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Today: The New 'Axis of Evil'

Today: The New 'Axis of Evil'
President Trump's national security advisor, John Bolton, speaks about new sanctions against Venezuela and U.S. policy for Latin America in Miami on Thursday. (Miami Herald)

The Trump administration is targeting the left of Latin America while embracing the right.

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The New ‘Axis of Evil’

The White House has a new name for Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua: The “troika of tyranny.” Or “triangle of terror.” Or, if you prefer, “the three stooges of socialism.” President Trump’s national security advisor, John Bolton, used all of those terms in announcing sanctions against Venezuela and describing a strategy for Latin America that would punish leftist governments and embrace right-wing leaders in Colombia, Chile and soon Brazil. Sixteen years ago, Bolton wanted to include Cuba in George W. Bush’s “Axis of Evil” but was blocked. This time, he delivered his remarks in Miami, a bastion of hard-line Cuban and Venezuelan exiles, ahead of Tuesday’s midterm election.

A Diverse Slate of Candidates

In Georgia, voters could elect the first black woman to become a U.S. governor in Stacey Abrams, the Democratic candidate who’s been getting some high-profile help in a tight race with Republican Brian Kemp. Vermont could elect its first openly transgender governor. In Michigan and Minnesota, two candidates could be the first Muslim women elected to Congress, while California could send the first Korean American woman to join its ranks. Whatever happens in Tuesday’s election, analysts say this year’s pool of candidates is the most diverse ever.

The Frenzy and the Data

In the final days before the midterm election, President Trump has been hammering on one issue like no other: immigration. He’s declared a national emergency on Twitter (without filing the required legal proclamation); ordered troops to the border to stop a caravan hundreds of miles away; and tweeted a video blaming Democrats for “letting in” a man who killed two Northern California deputies four years ago while in the U.S. illegally. Yet numerous studies have found illegal immigration to be at historic lows over the last several years and that an overwhelming correlation exists between immigrants and low crime rates.

More Politics

-- To Trump’s trade czar, Robert Lighthizer, the key to boosting American industry is playing hardball with China.

-- As Republican candidates pledge to protect Americans with preexisting conditions, nearly all continue to resist extending health protections to their poorest constituents.

-- Trump says Heather Nauert, the former broadcaster turned State Department spokeswoman, is a leading contender to replace Nikki Haley as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

-- The campaign of Rep. Steve Knight (R-Palmdale) has taken down an ad featuring a veteran who posts racist, anti-Muslim and anti-Semitic comments on social media.

Fin for a Film Festival

Los Angeles: “movie capital of the world.” So why did the Los Angeles Film Festival, a showcase for independent fare for nearly two decades, go belly up? As film critic Justin Chang explains, the festival “faced its own Rubik’s cube of logistical difficulties” as well as some larger forces — and its demise should serve as a lesson.

FLASHBACK FRIDAY

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The 200-ton Hughes H-4 Hercules, a.k.a. the Spruce Goose, was conceived as a World War II transport plane, but the war would end before the aircraft was completed at a cost of more than $20 million. On this date in 1947, Howard Hughes piloted the plane over Los Angeles-Long Beach Harbor for its first and only flight. Total time in the air: about 1 minute.

Nov. 2, 1947: The Hughes H-4 Hercules "Spruce Goose" during its short flight in the Long Beach-Los Angeles Harbor.
Nov. 2, 1947: The Hughes H-4 Hercules "Spruce Goose" during its short flight in the Long Beach-Los Angeles Harbor. (Los Angeles Times)

CALIFORNIA

-- Members of an Irvine synagogue are united “in strength” after their building was defaced with anti-Semitic graffiti.

-- In the Orange County district long represented by retiring Rep. Ed Royce, Asian Americans could make the difference in Tuesday’s election.

-- John Cox and Gavin Newsom have been barnstorming the state on their respective tour buses in the final days of the race for governor.

-- The race between Republican Rep. Jeff Denham of Turlock and Democrat Josh Harder is close. Will it hinge on the issue of water?

Get more election coverage on our Decision California page.

YOUR WEEKEND

-- Superfoods for skincare are a thing, but it’s best to proceed with skepticism.

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-- Meghan Markle volunteered at a community kitchen and proposed a cookbook: “Together” is the result.

-- Take a peek inside this 1911 Pasadena Craftsman, a “livable” family home.

-- A trip to Mill Valley in Marin County offers hiking and the chance to see social-political satirist Mort Sahl.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

-- Plan ahead: A look at virtually every film coming out this holiday season.

-- “Bohemian Rhapsody” may be the No. 1 movie this weekend, but our critic says it will not rock you, even though Rami Malek makes a fab Freddie Mercury.

-- Julia Roberts makes her series television debut in “Homecoming,” out today on Amazon Prime.

NATION-WORLD

-- The anti-Semitic truck driver accused of gunning down 11 people at a Pittsburgh synagogue has pleaded not guilty to federal charges that could put him on death row.

-- Sources say Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, in a phone call with Jared Kushner and John Bolton, described slain journalist Jamal Khashoggi as a dangerous Islamist days after his disappearance.

-- The U.S.-Russia space partnership has had its ups and downs, but a failed launch last month might end up helping.

-- Former Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed has returned from exile, as democratic hopes rise on the island nation.

BUSINESS

-- At Google offices around the world, employees protested how the company reportedly has handled sexual misconduct allegations.

-- A new survey says most Americans aren't financially healthy, even though the economy is growing, unemployment is low and wages have increased for some.

SPORTS

-- Have you been listening to what the Dodgers’ front office is saying after falling short in another World Series? Columnist Bill Plaschke says it’s tone-deaf.

-- In Major League Soccer, the LAFC’s season ended with a loss to Real Salt Lake, with fans throwing debris and chanting a homophobic slur.

OPINION

-- Trump is wrong: Immigration makes us a greater nation.

-- Columnist George Skelton suggests how you should vote on the ballot propositions: the good, the bad and the egg-laying hens.

WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

-- Newly revealed emails show how Roger Stone sold himself to Trump campaign advisors as a potential conduit to WikiLeaks. (New York Times)

-- Russian media have interpreted an opinion piece in the Boston Globe as portraying the 2020 U.S. presidential election as a prelude to civil war. (Foreign Policy)

-- Sculptor Alexander Calder’s stint in Southern California in the early 1900s helped shape him as a sculptor. (Los Angeles Magazine)

ONLY IN L.A.

Joseph Young created the 60-foot-tall Triforium sculpture of concrete, light and sound to bring joy and a message of cultural harmony to people in downtown L.A. But for much of its 43 years, the Triforium has sat dark and received some unkind nicknames (the “Schlockenspiel,” for one). Tonight, the lights and music will be back. But this show is for a very limited engagement.

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

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