Newsletter: Why Boeing's CEO had to go

December 24, 2019 0 By JohnValbyNation

Here are the stories you shouldn’t miss today:


Why Boeing’s CEO Had to Go

Boeing Co.’s approach to making the 737 Max jetliner was supposed to save money and help it compete with rival airplane maker Airbus. Instead, the design created a crisis that killed hundreds of people, ate up billions of dollars, angered airlines and regulators, and cost Chief Executive Dennis Muilenburg his job.

Muilenburg became CEO a few years after the company had decided to create the Max by modifying its 1960s-era 737 airplane design. But he was at the helm when an engineering quirk and a tragic accident turned into a catastrophe that has consumed the company.

All Is Not Calm

Congress may be on holiday break, but the fighting over President Trump’s impeachment trial hasn’t stopped. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer is demanding trial witnesses who refused to appear during House committee hearings. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has all but promised a swift acquittal of the president, said Monday that he isn’t ruling out calling witnesses, but he also indicated he was in no hurry to seek new testimony either.

More Politics

— A close reading of the Justice Department’s inspector general report, as well interviews with current and former agents, suggests the FBI may have been too cautious, not too aggressive, in its secret surveillance of a former Trump campaign advisor in 2016 and 2017.

— A new satellite image of a factory where North Korea makes military equipment used to launch long-range missiles shows the construction of a new structure. North Korea has warned of giving the U.S. a “Christmas gift,” leading to concern it could launch a rocket or missile.

Changes to the Legal Pot Market?

California began licensing pot shops nearly two years ago after Proposition 64 legalized recreational marijuana. Officials originally estimated the state would take in $1 billion annually in tax revenue from cannabis, but the fiscal year that ended in June saw just $288 million. One big reason: Licensed shops can’t compete with the black market. Now, a state advisory panel is recommending significant changes, including possibly a new ballot measure, to get the legal industry going.

A Hazy Shade of Winter

At malls, zoos and theme parks in Southern California, there’s a flurry of activity in the air: faux snow. In the last few years, more and more places have begun offering fake snow as technology has improved. So, how is it made? That’s where snow-making entrepreneurs turn a bit icy; no one wants to reveal their secret formula. Here’s how this wintry magic is more or less made.

A note to our readers: This newsletter will be off the rest of the week. We’ll return to your inbox on Dec. 30.


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“It happened one Christmas Eve a long time ago in a place called Oakland on a newspaper called the Tribune with a city editor named Alfred P. Reck. I was working swing shift on general assignment, writing the story of a boy who was dying of leukemia and whose greatest wish was for fresh peaches.” So begins a 1986 story by the late, great L.A. Times columnist Al Martinez. Read on for “a lesson in journalism more important than any I’ve learned since.”


— Federal officials signed contracts last week totaling nearly $6.5 billion with the companies that run California’s four private immigrant detention centers, less than two weeks before a ban on such contracts is set to begin.

Tith Ton, a Cambodian refugee, was released from a California prison after being granted parole in a murder case. His attorney says Ton was immediately turned over to federal agents for possible deportation.

— The first of two holiday-week storms packed an unexpected wallop across Southern California, flooding roads and snarling traffic.

Mati Waiya has served as one of the most prominent voices for the Chumash people. But leaders of the local Chumash band and academic experts on the tribe’s history and genealogy challenge Waiya’s claims to Chumash roots.

Crescent City has been hit by 41 tsunamis since 1933. By marketing disaster, the struggling town is hoping to recover economically.

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— Our TV critic recommends 28 Christmas movies and specials to watch on TV this week (and two to skip).

— Hollywood doesn’t often make films about World War I anymore. That’s one reason why “1917″ from director Sam Mendes is exceptional. It was made to look as if it were filmed in a single, unbroken take.

— The film “Just Mercy” dramatizes the life of a lawyer who’s provided legal services to death row inmates and saved more than 125 unjustly sentenced people from execution.

— With “Ip Man 4: The Finale,” the Chinese martial arts movie series goes out in style.


— Minnesota’s law against revenge porn is unconstitutional and infringes on 1st Amendment rights, the state Court of Appeals has ruled.

— A court in Saudi Arabia has sentenced five people to death for the killing of Washington Post columnist and royal family critic Jamal Khashoggi, whose grisly slaying in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, drew international condemnation.

— After a report by the State Department’s inspector general on the deaths and treatment of working dogs for the federal government, the U.S. has suspended new deployments of non-military working dogs overseas and will send veterinarians to sites where the animals are posted.

— Shelling along the Line of Control — the de facto border dividing nuclear powers India and Pakistan in the disputed Himalayan territory of Kashmir — has grown markedly since August, when New Delhi revoked Kashmir’s limited autonomy.

Bethlehem is ready for Christmas, but Christians from the Gaza Strip may be kept from the holy site.


— An administrative law judge has ruled that Hotel Bel-Air administrators came up with bogus reasons not to rehire many of its former union workers after a two-year shutdown to remodel.

— How did God make it into millions of consumer contracts?


— The Lakers and Clippers will play against each other on Christmas Day. But what figured to be a turf battle for supremacy in L.A. and maybe in the Western Conference will instead be a contest to see which team will stop stumbling first, columnist Helene Elliott writes.

— Former Dodgers pitcher Rich Hill and his wife, Caitlin, were arrested outside Gillette Stadium before the New England Patriots-Buffalo Bills game. The trouble apparently started when Caitlin repeatedly tried to enter with an oversized bag, police say.


— What took Christianity Today so long to confront Trump?

— The message from a recent Times focus group? Sen. Bernie Sanders is still in the game.


— “A conversation with Rudy Giuliani over Bloody Marys at the Mark Hotel.” (New York Magazine)

Amazon’s logistics operation has repeatedly emphasized speed and cost over safety, a new investigation by ProPublica and BuzzFeed News has found.


It took a decade for the groundbreaking lesbian series “The L Word” to return to Showtime with a sequel, “The L Word: Generation Q.” It took only about five miles of driving for the series to change locales: from West Hollywood to Silver Lake. Take a tour of some of the show’s new haunts and see why they were chosen by showrunner Marja Lewis-Ryan.

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