Newsletter: Today: A New Pushback at the Border


Border agents will begin enforcing a new policy for asylum seekers: They’ll have to wait in Mexico while their cases make their way through U.S. courts.


A New Pushback at the Border


Just over a month ago, shortly before the partial government shutdown over President Trump’s desired border wall began, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen announced a “historic” policy change: forcing asylum seekers to remain in Mexico, rather than letting them stay in the U.S., while their cases are considered. Now, the plans for implementing that policy have been finalized. And today, according to a Homeland Security official, border officers are expected to start pushing asylum applicants back across the border, beginning at the San Ysidro Port of Entry in San Diego. Migrant advocates say that will put people at risk by requiring them to wait in Mexican border cities with some of the deadliest homicide rates in the world. The legality of the crackdown is all but certain to be decided in court.

Still No Shutdown of the Shutdown

The shutdown will extend until at least next week after senators voted down two competing proposals to reopen the government. In an interesting twist, the one backed by Trump drew less support in the Republican-controlled Senate than the one from Democrats. There were also signs that some sort of compromise may be coming down the line, as the effects of the shutdown become more pronounced. Furloughed workers will miss their second paychecks today, and some have turned to charity to feed themselves. “I don’t really quite understand why,” U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said. “There’s no real reason why they shouldn’t be able to get a loan.”

More Politics

-- The Trump administration’s recognition this week of an opposition leader as president of Venezuela is gathering broad support internationally and on both sides of the U.S. political divide.

-- Sen. Elizabeth Warren will propose a new annual “wealth tax” on Americans with more than $50 million in assets, according to an economist advising her on the plan.

-- Roger Stone, a Republican consultant who helped launch President Trump’s political career, was arrested Friday in the Russia investigation.

-- Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, is scheduled to appear in federal court today to face allegations that he lied to prosecutors working for special counsel Robert S. Mueller III.

-- Trump’s former lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen, has been subpoenaed by the Senate Intelligence Committee, his attorney has confirmed.

PG&E Is Cleared, This Time

Pacific Gas & Electric Co. is still planning on filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, but it got a rare bit of good news out of tragedy: An investigation by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection found that private power lines, not those owned by PG&E, caused the 2017 Tubbs fire that killed 22 people and destroyed thousands of homes in Santa Rosa. The utility’s electrical systems have been found responsible for other destructive Northern California fires in recent years, and it still faces huge potential liabilities related to last year’s Camp fire.

Pulled Over in South L.A.

In 2015, the Los Angeles Police Department’s elite Metropolitan Division began a crackdown in high-crime areas, mostly in South L.A. An analysis by the Los Angeles Times shows Metro officers pulled over African American drivers at a rate more than five times their share of the city’s population, and at a rate twice their share of South L.A.’s. One civil rights attorney calls the racial disparities “really off the chain…. This is stop-and-frisk in a car.” LAPD Chief Michel Moore says the Metro command staff “is very aware of the potential of people viewing them as over-policing or being overly harsh.” But he says intense policing is necessary in high-crime areas to keep residents safe.

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On this date in 1971, Charles Manson and three of his female followers were convicted of murder and conspiracy in the 1969 slayings of seven people, including actress Sharon Tate. Of the four, Manson and Susan Atkins have died while incarcerated, while Patricia Krenwinkel and Leslie Van Houten remain in prison.


-- An L.A. County judge has granted a temporary restraining order to block some police use-of-force and misconduct records from being released by the county.

-- Gov. Gavin Newsom is making some aggressive early moves on his gun control agenda.

-- Even as troubles in L.A. have complicated his case for a presidential campaign, Mayor Eric Garcetti made clear in Washington that he is still preparing to launch one.

-- Former Gov. Jerry Brown is back in the public eye with a warning that the world is as close to nuclear Armageddon and climate disaster as it has ever been.


-- Restaurant reviews: At Konbi in Echo Park, the Japanese-style sandwiches have a cult following, while Hayat’s Kitchen, starring Lebanese meats and sweets, has gone Hollywood.

-- Disneyland is getting ready for huge crowds when it opens its Star Wars land this summer. It’s shrinking or eliminating tree and flower planters, moving queue lines and designating areas as stroller-parking.

-- De-cluttering guru Marie Kondo is proud of people tidying up and wants to clarify that part about books.

-- Events around L.A. this weekend celebrate Lunar New Year, good whiskey and art.


-- The parents of actor Anton Yelchin, who died in 2016 at age 27, have done a number of things in tribute to their son. At the Sundance Film Festival, they’ll premiere “Love, Antosha,” a documentary that celebrates his legacy.

-- Netflix’s lack of transparency with its ratings does not amuse Hollywood.

-- Pixar co-founder John Lasseter is attempting the film industry’s biggest #MeToo comeback. How’s that going?


-- Florida’s top elections official abruptly resigned after a newspaper obtained pictures of him in blackface posing as a Hurricane Katrina victim.

-- China confirmed Thursday it had arrested Australian writer and blogger Yang Hengjun on suspicion of endangering national security. Is it “hostage diplomacy”?

-- Brazil’s vice president signed an executive order altering the country’s Freedom of Information Act, a move that raises new alarms about the administration’s relationship with the media.

-- Long before Americans discovered FOMO — the fear of missing out — Singaporeans were fixated with its more excessive forebear, kiasu the fear of losing out.


-- Construction on Oceanwide Plaza, one of the biggest real estate development projects in downtown L.A. and across from Staples Center, has stalled. It may be due to a shortfall in financing from the project’s Chinese owner.

-- Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg’s personal charity is part of a push to steer more than $500 million to affordable housing in the Bay Area.


-- Zwift’s new esports league is like pro cycling. Only without crashes, turning or being outdoors.

-- The Dodgers have signed free agent outfielder A.J. Pollock. Columnist Bill Plaschke wants to know why they won’t be signing former MVP Bryce Harper.


-- This was no bargaining ploy: LAUSD really is facing a financial cliff.

-- Former diplomat Elizabeth Shackelford writes that terrorists don’t shut down just because governments do.


-- Sources say two career White House security specialists rejected Jared Kushner’s application for a top secret clearance after an FBI background check raised concerns about potential foreign influence on him. A supervisor overruled them — and it’s far from the only time this has happened in the Trump administration. (NBC News)

-- Oslo, Norway, has taken a major step toward a vision of a car-free city center. So far, it’s worked out well. (Fast Company)

-- Print is not dead, at least when it come to maps. Here’s why. (The Conversation)


Marine biologist Bruno Pernet spends most of his time studying the larval stages of worms and snails along the Southern California coast. But for the last decade, he’s been doing research 13 miles inland too. His goal: to identify the species and provenance of the roughly 10,000 seashells that decorate the Watts Towers. It turns out, this shell game is not as crazy as it might sound.

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