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Today: L.A. Disunified

Teachers at the nation’s second-largest school district are on strike, as students and parents deal with the fallout.

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L.A. Disunified

This morning, 31,000 teachers union members in Los Angeles are beginning Day 2 of their strike. Just as hundreds of thousands of students and their families had worried, the first day proved to be a massive disruption. The Los Angeles Unified School District says only about one-third of students attended class. In some ways, it was a blessing in disguise, as the few adults on campuses often struggled to keep students engaged. Across the city, some kids stayed at home, while an untold number played hooky; a few even ran into their Advanced Placement biology teacher at a mall — just by coincidence (wouldn’t you know?!). As teachers picketed in the cold rain, they heard support from Democratic presidential hopefuls and Hollywood types alike — and enjoyed some street tacos. So how long will the strike last? Columnist Steve Lopez fears it will be drawn out, but hopes each side can reach out across a bitter divide. Negotiations are not expected to resume until tonight at the earliest.

The Barr Hearing Is Set

William Barr, President Trump’s nominee for attorney general, will go before senators for his confirmation hearing today. Many observers expect him to sail through after he promised Monday to permit special counsel Robert S. Mueller III to “complete his investigation” into Russia’s election interference and to be as transparent as possible in releasing the findings. But it’s also likely that the panel’s Democrats, at least two of whom could run for president in 2020, will grill him on his broad views on presidential power and critical comments about Mueller’s investigation. Meanwhile, Trump made a bit of history by becoming the first president to publicly deny that he secretly worked for Moscow against American interests.

Betting the Farm on Trump

The partial government shutdown is now well into its fourth week, affecting everything from airport security lines (TSA absenteeism is up) to the cuisine served at the White House (Trump says he treated the national champion Clemson Tigers football team to some fast food on his dime). It’s also left some farmers unable to get loans and subsidies. But that and the effects of a trade war with China do not appear to have shaken the faith among many of those gathered at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s annual meeting, where the president was warmly received as he counseled patience: “We’re doing trade deals that are going to get you so much business, you won’t believe it.”

In front of a portrait of President Lincoln, President Trump speaks alongside the fare from McDonald’s, Wendy’s and Burger King he says he purchased for a ceremony honoring the 2018 College Football Playoff champion Clemson Tigers.
In front of a portrait of President Lincoln, President Trump speaks alongside the fare from McDonald’s, Wendy’s and Burger King he says he purchased for a ceremony honoring the 2018 College Football Playoff champion Clemson Tigers. (Saul Loeb / AFP-Getty Images)

More Politics

-- A panel of Republican leaders voted unanimously to keep veteran Iowa lawmaker Steve King off of House committees, a firm rebuke to an influential opponent of illegal immigration who sparked outrage last week after openly questioning whether the term “white supremacist” was offensive.

-- House Democrats have announced an investigation of the pharmaceutical industry’s pricing practices, jockeying with the Trump administration for the upper hand on an issue that concerns Americans across the political spectrum.

-- Members of the California congressional delegation say they still have no idea if Trump will follow through on his threat to cut off federal disaster funding to the state. Representatives for the White House and Federal Emergency Management Agency have not responded to daily requests from The Times.

The Tentacles of an FBI Investigation

Mayor Eric Garcetti crisscrossed the country last year, arguing that L.A. is setting an example that stands in contrast to the dysfunction of Washington. But if Garcetti runs for president, he could also face uncomfortable questions about a topic that has gripped City Hall: Why are FBI agents seeking evidence of bribes, extortion and money laundering possibly involving L.A. city officials? And why are two of his appointees — one current, one former — being scrutinized in that probe?

CALIFORNIA

-- A UC Irvine freshman died over the weekend, resulting in the suspension and investigation of his fraternity, university officials said. His father asks: “Could it have been prevented?”

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-- A state judicial watchdog commission has charged Los Angeles-based state Court of Appeal Justice Jeffrey Johnson with nine counts of misconduct, including sexual harassment and squeezing the breast of a female justice.

-- A woman suing Rep. Tony Cardenas for an alleged sexual assault when she was a teenager has publicly identified herself and is asking the House to open an ethics investigation. He has denied the allegations and said she is being coerced by her father, a disgruntled former employee.

-- Storms over Southern California have increased the threat of mud and debris flows in areas hit by recent wildfires, prompting evacuation orders, and closing a stretch of Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu and the Grapevine.

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HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

-- In a tense meeting, former Pixar and Disney executive John Lasseter asked Skydance Animation employees for a chance to show that he’d changed his ways. At his old job, multiple women accused him of inappropriate workplace behavior.

-- The SAG-AFTRA performers guild is accusing the film academy of intimidating actors into not presenting on awards shows other than the Oscars. Some publicists say this kind of strong-arming has gone on for years.

-- Was the late Aretha Franklin properly honored at her all-star Grammy tribute?

-- Michelle Yeoh is getting a “Star Trek” spinoff. “Certainly I believe it will go ‘where no WOMAN has ever gone before!’ ” she said.

NATION-WORLD

-- In the trial of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, a witness described how the drug kingpin oversaw trafficking operations — and a film script — in mountain hideouts.

-- Britain’s Parliament will vote on Prime Minister Theresa May’s proposed Brexit deal today. She has warned that failure to accept the plan could bring “catastrophic harm” to the country’s faith in democracy.

-- A diplomatic dispute between China and Canada is likely to take on new urgency after a provincial court in northeastern China sentenced a Canadian man to death for drug trafficking. He previously had been sentenced to life in prison.

-- In Zimbabwe, protesters marched in the nation’s main cities over the government’s sudden and jarring move over the weekend to more than double fuel prices.

-- Activists say two members of Chechnya’s LGBTQ community have died as a result of police torture and at least 40 have been arrested since the end of December in a new crackdown on gay people.

BUSINESS

-- PG&E Corp. plans to seek bankruptcy protection because it faces potential liabilities of $30 billion or more from the deadly California wildfires. It’s also giving its chief executive a golden parachute of as much as $4.5 million. Surprised? Consumer columnist David Lazarus says you shouldn’t be.

-- NBCUniversal is following Sony Corp., CBS Corp., Walt Disney Co. and AT&T’s WarnerMedia into streaming. The difference: It will be offered free to pay-TV customers of its parent company, Comcast Corp.

SPORTS

-- During the L.A. teachers’ strike, City Section athletics are shut down too.

-- The NFL’s conference championship games have it all: Top seeds, top players, top coaches.

Want more? Sign up for our new newsletter, the Sports Report.

OPINION

-- L.A. needs to finally put an end to the pay-to-play mentality at City Hall.

-- Is Trump a Russian asset? Not likely, in columnist Jonah Goldberg’s view.

WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

-- Aides say that last year Trump suggested a move tantamount to destroying NATO: the withdrawal of the United States. (New York Times)

-- Is it time to address digital pollution the same way society came up with the modern-day sewage system? And if so, how? (Washington Monthly)

-- Cantopop star Denise Ho, banished in mainland China because of her politics, has become a symbol of a changing Hong Kong. (New Yorker)

ONLY IN L.A.

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If you’re up on your ’80s TV history, you’ll surely remember the lily pond fight between Linda Evans’ and Joan Collins’ characters in the nighttime soap opera “Dynasty.” But do you remember the gated estate where that battle of the titans took place? It was a Pasadena mansion called Arden Villa. Now, it’s back on the market for $19.5 million. You can take a look at it for free here — and keep your shoulder pads dry.

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

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