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Newsletter: Today: Trump’s Surprise Visit in Iraq

President Trump made his first visit to a war zone at an air base west of Baghdad, where he met with troops and signed some MAGA hats.

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Trump’s Surprise Visit in Iraq

After months of critics’ complaints that he had not visited a war zone in his first two years of office, President Trump made a surprise visit to a U.S. airbase in Iraq. After flying in under cover of darkness, he met with American troops and commanders, posed for selfies, autographed red “Make America Great Again” hats and spoke to about 100 servicemen and -women emphasizing his “America First” policy: “We are in countries most people haven’t even heard about. Frankly, it’s ridiculous.” Three and a half hours later, Trump and his entourage, including his wife, Melania, left to visit U.S. troops in Ramstein, Germany, and then headed back to Washington, where his national security policy appears to be in growing turmoil after Trump abruptly decided to pull all American troops from Syria.

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Checkups for the Children in Detention

It had been more than a decade since a child died in the custody of U.S. immigration authorities. This month, two from Guatemala died less than three weeks apart, despite receiving emergency hospital care. Now, Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen M. Nielsen says she’s ordered medical checks on every child in Border Patrol custody along with a series of other measures. As the causes of death are being investigated, Nielsen called the deaths “heartbreaking,” then blamed migrants, Congress and judges — rather than U.S. border authorities or immigration policies. Other officials say the detention system, designed long ago to hold only men, cannot handle the influx of unaccompanied minors and families.

More Politics

-- There’s no apparent solution in sight for the shutdown affecting about one-fourth of the federal government, or about 800,000 federal workers. Asked on his trip to Iraq how long it would last, Trump said, “Whatever it takes. We need a wall.”

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-- U.S. stocks staged one of the biggest rallies of the 9½-year bull market after coming within points of seeing it end.

-- Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has been discharged from the hospital after cancer surgery, a spokeswoman for the court said, and is recuperating at home.

Not-So-High Times in California

When Californians voted in 2016 to allow the sale of recreational marijuana, advocates envisioned thousands of pot shops and cannabis farms obtaining state licenses, making the drug easily available to all adults within a short drive. Officials expected up to 6,000 cannabis stores to be licensed in the first few years. But one year in, the legal market hasn’t performed as imagined. Businesses say it’s because of overregulation; residents in many cities say they just don’t want pot sold or grown in their neighborhoods.

Channeling the Need for Speed

As the Los Angeles Times has documented, at least 179 people have died as a result of suspected street racing in Los Angeles County since 2000. Police say the illegal racing scene has only grown more popular. Is there a safer way to accommodate the need for speed? The International Brotherhood of Street Racers says yes. For decades, it organized legal races on a strip on Terminal Island; then, in the 1990s, the park closed. Today, there’s only one legal drag strip in L.A. County that’s seen as a viable alternative. As one member of the group puts it: “A track is not going to stop street racing from happening, but it is going to put a dent in the number of fatalities.”

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FROM THE ARCHIVES

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On this date in 1947, it was Howdy Doody time for the first time on TV, as the character made his debut on the NBC show “Puppet Playhouse.” “The Howdy Doody Show” would go on to become a sensation that launched a blitz of merchandise and sponsor tie-ins. It’s also where the word “cowabunga” came from.

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In June 1976, Buffalo Bob Smith, with Howdy Doody, center, and Flub-A-Dub.
(Associated Press)

CALIFORNIA

-- New Ventura County Sheriff William “Bill” Ayub took over in the midst of the chaos of a mass killing and raging wildfires. Now he’s focused on healing the agency he leads.

-- Jessica Bierschenk’s grandmother lost everything in the Woosley fire. For Christmas, the 17-year-old turned the ruins into artwork for her grandma’s gift.

-- Denise Harlins — who became an activist after her 15-year-old niece, Latasha, was fatally shot in the lead-up to the 1992 Los Angeles riots — has died.

-- The city of San Diego is being sued for serious injuries a construction worker suffered in March when he fell through a fireman’s pole hole in a fire station being built.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

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-- In the mystery spoof “Holmes & Watson,” Will Ferrell plays Sherlock Holmes to John C. Reilly’s Dr. John Watson. But our reviewer calls the movie a looney-tuned misfire.

-- Roseanne Barr is getting another opportunity to speak her mind, this time before the Israeli parliament.

-- Sister Wendy Beckett, who ventured out of the cloister to become a celebrity art critic and historian, has died at 88.

-- Art critic Christopher Knight says “The Jeweled Isle: Art From Sri Lanka,” an exhibition at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, is “sometimes captivating, sometimes peculiar.”

NATION-WORLD

-- Organizers have canceled next month’s Women’s March in Chicago, citing logistical issues. The national movement has been facing accusations of anti-Semitism.

-- South and North Korea held a ceremony to launch a project linking railways, but resuming regular train service is probably out of the question until U.S.-enforced sanctions are rolled back.

-- Japan says it is leaving the International Whaling Commission to resume commercial hunts for the first time in 30 years but plans to no longer go to the Antarctic for its much-criticized annual killings.

-- The trial of Chinese human rights lawyer Wang Quanzhang began and just as quickly was adjourned as he dramatically fired his state-appointed lawyer.

-- A 2019 Vladimir Putin calendar could be just the thing for you, if you like seeing pictures of a shirtless Russian leader.

BUSINESS

-- The plant-based Impossible Burger is available at almost 5,000 restaurants, but the “blood” that’s made it famous is why it can’t get on the supermarket shelf.

-- Thinking about getting an electric vehicle? Consider one driver’s frustrating search for an open public charging station in L.A.

SPORTS

-- Former L.A. Galaxy coach Sigi Schmid has died, three weeks after being hospitalized at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in need of a heart transplant. He was 65.

-- The Clippers held off the Sacramento Kings’ late scoring run in a 127-to-118 victory.

OPINION

-- Remember the iPads? The L.A. Unified School District needs more transparency and caution in its reorganization.

-- Beware of Russian bots under the bed.

WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

-- How were Trump’s bone spurs diagnosed, exempting him from service in Vietnam? (New York Times)

-- “I used to write for Sports Illustrated. Now I deliver packages for Amazon.” (The Atlantic)

-- The church that became a skatepark. (Atlas Obscura)

ONLY IN L.A.

Last year, restaurant investor Lawrence Longo made an unusual resolution: to eat 365 different L.A. burgers over the next 365 days. Twenty-five pounds later, he’s almost to his goal. Why? “I figured somebody needs to be the burger king of Los Angeles.” So what’s the best? Read on.

If you like this newsletter, please share it with friends. Comments or ideas? Email us at headlines@latimes.com.


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