The Trump administration is warning of heightened threats from Iran, but there is skepticism among allies abroad — and in Congress.
U.S.-Iran Tensions on the Rise
The U.S. and Iran say they aren’t looking for a war, but tensions between the two countries have been building. This week, the State Department ordered several hundred U.S. diplomatic personnel to leave Iraq, citing heightened threats from neighboring Iran. So far this month, the Pentagon has sent a carrier task force and Air Force B-52 bombers to the region and dusted off contingency war plans; the Treasury Department has increased sanctions; and Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo made a sudden trip to Baghdad. But few American allies have embraced the U.S. moves, and several have warned that such aggressive action could lead to an accidental conflict. Although there is broad bipartisan antagonism toward Iran in Congress, several Republican lawmakers have questioned whether the White House is overreacting to Iranian threats that have long existed in the region.
-- Trump will announce a sweeping immigration plan today to boost border security and foreign workers while reducing family reunification, but the White House proposal has little chance of advancing in Congress.
-- The White House has hardened its opposition to House Democrats’ investigations, telling lawmakers that they had no authority to examine how Trump has wielded his executive authority.
-- A newly tested North Korean short-range ballistic missile appears to be a copy of an advanced Russian design that could improve Pyongyang’s ability to evade missile defense systems, according to U.S. officials.
-- Trump has pardoned Pat Nolan, a former Republican state legislative leader who spent years in prison after being convicted in the “Shrimpscam” FBI sting in the 1990s, and Conrad Black, who was convicted of fraud and later wrote a flattering political biography of Trump.
From Toast of the Town to Man on the Run
Adrian Hong of Los Angeles was one of the most celebrated advocates for human rights in North Korea, a fixture at congressional hearings and oft-sought speaker. Now, court documents accuse him of leading a strange takeover of North Korea’s Embassy in Spain in February. To his supporters, the incident was an extension of a lifetime’s work on behalf of oppressed North Koreans, a worthy cause taken perhaps too far. But the U.S. government isn’t seeing it that way and is trying to track him down as an “armed and dangerous” fugitive.
Should He Pay the Price?
In the college admissions scandal, this is a first: A student is suing a school in connection with the scam. He’s the son of a Los Angeles executive who admitted paying a $400,000 bribe to secure a spot at Georgetown for his child. The student, who says he knew nothing of the bribe his father paid, is trying to prevent it from kicking him out and nullifying his college credits.
A Law of Unintended Consequences
The California Environmental Quality Act (also known as CEQA) is a nearly half-century-old law that requires developers to disclose a project’s environmental effects and take steps to reduce or eliminate them. These days, it’s being used in attempts to block housing for the homeless. Opponents of shelters say it’s the only way they can get the attention of politicians, who they say are ignoring their concerns about crime and drug use. But many shelter advocates say it’s an abuse of the law.
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FROM THE ARCHIVES
On this date in 1929, the first Academy Awards ceremony was held at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, with Academy President Douglas Fairbanks handing out 15 statuettes for outstanding achievement in 1927 and 1928. The first ceremony (which also marked the film academy’s second anniversary) made the Los Angeles Times’ front page under the headline “Film-Merit Trophies Awarded.” Coverage was all of one photograph and two paragraphs. Since then, a lot has changed.
-- Jackie Goldberg’s return to the L.A. Unified school board will change the equation for unions, charters and Supt. Austin Beutner.
-- State Department of Forestry and Fire Protection investigators have concluded that Pacific Gas & Electric equipment caused the devastating Camp fire that destroyed nearly 14,000 homes and killed 85 people.
-- The principal of Palos Verdes High School says “severe consequences” will follow after a social media post showed two students holding a racist “promposal” sign.
-- In the San Gabriel Valley, a number of older Chinese restaurants and large-scale banquet halls have been closing. What’s going on?
HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS
-- “The Big Bang Theory” has its final episode on CBS tonight. Does it also signal the end of an era in TV programming?
-- CBS has unveiled a more diverse lineup for its fall programming, the first since Leslie Moonves was ousted as chairman.
-- Playwright Lucas Hnath is back on Broadway with “Hillary and Clinton,” a zesty drama on America’s most picked-apart political couple.
-- The blue gown worn by Constance Wu in the film “Crazy Rich Asians” is headed to the Smithsonian.
-- The Supreme Court is not eager to overturn Roe vs. Wade — at least not soon.
-- Stacey Abrams, a former Georgia state representative who is weighing a run for president, discusses her state’s new abortion ban and her call for opponents of the law to donate to local groups fighting for reproductive rights.
-- For foreign wives of men in Saudi Arabia, legal limbo sometimes awaits.
-- Trump has issued an executive order giving his administration sweeping powers to block Chinese telecom giant Huawei and other foreign communications firms from doing business in the United States.
-- For more than a year, Apple has avoided major damage from the U.S. trade war with China. Now, the company faces its first major hit — from both sides of the dispute.
-- The Dodgers may face a tough decision regarding pitcher Julio Urias, who was arrested on suspicion of misdemeanor domestic battery.
-- Killing someone in the ring? Boxer Deontay Wilder says it’s legal, but his opponent says it’s crazy.
-- Some court decisions deserve to be overruled. Roe vs. Wade isn’t one of them.
-- Forcing California cities to allow marijuana sales is ignoring the will of the voters, writes columnist George Skelton.
WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING
-- Two U.S. data recovery firms claimed to offer an ethical way out of ransomware attacks. Instead, they typically paid the hackers. (ProPublica)
-- On the deepest dive ever made by a human inside a submarine in the Mariana Trench, a Texas investor found litter. It appears to be plastic. (The Guardian)
-- Charles Glenn has sung the national anthem at St. Louis Blues games for nearly two decades. His swan song as the team battles in the NHL playoffs is bittersweet. (ESPN)
ONLY IN CALIFORNIA
Among the rows of historic Victorians that line the streets of San Francisco, this one sticks out from the rest for TV fans: the “Full House” home. The exterior of the house was used to portray the Tanner family’s residence in that sitcom of the 1980s and ’90s. Now, the whole thing can be yours. List price: $5.999 million. So what does it look like inside these days? Get a free look here.