Newsletter: From ‘witch hunt’ to guilty plea

Rep. Duncan Hunter
Rep. Duncan Hunter in San Diego in 2018.
(Gregory Bull / Associated Press)

Here are the stories you shouldn’t miss today:


From ‘Witch Hunt’ to Guilty Plea

For years, he called it “fake news,” “a witch hunt” and a product of the “deep state.” This morning, Rep. Duncan Hunter is scheduled to appear in federal court to plead guilty in a sweeping campaign finance investigation.


Hunter, a Republican who represents parts of San Diego and Riverside counties, told a TV station that he would plead guilty to one of the 60 criminal charges against him and suggested that he is likely to spend time in custody.

Though Hunter did not explicitly say he would be stepping down — often an outcome in any such plea agreement — he said, “I’m confident that the transition will be a good one” and stated, “I think it’s important to keep the seat a Republican seat.”

Biden Versus Buttigieg

Ahead of the Iowa caucuses, former Vice President Joe Biden and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg are competing for similar voters: the kind of Democrats who favor political and economic change, but not as drastic a change as proposed by Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Bernie Sanders of Vermont. But if their politics are similar, Biden and Buttigieg are 40 years apart in age and come in very different packages. Here’s how the race is playing out in the Hawkeye State.

More Politics

— The House is moving forward in a landmark impeachment week, with Democrats who once hoped to sway Republicans now facing the prospect of an ever-hardening partisan split over the question of removing President Trump from office. Today, the House Intelligence Committee is expected to release its report.


— Deputy Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette, Trump’s pick to succeed Rick Perry as Energy secretary, has won easy Senate confirmation, despite a Democratic senator’s objections that the nominee hadn’t fully answered questions related to the Trump impeachment investigation.

— Former Deputy Atty. Gen. Rod Rosenstein told the FBI that he was “angry, ashamed, horrified and embarrassed” at the way James B. Comey was fired as FBI director, according to records released Monday.

— The Trump campaign has banned Bloomberg News from its rallies and other events. Now that Michael R. Bloomberg is running for the Democratic nomination, the news organization — which has long had an unusual policy of not covering its majority owner — plans not to investigate him or his primary rivals.

A New Tool in the LAPD’s Kit

It sounds like a gun, but instead of deadly bullets, it fires a Kevlar cord that entangles around an individual’s body to restrict mobility. Though it sounds like something that might be found on Batman’s utility belt, the BolaWrap 100 will soon be in the hands of several hundred Los Angeles police officers for a 90-day test. The goal is to help them detain individuals without using lethal force. But not everyone is happy with the idea.

A Football Player’s Legacy

Kevin Ellison was a hard-hitting defensive back, team captain and fan favorite at USC. He went on to play one season for the San Diego Chargers. The three words tattooed on the football player’s left arm summed up his approach to life: “Be the best.” After he died at age 31 last year, his family donated his brain to be studied for CTE, or chronic traumatic encephalopathy. Today’s Column One feature looks at the life of Ellison and the final journey of K-0623, as his brain became known to researchers.

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On this date in 1945, a few months after the end of World War II, the Caltech Optical Shop resumed grinding work on the mirror of a 200-inch Palomar Observatory telescope. The work had been halted in 1942, when engineers, scientists and Caltech laboratories were assigned war-related work.

“As the Big Eye revolved again on the grinding table, Dr. John A. Anderson, who has directly supervised work on the Palomar Observatory project since 1928, and Marcus H. Brown, chief optician and head of the optical shop, were all smiles,” The Times reported the next day.

The mirror would finally make its way to the observatory in 1947.

Dec. 3, 1945: Workers pose with the mirror of the 200-inch telescope at the Caltech Optical Shop in Pasadena when grinding work was resumed after the end of World War II.
(Paul Calvert / Los Angeles Times)


— Peter Lynn is stepping down as head of the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority after five years as the face of bad news on the homelessness crisis.

