President Trump, who began his reelection campaign the day after taking office, has a political arsenal at his disposal. It still may not be enough.
Trump’s Campaign Juggernaut
Four years after his hostile takeover of the White House, President Trump‘s second campaign bears little resemblance to the first — he’s flush with cash, buoyed by an uptick in poll numbers, and brimming with confidence after surviving investigations, an impeachment and myriad controversies that have helped unite Republicans behind him.
Unlike his slapdash 2016 campaign, Trump now can rely on a massive, professionalized apparatus that has helped raise more than $200 million — more than double what President Obama had at this point when he ran for reelection in 2012 — months before Democrats are likely to choose their nominee.
Not surprisingly, he also has found new ways to break political taboos, telling registered independents in New Hampshire, for example, to vote for the weakest Democrat in the primary.
None of that makes his reelection as inevitable as his campaign suggests. He is running well behind the top Democratic contenders, according to a Quinnipiac University poll this week.
— The Senate has approved a bipartisan resolution that restrains President Trump’s ability to use military force against Iran without congressional approval.
— The Trump administration is seeking to shift $3.8 billion more from the defense budget to pay for constructing a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, immediately provoking bipartisan objections for a second year.
— U.S. Atty. Gen. William Barr said Trump’s tweets and public comments about the Justice Department and ongoing cases make his job “impossible.”
— House lawmakers have voted to remove a deadline for states to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment, but it’s unlikely to receive Senate approval. And those who say the effort should start over include not just Republicans but also Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
— Trump is lashing out against former White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, saying he is being disloyal for speaking in defense of Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman. Meanwhile, Hope Hicks, who is known for her loyalty to Trump, is returning to the White House as his reelection campaign moves into high gear.
— Sen. Bernie Sanders has raised more money in 2019 from employees of the five largest tech companies than any of his competitors in the Democratic primary field.
Australia’s ‘New Normal’ Is Familiar Here
Australia is a fossil fuel-friendly country, with an economy dependent on tourism and shipping coal to China and other Asian nations. In the past, Australians tended to blame fires on natural cycles: wet years, dry years. But after the latest round of bushfires that have burned more than 30 million acres, even in the country’s coal towns, there’s a recognition that something with the climate is changing. Even Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has had to back away from his denial of prevailing climate change science and say his government’s views are evolving.
This recognition of a “new normal” should sound familiar to many Californians who’ve come to realize in recent years that climate change is an immediate catalyst of the state’s ever-more destructive fires.
Rehabbing Afghanistan’s Addicts
Wracked by decades of bloodshed and poverty, Afghanistan is a drug haven with a vast addiction problem. The country accounts for more than 90% of the world’s opium poppy cultivation. On average, 1 in 10 people lives with an addiction. Laila Haidri sees daily the lives those opium harvests have ravaged. She runs a heroin rehab center, through income from a small restaurant she runs on the side. Haidri says she started the center to help her brother, who was an addict. Now her Mother Camp center treats heroin, meth and opium addicts.
A Culture Clash Over Masks
Marta Ayala and Chong Taing live in Rosemead. They both understand the seriousness of coronavirus. What’s different is how they’re handling it. Ayala believes the white medical masks spotted on faces around town are an overreaction that stokes alarm. But in some Asian communities, the masks are a popular response to illness. Taing wears one, saying it protects the wearer and those around them. Indeed, few places illustrate the parallel reactions to the illness the way the diverse San Gabriel Valley does.
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FROM THE ARCHIVES
As Forrest Gump’s momma always said, “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” In 1947, L.A. and federal authorities got 40 sticks of opium.
They picked up the box during an investigation into a robbery and kidnapping ring and found the drugs hidden beneath an upper layer of chocolate. “Each stick is approximately six inches long and is valued at $1000,” The Times reported at the time, and the opium was “of the highest grade known.” Investigators believed a gang member had smuggled it into the U.S. while in the Merchant Marine.
— L.A. County Dist. Atty. Jackie Lacey announced that she had secured the dismissal of 66,000 marijuana convictions, undoing decades of enforcement that disproportionately targeted people of color. The move comes as she seeks a third term in office.
