Here are the stories you shouldn’t miss today:
‘Get Over It’
During a Thursday morning news conference, acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney came out and said it: President Trump withheld roughly $400 million in aid to Ukraine earlier this year in part to pressure its new government to investigate Democrats.
After making that statement, which hits directly at the center of House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry, Mulvaney insisted that politics is always part of foreign policy: “I have news for everybody: Get over it.” Except later in the day, Mulvaney tried to walk back his comments.
Meanwhile, Gordon Sondland, the hotelier and Trump-donor-turned-ambassador to the European Union, joined the ranks of witnesses telling congressional investigators that they were troubled by the actions of the president and other officials to interject politics into U.S. foreign policy. (Read his opening statement here.)
And Energy Secretary Rick Perry, who is under scrutiny over the role he played in Trump’s dealings with Ukraine, has notified the president that he intends to leave his job soon.
The Five-Day Cease-Fire
The U.S. and Turkey have reached an agreement for a five-day cease-fire in Syria that will leave the Turks in control of a wide swath of Syrian territory, force formerly U.S.-allied Kurdish militias to withdraw and require the U.S. to drop its newly imposed sanctions against Turkey.
Trump called it “a great thing for civilization.” Turkey’s foreign minister said, “We got what we wanted.” But Sen. Mitt Romney, a Utah Republican, was among those not buying it: “Are we so weak and so inept diplomatically that Turkey forced the hand of the United States of America? Turkey?” In the Turkey-Syria border area, residents welcomed the cease-fire but, while they hope for calm, they see danger at every turn. Fighting indeed continued Friday morning in one border town despite the cease-fire.
— Trump intends to host next year’s Group of 7 conference at his Doral International Resort in Miami in June, leveraging his official powers to benefit his private business holdings in a manner unprecedented for an American president. In announcing the plan at the White House, Mulvaney said Trump is “the most recognized name in the English language.”
— House Democrats’ hopes for a short and focused impeachment inquiry against Trump are being put to the test by a string of new leads that could lengthen their investigation, as well as by some moderate Democrats who remain skeptical about whether the case has been made for impeachment.
— The grieving parents of British teenager Harry Dunn, who was killed in a car crash involving a U.S. diplomat’s wife, said that Trump “doesn’t understand” how much the accident had broken their family. The parents’ spokesman called White House aides “a bunch of henchmen trying to make [Trump] look good.”
Under Siege by Narcos
It was like a scene from a civil war: Heavily armed criminals laid siege to the northern Mexican city of Culiacan after the government captured Ovidio Guzman Lopez, a leader of the powerful Sinaloa cartel and the son of jailed drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman. Masked men with high-powered weapons faced off with soldiers and took control of major streets; gunmen blocked entrances to the city with burning vehicles. In the end, Mexican security forces released Guzman after apparently being overpowered by the combatants.
The Creeping Terror
You’ve probably never heard of the 160-mile-long Garlock fault on the northern edge of the Mojave Desert. After all, it’s never been observed to produce a strong earthquake or even to move. But scientists say the Garlock fault, which is capable of generating a magnitude 8 earthquake, has begun creeping as a result of this year’s Ridgecrest earthquake sequence. And if you were ever told smaller quakes make bigger quakes less likely, this discovery is a good example of why you should think again.
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FROM THE ARCHIVES
Decades before texting on cellphones was a thing, Roland C. Casad introduced a new form of advertising: text on squash. In 1933, Casad sent a squash to President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
On this date in 1933, The Times reported: “On the squash, which weighs eighteen pounds and is twenty-one inches long, the President will find a message addressed to himself and the citizenry at large, reading as follows: ‘When the people show as much interest in the solution of this depression as our President, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, does, this depression will soon be over. This is the people’s problem as much as his.’ ”
— A pharmacy licensing exam cheating scandal has prompted the state to invalidate the scores of the more than 1,000 new pharmacists who took it in recent months — and upended their nascent careers.
— The light rail to Long Beach is reopening next month. Just don’t call it the Blue Line.
— A wind-driven 443-acre brush fire burning west of Santa Barbara on Thursday afternoon prompted evacuations and the closure of a section of the 101 Freeway.
— If you’re a fan of Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch novels — his latest lands Tuesday — try touring the fictional LAPD detective’s 15 most iconic L.A. haunts.
— Or if you feel like curling up with a new book, try tackling one of the 20 best L.A. crime books.
— Eight great things to do in L.A., including a Day of the Dead show with Lila Downs.
HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS
— Back home at Fox News, Megyn Kelly had some harsh criticism for her old employer NBC News.
— Paul Dano will play the Riddler in “The Batman.”
— Film critic Kenneth Turan says Taika Waititi’s uneven satire “Jojo Rabbit” is at its best making Nazis, and Hitler, the joke.
— Cuban asylum seekers who have had a clear path to legal status in the United States since the 1960s are now finding that route blocked by the Trump administration’s Remain in Mexico policy, according to lawyers representing Cuban nationals.
— China’s economic growth slowed more than expected in the third quarter, with lackluster domestic demand and the ongoing downturn in global trade weighing on output.
— Born in South Korea, Christian Morales was raised by a Mexican abuela in East L.A. At his Mexican restaurant in Seoul, he’s re-creating the flavors of the home he can’t return to since being deported.
— Telecommunications giant T-Mobile has agreed to partner with Quibi, a Hollywood start-up that plans to distribute bite-size entertainment designed for millennials.
— The former head of investment giant Pimco will plead guilty in the college admissions scandal, federal prosecutors say.
— Wells Fargo must offer 66 jobs to women and black applicants it rejected five years ago, now that the feds have found it discriminated against them.
— Commissioner Adam Silver admits the NBA’s China conflict has hit its bottom line hard. “I don’t know where we go from here,” he said. “The financial consequences have been and may continue to be fairly dramatic.”
— The UCLA Bruins football team beat Stanford, snapping an 11-game losing streak against the Cardinal that was their longest against any team in their 100 years of football.
— Young quarterbacks are taking over the NFL. Here’s why.
— The Lakers’ JaVale McGee says he wasn’t faking an injury. Social media isn’t so sure.
— Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal makes the best of what’s still a terrible idea, The Times Editorial Board writes.
— Columnist Virginia Heffernan says Pete Buttigieg has the pedigree to clean up after Trump. But is that enough to win in 2020?
WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING
— “I guess I’m the Meryl Streep of generals”: Former Defense Secretary James N. Mattis reacts to Trump’s calling him “the world’s most overrated general” and claiming credit for defeating Islamic State himself. (Politico)
— “How indie went pop — and pop went indie — in the 2010s.” (Pitchfork)
— What looks like a fungus, acts like an animal and has almost 720 sexes? Meet “the blob,” otherwise known as the slime mold Physarum polycephalum, on display at the Paris Zoological Park. (The Guardian)
ONLY IN L.A.
Rikki, don’t lose that paddle number? Hundreds of guitars, pedals, keyboards and other music gear are up for auction today and tomorrow in Beverly Hills. But this is hardly a random collection; it’s the result of musician Walter Becker’s decades-long pursuit of instruments and gadgets as co-founder of 1970s jazz-rock band Steely Dan. Fittingly enough, it includes “the weirdest rare boutique pedals that you’ve ever seen.”