Newsletter: In the front row of the Ukraine drama

Marie Yovanovitch, former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, sits beside then-Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in Kyiv, Ukraine, on March 6.
(Associated Press)

A former U.S. ambassador may be a key witness in the impeachment inquiry.


In the Front Row of the Ukraine Drama

The impeachment inquiry into President Trump has been moving in dramatic fashion. On Monday, House Democrats issued a subpoena to Rudolph W. Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer and a key figure in the president’s push for Ukraine to investigate his political enemies. Though that subpoena is likely to set off a fierce partisan battle, there’s another, lesser-known figure who could prove pivotal. Marie Louise Yovanovitch, the widely respected former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine whom Trump called “bad news,” is scheduled before Congress behind closed doors on Wednesday. She had a front-row seat to Giuliani’s machinations. Who is Yovanovitch and what might she know? Read on.


More From Washington

— The Justice Department has acknowledged that Trump recently asked the Australian prime minister and other foreign leaders to help Atty. Gen. William Barr with an investigation into the origins of the Russia inquiry that shadowed his administration for more than two years.

— Trump’s decision to press Ukraine’s new leader, Volodymyr Zelensky, for a “favor” while withholding much-needed military aid to the country has weakened a key U.S. ally in the fight against Russian aggression.

— Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said that Senate rules would require him to take up any articles of impeachment against Trump if approved by the House.

The Big Vaping Fail

Vaping among teenagers has skyrocketed in recent years, in large part due to child-friendly flavors such as cotton candy and Skittles. It’s led to exactly the kind of nicotine addiction crisis that the Food and Drug Administration had warned of four years ago, when it tried to ban flavored fluids for e-cigarettes. So why didn’t it? After tobacco industry lobbyists descended on the White House for 46 days, senior Obama administration officials nixed the ban and much of the evidence supporting it, according to documents reviewed by The Times.


A College Game Changer

College sports have long raked in money for just about everyone except the athletes. In California, that could change in 2023 under a new law that allows players to receive endorsement deals. What happens next may depend on the courts (judicial, not athletic); the National Collegiate Athletic Assn. has called the move unconstitutional. Yet other states may follow suit, and the effort has had the blessing of LeBron James and other high-profile athletes.

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Just after 1 a.m. on this day in 1910, a time bomb made of 16 sticks of dynamite attached to a cheap alarm clock exploded in an alley next to the Los Angeles Times. As reporter Lew Irwin wrote in 2010:

The explosion destroyed the Times building, taking the lives of 20 employees, including the night city editor and the principal telegraph operator, and maiming dozens of others. Two other time bombs — intended to kill Gen. Harrison Gray Otis, the publisher of the newspaper, and Felix J. Zeehandelaar, the head of a Los Angeles business organization — were discovered later that morning hidden in the bushes next to their homes. Their mechanisms had jammed.

Eventually, two brothers, J.B. McNamara, who planted the bombs, and J.J. McNamara, an official of the International Assn. of Bridge and Structural Iron Workers union who ordered the attacks, were arrested, convicted and imprisoned.

Here is a gallery of photos from the bombing and one of images of the aftermath, including the victims’ funerals and the accused bombers’ trial.


Gentrification is the new litmus test to be elected county supervisor in South L.A., as its renaissance and rising housing costs trigger fears for the future of one of California’s last black enclaves.

— Californians strongly support a state law creating new oversight of vaccine medical exemptions, according to a new statewide poll.

— The parents of Noah Cuatro, a 4-year-old Palmdale boy who was known to social workers and died in July under suspicious circumstances, have been charged with murder and torture.

— Fifty years after a bronze sculpture called the Well of the Scribes vanished from the lawn of the Los Angeles Central Library, part of it has been found in an Arizona town. But where is the rest of it?


“Stranger Things” is getting a fourth season, and its creators, the Duffer brothers, have signed a multiyear series and film deal with Netflix for more beyond the Upside-Down.

Debbie Harry discusses Blondie‘s band drama, her #MeToo experiences and what she left out of her new memoir.

John Leguizamo changed his one-man show “Latin History for Morons” to focus it less on a man he likens to “a huge enema for the country.”

Wayne Fitzgerald — who designed title sequences for more than 500 movies, including the “Godfather” films and “Chinatown,” and for scores of TV shows like “Dallas” and “The Dick Van Dyke Show” — has died at age 89.


— Thousands of Mexican migrants seeking asylum in the United States are waiting at border crossings as a result of the Trump administration’s recent crackdown despite concerns for their safety in their home country, migrants and advocates say.

— British Prime Minister Boris Johnson tried to fend off accusations of improper patronage and groping as he prepared a final push for Brexit at the Tories’ annual conference.

— With cannon blasts in Tiananmen Square, the People’s Republic of China marked the 70th anniversary of its founding. At a banquet the night before, President Xi Jinping declared that China had caught up “in great strides” and was now leading the world.

— A former Dallas police officer’s claim that she believed she was in her own apartment when she fatally shot her neighbor as he ate a bowl of ice cream in his own home was absurd, a prosecutor said during closing arguments at her murder trial Monday.


Forever 21 filed for bankruptcy and announced plans to shut more than a fifth of its stores. How did it fall so far?

Long-term care insurance is supposed to provide you peace of mind in later years. Instead, premiums are going up and the amount of care it covers barely suffices.


Baseball games are longer than ever, despite Major League Baseball’s efforts to shorten them.

— The Angels fired manager Brad Ausmus a day after finishing their worst season in two decades, and the Cubs’ Joe Maddon is interested in the job, according to a person who’s spoken with him. Here’s how he could cook up a winner.

Maurice Harkless has already shown he’s a multi-dimensional player capable of playing several positions for the Clippers.


China’s Communist Party is as shadowy and repressive today as it was 70 years ago, writes Yaqiu Wang, a researcher at Human Rights Watch.

— Rep. Adam Schiff’s riff on Trump’s Ukraine call was more truth than parody, but still unwise, says editorial writer Michael McGough.


— Americans spent a decade crunching, gnawing and desperately choking down mounds of kale. But did any of us even like it? (The Atlantic)

— Alabama inmates are being released from jail suffering heart attacks, verging on comas and brutally beaten — all so sheriffs won’t have to pay for their medical care. Then, once they’ve recovered, they’re arrested again. (Pro Publica)

— From Cape Frigid to Finisterre, photographer Thomas Joshua Cooper risks his life to document the world’s remotest places. (The New Yorker)


Texas barbecue, but make it Armenian. That’s what Arthur Grigoryan is doing with III Mas BBQ. The 24-year-old L.A.-raised chef came up in fine-dining kitchens, but now he’s running III Mas as a monthly pop-up in his family’s Sherman Oaks backyard. In the smoker: baharat-spiced lamb shoulder, paprika- and savory-rubbed pork belly and brined basturma brisket. Also on the table: pickled beets, cauliflowers and cabbage, plus a fennel-cucumber tzatziki slaw.

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