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Today: Syria Gets a Russian Bear Hug

A surprise meeting between the leaders of Russia and Syria represents a victory for them and a loss for several years of U.S. policy.

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Syria Gets a Russian Bear Hug

It was a hug seen around the world: Russian President Vladimir Putin sharing a warm embrace with Syrian leader Bashar Assad. With forces loyal to Assad controlling more than half of Syria, the U.S. no longer calling for him to step down and Islamic State militants on the run, Putin says Moscow’s military role in the war there is ending and a political process toward peace can begin. Conspicuously on the sidelines: the United States. Putin called President Trump to inform him of the talks, and though Trump called it a “great call,” some analysts say the Kremlin’s moves show the decline of American influence in the region.

Russian President Vladimir Putin embraces Syrian counterpart Bashar Assad during a meeting in Sochi, Russia.
Russian President Vladimir Putin embraces Syrian counterpart Bashar Assad during a meeting in Sochi, Russia. (Mikhail Klimentyev / AFP-Getty Images)

‘We Don’t Need a Liberal Person in There’

Senate candidate Roy Moore of Alabama has been castigated by liberals and conservatives alike since being accused of sexual advances on teenage girls years earlier. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul D. Ryan have called for him to step aside. But President Trump is backing him and might even hit the campaign trail on his behalf. “He totally denies it. He says it didn’t happen,” Trump said as he left the White House to spend Thanksgiving at his Mar-a-Lago estate. “I can tell you one thing for sure. We don’t need a liberal person in there, a Democrat,” referring to candidate Doug Jones.

More Politics

-- The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission proposed repealing the rules for net neutrality, setting the stage for a vote next month.

-- The House Ethics Committee has opened an investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct against Democratic Rep. John Conyers Jr.

-- Here’s why the Trump administration faces a tough battle proving AT&T would use Time Warner to squeeze the competition.

The ‘Missteps’ of a Giant in Animation

John Lasseter is one of animation’s most powerful figures, serving as the chief creative officer of Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios and having directed films such as “Toy Story” and “Cars.” Now he’s taking a six-month leave of absence, citing unspecified “missteps.” People close to the studio said several female employees had complained internally about their interactions with Lasseter. In interviews with The Times, six former female employees described a boys’ club culture. “I especially want to apologize to anyone who has ever been on the receiving end of an unwanted hug or any other gesture they felt crossed the line in any way, shape, or form,” Lasseter wrote in a memo.

Exit, Mugabe. Enter, the Crocodile?

In 1980, Zimbabweans cheered when Robert Mugabe took power, ending decades of white minority rule. This week, they cheered again when the 93-year-old president stepped down after decades of brutality and corruption that made him an international pariah. But it happened only after a military intervention and impending impeachment, and the man expected to take over before next year’s elections is also seen as ruthless. His nickname: the Crocodile.

A Glimpse Inside a Shelter for Foster Teens

A year and a half ago, L.A. County closed down its “welcome centers,” where foster children with nowhere else to go could stay for a day or less, and opened three-day shelters run by private providers. The change in approach has done little to improve the track record of finding permanent homes for the most disturbed teens. They may end up staying for weeks or even months. Reporter Nina Agrawal and photographer Francine Orr provide a rare glimpse inside one transitional shelter care facility in La Verne.

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Diamond Hyman, 19, reads in her bed at a transitional shelter for teenage girls in La Verne.
Diamond Hyman, 19, reads in her bed at a transitional shelter for teenage girls in La Verne. (Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

MUST-WATCH VIDEO

-- Dramatic video shows a North Korean soldier defecting to South Korea.

-- Film critic Kenneth Turan is impressed by Gary Oldman’s performance as Winston Churchill in “Darkest Hour” but says the directing is overwrought.

-- As part of The Times’ Envelope Roundtable series, Michelle Pfeiffer sees “a seismic change happening” to foster discussions of sexual harassment.

CALIFORNIA

-- Columnist Steve Lopez discovers how an unpainted redwood gate could cost you a $660 “non-compliance fee” from the city of L.A.

-- Antonio Villaraigosa became the final Democratic candidate for governor to release his tax returns. They show he made more than $4 million since leaving the L.A. mayor’s office. Here’s how.

-- Elon Musk wants to dig a tunnel parallel to the 405 Freeway for alternate transportation, and one of his companies has filed an application with L.A. officials to begin digging.

-- L.A. County will pay $15 million to Frank O’Connell, who spent 27 years behind bars for a murder he insists he did not commit.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

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-- Now that CBS has fired Charlie Rose after sexual harassment allegations, what's next for its popular morning show?

-- Saying they “feel compelled to stand up for Al Franken,” three dozen women affiliated with “Saturday Night Live” signed a letter countering sexual harassment allegations against him.

-- David Cassidy, the former star of “The Partridge Family” TV show of the 1970s and a reluctant teen idol to the boomer generation, has died at age 67.

-- Film critic Justin Chang says “Coco,” the latest from Pixar Animation Studios, is “a whimsical and high-spirited romp through the underworld” that sometimes falters.

CLASSIC HOLLYWOOD

He got no respect. No respect at all. Rodney Dangerfield, who was born on this date in 1921 and died in 2004, didn’t get his big break until his late 40s, when his agent arranged an audition for him with Ed Sullivan. During one of his 16 appearances on Sullivan’s TV show, Dangerfield tried out a joke that would define his comedy image: “When I played hide-and-seek, they didn’t even look for me.”

NATION-WORLD

-- After the Trump administration told nearly 60,000 Haitians given special immigration status that they’ll have to leave the U.S., “some people are shocked and disappointed, some are relieved.”

-- Officials say a mysterious incident last weekend that left one Border Patrol agent dead in west Texas and another critically injured is being investigated as a possible attack.

-- Two more high-profile killings in Mexico have stirred up public indignation about the country’s rising homicide rate.

-- Flowing water on Mars? The mysterious dark streaks long thought to be signs of water activity might actually just be caused by dry sand.

-- What will be on your Thanksgiving plate? It depends on where you’ll be.

BUSINESS

-- The New York attorney general's office is investigating after Uber admitted that hackers stole personal data belonging to 57 million customers and drivers … and reportedly paid the hackers $100,000 to erase it.

-- Never heard of the “chained CPI”? Columnist Michael Hiltzik calls it another secret tax hike for the middle class slipped into the GOP tax bills.

SPORTS

-- Columnist Bill Plaschke’s take on basketball dad LaVar Ball? He has made a living off the backs of his children.

-- Outta here: Baseball’s Hall of Fame made it pretty clear it does not want Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens because of their steroid use.

OPINION

-- Taking harassment seriously also requires making serious distinctions.

-- What anti-Trump Americans can be thankful for in the Trump era.

WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

-- “When power corrupts, poetry cleanses”: John F. Kennedy, who was assassinated 54 years ago today, on the purpose of poetry. (The Atlantic)

-- “What do we do with the art of monstrous men?” (The Paris Review)

-- ESPN host Jemele Hill on the battle between Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. (The Undefeated)

ONLY IN CALIFORNIA

What has wheels, is powered by the sun and looks like a mini Victorian home? It’s a public toilet in San Francisco, the latest addition to the city’s Pit Stop program, which aims to discourage people from using sidewalks and doorways as a latrine. Get a look at the portable potty known as the Painted Lady.

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