Newsletter: Amid disarray, Trump sends the Marines
More Marines are headed to the Mideast, a move that could increase the risk of the kind of grinding conflict that the president has vowed to avoid.
Amid Disarray, Trump Sends the Marines
In the latest fallout from President Trump’s order to kill a powerful Iranian general last week, the Pentagon is sending an additional 2,500 U.S. Marines to the Middle East.
The reinforcements, aboard ships headed to the Persian Gulf, were disclosed as confusing signals and fast-moving events unfolded after a U.S. commander in Baghdad wrote to the Iraqi military saying preparations would be made to withdraw U.S. forces following a nonbinding decision by the Iraqi parliament to expel American troops.
Although the letter from Marine Brig. Gen. William H. Seely III was authentic, the Pentagon later said it was a draft that should not have been released, insisting that no final decision had been made.
Adding to the sense of disarray in policy, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper sought to defuse a growing international furor over Trump’s threats to attack Iranian cultural sites, saying U.S. forces would not do so.
More About the Fallout
— Iran’s supreme leader wept over the casket of Gen. Qassem Suleimani as mourners flooded the streets of Tehran demanding retaliation against America. In Kerman, a stampede erupted on Tuesday at a funeral procession for Suleimani, killing several dozen people and injuring hundreds others.
— The U.S. airstrike that killed Suleimani also eliminated another key player: Iraqi paramilitary leader Abu Mahdi Muhandis, a onetime political dissident, suspected terrorist attack mastermind and lawmaker who was arguably one of Iraq’s most powerful men.
— Even as federal officials continued to deny that Iranian Americans had been stopped at the border, more Iranian-born people have come forward with accounts of having been detained and questioned.
Bolton Waits for the Call
Former Trump national security advisor John Bolton says he would testify in the president’s impeachment trial if the Senate issued him a subpoena. Several witnesses testified during the House investigation of Trump’s actions toward Ukraine that Bolton had told them he was concerned about aspects of the president’s behavior, with one saying Bolton had compared Trump lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani’s work in Ukraine to a “drug deal.” Bolton’s offer to testify could put pressure on Senate Republicans to open the trial further than they had planned, but appeared to have little immediate effect.
— Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo has told Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that he will not run for an open Senate seat from Kansas this fall, two people close to McConnell said.
— Michael R. Bloomberg doesn’t regret supporting the 2003 Iraq invasion. “I don’t live in a regret world, and I didn’t make the decision,” the Democratic presidential candidate, who was New York City mayor at the time, told The Times in an interview in L.A.
— Rep. Duncan Hunter pleaded guilty to a felony for spending six figures in campaign funds on things like hotel rooms for his mistresses and plane rides for his pet rabbits. But you’ll probably still have to pay for his congressional pension.
Weinstein’s Legal Woes Multiply
Just hours after he entered a Manhattan courtroom where he will stand trial for sexual assault, Harvey Weinstein was charged with four more counts of rape and sexual battery in Los Angeles. The new charges stem from accusations brought by two women who say the former movie mogul attacked them in hotels in Los Angeles and Beverly Hills in 2013, Dist. Atty. Jackie Lacey said. Weinstein has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.
Law enforcement sources told The Times that L.A.'s criminal case was two years in the making, with investigators spending months talking to potential witnesses and seeing how they could corroborate allegations with hotel video and records. Asked why it took so long to lay charges, Lacey said prosecutors needed time to win both victims’ complete trust. But some critics questioned the timing of Lacey’s announcement.
The LAPD Investigates Itself
More than a dozen L.A. police officers with the elite Metro Division are being investigated on suspicion of falsifying information they gathered during stops and wrongly portraying people as gang members or associates, according to multiple sources. The officers, assigned to special patrols in South Los Angeles, are suspected of falsifying field interview cards during stops and inputting incorrect information about those questioned in an effort to boost stop statistics. Some of the officers have been removed from active duty, the sources said.
Losing Their Religion
Once a month, a very particular Sunday service unfolds on a patio outside a Starbucks in El Monte. There are no Communion wafers, just coffee and pastries, support and understanding. After all, it’s not easy being an atheist raised in a devoutly Catholic culture. But here in the San Gabriel Valley, you don’t have to doubt God’s existence by yourself. You can head to this monthly meetup of secular Latinos and share a latte.
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FROM THE ARCHIVES
On this day in 1989, Japan’s Emperor Hirohito died at 87 after a 62-year reign, the longest in Japan’s recorded history. He was the last living head of state involved in World War II, but the extent of his influence in it was never clear, even as his country fought and surrendered in his name. He spoke of it rarely, and at his last public appearance in 1988, he said of the war: “When I reflect upon the past, I am overcome with emotion.”
