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426 posts
  • L.A.
Chief Charlie Beck conducts his final inspection of LAPD officers on May 7.
Chief Charlie Beck conducts his final inspection of LAPD officers on May 7. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

Thanks to diligent reporting by Times reporters, we now know the names on the list of finalists to replace Los Angeles police Chief Charlie Beck when he retires next month. And while I’m sure all of the three men on the list are talented law enforcement professionals, it’s still a great disappointment that all of them are men.

The next LAPD chief, it seems, will definitely not be a woman.

Too bad. I thought it was high time a woman take charge of one of the largest and most storied police departments in the nation, if not the world. Not just as a sop to gender diversity, but because a woman would probably manage the department differently. And, yeah, if that meant putting the finger on the scale for a woman in this case, so what? The scale has been unfairly tipped toward male police chiefs for as long as the job title has existed.

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  • Trump
  • The Swamp
Michael Cohen, one of President Trump's lawyers, leaves federal court in New York on April 26.
Michael Cohen, one of President Trump's lawyers, leaves federal court in New York on April 26. (Seth Wenig / Associated Press)

As if there weren’t enough Russia-related stories about Team Trump already, another one emerged Tuesday: According to CNN and the Daily Beast, Michael Cohen — Trump’s personal attorney and self-described fixer — allegedly took half a million dollars from a Russian oligarch over the first nine months of 2017.

The source of the allegations is Michael Avenatti, the lawyer representing porn star Stormy Daniels (nee Stephanie Clifford) in her dispute with Cohen and Trump. So preserve your skepticism. Nevertheless, CNN and the New York Times have both reported that the oligarch, Viktor Vekselberg, has been questioned by investigators for special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, who is probing alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign.

Bloomberg ranks Vekselberg as the 75th-richest man in the world, with $15.5 billion in assets. He chairs a multinational investment company whose holdings include a stake in Russia’s biggest aluminum company, according to Bloomberg. Notably, the Trump administration slapped him with sanctions last month along with other oligarchs accused of “malign activities,” including meddling in the 2016 election.

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  • Trump
  • We're All Doomed
President Trump pulled the U.S. out of the nuclear deal with Iran Tuesday; Iranian President Hassan Rouhani faulted the U.S.
President Trump pulled the U.S. out of the nuclear deal with Iran Tuesday; Iranian President Hassan Rouhani faulted the U.S. (Jim Lo Scalzo / EPA. Iranian Presidency Office)

If there was any doubt that President Trump intended to repudiate the international agreement that placed limits on Iran’s nuclear program, he dispelled it on Tuesday.

As expected, Trump announced that he would not waive economic sanctions as the United States is required to do under the 2015 agreement, rejecting the advice of America’s closest allies and turning a blind eye to his own defense secretary’s conclusion that the agreement has allowed for robust monitoring of Iran’s activities.

But as alarming as the action the president took was, so was the deceitful and demagogic speech in which he attempted to justify it. It was virtually indistinguishable from the sort of rant he delivered a year and ago on the campaign trail, utterly uninformed by the sort of wisdom and appreciation of complexity that experience confers on most occupants of the Oval Office. 

  • #MeToo
New York Atty. Gen. Eric Schneiderman
New York Atty. Gen. Eric Schneiderman (Drew Angerer / Getty Images)

The Twitterverse has been reveling in the delicious reversal of fortune for newly former New York Atty. Gen. Eric Schneiderman, who resigned Monday just hours after the New Yorker published a story in which four women accused him of verbal and physical abuse during romantic relationships.

Oh, the hypocrisy. The self-styled feminist hero who was suing Harvey Weinstein’s company and professed disgust at the alleged mistreatment of women by the movie producer is having a #MeToo moment himself.

But is he?

It’s a reasonable question that I’m sure is on many people’s minds. Isn’t the movement a response to sexual harassment in the workplace? The answer is yes, of course, but it’s also a whole lot more.

Then-Gov. Eliot Spitzer of New York, with his wife, Silda, apologizes to the public on March 10, 2008, in New York City.
Then-Gov. Eliot Spitzer of New York, with his wife, Silda, apologizes to the public on March 10, 2008, in New York City. (Mario Tama / Getty Images)

You might think that New York Democrats would have learned something from the Eliot Spitzer fiasco. Ten years ago, then-Gov. Spitzer, who’d made his name as a federal prosecutor assailing Wall Street corruption, resigned in disgrace two days after the New York Times revealed that he’d been caught on a wiretap arranging a liaison with a high-end prostitute.

