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Newsletter: Today: Trump’s Marching Orders in Afghanistan

Donald Trump
President Trump speaks at Ft. Myer in Arlington Va., about U.S. strategy in Afghanistan.
(Carolyn Kaster / Associated Press)

President Trump has shifted to a more traditional foreign policy for the conflict in Afghanistan, giving the green light to send additional troops but offering no “blank check.” Here are the stories you shouldn’t miss today:

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Trump’s Marching Orders in Afghanistan

The nearly 17-year conflict in Afghanistan is America’s longest war, one that Donald Trump, as a citizen, had long criticized. Now that he’s president, Trump said in a televised address last night, that view has changed. The commander in chief wouldn’t provide troop levels or timetables for the open-ended military commitment he’s approved, but his advisors are seeking 4,000 more troops, a 50% increase, and increased counter-terrorism operations. “We are not nation-building again,” he said. “We are killing terrorists.” Reaction among members of Congress was swift: Republican defense and deficit hawks were divided, while many Democrats resisted what they see as a never-ending conflict.

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More Politics

-- Trump will hold a campaign-style rally in Arizona tonight. The state’s junior senator, a vocal Republican critic of the president, says he isn’t worried about blowback.

-- House Speaker Paul D. Ryan said Trump “messed up” in responding to the neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, Va.

-- An attempt to oust Chad Mayes as Republican leader in the California Assembly fell short, but another vote is scheduled next week. At issue: his support of a key climate law.

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The U.S. Navy Wants Answers

The U.S. Navy, the world’s largest and most powerful armada, pressed pause to review safety after 10 sailors went missing and five were injured in a collision between the guided-missile destroyer John S. McCain and an oil tanker. (Remains of the missing sailors were found Tuesday.) The accident involving the McCain, named after the Arizona senator’s father and grandfather, was the fourth for a warship in the Navy’s 7th Fleet this year. Given the level of training and equipment aboard, the key question is why.

Watching You Watching the Eclipse

Outside the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, the band stopped playing and the cicadas started chirruping. At the Little League World Series in South Williamsport, Pa., fans caught a glimpse as the game went on. At the White House, President Trump looked up with protective glasses — and briefly without. The Great American Eclipse has come and gone, but millions will always have the memories and the videos. Jay Pasachoff, the world’s premier expert on total eclipses, will also have the data, from more than a dozen experiments conducted for 1 minute and 56 seconds of totality in Salem, Ore. The next total eclipse in the U.S.? April 8, 2024, across Texas, the Midwest and East Coast.

The various stages of Monday’s solar eclipse are captured in a multiple-exposure image from Salem, O
The various stages of Monday's solar eclipse are captured in a multiple-exposure image from Salem, Ore.
(Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)

Dudamel Reluctantly Picks Up the Political Baton

For years, Los Angeles Philharmonic music director Gustavo Dudamel attempted to remain above politics, even as conditions in his home country of Venezuela worsened. But this year has been different, and the man who prefers to let the music talk has spoken out. He’s drawn the ire of President Nicolás Maduro, who canceled a Venezuelan children’s orchestra tour that Dudamel had hoped to bring to the U.S. As classical music critic Mark Swed explains, it was a strike at something close to Dudamel’s heart.

Change at the Los Angeles Times

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At a time of dramatic change in the publishing industry, the Los Angeles Times is facing some of its own. Ross Levinsohn, an executive who worked at Fox and served as interim chief of Yahoo, has been named publisher and chief executive; Jim Kirk, who was publisher and editor of the Chicago Sun-Times, has been named interim editor. They replace Davan Maharaj, who had held the dual role of editor and publisher since March 2016. The Times’ parent company also let go of three senior editors and vowed to invest more resources to move the news organization more quickly into the digital age.

MUST-WATCH VIDEO

-- Katy Meegan and Barrett Hafner of Portland, Ore., decided to see the eclipse and get married at the same time.

-- Meet the man who has watched 66 eclipses, including 34 total eclipses.

-- Our 2013 interview with Jerry Lewis on how Hollywood has changed and more.

CALIFORNIA

-- A fatal heart attack on Metrolink has prompted calls for defibrillators on commuter trains.

-- Los Angeles has been warning home builders, but not residents, of the health risks of traffic pollution.

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-- L.A.'s proposed fee on new construction may not be “one size fits all” given the diverse economic fortunes of the city.

-- A yearlong battle over a La Crescenta park’s Nazi past has come to a close, through words, not violence.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

-- Two more looks at Jerry Lewis: Film critic Justin Chang on Lewis’ comedic genius, and TV critic Robert Lloyd on Lewis’ long career on the tube.

-- Q&A: Beric from “Game of Thrones” (Richard Dormer) talks flaming swords and Sunday’s battle. Are there spoilers? Of course!

-- What does our architecture critic think of the new $700-million USC Village? Try Disneyland meets Hogwarts.

-- Jay-Z and Beyoncé got a $52.8-million mortgage on the Bel-Air mansion they bought through blind trusts.

CLASSIC HOLLYWOOD

John Lee Hooker was born on this date in 1917 and raised in the Mississippi Delta, one of 11 children of a sharecropper who was also a Baptist minister. His experience with music began in his father’s church, but after his parents divorced, it was his stepfather who taught him blues guitar.

NATION-WORLD

-- Spanish police said they shot and killed a terrorism suspect linked to two deadly attacks last week; authorities believe he drove the van that killed 15 people in Barcelona.

-- The U.S. and South Korea have started their annual war games, this time amid heightened tension with North Korea.

-- A Pandora’s box: Tesla and SpaceX Chief Executive Elon Musk has joined dozens of CEOs of artificial intelligence companies in signing an open letter urging the U.N. to ban the use of AI in weapons.

BUSINESS

-- An L.A. jury issued a $417-million verdict against Johnson & Johnson, finding the company liable for failing to warn a 63-year-old woman about the risks of using its talcum products.

-- Consumer columnist David Lazarus looks at the political battle over whether nursing-home residents should retain the right to sue.

SPORTS

-- Dodgers pitching ace Clayton Kershaw will start a rehabilitation assignment on Saturday with triple-A Oklahoma City.

-- More for the hype machine: Floyd Mayweather Jr. talks about his off-camera run-in with Conor McGregor. They’ll face off in the ring this weekend.

OPINION

-- Trump’s “new” Afghanistan policy is more of the same.

-- Not normal is the new normal, and Republicans are stuck in a Trump-22.

WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

-- The Secret Service has depleted its funds to pay agents, in large part because of the size of Trump’s family and having to secure their multiple residences along the East Coast. (USA Today)

-- A witness to the deadly vehicle attack in Charlottesville describes being the target of conspiracy theorists. (Politico)

-- Is there such a thing as thinking too positively? (Aeon)

ONLY IN L.A.

Thai barbecue chicken and sticky rice. A meal made with two kinds of Japanese rice press. A veggie baguette sandwich with goat cheese, olives, slaw, olive oil, salt and pepper, arugula, avocado, cherry tomatoes, green harissa and pepperoncinis. Does this sound like what was in your lunchbox in elementary school? Here’s a taste of what some L.A. chefs pack for their kids. Getting the kids to eat it, though … that’s the hard part.

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