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Newsletter: Today: ‘Credible Fear’ and Loathing

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Brazilian migrants take their seats in a U.S. Border Patrol van after crossing the border from Mexico.
(Paul Ratje / AFP/Getty Images)

As Homeland Security aims to make it harder for asylum seekers trying to establish “credible fear,” a new Jared Kushner immigration plan inspires all-around loathing.

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‘Credible Fear’ and Loathing

Homeland Security officials are making it tougher for people seeking asylum to get over the first hurdle in the lengthy process, giving new power to Border Patrol agents and taking some discretion away from trained asylum officers, according to internal memos obtained by The Times. The changes involve the initial interviews that asylum seekers go through to determine whether they have what U.S. law defines as a “credible fear” of being persecuted in their home country. Meanwhile, Jared Kushner’s plan to reform the immigration system by increasing money for border security and giving more visas for certain foreign workers while reducing family reunification has given Trump supporters and critics alike something to loathe. The plan from the president’s son-in-law could be doomed before it’s even released.

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More Politics

-- The Trump administration’s abrupt increase of tariffs on Chinese goods Friday raises strong doubts about whether the world’s two largest economies can reach a deal to quell their escalating trade war in the coming weeks.

-- Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, widely accused of undermining his country’s democratic institutions, is scheduled to meet President Trump today. He’s the latest authoritarian leader to get a White House invitation.

-- Trump’s personal attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani has scrapped plans to visit Ukraine after Democrats denounced his effort to push the Eastern European nation to open investigations that he hopes could benefit Trump politically.

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-- Kelli Ward, a fierce Trump devotee who attacked Sen. John McCain as he was in his final days, is now chair of the Arizona GOP. That makes some in the party very nervous.

Climate Hypocrisy?

China, Japan and South Korea have joined other industrialized nations in promising to reduce their use of fossil fuels in the hopes of fighting climate change. At the same time, these three countries are financing dozens of new coal-fired power plants in places like Indonesia, Vietnam, South Africa and Bangladesh. That has led to accusations of hypocrisy and merely exporting pollution elsewhere.

Ashes to Ashes, Compost to Compost

Call it “natural organic reduction,” “recomposition” or “human composting.” Regardless, Washington state could become the first in the U.S. to legalize the practice of turning loved ones’ bodies into garden-variety soil. The idea is to cut carbon emissions from burials and cremations. A bipartisan bill awaits the signature of Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat focusing his presidential campaign on climate change.

Some of the Sheriff’s Paying Customers Speak Up

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva doesn’t just oversee a department that runs the nation’s largest jail system and patrols 4,000 square miles of the most populous county in the U.S. He’s also head of the police force for dozens of cities throughout the county that contract with the agency for law enforcement services. Now, some of them are pushing back against Villanueva’s decision to hire back troubled deputies and challenge certain policing reforms. A point of concern: that their liability costs could grow under Villanueva.

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OUR MUST-READS FROM THE WEEKEND

-- When reporter Bryan Carmody would not betray his source, San Francisco police came to his home with guns and a sledgehammer to cart away his notebooks, computers, cameras, phones and even his fiancee’s iPod from her college days.

-- Granada Hills Charter High School has won the Academic Decathlon yet again. How do they do it? Columnist Steve Lopez found diversity is the ultimate strength.

-- Education funding in the state is almost certain to hit a record high. So why are schools short on cash?

-- The Lakers have hired Frank Vogel as head coach. Columnist Bill Plaschke wants to know: Are they kidding?

-- Don’t call it breakdancing: “Breaking,” as it is correctly known, is trying to bust a move into the Olympics.

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FROM THE ARCHIVES

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On this date in 1971, a group of Chicano rights marchers was early in a journey that began at the border town of Calexico and would reach Sacramento, 600 miles to the north, by early August. As The Times reported, they walked along a desert highway and shouted “an occasional ‘Viva la Raza!’ at passing cars and trucks. Sometimes a truck driver waved back and honked. But now and then a big rig roared close enough to the highway shoulder to nearly blow the marchers down. ‘We’ve had some racist catcalls from cars,’ said Rosalio Munoz, chairman of the Chicano Moratorium Committee, sponsoring La March de La Reconquista.”

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Chicano rights marchers travel along a desert road near the Salton Sea in May 1971.
(John Malmin / Los Angeles Times Archive/UCLA)

CALIFORNIA

-- State lawmakers are pushing to require municipalities to lift bans on cannabis stores if voters there supported Proposition 64, the 2016 initiative that legalized sale of the drug for recreational use in California.

-- A massive subway project under the streets of downtown L.A. has been further slowed, this time as the contractor deals with labor shortages, according to Metro. Expected completion date now: mid-March 2022.

-- More than a year after the state legalized the recreational use of cannabis, marijuana trafficking arrests have surged 166% at LAX, according to arrest records.

-- For many South Asian immigrant families, the area along Venice and Washington boulevards near Culver City has a taste of home, as columnist Frank Shyong explains.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

-- Now that Georgia’s governor has signed one of the most restrictive, punitive abortion bans in the country, columnist Mary McNamara says it’s time for Hollywood to pull productions out of the state.

-- For women in entertainment, an industry where the hours are grueling and unpredictable and travel to faraway locations is the norm, the conflict between work and family can be brutal.

-- “Avengers: Endgame” actress Karen Gillan tells all about her character Nebula’s surprising redemption.

-- Actress and former model Peggy Lipton, who rose to stardom in the late 1960s on the counterculture police series “The Mod Squad” and later starred on TV’s “Twin Peaks,” has died at 72.

NATION-WORLD

-- Georgia isn’t the only state to have passed new abortion restrictions. It’s part of a deliberate attempt to trigger a lawsuit that could push the Supreme Court to overturn its landmark 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision.

-- Chinese millennials are rejecting dull factory jobs and helping to transform the economy by doing so.

-- Soviet housing was famously drab. This complex in Ukraine is all about bright colors.

BUSINESS

-- Co-working spaces are not just for start-up bros anymore.

-- Uber fares are cheap, thanks to venture capital. Now that it and Lyft are publicly traded companies, that free-ish ride could be ending.

SPORTS

-- Stanford turned back USC to win the NCAA women’s water polo title.

-- Retired NFL quarterback Peyton Manning says he understands the hardships Tiger Woods overcame in his golf comeback.

OPINION

-- Sen. Tammy Duckworth writes that more women in Congress could be a good thing for family leave legislation.

-- Columnist Doyle McManus explains why more and more conservative lawyers are condemning Trump for abuses of power.

WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

-- After a shooting at a Colorado STEM school, some students say they just want to mourn and not be used as political “props,” but that they want to see change to prevent more killings. (BuzzFeed News)

-- “I’m the longest-serving Republican in the Iowa Legislature, and I’m switching parties.” (The Atlantic)

-- How has Danielle Steel managed to write 179 books? Long days, she says. Really long days. (Glamour)

ONLY IN CALIFORNIA

What do a Newport Beach hot yoga studio, former NBA star Dennis Rodman and a 400-pound amethyst have in common? The owner of Vibes Hot Yoga says Rodman entered the business twice in two days last week and helped other people steal more than $3,500 in merchandise, including what was described as a “ginormous geode amethyst crystal.” Rodman told TMZ he and his companions didn’t steal from the studio. Whatever transpired, the big amethyst is no longer 400 pounds.

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