Newsletter: ‘The eyes of history … are upon you’

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.
Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., center, arrives at the Senate to swear in lawmakers for President Trump’s impeachment trial.
(Jim Lo Scalzo / EPA-Shutterstock)

As the Senate gets set for a historic trial, a nonpartisan watchdog agency says the White House violated federal law by withholding Ukraine aid last year.


‘The Eyes of History … Are Upon You’

For only the third time in American history, the Senate has begun considering articles of impeachment to determine whether the president should be removed from office.

Though the impeachment trial of President Trump won’t begin in earnest until Tuesday — three years and one day after his inauguration — the sense of history and gravity struck lawmakers of both parties on Thursday when Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. was sworn in to preside, and he in turn asked lawmakers to take an oath to deliver “impartial justice.”

“The eyes of history, you felt it, are upon you,” Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer said afterward.

As the choreographed ceremony played out, a new report from the Government Accountability Office, a nonpartisan government watchdog agency, concluded that the Trump administration violated federal law by withholding congressionally approved money from Ukraine.


Meanwhile, Ukrainian police announced that they had opened an investigation, but not the one Trump repeatedly sought: a probe into allegations that former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch came under illegal surveillance by Trump loyalists before she was recalled from her post last year.

More Politics

Chief Justice Roberts will almost certainly try to keep a low profile in the trial, but given the lack of a bipartisan agreement in the Senate, Roberts may nevertheless be called upon to weigh in on the most difficult questions, including whether witnesses will testify.

— A look back at how President Clinton’s impeachment trial unfolded.

— Many Iowa Democrats, desperate to pick a candidate to beat Trump, are undecided and under pressure.

A Time Before the Darkness

Much of the story of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire was destroyed in the chaos of genocide or never recorded in the first place. What remains are unintentional historical markers passed through generations: handwritten accounts, photos mailed abroad, a handful of dirt tied in a handkerchief. And little is told from the Armenian perspective.

A married team of Ottoman scholars in Berlin aims to change that by archiving the heirlooms of the diaspora, staging workshops around the world where people can bring their own objects to add to the collection. Each place they visit, they say, offers its own unique angle on this history.

After the Fires: Animals’ Tales of Survival

When natural disaster strikes, rescuing people from imminent danger is primary. Rescuing animals is also part of the emergency response. But it’s where things can get tricky, between untrained volunteers and heartbroken owners, as these stories from the 2018 Camp fire show. One of them: the tale of Feather, a beloved goat who was critically injured but rescued in time to save her life.

Then there’s Tommy the horse, whose life was changed by the 2017 Thomas fire. Volunteers found him emaciated and filthy. Once neglected, he’s found a doting owner in Anne Scioscia, wife of a Southern California baseball legend.

Concrete Galoshes for the Carbon Footprint

What if you could keep carbon dioxide out of the Earth’s atmosphere and put it into something useful? That’s the challenge in an international competition to see who can turn the most CO2 into valuable products. One team from UCLA is trying to win by sinking carbon dioxide into concrete.

Note: The Today’s Headlines newsletter will be off Monday in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. We’ll return to your inbox Tuesday.


On this day in 1994, the 6.7-magnitude Northridge earthquake “ripped through the pre-dawn darkness,” The Times reported at the time, “awakening Southern California with a violent convulsion.” The shaking lasted only about 10 seconds, but as many as 60 people were killed, many in the collapse of an apartment building near the epicenter, and thousands more injured. The quake also leveled highways, sparked fires and shut down transportation across the city.

In 2014, survivors told The Times that while it wasn’t “the Big One” so many fear, the experience deeply affected them. One woman said, “To this day it makes me nervous when I’m going over a bridge and I momentarily cannot see the freeway continue on the other side.” Here are more photos from the aftermath and The Times’ front pages from the days after the disaster.

After the Northridge earthquake in 1994, only rubble remained at the junction of Interstate 5 and California 14.
(Jonathan Alcorn / For The Times)


— The University of California is proposing five straight years of annual tuition increases under a sweeping plan to raise more money while providing a predictable roadmap of future cost hikes.

Hollister Ranch has sued the state over a new law designed to open its exclusive coastline to the public. It’s a new twist to one of the state’s longest and highest-profile beach access battles.

