Newsletter: Fight night in Las Vegas


How the Democratic presidential candidates’ latest debate turned into a donnybrook.


Fight Night in Las Vegas

Last night’s Democratic presidential debate in Las Vegas was the most combative yet.

There was Sen. Amy Klobuchar versus former Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Elizabeth Warren versus former Vice President Joe Biden, Biden versus Sen. Bernie Sanders, Sanders versus Buttigieg, and so on.

But the rivals joined forces in taking on Michael R. Bloomberg, who often gave halting and uncertain answers in his presidential debate debut. Bloomberg tried to step past the assaults on his character, policies as New York mayor, business practices and his billions by saying he has the street smarts and resources to take on President Trump.

So who was the big winner? It could be Sanders. Even though the Vermont senator faced questions about online abuse doled out by his supporters, politics writer Janet Hook says the current front-runner will benefit from last night’s debate chaos. Sanders is leading in polls by a growing margin and is likely to soon be leading in the delegate count as well.


Here are five more takeaways from the night.

More Politics

— In a CNN interview before the debate, a spokeswoman for Sanders, who had a heart attack last year at the age of 78, compared requests for his full medical records to “birtherism,” the racist effort to suggest that President Obama was not born in the U.S. (he was), and falsely said Bloomberg had also suffered heart attacks. She later said she had misspoken.

— The revolving door at the White House keeps turning: Trump has named Richard Grenell, the U.S. ambassador to Germany and a Trump loyalist, as acting director of national intelligence to replace acting director Joseph Maguire. The president also ousted John Rood, the Pentagon’s top policy official who had certified last year that Ukraine had made enough anti-corruption progress to justify the Trump administration’s release of aid to Kyiv.

— Trump will continue his swing through Western states with a rally in Colorado Springs, Colo., today after holding one in Phoenix last night. Before the president’s rallies, he spent time in California yesterday, including a stop in Bakersfield, where he signed a memo directing federal agencies to move ahead with relaxed endangered species protections that have curbed water deliveries to San Joaquin Valley agriculture and the urban Southland.

‘It’s a Disgrace’


Before Gov. Gavin Newsom took office, it had been three decades since a governor last said the word “homeless” during an annual State of the State address. Newsom said it seven times last year, and yesterday, he went all in with a 42-minute speech focusing squarely on the topic: “Let’s call it what it is. It’s a disgrace.” The governor called for all new shelters and supportive housing to be exempted from a key environmental law that’s been used to restrict development and signaled support for the creation of a permanent stream of revenue focused on curtailing homelessness. Some in Sacramento say the latter could require a tax increase. (Our columnist George Skelton agrees.)

53 Years in the U.S., Now Fearing Deportation

Ramón Saúl Sánchez was 12 when he moved to Miami as part of the Freedom Flights — a massive resettlement program for Cuban refugees — to avoid military conscription. He devoted himself to fighting the Cuban government from Miami, and wondered whether he would die before he could see his family again. Now 65, Sánchez faces a new problem, as Cubans — who have long had a uniquely privileged status among immigrants as a result of U.S. opposition to communism — find themselves increasingly vulnerable to deportation.

Take Off, ‘Eh’

The most versatile two letters in all of Canada are “eh.” They can be used to cite an opinion, to express agreement, to turn a declaration into a question, to keep a narrative flowing or to assert a command. And as the fictional Bob and Doug McKenzie could tell you, there’s nothing more quintessentially Canadian. Yet the use of “eh” in the Great White North is on the decline, apparently losing out to “right” and “you know.”


In 1920s Los Angeles, bank tellers needed to know how to do math, interact with customers and fire a pistol. In an effort to better thwart bank robberies, The Times reported in February 1928 that the LAPD held a gun school for bank employees at the police pistol range in Elysian Park.

The training was elaborate, with “practical illustrations” and dummies, and afterward, bank employees were invited to a barbecue with Police Chief James “Two Gun” Davis. Some tellers had long practiced the skill. Madeline Morneau was twice featured in The Times in 1926, described as a “crack shot” and a member of the First National Bank pistol team.


Legal marijuana use still costs people jobs. A new state bill would require employers in the public and private sectors to accommodate workers and job applicants who use medical marijuana.

— Newsom wants California to be able to take over PG&E in case of serious safety violations. Now state regulators have proposed a path to making that happen.

— Should insurance companies be able to deny coverage to homeowners in wildfire zones? Not if state lawmakers have anything to say about it.

Porterville police have arrested two 13-year-old boys in connection with a deadly fire at a public library in the central California city. One firefighter died and another is missing.

— The Robert Durst murder trial is just getting started, but it’s decades in the making, with a complex cast of people involved.

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— Police say rapper Pop Smoke was killed in his Hollywood Hills home by masked gunmen. The up-and-coming rapper was 20, but his music and persona were already making waves across the country.

— Author Charles Portis died this week at age 86. He’s famous for “True Grit,” but he was so much more.

— A hologram of the late Whitney Houston will go on tour. Our pop music critic got a preview and found that “An Evening With Whitney” sounds great, looks lifelike and is still super creepy.

— Among the finalists for the 40th annual Los Angeles Times Book Prizes are Ronan Farrow, Emily Bazelon and Colson Whitehead. The awards will be presented April 17, and tickets go on sale March 12.


— In the southwestern German city of Hanau, authorities say nine people were killed and five wounded in shootings in and outside two hookah lounges. The suspect was found dead.

— A federal appeals court ruled that Florida can’t bar felons who have served their time from registering to vote over unpaid fines and fees, as a law passed by the Republican-led Legislature would do. In 2018, Floridians overwhelmingly voted to let most such felons regain the right to vote.

— British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s strict new post-Brexit immigration plan would make it much harder for people from European Union countries to live and work in the U.K. and has British employers asking: Who will build our houses and pick our vegetables?

China has expelled three Wall Street Journal reporters over a column published in the newspaper’s Opinion section, which is separate from its news operations, under the headline “China Is the Real Sick Man of Asia.”

— A Korean American stand-up comic walks into a bar in Korea. Hilarity ensues — or so Danny Cho hopes as he moves his career abroad.


— From undead to dead: Universal Studios Hollywood’s “Walking Dead” attraction will be killed off next month.

— A “smart” reusable cup? McDonald’s and Starbucks are testing RFID chips or QR codes that would let customers reuse cups for weeks or months.


Sophie Luoto has been promoted to the Rams director of football operations. She will be the highest-ranking woman on the football side of the franchise.

— The best quotes on the Astros cheating scandal, in handy meme form.


— Newsom’s homelessness plan has some good elements but is also woefully vague on some key points, The Times’ editorial board writes.

— The editorial board has endorsed George Gascón for L.A. County district attorney, saying Jackie Lacey isn’t the energetic innovator and leader the office needs.

— To understand Kobe Bryant’s helicopter crash, it helps to know what it’s like to fly in iffy weather, writes Peter Garrison, who writes a column analyzing airplane accidents for Flying Magazine.


— As tech giants stumbled, Wikipedia went from a punchline to one of the last good places on the internet. (Wired)

— A generation of self-described witches is emerging. How magic became cool (and lucrative) in the Trump era. (The Atlantic)


Jennifer Songster and Christina Nhek didn’t fly 20 hours and spend eight days in Cambodia to visit Angkor Wat. Instead, they were on a five-figure shopping spree, all to benefit the Mark Twain Branch of the Long Beach Public Library, home to one of America’s largest public library collections of Khmer books. Few systems send their librarians so far afield. But their effort matters now more than ever because of how dramatically the U.S. — and L.A. County in particular — has changed, and with it the languages its families speak at home.

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