Newsletter: Today: Zuck and Cover
Mark Zuckerberg defends Facebook on Capitol Hill; President Trump is angry about a “witch hunt”; and worries over a military response in Syria grow.
Zuck and Cover
Forty-four senators. Five hours. One bottomless glass of water. That’s how Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg got through Day 1 of testimony before Congress, essentially unscathed as lawmakers questioned him about the vagaries of his social network. Faced with data privacy scandals and an airing of grievances by the senators, Zuckerberg apologized and said he would support the “right regulation.” But the session also highlighted how unprepared Congress is to impose game-changing rules — for now. Maybe the biggest news nugget: Facebook is cooperating with the special counsel’s Russia investigation. Perhaps more will be revealed before a House committee today.
A Big Loyalty Test
For some Republican members of Congress, the Zuckerberg testimony provided a welcome distraction from having to answer questions about President Trump. His anger continued to bubble after federal agents seized documents from Michael Cohen, who has done much more for Trump than simply serve as his attorney. The search warrants reportedly focused, in part, on payments to porn actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy playmate Karen McDougal. Meanwhile, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders asserted Trump himself has the authority to fire special counsel Robert S. Mueller III.
In Syria, Don’t Poke the Bear
The United States and Russia have exchanged harsh words since a suspected poison gas attack in Syria, but the one thing neither side wants is a direct military conflict. There’s even a hotline to make sure U.S. and Russian aircraft avoid each other in Syrian airspace. The delicate balance could be upset if Trump opts for a heavy bombardment of Syrian positions in response to the deaths of about 50 people in a rebel-held town. Here’s a more detailed look at the various military scenarios in Syria — and how Israel already has received international blowback over the bombing of Syria’s largest air base.
-- Amid the crisis over Syria and the raid against his personal attorney, Trump abruptly canceled his two-day Latin America trip. It’s likely to increase resentment there.
-- After Trump called aspects of the U.S.-China trade relationship “stupid,” China’s Xi Jinping tried a different strategy: promising to slash auto tariffs and further open his country’s markets to imports.
-- Another White House departure: Tom Bossert, Trump’s homeland security advisor, is resigning.
-- CIA Director Mike Pompeo, Trump’s pick for his second secretary of State, will face his Senate confirmation hearing Thursday.
Water Flowing Underground (Same as It Ever Was)
The Sacramento-San Joaquin delta tunnel project is supposed to revitalize the heart of California’s waterworks, ensuring that Southern California’s spigots don’t run dry. That’s why the area’s biggest water district voted to commit nearly $11 billion to build two water tunnels up north. But as with many a fight over H20, the battle lines were drawn over cities versus farms and who is willing to pay for it. And there are still no guarantees the tunnels will ever become reality.
Yes in My Backyard?
Would you build a guest house for homeless people in your backyard? How about if the government paid you to do it? Though the idea may seem farfetched, L.A. officials are looking to turn NIMBYism into YIMBYism by encouraging property owners to build so-called granny flats and rent them to the most stable individuals among the 58,000 homeless people in L.A. County.
Turn Right Here … Aieee!
Remember ridiculously steep Baxter Street? Last week, columnist Steve Lopez wrote about how Echo Park residents are complaining that navigation apps are routing cars onto a street that’s not for the faint of heart. Today, he’s got some feedback — from an L.A. City Councilman who wants to rein in those apps and from the PR department of Waze.
-- Highlights from Mark Zuckerberg’s testimony before the U.S. Senate.
-- If you’ve ever thought about taking a spin on one of those green rental bikes through downtown L.A., check out these tips first.
-- Enrique Marquez bought the guns used in the 2015 San Bernardino terrorist attack. Later this month, a judge is scheduled to decide his sentence. Would 25 years in prison be appropriate?
-- Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood is known for attention-grabbing remarks. A newly surfaced 2006 video shows him saying it is better “financially” to kill suspects than to “cripple” them.
-- State Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye says the courts should disclose the names of judges who reach settlements to resolve complaints of sexual harassment and discrimination.
-- Don’t Airbnb it? L.A. lawmakers have tentatively backed new city rules that would bar Angelenos from renting out a house or apartment to night-to-night guests if it is not their primary residence.
HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS
-- Jon Hamm gets a strong film role in “Beirut,” a thriller that was years in the making and sadly is still timely. Film critic Kenneth Turan reviews.
-- Diamonté Harper graduated from USC in 2016. Today, performing as Saweetie, she has a hit video and a record deal.
-- For Lindsey Buckingham, leaving Fleetwood Mac may be a smart move.
-- “Late Night” host Seth Meyers has a dramatic story to tell about his son’s birth in the lobby of his apartment. (Wait until the baby grows up and tells dad to stop embarrassing him.)
For most people, Roseanne Barr had dropped off the radar screen. She’s definitely back now, given the hit return of “Roseanne,” her headline-making tweets and some questionable moments from her past. How questionable? Take a look back at her roller-coaster career, including that national anthem performance and her 2012 presidential run.
-- Bill Cosby‘s lead attorney called the comedian’s accuser a “con artist” in a no-holds-barred opening statement at Cosby’s retrial in suburban Philadelphia.
-- The surest path to a green card may be an investor visa. At least for anybody with $500,000 to spare.
-- In Mexico, the slayings of at least 30 candidates and possibly many more provide a chilling backdrop to the July 1 elections.
-- What ails Americans? Excess weight, for one, but the answer varies from state to state.
-- The signs of a pullback in Chinese investment in Los Angeles and elsewhere in the U.S. have been abundant over the last year. A new report quantifies the drop, which began well before Trump’s threatened tariffs.
-- Sinclair Broadcast Group has once again mobilized its local television stations to criticize media competitors, accusing CNN of “dishonesty and hypocrisy.”
-- Cruise ships have been steadily increasing their automatic “gratuities” for crew members. Does it make you feel better if they’re called a “service charge” instead?
-- Across Canada and the U.S., people are leaving hockey sticks outside with the lights on in tribute to the victims of the deadly Humboldt Broncos bus crash.
-- Dodger Stadium will host the All-Star Game in 2020 for the first time since 1980. Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred will make the announcement today in L.A.
-- Trump’s latest Mueller meltdown should horrify even Republicans.
-- A yard full of citrus trees is part of the California dream, but an insect is killing them off. Columnist Gustavo Arellano say it’s a reminder of how many of our problems are self-inflicted.
WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING
-- Muslim bashing by state and local lawmakers in the U.S. is a problem, especially among Republicans. (BuzzFeed News)
-- For some lessons on kids’ car safety, America could look at how it’s done in Sweden, where car seats are just the beginning. (New York Times)
-- Do male writers really struggle to portray women? Some thoughts. (The Guardian)
ONLY IN L.A.
In 2014, Tracy Morgan was in a coma after a truck accident nearly killed him. This week, he got a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. It was an emotional moment to be sure, but not without a few jokes. “When I was a poor kid growing up in the projects in Brooklyn, I never dreamed to have a star on the Walk of Fame,” Morgan said. “But now I’m here and I have to tell you, I feel pretty comfortable. I’ll tell you why: The smell of weed and stale urine is just like being in the projects.”