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Today: When Jail Can Be 'Like Paradise.' Healthcare Stakes Are High for Trump Too.

Today: When Jail Can Be 'Like Paradise.' Healthcare Stakes Are High for Trump Too.
Randy Neitzke, Beverly Hills Police jail supervisor, at the city's facility. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

I'm Davan Maharaj, editor-in-chief of the Los Angeles Times. Here are some story lines I don't want you to miss today, including our weekend recommendations and weekly look back into the archives.

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When Jail Can Be 'Like Paradise'

Money talks, even in jail. In L.A. and Orange counties, at least 26 small city jails open their doors to offenders who can afford a safer and more comfortable stay in the so-called graybar hotel. The concept began as a way to deal with overcrowding during a 1980s crackdown on drunk driving. But an analysis by the Los Angeles Times and the Marshall Project shows that from 2011 through 2015 more than 160 people in "pay-to-stay" programs had been convicted of crimes such as assault, robbery and sexual abuse of children. So what are the amenities like? Pay a virtual visit to Seal Beach, known as the go-to spot for many deep-pocketed offenders. "This is like paradise," said one.

Sgt. Steve Bowles shows off a room where "pay-to-stay" inmates can watch television, socialize and play games at the Seal Beach Detention Center.
Sgt. Steve Bowles shows off a room where "pay-to-stay" inmates can watch television, socialize and play games at the Seal Beach Detention Center. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

The Healthcare Stakes Are High — for Trump Too

The White House may not want to call it "Trumpcare," but one way or the other, the outcome of the healthcare debate will play a major role in defining the start to President Trump's time in office. "No president wants to have early in their administration a major legislative defeat because it makes them look weak," says former GOP House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Here's the latest on the push to win over conservative critics of the bill.

A 'Trump Effect' on the Border?

Illegal border crossings in the Southwest U.S. usually jump 10% to 20% in February. This year, the number of immigrants caught in the act by Border Patrol agents dropped 40%. That's been a point of celebration for top Trump administration officials. Experts say it's too early to assume it's a long-term trend, though, and one says it's typical to see a drop after new immigration policies, often followed by a big rebound.

Beware the Quiet Bill in Congress

The Regulatory Accountability Act doesn't have a flashy name, nor has it been generating the headlines that travel bans and Obamacare repeal have. If passed, it could change the way safety rules are made on everything from the cars and food we buy to the air we breathe, by making regulators prove they have taken the least costly option possible to business.

More Politics

-- Will he be back? Arnold Schwarzenegger may not have ruled out a run for the U.S. Senate.

-- Six states are challenging Trump's travel ban in court.

-- The owners of a Washington wine bar have sued Trump for unfair competition, saying he is using the power of the presidency to lure business.

The Selfie That Set Leimert Park Talking

DeMille Halliburton inadvertently touched a nerve when he posted a photo of himself and his Saturday running group. He's African American, and many in the group are his white neighbors. The next thing he knew, his selfie had become a source of debate about the changing demographics of the middle-class, traditionally African American neighborhood of Leimert Park.

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The Arts Spring Eternal

In the spring, a person's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of the arts, to paraphrase Lord Tennyson. Our arts staff will bring you up to speed on what's happening in music, theater, art, architecture, dance and books as the vernal equinox approaches on March 20. Among the highlights: a museum retrospective on the 1992 L.A. riots, free art in the desert, the L.A. Phil's Icelandic music festival and Margaret Atwood's graphic novel series.

FLASHBACK FRIDAY

Twenty years ago this week, rap star Notorious B.I.G. was slain while sitting in his SUV after leaving a music industry party at the Petersen Automotive Museum. The killing remains one of L.A.'s biggest unsolved homicides. Here's a look at where the investigation has gone over the years — and the front page of the L.A. Times the day after he was shot.

CALIFORNIA

-- L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti got a big election victory, but he now faces a crucial decision: Stay in the job or run for higher office.

-- Imagine a magnitude 7.4 earthquake stretching underneath Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego counties. That's what scientists are looking at as they study linked faults.

-- An off-duty Los Angeles police officer who fired his gun during a clash with several teenagers in Anaheim is facing a lawsuit from a 13-year-old boy and his parents.

-- Meet Tony, a 5-year-old American citizen whose parents sent him to L.A. for treatment of a rare disease. He misses Syria ... and his mom.

YOUR WEEKEND

-- First, the bad news: This weekend, it's time to "spring" forward and lose an hour of sleep. But if you have to get up Sunday morning, try these pancake recipes.

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-- How to make a weekend in Santa Barbara more than a run-of-the-mill escape. Plus: Some of the world's most exotic orchids will be there next weekend.

-- Take a great L.A. walk around the La Brea Tar Pits (and ponder how redundant the name is).

-- Where did all those high rollers come from? Las Vegas' newest hotel is adding more VIP gaming salons.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

-- Our film critic Kenneth Turan breaks down "Kong: Skull Island": big cast, big budget, not enough big ape.

-- Is the spooky, entrancing "Personal Shopper" Kristen Stewart's finest performance? Our film critic Justin Chang provides the answer.

-- "The Perfect American," Philip Glass' fictionalized opera about Walt Disney, has never before been seen in the U.S. Here's how it wound up at Long Beach Opera.

-- Wistfulness runs through the short stories in Pulitzer-winning author Viet Thanh Nguyen's new book, "The Refugees."

NATION-WORLD

-- A South Korean court has removed impeached President Park Geun-hye. The country will hold a special election in May to choose her successor.

-- A man was arrested after injuring seven people with an ax at the main train station in Duesseldorf, Germany. Police said it appeared to be a random attack.

-- Washington state's "faithless" electors are paying the price for defying voters.

-- For many of the migrants pushing off from Libya's beaches on rickety boats, escaping the terrors of that country is more important than whether they reach Europe.

-- Vegetarian Neanderthals? Our extinct human relatives hid a mouthful of surprises.

BUSINESS

-- Some prominent investors are warning that Snap Inc.'s decision to go public last week with an issuance of only nonvoting shares sets a damaging precedent.

-- Columnist David Lazarus writes that House Republicans marked National Consumer Protection Week by voting to make it harder for people to join class-action lawsuits.

SPORTS

-- UCLA defeated USC, 76-74, at the Pac-12 tournament in Las Vegas, but columnist Bill Plaschke says the Bruins know they have to play better.

-- NFL free agency opened with a stunner, as Houston traded big-money quarterback Brock Osweiler to Cleveland.

OPINION

-- The GOP makes no bones about one part of its healthcare plan: kicking millions of poor people off Medicaid.

-- Who wins and who loses in the GOP healthcare plan? See the David Horsey cartoon.

WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

-- While Trump has not filled many government jobs requiring Senate confirmation, he has quietly put into place hundreds of officials at every major federal agency. They include lobbyists, Breitbart contributors and campaign staffers. (ProPublica)

-- Before you bash the Comic Sans font, consider that it can help people with dyslexia read. (The Establishment)

-- Where did the term "nothingburger" come from? (Wall Street Journal)

ONLY IN L.A.

Chowder fries. Pho tacos. Pizza dumplings. L.A. chefs have been pushing the bounds of food fusion for a while now, though not every dish is an example of two great tastes that go great together. Times deputy food editor Jenn Harris has assembled a list of hybrid foods you'll probably want to try, like the Puffle — part egg waffle, part waffle cone.

Please send comments and ideas to Davan Maharaj.

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