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    A Los Angeles man suspected of killing his ex-girlfriend, a prominent family therapist and the former fiancee of comedian Drew Carey, was charged Wednesday with her murder. Dr. Amie Harwick died over the weekend after Gareth Pursehouse allegedly threw her over the third-floor balcony of her Hollywood Hills apartment, the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office said. Pursehouse faces charges including murder and first-degree residential burglary with the special circumstance allegation of lying in wait, making him eligible for the death penalty, prosecutors said. It wasn't immediately known if Pursehouse, 41, has an attorney. He's scheduled to be arraigned Thursday. Police responding early Saturday to reports of a woman screaming discovered Harwick, 38, on the ground below the balcony, prosecutors said. She died at a hospital. Officers found evidence of a struggle and a forced entry to the home, police said. Detectives learned Harwick had recently expressed fear about an ex-boyfriend and had previously filed a restraining order against him, according to a police statement. The restraining order had expired, police said. Harwick's website described her as a marriage and sex therapist. She appeared on TV and radio and wrote a book called “The New Sex Bible for Women.” Harwick was engaged in 2018 to Carey, the “Price is Right” host and former sitcom star. 'I hope you’re lucky enough to have someone in your life that loves as much as she did,' Carey said on Twitter. CBS canceled tapings of the game show for the week while he mourns. Carey shared a link to an online petition calling for an update to domestic violence laws. Pursehouse was initially arrested Saturday and posted $2 million bond. He was re-arrested Wednesday on a no bail warrant.
  • New virus cases in China rose by just 394 from the previous day, with a rise in the death toll of 114, the government said Thursday, as health inspectors went door-to-door to find every infected person in the worst-hit city. Mainland China has now reported 2,118 deaths and 74,576 total cases. While the overall spread of the virus has been slowing, the situation remains severe in Hubei province and its capital, Wuhan, where the new coronavirus was first detected in December. More than 80% of the country's cases are in Hubei and 95% of the deaths, according to data from China's National Health Commission. The new daily figure is a notable drop from the 1,749 cases recorded the previous day. Inspectors in protective suits went door-to-door Wednesday in Wuhan to try to find every infected person. “This must be taken seriously,' said Wang Zhonglin, the city's newly minted Communist Party secretary. Cities in Hubei with a combined population of more than 60 million have been under lockdown since the Lunar New Year holiday last month, usually China's busiest travel period. Authorities halted nearly all transportation and movement except for quarantine efforts, medical care, and delivery of food and basic necessities. “Wartime” measures were implemented in some places, with residents prevented from leaving their apartments. The stringent measures have followed public fury over Hubei authorities' handling of the outbreak when it began in December. The risk of human-to-human transmission was downplayed, and doctors who tried to warn the public were reprimanded by police. Wuhan residents reported overcrowding in hospitals and futile attempts to seek treatment. Many countries have also set up border screenings and airlines have canceled flights to and from China to prevent further spread of the disease, which has been detected in around two dozen countries and caused more than 1,000 confirmed cases outside mainland China. Six deaths have been confirmed outside the mainland — two in Hong Kong and one each in Taiwan, Japan, the Philippines and France. Chinese scientists reported some troubling findings about how the virus spreads. Swabs were taken on 14 people who returned to Guangdong province in January after visiting Wuhan and developing the disease. High amounts of the virus were detected soon after symptoms started, more in the nose than in the throat, and the virus was also found in one of their close contacts who never showed any symptoms. That adds to concern about potential spread of the virus by people who may not know they're infected. The report from the Guangdong Provincial Center for Disease Control and Prevention was published by the New England Journal of Medicine. In Japan, about 500 passengers who tested negative for the virus departed the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship Wednesday. Australia and Hong Kong also brought home their residents from the ship and put them in 14-day quarantines. The ship has 621 cases of the virus, the most outside China. Results were still pending for some other passengers and crew among the original 3,711 people on board. Passengers from another cruise ship Westerdam have tested negative for the virus, according to Cambodia's Health Ministry, but they are stuck on the ship or in Cambodia because they have limited travel options there and other countries are concerned they could carry the virus. Seven hundred of the Westerdam's passengers had already left Cambodia after the ship docked last week, only to have one woman test positive for the virus when she arrived in Malaysia. ___ Associated Press writers Sopheng Cheang in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Eileen Ng in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and Marilynn Marchione in Milwaukee, video journalist Katie Tam in Hong Kong and researcher Yu Bing in Beijing contributed to this report.
