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Today: A New Day in the House

Today: A New Day in the House
Freshmen representatives, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in red, on the steps of the U.S. Capitol in November 2018. (Melina Mara / Washington Post)

Democrats, including a large number of first-time congressional representatives, are retaking the House of Representatives.

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A New Day in the House

Democrats will regain control of the House of Representatives today, opening a new chapter in the presidency of Donald Trump — and in the partial shutdown of the federal government, now in its 12th day. The new majority has scheduled votes on two bills to reopen the closed parts of government, but Republican leaders say the Senate will not consider either unless President Trump endorses them. That seems unlikely, to say the least. Meanwhile, Rep. Brad Sherman, a Democrat from Northridge, plans to introduce articles of impeachment against Trump, even though incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has ruled out pursuing impeachment for now. And then there is the X-factor: the largest freshman class of House members in nearly 50 years. On the whole, they are far younger, more diverse and more vocal, with several newbies angling to get prime slots on legislative committees that usually go to seasoned veterans.

The ‘Lonely’ President

Festivus was more than a week ago, but that didn’t stop President Trump from airing a long list of grievances at a Cabinet meeting yesterday, as well as making multiple false claims and appearing to endorse the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. The president said he was “lonely” over the holidays, without his family as he waited for “people … to come and negotiate the border security”; claimed to have fired Defense Secretary James N. Mattis, who resigned in protest of Trump’s pulling troops from Syria, and asked, “What’s he done for me?”; and took on Sen.-elect Mitt Romney, who had written in an op-ed that “the president has not risen to the mantle of the office.” All the while, a “Game of Thrones”-style poster featuring an image of Trump and teasing Iran sanctions lay unfurled across the table directly in front of him. No explanation for the poster’s presence was given.

President Trump speaks at a Cabinet meeting Wednesday.
President Trump speaks at a Cabinet meeting Wednesday. (Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images)

Meanwhile, Woodsy Owl Weeps

The government shutdown is leaving more than 800,000 federal employees without pay, delaying tax refunds and putting marriage licenses in Washington, D.C., on hold. But some of its most visceral effects can be seen at national parks in California. At Yosemite, Death Valley, Joshua Tree and beyond, trash, vandalism and — how to put this delicately? — piles of human waste are taking their toll, leading officials to close or restrict access to some areas.

Off to an Early Start

Expanded child-care services and kindergarten classes. Home visits to expectant parents from limited-income families. Healthcare screenings for young children. When he takes office next week, Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom will propose spending $1.8 billion on an array of programs designed to boost California’s enrollment in early education and child-care programs. The idea is to make sure all children are properly prepared to learn.

Where ‘Humans Don’t Have Water to Drink’

Baluchistan is the largest province in Pakistan; it’s also the poorest. Though rich in natural gas and minerals, it is lacking one vital resource: water. After years of scarce rainfall blamed in part on climate change, the drought is so dire, it has triggered a health crisis. According to the provincial government, 62% of Baluchistan lacks safe drinking water and more than 60% of its land is not cultivable. That, in turn, has led to a malnutrition emergency.

FROM THE ARCHIVES

A small fire aboard a Rose Parade float this year caused a traffic jam and may result in fines for the builders, but it’s far from the only mishap during the Tournament of Roses long history. On this date in 1939, The Times reported on a runaway float: “Despite the valiant efforts of the driver and the heroism of several pedestrians, five persons received injuries when the prize-winning Dr. Ross Co. float lost its brakes, and after careening wildly down the Colorado Boulevard hill, forced its lead Shetland ponies into the massed crowd.”

CALIFORNIA

-- The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decided Wednesday that the U.S. government must pay millions of dollars to lawyers for a Muslim woman who was detained at San Francisco International Airport, mistakenly classified as a potential terrorist and placed on a “no-fly” list.

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-- The annual women’s march in Eureka has been canceled after organizers decided the planning committee was too white.

-- Los Angeles has unveiled ShakeAlertLA, its long-anticipated earthquake early warning app for Android and Apple smartphones. It is now available for download.

-- Roberta Weintraub, a polemic figure in the movement against school busing that swept the San Fernando Valley in the late 1970s, has died at 83.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

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-- Childish Gambino, Tame Impala and Ariana Grande will anchor the annual Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, set to run April 12-14 and again April 19-21.

-- Netflix says it was complying with local laws when it pulled an episode of the comedy show “Patriot Act” in Saudi Arabia that contained references to the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, but some groups see it as a form of censorship and capitulation to an autocratic government.

-- Emmy Award-winning writer Bob Einstein, who gained fame as cocky stuntman Super Dave Osborne, has died at 76. He also played Larry David’s friend Marty Funkhouser on “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”

-- Daryl Dragon, a classically trained pianist who was the “Captain” of Captain & Tennille, has died at 76 as well.

NATION-WORLD

-- The Russian government says it has allowed Paul Whelan, an American citizen held on espionage charges, to have access to U.S. officials seeking answers about his arrest.

-- Newly installed President Jair Bolsonaro targeted Brazil’s indigenous groups, descendants of slaves and the LGBTQ community with executive orders in the first hours of his administration.

-- Chinese President Xi Jinping warned Taiwan that independence would be disastrous and both sides must work for “reunification,” calling for political negotiations to achieve this.

-- China’s Chang’e-4 lunar lander touched down on the far side of the moon. Beijing has announced its determination to become a global leader in space exploration in future decades.

-- The first images of Ultima Thule reveal that the small, frozen world 4.5 billion miles from Earth is as dark as potting soil and shaped like a snowman.

BUSINESS

-- Tesla started the new year by releasing data that throw its growth story into doubt, and the stock market didn’t take the news well. Meanwhile, Apple shares dropped after hours when the company lowered its outlook for fiscal first-quarter revenue after an unexpected slowdown in demand from China and fewer upgrades to iPhone models.

-- A Times analysis has found that most travelers caught trying to carry guns onto planes at Los Angeles International Airport were charged with misdemeanors and received sentences that were much lighter than the maximum.

SPORTS

-- New USC offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury will interview for multiple NFL head coaching jobs in the coming days, creating a nervous new year for Trojans head coach Clay Helton and the USC fan base.

-- Rams quarterback Jared Goff is already under scrutiny for the team’s divisional-round playoff game that’s still more than a week away. Will he play better than last season’s wild-card loss?

OPINION

-- Cheers to the unprecedented number of women taking political office today.

-- For Nixon, it was 1974. For Clinton, 1998. Historian Jon Wiener thinks 2019 is going to be the worst year of Trump's life.

WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

-- If you’re older than 50, chances are the decision to leave a job won’t be yours. (ProPublica)

-- Sixteen polls show how Americans’ thinking has and hasn’t changed over 80 years. (Huffington Post)

-- An excerpt from “Mary Ventura and the Ninth Kingdom,” a short story by Sylvia Plath that was rejected by a magazine when she was a student and has remained largely unseen. (The Guardian)

ONLY IN L.A.

It’s only Day 3 of 2019, but already some of those New Year’s resolutions might be seeming a little distant. Need some inspiration for your fitness goals? Look no further than Phyllis Sues, who became a trapeze enthusiast at 75, took her first yoga lesson at 85 and jumped out of a plane at 90. Now 95, she can do the splits — and eats ice cream every night.

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

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