Los Angeles Times


L.A. Fire Department used drones for the first time during Skirball fire

Los Angeles Times

The Los Angeles Fire Department dispatched drones for the first time while battling a wildfire this month as firefighters took on the Skirball fire in Bel-Air. Fire officials demonstrated the use of the unmanned aerial vehicles for reporters on Thursday, sending two drones buzzing near blackened hills around Linda Flora Drive. "They provide real-time situational awareness from a bird's-eye perspective to the incident commander so they can see what's going on at their emergency and then change their tactics accordingly to mitigate the hazards," said Capt. Firefighters used two DJI Matrice 100 drones during the Skirball fire, Scott said. One had a high-definition camera used to survey the burn area, and the other had an infrared camera to assess hot spots.


Scientists find a miniature version of our solar system, with eight planets and a sun-like star

Los Angeles Times

Scientists applying artificial intelligence to data from NASA's Kepler Space Telescope have discovered an eighth planet around the star Kepler-90 -- breaking the record for the star with the most exoplanets and, for the first time, tying with our own. The planet Kepler-90i, described at a briefing Thursday and in a paper accepted for publication in the Astronomical Journal, demonstrates for the first time that other stars can host planetary systems as populous as our own solar system. The findings also establish the growing role that neural networks and other machine learning techniques could play in the hunt for more elusive planets outside our own solar neighborhood. "Kepler has already shown us that most stars have planets," said Paul Hertz, director of NASA's Astrophysics Division in Washington. "Today Kepler confirms that stars can have large families of planets just like our solar system."


Net neutrality's repeal means fast lanes could be coming to the internet. Is that a good thing?

Los Angeles Times

With federal regulators poised to repeal net neutrality rules this week, your internet service provider would be allowed to speed up delivery of some online content to your home or phone. Whether those fast lanes are coming, and what they ultimately deliver for Americans, is unclear. The concept, known as paid prioritization, involves a telecommunications company charging an additional fee to transport a video stream or other content at a higher speed through its network. The fee would most likely come from deals struck with websites such as Netflix willing to pay for a competitive advantage over an online rival. Or the fee could be charged to a company providing services that require reliably fast connections, such as self-driving vehicles or remote health monitoring of people with serious illnesses.


Women victimized by John Meehan share stage, discuss domestic abuse issues raised by 'Dirty John' series

Los Angeles Times

John Meehan spent years terrorizing women and manipulating them to obtain money, sex and power. He focused on isolating them from their loved ones. Yet two of the women he abused, his ex-wives Debra Newell and Tonia Bales, have started a cross-country friendship. They spent part of the Thanksgiving holiday together last month. "We belong to an elite club," Bales joked.


Chargers have made their run in AFC West with the pass, and Redskins are next on flight plan

Los Angeles Times

The question to running back Melvin Gordon seemed straightforward. Did the Chargers under first-year coach Anthony Lynn, try to force the run a little too much earlier this season? "Uh, probably … um … not really," Gordon said. "Actually, I don't know, maybe." Lynn, a running backs coach for 14 of his 17 years as an NFL assistant, came to the Chargers preaching the importance of the run.


Back off, Jeff Sessions. California and other states should be able to legalize and regulate pot on their own

Los Angeles Times

California voters decided last year that the sale of recreational marijuana should be made legal, beginning on Jan. 1, 2018. But Proposition 64 left many of the details to local governments and state regulators. So the last several months have been a race against the calendar, as officials have sought to develop rules governing where, when and how businesses may grow, transport and sell marijuana to adults. Last month, the state unveiled 276 pages of regulations for the new recreational pot marketplace. Among other things, the rules set hefty licensing fees, regulate how much THC will be allowed in edibles and other cannabis products, and require marijuana businesses to track their product from seed to sale.


Guillermo del Toro's 'The Shape of Water' is the true wonder of awards season

Los Angeles Times

"The Shape of Water" is a wonder to behold. Magical, thrilling and romantic to the core, a sensual and fantastical fairy tale with moral overtones, it's a film that plays by all the rules and none of them, going its own way with fierce abandon. More than that, "Shape of Water" is both grounded in the fertile soil of genre filmmaking and elevated to unexpected heights by the transcendent imagination of director and co-writer Guillermo del Toro. Del Toro works well in many genres, from horror to science fiction to gothic melodrama, but as 2006's brilliant "Pan's Labyrinth" made clear, his facility as modern cinema's most accomplished fantasy filmmaker trumps everything else. "Shape of Water," which took home the Golden Lion at Venice, is more than that film's equal, it echoes its legendary predecessor, Jean Cocteau's "Beauty and the Beast," in its ability to simultaneously call forth a spectacular imaginary world and make it heartbreakingly believable.


Rams make contingency plans in case air quality from fires affects ability to practice

Los Angeles Times

The Rams are making contingency plans if Southland fires continue to affect air quality that prevents them from practicing at their Thousand Oaks facility in preparation for Sunday's game against the Philadelphia Eagles at the Coliseum. On Wednesday, a day after smoke and ash were in the air, the conditions were clear and breezy. The Rams went through an extended walk-through, but did not practice. Coach Sean McVay said the team has arranged to work out at USC in the days ahead if it is determined that the air quality in Ventura County remains unhealthful for players. But he is planning to get back to routine at the team's facility.


Stock of drone maker AeroVironment soars after strong earnings report

Los Angeles Times

Shares of AeroVironment Inc., a drone manufacturer based in Monrovia, soared Wednesday after the company reported strong second-quarter earnings, boosted by a growth in sales of unmanned aircraft systems. AeroVironment stock was up as much as 34% on Wednesday morning before losing some of its gains. It was up 26% at $54.49 around noon Pacific time. The company held its second-quarter earnings call with analysts Tuesday afternoon and reported revenue of $73.8 million, a 47% increase compared with the same period last year. AeroVironment attributed the gain to increased sales of unmanned aircraft systems, which includes drones, on-board cameras and sensors and ground control stations.


Books: Best Books of 2017, Andy Weir, American Airstream contradictions and more

Los Angeles Times

I'm LA Times books editor Carolyn Kellogg, bringing you the Best Books of the year and more this week. For the first time since 1931, we have released a list of our Best Books of the Year. See what made the cut to be included in 2017's best fiction and 2017's best nonfiction. In print, both of those lists appear in our special Holiday Books pull-out section, which you'll find nestled within Sunday's Arts & Books. The holiday books gift guide includes audiobooks, coffee table books, books for kids and teens and fun books for stocking stuffers -- 125 titles in all.