  • The Trump administration completed the fewest cleanups of toxic Superfund sites last year than any administration since the program’s first years in the 1980s, figures released by the Environmental Protection Agency indicated Wednesday. The federal government wrapped up cleanups at six Superfund sites around the country in the 2019 budget year, the fewest since three in 1986, EPA online records showed. The Superfund program was born out of the 1970's disaster at Love Canal in New York, where industrial contaminants poisoned groundwater, spurred complaints of health problems and prompted presidential emergency declarations. Congress started the Superfund program in 1980, with the mission of tackling the country’s worst contaminated sites to remove the threat to surrounding residents and the environment. President Donald Trump campaigned on pledges to cut environmental protections he saw as unfriendly to business. In office, Trump has presided over rollbacks and proposed rollbacks of a series of protections for air, water, wildlife and other environmental and public health concerns, as well as sharp declines in many categories of enforcement against polluters. The EPA posted the 2019 figures on its website earlier this month. The tally also shows one cleanup completed so far this budget year. “Cleaning up Superfund Sites has been and remains a top priority of this Administration,' EPA spokeswoman Corry Schiermeyer said in response to questions from The Associated Press. “Many of the sites currently on the NPL (National Priorities List) are very large, complex and technically challenging and often require numerous construction projects to complete that are frequently phased in over many years.” Superfund cleanups completed fell into the single digits just once before in the past 20 years, in 2014. The AP reported in January that the administration also has built up the biggest backlog of unfunded toxic Superfund cleanup projects in at least 15 years, nearly triple the number that were stalled for lack of money in the Obama era. The administration called Superfund cleanups part of the core mission of the EPA. But Trump’s budget proposal for next year calls for slashing money for the Superfund program by $113 million. As in previous years, the White House asked Congress to cut the EPA budget by more than 20%. Congress largely has ignored Trump’s calls for EPA cuts, keeping the agency’s money roughly stable. Elizabeth Southerland, a former EPA official who now is part of a network of hundreds of former EPA staffers often critical of Trump rollbacks, said the administration was failing to brief Congress on how much it really needs for the program. She called it “heartbreaking' for the people at risk around the sites. “Communities are being forced to live for years longer than necessary waiting for cleanup to be completed,' Southerland said. Under Trump, the EPA pointed to a different measure in declaring it was making progress on Superfund cleanups: the number of cleaned up sites officially deleted from the roster of more than 1,300 Superfund projects. But deletions from the list typically reflect cleanup work done over decades and often completed on the ground years ago, meaning Trump frequently was taking credit for work done under President Barack Obama and other predecessors. The EPA said it deleted all or part of 27 sites from the list last year.
