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Today: Santa Barbara County Under Siege

Today: Santa Barbara County Under Siege
Fire crews in the Shepard Mesa neighborhood of Carpinteria, Calif. (Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)

Firefighters made progress against blazes in Los Angeles and San Diego counties, but in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties the situation is growing more dire.

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Santa Barbara County Under Siege

The Thomas fire that started in Ventura County one week ago has pushed into Santa Barbara County, forcing evacuations in the coastal communities of Carpinteria and Montecito. With at least 230,000 acres burned, the wildfire is among the five largest in modern California history, and has destroyed more than 750 buildings. Santa Ana winds and dry conditions have continued to bedevil crews battling the fire, which sent up a plume of smoke visible in downtown L.A. and beyond. When Gov. Jerry Brown surveyed the devastation, he expressed sympathy for the victims but also warned that, given climate change, this is "the new normal." Meanwhile, 3,000 miles away, Republicans in Congress are planning to limit taxpayers' ability to write off losses from wildfires and other disasters.

A cloud of smoke rises to the north of downtown Ventura, as seen Sunday afternoon from the Ventura Pier.
A cloud of smoke rises to the north of downtown Ventura, as seen Sunday afternoon from the Ventura Pier. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

Will Black Voters Turn the Tide in Alabama?

Under normal circumstances, Tuesday's election in Alabama for a U.S. Senate seat would be a slam dunk for a Republican, even one as polarizing as Roy Moore. (Listen to his comments about when America was great.) But Democratic candidate Doug Jones has a shot, as Moore continues to deny allegations of sexually abusing teenage girls when he was in his 30s. Moore enjoys President Trump's support but faces opposition from Alabama's senior Republican senator, and some in the GOP view the election as a lose-lose proposition. Could it come down to how many black voters participate on Tuesday?

More Politics

-- Trump's brief visit to a new civil rights museum in Mississippi drew protests.

-- Trump is again railing against the "Fake News Media," calling them a "stain on America."

-- Here's how the GOP's plans would affect the tax returns of a grad student, a single renter, married renters and middle-class homeowners.

Straight Into Compton

Last week, columnist Steve Lopez wrote about those who were leaving for Las Vegas in search of affordable housing they couldn't find in Los Angeles. This week, he looks at a market with reasonable prices much closer to home: Compton, Watts and South L.A. Though crime and schools can be a problem, more people are looking to move — or at least invest — there. Home values are rising, which raises the question of what happens "when even Compton becomes unaffordable."

The Hip-Hop Shot Heard 'Round the World

They billed themselves as the World's Most Dangerous Group, "speaking the truth" about life on the streets of, yes, Compton. Starting in the 1980s, N.W.A sold millions of records and outraged millions of people. "As unapologetically violent, misogynist, and problematic as their lyrics often were, the group's harrowing depictions of urban nightmares provided a vital response to the growing disenfranchisement," writes Times reporter Gerrick Kennedy in his new book "Parental Discretion Is Advised." This excerpt is the start of our series on hip-hop's rise to musical dominance.

Awards Season Enters the Golden Hour

In the pantheon of awards, the Golden Globes don't have the gravitas of the Oscars or the Emmys, but the nominations from 89 members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. are a sure sign that awards season has arrived. Starting at 5:15 a.m. Pacific today, there will be a number of story lines to watch, including which best picture contenders get the nod. Follow it all here.

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OUR MUST-READS FROM THE WEEKEND

-- The wildfires have scorched a hole through Southern California's mythology of paradise.

-- In more than 16 years of war, the U.S. has spent nearly $70 billion to build, train and equip the Afghan army and police; now it wants to nearly double the number of elite security forces.

-- Spread the swamp? The Trump administration has latched onto a long-talked-about idea to move government offices out of Washington.

-- The black-white drag divide: "White Famous," Chris Rock and Tyler Perry on saying yes to the dress.

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-- The Humane Society of Ventura County has taken in evacuated horses and other animals. The death toll for horses in the fires has been staggering.

