The Short List

Headlines for Thursday, December 14 2017

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1 / 10

The. Thomas. Fire.

Now the fourth largest wildfire in state history, the Thomas Fire has claimed the life of a firefighter, consumed 242,500 acres in 10 days, destroyed 970 buildings and prompted the evacuation of about 100,000 people. It was 30 percent contained on Thursday. Extreme fire danger conditions could last through the weekend with increased wind in the forecast, and residents continue to cope with extremely unhealthy air. These surfers were photographed earlier in the week in Carpinteria.
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2 / 10

Power rangers

California state regulators have approved strict new regulations requiring utilities do more to prevent power lines and equipment from starting fires. The decision comes at the same time state and local fire investigators are looking into whether power lines sparked any of the recent fires in Southern California. SoCal Edison equipment was associated with more than 240 fires in its service territory between April 2014 and December 2016. See the map.
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3 / 10

Upping outreach

L.A. County officials and agencies are increasing outreach efforts at homeless encampments after learning the cause of the Skirball Fire. They've pledged to place an increased emphasis on fire safety. Sheriff's Department Chief Jim Hellmold said the county has seen a growth in homelessness, particularly in remote areas: "Along the riverbed, under freeways, and in remote, rural areas, and that's where this issue of heavy, dry vegetation becomes an issue." The Bel Air-area fire was the first officials could recall in L.A. County that started from an encampment.
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4 / 10

I can't drive 55

The FCC has repealed "net neutrality" rules for Internet providers. The regulations were in place to keep providers from meddling with loading speeds and prohibited them from striking special deals to give specific websites or apps "priority" over others. Advocacy groups are expected to press Congress to stop the FCC's vote from taking effect under the Congressional Review Act. Consumer interest groups told NPR they are planning to pursue a lawsuit to challenge the decision.
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5 / 10

Tsi gezunt

Or, "to health," as one's Bubby might say to a sneeze. Friday is the last day to sign up for an individual health insurance plan with Covered California for policies beginning Jan. 1. People who don’t get insurance are "rolling the dice and potentially ending up in the emergency room ... and walking out with a $250,000 debt. That’s sort of bad math," said the exchange's executive director.
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6 / 10

Fox hunting

The Great Mouse Directive. The Mickey Mouse Grub. The Fox and the Hound. Something about a mousetrap. There are a lot of puns to be made, but they all cost $52.4 billion. Disney is buying much of Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century empire. The deal comes against a backdrop of industry finance changes and uncertainties about succession at both companies. Fox News is not part of the deal.
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7 / 10

Kidding aside

KPCC recently hosted a panel of experts who shared what they know about child brain development, body autonomy, multilingualism, screen time limits, selecting a preschool, bossy toddlers and more. One crucial takeaway: kids' brains make one million neural connections EVERY SECOND until the age of 3. Watch the video of the full event, listen to an excerpt or read the answers to some audience questions.
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8 / 10

Free to be you and me

A UCLA study found more than a quarter of California kids aged 12-17 believe their peers see them as "gender nonconforming." Children perceived as gender nonconforming were not found to have statistically significant higher levels of suicide, but, says the study's lead author, they're more than twice as likely to experience psychological distress — a risk factor for suicide.
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9 / 10

Hard pass

A new national survey found the number of teens abusing drugs is lower than it's been since the 1990s. With a couple of key exceptions. "[One] is marijuana. It hasn't gone up ... but it hasn't gone down, and it remains worrisome," says the director of the study. "Another concern is we see very high and very fast uptake of electronic vaping devices." Also noteworthy, combustible tobacco use hit an all-time low with only 9.7 percent of high school seniors smoking. Also, combustible tobacco is a real term, and now we all know that.
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10 / 10

'And when I say giant, I mean giant'

The president gave his final pitch for the tax overhaul on Wednesday, as the House and Senate said they had reconciled the differences between their bills. Congress is expected to vote on a final bill next week; Trump says changes would take effect early next year. Read the full transcript of his remarks, annotated with context and analysis from NPR journalists.
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