  • The latest on the 2020 presidential campaign and Democratic debat e (all times local): 8 p.m. Bernie Sanders is the only Democratic candidate on the debate stage who thinks the candidate with the most delegates should win the party’s presidential nomination even if he or she doesn't have a majority. His rivals on Wednesday night in Las Vegas say the party should follow its rules at the Democratic convention rather than handing the nomination to someone without 50% of delegates. It sets up a clash should the primary season end without a clear winner, giving way to a contested convention. Delegates are picked up through state parties and caucuses, and party rules state a candidate needs a majority to become the nominee. If no candidate hits that threshold initially, superdelegates would be allowed to vote on a second ballot. They include members of Congress and other party leaders. Sanders’ campaign fought in 2016 to eliminate superdelegate votes in the first stage after the majority of them sided with Hillary Clinton. ___ 7:45 p.m. For his first turn on the debate stage, Mike Bloomberg's campaign was armed and ready with releases to rebut any criticism from his fellow Democratic presidential contenders. The former New York City mayor's campaign on Wednesday sent out at least 10 rapid-response news releases defending and promoting Bloomberg on a variety of issues, from the controversial “stop-and-frisk” policy to his solution for amending the tax code when it comes to wealthy Americans. Bloomberg's campaign also blanketed Twitter with videos of women defending Bloomberg and characterizing him as respectful. One of Wednesday night's early skirmishes featured candidates taking Bloomberg on for refusing to release former female employees from nondisclosure agreements concerning allegations of workplace harassment. Bloomberg, who is not competing in early voting states, has not qualified for any previous debates. ___ 7:40 p.m. Several Democratic presidential contenders are clashing over whether massive wealth accumulation is un-American or something that should merely be subject to equitable tax rates. Asked about Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders' tweet that “billionaires should not exist,” Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar said during Wednesday's Democratic debate that she supported capitalism but also an appropriate tax rate on wealth, unlike what she felt had been promoted and signed by President Donald Trump. When Sanders argued that billionaires pay an unfairly low tax rate compared to the middle class, former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg asked, “Why do you complain? Who wrote the code?” Sanders said the United States has a “grotesque and immoral distribution of wealth and income,” noting that Bloomberg “owns more wealth than the bottom 125 million Americans.” ___ 7:35 p.m. Elizabeth Warren's fiery debate performance is paying off for her Democratic presidential campaign. The Massachusetts senator spent much of Wednesday night’s debate in Las Vegas attacking Mike Bloomberg, the billionaire mayor of New York. But she also laid into Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, saying her health care plan was just a “Post-it Note.” After the first hour of the debate, Caitlin Mitchell, who is chief mobilization officer for Warren’s presidential campaign, tweeted, “That, my friends, was the Warren campaign’s best hour of fundraising (asterisk)to date(asterisk). Keep it up.” Coming off a disappointing fourth-place finish in New Hampshire, Warren has implored supporters to keep donating in order to keep her campaign strong. She had a forgettable performance during a debate before New Hampshire's primary but seized the spotlight in Las Vegas and caused her donations to spike. ___ 7:30 p.m. Democratic presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg is defending his wealth, saying he worked very hard to become a billionaire. The former New York mayor said at Wednesday's debate in Las Vegas that he’s been very lucky, “made a lot of money and I’m giving it all away to make this country better, including to the Democratic Party. Bloomberg was asked by NBC debate moderator Chuck Todd if he should have earned that much money, and the businessman responded by saying, “Yes, I worked very hard for it,” and he’s giving it away. ___ 7:25 p.m. Joe Biden says that he would eliminate subsidies for oil and gas businesses and that the heads of fossil fuel companies should be held personally liable for polluting the planet. Biden’s remarks came during a lengthy debate on Wednesday between the Democratic presidential candidates on how to tackle climate change. Mike Bloomberg, meanwhile, says the United States needs to work with China because people in both nations are at risk from climate change. He’s talking up his funding of a Sierra Club initiative aimed at closing coal-fired power plants. Bernie Sanders didn’t directly address how he’d respond to union workers in Pennsylvania who work in fracking, which Sanders wants to ban. Instead, he spoke broadly about the urgent need to address the climate crisis. Amy Klobuchar says she wouldn't eliminate all fracking but would make sure all permits are carefully reviewed. All of the candidates support rejoining an international climate agreement that President Donald Trump withdrew from. ___ 7:05 p.m. Pete Buttigieg is skewering Amy