Evidently not. New York Atty. Gen. Eric Schneiderman, who’d also made his name bringing splashy cases against corporate defendants — and, lately, the Trump administration — resigned in disgrace three hours after the New Yorker reported accusations by four women that he’d violently abused them.

In both cases, the revelations were shocking in large part because they contrasted so sharply with the images they’d cultivated — “Jekyll and Schneid,” as the New York Post put it after the New Yorker story broke. 

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  • The Swamp
First Lady Melania Trump announces her initiatives.
First Lady Melania Trump announces her initiatives. (Michael Reynolds / EPA/Shutterstock)

First ladies have got to have something to do besides greeting foreign dignitaries and gazing lovingly at their spouses. So they typically find an issue to own that’s topical, fairly uncontroversial and involves kids or women. (Because apparently it’s still the 1950s in the White House and ladies may not have strong opinions except when it comes to raising kids and being female.)

Michelle Obama focused on fitness and nutrition. Laura Bush pushed education and literacy. Hillary Clinton focused on international trade. (Haha. Just kidding — women’s health and equality.)

Now Melania Trump has unveiled her own agenda, and it’s as perplexing as her relationship with The Donald. It’s called the “Be Best” campaign. The idea is to improve the social and emotional health of kids. There are three main pillars of Be Best: well being, social media use and … opioid abuse.

  • Guns and Ammo
Former U.S. Marine Lt. Col. Oliver North, shown speaking at an NRA forum Friday, will be the group's new president.
Former U.S. Marine Lt. Col. Oliver North, shown speaking at an NRA forum Friday, will be the group's new president. (Associated Press /Sue Ogrocki)

The National Rifle Assn. just named someone convicted in connection with illegal gun sales to be its president.

That would be former Marine Lt. Col. Oliver North, a top national security adviser to President Reagan who played an instrumental role in the Iran-Contra affair that marred Reagan’s second term. For those with short memories, that was the secret deal to violate multiple federal laws by selling arms to Iran — yes, “Death to America” Iran — in exchange for help freeing U.S. hostages in Lebanon and for money to fund the Contra rebels in Nicaragua.

In a statement, NRA chief executive Wayne LaPierre said, “This is the most exciting news for our members since Charlton Heston became president of our association.” Unlike the popular “Ten Commandments” actor, however, North is a polarizing figure — even more polarizing than the NRA itself.

“The Protestants hate the Catholics, and the Catholics hate the Protestants … ”

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  • Trump
  • The Witch Hunt
  • The Swamp
President Trump addresses reporters Friday at the White House before heading to the National Rifle Assn. convention.
President Trump addresses reporters Friday at the White House before heading to the National Rifle Assn. convention. (J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press)

Which leading political figure uttered these words of wisdom Friday morning?

“You know what? Learn before you speak. It’s a lot easier.”

That would be President Trump, the least studious and fact-based president of our lifetime. He made the comment to reporters after contradicting yet again the narrative about Stormy Daniels put forward by his own team.

  • California
  • Politics
  • Opinion
A screenshot from YouTube.com shows a KPIX interview with U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Little arguing that Twitter censors white people.
A screenshot from YouTube.com shows a KPIX interview with U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Little arguing that Twitter censors white people. (KPIX/YouTube.com)

A new poll shows that a neo-Nazi candidate not only is the most popular GOP candidate on the ballot for U.S. Senate, but that he’s running second in the race, putting him in a position to face off with incumbent Dianne Feinstein in November.

Patrick Little of Albany had about 18% of the vote, compared to Feinstein’s 39%, according to the SurveyUSA poll released Tuesday. Take the results with a grain of salt — SurveyUSA did not reveal its methodology, other than to say it interviewed 1,100 adult Californians, less than half of whom were identified as likely voters, during the week of April 19.

Little is running as a Republican, and his ballot designation is “civil rights advocate.” His views are unabashedly anti-Semitic. On his website, he calls the Holocaust a “propaganda hoax” and says he would limit the number of Jewish people in government and judgeships.