Newsletter: A Turning Point in Syria


Here are the stories you shouldn’t miss today:


A Turning Point in Syria

In northern Syria, there is killing and chaos. In Washington, there is criticism and concern over President Trump’s latest big move on the world stage.

On Sunday, Trump ordered the withdrawal of the 1,000 remaining U.S. troops from the region, as a Turkish air barrage hammered at the Kurdish forces the U.S. has long counted on to fight Islamic State militants. Now the Kurds say they’ve been forced to turn to the Russia-backed Syrian government to stave off Turkey’s attack.


Meanwhile, hundreds of Islamic State family members have escaped from a detention camp managed by the Kurds now battling Turkey. The U.S. has moved a small number of militants to facilities elsewhere, but thousands stand to walk free amid the chaos, and Turkey has shown little inclination in the past to inhibit them.

As former Trump administration Defense Secretary James N. Mattis put it: “ISIS will resurge. It’s absolutely a given that they will come back.”

More Politics

Gordon Sondland, appointed U.S. ambassador to the European Union after contributing $1 million to Trump’s inauguration, is slated to testify as part of the House’s impeachment inquiry this week. Sondland’s hotel chain is facing a boycott.

Kevin McAleenan, the acting Homeland Security secretary, resigned last week. He’s leaving a department at war with itself.

Joe Biden will be back at center stage in Tuesday’s Democratic candidate debate. Still, he is having trouble shaking doubts about his age and agility. Meanwhile, Hunter Biden says he’ll step down from the board of directors of a Chinese-backed private equity firm.

— A graphically violent parody video, shown at a meeting of Trump’s supporters at his Miami resort, depicted a likeness of the president shooting and stabbing his opponents and members of the news media in a church, the New York Times reports.


Bodies of Evidence

California and other states have laws requiring coroners and medical examiners to “cooperate” with organ procurement companies to “maximize” the number of organs and body tissues they take for transplant. But The Times found dozens of death investigations across the country that were complicated or upended when transplantable body parts were taken before a coroner’s autopsy was performed.

In this series of articles, you’ll learn about some of the key cases, how organ and tissue donation companies worked their way into the county morgue, and how you can try to specify what happens with your body parts when you die.

One Good Turn

In an era when the mega-rich have given flashy, enormous donations to higher education, Cerritos College is beaming with pride over the largest donation ever given to the community college: $2.3 million, a band saw and a drill press. All for the school’s woodworking program. “Two million dollars to Caltech is just another number in a very large endowment,” the college’s president says. “Two million dollars for us is transformative.”

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— Chances are, you didn’t hear about a double murder-suicide in Atwater Village on Veterans Day. It claimed three people who were bound by poverty, addiction and mental illness.

— Why are these L.A. people sleeping in stacked pods? It’s not just the cost of housing.

— Columnist Steve Lopez asks: What the heck happened to California? We’ve gone from owning the future to blacked out.

— The film world is abuzz with talk of Bong Joon Ho’s film “Parasite.” It’s a thriller rooted in class conflict.

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On this day in 1939, automotive enthusiasts got a glimpse of the new models at an automobile show at Pan-Pacific Auditorium in Los Angeles.

The Times reported the next morning: “Visitors learned that the 1940 cars show a trend toward greater individuality with a tendency among many models to eliminate running boards, the introduction of several two-tone color combinations, and wider and higher windshields.”

Oct. 14, 1939: Some 150 cars on display at the Automobile Show at Pan-Pacific Auditorium would be glimpsed by an estimated 20,000 visitors.
(Los Angeles Times Archive / UCLA)


— California will become the first state in the nation to mandate later start times at most public schools under legislation signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom. The plan is designed to improve educational outcomes by giving students more sleep. The bill was part of a flurry signed by Newsom. For a rundown of more new state laws, see our Essential Politics newsletter.

— The fires that have hit Southern California have been linked to three deaths. Firefighters have been making progress, and tens of thousands of Los Angeles residents who evacuated from the path of the Saddleridge fire returned home.


— The Los Angeles Police Department’s elite Metropolitan Division will drastically cut back on pulling over random vehicles, which has come under fire for its disproportionate effect on black and Latino drivers. A Times investigation prompted the change.


— It may be farewell, but not goodbye: Elton John has a lot left to say.

— Our review of Julie Andrews’ memoir “Home Work” calls it a graceful look back at her Hollywood years.

—The 10 best streaming TV shows you probably aren’t watching but should be.



— A family in Fort Worth is looking for answers after a white police officer shot and killed a black woman inside her own home. A neighbor had called a non-emergency line because her front door was open.

— Helicopters, boats and thousands of troops were deployed across Japan to rescue people stranded in flooded homes as the death toll from Typhoon Hagibis climbed to as many as 36.

— Mexican authorities have thwarted the latest caravan of migrants attempting to head north from southern Mexico with the hope of reaching the United States.


Lithium will fuel the clean energy boom. A geothermal power company says it can make California’s Salton Sea the first major source of U.S. lithium production.

Social Security can be complicated, which is why this widow can’t get her late husband’s benefits.



— The Angels employee who reportedly provided opioids to Tyler Skaggs issued a statement Sunday saying that cooperating with federal authorities was “the right thing to do.”

— After the USC football team’s latest loss, how long before the other shoe might drop for Clay Helton?


— It’s beginning to smell a lot like Watergate. Columnist Doyle McManus looks at the parallels.

— To get lower car insurance premiums in California, it helps to be well-off and white.



— Records show a Sacramento pot kingpin is linked with a Ukrainian-born businessman who was indicted in a campaign finance scheme along with two associates of Rudy Giuliani. (Sacramento Bee)

Eliud Kipchoge became the first marathoner to break the two-hour barrier. But it won’t be a world record, because the event was engineered for speed. (The Atlantic)


In August 2015, Staples Center put up a banner reading “Taylor Swift: Most Sold Out Performances.” Since then, the L.A. Kings hockey team has failed to win a single playoff series, after having won two Stanley Cup championships in the three previous seasons. Coincidence? Kings fans think not, and for years they’ve asked for the curse of the T-Swift banner to be lifted. Now, they’re getting their wish, sort of. The banner will be covered during Kings games, leaving a … wait for it … blank space.

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