At the G-20 summit in Argentina, President Trump’s relationships with the leaders of Russia and Saudi Arabia will be front and center on the global stage.
Trump’s G-20 Tango
President Trump will head today to Buenos Aires for the Group of 20 economic summit and perhaps another indelicate dance with world leaders who have come to expect Trump’s insults and undiplomatic behavior. Assuming Russia’s clash with Ukraine doesn’t throw a wrench into plans, Trump is scheduled to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday — amid the special counsel’s investigation and with memories of July’s unusual summit in Helsinki in mind. He also has a pivotal dinner with Chinese President Xi Jinping. One leader Trump apparently won’t be formally meeting: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, whom he has defended in the slaying of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
-- The Senate advanced a resolution calling for an end to U.S. military support for Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen. It’s a rare bipartisan rebuke of the Trump administration’s foreign policy.
-- Javanka update: Mexico plans to bestow the country’s highest honor for foreigners on Jared Kushner, and that isn’t sitting well with a lot of people. Meanwhile, Ivanka Trump defended her use of a private email account and said “Lock her up!” doesn’t apply to her.
-- Adult film actress Stormy Daniels said she’s debating whether to part ways with her attorney, Michael Avenatti, accusing him of filing a defamation suit against Trump against her wishes and launching a crowdfunding campaign without her permission.
Congress’ California Connection
The shape of the 116th Congress is coming into focus, with Californians playing the starring roles. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has officially become the Democrats’ nominee for speaker, fending off a push for new blood; the final vote is Jan. 3. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy will lead Republicans, after losing a sizable chunk of his California delegation. That got even smaller when TJ Cox defeated three-term Republican Rep. David Valadao in the country’s last remaining undecided congressional contest. The final tally: a Democratic gain of seven House seats in California and 40 nationwide, the party’s best midterm showing since the Watergate era.
Allegations Against a Power Broker
As its chairman, Eric Bauman has been the face of the California Democratic Party since last year, and before that he was a fixture in Southern California and LGBTQ politics. Ten party staff members and political activists have told The Times that Bauman made crude sexual comments and engaged in unwanted touching or physical intimidation in professional settings. When presented with the allegations, Bauman said in a statement that he planned to seek treatment for health issues and alcohol use. This comes after a week in which Bauman was accused of unspecified misconduct and took a leave of absence
A series of rainstorms has begun moving across California, prompting officials to go on high alert for mudslides and flash flooding, especially in areas recently hit by wildfires and along Highway 1 on the Big Sur coast. In Paradise, police are watching not just the weather but over a town that is off limits to nearly everyone after being devastated by the Camp fire. Though eight of the city’s 20 sworn officers lost their homes, they’ve continued to patrol a place now absent of crime. They also serve as the eyes and ears for residents who are desperate to know about homes, neighbors and pets.
Why did USC athletic director Lynn Swann keep Clay Helton as football coach against many fans’ wishes? In the “Arrive Early, Leave Late” podcast, columnist Bill Plaschke breaks it down.
-- In a sudden purge, nearly the entire executive leadership of the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department will be fired or relieved of duty once Alex Villanueva is sworn in Monday.
-- After years of debate, the Los Angeles City Council has legalized sidewalk vending, which has long been widespread.
-- Thirteen men with alleged ties to a South Los Angeles gang have been charged with a series of celebrity burglaries during the last 13 months.
-- What began as a dispute over payment for dove-releasing services at a funeral ended with the arrest of a 51-year-old Huntington Beach man after detectives found more than 50 firearms and Nazi memorabilia in his home.
HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS
-- Yet another comic-book movie? Yes, but the animated “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” managed to win over film critic Justin Chang. Here’s why.
-- The Sundance Film Festival’s lineup for next year leans toward diversity, discovery and hotter-than-usual documentaries.
-- The battle-rap satire “Bodied” on YouTube Premium is sharp-tongued. Its cast says it would be even sharper if it had been filmed during Trump’s presidency.
-- Writer Linda Fairstein has a bestselling book series, but her past as a prosecutor overseeing the Central Park Five case is cause for controversy.
-- The Supreme Court is considering whether the ban on “excessive fines” in the Bill of Rights applies to states. The case involves an Indiana man who made two small drug sales valued at under $400 and had his $42,000 Land Rover seized.
-- The number of children without health insurance in the United States increased last year for the first time in more than a decade, according to a new report.
-- A rash of American combat deaths in Afghanistan is putting a spotlight on a 17-year war that is testing Trump’s commitment to pursuing peace with the Taliban.
-- Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome H. Powell gave a speech Wednesday that sent the stock market soaring, saying, “There is no preset policy path” for interest rate increases.
-- R.J. Scaringe has been called the “Elon Musk of pickup trucks,” except he hasn’t smoked weed on the internet and avoids controversy on Twitter.
-- Lakers guard Lance Stephenson will be more important to the team’s plans after a spate of injuries to other players. He’ll face his former team, the Indiana Pacers, tonight.
-- The Dodgers have announced their coaching staff for the 2019 season, a group that includes four newcomers and three first-time major-league coaches.
-- California talks a good game on land-use and climate change, but it’s still a land of SUVs and sprawl.
-- Trump may fire special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, but he can’t fire the federal grand jury.
WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING
-- A decade ago, Alexander Acosta — then a federal prosecutor and now Trump’s secretary of Labor — gave a serial sex abuser “the deal of a lifetime.” (Miami Herald)
-- A sexual assault allegation and disgraced CBS executive Les Moonves’ reported attempt to bury it. (New York Times)
-- Have you heard of physicist Joan Curran? Not enough people have. She invented radar chaff. (Smithsonian)
ONLY IN L.A.
Two words: rogue taxidermy. In the artworks of Brooke Weston, great-granddaughter of the photographer Edward Weston, unwanted deer heads found on Craigslist become dollhouses furnished with tiny chairs, sofas, record players and paintings. And she’s not the only one in L.A. who has joined a movement that has been called “female-empowering.”