and swindle unsuspecting people out of money.

Kostrub-Waters and Denny are themselves a part of a universe of people who have been pressed into service, spending their free time calling out scams, reporting bots and fake accounts, and flagging hate speech to Facebook’s community standards team.

You should read Craig Silverman’s report on those working for free to clean up the platform — while worrying they seem to know more about the problem than Facebook does.

These parents celebrated their kids leaving for college with a hilarious “empty nest” photo shoot

Parents can be so ~extra~.

Vicky Piper and her husband Jeff are, as of this month, officially empty-nesters. Last week, they dropped off their second child at college, and they are so proud.

The Pipers are also really excited about the next phase of life. After two decades of raising kids, they say they’re pumped about making new memories together.

So how did they celebrate this? In true 2018 fashion, with a photo shoot. And although it’s quite ~extra~, it’s also really cute: