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Newsletter: Today: Afghanistan Is Now Trump’s War

U.S. soldiers load cargo at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan. President Trump is expected to authorize about 4,000 more troops for counter-terrorism missions in Afghanistan.
U.S. soldiers load cargo at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan. President Trump is expected to authorize about 4,000 more troops for counter-terrorism missions in Afghanistan.
(Sgt. 1st Class Shelia Cooper / U.S. Army)

President Trump is back in Washington, looking to unveil his administration’s strategy in Afghanistan and South Asia as he faces isolation at home. 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.

TOP STORIES

Afghanistan Is Now Trump’s War

President Trump’s 17-day “working vacation” is over — noted in a “Fake News”-bashing tweet as he headed back to D.C. — still with the support of his hard-core backers but increasingly isolated after his comments on neo-Nazi demonstrators in Charlottesville, Va. Tonight, after months of bitter internal debate, Trump will unveil his administration’s military strategy in Afghanistan in an address. The president is expected to authorize about 4,000 more U.S. troops for counter-terrorism missions, as well as U.S. advisors to work closer to the front lines in America’s longest war. Last year, President Obama decided to withdraw 1,400 troops, but the security situation has worsened.

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More Politics

-- Billionaire conservative Charles Koch’s network of advocacy groups has played a surprising role in the White House agenda, and after the exit of Stephen K. Bannon, its influence is likely to grow.

-- Graphic: How Bannon became the face of a political movement with roots in Los Angeles.

-- In January, President Trump vowed to hire 5,000 new Border Patrol agents. It never happened.

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-- Has the Trump presidency permanently changed how the media cover the executive branch?

Editorial: Enough Is Enough

“These are not normal times. The man in the White House is reckless and unmanageable, a danger to the Constitution, a threat to our democratic institutions.” So begins The Times Editorial Board’s latest piece on President Trump. “Leaders across America — and especially those in the president’s own party — must summon their reserves of political courage to challenge President Trump publicly, loudly and unambiguously.”

More Potential Fallout From the USC Med School Dean Scandal

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Six months after Dr. Carmen Puliafito stepped down as dean of USC’s medical school, he was called by the university to give sworn testimony as a witness in a lawsuit with hundreds of millions of dollars at stake — a legal battle with the University of California over the defection of a star UC Alzheimer’s disease researcher to USC. In the aftermath of a Times investigation that revealed Puliafito partied and used drugs with a circle of criminals and addicts while serving as dean, his role in the case is complicated.

When Patients Talk About Death, It Can Make Life Better

Last year, California became the fifth state to allow people with terminal illnesses to request pills from their doctors to end their lives. Now, physicians are reporting that the law has become a conversation-starter that has led to patients opening up about how they’re feeling and what defines their quality of life. Some doctors say that, in turn, has led to better medical care for the sick. “Not everyone who’s talking about this is saying, ‘I want this medication.’ They’re saying, ‘I’m suffering’ or ‘I’m worried about suffering,’ ” says one psychologist.

78 Degrees With a 100% Chance of Eclipse

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The Great American Eclipse is today, and while a swath of the nation will get to see totality, if you’re in Los Angeles, you’ll only be able to see a partial eclipse — if the weather cooperates. Above Southern California, the moon will start to edge into the sun just after 9 a.m. Pacific time, and the maximum eclipse will happen at 10:21 a.m. Here are some tips for where to watch locally and how to prepare, especially when it comes to protecting your eyes.

A Farewell to Two Kings of Comedy

They were pioneers of American comedy who did more than make people laugh: Jerry Lewis, the “hey laaady!”-shouting comic and Hollywood rules-breaker, who hosted a Labor Day telethon for more than four decades to raise money for the Muscular Dystrophy Assn.; and Dick Gregory, the first black stand-up comic to break the color barrier in major nightclubs, who fought for civil rights and other social justice issues. Lewis, 91, and Gregory, 84, died over the weekend, each leaving his own complex legacy.

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The Mystery of a Lost American Aviator in China

It’s a tale that’s been told and retold for decades in southwestern China: During World War II, an American aviator was said to have crash-landed in a remote area, only to be taken as a slave by villagers. But is there any truth to it? Times foreign correspondent Jonathan Kaiman went on a years-long quest to find out.

OUR MUST-READS FROM THE WEEKEND

-- After her life in L.A. unraveled, a woman living in her car hopes to regain health and employment.

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-- A black mayor who leads the former capital of the Confederacy sees both sides of the monument debate.

-- An Orange County mass shooter has been spared the death penalty in a case tainted by the county’s jail informant scandal.

-- Nostalgia TV is back: How Hulu and Netflix are breathing new life into old TV shows.

MUST-WATCH VIDEO

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-- A cannabis company bought the entire Mojave Desert town of Nipton, Calif., population 6, last year for $5 million. Can it become a pot-friendly tourist spot?

-- How the creators of “Hamilton” made “then” feel like “now” with casting, choreography and banning the bonnet.

-- “My mom is my muse”: Fashion designer Louis Verdad embraces power in women.

CALIFORNIA

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-- Large numbers of counter-protesters showed up at an anti-illegal immigration rally in Laguna Beach on Sunday that was tense but largely peaceful.

-- The LAPD says paintball attacks in South Los Angeles have nearly tripled in the last year.

-- A female teacher at the elite Brentwood School has been arrested on suspicion of having sex with an underage student, authorities said.

-- Speaking at the Islamic Center of Southern California, the Rev. Jesse Jackson called for the electoral college to be abolished and for Confederate monuments to be removed.

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HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

-- With his home country of Venezuela in crisis, L.A. Phil’s Dudamel finds himself pulled in deeper.

-- Times art critic Christopher Knight says Confederate monuments should be put in museums as examples of ugly history, not left to stand in parks as points of civic pride.

-- Don’t have a ticket to “Hamilton” in L.A. yet? It’s going to cost you. Secondhand tickets are selling for $467 to $510 a pop, on average.

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CLASSIC HOLLYWOOD

On this date in 1904, William Basie was born. The nickname “Count” didn’t come until a few decades later, when a radio announcer decided the bandleader deserved a moniker along the lines of “Duke” Ellington and Benny “The King of Swing” Goodman. Basie didn’t exactly love the name: “I wanted to be called ‘Buck’ or ‘Hoot’ or even ‘Arkansas Fats.’ ”

NATION-WORLD

-- The U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer John S. McCain collided with a tanker east of Singapore and the Strait of Malacca. At least 10 sailors were missing.

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-- Federal prosecutors say the brother of a leader of the powerful Sinaloa cartel was indicted on drug smuggling charges after being arrested at the border in Nogales, Ariz.

-- A team has found the wreckage of the Indianapolis, a Navy cruiser that was torpedoed during the final days of World War II in one of the worst disasters in U.S. naval history.

-- Prosecutors tell of a shocking crime in Chicago, and the suspects have ties to leading universities.

BUSINESS

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-- Will tech companies bow to the S&P’s new Snap-inspired rules? Probably not.

-- Trade officials from the U.S., Canada and Mexico have outlined an aggressive schedule for future meetings on the North American Free Trade Agreement.

SPORTS

-- Columnist Bill Plaschke says compact, cozy StubHub Center could be just the ticket for a unique fan experience and a Chargers rebirth.

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-- The heights Conor McGregor has reached inside the UFC octagon are rooted in a sober, analytic and sometimes even dark private place.

OPINION

-- Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Assemblywoman Laura Friedman write that a scheme to pump desert water to L.A. could destroy the Mojave.

-- Why Los Angeles is still a segregated city after all these years.

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WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

-- Carl Icahn resigned as an advisor to Trump just as this article about Icahn’s conflicts came out. (The New Yorker)

-- An in-depth timeline about Russia and Trump. (Bill Moyers)

-- A journalist’s search for the identity of Jihadi John. (Longreads)

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ONLY IN CALIFORNIA

The California Legislature has 40 members in the Senate and 80 in the Assembly, numbers that have remained unchanged since 1879. Of course, the state has grown in population and economic might in the last 138 years, and some have called for the number of representatives in Sacramento to grow. How much? One Republican candidate for governor would like to see 12,000 state legislators.

Please send comments and ideas to Davan Maharaj.

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