— A judge has ruled that former L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca must report to prison by Feb. 5 to start serving his three-year sentence for obstructing an FBI investigation of abuses inside the county’s jails. Meanwhile, a former deputy who lied about being shot by a sniper has been arrested.

— A log cabin among posh businesses in West Hollywood is a haven for sobriety groups, but Beverly Hills owns the land and wants it gone.

— Norovirus in Yosemite? About 170 people have gotten a gastrointestinal illness in the park this month, most in the popular Yosemite Valley area, officials say.


— From Cirque du Soleil to “What the Constitution Means to Me” to four ways to remember Martin Luther King Jr., here are the 11 best things to do in L.A. this holiday weekend.

— And a bonus: At Descanso Gardens’ Sturt Haaga Gallery, why not explore some glowing human-size bumblebee nests?

— A long weekend seems like a good time for a brunch of Filipino soul food in Long Beach — from Scotch eggs swaddled in longanisa sausage to a halo-halo-inspired breakfast parfait.

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— Just 10 days before the 62nd Grammy Awards, Recording Academy President and Chief Executive Deborah Dugan has exited her position “due to serious concerns that recently were brought to our attention,” according to a memo from the academy.

— First Oprah backed out of the Russell Simmons sexual assault documentary. Then came the fallout.

Streaming services are popular, but AMC chief Sarah Barnett believes there’s still room for cable TV.

— Last year was a tough year for Hollywood’s talent agencies. This one isn’t looking much better.

Robert Downey Jr. could’ve done anything after Marvel, and he made “Dolittle.” He’s happy with that choice, but critics aren’t.

— “Jojo Rabbit,” “1917" — why do war films always grab the Oscars’ attention?


— Trump has signed a major disaster declaration for Puerto Rico after earthquakes knocked out power and wrecked infrastructure, a move that authorizes aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

— The FBI has arrested three men linked to a violent white supremacist group and believed to be heading to a pro-gun rally next week in Virginia’s capital.

— A government panel has found the system for approving new passenger planes is safe and effective but could be improved, differing sharply from lawmakers investigating Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration after two deadly 737 Max crashes.

— Russian President Vladimir Putin is fast-tracking work on constitutional changes that could keep him in power and has secured a new hand-picked prime minister. Observers say Putin is operating from an autocrat’s playbook that’s both old and new.


— California lawmakers are considering raising taxes on companies with highly paid executives — the bigger the gap between what its highest-paid executive and employees make, the bigger the tax hike.

— Comcast has officially entered the streaming wars with its new service Peacock. Here’s what it will offer.

— Now that the last piece of Disneyland’s new Star Wars land is opening — call it the pièce de Résistance — the park will start to gauge the success of that investment and whether it can handle the fans.


— Following legends is more than just talk for these L.A. sports announcers, as they work to win over fans even while telling them things they don’t want to hear, columnist Helene Elliott writes.

— Columnist Arash Markazi shares why a revelation about his friend’s recent death revived a painful part of his own past.

— A resurgent Pac-12 conference is looking for big things things in women’s basketball.


— The feds’ effort to force Apple to unlock an accused terrorist’s iPhone could put all our data security at risk, writes The Times’ editorial board.

— Los Angeles only has one coastal tidal wetland left to save. But environmentalists can’t stop fighting each other over it, writes UCLA professor Jon Christensen.


— Long hours, tight deadlines and loneliness: a week in the life of an Amazon delivery driver. (Vice)

— In the #MeToo era, sex scenes are evolving with the help of intimacy coordinators. (New York Times Magazine)

— Scientists may have found the missing link in Alzheimer’s pathology and figured out why so many previous treatments have failed. (Scientific American)


Dancers in music videos, movies and TV shows have long needed the right look, the right connections and the right agents to get work. But video-centric platforms like YouTube, Instagram and TikTok are democratizing success and helping nontraditional talent break into the industry. Now, L.A. dancefluencers including Amanda LaCount, who promotes body positivity, and the all-female tap dance troupe the Syncopated Ladies are celebrities in their own right. The Times’ Makeda Easter profiled a few of them and broke down how the business works.

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