— David Geffen has donated another $46 million to the UCLA medical school already named for him to fund more scholarships, giving more than 400 future doctors a free education.

— Southern California is about to get more rain. Blame the atmospheric river.

— Coastal fog may be carrying toxic levels of methylmercury, which is then dumped on the land, makes its way up the food chain and contaminates mountain lions living in the region, UC Santa Cruz researchers found.

— The federal government sued the city of Hesperia and the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department, accusing them of illegally targeting black and Latino tenants for evictions.


Anna Paquin barely speaks in “The Irishman.” Robert De Niro is OK with that.

— Here’s what’s going on with Gabrielle Union, “America’s Got Talent” and reports NBC fired her in retaliation for reporting a toxic and racist backstage culture.

— “Queer Eye” star Jonathan Van Ness just made history with a Cosmopolitan U.K. cover.

— With every viewing, “Frozen 2” keeps getting more adult and more political.

— Longtime Grammy producer Ken Ehrlich reflects on 40 years of chaos, flubs and impromptu immortality ahead of his swan song.


— Amnesty International says at least 208 people in Iran have been killed amid protests over sharply rising gasoline prices and a subsequent crackdown by security forces.

—Can an American’s comments about cryptocurrency violate his country’s sanctions against North Korea? That question is at the heart of a criminal case against Virgil Griffith, a rabble-rousing computer scientist.

— Trump has heaped praise on Boris Johnson. But the British prime minister would rather he not — at least until after the Dec. 12 parliamentary election. Is his effort to distance himself too little too late?

— A decade after Poland and dozens of other nations committed to the return of private property stolen from Jews by the Nazis or nationalized by the communist government, the country’s ascendant far right is pushing for a bill that would not just ban restitution but criminalize it.

— Bad news for globe-trotting troublemakers: Starting Jan. 1, it will be easier to prosecute passengers who get unruly on international flights.


— California’s monopoly electric utilities asked state officials to sign off on higher profits earlier this year. Now, regulators are poised to reject those pleas.

— With Cyber Monday consumer spending on track for a record, critics of Amazon — including labor, environmental and digital privacy groups — staged protests around the globe, including at a San Bernardino shipping hub and Jeff Bezos’ Manhattan penthouse.

Riot Games will pay at least $10 million to women who worked there in the last five years to settle a gender discrimination lawsuit.

— A Los Angeles jury has found billionaire and hologram entrepreneur Alki David liable for sexual battery and sexual harassment against a former employee and ordered him to pay $50 million in punitive damages. It’s among the biggest awards ever for an employment case.


— Lionel Messi received his record sixth Ballon d’Or, and Megan Rapinoe won her first.

— The Chargers’ playoff outlook looks grim, but quarterback Philip Rivers says the team will be “fighting like crazy.”

— Coming off Sunday’s loss, tonight the Lakers will face just as tough a test against the Nuggets.


— Trump is right that our national parks are in crisis, but his plan to fix it by commercializing campgrounds is absurd, write two professors who co-wrote a book on U.S. national parks.

— Why China won’t let Hong Kong become another Tiananmen Square.


— Match Group, which owns most major online dating services, screens for sexual predators on Match — but not on Tinder, OkCupid or PlentyofFish. (ProPublica)

— Who broke the color barrier for modern professional basketball? Wataru “Wat” Misaka, a 5-foot-7 Japanese American player in the Basketball Association of America, or BAA, the precursor to the NBA. He died last month at 95. (The Undefeated)

— The Apostrophe Protection Society, dedicated to preserving the correct use of the punctuation mark, has shut down because “ignorance has won.” (Evening Standard)


Look magazine called it the “House of Tomorrow.” Elvis and Priscilla Presley called it their honeymoon retreat in 1967. Today, someone could call this Palm Springs Midcentury Modern house their home, as it’s back on the market. This time, the asking price is $3.2 million; it has dropped roughly a dozen times since the property first came on the market for $9.5 million in 2014. But you can take a look inside for a song.

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