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Newsletter: Today: A Retreat, Without a Question

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President Trump and Atty. Gen. William Barr at an event in the White House Rose Garden at which Trump announced the government would give up its effort to add a question about citizenship to the census.
(Olivier Douliery / TNS)

President Trump says he’s abandoning the effort to ask about citizenship status on the 2020 census.

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A Retreat, Without a Question

Proclaiming that “we are not backing down,” President Trump has backed down from his fight to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census. Instead, he said, he would issue an executive order telling Homeland Security, the Social Security Administration and other federal departments to share records with the Census Bureau to allow them to develop estimates of the total noncitizen population. That’s something those agencies mostly already do, and it will not have the same impact as census numbers.

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Steyer’s Stumbling Blocks

His hedge fund invested in coal mining and private prisons, and he once preached the power of a tax shelter. Now billionaire Tom Steyer wants the Democratic nomination for president of the United States after spending money to promote liberal causes, most visibly the fight against global warming and the drive to impeach Trump. Though his supporters say Steyer has turned over a new leaf, will his past turn off Democratic voters on the left?

More Politics

— Trump is withdrawing a once highly promoted plan to ease the financial bite of costly medications for people on Medicare by letting them receive rebates that drugmakers now pay to insurers and middlemen.

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— Some in Washington say Trump’s strong reaction to the leak of secret memos from the former British ambassador to the U.S. is putting a chill on diplomacy.

— The House Judiciary Committee voted Thursday to authorize subpoenas for 12 people mentioned in special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s report, including Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and former Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions.

Banditos With Badges

They wear matching tattoos of a skeleton outfitted in a sombrero, bandolier and pistol, and they call themselves the Banditos. Now, sources say, the FBI is investigating this secret society of tattooed deputies in East Los Angeles as well as similar gang-like groups elsewhere within the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. It’s not the first time these groups have come under scrutiny. Defenders say they are harmless fraternities, but agents are trying to determine if they encourage law breaking.

A Steep Utility Bill

Gov. Gavin Newsom is expected to sign a bill today creating a fund of at least $21 billion that power companies can use to pay damages from fires linked to their equipment. The bill for utility customers? $10.5 billion. The legislation marks an early victory for Newsom. But some who voted against it say lawmakers are going too far to help utilities like PG&E — which has admitted that its equipment probably caused the Camp fire. The November fire in Butte County killed more than 80 people.

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FROM THE ARCHIVES

On this date in 1949, 35 people died when a C-46 Standard Airlines flight from Albuquerque to Burbank crashed about a mile and a half northeast of Chatsworth Reservoir. Thirteen people survived. Emergency personnel got help from an unexpected source: disciples of Krishna Venta, a self-styled “Christ,” who maintained a monastery in Box Canyon. When one survivor saw the robed men coming to her aid, she thought she had died.

July 12, 1949: The battered fuselage and wing section of a C-46 Standard Airlines passenger plane li
July 12, 1949: The battered fuselage and wing section of a C-46 Standard Airlines passenger plane.
(Paul Calvert / Los Angeles Times)

CALIFORNIA

— Before double-dealing allegations surfaced at the L.A. Department of Water and Power, there were red flags over a $30-million contract.

— An adjunct UCLA professor of electrical engineering faces 219 years in federal prison for conspiring to export semiconductor chips with military applications to China.

— Sources say L.A. County caseworkers allowed a 4-year-old Palmdale boy to remain in his parents’ home despite a court order in May, weeks before he died under what authorities say are suspicious circumstances.

— The California Coastal Commission has rejected the recommendation of its staff and voted against restricting vehicle access to Oceano Dunes, at least for the time being.

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YOUR WEEKEND

— L.A.’s 21 essential burgers, from the Apple Pan to the Arthur J, in augmented reality.

Sun-dried tomatoes, the Mickey Rourke of food, get their second act.

— How millennials replaced religion with astrology and crystals.

— Old-style rowing machines and punching bags have gotten a tech update.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

— Disney’s photo-real remake of “The Lion King” breaks new ground visually, writes film critic Kenneth Turan, but revisits the familiar dramatic and emotional territory.

— The cantankerous glory of David Crosby, who hates Spotify, wants to reunite CSNY and says he saved at least $25,000 growing his own pot.

— With the film “The Farewell,” writer-director Lulu Wang and star Awkwafina want you to cry, then call your grandma.

Disneyland says the second attraction at its new Star Wars land won’t open till Jan. 17, after the peak winter holiday season.

NATION-WORLD

Tropical Storm Barry is bearing down on the Gulf Coast. It comes at a time when the Mississippi River is already swollen from unprecedented late-season flooding.

— German Chancellor Angela Merkel opted to sit for the playing of national anthems during a ceremony in Berlin, a day after she trembled in public for the third time in the last few weeks. The incidents have fueled speculation about her health.

— In a snub to China, the U.S. is letting Taiwan’s president spend some time in New York.

BUSINESS

— Natural gas prices could soar again this summer. Not helping matters: A Southern California Gas Co. pipeline that exploded in 2017 is still out of commission.

Drug companies say you’d just be “confused” if they included prices in TV ads. Consumer columnist David Lazarus explores.

SPORTS

— Entering the second half of the baseball season, the Dodgers are healthy and focused on making another World Series push.

— At Wimbledon, Serena Williams will play Simona Halep in Saturday’s final. Meanwhile, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal will face off today. The cheapest ticket: $7,335.

OPINION

— Trump’s anti-immigration agenda could make L.A.'s homelessness crisis even worse.

— For sex offender Jeffrey Epstein’s child victims, the justice system may finally be working.

WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

— How Sam Shepard’s plays foreshadowed the current state of the nation. (The Atlantic)

— Why more cultural critics of color are desperately needed in newsrooms today. (New York Times)

ONLY IN L.A.

Call it a sewer salmon, mud marlin, pond pig, river rabbit, dumpster dolphin, ghetto grouper, septic steelie or Cyprinus carpio. Whatever name you have for the common carp, chances are you have not considered its existence in the concrete channel known as the L.A. River. But the fish are there, and they’re ripe for the taking — and if you dare, the eating. Would you do it? This person did and lived to tell. Carpe diem.

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