Newsletter: Fallout in the Marshall Islands

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Fallout in the Marshall Islands

Between 1946 and 1958, the United States detonated 67 nuclear bombs on, in and above the Marshall Islands. Today, a massive structure called Runit Dome holds more than 3.1 million cubic feet of U.S.-produced radioactive soil and debris.

Now the concrete coffin, which locals call “the Tomb,” is at risk of collapsing from rising seas and other effects of climate change. And it’s only one part of a troubled history of how the U.S. has treated the Marshall Islands, with devastating effects for those who live there and haunting memories for those who witnessed the tests.

Our special report stems from 15 months of reporting and five trips to the islands by a team from the Los Angeles Times and Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism.


Runit Island
More than 40 years ago, U.S. authorities buried plutonium and other waste from nuclear testing in an unlined bomb crater on Runit Island and encapsulated it with concrete.
(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

The DACA Swing Voter

The impeachment inquiry into President Trump will dominate the headlines out of Washington this week, with public hearings set to begin Wednesday. But on Tuesday, another drama will begin to play out in the Supreme Court: The justices will hear arguments in this year’s most far-reaching immigration case, about the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program.

The court, which somewhat reluctantly took up the case, will decide whether Trump was justified in seeking to revoke the Obama-era policy that allowed more than 700,000 immigrants brought to the country illegally as children to temporarily live and work here. Given the conservative majority on the court, the so-called Dreamers’ best hope for victory almost surely depends on Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.

More Politics

— As the impeachment inquiry moves into a public phase, leading Democrats — joined by at least one GOP lawmaker, Rep. Will Hurd of Texas — rejected Republican demands for public testimony by the whistleblower, whose complaint set the process in motion.

— With many Democrats growing anxious that an uncompromising progressive at the top of the ticket could push swing states into Trump’s hands, Pete Buttigieg is fast threatening former Vice President Joe Biden’s dominance of the Democratic primary’s pragmatic lane.

— Republican Steve Knight, a former L.A. police officer who served two terms in the House before being defeated by Democrat Katie Hill, says he will try to win back his old seat after Hill abruptly announced her resignation last month.

Out of Prison, Into the Voting Booth

When should felons have the right to vote? Most states, including California, automatically restore people’s rights after they have left prison and completed probation or parole. Iowa, Kentucky and Virginia don’t allow those who have completed prison sentences to vote unless the governor personally intervenes. Maine and Vermont allow felons still in prison to cast ballots.

And in Florida, confusion reigns after voters restored voting rights for formerly incarcerated felons, only to see the Legislature act to place a limit on those rights.

Leave the Trees

Wonder Stump Road runs for 2.5 miles between Crescent City and the tiny community of Fort Dick near California’s northern border. The narrow byway’s most remarkable feature: the coast redwoods lining it on either side. Fears that the trees closest to the road could be cut down have gripped the locals. “My family, we’re staunch conservatives. We’re not anti-logging or anything, but these trees don’t need to go,” says one.

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— For nearly 70 years, California fire departments have fought blazes statewide through a mutual aid system. But as catastrophic windblown wildfires strike with more frequency, fire chiefs can be reluctant to assist their counterparts or unaware help is needed because of outdated communications.

— How Hollywood Boulevard’s star Superman wound up homeless, then dead in the Valley.

— “Go back to California”: In Boise, Idaho, a wave of newcomers has fueled a backlash.

— It’s the final call for the Dust Bowl Festival, a decades-old celebration of Okies in California.

— The L.A. Times Instant Ramen Power Rankings, based on taste and “truth in advertising.”

— Our holiday gift guide, with stocking stuffers, gardening items, a jetsetter’s wish list and more.


On this date in 1918, a special edition of The Times proclaimed on Page One: “PEACE: World War Ends as Germany Signs Armistice!” The city of Los Angeles came to a halt. Businesses closed as people took to the streets in celebration. One year later, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed Armistice Day an annual holiday. In 1954, to honor veterans of all wars, Armistice Day was changed to Veterans Day. See more photos here of the celebrations marking the end of World War I.

Nov. 11, 1918: Los Angeles newspapers were hot items when news of Germany’s surrender was announced. The Los Angeles Times printed more than 150,000 copies that day.
(Los Angeles Times Archive / UCLA)


— In this “Trump country” town, folks hear the impeachment talk, but it feels a world away.

— Fed up with Forest Service cuts, Mammoth Lakes and other towns are plotting a recreation takeover.

— Firefighters are continuing to contain the Barham fire, which broke out in Hollywood Hills near the Warner Bros. Studios lot in Burbank.

Chesa Boudin, a former public defender, has been elected as San Francisco’s new top prosecutor.


“Sesame Street” is half a century old, but who is the 50th anniversary special actually for?

— How Shia LaBeouf confronts his troubled relationship with his father in the film “Honey Boy.”

— After the closing of the Marciano Art Foundation in L.A., what’s next for nonprofit museums?

— Season 2 of “Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan” on Amazon Prime dabbles in Venezuela’s politics. Commentator Monica Castillo calls it condescending at best.


— After last week’s attack in Mexico that killed nine American women and children, a caravan carrying about 100 members of Mormon families leaving their homes arrived Saturday in Arizona.

— Bolivian President Evo Morales has announced his resignation under pressure from the military and the public after his reelection victory triggered weeks of fraud allegations and deadly protests.

— At least one Hong Kong protester was shot with live ammunition by police Monday morning as tensions soared over a planned general strike that disrupted commuter traffic across the city.

— Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s Socialists won Spain’s national election but large gains by the upstart far-right Vox party appear certain to widen the political deadlock in the European Union’s fifth-largest economy.

Plastic sachets of single-use consumer goods are all the rage in Asia — and they are fueling a waste crisis.


Bernard J. Tyson, chairman and chief executive officer of nonprofit healthcare provider Kaiser Permanente, has died unexpectedly at 60. His death comes at an especially sensitive moment for the health system, as columnist Michael Hiltzik explains.

Viacom’s chief executive is streamlining his team by identifying key executives who will oversee the various TV networks after Viacom’s upcoming merger with CBS.


— A 17-to-12 defeat to the Pittsburgh Steelers has ended the Rams’ modest two-game winning streak and dropped their record to 5-4, ruining a homecoming for star defensive tackle Aaron Donald.

— The Dodgers will be shopping for starting pitchers and right-handed power as the offseason begins.


Veterans are still homeless in Los Angeles. They shouldn’t be.

— How often has Trump changed his story on Ukraine? Let us count the ways.


— A collection of Veterans Day poems present the realities of life for soldiers returning home. (Poetry Foundation)

— Who is Rudy Giuliani‘s friend “Charles”? An accidental text (yes, yet another one) may have outed his identity. (Salon)


“Brady Bunch” actor Barry Williams — who has been busy on “A Very Brady Renovation” renovating the house used for exterior shots back when he was known as Greg Brady — has sold his oceanfront home in Malibu for $5.82 million. Found within celebrity-popular Malibu Cove Colony, the two-story beach house features high ceilings and walls of windows that take in sweeping ocean views. Coincidentally, the house was built the same year “The Brady Bunch” ended its original run: 1974.

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