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Today: A Year After Maria, Puerto Rico Struggles Onward

A look at how last year’s hurricane damage still affects daily life in Puerto Rico.

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A Year After Maria, Puerto Rico Struggles Onward

One year ago today, Hurricane Maria slammed into Puerto Rico, beginning a chain of death and destruction the island has yet to recover from. Times reporter Paloma Esquivel and photographer Carolyn Cole traveled to the island to document how the disaster still shapes daily life: whether it’s the thousands of families living under blue tarps in the hopes their homes are someday repaired, the power outages that persist, or crippling financial struggles. There’s also the fear of what happens when the next storm hits.

Yamary Morales Torres is rebuilding her mother's home on the waterfront in Yabucoa. The house next door, which belonged to her brother, was left with only three walls standing.
Yamary Morales Torres is rebuilding her mother's home on the waterfront in Yabucoa. The house next door, which belonged to her brother, was left with only three walls standing. (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

The Unfairness Doctrine

President Trump says the allegation of sexual assault against his Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, is “very unfair” and the FBI shouldn’t investigate. A lawyer for Christine Blasey Ford, the California professor who made the allegation, says the GOP’s approach to the matter is “not a fair or good faith investigation.” Either way, Republican senators have united around the idea that Ford should testify by Monday, in public or in private. With that comes a political risk: angering voters, particularly suburban women, if they believe the GOP leaders are simply dismissing Ford’s claims.

DiFi on the Hot Seat

Republicans have also accused Sen. Dianne Feinstein of being unfair in withholding Ford’s allegation until “the 11th hour.” (She says it’s because Ford had requested privacy.) While most Democrats have now rallied to her defense, her Democratic opponent in the November election, state Sen. Kevin de León, isn’t one of them. He’s criticized her over not sharing the information earlier — and over her stance on immigration, by releasing a video of her comments from the 1990s.

More Politics

-- Trump has demanded the “immediate declassification” of sensitive materials about the Russia investigation, but the agencies responsible are expected to propose redactions that would keep some information secret, according to three people familiar with the matter.

-- Facing backlash over the decision to drastically limit the number of refugees who will be permitted to settle in the United States, State Department officials are attempting to defend the move.

-- Trump doesn’t talk as much about trade deficits anymore. Maybe because they’re getting worse.

All Aboard? Nope

The future of two long-discussed California railway projects has become a little bit clearer — maybe. The state rail authority has unveiled a proposed 38-mile route for its bullet train for the leg stretching from Burbank to Palmdale. Officials say their plan would be the easiest to build and do the least harm, as it follows mostly along the 14 Freeway. But some communities are objecting because many stretches would not be underground. Meanwhile, the on-again, off-again passenger train project from Southern California to Las Vegas appears to be back on, with a new private financial backer.

MUST-WATCH VIDEO

-- Is there too much TV these days? Issa Rae, Trevor Noah, Milo Ventimiglia and other stars weigh in on the gold carpet at the Emmys.

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CALIFORNIA

-- The Long Beach Police Department has suspended use of a mobile texting app that permanently erases messages. Its use is raising questions about whether evidence was destroyed in cases.

-- Eight years after immigration officials detained Fabian Rebolledo in his Baldwin Park home and deported him to Tijuana, the U.S. Army veteran has returned home.

-- More than half a dozen women have now come forward to accuse a Newport Beach surgeon and his girlfriend of sexually assaulting them.

-- Columnist George Skelton says Gov. Jerry Brown is right: The state should build a “damn satellite” to track climate change.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

-- The Los Angeles Film Festival has long been a summer thing, but with a fall opening this year, it’s looking to evolve and engage.

-- Twenty years after the debut of “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill,” the rapper-singer played the Hollywood Bowl with a sense of occasion.

-- Fifth Harmony veteran Lauren Jauregui is ready for the spotlight, this time as a solo artist.

-- Jeffrey Deitch left the Museum of Contemporary Art amid a cloud of controversy. Now he's returning to L.A. to launch a gallery on his own terms.

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CLASSIC HOLLYWOOD

Sophia Loren was born on this date in 1934 and would grow up in Italy during World War II. Amid the misery, she says, she would never have thought that one day she would become a movie star. “If you believe in life fervently, if you believe in yourself, one day or the other, something beautiful is going to happen,” she told The Times in 2014.

NATION-WORLD

-- A woman who helped kidnap Elizabeth Smart when she was a teenager and stood by as the Utah girl was sexually assaulted has been released.

-- Police say Cody R. Wilson, the owner of a 3D-printed gun company, had sex with an underage girl and paid her $500 afterward.

-- A court in Pakistan suspended the corruption sentences of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and family members and ordered them released on bail.

-- A year after a magnitude 7.1 quake killed hundreds, Mexico paused in remembrance.

BUSINESS

-- A decade ago, California stopped licensing surgery centers, then gave approval power to private agencies that are commonly paid by the same centers they inspect. That system of oversight has created a troubling legacy of laxity, a Kaiser Health News investigation finds.

-- Shares of Tilray, a Canadian maker of medicinal cannabis extracts, took a wild ride Wednesday. It shows how pot stocks are catching up to the crypto craze.

SPORTS

-- At the ballpark, Dodgers right fielder Yasiel Puig has been knocking out a string of home runs lately — including a three-run homer last night. At his house, a string of burglaries has continued.

-- On fields of dreams in East Salinas, soccer players are working toward an uncertain future.

OPINION

-- One year after Maria hit Puerto Rico, we're still piecing together what happened and what to do about it.

-- Want real rent control? Make landlords live alongside their tenants.

WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

-- How Russia is filling the U.S. void in Syria and elsewhere in the Mideast. (Foreign Policy)

-- Fat shaming isn’t doing anything to address obesity in America. (Huffington Post)

-- At 74, comedian Chevy Chase is sitting at home, waiting for a script to roll in. (Washington Post)

ONLY IN CALIFORNIA

For years, Newport Beach authorities have been looking for Peter Chadwick, who is accused of killing his wife in 2012. After pleading not guilty and posting bail, he disappeared in 2015. In addition to offering a $100,000 reward, law enforcement officials are trying a new approach: a six-part podcast detailing the gruesome crime.

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

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