After President Trump’s mass clemency for 11 convicted felons, his judgment has come under fire for showing leniency to mostly high-profile, white-collar felons with powerful connections.
Securities law violations. Trying to sell Barack Obama’s open U.S. Senate seat. Tax fraud and lying to investigators. Obstruction of justice. Those are among the felony convictions that had been handed down to the 11 people who received clemency from President Trump on Tuesday.
Among the headline grabbers: Trump issued a pardon to Michael Milken, the disgraced former junk bond king who later became a prominent Los Angeles philanthropist and waged a decades-long campaign to rehabilitate his image; he commuted the sentence of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who tried selling Obama’s Senate seat; and he pardoned former NYPD commissioner Bernard Kerik, who was convicted of tax fraud and lying to investigators, and former San Francisco 49ers owner Edward DeBartolo Jr., who was convicted in a gambling fraud scandal.
Nearly all of those granted clemency had strong advocates who were the president’s close friends. It marks a dramatic expansion of Trump’s intervention in judicial matters since his Senate impeachment acquittal.
Before boarding Air Force One on a trip to L.A., the president also made clear he had not ruled out pardoning his longtime friend and informal advisor Roger Stone, who is scheduled to be sentenced in federal court Thursday despite Trump’s demand on Twitter that the case should be “thrown out.”
The Ghosts of Bloomberg’s Past
Ahead of Saturday’s caucuses in Nevada, the Democratic presidential candidates will face off in a debate in Las Vegas tonight. It very well may be most remembered as the debut of former New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, whose rise in the polls has earned him a spot onstage, even though he isn’t even on the ballot in Nevada. And chances are, he’ll have a lot of explaining to do from his past: about allegations of misogynistic remarks and a hostile work environment, and his previous support of stop-and-frisk policies.
— Trump is planning to meet with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy in Bakersfield today and oversee the signing of an Interior Department decision that rolls back endangered species protections that have curbed water deliveries to Central Valley farmers and Southern California cities.
— Sen. Bernie Sanders has opened a wide lead in California’s Democratic presidential primary, and four rivals are virtually tied for a distant second place, according to a poll released yesterday. Here’s our voter’s guide to casting a ballot in the California primary, and here’s where the candidates stand on key policy issues.
— Nevada is the Democratic presidential candidates’ first real test with Latino voters.
How to Address Homelessness?
When California Gov. Gavin Newsom delivers his annual State of the State address today, homelessness will no doubt be one of the major topics. Newsom has already proposed spending more money to get people into housing this year and to expand homeless services under Medi-Cal. But beyond agreeing on the need to address the crisis, lawmakers in Sacramento are split over how to do so — including a Newsom plan to split the state into regions to distribute the additional money.
A new problem for Boeing
Boeing‘s recent travails are well known: the grounding of its bestselling 737 Max aircraft after crashes that killed 346 people, the firing of its chief executive, the billions of dollars in losses. Less known is the company’s struggle against a pair of peregrine falcons. The birds, who happen to be messy eaters, nest in the rafters of the 737 factory. After they dive-bomb their prey, severed pigeon heads, wings and feet plop onto the factory floor. Now, the world’s most efficient airplane factory is struggling to evict the world’s fastest creatures.
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FROM THE ARCHIVES
In 1926, the Los Angeles Times learned of a new sport sure “to be a brand-new fad among the womenfolk.” It was called cage ball, and in a Feb. 19 story, The Times reported that the Young Women’s Christian Assn. had introduced it and that classes were packed. Imagine volleyball, but with “a ball three feet in diameter and weighing a little more than five pounds.”
The sport didn’t last — according to The Times, a sport more akin to soccer later took on the name. But the photographs of the original cage ball players did. See more of them here.
— Concerned too many Californians were unaware they would face a hefty fine for not having health insurance, state officials have loosened the individual mandate meant to push the uninsured into buying medical coverage.
