A wet spring. A balmy summer. And now a relatively fire-free fire season. This year’s relative calm is giving firefighters time to prepare for what could be another brutal fall.
Where Are All the Wildfires?
Typically by this point in the summer, fire officials are dealing with multiple wildfires across California. But so far things have been remarkably calm — giving firefighters time to prepare with prescribed burns and offering a respite, however brief. A rainy spring and a cooler summer, plus less extreme wind, has helped keep the state from burning uncontrollably, experts say. But that can change at any moment.
Trump Moves to Detain Families Indefinitely
The Trump administration is moving to dismantle decades-old protections for young immigrants, rolling out new regulations that would give the government the ability to detain minors and families with children indefinitely. The Los Angeles Times editorial board opines that President Trump’s new plan to jail migrant families indefinitely — and it is essentially jailing them — isn’t just cruel, it’s unjustifiable.
— Trump again said Jews who vote for Democrats are “disloyal,” language widely labeled anti-Semitic, and called himself “the chosen one” confronting China on trade. His comments reflect a familiar cultural trope. In an op-ed, Lev Golinkin calls it “not just offensive but also historically lethal.”
— Parkland student activists have their own gun control plan and want presidential candidates to endorse it. Among its goals: change ownership standards, halve gun deaths in a decade, name a gun-violence prevention czar and automatically register voters.
— So far in the 2020 Democratic primary race, more than 80% of Bernie Sanders’ 2016 donors have stayed on the sidelines, according to a Times analysis.
— Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has dropped out of that race after his climate-focused campaign failed to gain traction.
— Trump has remade his party, a new USC/L.A. Times poll finds. But the change has alienated a significant chunk of Republicans whose support he’ll need for reelection.
The Feds Buried a Damning Study on Trump’s Water Plans
Federal officials suppressed a lengthy environmental document that details how one of California’s unique salmon runs would be imperiled by Trump administration plans to deliver more water to Central Valley farms. The 1,123-page assessment, obtained by The Times, was never released. If it had been, it would have interfered with efforts to ramp up irrigation deliveries to powerful California farm interests with ties to the administration.
What’s Really Happening at Area 51?
It was supposed to be a fun joke. Create an event on Facebook that was so absurd, everyone would have a laugh, share a meme and then move on with their lives. Instead, a 20-year-old from Bakersfield got a visit from the FBI, the Air Force has warned it is ready for anything and a Nevada county is preparing to declare a state of emergency. Will millions arrive at Area 51 in September to storm the gates of the top-secret military site? Nobody knows for sure. But the organizer has a message for those tempted: “Please don’t.”
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FROM THE ARCHIVES
On this day in 1989, the Los Angeles Times reported on the murders of Jose and Kitty Menendez, the wealthy Beverly Hills couple slain by their college-age sons, better known as the Menendez brothers. The brothers, Lyle and Erik, would be arrested months later and eventually convicted and sentenced to life without parole, but initially, they were not considered suspects. They in fact had called police to report the killings. As The Times reported at the time:
“It was a very hysterical call,” said Lt. Robert Curtis, spokesman for the Beverly Hills Police Department. Officers arrived at the scene about one minute later and discovered the bodies of the Menendezes in the family room of their Mediterranean-style mansion. ... Authorities declined to discuss a possible motive in the case but said they were not aware of any threats against the couple. Curtis said the Menendezes’ sons, Lyle, 21, and Eric, 18, were taken to police headquarters and questioned, but were not considered suspects in the case.
— To prevent wildfires, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti wants to make it easier to clear homeless encampments in severe fire zones.
— Long Beach police say they thwarted a possible mass shooting, arresting a disgruntled hotel cook who told a coworker he planned to come to work and shoot everybody he saw. They seized an assault rifle, 38 high-capacity magazines and hundreds of rounds of ammunition from his home.
