Newsletter: Today: A Flawed Policy for Police. A Scandal at Yosemite.
I’m Davan Maharaj, editor-in-chief of the Los Angeles Times. Here are some story lines I don’t want you to miss today.
El Cajon in a Box
Without guidelines on the release of police-shooting videos, San Diego law enforcement authorities crafted a policy last month designed to balance transparency with the needs of investigators. Their work encouraged other jurisdictions to write their own procedures. But after the El Cajon Police Department released a single still image from the video shot by a witness to the police shooting of Alfred Olango, an African American man, that policy — and its authors — are facing criticism. “The public has the right to view the full video, not just the El Cajon Police Department’s spin,” said the president of the American Civil Liberties Union.
David Duke to the Donald: Thanks for the Support
The white robes are gone and the rhetoric is softer, but former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, David Duke, is undeterred in his attempt to win Louisiana’s U.S. Senate seat. “The fact that Donald Trump’s doing so well, it proves that I am winning,” says Duke, crediting the GOP presidential nominee for re-energizing white supremacist groups and drawing them into the mainstream.
-- As the presidential race tightens, Hillary Clinton’s campaign is trying to stop voters, particularly millennials, from supporting third-party candidates.
-- Even though most of Donald Trump’s GOP rivals now support his candidacy, nearly 95% of their financial backers are sitting on their wallets, according to a Times analysis.
In Yosemite, the Fall of El Capitan
After 20 park employees described Yosemite National Park to Congress “as a hostile work environment,” superintendent Don Neubacher has decided to resign. According to one park ranger, who listed multiple incidents of alleged gender bias in her 32 years of federal service, “dozens of people, the majority of them are women, are being bullied, belittled, disenfranchised and marginalized.” Other reports of misconduct and mismanagement have focused on Grand Canyon National Park and Canaveral National Seashore.
‘An Explosion of Concrete Dust and Electrical Wires’
With one commuter killed and more than 100 injured, federal investigators are combing through wreckage in Hoboken, N.J., to try to determine why a speeding train plowed into a transit terminal, going airborne and taking out the ceiling. “It was for a couple of seconds,” said one passenger, “but it felt like an eternity.”
Seems It Never Rains in Southern California … and Iran
Farming was never easy in Iran, where rainfall can average less than 8-inches a year, but a prolonged drought, not unlike California’s, has been made worse by environmental mismanagement, water overuse and population growth. Farmers are trying to adapt, but desperation has spread across the farm belt. Sons have abandoned villages for the city. The elderly and infirm forego medical care for lack of money. Crops are abandoned. The dusty earth, which once supported watermelons and gardens, now crunches underfoot like biscuits.
-- Barney’s Beanery, once reviled for an anti-gay sign (“Fagots [sic] Stay Out”) that hung behind the bar, is being championed by West Hollywood residents fighting a five-story hotel planned for the site.
-- In the race for the California senate, Loretta Sanchez’s campaign calls Kamala Harris a “political establishment insider” as the front-runner has received more than $560,000 from the state Democratic party.
-- With the opening of a $148.5-million passenger facility at LAX, travelers can move more easily between the domestic and international terminals.
-- Chapman University in Orange, now ranked sixth among Western regional universities, inaugurates its 13th president, mountain climber and mathematician Daniele Struppa.
-- Reversing a downward trend, hate crimes were up 24% in Los Angeles County between 2014 and 2015.
-- Robin Abcarian: Scenes from a cannabis conference on the Queen Mary.
HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS
-- Mark Wahlberg stars in “Deepwater Horizon,” a ripped from the headlines “but largely shorn of context” account of the drilling rig disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. The film is “a sobering memorial to the fallen and a harrowing chronicle of survival,” says critic Justin Chang.
-- By naming his film about the Nat Turner slave rebellion “Birth of a Nation,” director Nate Parker evokes the complicated, often ugly legacy of D.W. Griffith’s 1915 groundbreaking movie.
-- Perhaps it was her introduction as a child to David Lynch’s “Eraserhead.” Or the gumption that took her into journalism instead of college. Jane Goldman is “definitely a peculiar person,” says director Tim Burton, who filmed her adaptation of Ransom Riggs’ “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.”
-- So what was it about the two rookie filmmakers whom Amanda Knox entrusted with her story for Netflix?
-- Less than a day after delivering their first veto override of President Obama, Congress is having second thoughts about passing a bill that allows 9/11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia. “There may be some work to be done,” said Speaker Paul Ryan.
-- It’s hardly an anniversary worth commemorating, but one year ago, Russian planes started dropping bombs on Syria. The real question is how long the country’s bogged-down campaign will continue.
-- Colombians are expected to endorse the landmark peace agreement between their government and the guerrilla group known as FARC. But some citizens complain that the deal gives the rebels a pass for the crimes they committed over decades of war.
-- Would-be entrepreneurs in Jordan are pitching ideas to a representative of the United Nations Development Program during a conference reminiscent of the reality television show, “Shark Tank.”
-- International wildlife trade experts single out Vietnam as the biggest hub in the world for trafficking in horns and other body parts of the endangered rhinoceros.
-- The Supreme Court agrees to hear arguments in a free-speech case that asks whether offensive names such as “Redskins” (for the Washington football team) and “Slants” (for the Portland-based Asian-American rock band) can be trademarked.
-- Wells Fargo Chairman and Chief Executive John Stumpf faced another round of attacks from lawmakers in Washington, some of whom argue that the bank should be charged under the RICO Act.
-- Rams defensive end Robert Quinn has played a major role in the team’s 2-1 record this season. Little would anyone suspect that the pass rusher has a benign tumor lodged in his head. “He’s a freak of nature,” says teammate Cam Thomas with admiration.
-- If the Rams are looking for a case study in re-branding — and winning over any reluctant fans — they should look no farther than the Cardinals, who for years got no respect in Arizona.
-- The death of Shimon Peres is a reminder that the Israel’s last living founder was a Jeffersonian at heart, believing that national aspirations can benefit the world.
-- Americans own about 90 million pet cats and don’t know how to take care of them. It’s time to start treating cats like dogs for their sake and ours.
WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING
-- Astronomers reconsider how they might explore Europa after seeing plumes erupt from the surface of this icy moon. (Scientific American)
-- Esteemed presidential biographer, Robert Caro speaks of his art as poetry in search of the truth, “whatever truth there is.” (Paris Review)
-- Few American heroes have fallen from grace as quickly as Tiger Woods, and it all began with the death of his father. (ESPN)
ONLY IN CALIFORNIA
If whiskey is for drinking and water is for fighting over, five years of drought have transformed California’s civil courts into well-worn boxing rings. The latest bout is taking place in Santa Barbara, where a local water district is suing television producer Dick Wolf. The creator of “Law & Order” wants to tap into the aquifer beneath his 780-acre ranch and sell the proceeds to local municipalities. The trial should conclude next week. Doink-doink.
Please send comments and ideas to Davan Maharaj.