Newsletter: The battle of Iowa

Former Vice President Joe Biden kisses a baby’s hand during a campaign event Sunday in Dubuque, Iowa.
(Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)

Tonight’s Iowa caucuses should begin to bring some clarity to the Democratic presidential race.


The Battle of Iowa

After all the campaign rallies, ads, debates and polls (well, maybe not all of them), the field of Democratic presidential hopefuls will get its first true test with voters in tonight’s Iowa caucuses. The series of more than 1,600 community gatherings, including some for the first time out of state, will begin at 7 p.m. Central time.


With no commanding front-runner among Democrats at this point, the outcome should go a considerable way toward shaping the contests that follow, starting with next week’s New Hampshire primary. Iowa will effectively eliminate several candidates and boost others.

While Democrats have dominated the political discourse in Iowa, President Trump is looking to rain on their parade. Last week, the president held a rally in Des Moines; today, scores of Trump supporters, including two of his sons and several members of his Cabinet, will fan out across the state.

Closing Arguments

For Trump’s impeachment trial in the Senate, it would appear it’s all over but the posturing. Closing arguments are scheduled to take place today, with an eye toward a final vote on Wednesday in which the Senate is all but certain to acquit him. One question is whether any Democratic senators will vote to acquit. The vote will come after senators have had a chance to explain their rationale in speeches this week, and after Trump delivers the State of the Union address on Tuesday.

An acquittal would not only cement Trump’s reputation for surviving an onslaught of political perils but also highlight how the former registered Democrat and political neophyte has come to dominate the GOP.

Still, potentially damaging information continues to trickle out. On Friday night, after 51 Republican senators had voted not to call witnesses, the Trump administration acknowledged the existence of two dozen emails revealing details of Trump’s decision-making regarding withholding military assistance to Ukraine. In a court filing, it argued they are protected from a lawsuit under “presidential privilege.”


More Politics

— A flurry of newly released emails from scientists and top officials at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration clearly illustrates the consternation and outright alarm caused by Trump’s false claim last year that Hurricane Dorian could hit Alabama. One top official even called the president’s behavior “crazy.”

— In a pre-Super Bowl interview, Trump stated falsely that Democratic White House hopeful Michael R. Bloomberg wants party leaders to let him stand on a box should he qualify for a presidential debate. Bloomberg responded at a campaign stop in East Los Angeles, saying the president “lies about everything.”

— Trump expanded his travel ban by announcing the addition of six African and Asian countries to the list of those whose nationals face restrictions on travel to the United States.

A Virus and the Sickness That Fear Brings

The new coronavirus, which can cause respiratory illness and pneumonia, has infected more than 17,000 people worldwide and killed more than 350, with one death outside China. Eleven cases have been confirmed in the U.S., including six in California.

Though the flu this year has claimed far more victims, this coronavirus has sparked not only panic, misinformation and false rumors but also xenophobia and anti-China sentiment in the U.S. In China, fear has prompted villages to post 24-hour guards and build makeshift barriers against outsiders.


Of course, this kind of narrative is nothing new, as columnist Frank Shyong explores: “During outbreaks of disease, the public expression of fear follows a specific formula.”

A History-Making Halftime

In Miami, the Kansas City Chiefs earned their second Super Bowl title in franchise history and first in 50 years with a 31-20 victory over the San Francisco 49ers, led by quarterback Patrick Mahomes. (Note to President Trump and Co.: The Chiefs are based in Missouri.)

But there was another athletic performance on the field that inspired: Jennifer Lopez and Shakira, the first two Latina headliners to play a Super Bowl halftime, brought razzle-dazzle and a sense of Latin American pride.

And the TV commercials? “So many celebrities, so many unremarkable ads,” critic Lorraine Ali writes.


— Thousands of Native American women have gone missing or were found killed in recent years in the U.S. Inside one aunt’s desperate search for her niece.

— At the Kobe Bryant vigil outside Staples Center in L.A., unlicensed vendors of Kobe R.I.P. shirts undertook a grim hustle. Yesterday was the final day for the memorial, and his widow, Vanessa, has requested some of the items left by fans.

— How a 1995 John Singleton film presaged today’s sex, gun and race issues.

Norms restaurants are expanding like crazy. This SoCal institution is staying the same to get ahead.

— Our Las Vegas restaurants guide: Where to eat on and off the Strip.


On this date in 1983, the Antelope Valley had a snow day. “With eight inches of snow still on the ground at Palmdale, several Antelope Valley schools, a Mojave veterans center and scores of motels were vacated by the more than 1,000 travelers who had been forced to seek shelter overnight after being rescued from snowbound cars and trucks,” a Times article reported.

Feb. 3, 1983: After a winter storm, cars without chains sit abandoned along Highway 14 seven miles south of Palmdale.
(Con Keyes / Los Angeles Times)


— Officials say the San Diego region has secured $300 million in federal funding for a new U.S. facility to capture Tijuana sewage spills before they foul shorelines in the South Bay region of southwestern San Diego County.

Jane Fonda will be bringing her climate change protests from Washington, D.C., to Los Angeles. Why? Her day job.

— The state primary election is underway, with vote-by-mail ballots going out to Los Angeles County voters today. Here’s what you need to know.

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— Fifteen of the best films from this year’s Sundance Film Festival, including “Minari” and “Palm Springs.”


— The gut-wrenching World War I epic ”1917” was the big winner at the British Academy Film Awards, winning seven prizes, including best picture and director. Actor Joaquin Phoenix, who won for his role in “Joker,” slammed the awards for their lack of diversity.

— At 71, James Taylor has a new audio memoir, loves watching “Blue Bloods” and won’t dish on Carly Simon.

— An interactive field guide to Bojack Horseman’s Hollywood.


— Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has threatened to cut security ties with Israel and the U.S. He did so in a speech at an Arab League meeting in which he denounced the White House plan for ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

— British police say a man who strapped on a fake bomb and stabbed two people on a London street before being shot to death by officers was recently released from prison, where he was serving time for Islamist-related terrorism offenses.

— In Mexico, parents have been protesting a lack of cancer drugs for their children.


Uber has suspended 240 user accounts in Mexico to contain the potential spread of coronavirus, while Apple is temporarily closing its 42 stores in mainland China.


Virginia Rometty will be retiring as CEO of the computing behemoth IBM. Columnist Michael Hiltzik says her pay has been excellent; her performance in creating shareholder value, not so much.


— The USC football team will have an entirely new defensive staff next season, as three assistants from last season are on their way out.

— The L.A. Kings’ struggles on the ice continue and, as columnist Helene Elliott writes, the hockey team will need to figure out who’s in it for the long haul soon.


— The facts are damning and the case is clear. The Times’ editorial board says it is time for the U.S. Senate to convict Trump, remove him from office and disqualify him from holding any “office of honor, trust or profit under the United States.” It won’t happen, of course.

Election season is finally here. Here are the races in which the L.A. Times plans to endorse.


Britain has finally Brexited, and this article explores the reasons why. (The Atlantic)


— Did you celebrate Palindrome Day? You’ll have a long wait before the next one comes along. (NPR)


Another “pop-up museum,” a.k.a. a place you can pay money to take pictures of yourself? Oops ... they did it again. The Zone: Britney Spears is housed in a 30,000-square-foot space in the Fairfax district that until recently was a Kmart and features 10 rooms themed after a different Britney video or era. But is it art?

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