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Today: Is It Time to End the Engagement With China?

Today: Is It Time to End the Engagement With China?
President Trump, right, and Chinese President Xi Jinping, left, agreed to a 90-day truce in their trade war at a dinner meeting Dec. 1 in Buenos Aires. (Saul Loeb / Getty Images)

As 2019 begins, the United States and China find themselves in a more confrontational stance.

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Is It Time to End the Engagement With China?

For decades, the goal of U.S. policy toward China has been engagement, with hopes that bringing Beijing into the international fold would open up its markets and lead to a less authoritarian power structure. But those hopes have been dashed, while China’s economy and military grow. Now, Trump administration officials, some business executives and even Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein see a more confrontational approach as key to reining in Beijing’s aggressive moves.

More Politics

-- Trump’s already confusing policies toward Syria have become even more difficult to parse, both in Washington and in the region convulsed by nearly nine years of civil war, after a flurry of contradictory statements.

-- An aide says House Democrats will vote to reopen all the shuttered parts of the federal government when they take control of the chamber on Thursday. But their bills will not provide any money for Trump’s border wall, meaning the government shutdown that began before Christmas is likely to continue.

-- Trump claimed that he has not given up on fulfilling his signature campaign promise of building a concrete border wall, pushing back on outgoing Chief of Staff John F. Kelly’s admission in an interview with the L.A. Times that the administration long ago abandoned the idea.

-- Sen. Elizabeth Warren has announced a presidential exploratory committee as she attempts to redefine populism for the left in the age of Trump.

-- Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. devoted his year-end report on the judiciary to describing how the nation’s top judges had investigated the problem of workplace abuse and adopted policies to prevent it.

Tales of Heroism in Thousand Oaks

When the shooting began at Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks, Justin Meek extended his arms outward to shield people from bullets. Telemachus Orfanos could have fled; instead, he led a group of friends out and returned to the bar to rescue more. Sean Adler ran at the gunman and tried to disarm him. Witnesses say they were not the only ones who engaged in heroic acts on that November night. Here are their stories.

The Governor’s Long Goodbye

Jerry Brown is leaving office next Monday after serving as governor of California longer than any other person. But after a political career over 50 years, is the 80-year-old Democrat ready to ride away quietly into the sunset? It seems unlikely. One safe bet is that he’ll try to defend the criminal justice reforms he shepherded in; a 2020 ballot measure is looking to undo some of them. “In my view, it’s deeply anti-Christian, because it denies redemption,” the governor said. “And redemption is at the heart of our whole civilization.”

Global Warming? Think of the Kids

In South Africa, climate change is making life difficult for cattle ranchers and others who rely on the region’s fabled grasslands. What to do? Goats could be part of the answer. Veld goats fare better in long periods of dry, hot weather — plus, they love to eat the trees and bushes that have been impinging on the grasslands. That’s why some farmers are now focusing on raising kids rather than calfs.

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FROM THE ARCHIVES

The 130th Rose Parade gets underway at 8 a.m. Pacific today on the streets of Pasadena, where the weather is expected to be chilly and windy. For a warmer trip down memory lane, check out these images of the parade in the 1930s and 1940s, before and after the 1942-45 parades were canceled because of World War II.

Jan. 1, 1932: A city of Inglewood float titled "Boxers" in the Rose Parade. Written on the float was "Inglewood Challenges the World."
Jan. 1, 1932: A city of Inglewood float titled "Boxers" in the Rose Parade. Written on the float was "Inglewood Challenges the World." (Los Angeles Times)

CALIFORNIA

-- After immigrants in the country illegally were recently accused of killing a police officer and another person in separate incidents, sheriffs in the Central Valley have decried the state’s “sanctuary” laws.

-- A security guard who police say shot and killed a 21-year-old man at a Walgreens in Hollywood has been charged with murder by the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office.

-- Amid the partial government shutdown, Joshua Tree National Park’s campgrounds will close because the park’s vault toilets are near capacity and there’s no one to pump them clean.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

-- The horror film “New Year, New You” explores the sinister side of social media influencers.

-- Louis C.K. is back in hot water after audio of some of his new material leaked. He was recorded making jokes about non-binary youth and survivors of the high school shooting in Parkland, Fla.

-- Architect Sou Fujimoto sketches out his ideas with potato chips and staples.

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-- Five hopeful poems to usher in the new year.

NATION-WORLD

-- A U.S. citizen’s detention in Moscow on suspicion of espionage could be the opening gambit in a Cold War-style spy drama, one overshadowed by a young Russian woman’s pending sentencing in the United States and the ongoing Russia investigation by special counsel Robert S. Mueller.

-- North Korean leader Kim Jong Un brought a new look to his New Year’s address, ditching the formalities of a podium and microphone bank to speak from a plush leather chair in front of a wooden mantle piece.

-- Former army captain Jair Bolsonaro is taking office as Brazil’s president today. Bolsonaro, a fan of Trump, was once an outsider mocked by fellow lawmakers for his far-right positions, constant use of expletives and even casual dressing.

-- Suspected Muslim militants remotely detonated a bomb near the entrance of a mall in the southern Philippines as people did last-minute shopping ahead of New Year’s Eve celebrations, killing at least two.

-- Wondering what else 2019 will bring around the globe? Here’s a snapshot of things to expect in China, Nigeria, India and beyond.

BUSINESS

-- Reports of sexual harassment and assault on commercial flights are on the rise, although law enforcement officials say the problem is underreported. Flight attendants and lawmakers say airlines haven’t done enough.

-- Five Federal Reserve indexes of regional manufacturing in the U.S. all slumped in December, while an official survey shows China’s factory activity shrank for the first time in more than two years.

SPORTS

-- UCLA fired basketball coach Steve Alford. But columnist Bill Plaschke says the Bruins’ real challenge lies ahead.

-- Ohio State and Washington will play in the Rose Bowl today. Here’s how the teams match up.

OPINION

-- “I am Jewish. I wear glasses. I am bisexual. And I’m the Rose Queen.… I will be waving to everyone from our parade float, but especially to those out there who need a little extra courage to be themselves.”

-- How Trump’s constant lying might forever damage the presidency.

WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

-- This graphic breaks down Trump’s tweets of 2018, in all their outrage and braggadocio. (Politico)

-- The 26-year-old founder of virtual reality headset company Oculus VR is trying to get the Pentagon to embrace Silicon Valley. (Foreign Policy)

-- What do you think of this New Year’s resolution? A year of no shopping. (New York Times)

ONLY IN CALIFORNIA

A neglected Midcentury home is transformed into a Palm Springs showstopper. A couple embraces a 1910 Craftsman in Koreatown. And some people said so long to homeownership in favor of small houses on wheels. They were among the most popular home tours we gave readers last year, and you can see them all here one last time.

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

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