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Newsletter: Today: These Agents Feel They’re Treated as Cold as ICE

COMPTON, CALIF. -- ***EMABRGOED UNTIL THURSDAY, FEB 15, 2018)*** MONDAY, FEBRUARY 12, 2018: Homeland
Homeland Security Investigations, the investigative arm of ICE, serves several businesses with notices that they have been targeted to be audited in Compton, Calif., in February 2018.
(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

Agents who work in a branch of Immigration and Customs Enforcement that focuses on combating cross-border criminal activity feel ostracized.

TOP STORIES

These Agents Feel They’re Treated as Cold as ICE

Agents from Homeland Security Investigations have broken up an international movie piracy ring, returned the hand of an ancient mummy to Egypt and helped arrest the drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman. They also work for a branch within Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which means some, but not all, of its investigations involve immigrants in the country illegally. With California’s “sanctuary” law in effect, HSI agents say a few police departments have been pulling out of operations, sometimes at the last minute. Now they’re trying to better explain what HSI does.

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Restoring Faith in Justice?

It’s been just over a month since William Barr was sworn in as attorney general, and the message he’s brought to the Justice Department — a frequent target of President Trump and his supporters — is one of reassurance. Those close to Barr say that one of his goals is to bring the department out of the line of political fire. Unlike his predecessor, Jeff Sessions, Barr hasn’t been humiliated via presidential tweet (yet). But Barr could face a tough test when special counsel Robert S. Mueller III releases his final report, whenever that may be.

More Politics

-- The Pentagon has provided Congress with a list of more than 400 military construction projects around the globe, including dozens in California, that it could raid to help pay for Trump’s long-promised wall at the U.S.-Mexico border.

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-- Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke raised more than $6 million online during the first 24 hours after he announced his White House bid, the highest first-day number reported by any candidate so far, his campaign said.

-- Republican Rep. Devin Nunes is suing Twitter and several of its users for more than $250 million, accusing them of defamation and negligence. The defendants include two anonymous parody accounts, “Devin Nunes’ Mom” and “Devin Nunes’ Cow.”

A Dramatic Fall at Warner Bros.

Six years ago, when Kevin Tsujihara took the reins at Warner Bros., he was tasked with bringing the studio into its digital future. Two weeks ago, his new boss at AT&T Inc.-owned WarnerMedia gave him an expanded role at the company. Now, Tsujihara has stepped down as Warner Bros. chairman and chief executive amid allegations that he had an affair with aspiring actress Charlotte Kirk in 2013 and tried to help her get parts in movies and television shows.

A House of Worship Divided

The United Methodist Church is in the midst of a civil war. The issue: homosexuality. At a gathering last month, the church’s top policy-making body voted to tighten its ban on gay clergy and same-sex marriage and to increase the punishment for violations. But many California congregations, including one in the heart of Hollywood, long have operated in open defiance of the church’s stance.

The Rise of Online Anti-Vax Attacks

Doctors undergo years of education and training before they practice, but how to deal with being harassed on social media isn’t usually part of the curriculum. These days, health providers who promote the benefits of vaccines online say they are coming under attack from organized groups who are vehemently opposed to vaccinations.

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More Than Meets the Eye

“People tend to think of the vision plans offered by employers as being like any other health insurance,” writes consumer columnist David Lazarus. “They’re not.” Instead, optometrists and opticians say plans such as VSP and EyeMed are mostly discount programs intended, at least in part, to promote sales of eyewear affiliated with each company. Read the eye-opening details here.

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FROM THE ARCHIVES

After World War ll, the Pacific Electric Railway system was slowly dismantled — replaced by buses and freeways and giving rise to a grand transit conspiracy theory. As reported on this date in 1956, many of the Red Cars were broken up for scrap: “A host of ghosts hovers over a monumental boneyard on Terminal Island in Los Angeles Harbor. There at the National Metal & Steel Corp. junkyard the hulks of hundreds of ancient streetcars are coming to rest at an acetylene torch-dissecting demise.”

