Newsletter: Amazon at your ... campsite?

Yosemite National Park tourists visit Tunnel View on July 14, 2017. Trump administration proposals to make U.S. national parks more attractive to young people and improve the quality of National Park Service facilities have been met by fierce opposition by conservation groups and senior citizen advocates.
(Brian van der Brug/Los Angeles Times)

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Amazon at Your ... Campsite?

The Trump administration is considering proposals to privatize national park campgrounds, black out senior discounts during peak holiday seasons and further commercialize the parks with expanded Wi-Fi service, food trucks and even Amazon deliveries at tourist campsites.

The idea? To make the parks more attractive to a younger generation and improve facilities. But the proposals made by leaders of the Interior Department’s “Made in America” Outdoor Recreation Advisory Committee face angry opposition from conservation organizations and senior citizen advocates. And some members of the committee are associated with the very companies that stand to profit.

The Forest Through the Tweets (Again)


The vast majority of acres consumed by fire in California since early October have been grasslands and chaparral. The big fires that hit Southern California last week burned expensive L.A. homes, swept through lush agricultural land, closed the 405 Freeway and threatened a presidential library — but they did not burn through large swaths of forests. Nonetheless, President Trump weighed in again on Twitter with a critique of California’s forest management practices. And once again, the experts said the president doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

More Politics

— Notes from an FBI interview of Paul Manafort‘s deputy indicate that, during the 2016 presidential campaign, Manafort pushed the idea that Ukraine, not Russia, was behind the hack of the Democratic National Committee’s servers.

— Many Republicans and Democrats believe President Clinton’s impeachment strategy could work for Trump, if only he could stick to the script.

— As Republicans worry the House impeachment inquiry could damage their party’s election prospects, Trump is taking a bold risk to prove them wrong: He is swooping into three 2019 governors’ races to show he is still a political asset.

— ICYMI: Beto O’Rourke is out of the running for president, Pete Buttigieg has a problem with black voters, and Elizabeth Warren‘s $20-trillion “Medicare for all” plan is a turning point. But Iowa’s Democrats are still searching for a candidate to beat Trump.

A Mountaintop Oasis

Over the weekend, firefighters continued to get the upper hand on destructive fires across California. In the Santa Monica Mountains, they have the upper ground — thanks to an agreement between a wealthy former radio executive whose legal name is Simon T and the Los Angeles County Fire Department. Simon T lets the county use his ridge-top land for a remote base, known as 69 Bravo, for water-dropping helicopters to refill their tanks. See it in action here.

The Legacy of Nov. 4, 1979

Forty years ago today, several hundred Iranian student activists stormed the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and captured many of the diplomats and employees inside. The ordeal would last for 444 days. Now, victims of the Iran hostage crisis and their families face a different struggle back home, as they continue their decades-long battle for compensation. And some say that, despite their own deep-seated scars, it would be beneficial for the two nations to get beyond the enmity of the past.

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— California’s wine country has become fire country, leaving devastation and fear.

— When “El Chapo’s” son was captured in Culiacan, Mexico, the unspoken pact between narcos and civilians broke.

— At this Van Nuys store, fear is big business: It sells protection from fires, earthquakes, shooters and more.

Hollywood assistants are in open revolt. Here’s why.

— Is it safe to travel to Hong Kong? It depends on where you go and whom you ask.

— How Saoirse Ronan and Florence Pugh updated “Little Women” for modern feminists.


“Are you better off now than you were four years ago?” On this date in 1980, Ronald Reagan resoundingly defeated President Carter to win election as the 40th president of the United States, in part by asking voters that simple question. As The Times’ obituary from 2004 notes, Reagan would go on to become “one of the most popular presidents of the 20th century and transformed the political landscape of an era with his vision of conservative government.”

Nov. 4, 1980: A young Republican at the election night party for Ronald Reagan at the Century Plaza Hotel.
(Ken Hively / Los Angeles Times)


— Utilities were already in a bind, between intense criticism when they shut off power and financial peril when they don’t during high fire hazard episodes. Now, an announcement by Southern California Edison has introduced a third dimension to the dilemma: the risk of turning that power back on too soon.

— Housekeepers in the Pacific Palisades were unaware of the mandatory evacuations and showed up to work while the Getty fire burned. Why didn’t anyone warn them? Columnist Frank Shyong explores.

— After months of conflict over a controversial data-sharing policy, L.A. has temporarily suspended Uber‘s permit to rent electric scooters and bicycles on city streets and sidewalks. The company’s subsidiary, Jump, must appeal the decision by Friday or leave the city.

Airbnb says it will ban “party houses” from its platform in response to a shooting at a Bay Area Halloween party held at one of its rentals that left five people dead.


— Will there be a “Joker” sequel? Joaquin Phoenix shares his thoughts.

— If you saw “Watchmen” on HBO last night, you may have questions about a certain object. Actress Jean Smart certainly did.

— The catchy song “Baby Shark” has made millions for the family behind it.

— The Santa Fe Art Colony has long offered cheap digs for artists. Huge rent increases may spell its doom.


— A federal judge in Portland, Ore., has put on hold a Trump administration rule requiring that immigrants prove they will have health insurance or can pay for medical care before they can get visas.

— In Baghdad, a 14-story, Saddam Hussein-era building on the Tigris River has emerged as a landmark in the anti-government protests gripping Iraq.

— On Saturday, Germans will mark the peaceful end of the Berlin Wall. Did rock ‘n’ roll help bring it down?

— Puerto Rican astrologer Walter Mercado, whose daily TV appearances entertained many across Latin America and the U.S., has died at 87. Mercado, who never publicly stated his sexuality, was an icon in the gay community for never conforming to traditional gender roles.


McDonald’s says President and Chief Executive Steve Easterbrook has been pushed out of the company after violating company policy by engaging in a consensual relationship with an employee.

Home equity lines of credit used to be popular. but they’re slowly dying. That’s eating into a lucrative source of revenue for the nation’s largest banks.


— The Chargers have bolstered their playoff aspirations by running to a 26-to-11 victory over the favored Green Bay Packers.

— At the two-day Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita, Mongolian Groom injured his left hind leg while charging for the lead during the final furlong and was euthanized. Could NBC have covered the event and its aftermath differently?


Pacific Gas & Electric is California’s most troubled electric utility. Time for a government takeover?

— “How the Borderline massacre and last year’s fires changed Thousand Oaks — and me as a reporter.”


— All the president’s tweets: An analysis of Trump’s 11,000-plus tweets in office reveals some illuminating patterns. (New York Times)

— The story of Bobe, the other dog (actually, a puppy) at the Baghdadi raid. (CNN)


There’s nothing like a strawberry doughnut from the Donut Man. But for decades, there was only one location in Glendora. That will change in February, when the Donut Man will open a stall in downtown L.A.’s Grand Central Market near Jonathan Gold Plaza — named in honor of the late restaurant critic who championed this “iceberg of a doughnut.”

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