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World & Nation

Newsletter: In meltdown mode

President Trump meets with Italian President Sergio Mattarella (not pictured) in the Oval Office on Wednesday.
President Trump meets with Italian President Sergio Mattarella (not pictured) in the Oval Office on Wednesday.
(Brendan Smialowski / AFP via Getty Images)

Here are the stories you shouldn’t miss today:

TOP STORIES

In Meltdown Mode

President Trump is finding himself increasingly isolated as the fallout from his abrupt decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria grows.

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On Wednesday — the 1,000th day of Trump’s presidency — the developments included Sen. Lindsey Graham warning of “a national security disaster”; House Democrats and Republicans passing a resolution, 354 to 60, opposing Trump’s move; a White House meeting that resulted in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Trump accusing each other of having a “meltdown” (and quite the photo); and the revelation of a letter from Trump to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan telling him, “Don’t be a fool!”

Whatever you make of the “meltdown” accusations, the incident suggests that even an international crisis is not enough to prompt cooperation between Trump and the Democratic-led House during the impeachment inquiry.

Today, Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo are looking to meet with Erdogan to urge a cease-fire — a mission perhaps undercut by Trump saying, “It’s not our border…. There’s a lot of sand they can play with.”

The Billionaire Bashing Club

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It wasn’t long ago that demonizing the super-rich was risky politics for Democrats. Though their policies sought to aid the poor and the middle class, candidates worried about accusations of class warfare. But as Tuesday night’s Democratic presidential debate made clear, there are no such fears now. Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders are leading the charge, but even billionaire Tom Steyer — who spent $47 million during the first three months of his presidential bid — has joined in.

More Politics

— Maryland Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, a sharecropper’s son who rose to become the powerful chairman of a U.S. House committee that investigated President Trump, died Thursday. He was 68.

— Nearly 1 million children could lose their automatic eligibility for free school lunches under a Trump administration proposal that would reduce the number of people who get food stamps.

— Trump says he thought the grieving parents of British teenager Harry Dunn, who was killed in a car crash involving an American diplomat’s wife, wanted to meet with the woman during a White House visit. They say they were stunned by a surprise proposition to meet in front of the White House press corps.

On Vibration Mode

The idea of having an earthquake early-warning system in California has been around for at least a century. Today, the state is unveiling an app created by UC Berkeley that will give cellphone users the ability to get alerts; authorities will also begin offering them via text, even if you don’t have the app. The idea is to give at least a few seconds for people to drop, cover and hold on before the shaking begins. The release coincides with the 30th anniversary of the Loma Prieta quake (more about that below) and today’s Great ShakeOut earthquake drills.

Where the Fairways Are Dirt

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More than a dozen golf courses have sprung up on the Navajo Nation reservation. Most holes are just buried tin cans or plastic cups marked by sticks or plastic flags. Some of the hazards include sagebrush and goats. But “rez golf” is a welcome diversion in a place where unemployment is over 40% and recreation is scarce. “You don’t see mud on a regular golf course,” says one player. “We don’t have greens. We have browns.”

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FROM THE ARCHIVES

On this day in 1989, as thousands of fans crowded into Candlestick Park for the third game of the World Series, the massive Loma Prieta earthquake struck the Bay Area, collapsing a double-decker freeway in Oakland and a section of the Bay Bridge and killing scores of people.

“It was like somebody slugging a punching bag,” a Sunnyvale schoolteacher told The Times at the time. “Usually earthquakes pass, but this one went on and on. It just wouldn’t stop.” See more photos of the aftermath here.

1989 Loma Prieta earthquake
A California Highway Patrol officer checks cars after the upper deck of the Bay Bridge collapsed onto the lower deck in the Loma Prieta earthquake.
(George Nikitin / Associated Press)

CALIFORNIA

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— Thousands could once again be without power in the coming days as Southern California Edison considers shutting off electricity to customers in an attempt to avoid wildfires sparked by windblown power lines.

— A federal judge handed down a three-week prison sentence for Marjorie Klapper, a white Menlo Park mother whose son applied to college with a fraudulent ACT score and an application that falsely portrayed him as African American, Latino and the first in his family to attend college.

— State regulators say they are reviewing state cannabis licenses granted to Andrey Kukushkin, a Ukrainian-born businessman arrested on charges of conspiring with two associates of former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.

— The Bel-Air estate Casa Encantada has been listed on the market for the highest price in America: $225 million.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

— Hollywood assistants are saying #PayUpHollywood in a new effort to shed light on what they say are exceedingly low wages in the entertainment industry.

— More fallout from the decision by arts biennial Desert X to partner with Saudi Arabia on its next exhibition: The MaddocksBrown Foundation, an L.A.-based philanthropy organization, says it’s withdrawing funding.

— Will the film “Zombieland: Double Tap” be the nail in the coffin of the undead genre?

NATION-WORLD

— Britain and the European Union said Thursday that they have struck an outline Brexit deal after days of intense seesaw negotiations. It must be formally approved by the bloc and ratified by the European and U.K. Parliaments.

Chicago parents and community groups scrambled to prepare for a massive teachers’ strike set to begin today. The strike prompted the city to preemptively cancel classes.

— Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam has again been forced from the legislative chamber because of protests by opposition members after a bloody attack on a leader of the nearly 5-month-old protest movement.

— Beijing whipped up NBA anger, then wound it down, much to the disappointment of Chinese nationalists.

— Is video game addiction a mental health disorder? South Korea looks in the mirror.

BUSINESS

— Do you buy your own health insurance? Starting Jan. 1, California will be the first state to offer subsidies to middle-income people who earn too much to qualify for the federal tax credits for its Affordable Care Act insurance exchange.

— The Los Angeles Times has reached a tentative labor agreement with the guild that represents about 475 members of its newsroom, a milestone for a newspaper that for generations was known as a bastion of anti-unionism.

— Billionaire Elon Musk has told lawyers representing the British cave diver suing him that he’s financially illiquid, according to a legal filing.

SPORTS

— The Angels have hired Joe Maddon as their manager. Columnist Bill Plaschke says that should calm a few nerves, restore a little hope and at least temporarily slow the ugliest of narratives.

Staples Center marks its 20th anniversary today. Columnist Arash Markazi offers up his list of the top 20 sports moments in the arena’s history.

OPINION

— The Supreme Court is far less transparent than other government branches. Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of the UC Berkeley School of Law, explains how to change that.

Republicans blame Democratic leadership for California’s problems. Columnist Steve Lopez says they have a point, but ...

WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

— Documents show stark differences in how Trump’s businesses reported some expenses, profits and occupancy figures for two Manhattan buildings on tax forms and lender forms. (ProPublica)

— The expats known as “China hands” once served as the deal makers between the U.S. and mainland China. Here’s why their era of influence has come to an end. (Inkstick)

Ron Reagan, son of the former president, topped Google’s trends during the Democratic presidential debate after he declared himself a “lifelong atheist, not afraid of burning in hell” in an ad. (Fox News)

ONLY IN CALIFORNIA

The cost of bringing up baby in the Bay Area, like everything else, can make a grownup cry. But there’s at least one deal on childhood entertainment: Baby Rave. The morning dance party for the 4-and-younger set costs only $7 and has become a hit in North Oakland. And unlike some raves for adults, pacifiers and stuffed animals are welcome.

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