Today’s Headlines: PAC scam tricked Trump and Clinton supporters out of millions

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Hello, it’s Monday, July 10, and here are the stories you shouldn’t miss today:


The Californians whose scam PACs tricked Trump and Clinton supporters out of millions

Robocalls poured in, tens of millions of them, in the months leading up to the 2016 presidential election. The calls felt like many other political messages flooding U.S. phone lines during the bitter battle for the White House in 2016. The difference, federal officials said, was that these calls were scams.

Two Californians set up a pair of political action committees, called the Liberty Action Group and the Progressive Priorities PAC, to cash in on the growing rift between Republicans and Democrats, the U.S. Justice Department said.


The two groups made more than 275 million robocalls over a 16-month period and netted nearly $4 million in small-dollar contributions. The profits from the scheme are among the highest on record in the small but growing world of scam PACs.

More: “How to protect yourself from scam PACs.”

Questions about age trail Rep. Barbara Lee, 76, as she seeks Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s seat

Age remains a sensitive subject, at least publicly, among California’s political glitterati. When Sen. Dianne Feinstein announced earlier this year that she wouldn’t seek another term, it appeared to clear the path for a younger person to take over.

Among Feinstein’s wannabe successors, Rep. Katie Porter, a third-term congresswoman from Irvine, is 49. Rep. Adam Schiff is 63 and was first elected in 2000. Dodgers great Steve Garvey, 74, is contemplating a run as a Republican. But Rep. Barbara Lee, if elected, would be 78 on her first day in office.


Her age remains an anxiety among nearly a dozen political activists, donors and elected officials who spoke to The Times and questioned whether it would be right for someone in her late 70s to replace a 90-year-old. If Lee were to win the 2024 Senate race, it could leave the party in the same predicament it faced in 2018, when Feinstein insisted on running again.

Santa Monica’s Headspace Health laid off dozens of therapists. Their patients don’t know where they went

When Headspace Health laid off 33 of its therapists on June 29, patients were told their providers had left the platform.

What they didn’t know was their therapists had lost their jobs. And they suddenly had no way to contact them.

Several therapists who were let go from Headspace, the Santa Monica meditation app and remote mental health care company, have raised alarm over their treatment and that of their patients after the companywide layoff of 181 total employees, which amounts to 15% of the workforce.

How second-generation owners of 99 Ranch are turning the Asian supermarket into a national powerhouse


For many Asian Americans across California, 99 Ranch is much more than just a grocery store. It’s a pilgrimage.

The first 99 Ranch was opened in 1984 in Westminster by Jonson and Alice Chen’s father, Roger Chen, a Taiwanese immigrant from the western city of Taichung. Headquartered in Buena Park with 58 stores in 11 states, it is now one of the largest Asian supermarket chains in America.

Like many children of the Chinese-speaking diaspora in California, Alice and Jonson grew up with fond memories of the grocery chain. But unlike most, they had a front-row seat. The Chen siblings now represent a new generation of leadership at the nearly 40-year-old grocery chain, overseeing its expansion across the United States.

A man and a woman stand in a produce aisle at a grocery store
Jonson Chen and his sister Alice Chen are the second-generation owners of Ranch 99 markets.
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)


Homes for residents with mental illnesses are closing. Can state aid save them? Advocates have sounded the alarm for almost two decades about how these licensed facilities, which provide 24/7 care and support for Californians with serious mental illnesses, are vital to solving California’s homelessness crisis — but for years, lawmakers did little to curb the closures.

Six people killed in plane crash near Riverside County airport. The Cessna 550, a turbofan jet, crashed in a field at 4:16 a.m. Saturday near Briggs and Auld roads in Murrieta and immediately burst into flames. It was the second deadly crash in the area in four days.


12 homes evacuated in Rolling Hills Estates after ground shifts. The shift caused major cracks and left some structures “visibly leaning.” A specialist is expected to survey the land to determine what will happen to the homes.

Arson suspected in fire at L.A. City Hall, officials say. Police believe that someone may have started the blaze by throwing an unknown object through a window in the building. The fire alarm on the second floor was activated at 8 p.m. Saturday.

