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Today: Southern California’s Trial by Fire

As several fires burn in Southern California, the Santa Ana winds driving them aren’t expected to relent until Thursday.

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Southern California’s Trial by Fire

In Ventura, flames consumed dozens of stucco-and-tile homes along tidy streets and cul-de-sacs and destroyed at least 150 structures — a number that could sharply rise. In Sylmar and Lake View Terrace, one of the largest fires in modern Los Angeles history burned 30 homes. In the Santa Clarita Valley, a fire shut down Interstate 5. In the San Bernardino foothills, a wildfire threatened the Cal State campus and closed the 215 Freeway. Smaller fires broke out in Riverside and Ontario. Here is the latest.

The Facts Behind the Flames

California is susceptible to fires year-round, but fires that occur in autumn can be especially dangerous to life and property. Though Southern California has had a relatively quiet fire season until this week, the state has seen its deadliest year because of the fires in Northern California’s wine country in October. This graphic breaks down why the 2017 fire season has been one of the worst.

Deep Unease Over Hallowed Ground

Israelis consider Jerusalem their “eternal” capital. Palestinians haven’t accepted Israeli rule over the entire city for the last 50 years. Today, President Trump is expected to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and unveil a multiyear plan to move the U.S. Embassy there from Tel Aviv — something no other U.S. president has been willing to do. White House officials say it’s “a recognition of reality,” but Arab leaders warn it could cause more violence and instability in the Middle East.

After 53 Years in the House, Conyers Resigns

Rep. John Conyers Jr. of Michigan, the longest-serving member of the House of Representatives, has become the highest-profile political figure in the U.S. to be forced from office amid the sexual harassment allegations that have proliferated in recent weeks. The 88-year-old has denied any wrongdoing after several female employees accused him of harassment. A special election will chose his replacement.

More Politics

-- Donald Trump Jr. is scheduled to answer questions behind closed doors today with the House Intelligence Committee on his contacts with Russians and WikiLeaks.

-- Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is outlining more changes at national monuments, shrinking two and creating three new ones.

-- Senate Republicans are keeping their distance from Roy Moore, the party’s U.S. Senate candidate from Alabama, while Stephen K. Bannon attacked those in the GOP who are shunning him.

-- A Trump attorney asked a New York state judge to set aside a suit brought by a woman who claims Trump groped her a decade ago, saying it would interfere with his duties as chief executive.

Ditching School Leaves LAUSD in the Hole

How do you get students in the Los Angeles Unified School District to stop playing hooky and start showing up in class? For years, that question has vexed officials, who rely on attendance to receive state funding. Last year alone, absenteeism cost the district $20 million, according to one estimate. Now, a new advisory body is recommending a range of ideas, including volunteers canvassing neighborhoods where truancy is high and targeted mailers sent to parents of AWOL students.

MUST-WATCH VIDEO

-- Scenes from the Creek fire, where at least 11 homes were destroyed and two firefighters injured.

-- In the Thomas fire, Adam Maingot saved his parents’ Ventura home as surrounding houses burned.

-- An injured horse is rescued from the Creek fire.

CALIFORNIA

-- Between 2010 and 2016, crime in L.A. County rose by 5% even as overall crime in the rest of the state fell by the same rate, according to a report by the nonprofit Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice.

-- L.A. County leaders are moving to seize a large tract of land at the corner of Vermont and Manchester avenues in South Los Angeles that has long sat vacant.

-- Scientists say drought and bugs are killing off trees in the Santa Monica Mountains at a scale unprecedented in modern history.

-- Democratic labor activist Wendy Carrillo won a special election in Los Angeles to serve out the term of former Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez, who was elected to Congress.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

-- Teen Vogue editor Elaine Welteroth is shaking up expectations for a new generation of young women.

-- Dustin Hoffman and John Oliver squared off about sexual harassment during a panel discussion on the 20th anniversary of the film “Wag the Dog.”

-- When are feathers worth more than gold? The exhibition “Golden Kingdoms: Luxury and Legacy in the Ancient Americas” at the J. Paul Getty Museum provides the answers.

-- Young dancers from L.A. schools are making their way to the stage of the Music Center’s Dorothy Chandler Pavilion for “The Nutcracker.”

CLASSIC HOLLYWOOD

What’s the longest-running Christmas TV special? On this date in 1964, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” premiered, and the red nose hasn’t stopped shining since. Here’s how producer-director Arthur Rankin Jr. came up with the idea and his team made it happen.

NATION-WORLD

-- Immigration enforcement under Trump so far: Fewer people have been caught at the border, but more were arrested in the U.S. interior. And the head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement promised the agency will become even more aggressive next year.

-- Florida GOP leaders have decided that the secretary of a local Republican Party branch, who was convicted in a 2007 hammer attack on a high school classmate in L.A., can keep his position.

-- The Supreme Court gave a somewhat skeptical hearing to a Colorado baker’s claim that he had a free-speech right to refuse to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple.

-- Christine Keeler, the central figure in the sex-and-espionage Profumo scandal that rocked Cold War Britain, has died at 75.

-- A new study in the Netherlands suggests mammograms deserve little, if any, credit for a drop in breast cancer deaths.

BUSINESS

-- Could James Murdoch be in the running to succeed Robert Iger? That’s one of several scenarios, as talks between 21st Century Fox and Walt Disney Co. gain momentum.

-- A Senate committee has approved bipartisan legislation aimed at easing regulations on smaller banks and credit unions. It would also provide significant benefits for many large financial institutions.

SPORTS

-- Olympic leaders have banned Russia from the Winter Games in February amid evidence of systemic doping and cheating. Russian athletes who can prove they have competed cleanly will be allowed to participate under a neutral flag.

-- A look behind the practice of awarding huge buyouts to major college football coaches.

OPINION

-- While Southern California battles its wildfires, we must start preparing for our hotter, drier future.

-- Trump has taken the tried-and-true tactic of whataboutism to extremes of quantity and quality.

WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

-- How Harvey Weinstein used powerful relationships to provide him with cover amid sexual misconduct accusations. (New York Times)

-- Those political ads you’ve seen on Facebook? Some may have been scams and malware. (ProPublica)

-- “In the end, writing is like a prison, an island from which you will never be released but which is a kind of paradise”: an excerpt from “Don’t Save Anything: The Uncollected Essays, Articles, and Profiles of James Salter.” (Literary Hub)

ONLY IN L.A.

Not long after the Weinstein scandal broke, the Hollywood & Highland shopping mall received a complaint about an Art Deco-style daybed that’s part of an art installation called “The Road to Hollywood.” Some people mistook it for a casting couch, so the mall dragged away the sculpture and covered it with a blue tarp. Seven weeks later, the daybed’s back — though shunted slightly to the side by a Christmas tree.

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