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In March 1956, old Pacific Electric red cars sit at a Terminal Island junkyard, awaiting dismantling to become scrap metal.
(Los Angeles Times Archive / UCLA)

CALIFORNIA

-- Many campaign donors to Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Jackie Lacey are longtime contributors to local politicians, but others include people accused of serious crimes or misconduct, or relatives and associates of the accused. After The Times asked Lacey about those contributors, her campaign returned donations to 13 individuals or business entities, totaling about $13,000.

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-- L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva has abruptly removed Ray Leyva, his second-in-command, replacing him with Assistant Sheriff Tim Murakami. Leyva was seen by many as a steadying influence.

-- Actresses Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman have hired big-name law firms to represent them in the college admissions cheating scandal.

-- Are crowds really ruining the super bloom? There’s a debate over “poppy mania.”

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

-- “Black Panther” and “Captain Marvel” are paving the way for a more inclusive Marvel Cinematic Universe. Is it evolving fast enough?

-- Netflix is producing or co-producing 50 films and series in Mexico, making the country one of the busiest international territories for the Los Gatos, Calif.-based streaming giant.

-- Hulu’s new series “The Act” follows the troubled and tragic real-life mother-daughter relationship of Dee Dee Blanchard and her daughter, Gypsy Rose.

-- MySpace reemerged from the shadows this week to announce that all music uploaded to the site before 2015 has been lost. That’s about 50 million songs from about 14 million artists.

NATION-WORLD

-- The Supreme Court has agreed to resolve two long-standing disputes and decide whether the Constitution includes rights to the insanity defense and a unanimous jury verdict of guilt.

-- The Southern Poverty Law Center has called on Michelle Obama’s former chief of staff to lead a “top-to-bottom” examination of its workplace culture, less than a week after the anti-hate nonprofit fired co-founder Morris Dees for misconduct.

-- A former Pennsylvania pediatrician was sentenced to at least 79 years in prison for the sexual assault of 31 children, most of them patients, in a case that state medical regulators failed to act on nearly two decades ago.

-- Australia’s #EggBoy may face charges, but the 17-year-old has won global adulation for egging a senator who blamed “Muslim fanatics” for the mass shooting at two New Zealand mosques — a deadly attack allegedly carried out by a white supremacist.

-- A gunman killed three people and wounded five others during a mid-morning tram ride in the Dutch city of Utrecht, raising the specter of another extremist attack only days after the murderous rampage in New Zealand. Authorities seized a Turkish-born suspect in Monday’s shooting.

BUSINESS

-- Boeing is facing a potential legal mess after the crashes of two 737 Max planes. The families of passengers who perished will have strong claims for damages.

-- The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission said it’s “stunning” that Elon Musk didn’t seek pre-approval of any of his tweets about Tesla Inc. in the months since he was ordered by a judge to do so.

SPORTS

-- Filling out your March Madness bracket? Mark columnist Bill Plaschke’s words: The Duke Blue Devils are not going to win the tournament.

-- The Clippers’ Lou Williams wants you to know the truth about his buzzer-beaters.

OPINION

-- A long-shot lawsuit in Connecticut against Remington might finally hold the gun industry accountable.

-- Beto-mania is proof that cult-of-personality politics is our new normal.

WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

-- Despite numerous red flags, Deutsche Bank handed well over $2 billion to Donald Trump, a man whom nearly all other banks had deemed untouchable. (New York Times)

-- Economist Alan Krueger, who served in the White House under President Obama, studied the minimum wage and introduced the notion of the “Great Gatsby Curve,” has died at 58. (Bloomberg)

-- Coyote fur is a booming fashion trend. Is it ethical? (The Guardian)

ONLY IN CALIFORNIA

It’s been called the Dome House, the Gumby House and the Bubble House, but the home at 45 Berryessa Way in Hillsborough, Calif., is perhaps best known as the Flintstone House because of its boulder-like, orange and purple design. Two years ago, a former publisher of the San Francisco Examiner bought the property and began redesigning the backyard with artificial mushrooms, 15-foot dinosaurs, a giraffe, a mastodon and a sign reading “Yabba Dabba Doo.” The neighbors are saying, “Yabba Dabba Don’t.”

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