Newsletter: 'Something very, very special' in Syria

October 24, 2019 0 By JohnValbyNation

Here are the stories you shouldn’t miss today:

TOP STORIES

‘Something Very, Very Special’ in Syria

President Trump has ordered an end to economic sanctions against Turkey that were imposed just over a week ago after that country’s invasion of Syria.

With that, Trump declared his moves in the region to be a success — “something very, very special” — despite widespread criticism from fellow Republicans and foreign policy experts that the U.S. withdrawal from the region has been a victory for Turkey and Russia.

“Let someone else fight over this long-bloodstained sand,” Trump said of that heavily populated part of the Euphrates River valley. Trump added that a small number of U.S. troops would remain in Syria to secure oil fields.

Storming the SCIF

It was a made-for-TV (and social media) moment: About two dozen Republican members of Congress stormed a secure hearing room — known as a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility, or SCIF — in the U.S. Capitol basement. Those who walked in not only delayed the deposition of Defense Department official Laura Cooper but also entered with cellphones and appeared to tweet from the room, a violation of security protocols.

The uninvited legislators’ complaint? That the depositions being held in the facility as part of the Democratic-led impeachment inquiry are secretive and partisan.

But the reality inside the closed-door hearings is more complex: Forty-seven Republican lawmakers from three House committees have been allowed to attend and participate in all of the depositions so far, though their role is constrained by the Democratic majority.

More Politics

Career diplomats who are reviled by Trump are providing the evidence that could be used to impeach him.

— Rep. Katie Hill, a Democrat from Santa Clarita, is under investigation by the House Ethics Committee after allegations that she engaged in an affair with a congressional aide were made public last week.

— Three judges on a federal appeals panel appeared inclined to reject arguments that Trump’s tax returns can’t be given to a state grand jury, with Trump’s lawyers suggesting that local authorities should even let the president get away with shooting someone.

Today’s Fire Lesson: Be Prepared

Large swaths of California once again will be without power today amid concerns that hot weather and strong winds could lead to wildfires. (See the maps for PG&E and Southern California Edison customers.) Overnight Wednesday, a rapidly spreading wildfire driven by strong winds exploded in Sonoma County, prompting evacuation orders for some residents.

Should the worst happen, a new report on last year’s Woolsey fire has this advice: Take responsibility for your own preparedness and safety. (Here’s one way to start.)

The report details how the most destructive fire in L.A. County and Ventura County history overwhelmed the region’s emergency response institutions. A Times investigation in January found that the first critical hours of the firefighting were hampered by communication breakdowns and a lack of air tanker support, equipment and firefighters.

A Curious Case

Last year, a retired Los Angeles County sheriff’s homicide detective was temporarily banned from the jails after posing as a deputy and bringing contraband for an inmate, according to county records and interviews. This year, Mark Lillienfeld was rehired by Sheriff Alex Villanueva to investigate public corruption. What’s going on here? Read on — and watch the video.

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FROM THE ARCHIVES

He played in six World Series and six All-Star games. He stole 197 bases. He played every infield and outfield position. His career average was .311. And as the first African American major league baseball player in the modern era, Jackie Robinson endured threats on his life.

On this date in 1972, Robinson, 53, “succumbed of a heart attack in the 25th year since his debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers shattered baseball’s color barrier,” as The Times’ obituary noted.

Read more about “the grandson of a slave, a man who emerged from a small house on Pepper Street in Pasadena to become one of the nation’s greatest athletes and a symbol of hope for Black America.”

CALIFORNIA

— In a move that is raising questions about the future of Yosemite National Park, the National Park Service has announced that it is reassigning park Supt. Mike Reynolds, a 34-year park service veteran who grew up in Yosemite.

Jane Buckingham, a Beverly Hills marketing executive who wrote a book on parenting before she was arrested and charged with conspiring to rig her son’s ACT exam, has been sentenced to three weeks in prison.

— After The Times reported last week that nearly 300 drinking water wells and other water sources in California had been contaminated with toxic chemicals linked to cancer, readers have been looking for answers. Here’s a look at what you can and can’t do at home.

— Actress Rose McGowan has filed a lawsuit against Harvey Weinstein and his team of high-powered lawyers and covert investigators, accusing them of carrying out a plot to discredit and silence her.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

— Film critic Justin Chang calls “Terminator: Dark Fate” the best “Terminator” sequel in more than 20 years.

— After finally breaking her silence on a songwriting dispute surrounding her summer smash “Truth Hurts,” Lizzo has filed a lawsuit against the Raisen brothers, the L.A.-based songwriters who claim they deserve credit on the track.

— HBO Max is reviving Cartoon Network’s “Adventure Time” with new specials that will head back to the Land of Ooo.

NATION-WORLD

— The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has linked vaping to 1,479 cases of a mysterious lung disease over the last six months. At least 33 people have died since the outbreak began. The recent deaths are tragic, but research shows that the toll of vaping — with or without THC — will be far worse over the long term.

— In Chile, protests over social injustices and curfews have spread to most of the country, resulting in at least 18 deaths and an unprecedented state of emergency.

— British Prime Minister Boris Johnson appears to be pushing for an early general election after Parliament blocked a fast-track plan to approve his Brexit deal before Britain’s scheduled departure from the European Union on Oct. 31.

— A century after gray wolves were all but eradicated from Washington state, it is trying to encourage the return of the predators. But it’s also killing them.

BUSINESS

— Facebook Inc. Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg struggled to convince Congress of the merits of the company’s plans for a cryptocurrency in light of all the other challenges the company has failed to solve.

— For the first time ever, a quantum computer has performed a computational task that would be essentially impossible for a conventional computer to complete, according to a team from Google.

WeWork is planning to cut as many as 4,000 jobs as part of an aggressive turnaround plan put in place by Japan’s SoftBank after it took control of the co-working business this week.

SPORTS

— The Galaxy and LAFC will meet in tonight’s much-anticipated MLS Western Conference semifinal at Banc of California Stadium. It could come down to stars Zlatan Ibrahimovic versus Carlos Vela. (And while you’re at it, sign up for our weekly soccer newsletter.)

— The Washington Nationals have taken a commanding 2-0 lead in the World Series with a 12-3 win over the Houston Astros.

OPINION

— Faced with the most damning impeachment testimony yet, Republicans have gone into full clown mode, writes Jon Healey, our deputy editorial page editor.

— Why American poultry — and Trump — have loomed large in the Brexit debate.

WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

— Rare visits to two prisons for former residents of Islamic State-held territory in northeastern Syria, including many children, show a growing legal and humanitarian crisis. (New York Times)

— A funeral for a melted glacier in Iceland suggests new ways to think about climate change. (The New Yorker)

ONLY IN L.A.

Tomy’s Hamburgers. Tom’s Number 5 Chiliburgers. Tam’s Burgers. Tommy’s Famous Drive-Thru. Thomas Hamburgers. Tom’s #1 World Famous Chiliburgers. Tomboy’s Famous Chili Hamburgers. Tom’s Jr. Famous Chili Burgers. Tom’s Original Super Burger. Tommy’s Charbroiled Hamburgers. Tommy’s Burgers. All of them are Los Angeles area fast-food spots that sell chili burgers. And none of them is Original Tommy’s World Famous Hamburgers. According to an analysis by The Times, there are 67 restaurants in and around Los Angeles County that appear to be Tommy’s knockoffs.

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