— Court documents show slain therapist Amie Harwick alleged her ex-boyfriend Gareth Pursehouse had abused her. He is now being held in connection with her death. Meanwhile, CBS has postponed tapings of “The Price Is Right” after the death of Harwick, who had been previously engaged to host Drew Carey.
— A Santa Clara County park is closed while authorities look into a “very unusual” mountain lion attack. Over the weekend, a large cat went after a 6-year-old girl on a hiking trail.
— Retired businessman Bill Bloomfield isn’t on the ballot, but he’s become the big spender funding attack mailers in key L.A. school board races.
HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS
— Five years ago, The Times’ television editor Matt Brennan declared a new era of LGBTQ representation that he called the “New Queer Television.” Here’s what he now says he got wrong.
— The original “Sonic the Hedgehog” game emphasized a pro-environment narrative. The new film leaves it out.
— “Friends” is moving to HBO Max. With legions of devoted fans, the show is the gift that keeps on giving to WarnerMedia.
— The Hollywood Bowl has announced its 2020 lineup, and it includes Janelle Monáe, Cynthia Erivo and an event celebrating women’s suffrage.
— A prosecutor has lambasted Harvey Weinstein’s lead defense attorney for writing an op-ed that directly addressed the jury ahead of deliberations in his sexual assault trial.
— Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s corruption trial will begin two weeks after national elections, a court has announced, instantly shaking up the campaign and threatening his shot at forming a coalition government.
— Two Germans who seemed healthy when they were evacuated from Wuhan, China, this month were actually infected with the new coronavirus and might have been able to spread it, according to a new medical report. It underscores the limitations of health screenings that have been implemented around the world in hopes of containing it.
— India is hastily building a wall along a slum ahead of Trump’s planned visit. Critics say it was built to hide the residents from view.
— Uber has closed a customer support office in downtown L.A., laying off about 80 employees and offshoring their jobs to Manila.
— Coming soon to an airplane near you: in-flight Wi-Fi that actually works.
— Century City’s signature twin office skyscrapers are fully leased for the first time since they went up in the ‘70s. It’s a testament to the rising fortunes of the area and the appeal of classic office buildings, even as tech giants prefer campuses and industrial buildings.
— After one of the most horrific crashes in NASCAR history, driver Ryan Newman was awake and talking with family and doctors at Halifax Medical Center in Daytona Beach, Fla., his team said.
— In his first public comments on the stadium deal approved by the Anaheim City Council in December, Angels owner Arte Moreno says he hasn’t decided whether to replace the stadium or renovate it.
— Tyler White is the only Dodgers position player who appeared in games for the 2017 Houston Astros, and it’s awkward. Among those angry about the Astros’ sign-stealing: Lebron James, who says he’d be “irate” if he’d been cheated out of a title, and the Astros fan suing on behalf of season-ticket holders.
— Mickey Wright has died at age 85. The golf great lifted the LPGA to new heights and was once named Female Golfer of the Century.
— Speeding cars kill. So why, The Times’ editorial board asks, is California slow-walking efforts to slow them down?
— Dropping the SATs could make University of California admissions more biased, not less, writes UC Riverside’s chancellor Kim Wilcox.
— More Americans say they want to die at home. But end-of-life care is just as complicated there as it is in the hospital, writes Duke University professor Nathan Gray in an illustrated op-ed.
WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING
— How candidate Bloomberg is enticing voters with free food and booze. (Eater)
— Ring and Nest cameras are everywhere. It’s turned us into a nation of voyeurism and paranoia. (Washington Post)
ONLY IN L.A.
For a sense of just how rich Jeff Bezos is, consider that his record $165 million purchase of a Beverly Hills mansion amounts to only 0.13% of his net worth. Few Angelenos could spend such a small fraction of their net worth on anything approaching a house. If your net worth were the median household income in L.A. County, $68,093, you’d have $88 to spend — perhaps on a tent from Walmart. Getting a bit more real world, what would your net worth have to be to spend just 0.13% of it on the median-priced home in L.A. County? With the median sales price surging to $628,250 in December, you’d need a fortune approaching $500 million.
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