— Taking the next step in months of negotiations over ways to combat L.A.’s homelessness crisis, Mayor Eric Garcetti and U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson have announced the formation of a joint working group.
— A state audit says the LAPD’s handling of millions of images collected from automatic license plate readers puts your privacy at risk and falls short of the law, a new audit finds.
— Two-thirds of California students didn’t meet science standards. That’s because it’s taught differently these days, experts say.
— Is California heading for another drought? This month’s rainfall sure looks bleak.
— What better to eat on Valentine’s Day than a meal you and your partner cooked? Here are 12 recipes to make at home.
— You could spend $200 for a day at Disneyland, but we have some other ideas, too.
— Love a good breakfast pastry? Here’s where to find nine of L.A.'s best.
— Bad news if you’re Yosemite-bound: Its “firefall” likely won’t appear this year. The weather conditions haven’t aligned.
— Here are eight things to do in L.A. and Orange County, from a ballet tribute to Leonard Cohen to Frankenstein-inspired theater.
HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS
— For all of “Parasite” director Bong Joon Ho’s new acolytes, we collected some ways to live life more like him, according to the filmmaker himself.
— A new music festival devoted to goth, new wave and post-punk called Cruel World will be headlined by Morrissey, Bauhaus and Blondie and feature dozens more ‘80s bands in Carson.
— Slow-motion fights and French raps. You’ve probably never seen anything like Vampire Cowboys’ ”Revenge Song,” now at the Geffen Playhouse.
— How Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Will Ferrell made “Downhill” at a working ski resort in Austria.
— As the scientific community scrambles to find a drug that can effectively treat patients sickened by the new coronavirus from China, doctors are trying some surprising remedies: medicines targeting known killers such as HIV, Ebola and malaria.
— Some Pakistani students want out of coronavirus-stricken Wuhan. Their own government says no, in a show of solidarity with Beijing.
— God and a Glock: Some Texas churchgoers are training to fight off gun-wielding attackers.
— Monaco has the world’s shortest coastline but an outsized voice on climate action. Prince Albert II says it’s because oceans are a “family heritage.”
— How good are your car headlights? Chances are, not great. But technology is trying to make them safer.
— Another high-profile defection from struggling DirecTV: Dan York, one of the top AT&T executives based in El Segundo, is leaving the company after two decades.
— California’s Supreme Court says Apple store workers must be paid for the time they spend waiting to submit to required searches before they leave work.
— Astros owner Jim Crane said he’s sorry for the sign stealing. But he doesn’t think the team’s 2017 World Series win should be vacated, and he doesn’t see a need to reach out to the Dodgers.
— Columnist Dylan Hernández writes that the news conference “completely exposed Crane” as “an out-of-touch plutocrat” who “looked small and sounded lost.” But the Dodgers’ Dave Roberts is just trying to avoid thinking about it.
— Colin Kaepernick will release a memoir through his new publishing company.
— Did the Justice Department cave to Trump in the Roger Stone case? We need to know, The Times’ editorial board writes.
— Legalization was only a first step. Now, get Big Agriculture out of cannabis farming in California, writes anthropologist Michael Polson.
WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING
— The debate over gun control and ownership is complicated. Just ask these black Southern women training to protect themselves. (Zora)
— Are you a FRETREE freak? Can’t wait for Nertpow’s newest drop? Amazon has empowered thousands of “pseudo-brands” with funky names and a lot of work for the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. (New York Times)
— Fourteen Valentine’s Day-worthy love songs. (Pitchfork)
ONLY IN L.A.
Jack Warner. David Geffen. And now Jeff Bezos. The Amazon billionaire just bought Geffen’s famed Warner estate in Beverly Hills for $165 million, the most ever paid for a home in California. Originally designed in Spanish Colonial Revival style, the mansion was reimagined as a grand Georgian in the 1930s for movie mogul Warner. Geffen had owned the home since 1990, when he paid $47.5 million for it. “It looks like Versailles,” he said at the time.
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