Newsletter: Trump, the Taliban and the Camp David gambit

Afghan soldiers inspect the site of a suicide bombing in Kabul on Aug. 10.
Afghan soldiers inspect the site of a suicide bombing in Kabul on Aug. 10.
(Hedayatullah Amid / EPA/Shutterstock)

President Trump’s planned Camp David retreat with the Taliban draws flak from all sides.


Trump, the Taliban and the Camp David Gambit


Did the Taliban ever intend to come to Camp David over the weekend, as President Trump claimed in a series of tweets canceling negotiations aimed at leading to a withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan? Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo said Sunday that the president had called off the secretly planned talks after a recent Taliban attack. The militant group, which sheltered Osama bin Laden as he masterminded the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in 2001 and has fought U.S. forces ever since, disputed Trump’s account, saying its leaders had refused to come until the U.S. had signed an agreement hammered out by negotiators over the past year. Either way, Trump’s abrupt disclosure of plans to bring Taliban leaders to Camp David just before the 18th anniversary of 9/11 drew criticism even from some Republican lawmakers who usually support the president.

More Politics

Congress returns to Washington this week amid mounting pressure from Democrats and the public to take action on gun policy after several mass shootings, but lawmakers from both parties say meaningful action hangs solely on Trump. Meanwhile, Congress will also face a quick deadline to get the government funded again or risk another shutdown.

Mark Sanford, a former South Carolina governor and congressman, has entered the Republican race against Trump. He joins Joe Walsh, a former tea-party-backed congressman from Illinois, and Bill Weld, a former governor of Massachusetts, as primary challengers to Trump. At the same time, Republican leaders in Nevada, South Carolina and Kansas have voted to scrap their presidential nominating contests.

— Former top officials of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are assailing the agency for undermining its weather forecasters as it defends Trump’s statement that Hurricane Dorian threatened Alabama.

‘How Can You Starve Here?’

Han Sung-ok fled North Korea for a better life. In South Korea, she and her 6-year-old son, Dong-jin, were found dead in July in a low-income Seoul apartment, possibly of starvation. Though they appear to have lived their final months unconnected with the world around them, many fellow North Korean refugees feel as if they knew her and are demanding to know what happened. What’s more, they want the South to give better job training and more support to new arrivals.

A Widening Investigation

In an expansion of the investigation into the Labor Day boat fire that killed 34 people, federal investigators served warrants yesterday at the Santa Barbara headquarters of boat operator Truth Aquatics seeking training, safety and maintenance records. Agents also searched two other boats belonging to the company, including one similar to the 75-foot vessel that burned and sank off the coast of Santa Cruz Island. Sources said that authorities had not concluded a crime had occurred but were trying to determine whether one had.

Homeless in Their Own Neighborhood

In Los Angeles County, African Americans make up 9% of the population, but 40% of its homeless, and two-thirds of them live outside. Why? L.A. is only beginning to address the forces behind the racial disparity of its homeless population. One encampment under the Ronald Reagan Freeway in Pacoima provides a stark example of displacement.

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Alvin Robinson died homeless and alone on the street in L.A. As columnist Steve Lopez discovered, his wife, Lola, had never lost hope he’d return.

— In letters to the judge who will sentence Felicity Huffman, she and William H. Macy tell their side of the college admissions scandal.

— “Just saying hola isn’t enough.” How do Latino voters feel when candidates speak Spanish?

— How did four smiling teachers end up posing with a noose? This is what they told investigators.

Day-Glo masterpieces are fading. A conservator and her team are racing to save them.


The venue was only half-full, but when the Clash played the 6,000-seat Monterey Fairgrounds on its second U.S. tour on this date in 1979 — part of the poorly attended Tribal Stomp Potluck Picnic & Dance there — the band didn’t sound as if that mattered. Los Angeles Times columnist Charles Hillinger wrote at the time: “When the Clash hit the stage, the four-piece British group played with enough energy and commitment to satisfy an audience of 25,000.” He said lead singer Joe Strummer was “looking more confident and comfortable on stage than in his first U.S. trip.” See for yourself:

Sept. 9, 1979: Joe Strummer of the Clash at the Monterey Fairgrounds.
(Goerge Rose / Los Angeles Times)


— Air quality regulators have killed a years-long push for stronger regulation of hydrofluoric acid, voting instead to accept a voluntary, oil industry pledge to enhance safety measures at two refineries in L.A’s South Bay.

— To chase away homeless people, some 7-Eleven stores in L.A. are using classical music.

— Jerry Schubel, the longtime leader of the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, is stepping down.


Jennifer Lopez is a star reborn in “Hustlers,” which film critic Justin Chang calls a smart, bracing tale of strippers-turned-grifters.

Tom Hanks’ portrayal of Mister Rogers in the film “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” is more than just one nice guy playing another.

Spotify‘s chief content officer says she plans on making hundreds of original podcast series next year to grow the business.


— After Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam withdrew the extradition bill that sparked the city’s summer of unrest, demonstrators have continued to rally, march, clash with police and, on Sunday, wave American flags while singing the U.S. national anthem in an appeal for help from Washington.

— The head of India‘s space agency says a missing lunar lander module has been located on the moon’s surface.


— Two major Southern California supermarket operators have reached a tentative deal on a new labor contract that could avert a strike at more than 500 grocery stores by the chains’ 47,000 workers.

— Want to pay off debt? Try to avoid doing it this way.


— In their NFL season openers, the Rams showed no signs of a post-Super Bowl hangover in beating the Carolina Panthers, while the Chargers dropped the Indianapolis Colts in overtime.

Rafael Nadal defeated Daniil Medvedev to capture the men’s U.S. Open title, while Bianca Andreescu knocked off Serena Williams to capture the women’s title.

— USC quarterback Kedon Slovis helped the Trojans defeat No. 23 Stanford in his first start. Will he be the football team’s savior?


— Trump is our conspiracy-theorist-in-chief. Here’s how that hurts the country.

— We’re thoughtful about what we eat. So why are we thoughtless about what we share online? Columnist Frank Shyong ponders the internet and a $20 smoothie.


— Why did an Air National Guard crew make a stop at Trump’s Turnberry resort on a routine trip from the U.S. to Kuwait to deliver supplies? (Politico)

Rose McGowan responds to allegations of attempts to discredit her and other women who accused Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault. (Variety)


When life gives you tiny invasive shrimp, make … shrimp cocktail? That comes close to describing the philosophy of UC Davis researchers when it comes to dealing with a proliferation of mysis shrimp that has turned Lake Tahoe‘s famously blue waters murky. The researchers are proposing to remove the crustaceans with trawlers and to mass-market the Omega-3 fatty acids extracted from the catch. But not everyone thinks this plan is fully hatched.

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