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Newsletter: Today: Life on the Fireline

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A barn is engulfed in flames from the River fire in Lakeport, Calif.
(Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)

A year-round fire season in California is pushing firefighters to the limits.

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Life on the Fireline

On the front lines of California’s wildfires, the conditions are hot and deadly. The mood is at times somber, in remembrance of the eight people confirmed to have lost their lives. The outlook is one of determination, to get the job done in what fire authorities are already calling one of the worst — and earliest — fire seasons in decades. But there’s also an acknowledgment that this is the new normal. Here’s an up-close look at what it’s like to be on the ground battling the fires — and a graphic that breaks down where the homes have been destroyed in Northern California’s Carr fire.

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LAKEPORT, CALIF. -- TUESDAY, JULY 31, 2018: Firefighters work to keep flames from the River Fire fro
Firefighters work to keep the River fire from destroying a home near Lakeport, Calif.
(Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)

The Lying, the ‘Witch Hunt’ and the Wardrobe

The trial of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort on 18 charges of tax evasion, bank fraud and conspiracy got off to a rousing start Tuesday, with prosecutors alleging Manafort relied on crime to fund a lifestyle that included seven homes, fancy cars and even a $15,000 ostrich skin jacket. His defense attorney suggested that Richard Gates, Manafort’s longtime business partner and deputy on the campaign, had lied about or perpetrated the crimes Manafort is accused of. The trial, a first in the investigation led by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, is expected to last three weeks.

A Gun Control Fight in 3-D

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Should people have online access to blueprints for 3-D printed guns that are untraceable and undetectable? A federal judge has issued a restraining order to stop their release and President Trump has questioned whether they make sense, even after his own administration cleared the way for them by backing away from an Obama-era ban.

Won’t Get Fooled Again?

After all that’s been written about interference in the 2016 election, Facebook says someone has been at it again ahead of the November midterms. Is it Russia? That’s what Democratic Sen. Mark Warner, vice chairman of Senate Intelligence Committee, believes. Today, his committee is planning to hold a hearing about foreign interference operations on social media. Meanwhile, Facebook says it has shut down 32 pages and accounts with names such as “Aztlan Warriors,” “Black Elevation,” “Mindful Being” and “Resisters.”

More Politics

-- Trump administration officials sought to defend its “zero tolerance” policy but ran into sharp criticism from senators as one official compared detention centers for children to “summer camp.”

-- Key Republican senators are showing support for Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s bid for the Supreme Court, while Democrats are not putting up a unified front as they seek more documents on his record.

-- Trump lashed out at the Koch brothers, saying their conservative political network had “become a total joke in real Republican circles” and was “highly overrated.”

To Protect and to Serve

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The Los Angeles Police Department had gone 13 years without killing a hostage or a bystander. Last month, a Trader Joe’s manager died in the crossfire between police and a gunman in Silver Lake. In June, as newly released video shows, a woman in Van Nuys was accidentally killed by police as a man held a knife to her throat. Now, the LAPD has announced changes in tactics and weaponry that it says had already been in the works, aimed at lessening the odds of another hostage situation ending in the death of an innocent person.

MOCA’s New Man

Running the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles has been about as messy as making a Jackson Pollock painting, with less satisfying results. The MOCA board hopes to change all that with the hiring of a new director in Klaus Biesenbach, from New York’s Museum of Modern Art. But amid the praise, it’s received criticism over questions of race and gender.

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MUST-WATCH VIDEO

-- LeBron James had one more career-defining moment in his home state, opening a public school in Akron, Ohio.

CALIFORNIA

-- The L.A. County district attorney has declined to file sexual assault charges against CBS Chairman and CEO Leslie Moonves, saying accusations made against him exceed the statute of limitations.

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-- The number of former patients suing USC for allegedly failing to protect them from sexual abuse at a campus health clinic increased to more than 300 this week. Meanwhile, university president C.L. Max Nikias still has not left the building, as columnist Robin Abcarian delves into.

-- Los Angeles has taken a step toward converting a vacant children’s museum and a textile factory into crisis shelters to take homeless people off the streets of skid row and other parts of downtown.

-- In Salinas, the Matsui family is known for its orchids and its life-changing generosity. Columnist Steve Lopez reports.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

-- Despite women and people of color at the helm of high-profile successes such as “Black Panther,” “Get Out” and “Wonder Woman,” a new study has found that diversity of representation among Hollywood films remains largely unchanged from a decade ago.

-- The murder-mystery series “The Sinner” is coming back with the same investigator, a new case and actress Carrie Coon.

-- Like a wily old wizard, the role-playing game “Dungeons & Dragons” shows it has an enduring magic.

-- Alan Alda says he is 3½ years into a battle with Parkinson’s disease, and to hear him talk it hasn’t been a big deal at all.

CLASSIC HOLLYWOOD

It’s been 40 years since “National Lampoon’s Animal House” pushed (or outright tore) the envelope of good taste and served as the breakout film for director John Landis and comedian John Belushi. It was filmed on and near the University of Oregon’s Eugene campus in the fall of 1977, and ever since then, the area has held the film in an awkward, toga-clad embrace.

NATION-WORLD

-- U.S. spy agencies are seeing signs that North Korea is constructing new missiles at a factory that produced the country’s first intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of reaching the United States, according to officials familiar with the intelligence.

-- Despite dire warnings from Washington, a court in Turkey refused to release an American Protestant minister who has been detained there on charges related to a failed coup two years ago.

-- An Aeromexico airliner crashed after taking off in the northern Mexican state of Durango but the state’s governor said there were no deaths in the accident.

BUSINESS

-- MoviePass was once the fastest rising star in Hollywood. Now, there are growing signs that the end is near for the popular movie ticket service that billed itself as the Netflix for cinema.

-- Tesla will hold its second-quarter earnings call with analysts today, and the big question is how CEO Elon Musk will conduct himself.

SPORTS

-- Following the additions of Manny Machado and Brian Dozier, Bill Plaschke writes that the Dodgers can crush, but it is far more uncertain whether they can close.

-- The Lakers have unveiled new uniforms featuring a throwback look to the 1980s Showtime era.

OPINION

-- Lawmakers and the public wanted more say over who is running the California Air Resources Board. Instead, it chose self-preservation over transparency.

-- Columnist Gustavo Arellano writes that Whittier is a case study in how Latinos not only can thrive in this country, but also, contrary to the Trumpian conventional wisdom, blend in.

WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

-- InfoWars founder Alex Jones is seeking more than $100,000 in court costs from the parents of a child who died at Sandy Hook. They have lived in hiding after Jones spread false claims that they were actors. (New York Times)

-- Jumping out of a moving car, dancing alongside it and shooting video of the whole thing isn’t a good idea, is it? The #InMyFeelings challenge has led people to do that, with tragic results. (Washington Post)

-- The best barbecue in every state. Certainly, someone will have a bone to pick with this list. (Food & Wine)

ONLY IN L.A.

Beach Boys members Brian Wilson and Mike Love have had their share of bad blood, but all appeared forgiven this week in Hollywood when they and their longtime bandmates came together for the first time since an acrimonious tour ending in 2012. They were there to promote a project (naturally) but also to relive the glory days — and recapture some good vibrations.

If you like this newsletter, please share it with friends. Comments or ideas? Email us at headlines@latimes.com.


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