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Newsletter: Today: Uncoupling From the Bullet Train

Paving the deck for the San Joaquin River Viaduct. Photo by California High-Speed Rail Authority.
Workers pave the deck for the San Joaquin River Viaduct, part of the infrastructure for California’s troubled high-speed rail project.
(California High-Speed Rail Authority)

The Trump administration is following through on a threat to terminate nearly $1 billion for California’s bullet train project.

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Uncoupling From the Bullet Train

Since Gov. Gavin Newsom said in February he was planning to scale back California’s high-speed rail project, President Trump has demanded the return of $3.5 billion in federal money. Now, the Trump administration has terminated a $929-million grant, citing multiple failures by the state to forecast accurate schedules, report key milestones and show that it can meet deadlines to complete work by 2022. Even more troubling for the project is a warning, reiterated Thursday, that federal officials are looking into recapturing $2.5 billion in another grant that the state already has spent. Newsom has vowed to fight the decision in court.

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More From Washington

-- Trump deployed all the trappings of a Rose Garden ceremony to pitch an incomplete and almost certainly doomed immigration plan. The White House did not release any written text or even an outline of the plan.

-- Trump’s new chokehold on Huawei is threatening the telecommunications firm and U.S.-China trade talks.

-- An audit says Scott Pruitt, Trump’s scandal-plagued first Environmental Protection Agency administrator, spent nearly $124,000 on “excessive” travel costs over 10 months.

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See You Next Year?

California’s Senate Bill 50 was supposed to be about solving the housing crisis. Instead, it touched off a debate over the very nature of life in the Golden State. Now, it’s been set aside — at least until next year. It would’ve required cities to allow four- to five-story apartment complexes near rail stations and four or more homes on land zoned only for single-family homes. The bill’s opponents say it would lower the quality of life in many neighborhoods and even displace low-income residents.

For more about the demise of SB 50, check out today’s Essential California newsletter.

A Landmark Architect

I.M. Pei had a client list that was a who’s who of 20th century notables, including French President Francois Mitterrand for the Louvre and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis for the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston. But Pei, who has died at 102, was “not an architect who has a body of theories. I don’t think that’s how my architecture should be looked at. But if you are true to yourself, you have a signature, and the signature will come out.”

The North Remembers

“Game of Thrones” may be known for its violence, but the HBO show has helped the 1.8 million residents of Northern Ireland contemplate a future beyond the political turmoil of today and the deadly Troubles of its past. As “Game of Thrones” ends its run on TV this weekend, Belfast now stands as one of Europe’s most vital entertainment industry hubs and is reaping the benefits of “GoT” tourism.

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FROM THE ARCHIVES

On this date in 1964, preservationists were celebrating “The Castle,” a faded former mansion atop Bunker Hill, getting a new lease on life. L.A.’s Cultural Heritage Board designated it as a historic-cultural monument, blocking its destruction. The 1882 house would be moved five years later to Montecito Heights. But after just seven months at its new location, fire destroyed the Victorian-era home.

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May 17, 1964: Artist Leo Politi sketches by "The Castle" at 325 Bunker Hill Ave., designated a historic-cultural monument by the city Heritage Board.
(Los Angeles Times)

CALIFORNIA

-- The state is spending millions of dollars to stem the tide of homelessness without much to show for it. The latest evidence of that arrived when several Bay Area cities and counties reported that their latest tallies of homeless people revealed big increases.

-- A San Pedro fueling facility that has sat idle for several years could be reactivated and leased to a commercial operator under a plan put forward by the U.S. Navy. The idea has alarmed nearby residents.

-- Officials say an F-16 returning to March Air Reserve Base in Moreno Valley crashed into a building after its pilot ejected.

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-- This World War II veteran is aiming to to preserve the lessons of war’s horrors

YOUR WEEKEND

-- Restaurant reviews: At Yours Truly in Venice, a chef offers his vision for “modern Californian” cooking, while at hidden Inn Ann, sushi master Morihiro Onodera reappears

-- Should restaurant reviews have star ratings? Our critics face off.

-- Dragon boat racing calls to beginners and pros alike.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

-- The film “John Wick 3” expands the Wickverse with another artfully ridiculous body count.

-- Yesterday once more: At a Carpenters fan convention, there’s a feel-good sadness.

-- For more than four decades, Walt Disney Imagineering art director Kim Irvine has helped keep Disneyland connected to its past.

NATION-WORLD

-- Officials in some of south Florida’s Democratic strongholds say they’ve been warned the federal government is considering a plan to send them hundreds of migrants from the U.S.-Mexico border in two weeks without any resources to house or feed them.

-- A Guatemalan official says a 2-year-old migrant child has died after crossing the U.S. border, becoming the fourth minor known to have died after being detained by the Border Patrol since December.

-- Taiwan’s legislature has voted to legalize same-sex marriage, a first in Asia and a boost for LGBTQ rights activists who had championed the cause for two decades.

-- Diplomatic efforts to resolve Venezuela‘s crisis have accelerated as the government and opposition sent envoys to negotiate in Norway.

-- Israel is being roiled over an allegation that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wants a law to diminish the Supreme Court’s power as he faces criminal indictments.

BUSINESS

-- Trump’s high-profile trade offensives have grabbed headlines and rattled financial markets. But his trade warriors are fighting dozens of more obscure battles — over laminated woven sacks from Vietnam, dried tart cherries from Turkey, rubber bands from Thailand and many others.

-- Live Nation says it has acquired L.A.-based concert promoter Spaceland Presents, including its local music venues Echoplex, the Echo and the Regent, as the giant events firm continues to expand its footprint in Southern California.

SPORTS

-- The Dodgerspitching staff looks thin after an injury to Kenta Maeda and Julio Urias on paid administrative leave.

-- La Masia is one of the world’s top soccer academies, a finishing school that has produced FC Barcelona stars such as Lionel Messi, Xavi Hernandez and Carles Puyol.

OPINION

-- Alabama’s antiabortion governor says “every life is a sacred gift from God,” so why has she overseen multiple executions?

-- Metro is hemorrhaging riders. It needs to stop studying obvious fixes and start acting.

WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

-- Former national security advisor Michael Flynn told investigators that people linked to the Trump administration and Congress reached out to him in an effort to interfere in the Russia investigation, according to newly unredacted court papers.

-- Former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens writes about the “court’s worst decision of my tenure.” (The Atlantic)

-- Out in the Nevada desert, there’s a castle for sale and it’s sitting on a gold mine. (Atlas Obscura)

ONLY IN L.A.

Lots of places have dog walkers. In L.A., we have a People Walker. Chuck McCarthy is in the business of getting people to step away from their computers, or the isolation of their cars, and get out for a walk with another human being. It’s an antidote for loneliness. And yes, there is now an app for that.

If you like this newsletter, please share it with friends. Comments or ideas? Email us at headlines@latimes.com.


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