In Japan, his subjects mourned him. But internationally, old war wounds festered, and countries including Canada, China and South Korea refused to send representatives to his funeral. The U.S. had warmed to him since the war’s end, however. The first sitting emperor to leave Japan, he visited Los Angeles in the 1970s, where The Times reported he met Hollywood stars and went to Disneyland.
— A federal judge in L.A. said he would give final approval to USC’s $215-million class-action settlement with former patients of the campus gynecologist accused of decades of sexual abuse and misconduct.
— Justices with the California 2nd District Court of Appeal have thrown out the case against four former social workers who faced criminal charges in the death of 8-year-old Gabriel Fernandez.
— State lawmakers have introduced a tough new vaping bill that would ban store sales of all flavored tobacco products, going far beyond the federal government’s new plan.
— Officials have sued a Silicon Valley billionaire who has fought for more than a decade to keep Martins Beach to himself — a move to end one of the state’s fiercest battles over public beach access.
— Hundreds of taxi drivers held a one-day strike at LAX, urging city officials to reinstate curbside pickups. The airport’s decision to ban them last year dealt another blow to an industry whose drivers say Uber and Lyft have an unfair advantage. “This is our last chance to survive,” one said.
HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS
— Season 6 of “Schitt’s Creek” promises to be emotional. The cast says filming it was plenty hard.
— The Writers Guild nominations for screenplay awards are out, with original screenplay nods as diverse as World War I thriller “1917” and teen comedy “Booksmart,” and they’re sure to be pored over for Oscars clues.
— “Parasite” director Bong Joon Ho rightly called out Hollywood for ghettoizing movies not shot in English, critic Justin Chang writes. Now, somebody should relay Bong’s “one language, the cinema” sentiment to the motion picture academy.
— Song Kang Ho finds his “Parasite” character, that of the Kim family patriarch, symbolic of those suffering in the class divide.
— In the latest violent unrest since India‘s Hindu nationalist government passed a controversial citizenship law, a masked mob tore through the dorms at a top university, beating students and teachers. Who were the attackers, and why didn’t police stop them?
— More than a century after the overthrow of the monarchy in Brazil, the rise of far-right President Jair Bolsonaro last year has emboldened Brazilian royalists who feel republicanism has wrecked the country — not least the man who would be king.
— With no end in sight to Australia’s wildfire crisis, authorities are counting the costs after properties in small coastal towns and alpine villages were razed by fires so large they generated dry thunderstorms. They’re also warning of dangerous conditions again later this week.
— Johnson & Johnson has settled a California woman’s case arguing its asbestos-laced baby powder caused her cancer — an unusual mid-trial settlement amid the sprawling nationwide litigation over the product.
— As Americans sour on milk, Borden just became the second major dairy in two months to declare bankruptcy.
— After the Rams finished 9-7 and missed the playoffs this season, Wade Phillips is leaving as defensive coordinator.
— As Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa heads for the NFL, freshman Bryce Young — The Times’ regional player of the year — could be in position to take the reins of one of college football’s superpowers.
— Oddsmakers don’t think Tom Brady is about to leave the Patriots, but if he does, they have thoughts on where he might land.
— The Times’ editorial board doesn’t like that California forces publicly traded companies to seat women on their boards, but it admits the law is working.
— Trump is winging it with Iran, and while we still don’t know where the killing of the country’s most popular general will lead, the early signs aren’t good, the editorial board says.
WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING
— Why is New York City’s record on recycling so much worse than other big cities’? The answer involves a glut of garbage, a habit of outsourcing to poorer places and a slew of failures by two consecutive mayors turned presidential candidates. (Politico New York)
— Well before he became Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner shared his appetite for risk and his comfort presiding over a tight-knit family real estate business. But his family history is often at odds with how he supports Trump. (The New Yorker)
— Private equity brought down Toys R Us, Payless Shoes and RadioShack. Its critics include Taylor Swift and Sen. Elizabeth Warren. So how does it work, and why is it killing everything you love? (Vox)
ONLY IN L.A.
Netflix didn’t dominate the Golden Globes as had been expected, but after the lackluster haul of wins, its party was still the most lavish ticket in town. There were flip-flops that guests could wear, leaving their painful heels with a “shoe valet.” There was a dim sum station. There was an ice cream sundae bar. Most important, there were plenty of famous people dancing.
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