-- Sex. Lies. Abuse. How these L.A. deputies landed on a secret 2014 list of problem officers.

-- Film critic Kenneth Turan's DVD picks: best of the holiday gift boxes.

CALIFORNIA

-- Assemblyman Matt Dababneh says he is resigning at the end of the month but strongly denies the allegation of sexual misconduct made by Sacramento lobbyist Pamela Lopez. Meanwhile, a lawyer for Lopez wants the state Assembly to detail how its investigation will be conducted.

-- The Weingart Center, operator of a large shelter on L.A.'s skid row, is planning an 18-story, $138-million apartment tower with 278 units of affordable housing, most for the chronically homeless.

-- The pharmaceutical industry is challenging California's landmark law to require new disclosure of prescription drug prices in federal court, accusing the state of trying to "dictate" national policy.

-- Palestinian rights groups rallied in L.A. against President Trump's announcement that the U.S. recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

-- Queens of the Stone Age frontman Josh Homme was caught on video kicking a female photographer in the face at KROQ's annual holiday concert in Inglewood.

-- The stars of "I, Tonya" discuss the film that transforms Tonya Harding from a media-made villain into someone far more human, fragile and tragic.

-- After two decades away from the world of stand-up comedy, writer-director-producer Judd Apatow is fulfilling his dream of having his own stand-up special with Netflix's "The Return."

-- Ahead of its Dec. 15 release, "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" had its world premiere over the weekend, and the Twitterverse was pleased.

CLASSIC HOLLYWOOD

Rita Moreno is one of the few performers to be an EGOT — that is, she's won an Emmy (two of them), a Grammy, a Tony and an Oscar. Born Rose Dolores Alverin on this date in 1931, she was 5 when she and her mother moved from Puerto Rico to New York. By age 13, she'd made her Broadway debut.

NATION-WORLD

-- What would the late Justice Antonin Scalia have said about the case of the Christian baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex marriage?

-- The acquittal of an Arizona police officer of second-degree murder has sparked a furious debate. A video shows how an unarmed man crouched and cried in fear before the officer shot him five times.

-- The mostly Christian city of Cagayan de Oro in the Philippines has laid out the welcome mat for Muslim evacuees who fled nearby fighting.

-- In a rare court challenge to its ban on abortions for unwanted pregnancies, Brazil is grappling with its own version of Roe vs. Wade.

BUSINESS

-- A prominent agent at Creative Artists Agency is facing accusations that he offered an actor sex in exchange for access to directors and a movie star when he worked for another firm in 2013.

-- Depending on what happens with the GOP tax plan, we could see a rush of businesses converting to corporate status.

SPORTS

-- Shohei Ohtani, one of the most-wooed prospects in Major League Baseball history, chose to sign with the Angels, and some fans are ecstatic about that. But where does that leave the Dodgers?

-- The Chargers are above .500 for the first time this season after defeating Washington, while the Rams came up short on the NFL's biggest stage this weekend against Philadelphia.

OPINION

-- The campaign to delegitimize special counsel Robert S. Mueller III's investigation into Russian election interference is well underway.

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-- The pundits were wrong about not being able to topple Islamic State without removing Syrian President Bashar Assad.

WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

-- The scathing resignation letter of a U.S. diplomat who was once considered a rising star offers a peek into the State Department's falling morale. (Foreign Policy)

-- A veteran black police officer who teaches marksmanship also instructs those on the force in Atlanta how not to kill. (The Undefeated)

-- Ah, the smell of it: An English artist is making maps of cities based on scents. (Atlas Obscura)

ONLY IN CALIFORNIA

Most high school football leagues pick all-league teams with 11 players on offense and 11 on defense, plus a handful in the honorable mention category. The Delta League in Sacramento selected 122 players as first, second team or honorable mention. Did they get "participation trophies," or were they all just really good?

If you like this newsletter, please share it with friends.Comments or ideas? Email us at headlines@latimes.com.

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