Newsletter: Essential California: Of Oscar fame and a humble town 2,000 miles away

Arts and music in Tlaxiaco, Oaxaca
Members of Ballet Folklorico Son Mixteco wait to perform at the Casa de la Cultura in Tlaxiaco. Yalitza Aparicio, star of the movie “Roma,” had her audition at the center.
(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It is Saturday, Feb. 23. Here’s what you don’t want to miss this weekend:


In Mexico, high on the mountain of Yucunino, where a valley of pines leads you straight to Tlaxiaco, everyone knows about the girl. La Yalitza, they call her — as if she were a storm that swept through their town. Young and indigenous, she was like so many women here, until she was plucked from her corrugated metal shanty and made a Hollywood star. Yalitza Aparicio is now up for an Oscar for her role in “Roma,” and her hometown couldn’t be more proud. But as they eagerly watch to see where fame takes her, Tlaxiaqueños worry about the fate of another treasure in town. Los Angeles Times

Behind the story: The fame of “Roma” feels worlds away in the humble Mexican village of Tlaxiaco. Los Angeles Times


Plus: Like the main character in “Roma,” she worked in homes for decades. Now she’s fighting for domestic workers. Los Angeles Times

More about Yalitza: “Roma” made Yalitza Aparicio a star. Now she’s giving a voice to her indigenous fans. Washington Post

Hollywood’s big night

On Sunday night, millions of viewers around the world will finally find out who the big winners are in this year’s Academy Awards. But, after an unusually tumultuous and controversy-filled Oscar season, some would argue that one of the big losers has already been revealed before a single envelope has been opened. Unfortunately, it’s the motion picture academy itself. The venerable institution, which prides itself on representing Hollywood’s best and brightest, is heading into its most important and most glamorous night looking somewhat rudderless and half-dressed. For the first time in 30 years, the Oscars will have no formal host after Kevin Hart dropped out in December amid a firestorm over past homophobic tweets and jokes, leaving empty a gig that was once coveted but is now widely considered thankless. Los Angeles Times


Plus: Inclusion, not President Trump’s hair, is the theme of the 2019 Oscars stage. Los Angeles Times

History lesson: The Oscars’ most memorable TV moments of the last 50 years. Los Angeles Times

Drama at Time’s Up

When Lisa Borders announced her resignation this week as the inaugural chief executive of Time’s Up, she cited a need “to address family concerns that require my singular focus.” Borders, 61, did not explain the circumstances behind her abrupt exit, which came after just four months on the job. But the Los Angeles Times has learned that Borders suddenly found herself at odds with the core mission of Time’s Up because of a desire to stand by a man — her son — facing allegations of sexual misconduct. Borders stepped down four days after a 31-year-old Santa Monica woman alleged in a Facebook post that Borders’ 36-year-old son had been sexually inappropriate with her. Los Angeles Times


Taking it all in: Amid chaos, the fate of the high-speed rail project becomes a shared burden. Los Angeles Times

More red flags: The pilot whose plane crashed into a Yorba Linda neighborhood, killing him and four people on the ground, had been warned by an air traffic controller that he was headed into bad weather. Los Angeles Times

Gulp: Shut down from throwing after two discouraging bullpen sessions this week, longtime Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw is not ready to panic. “Just taking a few days,” Kershaw said Friday. Los Angeles Times


Duck and cover: Earthquake early warnings can come as false alarms — but it’s better to be safer than sorry, researchers conclude in a new study. Los Angeles Times

They closed the border: Venezuela has seen major protests before. Why is this moment different? Los Angeles Times

A gruesome tale: David and Louise Turpin, the Perris couple accused of torturing and abusing their children for years, each agreed to plead guilty to 14 felony charges, ending the prospect of a trial and sparing the 13 Turpin siblings from having to relive their suffering. Los Angeles Times

Getting an assist: Nine donors, including at least two who had already reached political contribution limits, gave $30,800 in the last quarter of 2018 to help pay for Rep. Duncan Hunter’s legal defense, a new financial report shows. San Diego Union-Tribune

Chilling allegations: “A one-time big earner at CAA Sports allegedly threw a chair at a female employee and forced her to sleep in the same bed as him. Then the humiliation got worse, a lawsuit claims.” Daily Beast

The perils of social media: Anti-vax propaganda has gone viral on Facebook. Pinterest has a cure. The Guardian

Another take: It’s time to take John Wayne’s name off the Orange County airport, writes Michael Hiltzik. Los Angeles Times

Yum: A guide to South Central L.A.’s Mexican food scene. L.A. Taco


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1. In May 1938, future Supreme Court Justice Earl Warren’s dad was murdered. Eighty years later, someone might have figured out who the killer is. Bakersfield Californian

2. On the campaign trail, Kamala Harris tries on a sequined jacket, and men go nuts. Los Angeles Times

3. A school district found out about an apple farmer’s controversial tweets. He sued when officials canceled their field trips. Los Angeles Times

4. Snow comes to L.A., with powder in Malibu, Pasadena and West Hollywood, among other places. Los Angeles Times

5. “The best dog in the world (aside from yours, of course) is right here in Southern California.” LAist


From the archives: A celebrity victim and claims of a hoax. Long before Jussie Smollett, there was Aimee Semple McPherson. Los Angeles Times

At the helm: Can Vanity Fair editor Radhika Jones keep the party going? Los Angeles Times

Silicon Valley’s underbelly: You give apps sensitive personal information. Then they tell Facebook. Wall Street Journal

Plus: Mark Zuckerberg promised a “clear history” tool almost a year ago. Where is it? BuzzFeed

Wild! Using DNA tests, Dwight Manley found his birth father: L.A. politician Mike Antonovich. Orange County Register

By the border: Check out this beautiful story about identity and how it has shaped Arizona. Guernica

Who killed Tulum? Greed, gringos, diesel, drugs, shamans, seaweed and a disco ball in the jungle. The Cut

She’s running: Self-help author Marianne Williamson wants to be your healer in chief. Washington Post

Please let us know what we can do to make this newsletter more useful to you. Send comments, complaints and ideas to Benjamin Oreskes and Shelby Grad. Also follow them on Twitter @boreskes and @shelbygrad.