— Drug traffickers are using a banned pesticide — so toxic a teaspoon can kill a bear — to grow marijuana in remote areas of the Sierra Nevada mountains, according to law enforcement. Traces of carbofuran, which can cause permanent reproductive damage, have been found in rivers and animals, weaving what the head of one environmental group calls “a web of death.”
— After decades of court-ordered outside supervision, the L.A. Unified School District will regain full control over programs that serve the special needs of its more than 64,000 students with disabilities.
— First there was the video showing a group of boys from Pacifica High School in Garden Grove raising their arms in a Sieg Heil salute while singing a Nazi marching song. Now, more racist videos have surfaced.
— The Danish premier deemed Trump’s interest in buying Greenland “absurd.” In Solvang, the self-declared Danish Capital of America, people seem to agree.
HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS
— Campaign videos Matthew Modine released as he runs for SAG-AFTRA president have become the focus of controversy. That’s because they were produced for him for free by New York Film Academy, a for-profit school on whose board he sits, and to which he donates money.
— Studios’ desire to get out of the way of juggernauts like “The Lion King” has led to a late-summer pileup of movie releases. And predictably, they’ve faced some late-summer doldrums at the box office.
— Liam Hemsworth has filed for divorce from Miley Cyrus seven months into their marriage.
— Spider-Man is leaving the Marvel Cinematic Universe now that Sony and Disney talks have fallen apart.
— As the Trump administration plans big cuts to foreign aid, a new wave of career diplomats is calling it quits.
— Violence by refugees and far-right extremists is darkening political attitudes in Germany. And if the anti-immigrant party Alternative for Germany (AfD) performs well in upcoming elections, as it’s expected to, there could be greater turbulence to come.
— Turkey says it’s extending censorship rules to streaming services in order to police content it deems “against moral values.” But critics say authoritarian President Recep Tayyip Erdogan‘s real target is political dissent.
— The U.S. budget deficit is set to balloon to $1 trillion by fiscal year 2020, two years sooner than previously forecast, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. And the growing U.S. debt load could exacerbate recent strains on the economy.
— Russia is rethinking its policy of letting remote wildfires burn, after this summer’s blazes in Siberia spread smoke and ash across a third of the world’s largest country. But experts say more aggressive firefighting alone won’t solve the underlying problems.
— Fed officials saw last month’s rate cut as insurance against too-low inflation and the risk of a deeper investment slump due to uncertainty over Trump’s trade war, just-released minutes from last month’s meeting show.
— The B-2 bomber cost $1 billion to make, and many millions more to maintain. Northrop Grumman‘s new B-21 aims to replace it, but for that to happen, it will have to avoid its predecessor’s mistakes — and price tag.
— Clayton Kershaw has surpassed Sandy Koufax on the Dodgers’ all-time wins list.
— World Cup champion Carli Lloyd kicked some field goals for the Eagles at a joint practice Tuesday in Philadelphia — and nailed a 55-yarder through goal posts much narrower than the regulation ones.
— It’s time to get rid of “ghost guns,” as some lawmakers in Sacramento have proposed, Capitol Journal columnist George Skelton writes. Such weapons just let bad guys skirt gun control laws.
— When L.A.'s planning director stepped down early this year, he took an $18,000-a-month consulting gig with his former agency — at the same time he was illegally lobbying it on behalf of real estate developers. No wonder people think land-use policy in City Hall is a corrupt insider’s game, the editorial board writes.
WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING
— A couple tried to do a #vanlife road trip. They learned that what you don’t see on Instagram are the relentless anxiety, bickering and breakdown nightmares. (Outside)
— Big Tech believed its own utopian hype, until it couldn’t anymore. Now, in their crisis of conscience, its machers are heading to places like Esalen, in search of help translating their guilt and emotions into responsible actions. (The New Yorker)
ONLY IN L.A.
When Kawhi Leonard announced he was joining the Clippers, sports fans rightfully focused on what it meant for the NBA. But this week, when he visited his old elementary school in Moreno Valley and said he’d be giving away a million backpacks, just as many Southern California school kids discovered what his return meant to them, columnist LZ Granderson writes.