Despite efforts to improve air quality in the nation’s worst-polluted region, the ozone level in Southern California has been higher than federal health standards allow for 145 days this year.
Why Is SoCal’s Smog Worse? The Reason Is Hazy
Southern California and smog have been inextricably linked for decades. Thanks to tough regulations, the dense shroud that once covered Los Angeles has lifted, but we’re still not breathing easy. Smog has gotten worse for the second straight year, even though officials say emissions are on the decline. What’s going on? It could be the weather, a miscalculation in how much pollution is going into the atmosphere, or something else. As scientists try to figure it out, doctors who treat asthma are reporting more patients.
And You Thought Doing Your Taxes Was Painful
President Trump will try to drum up support for the House Republicans’ tax reform bill today ahead of an expected vote. It may hinge on a handful of undecided California GOPers, but leaders think it will pass. Over in the Senate, the picture is much more muddled. Its version of the bill would repeal the Obamacare health insurance mandate and make tax cuts for corporations permanent while ending them for individuals after 2025. One Republican senator says he won’t vote for it, and others have expressed concern.
-- In a speech, Trump touted the success of his Asia trip but cited no major substantive breakthroughs.
-- The nation’s top consumer financial watchdog will step down this month. Will his successor be much friendlier to the industry?
The Endgame for Mugabe and ‘Gucci Grace’
Tanks on the streets. A president under house arrest. Zimbabwean military officials insist it is not a coup, but rather a way to end a deteriorating political situation that was heading toward violence. President Robert Mugabe has been in power for 37 years, much of it with an iron fist, but now that he’s 93, there is the question of who’d succeed him. Clearly, military leaders weren’t enamored of that being his wife, who got the nickname “Gucci Grace” for her free-spending ways. Envoys from South Africa hope to encourage a deal that will allow for a democratic election to pick Mugabe’s successor.
Running Interference for the UC President
When state auditors sent surveys about University of California President Janet Napolitano’s office to campus administrators last fall, they asked participants to keep their answers confidential. Instead, Napolitano approved a plan instructing them to submit their responses for review. Now investigators have found that her top aides interfered with the audit, but they said there was “insufficient evidence to conclude that she was aware of [the aides’] conduct in purposefully and systematically targeting unfavorable responses.” The university’s regents will vote today on corrective actions.
Is UCLA Dropping the Ball?
UCLA basketball players LiAngelo Ball, Cody Riley and Jalen Hill admitted to stealing merchandise from inside a mall in Hangzhou, China, last week. They apologized and thanked President Trump (per his suggestion) for intervening. Although the charges in China have been dropped, there’s the matter of what the school does next. For now they’re indefinitely suspended from playing basketball during a review process. Columnist Bill Plaschke wants to know: “Why not just suspend them for the season, right now?”
-- The three UCLA basketball players, back home in Los Angeles, discuss their actions and detention in China.
-- The Tehama County assistant sheriff describes the mass shooting that occurred there Tuesday.
-- A rare vintage electric sign lights up Sunset Boulevard after being restored.
-- Authorities believe the Tehama County gunman killed his wife and hid her body in their home before continuing his rampage throughout the community. In March, a judge had ordered him to turn in his guns.
-- Officials say the number of people diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease after visiting Anaheim or Disneyland has increased to 15.
-- A 37-year-old man was convicted of first-degree murder in the death of his girlfriend’s 8-year-old son in Palmdale. The case put a spotlight on problems in L.A. County’s child welfare system.
-- Mass murderer Charles Manson is back in a Bakersfield hospital, though the severity of his condition is unclear.
HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS
-- Several women have come forward to accuse FYF Festival founder Sean Carlson of sexual misconduct, according to LAPD records and interviews with the Los Angeles Times and Spin.
-- The SAG-AFTRA performers union safety hotline has seen a 500% increase in calls as Hollywood’s sexual misconduct scandal has played out.
-- Actress Rose McGowan plans to plead not guilty on a drug charge she says is linked to the Harvey Weinstein scandal.
-- In non-harassment news: Our Oscars Buzzmeter is back and keeping track of the fortunes of awards contenders.
He played Rocky Balboa’s aging boxing manager, Batman’s archenemy the Penguin and a bank teller who was the last man on Earth. But over seven decades, Burgess Meredith, who was born on this date in 1907, didn’t get much recognition. In 1980, he even sent The Times a satirical fantasy in which he presided over a company of what he called “non-awarded actors.” He died at age 89 in 1997.
-- China will send a special envoy to North Korea on Friday, marking a potential diplomatic thaw between Pyongyang and Beijing.
-- The trial of two women in a Malaysian courtroom for the poisoning of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s half-brother has political repercussions too.
-- For Baptists in Alabama, the Roy Moore controversy is a thorny issue.
-- A look behind the recent fraternity hazing incidents on college campuses nationwide.
-- California has fined insurance giant Anthem Blue Cross $5 million for repeatedly failing to resolve consumer grievances in a timely manner.
-- In a landmark ruling, a panel of appeals judges has ordered paint companies to pay to clean lead paint out of California homes.
-- Lakers power forward Larry Nance Jr. finally got to meet his Army pen pal 14 years after their first correspondence.
-- USC associate head basketball coach Tony Bland pleaded not guilty to four charges in the nationwide college basketball bribery case.
-- This week’s mass shooting in Northern California is deadly proof that the state needs to reform its bail system.
-- The man who helped prove Einstein correct weighs in on America’s startling science gap.
WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING
-- What your country needs is a good logo: the rise of nation branding. (The Guardian)
-- A painting of Christ sold for a record $450 million at auction. Not everyone is convinced that Leonardo da Vinci painted it. (Vulture)
-- All about the Marco Rubio-Donald Trump water-sipping feud. (CNN)
ONLY IN L.A.
Over the years, students at crosstown rivals USC and UCLA have played plenty of tricks on each other in the week before their annual football game. One of the most memorable pranks happened at the Coliseum in 1957, when USC saboteurs played havoc with UCLA’s student section card stunts. For 60 years, it’s been a secret as to who did it and how. Now, ahead of Saturday’s matchup, it can be revealed.