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Morning Update: Hey, So, Bigfoot Erotica Just Made Its Political Debut

Battling the California wildfires, a deadly trek through a dangerous desert, and Beyoncé takes over Vogue. Your BuzzFeed News newsletter, July 31.

Posted on July 31, 2018, at 7:50 a.m. ET

Through the fire, with grace

The Carr fire continues to rage in Northern California, destroying thousands of acres and hundreds of structures. It has already claimed six lives, and displaced tens of thousands. It’s nowhere near contained.

In the midst of the chaos and tragedy, there are the extraordinary people there to help. Today, I’m beginning this newsletter with them.

First, there are the 40 employees at Dignity Health Hospital in Redding whose homes were lost in the fire. They still showed up to work anyway.

Despite losing everything, doctors and nurses have continued to punch in, sleep on floors, and tend to about 145 patients, many of whom “are really sick” and require more acute care and attention, according to the hospital’s spokesperson.

One nurse, Michele Woods, told us, “Those who are coming in are very sick and we have to take care of them.” She said: “The hospital is really resilient. We’re a family. What we are doing for our patients we are doing for each other. It’s a community of caring right now.”

This is extraordinary on its own, but it defies words when you consider the fact that, hours after evacuating, Woods learned that she had lost her home in Old Shasta, a historic mining town where she has lived for 12 years. Her daughter, son-in-law, and grandson were left homeless by the fire, and they’re all crammed into one small hotel room.

Closer to the fire, literally speaking, are the people charged with fighting the blazes. As California’s wildfire seasons get longer and more devastating, firefighters are adjusting to a new and “frightening” normal. Of the roughly 12,000 firefighters working across the state, about 3,400 have converged on the Carr fire. We spoke to them about what it’s like to battle the flames. “It beats you up and scars you,” one said.

Marcio Jose Sanchez

Giuliani backed off Trump’s repeated denials that he asked Comey to go easy on Flynn

First, the background: In a memo detailing an Oval Office encounter, then-FBI director James Comey said that President Donald Trump asked him to cut short any investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

How did Comey describe the encounter? This is what Comey wrote: “He said, ‘I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.’” It’s not exactly vague language.

What does Trump say? The president has repeatedly denied that he made the request.

Okay, so what’s happened now? The president’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani was on Fox & Friends and said of Trump’s comments to Comey about Flynn, “He asked him to exercise his prosecutorial discretion because he was a good man with a great war record.” He specifically added, “He had a right to say to Comey, ‘Give Flynn a break.’”

So…did the president make the comment? After the interview, Giuliani told us that he’s not backing off Trump’s claims. He said: “I said that is what Comey is saying. The president has denied it. I can’t admit it for the president if he’s denied it. Numerous times, I’ve said the president denied it.”

Welp.

SNAPSHOTS

A politician has accused her opponent of liking Bigfoot erotica, because that’s what 2018 has come to. Leslie Cockburn, a Democrat running in Virginia, shared a tweet with a screenshot supposedly taken from her Republican opponent's Instagram. It showed Bigfoot with his private parts censored by a very long black box. She accused Denver Riggleman of “campaigning with a white supremacist” and being a “Bigfoot erotica devotee.” It seems that Riggleman's Facebook page had until recently recognized him as the author of a self-published book titled — I kid you not — The Mating Habits of Bigfoot and Why Women Want Him. When reached for comment, Bigfoot said he would like to be excluded from this narrative.

The cast of Guardians of the Galaxy is rallying to reinstate James Gunn as the next film’s director. Gunn was fired from the upcoming third installment in the series because of old tweets that made light of pedophilia. The director said his tweets were “totally failed and unfortunate efforts to be provocative.” Now, Gunn is getting major support from Guardians stars, including Chris Pratt and Zoe Saldana. In a letter directed at friends and fans, the cast members said they were “shocked” by Gunn's dismissal and made it clear that they “intentionally waited these ten days to respond in order to think, pray, listen, and discuss.”

A pediatrician has been charged with sexually abusing 29 children. Dr. Johnnie Barto, 70, is accused of sexually assaulting his patients, many of whom were between the ages of 8 and 12. The charges reveal an alleged pattern of abuse by the Johnstown, Pennsylvania, pediatrician dating back to the 1980s and continuing until as recently as January this year. He is currently in jail related to previous assaults and his medical license was suspended in January. If convicted of all charges, Barto could spend the rest of his life in jail, prosecutors said.

A drug cartel put a 200-million-peso bounty on a police dog because she is doing such a good job. The bounty — equal to roughly $70,000 — is on a 6-year-old German shepherd named Sombra who works as a drug-sniffing dog, according to Colombian police. Sombra has apparently sniffed out more than 2,000 kilos of cocaine hidden in suitcases, boats, and large shipments of fruit. She has also helped with the capture of at least 245 criminals. A police spokesperson said, “The fact they want to hurt Sombra and offer such a high reward for her capture or death shows the impact she’s had on their profits.”

Beyoncé will reportedly have an unprecedented amount of control over an upcoming issue of Vogue. First of all, this is the September issue — it doesn’t get bigger than that at Vogue. According to reports, editor-in-chief Anna Wintour will hand over the reins to Bey for the most visible section of the magazine. She reportedly got to choose her own photographer — 23-year-old Tyler Mitchell — who would become the first black photographer to snap the cover shot in the 126-year history of Vogue.

The “zero tolerance” policy is driving immigrants into the dangerous desert

The Sonoran Desert sun is unforgiving. It’s so dangerous that every year hundreds of bodies are found there. Now activists say they expect that number to rise after the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” border crossing policy came into effect.

The area around Caborca was once a way station for immigrants working their way toward border crossings in Mexicali and Tijuana, with only a relative few opting to try their luck in crossing through the tough desert. Now, the tiny cartel stronghold has become a major jumping-off point for people desperate enough to brave the dangers.

Activists say Border Patrol crackdowns have made crossing at safer parts of the border or asking for asylum at official ports of entry nearly impossible.

They worry the numbers of people heading to the desert will continue to increase, putting thousands in extreme danger.

Three people were caught on video smuggling a shark out of an aquarium in a baby stroller

I mean...what?

Anyway, that bizarre headline ends in good news: After a two-day search and rescue mission, the horn shark has been located — alive! The owner of the San Antonio Aquarium said police had obtained a confession from one of the suspects. He said the suspects did not say why they stole the shark.

The surveillance video of a man reaching into the tank and pulling the creature out is bonkers. I’m glad the shark is safe.

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