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Newsletter: Today: Repeal and Repeat?

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President Trump, flanked by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, left, and Sen. Roy Blunt, talks to reporters as he arrived for Senate Republicans’ weekly lunch Tuesday.
(Jose Luis Magana / Associated Press)

President Trump has reopened the Obamacare repeal debate, and given how that issue played out in the midterm election, Democrats couldn’t be more pleased at the political ramifications.

TOP STORIES

Repeal and Repeat?

President Trump interrupted his celebration of the end of the Russia probe to unexpectedly reignite a debate over repealing Obamacare. It’s an issue that hurt his party in the midterm election and immediately gave Democrats hope for some advantage in 2020. Trump came to the Capitol on Tuesday to rally with Senate Republicans, but by renewing the healthcare debate, he risked reopening divisions in the GOP over its inability to agree on a replacement for Obamacare that would, as he’s promised, insure everyone. And in a legal filing, the Justice Department expressed support for full repeal of the law instead of just a portion.

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More Politics

-- A senior Justice Department official says Atty. Gen. William Barr plans to release a version of the final, confidential report from special counsel Robert S. Mueller III on his Russia investigation in the coming weeks. But while the investigation is over, Russian meddling in elections isn’t.

-- The Supreme Court justices sounded closely split during arguments over whether to rein in partisan gerrymandering of congressional districts. So who holds the deciding vote? New Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh, most likely.

-- Trump’s declaration of a national emergency at the U.S.-Mexico border survived a crucial vote in the House, as Democrats failed to muster the necessary two-thirds majority to override his veto.

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-- In an attempt to return U.S. astronauts to the moon within the next five years, Vice President Mike Pence is willing to bounce Boeing.

A Luxury Lifestyle and a Purported House of Cards

Long before he became known as Stormy Daniels’ lawyer, and well before he was accused of trying to shake down Nike for millions of dollars, Michael Avenatti was an Orange County plaintiff’s attorney living a luxe life adorned with fast cars, high-end properties and expensive jewelry. That his wealth might in fact be illusory, built on a flimsy and teetering financial foundation, slowly grew clear to some. Now, as Avenatti continues to profess his innocence, the federal charges against him portray an even more tangled life.

The No-Toking (and No-Vaping) Zone

It’s about to get harder to find a place to vape and smoke cannabis in L.A. County. The Board of Supervisors expanded an existing ban on using tobacco products at beaches, parks and government buildings to include electronic cigarettes and pot. The supervisors also clamped down with new restrictions on smoking at bus stops and in beach parking lots, outdoor bars and some common areas of county-owned golf courses in unincorporated areas. The new rules are among the county’s first major policy changes on cannabis since California voters legalized the drug for adult use in 2016.

Ah, the Smell of It

In the Latino community, Vicks VapoRub has long inspired a curious, nostalgic devotion. Since the ointment was invented more than a century ago, many have relied on it to solve all sorts of problems: athlete’s foot, stretch marks, stomachaches and earaches. Some telenovela actors even rub it on their eyes to bring about tears. Others scoop it into their coffee or tea. The North Carolina pharmacist who invented Vicks was a master when it came to marketing his product worldwide. But, as this Column One feature explains, it’s among Latinos where you’ll find a treasure trove of tributes.

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FROM THE ARCHIVES

On this date in 2012, a Times reporter and photographer spent time with Rodney King as he reflected on his beating at the hands of Los Angeles police and the riots that followed after those officers were acquitted in 1992. “He didn’t ask to be an icon or a martyr, it was thrust upon him,” writes photographer Jay L. Clendenin, “and here Kurt Streeter and I were, in his living room, touring his home and even spending time fishing with him, because he had become such a figure in our history.” A few months later, King was found dead in his pool.

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March 27, 2012: Rodney King spends a quiet day fishing.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

CALIFORNIA

-- Four months after a dozen people were killed in a mass shooting at the Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks, more than $3 million in donations has been given to the victims’ families.

-- A USC spokesperson says Olivia Jade Giannulli and Isabella Giannulli, daughters of actress Lori Loughlin, remain enrolled at the university amid the sweeping college admissions scandal.

-- A state auditor’s report says a former government administrator allegedly engaged in “gross misconduct” by using the influence of her position to circumvent California’s civil service employment process in hiring and promoting her daughter.

-- State lawmakers have introduced a bill that would tighten California’s childhood immunization law, already one of the strictest in the nation.

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HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

-- The story of Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes as told in two documentaries and elsewhere is not about her unblinking gaze and black turtlenecks. It’s about the con, writes columnist Mary McNamara.

-- Actor-musician Jussie Smollett wants to get back to work after prosecutors dropped charges against him that alleged he lied to police and staged a racial and homophobic attack against himself.

-- Vangelis, the Oscar-winning composer of “Chariots of Fire” and “Blade Runner,” has traded synthesizers for the piano and found life after the film score.

-- This podcast delves into how Jordan Peele’s “Us” is in some ways a political film about contemporary America.

NATION-WORLD

-- Two years after he was discharged from a mental hospital, John W. Hinckley Jr., the man who tried to assassinate President Reagan, said, “I’m happy as a clam, to be honest.”

-- Defense attorneys for Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman are arguing the Mexican drug lord should get a new trial because jurors improperly followed media coverage of the sensational drug conspiracy case.

-- Air raid sirens wailed across southern Israel on Tuesday as a truce with Hamas collapsed hours after it began and the two sides exchanged aerial bombardments and rocket fire for a second consecutive night.

-- British lawmakers were preparing to blow open the Brexit process and put a host of rejected options back on the table — including keeping the U.K. close to the European Union or even remaining a member.

-- Algeria‘s powerful army chief says he wants to trigger a constitutional process that would declare President Abdelaziz Bouteflika unfit for office.

BUSINESS

-- Critics of internal investigations say they often protect the accused in sexual misconduct cases.

-- China’s airplane ambitions have gotten a lift from the Boeing fallout in more ways than one.

-- Qualcomm has fired multiple legal shots at Apple, aiming to use patents to get a ban on importing the iPhone. In separate rulings, one missed and one hit.

SPORTS

-- The Clippers clinched a playoff spot with a 122-111 victory over the Timberwolves. It’s the seventh time in the last eight seasons they’ve made the postseason.

-- Conor McGregor announced his retirement from mixed-martial arts, hours before a report surfaced detailing sexual assault accusations made against the former UFC champion last year.

OPINION

-- Calls for Rep. Adam Schiff’s resignation are a disingenuous partisan pile-on.

-- Copyright holders win big in Europe, but at what cost?

WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

-- Is Airbnb doing enough to crack down on hidden cameras in rentals? (The Atlantic)

-- How female conductors are changing orchestras. (New York Review of Books)

-- Fortnite, the massively popular multiplayer video game, is becoming a battleground in kids’ locker rooms and the pros’. (CBC)

ONLY IN CALIFORNIA

Please don’t pick the daisies — or land a helicopter in the poppies. Park officials with the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve say two visitors set down their helicopter amid the orange blooms in Lancaster and went for a walk about. “We never thought it would be explicitly necessary to state that it is illegal to land a helicopter in the middle of the fields and begin hiking off trail in the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve,” officials said in a Facebook post. “We were wrong.”

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