Newsletter: Powerless in California


Here are the stories you shouldn’t miss today:


Powerless in California

It was the day the lights went out in Northern and Central California — and they could stay out for quite some time. Fearing the return of high winds knocking down power lines that could spark deadly wildfires, PG&E shut off power to millions of Californians across 34 counties. Those who didn’t have an alternate source of electricity were left without lights, air conditioning, computers and refrigerators — though, in many cases, they were left with plenty of anger. So why is it that California, home to the world’s largest economies and a high-tech pioneer, must resort to shutting down the power grid? Read on.


More About the Power Shut-Down

— The massive blackouts led to a run on gasoline, portable generators and other supplies.

Southern California Edison said that, given the strong Santa Ana winds forecast for the area, power could be cut off to more than 173,000 customers in parts of eight Southland counties.

Survival guide: How to prepare if your power is being shut down, and how to survive with just your cellphone.

The Turkish Blitz Begins

In a move to get rid of a Kurdish militia that has been an important U.S. ally against Islamic State militants, Turkey has begun deploying forces and bombarding towns in northern Syria. The Turkish military operation comes after the Trump administration said it was pulling U.S. troops out of Syria. But after President Trump received wide-ranging criticism for abandoning an ally, including from some of his closest Republican supporters, the White House issued a statement quoting Trump as saying the U.S. “does not endorse this attack.” Here is a closer look at the complicated relationship between the U.S. and Turkey.


The Law of Unintended Consequences?

Constitutional lawyers say Trump’s vow not to cooperate with the impeachment inquiry is unprecedented and unlikely to spare him from being formally charged by the House. In fact, they say, it may only increase the chances that he will be impeached. As for the White House’s assertion that the inquiry is invalid because there was no formal House vote to launch it, scholars have noted that no such requirement exists in the Constitution. Meanwhile, Joe Biden publicly stated for the first time Wednesday that Trump should be impeached. And in Russia, it looks as if Vladimir Putin is enjoying the show.

Failures of Oversight

One patient was strangled to death, allegedly by a psychotic patient who had never been given a psychiatric evaluation. Another patient reported being choked by a hospital employee, and a third that her roommate sexually assaulted her — but neither complaint appears to have been investigated. The acute psychiatric hospital at Kedren Community Health Center in South L.A. is a key resource for people struggling with mental illness. But a Times review of inspection and court records reveals serious failures of oversight in its caregiving.

Grand Slammed

The Dodgers finished the regular season with a franchise record 106 victories. They ended the postseason with a loss that will go down in the annals of baseball failure or, if you are a Washington Nationals fan, in the annals of underdog greatness. After leading 3 to 0, the Dodgers gave up seven runs, including a grand slam in the 10th inning, to lose the decisive Game 5 of their National League Division Series.

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On this day in 1983, a major power outage hit the southern part of downtown Los Angeles, including the Los Angeles Herald Examiner and La Opinion newspapers — so The Times stepped in to help. It printed La Opinion’s Oct. 11 edition, and for the Herald — left in worse shape when the power went out — it offered not only its presses but also its newsroom and computers to write, edit and lay out its pages.

As the L.A. Times employee publication Among Ourselves later reported: “The Herald rolled off The Times’ presses, on The Times’ paper and carrying The Times’ body and headline type. A banner across the front page said, ‘Many thanks to the L.A. Times for publishing today’s Herald.’” Read the entire article about the scramble here.


— A proposed Metrolink plan would shift up to $5.5 billion from the Central Valley bullet train project to new high-speed electric commuter trains in Southern California, doubling ridership between Burbank and Anaheim, relieving freeway congestion and slashing emissions.

— Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed into law a bill designed to open the elusive beaches at Hollister Ranch. It’s a significant move forward under his administration on an issue that has stalled for decades in the face of powerful landowners.

— Days after a threat forced a lockdown at Cal State Long Beach, authorities have arrested a second student — one they say hacked the email of the first, whom he didn’t know, to send the threat from her address.

— Just over half of public school students who took the state’s standardized test performed at grade level in English, while only 4 in 10 did in math — but that continues a slow upward trend over the last four years, new data show.


— Wasn’t cord-cutting supposed to simplify our lives? Now that the Netflix model has made TV a cultural tyrant, it’s no longer enough to keep up with all the new shows; now we have to figure out which platform we need to watch them, too, writes columnist Mary McNamara.

— If you’re overwhelmed by the options, our one-stop comparison shopping guide can help you decide which streaming service is right for you.

— The NBC News employee whose sexual harassment complaint led to the firing of Matt Lauer two years ago says he raped her, according to a new book by investigative journalist Ronan Farrow.

Mindy Kaling says the organization behind the Emmys tried to drop her from the producers list on “The Office” and made her submit an essay to prove her worth.


— A heavily armed assailant ranting about Jews tried to force his way into a synagogue in Halle, Germany, on Yom Kippur, Judaism’s holiest day, then shot two people to death nearby in an attack that was livestreamed on a popular gaming site.

— A Defense Intelligence Agency official has been arrested and charged with leaking classified intelligence information to two journalists, including a reporter he was dating, the Justice Department said.

— Beijing’s strategy stands little chance of quelling unrest in Hong Kong because it misunderstands the protesters’ motives. The trade-off at the core of the Communist Party’s domestic legitimacy — give up your freedoms for stability and wealth — doesn’t resonate there.

— The region home to Indonesia’s biggest Christian enclave needs an economic jolt, and attracting Muslim tourists to its natural wonders might do the trick. But what to do about all that pork? The question has touched off a local furor.


— Trump vowed to revive American manufacturing. Today, it’s officially in recession and threatening to pull down other sectors, and it could hit his strongholds of support the hardest.

— Consumer Reports says Tesla’s self-driving Smart Summon feature, which lets your car back out of its parking space and come pick you up, is “glitchy and at times worked intermittently, without a lot of benefit for consumers.”

— The British serial entrepreneur who co-founded the meditation app Calm plans to build an L.A.-based empire that marries mental health and entertainment.


— The prospect of the Lakers and Nets actually playing a game in China is looking bleak, amid the NBA’s conflict with Beijing.

— Another blow for the Chargers: They’re putting Mike Pouncey on injured reserve.


— Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. forces from northeastern Syria, clearing the way for Turkey to invade, was impulsive, unwise and a betrayal of the Syrian Kurds whose fighting was so crucial in routing Islamic State extremists, The Times’ editorial board writes.

— Kudos to Mayor Eric Garcetti for taking on climate change on the global stage. Now let’s see some results on the ground in L.A., the editorial board writes.


— A conversation with a guy who faithfully recreates LeBron James’ Instagram as if he were a cartoon giraffe. (Deadspin)

— We’ve already told you where to find the best autumn colors in the eastern Sierra. If you want to venture beyond California, these maps and graphics show where else in America has the best fall foliage, and the science behind why. (Washington Post)

— For homeless New Yorkers, the city’s subway system offers an elusive safe refuge from violent attacks like the ones that killed four sleeping men last weekend. (The City)


In case the costs of college debt weren’t high enough, California’s priciest place to rent is an L.A. neighborhood full of students. With monthly rents averaging $4,944, it’s the fourth-most expensive ZIP Code in the country, beaten out by only three in Manhattan. Close on its heels is one closer by, spanning Mid-Wilshire and West Hollywood.

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