Here are the stories you shouldn’t miss today:
Who’s Undecided on Impeachment? 1 in 4
Americans are divided about the impeachment inquiry into President Trump, and a new USC Dornsife/L.A. Times poll shows how much: About 44% say the House should vote to impeach, 30% say it should not, and 26% say they either don’t know or that it’s too soon to tell. The numbers on removal from office are about the same. Will public hearings, set to start next week, sway the roughly 1 in 4 who are still uncertain?
The first scheduled witness is William B. Taylor Jr., the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, who has already stated in a deposition that Trump withheld aid from that country as leverage to prod its leaders into publicly announcing an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden, according to a transcript released by House Democrats. Taylor also said he had threatened to quit over Trump’s “nightmare” demand.
— Off-year election results in three key states — Pennsylvania, Virginia and Kentucky — serve as a flashing red warning light for Republicans worried that Trump’s deep unpopularity outside rural areas may threaten their grip on the White House, the Senate and numerous state legislatures.
— In New York, a federal judge struck down a new Trump administration rule that would let healthcare providers to refuse healthcare services on moral or religious grounds.
— California’s top court sounded skeptical that lawmakers can require presidential candidates to disclose not only their tax returns but also birth certificates and medical records. “Where does it end?” asked Justice Ming W. Chin. “Do we get all their high school report cards?”
— The Democratic National Committee has yanked its Dec. 19 debate from UCLA in solidarity with university labor unions.
How the Safety Net Fails
Board-and-care homes serve people who are mentally ill by providing 24-hour staffing, three meals a day and medication. Most residents are poor and at high risk of homelessness. But by a combination of an inadequate state funding system and the red hot real estate market, board-and-care homes are disappearing. The problem is particularly acute in Los Angeles County, where supervisors are considering a plan to stabilize them.
The New Tech Industry Activism
Just over a year ago, Google employees around the world walked off the job to protest how the company reportedly handled sexual misconduct allegations. The legacy of that protest has been far-reaching and complex. Though most of the demands from them remain unmet, the effort has given rise to a network of other worker-led movements inside Google and the rest of Silicon Valley.
Lunch Is a Battlefield in Bel-Air
In Bel-Air, multimillion-dollar homes the size of a Target store are being built and $20,000 date palms are swaying in the breeze. With her food truck, Jennifer Ramirez ekes out a living by selling lunch to the construction workers. But along with the job comes a side of indignities.
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FROM THE ARCHIVES
Speaking of Bel-Air... On this date in 1961, crews were trying to extinguish the Bel-Air/Brentwood brush fire, a two-day blaze that had ignited the day before. The fire destroyed nearly 500 homes, including several belonging to Hollywood celebrities. No lives were lost.
On the 45th anniversary of the fire in 2006, The Times’ Cecilia Rasmussen wrote: “Among the most notorious California wildfires, the Bel-Air/Brentwood fire began in a trash heap ... a blaze that left hundreds of the rich and famous homeless in what LIFE magazine called ‘A Tragedy Trimmed in Mink’ and prompted brush clearance laws and an eventual city ban on wood shingle roofs.”
— The Mojave River Dam, which protects high desert communities including Victorville and Barstow, falls short of safety standards and could collapse in an extreme storm, inundating thousands of people, federal engineers have found.
— The former head of the L.A.-based anti-poverty nonprofit Youth Policy Institute misspent $1.7 million of the group’s money on his own house’s property taxes, private tutors for his kids and national political donations, the group says in recent court filings.
— The suspect in a Halloween crash that killed a family of three in Long Beach is back in jail on burglary charges.
— The L.A. school board has rejected a proposal to give Yelp-like ratings to schools but agreed to make data on how students perform year to year on standardized tests more easily available. The vote comes during enrollment season for specialized public schools, including magnets and programs for gifted students. Here are some tips to help guide you through the process.
HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS
— Celebrities rarely stop talking politics. Now with the 2020 presidential race heating up, they’ve started to open their wallets. The Times pored over more than 15,000 entertainment industry contributions in search of stars. Here is who’s supported whom so far.
— The Oscar race for best picture looks like a new East Coast-West Coast rivalry between two great movies. Our awards columnist Glenn Whipp delved into some intangibles that might give one an advantage.
— Whitney Houston’s best friend, Robyn Crawford, says their relationship, long the subject of speculation about the singer’s sexuality, was romantic for a time.
— Gene Baxter, the longtime radio host known to millions of L.A. commuters as Bean, is saying goodbye this morning after nearly 30 years as co-host of KROQ’s drive-time “The Kevin & Bean Show.”
— In a case that marks a major test of the scope of the Clean Water Act, liberal and conservative Supreme Court justices alike sounded skeptical of the Trump administration’s argument that the law shouldn’t apply to sewage plant wastewater that seeps into protected waters.
— Doctors have used the CRISPR gene-editing tool to fight cancer, a first in the U.S.
— Even in discordant times, the tradition of wearing red poppies in November endures in Britain.
— Europe is increasingly turning to Beijing, not Washington, and suggesting it’s given up on Trump.
— Uber hoped the end of its lockup period — at which point insiders can sell their shares — would bring a big payday for investors, founders and early employees. Instead they got protests and a record low stock price.
— California Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra says he has been investigating Facebook’s privacy practices since 2018. But for now, he isn’t saying much else about it.
— After a quarter-century of entrusting former Trojans football stars with the direction of its athletic department, USC has tapped an outsider — Mike Bohn — to be its next athletic director.
— The Angels are about to tell Anaheim exactly how they propose to stick around.
— Columnist Arash Markazi offers five ways the Chargers can succeed in L.A. One involves Kobe Bryant.
— The anti-immigrant cruelty of Proposition 187 is a California tradition, and then as now, the motive was less about the rule of law than about trying to limit who gets to be an American, writes USC professor Natalia Molina.
— Stop whining about the LAX-it lot and take public transit already, R. Daniel Foster says.
— The University of California should stop using the SAT and ACT, which aren’t good predictors of academic success and are unfair barriers for many students of color, writes University of Maryland professor Janelle Wong.
WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING
— After a woman stole something to feed her heroin addiction, a sheriff’s office turned her into a humiliating Facebook meme. She’s now five months clean, but the post is still up — part of a social-media trend among police departments that experts say hurts people’s trust in them. (Buzzfeed)
— Deep brain stimulation using implanted electrodes has been used as a last resort to treat conditions from Parkinson’s to depression. Now, for the first time in the U.S., it’s being tried to treat addiction. (Washington Post)
— “The name change dilemma.” (Longreads)
ONLY IN L.A.
While much attention has been paid to the not-so-smooth debut of a new scheme for Uber, Lyft and taxi pickups at Los Angeles International Airport and the fixes the airport has now put in place, hailing a ride can still have its advantages. Especially when you find a kindred spirit in the passenger seat with you. Whether it’s sharing breakup stories or meeting a new romance, some people say ride hailing has changed their social lives in a city known for its car culture and the sense of isolation that can come with it.