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Wildfire smoke smothers West Coast, Tik Tok's new deal and another storm heads for the Gulf

California Gov. Gavin Newsom said the air quality in wildfire zones "is equivalent to smoking 20 packs of cigarettes."
A man stops on his bike along the Willamette River as smoke from wildfires partially obscures the Tilikum Crossing Bridge in Portland, Oregon, on Saturday.John Locher / AP

Good morning, NBC News readers.

Americans on the West Coast are grappling with dangerous air quality miles from the wildfires, Oracle appears to have won the Tik Tok contest and a 100-year-old postcard.

Here's what we're watching this Monday morning.

Dangerous smoke smothers Pacific Northwest

Wildfires in California, Oregon and Washington have created hazardous air conditions throughout the Western United States as smoke from the devastating blazes stretches for thousands of miles.

Air quality in major cities up and down the West Coast is severely suffering from the haze of dense smoke. Los Angeles is facing the worst smog it has seen in over 25 years, the Los Angeles Times reported.

In the San Francisco Bay Area, stores have sold out of air purifiers as residents seek refuge from the blazes, which have burned since August. The fires have charred over 3.2 million acres and destroyed about 4,000 structures in California, killing at least 22 people.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom said the air quality in wildfire zones "is equivalent to smoking 20 packs of cigarettes."

In Washington, Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee was blunt about what he believes is behind the devastating fires, saying they shouldn't be called wildfires, but "climate fires."

"This is not an act of God," Inslee said on Friday. "This has happened because we have changed the climate."

President Donald Trump is scheduled to visit California's Sacramento County and meet with officials about the fires later today.

Why celebs, corporations and Barack Obama want you to be a poll worker

Given the fact that America's poll workers are traditionally older — 56 percent are over 60 — and therefore more at risk of contracting COVID-19, election officials are already warning that there could be a serious shortage in their ranks this fall.

When election officials don’t have enough volunteers, polling sites shutter and lines get longer — disenfranchising voters who cannot travel farther or wait longer to vote.

So there's a big push for younger people to help fill-in the shortfall.

Promoting the cause on "The Daily Show" in July, host Trevor Noah said: “This is your chance to save Granny, protect your democracy and get paid."

Many are starting to heed the call.

"Since I'm still sort of young — at least in a less vulnerable group — I thought this is a way I can get out there and actually help, instead of feeling helpless," said John Taylor, a 36-year-old college professor in Greensboro, North Carolina. He said that he's been encouraging friends and co-workers to volunteer, as well.

Tik Tok reaches deal with Oracle, rejects Microsoft’s proposal

TikTok has reached an agreement to sell its U.S. operations to software giant Oracle in a landmark deal that could redefine how the U.S. and China square off over the reach of their homegrown technology companies.

The deal, confirmed Sunday by a source with direct knowledge, comes after the Trump administration pressured TikTok to sell its U.S. business over concerns about the threat to national security.

Microsoft had been considered a front-runner to buy the short-form video app company until this weekend.

TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, and Oracle still face several regulatory hurdles before they can complete a deal.

Pompeo is bringing back lavish 'Madison Dinners' mid-pandemic

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is quietly relaunching his extravagant, taxpayer-funded "Madison Dinners" during the coronavirus pandemic, even as Congress scrutinizes his use of government resources to entertain CEOs, big-dollar Republican donors and television anchors.

Pompeo's Madison Dinners, which an NBC News investigation revealed in May, had been on pause since March, when the country shut down because of the coronavirus.

But now they're back, with a dinner scheduled for Monday and at least three others on the calendar in September and October, two U.S. officials said.

Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, second from right, Atlanta Falcons CEO Steve Cannon, fourth from right, Fox Business anchor Maria Bartiromo, second from left, and their spouses join Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and other guests at a Madison Dinner at the State Department's Harry S. Truman Building on June 12, 2019.Obtained by NBC News

'Everyone up there got cancer': Arizona residents fight for compensation for nuclear tests

Danielle Stephens remembers watching orange flashes from atomic bombs detonated less than 150 miles from her Arizona home at a government test site during the Cold War.

Stephens, 81, counts dozens of relatives who have since been diagnosed with cancer. But despite a years-long battle, their part of Arizona is still left out of a federal compensation program.

"I just think it's a travesty, and the government should not be allowed to get away with it," said Stephens, who was diagnosed with colon cancer in July.

Danielle Stephens, 81, has been fighting for lower Mohave County residents to be recognized as "downwinders" for more than a decade.

Danielle Stephens, 81, has been fighting for lower Mohave County residents to be recognized as "downwinders" for more than a decade. Joe Buglewicz / for NBC News

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THINK about it

Trump's White House is racking up whistleblowers — and America's flying blind, former FBI Assistant Director Frank Figliuzzi writes in an opinion piece.


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One fun thing

A Michigan resident got a blast from the past last week.

Brittany Keech from Belding, Michigan, received a tattered postcard in the mail on Sept. 8 — and it was postmarked Oct. 29, 1920.

The 100-year-old letter, which arrived out of the blue, was addressed to a Roy McQueen and adorned with a sign of the times: a one-cent George Washington stamp.

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Thanks, Petra