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Newsletter: Today: An Inferno Strikes, but Where Was the Warning?

Devastating wildfires in Northern California
A home perched on top of a hill sits in the foreground of a fire moving up on Shiloh Ridge near Santa Rosa.
(Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times )

As the death toll rises in Northern California’s fires, wind and dry weather are making it harder to bring the flames under control. Here are the stories you shouldn’t miss today:

TOP STORIES

An Inferno Strikes, but Where Was the Warning?

With a death toll of at least 23 people, and 3,500 structures and 170,000 acres burned, the wildfires in California are among the most destructive in state history. On Wednesday, thousands more residents in Calistoga and elsewhere in the north were ordered to evacuate. In all, about 50,000 are estimated to have fled their homes for safety. In hard-hit Napa and Sonoma counties, residents are wondering why not all of them received warnings on their cellphones similar to an Amber Alert. Officials say they sent out the messages, but some people report not getting them. Instead, neighbors’ shouts, smoke alarms and honking horns alerted them to the oncoming flames. Here is the latest.

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More About the Fires

-- Crew exhaustion, limited resources and turbulent winds have complicated the battle against multiple wine country fires.

-- A Pacific Gas and Electric spokesman said it’s too early to know if the utility’s power lines or transformers sparked any of the fires raging in Sonoma and Napa counties.

-- Here’s what you need to know about fire insurance.

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Devastating wildfires in Northern California
An aerial view of the Coffey Park neighborhood destroyed by wildfire in Santa Rosa.
(Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times )

Trump’s Tax Road Map May Have Some Potholes

President Trump touted his tax framework to a group of truckers in Pennsylvania, promising to give the typical American family a $4,000 “pay raise” ... and roads without potholes. Aside from analysts’ skepticism over that figure, Republicans in Congress are quietly discussing how to scale back some of the proposal’s key provisions. Without doing so, they fear, the framework — which is still more of a concept at this point — could collapse, just as Obamacare repeal did. That may mean compromise on lowering the corporate tax rate to 20%, and keeping some key deductions and loopholes.

More Politics

-- Trump has threatened press freedoms before, but now he’s gone a step further: suggesting that TV networks lose their federal broadcast licenses for what he considers “fake news.”

-- Tom Steyer, a San Francisco environmentalist and a major political donor, is calling on all Democrats to support the impeachment of Trump.

-- Trump has nominated Kirstjen Nielsen, a cybersecurity expert and top aide to Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, to take over the Department of Homeland Security.

How Las Vegas’ Surveillance State Missed a Killer

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In Las Vegas, Big Brother — a.k.a. hotel security — is watching. A casino on the Strip might have thousands of cameras observing gamblers. In the case of Mandalay Bay, those cameras weren’t trained on the hotel’s hallways, which may typically be too long or dark to get a good picture, according to an expert. So what really goes on in the world of Las Vegas security? After the shooting that killed 58 people and injured about 500 others, that’s just one of the many questions being considered.

Don’t Forget the Hidden Victims in Mexico’s Quake

The magnitude 7.1 earthquake that hit central Mexico on Sept. 19 killed more than 360 people. It also left thousands homeless. Three weeks later, many have not been able to return to their damaged apartment buildings. Though the government says it will help, finding a new place to live is especially daunting for those on fixed incomes or lacking insurance. Still, some in Mexico City hold out hope of returning to the comforts of homes they’ve known for decades.

The Film Academy Weighs Weinstein’s Fate

Harvey Weinstein’s name was once synonymous with the Oscars. Now, the film academy has renounced Weinstein’s alleged behavior as “repugnant, abhorrent, and antithetical to [its] high standards,” in another sign of his Hollywood downfall. On Saturday, its board of governors will hold a special meeting to review his membership amid a long list of accusations of sexual harassment and assault. Meanwhile, the debate about how it could have been allowed to go on for so long — and where the next shoe might drop — goes on.

MUST-WATCH VIDEO

-- Drone footage of fire damage in Santa Rosa.

