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Today: Declare a National Emergency? ‘Probably’

As both sides dig in over funding for a border wall, President Trump said he’ll “probably” declare a national emergency to get his way.

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Declare a National Emergency? ‘Probably’

President Trump is moving closer to declaring a national emergency to get money for a border wall, as the chances of doing so through Congress appear slim. Though Trump maintains, “I have the absolute right” to do so, such a move would represent a vast expansion of executive powers — one that even some Republicans oppose, lest it be tried by a Democratic president in the future. It almost certainly would face a legal challenge. But some aides see it as an effective way out of the current stalemate. Meanwhile, on his way yesterday to the border in McAllen, Texas, Trump offered a new take on one of his signature promises: “When, during the campaign, I would say, ‘Mexico is going to pay for it,’ obviously, I never said this and I never meant they're going to write out a check.” Spoiler alert: He did specifically assert that Mexico would make direct payments.

More Politics

-- Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, will testify publicly before a House committee on Feb. 7. The hearing could serve as the opening salvo in a promised Democratic effort to scrutinize Trump, his conflicts of interest and his ties to Russia.

-- Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo used a keynote address in Cairo to take aim at two favorite targets — Iran and former President Obama — as he sought to reassure Middle East allies of Washington’s commitment.

‘We’re All Going to Pay’

In Trump’s Oval Office speech making his case for a wall, the president brought up the recent death of police Cpl. Ronil Singh in the Central Valley town of Newman. Many residents personally knew and grieved for the officer who, like a large number of the people he protected, was an immigrant. But some in the mostly Latino city also are worried about recrimination: Because authorities say the suspected gunman was a native of Mexico in the U.S. illegally, residents fear “we’re all going to pay.”

The Carrots and the Stick

Gov. Gavin Newsom has proposed his first budget: a $209-billion plan for California that provides more money for public schools, healthcare programs, natural disaster preparation and help for the homeless. Now, let the debate begin. The proposal relies on a projection of $21.6 billion in unexpected revenue, which may not materialize. It would also seek to punish cities that block the building of more houses and apartments by withholding state tax dollars for transportation — an idea that drew immediate objections from some Republicans. Given that this is just the first draft of the budget, there’ll be much wrangling in the months ahead.

L.A. Disunified, Again?

A judge has cleared the way for a teachers’ strike to start Monday in the Los Angeles Unified School District, but negotiations aimed at averting one will resume today. If those fail, a strike next week would be the third in the five-decade history of the United Teachers Los Angeles union and the first in nearly 30 years. A look at the history reveals that the underlying grievances and often harsh words on both sides haven’t changed much.

FROM THE ARCHIVES

As Los Angeles struggles to deal with a homelessness crisis, it’s worth looking back at how things have and haven’t changed over the years. Back in 1987, Times staff writer Garry Abrams and photographer Lacy Atkins delivered portraits of people without a place to call home.

Jan. 12, 1987: Elizabeth Presley, 46, said that her religious faith helped her cope with homelessness.
Jan. 12, 1987: Elizabeth Presley, 46, said that her religious faith helped her cope with homelessness. (Lacy Atkins / Los Angeles Times)

YOUR WEEKEND

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-- Meet our new restaurant critics: Patricia Escárcega, who reviews a Oaxacan-Mediterranean place in Boyle Heights, and Bill Addison, who checks out a bakery-restaurant in the Fairfax District.

-- Should you get rid of the books you’ve never read or probably never will? Decluttering advocate Marie Kondo recently advised that on her show, and bibliophiles are having none of it.

-- Here are six lesser-known Las Vegas steakhouses worth finding or, if you prefer, a look at an event that puts a month-long focus on all things vegan in Sin City.

-- Consider a weekend escape to Alameda, a Bay Area town with family-friendly appeal.

CALIFORNIA

-- For months, El Niño conditions have been brewing in the tropical Pacific, but the climate pattern still hasn’t clicked into place. Still, Southern Californians should keep an umbrella and a jacket handy for the next week or so.

-- The L.A. County coroner’s office identified the man who died this week in the home of Democratic donor Ed Buck as 55-year-old Timothy Dean of West Hollywood. Sources say Dean worked at Saks Fifth Avenue in Beverly Hills, was active in a religious group and once worked in the adult film industry.

-- The Eureka women’s march is back on after concerns the event’s planning committee was “overwhelmingly white.”

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-- The 108-year-old Tres Hermanos Ranch is a rare glimpse at a pastoral past in Southern California. But what about its future?

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

-- “Green Book” won the Golden Globe for comedy/musical film on Sunday. Now, director and co-writer Peter Farrelly and co-writer Nick Vallelonga are enmeshed in controversies over their past behavior.

-- What to make of “The Upside,” a buddy comedy starring Kevin Hart and Bryan Cranston? Film critic Justin Chang says it has a downside for all involved.

-- For the coming “Captain Marvel” film, Brie Larson trained to be a superhero.

NATION-WORLD

-- The Environmental Protection Agency has abandoned plans to roll back a set of protections for farmworkers. If plans had gone forward, they would have let youth workers handle dangerous pesticides.

-- Oregon wildlife officials have started killing sea lions that threaten a fragile and distinct type of trout in the Willamette River, a body of water that’s miles inland from coastal areas.

-- Guatemala’s political crisis has deepened, with lawmakers looking to impeach several judges on the country’s highest court.

BUSINESS

-- Less than four months ago, California set a goal of 100% clean energy by 2045. The idea is already catching on in other states.

-- In a new lawsuit, a Google shareholder is claiming that the board of directors covered up sexual harassment committed by now former top executives.

SPORTS

-- Entertainment mogul Ice Cube’s Big3 basketball league is looking for a rebound from some ongoing challenges, including the end of its two-year TV contract with Fox Sports.

-- Gear up for this weekend’s NFL playoff games — the Rams and the Cowboys on Saturday, and the Chargers and the Patriots on Sunday — with the “Arrive Early, Leave Late” podcast.

OPINION

-- Newsom just pried open California’s checkbook. Here’s hoping he is right.

-- Arizona’s revolt against self-driving cars should be a wake-up call to the companies that make them.

WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

-- Rep. Steve King of Iowa says he’s not racist. “White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?” King said. “Why did I sit in classes teaching me about the merits of our history and our civilization?” (New York Times)

-- Is Beto O’Rourke’s Instagramming of getting his teeth cleaned the future of politics? (The Daily Beast)

-- On the TV show “The Masked Singer,” who are the celebrities are under those elaborate masks? (Vulture)

ONLY IN L.A.

The latest K-pop sensation isn’t from Seoul and, as far as we know, can’t sing, dance or do anything Gangnam-style. But it does bear a striking resemblance to Haechan of the popular South Korean boy band NCT. What is it? A baby southern pudu, a tiny deer-like animal, born recently at the L.A. Zoo. Oh dear.

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

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