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Today’s Headlines: A mix of diplomacy and controversy on Kamala Harris’ trip

Vice President Kamala Harris in front of U.S. and Mexican flags
Vice President Kamala Harris speaks during a news conference in Mexico City.
(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

Vice President Kamala Harris met with Mexico’s president after visiting Guatemala and drawing criticism for telling Central Americans to “not come” to U.S.

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A Mix of Diplomacy and Controversy

Vice President Kamala Harris wrapped up her first official foreign trip Tuesday, having gained exposure on the world stage in trying to reset U.S. relations in Latin America. But she got more attention back home for something else: controversies over her words on immigration.

Harris first angered some on the left in the United States with her strong statement Monday in Guatemala telling desperate would-be migrants, “Do not come” to the U.S. border, and warning that they’d be “turned back.” Immigrant rights groups and progressives took to social media and the airwaves condemning Harris’ blunt rhetoric as “disappointing” and “tone deaf.” Among the critics was Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), who defended the rights of asylum-seekers and lambasted decades of U.S. foreign policy for “contributing to regime change and destabilization in Latin America.”

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Among some recent Central American immigrants, the reaction to Harris’ hard-edged statement was eye-rolling surprise. But the message is no different from past Democratic administrations.

The blowback swirled amid the vice president’s diplomatic debut in Mexico City, where Harris’ primary focus was immigration. Still, she also sought to more broadly define the Biden administration’s pivotal diplomatic relationship with Mexico, America’s southern neighbor, a close ally and No. 1 trading partner.

How the Capitol Was Breached

A Senate investigation of the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol has uncovered broad government, military and law-enforcement missteps surrounding the violent attack. Among these missteps: a breakdown within multiple intelligence agencies and a lack of training and preparation for Capitol Police officers who were quickly overwhelmed by the rioters.

The Senate report is the first — and could be the last — bipartisan review of how hundreds of former President Trump’s supporters were able to breach security lines and break into the Capitol that day.

The report includes new details about the police officers on the front lines who suffered chemical burns, brain injuries and broken bones and who told senators that they were left with no direction when command systems broke down. The report recommends immediate changes to give the Capitol Police chief more authority, provide better planning and equipment for law enforcement, and streamline intelligence gathering among federal agencies.

A Dispute Over Forfeiture

When FBI agents asked for permission to rip hundreds of safe-deposit boxes from the walls of a Beverly Hills business and haul them away, U.S. Magistrate Steve Kim set some strict limits on the raid.

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The business, U.S. Private Vaults, had been charged in a sealed indictment with conspiring to sell drugs and launder money. Its customers had not. So the FBI could seize the boxes themselves, Kim decided, but had to return what was inside to the owners.

Yet the FBI is now trying to confiscate $86 million in cash and millions of dollars more in jewelry and other valuables that agents found in 369 of the boxes.

Prosecutors claim the forfeiture is justified because the unnamed box holders were engaged in criminal activity, though they have disclosed no evidence to support the allegation. Box holders and their lawyers denounced the ploy as a brazen abuse of forfeiture laws, saying prosecutors and the FBI were trampling on the rights of people who thought they’d found a safe place to stash confidential documents, heirlooms, gold, rare coins and cash.

How ‘The Bachelor’ Host’s 20-Year Stint Ended

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Chris Harrison is officially parting ways with “The Bachelor” after 20 years as the face of the franchise. The announcement comes in the aftermath of a racism controversy that engulfed the first Black bachelor’s season earlier this year.

“The Bachelor” faced a racial reckoning last season after photos surfaced of contestant Rachael Kirkconnell at an Old South-themed party in 2018. Harrison himself was caught up in the scandal following an interview with Rachel Lindsay, the first Black “Bachelorette,” in which he made racially insensitive statements minimizing those images.

For fans, his stepping down as host was no surprise and even a welcome change.

FROM THE ARCHIVES

In the early 1940s, Dolores Gunn ran for Los Angeles City Council and mayor. She also had several run-ins with the Los Angeles Police Department vice squad. On June 9, 1943, she is pictured waiting as a Los Angeles police officer writes up a parking ticket.

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A woman sits in a vintage automobile topped with a campaign sign as a motorcycle officer writes a citation
June 9, 1943: Los Angeles mayoral candidate Dolores Gunn waits as a Los Angeles police officer writes up a parking ticket.
(John Malmin / Los Angeles Times Archive / UCLA)

CALIFORNIA

— A hit-and-run crash in Lucerne Valley killed three girls and critically injured another. The four pedestrians were in the north lane of Camp Rock Road, north of Rabbit Springs Road, around 10:20 p.m. when a pickup driving in the same direction struck them from behind.