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Ukraine and expansion top NATO agenda as Biden tries to cement unity. President Biden and fellow leaders of NATO will come together this week extolling their remarkable unity backing Ukraine in its war with Russia. But serious differences over expansion of the transatlantic alliance threaten to disrupt the harmony and turn the annual summit on its head.

Yellen says Washington might ‘respond to unintended consequences’ for China due to tech export curbs. Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen on Sunday said she agreed Washington will listen to Chinese complaints about security-related curbs on U.S. technology exports as she ended a visit to Beijing aimed at improving strained relations.

South Korean lawmakers berate IAEA chief over Japanese plans to release wastewater. South Korean opposition lawmakers sharply criticized the head of the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog on Sunday for its approval of Japanese plans to release treated wastewater from the damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant.



A user’s guide to Taylor Swift’s ‘Speak Now (Taylor’s Version).’ Now, amid the blockbuster Eras Tour she’ll bring to Inglewood’s SoFi Stadium next month for half a dozen nights, Swift, 33, has remade “Speak Now” as the latest installment in her plan to rerecord her first six albums.

‘Insidious 5’ topples ‘Indiana Jones’ before ‘Mission: Impossible’ launches. Indiana Jones’ reign atop the box office was short-lived. In its second weekend in theaters, the Disney release was usurped by another franchise fifth.


California bill requiring Big Tech to pay for news placed on hold until 2024. The bill has received strong support from news advocacy groups but pushback from tech companies. The bill passed in the Assembly with bipartisan support June 1 and moved on to the state Senate before it was put on hold.

SAG-AFTRA prepares for a possible strike as contract talks continue. Hollywood’s biggest union and the Alliance for Motion Picture and Television Producers have made headway in contract negotiations since both sides agreed to extend the deadline to make a deal to July 12. But significant gaps remain between the parties.


The Dodgers are favorites to sign Shohei Ohtani. Will the third time be the charm? Twice the Dodgers were considered the favorites to land Angels pitcher and designated hitter Shohei Ohtani. Twice the Dodgers failed. Why will it be different this off-season with the organization’s white whale?

‘I’ve gotten closure.’ U.S. soccer’s Trinity Rodman takes best from her father Dennis. Rodman has her father’s last name and fierce competitive instincts, but she has not had Dennis Rodman’s constant presence in her life.


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Banning government officials from talking to Big Tech is no win for free speech. “It’s important that online speech, irrespective of political viewpoint, flourish without the specter of censorship. But it’s also essential that the government be allowed to engage with social media giants to address manifest harms from online content.”

Jailing unhoused people for sleeping in public is no solution to homelessness. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit is now more evenly split and the next test case or the next election could upend how the 8th Amendment is applied and thus change the entire conversation about homelessness — very much for the worse, writes columnist LZ Granderson.


Head to Venice's Dudley Market for spectacular oysters with an ocean view and a killer bottle of wine.
(Kat Thompson)

16 favorite places to slurp down oysters in L.A. this summer. Is there anything more alluring than a crown of fresh oysters on the half shell gleaming on a throne of crushed ice — especially in the summer? Luckily, here in Los Angeles, we’ve got easy access to Pacific oysters sourced from nearby Baja and as far north as Washington state, as well as coveted East Coast varieties that are flown in fresh daily. The Times rounded up the best spots to visit for a taste of the ocean.


A serious older man turns to a young man and two boys holding harmonicas
June 27, 1935: From left, Mayor Frank Shaw, harmonica teacher Kenneth Milton, Manuel Martinez and Herman Bower promote Harmonica Week in Los Angeles.
(Los Angeles Times Archive / UCLA)

Did you know that in July 1935, Los Angeles hosted an official Harmonica Week? The city of Los Angeles designated July 3-10, 1935, as a week to celebrate the instrument and those who play it. The announcement came from then-Mayor Frank Shaw.

According to The Times, the week was to include contests in conjunction with music stores offering free lessons to purchasers of “mouth organs.” The first to sign up were Herman Bower, 11 years old, and Manuel Martinez, 13, who played selections for the mayor. It was not clear whether Shaw could play himself — he claimed to but did not show off his skills to the media.

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