-- British Israeli chef Yotam Ottolenghi and pastry chef Helen Goh show how to assemble a pavlova, one of the many desserts in their new cookbook “Sweet.”

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-- Villa Maggio, a onetime Frank Sinatra desert retreat, is back on the market for $3.7 million.

CALIFORNIA

-- A USC administrator responsible for raising hundreds of millions of dollars for the university has left his post after allegations that he sexually harassed female colleagues.

-- The debate over a secret list of 300 L.A. County sheriff’s deputies with histories of dishonesty or other similar misconduct is now before the state Supreme Court.

-- Driverless cars, with no one behind the wheel, could be on California roads and highways as test vehicles by June 2018.

-- Los Angeles will pay $15 million to end a legal battle involving a man who was gravely injured by a car while crossing Franklin Avenue in Hollywood.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

-- Film critic Kenneth Turan says “The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected),” starring Dustin Hoffman, Ben Stiller and Adam Sandler, is a funny, moving and psychologically complex look at dysfunctional family dynamics.

-- Robin Thede will take the plunge into one of TV’s most competitive arenas with her new late-night show “The Rundown” on BET.

-- Tom Petty’s bandmates the Heartbreakers reveal the dreams of what they thought lay ahead.

-- Pink talks about her new album, Billy Joel and why she’s over pop-star feuds: “It surprises me how snarky it’s gotten.”

CLASSIC HOLLYWOOD

When interviewers asked Lucille Ball what she thought was the secret of “I Love Lucy’s” enduring popularity, she’d reply: “My writers.” Bob Schiller was one of them, helping write the show in its later seasons along with his work partner Bob Weiskopf. Schiller, who died this week at age 98, and Weiskopf would go on to win Emmys for “All in the Family” and “Flip.”

NATION-WORLD

-- Two months ago, a 20-year-old black man was bludgeoned by white nationalists at a far-right rally in Charlottesville, Va. Now he’s facing arrest in connection with an alleged attack on a white supremacist at the rally.

-- The Boy Scouts of America will admit girls into the Cub Scouts starting next year and establish a new program for teenage girls.

-- Michigan helped make Trump president. Is it ready to elect the nation’s first Muslim governor?

-- Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has ordered Catalonia’s separatist leaders to stop their push for independence by next week or else face being deposed.

-- Beyond the orbit of Neptune, scientists have found a dwarf planet with a ring. That means there may be more ringed objects in the outer solar system than anyone knew.

BUSINESS

-- Covered California, the state’s health insurance exchange, has ordered insurers to add a surcharge to certain policies because Trump has yet to commit to paying subsidies.

-- Trump met with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau amid growing concerns of a breakdown in talks over the North American Free Trade Agreement.

SPORTS

-- A federal grand jury in New York has issued sweeping subpoenas to Arizona, Auburn, Oklahoma State and USC, the four schools with assistant coaches charged in the college basketball bribery and corruption case.

-- What’s next for U.S. men’s soccer after not qualifying for the World Cup?

OPINION

-- This time, Santa Rosa was devastated by flames, but we’re all facing a fire (or flood or heat wave) soon.

-- Much of the post-hurricane rebuilding in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico will be done by undocumented workers. They need protection.

WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

-- A number of Republicans and Trump advisors are painting a picture of chaos in the White House. (Vanity Fair)

-- There’s gold in them thar sewage … in Switzerland. Every year, about $1.8 million of it passes through the wastewater system. (Bloomberg)

-- In a guest column, Martin Scorsese throws something back at Rotten Tomatoes and the obsession over box office. (The Hollywood Reporter)

ONLY IN L.A.

Halloween candy is dandy, but L.A.-area theme parks are finding liquor is quicker when it comes to luring older visitors in October. The Queen Mary has added a hidden cocktail bar and dockside refrigerated establishment called the Meat Locker; Universal Studios Hollywood is selling beer and wine at its Halloween Horror Nights for the first time; and Six Flags Magic Mountain has a new pub. After all, you can’t spell “booze” without “boo.”

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