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Today: A Search for Lessons From the Paradise Tragedy

As fire headed toward a Northern California town, officials once again faced a life-and-death dilemma.

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A Search for Lessons From the Paradise Tragedy

In disaster after disaster in California, it’s a question that keeps coming back: Could more have been done to warn people in time for them to flee? In Paradise, where the death toll from the Camp fire has risen to 56 and more than 10,000 structures have been lost, officials were concerned that a mass evacuation from the start would have created its own dangers. Instead, they hoped to clear out neighborhoods closest to the flames first. But it soon become evident the fire was moving too fast, and by the time a full-scale evacuation order came, the town was already under siege. Yet it’s also unclear whether a different strategy would have helped.

Smoke fills the sky as the Camp fire burns along the north fork of the Feather River.
Smoke fills the sky as the Camp fire burns along the north fork of the Feather River. (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

More About the Fires

-- As a third body was discovered among the ashes of a home in Agoura Hills, residents in nearby Malibu questioned fire officials’ response during the Woolsey fire.

-- Paradise High School was left standing, but many of its students’ and teachers’ homes were destroyed. With an exodus, it’s unclear how the Class of 2019 is going to graduate.

-- Pacific Gas & Electric Co. says that, if it is deemed responsible for the Camp fire, the liability would exceed its insurance coverage. Since the fire began last week, PG&E stock has lost half its value.

From Operation Faithful Patriot to Mission TBD

Defense Secretary James N. Mattis and Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen on Wednesday visited some of the 6,000 Marines and Army soldiers who are assisting the Border Patrol after President Trump rushed them to the border before the midterm election. It was named Operation Faithful Patriot. But since the election, that name has been dropped — and Trump has scarcely mentioned the caravan of Central American migrants, the first few hundreds of whom have reached Tijuana by bus. Asked to explain the goals beyond setting up razor wire and barriers, Mattis said: “Short term, get the obstacles in. Longer term … it is somewhat to be determined.”

The Future Face of House Intelligence

The dueling memos on surveillance. Rep. Devin Nunes’ “midnight run” to the White House. Investigating Justice Department leaders. When Democratic Rep. Adam B. Schiff takes over leadership of the House Intelligence Committee from the GOP’s Nunes, he says his first priority is to replace partisan rancor with “comity.” Given that Schiff plans to investigate whether Russia has leverage over Trump and to place greater scrutiny on Saudi Arabia and North Korea, ending the infighting seems unlikely.

More Politics

-- In his first attempt at bipartisanship since last week’s election, Trump endorsed a criminal justice bill aimed at reducing some prison sentences and better preparing inmates for life after incarceration.

-- Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is set to release a sweeping overhaul of how colleges and universities must handle allegations of sexual assault and harassment, giving new rights to the accused.

-- Rep. Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield will lead Republicans in the minority in the next Congress, while House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is scrambling to shore up the support she needs to become speaker again.

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-- CNN is getting support from Fox News and other news organizations, including the L.A. Times, in its legal battle against the White House over the revocation of press credentials for reporter Jim Acosta. A judge could rule today.

Pro Sports’ Bridge to Mexico

Poor field conditions at a stadium in Mexico City led the NFL to move next week’s “Monday Night Football” game between the Rams and Kansas City Chiefs to the Coliseum in L.A. But in the bigger scheme of things, Mexico is still part of the game plan for the NFL, just as it is for Major League Baseball and the NBA. For now, the idea is to build exposure and gain sponsorships — and maybe one day, an expansion team.

MUST-HEAR PODCAST

-- Arrive Early, Leave Late: The world according to the Lakers’ JaVale McGee, and a fascinating look at soccer legend Diego Maradona.

CALIFORNIA

-- Police say Michael Avenatti, the lawyer for porn actress Stormy Daniels and thorn in Trump’s side, was arrested in L.A. on suspicion of domestic violence. Avenatti called the allegations “completely bogus.”

-- Gov. Jerry Brown has appointed advisor Joshua Groban to the state Supreme Court. Like Brown’s other three appointees in the last several years, Groban has no experience as a judge. (And no, it’s not the singer.)

-- Facing the prospect of defeat, GOP Rep. Mimi Walters of Laguna Beach and Republican candidate Young Kim of Fullerton are following Trump’s lead in making baseless allegations of vote fraud.

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-- A Los Angeles man accused of making a hoax phone call that led to a fatal police shooting in Kansas has pleaded guilty to placing dozens of similar “swatting” calls, including one to FBI headquarters in Washington.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

-- The Coen brothers don’t talk much, but they recently sat down with us to discuss their Western anthology film, “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs,” Netflix and the future of moviegoing.

-- In “BlacKkKlansman,” Spike Lee has an urgent message about terrorism, truth and Trump. “This film will be on the right side of history,” he says.

-- Yaass, queen: Hollywood's fascination with female monarchs continues this fall with “Mary Queen of Scots” and “The Favourite.”

-- The Latin Grammys will be handed out in Las Vegas tonight, and two themes will be apparent: crossover artists and leading female performers.

NATION-WORLD

-- A bipartisan report says the United States has lost its military edge to a dangerous degree and could potentially lose a war against China or Russia.

-- In the trial of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, a former Sinaloa cartel deputy testified about moving cocaine by the ton with hired hands to kill people.

-- Israel’s hard-line defense minister has resigned over a cease-fire with Palestinian leaders in the Gaza Strip. The move could be the beginning of the end for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government.

-- Iran hanged two financial traders who were convicted of stockpiling gold coins and profiteering during a currency crisis, state media reported.

-- An error flagged by a climate change contrarian has led researchers to walk back findings published last month that showed oceans have been heating up dramatically faster than previously thought as a result of climate change.

BUSINESS

-- The Securities and Exchange Commission and the Department of Justice are investigating Snap Inc. for potentially misleading investors.

-- In a dimly lit theater on the Fox lot in West Los Angeles, Rupert Murdoch and his sons have begun saying their goodbyes to 21st Century Fox.

SPORTS

-- In the Lakers’ victory last night, LeBron James showed he can still be a game-changer with a season-high 44 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists — and he became the fifth-leading scorer in NBA history.

-- The Chargers have never been Super Bowl champions, but coach Anthony Lynn is winning players over with a super sense of culture.

OPINION

-- California is as blue as it’s ever been. Here’s hoping that Democrats prove themselves worthy.

-- The case against carbohydrates gets stronger, according to this Harvard professor.

WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

-- How Facebook’s leaders fought through a crisis: delaying, denying, deflecting. (New York Times)

-- Lessons from Stan Lee on managing creative people. (Harvard Business Review)

-- Extreme close-ups are a thing in movies this awards season. (Vulture)

ONLY IN L.A.

In a black truck parked on Reseda Boulevard in Northridge, midway between the 118 and 101 freeways, the doctor is in. Or more precisely, El Doctor del Valle, which serves Sinaloan-style seafood. Years ago, construction workers found that its aguachiles, campechanas and michelada mix cured what ailed them after a night of drinking, so they called the chef “El Doctor.” The name stuck, and a food truck was born. One with a stethoscope-wearing shrimp holding a beer on the side.

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