— A COVID-19 vaccination site opened at downtown Los Angeles’ Union Station as the effort to get shots into more residents’ arms ramped up ahead of the state’s planned reopening next week.

— A Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy has been charged with assault and evidence tampering stemming from an arrest she made in Lancaster two years ago.

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— A registered sex offender who was set free by a Los Angeles County judge in 2018 because of a 17-year delay in his trial has now been arrested on suspicion of sexually abusing three children in Tulare County, records show.

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NATION-WORLD

Spain jump-started its summer tourism season by welcoming vaccinated visitors from most countries and European tourists who can prove they are not infected with the coronavirus. It also reopened its ports to cruise ships.

— For months, President Biden has laid out goal after goal for taming the COVID-19 pandemic and then exceeded his own benchmarks. Now, though, the U.S. is unlikely to meet his target to have 70% of Americans at least partially vaccinated by July 4.

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— The chief executive of the massive fuel pipeline hit by ransomware last month told senators that authorizing a multimillion-dollar payment to hackers was the right thing to do to bring an end to fuel shortages affecting much of the eastern United States, even as authorities have discouraged such payments.

— The Senate approved a sweeping effort to fortify the nation’s ability to compete with China’s economic and political ambitions by shoveling billions of dollars into scientific research and American manufacturing across several industries, including artificial intelligence, robotics and wireless service.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

Anthony Ramos spoke briefly with Lin-Manuel Miranda before succeeding him as the star of “In the Heights.” This week, he transported “Tonight Show” viewers to the room where it happened.

— Mourners of the “Madea” franchise can take off their black veils. Tyler Perry is rebooting it with a 12th installment, “A Madea Homecoming,” for Netflix after saying goodbye to the iconic character in 2019.

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Frank Sinatra’s newest biographer says the late singer can’t be Ronan Farrow’s biological father because former spouses Sinatra and Mia Farrow couldn’t have worked out the logistics around the time of conception.

Alyssa Milano, the veteran of TV shows including “Who’s the Boss?,” “Charmed” and “Insatiable,” has her eye on a congressional seat in California.

BUSINESS

— The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California has hired Adel Hagekhalil as its next general manager, following a bitter power struggle over the future of an agency that delivers hundreds of billions of gallons each year from the Colorado River and Northern California to a region that otherwise wouldn’t have nearly enough water to support 19 million people.

— Skateboarding star and San Clemente native Ryan Sheckler just closed a sale in his hometown, unloading his coastal home a few blocks from the beach for $3 million in an off-market deal.

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SPORTS

— The Clippers lost Game 1 of their second-round NBA playoff series when the Utah Jazz’s Donovan Mitchell scored 45 points.

— The Nuggets’ big man, Nikola Jokic, was named the NBA’s Most Valuable Player for 2020-21, making him by far the lowest draft pick ever to win the award.

Walker Buehler shut down the Pirates as the Dodgers won to end a two-game skid, while Shohei Ohtani hit the longest home run of his MLB career as the Angels powered past the Royals.

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OPINION

— Should women remain exempt from the draft? The Supreme Court took a pass on deciding but shouldn’t have, columnist Robin Abcarian writes.

— Biden needs bolder, more creative answers to Central American migration. “The daily crises that lead so many people to decide that the dangerous trek to the border is a safer alternative to staying put will not be easy to solve,” writes The Times’ editorial board.

WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

— ProPublica has obtained a vast cache of IRS information showing how billionaires such as Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk and Warren Buffett pay little in income tax compared to their massive wealth — sometimes, even nothing. (ProPublica)

— The federal government often gives less help to Black disaster survivors than their white neighbors. That’s a challenge for Biden, who has vowed to fight inequality and climate change. (The New York Times)

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ONLY IN L.A.

Should we really worry about ticks on L.A. beaches, and what can we do to stay safe? For years, hikers have worried about ticks and the Lyme disease they can transmit. Based on fieldwork in the San Francisco Bay Area, a new study has some scientists thinking that there may be more disease-carrying ticks near beaches than we thought. What preventive measures can you take? County and state public health websites include these and other tips.

Comments or ideas? Email us at headlines@latimes.com.


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