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Newsletter: Today: Debate, Yes. Repeal, No — So Far

Mitch McConnell, John Cornyn, John Barrasso
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, center, with Senate Majority Whip Sen. John Cornyn, right, and Sen. John Barrasso, left, on Tuesday.
(Jacquelyn Martin / AP)

The Senate has begun debate on healthcare overhaul, but no one is sure where that will lead. 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.

TOP STORIES

Debate, Yes. Repeal, No — So Far

It had the makings of a drama: mystery, suspense, protest and cheers for a veteran’s return. But with health coverage for tens of millions at stake, the final act is yet to be written. Senate Republicans voted by the slimmest of margins to start debating the repeal and potential replacement of Obamacare, yet no one knows for sure what the final bill, if any, will be. A series of votes will weigh competing proposals this week; the first one, once considered the GOP’s leading replacement proposal, saw nine Republicans vote against it. If all else fails? “Let’s return to regular order,” Sen. John McCain urged in his return to D.C. after being diagnosed with brain cancer.

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Congress to Trump: Don’t Touch Those Sanctions

Meanwhile, Congress is sending a strong bipartisan message to President Trump amid the Russia investigation: You can’t lift sanctions against Moscow on your own. The House voted 419 to 3 on a bill to impose tougher measures and prevent the president from unilaterally easing sanctions, which he has hinted he might do. A similar bill passed the Senate 98 to 2. Though it isn’t the first time Congress has tried to tie a president’s hands on foreign policy, it’s an unusual move, especially when the same party controls the White House and Capitol Hill.

More Politics

-- As Trump continued his public flogging of Jeff Sessions, prominent figures in Congress and conservative media rallied around the attorney general.

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-- The Trump administration strengthened its crackdown on so-called sanctuary cities, but the move affects only some funds.

-- No, the Goldwater Rule has not been overturned. Psychiatrists are still prohibited from commenting on Trump’s mental state.

A Pasadena Police Officer Didn’t Buy the USC Dean’s Story

Dr. Carmen Puliafito told a Pasadena police officer he was at a hotel room where a young woman overdosed last year as a family friend to help the woman. An audio recording shows the officer expressed skepticism of that account given by Puliafito, who was then dean of USC’s medical school. “You buy it?” a social worker asks him. “No,” he replies. Even so, a required report on the overdose was not filed until three months later, after The Times made repeated requests for information.

The Cost of Football’s Violent Hits

The numbers are startling: Of 111 former NFL players whose brains were donated for postmortem examination, 110 suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a condition likely brought on by repeated blows to the head. Given that the players had shown symptoms while alive, the study’s authors say the sample is skewed and doesn’t mean severe brain damage would be found in all who’ve played football. But it does add to growing concerns about contact sports and especially young players’ participation.

A Prickly Pair Along California’s Cactus Curtain

They call it the Cactus Curtain, an imaginary line that divides Lancaster and Palmdale in the high desert. For decades the cities have battled over businesses and more. In 2013, when the local NAACP chapter sued Palmdale over elections, Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris helped out the civil rights group in his capacity as a lawyer and deposed Palmdale Mayor Jim Ledford for hours about politics, city affairs, his life and work. Four years later, that deposition has become a key part of a public corruption investigation into Ledford by the L.A. County district attorney’s office.

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MUST-WATCH VIDEO

-- What’s the deal with California’s cap-and-trade program? This breaks it down in 90 seconds.

-- The cosplayer AmberSkies is a “third-grade teacher by day, and a superhero by night.”

-- How to make the waffles from the Oakland diner Brown Sugar Kitchen.

CALIFORNIA

-- The FBI says scam artists have been trying to extort ransom from dozens of people in Southern California by claiming to hold their relatives hostage in a telephone scheme.

-- The arrest of a pastor during a routine appointment with an immigration officer has sparked protest and sent worry through Los Angeles’ Latino religious community.

-- Caught on video: A man flipped over a street vendor’s cart in Hollywood. The vendor says all he wants is for the man to pay for the damage he caused and for the food he lost.

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-- A Monterey Park man has been arrested after customs officers found three highly venomous king cobra snakes, each about 2 feet long, hidden in potato chip cans.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

-- Neon-streaked lighting, high-glamour outfits, moody synth-pop: How the Cold War thriller “Atomic Blonde” got its totally ’80s look.

-- “The Simpsons” creator Matt Groening will get a new Netflix show called “Disenchantment,” an adult animated comedy series set in a deteriorating fantasy kingdom.

-- The Toronto International Film Festival will feature films by Darren Aronofsky, Angelina Jolie and Guillermo del Toro. This year, it’s trying to emphasize quality over quantity.

-- Movie and TV show premieres are getting a whole new look thanks to multimedia installations projected on the sides of buildings.

CLASSIC HOLLYWOOD

She was born Ilyena Lydia Mironoff on this date in 1945 in London, the child of a Russian emigre and Englishwoman whose father was a butcher. Today some fans think of her as the Queen. You might know her better as Helen Mirren.

NATION-WORLD

-- Jordan has released video of an incident in which three U.S. servicemen were killed by a Jordanian soldier, who was sentenced to life in prison.

-- The sorry state of a multimillion-dollar art collection reveals the deeper troubles at India’s national airline.

-- An expert says “fake news” about statins is discouraging the use of these lifesaving drugs.

BUSINESS

-- AT&T Chairman and Chief Executive Randall Stephenson found himself in uncomfortable territory after Trump’s Boy Scouts appearance: He’s the Boy Scouts of America president, and his company is seeking approval to take over Time Warner Inc.

-- In many corners of Southern California, home prices have hit record highs, and they keep going up.

-- A former Fox News executive fired after he was accused of sexually assaulting a female on-air commentator is suing 21st Century Fox for going public with the matter.

SPORTS

-- Robert Griffin III auditioned for the Chargers, but the passing over of Colin Kaepernick continues to be the bigger story.

-- The U.S. men’s national soccer team will take on Jamaica in the Gold Cup final in Santa Clara, and both see it as a chance for redemption.

OPINION

-- So this is how Trump fires people. Publicly, with maximum humiliation.

-- McCain rescued the Senate GOP healthcare bill. Can he rescue the Senate?

WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

-- Some companies and individuals are looking to register racially charged words and symbols with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office based on a recent Supreme Court decision. (Reuters)

-- The American soap opera “Santa Barbara” became an obsession in post-Soviet Russia, and we can learn from that today. (Foreign Policy)

-- How the late TV anchor Jim Vance “became the embodiment of black Washington.” (The Undefeated)

ONLY IN L.A.

The Rams were the last-place team in the NFL, but this time around, they may get the last laugh. The team has announced a partnership with the Laugh Factory to produce scoreboard entertainment and social media videos. Why not? As columnist Dylan Hernandez writes, “Lose a dozen games and everything a franchise does starts to sound like a punch line.”

Please send comments and ideas to Davan Maharaj.

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