Klobuchar for failing to name the Mexican president in an interview last week. Buttigieg said during Wednesday night’s Democratic debate that the Minnesota senator is running for president based on her experience in Washington, but despite her role on committees overseeing border security and trade, she was “not able to speak to literally the first thing, the politics,” of the neighboring country by naming Andrés Manuel López Obrador. Klobuchar then asked Buttigieg: “Are you trying to say that I’m dumb? Are you mocking me, Pete?” Elizabeth Warren defended Klobuchar and called Buttigieg’s argument “unfair.” Warren says it’s fair to hold a candidate accountable for their policy or their take on an issue but “missing a name all by itself does not indicate that you do not understand what is going on.” ___ 7 p.m. Mike Bloomberg has tried to fend off demands from several of his Democratic presidential rivals that he release former female employees from any nondisclosure agreements concerning allegations of workplace harassment. Sen. Elizabeth Warren put Bloomberg on the spot at Wednesday night's debate in Las Vegas, asking the former New York City mayor to release women from these agreements and saying his defense doesn't cut it. Bloomberg has previously been accused of fostering a hostile work environment for some female employees. Bloomberg says he has “no tolerance” for such behavior and that he saw the agreements in question as consensual and not up to him to dissolve. He went on to say that none of the agreements “accuse me of doing anything other than, maybe they didn't like a joke I told,” a response met with boos from the debate audience. Former Vice President Joe Biden also said he felt Bloomberg could just say the word to release anyone from the agreements. ___ 6:57 p.m. Bernie Sanders is going on the offensive, trying to head off questions about his health following a heart attack last fall. The 78-year-old Vermont senator spent much of Wednesday's Las Vegas debate hammering Mike Bloomberg but quipped that the billionaire former New York mayor “has two stents too.” Bloomberg shot back, “That was 25 years ago.” Sanders had a heart attack on Oct. 1 and underwent surgery to insert two stents. Bloomberg also had stents inserted but never had a heart attack. Sanders released three letters from doctors in December saying he was healthy enough for the rigors of the presidency. Some of his rivals, including former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, have criticized him for not being fully transparent. On Tuesday, Buttigieg compared him to President Donald Trump for not divulging enough about his health. ___ 6:55 p.m. Mike Bloomberg says he’ll release his tax returns in “a few weeks” in response to criticism from his rivals. The multibillionaire said Wednesday during the Democratic debate that it takes “a long time” to compile his tax returns because he makes a lot of money and “can’t go to TurboTax.” Bloomberg runs a financial data and media company. He is worth an estimated $60 billion. All the other contenders on stage have released their tax returns. Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar joked that her and her husband’s tax returns are uncomplicated enough that they could use TurboTax. She noted that President Donald Trump has refused to disclose his returns. “I think it’s great you’ve got a lot of money, but I think you’ve got to come forward,” she said. ___ 6:50 p.m. Amy Klobuchar says she thinks it’s important that evidence related to a high-profile murder case she oversaw as Minnesota prosecutor be reviewed by her successors. Klobuchar was asked during Wednesday night’s debate how voters of color should trust her judgment after her handling of the case in which a black teen was sentenced to life after a flawed police investigation. Questions about the Minnesota senator’s oversight of the case emerged after an Associated Press investigation into the case of Myon Burrell, who was 16 when he was apprehended in the 2002 death of an 11-year-old girl. Klobuchar said that of the three people convicted in the case, one “was investigated by a journalist and I think it’s very important that that evidence come forward.” ___ 6:45 p.m. Mike Bloomberg says the controversial 'stop-and-frisk' policy represents the singular thing he's 'really worried about and embarrassed about' from his time as New York City mayor. Bloomberg said during Wednesday night's Democratic debate in Las Vegas that he has repeatedly apologized for the policy, which gave police wide authority to detain people they suspected of committing a crime. Bloomberg aggressively pursued the tactic when he first took over as mayor in 2002. A federal judge found in 2013 that stop and frisk intentionally and systematically violated the civil rights of tens of thousands of people by wrongly targeting black and Hispanic men. Bloomberg blasted the ruling at the time, calling it a “dangerous decision made by a judge who I think does not understand how policing works and what is compliant with the U.S. Constitution.” Former Vice President Joe Biden argued that the policy stopped only after the Obama administration 'sent in monitors' to observe the process. ___ 6:42 p.m. Former Vice President Joe Biden is accusing Mike Bloomberg of denigrating former President Barack Obama’s signature health care law by calling it “a disgrace” when it was passed. Biden said during Wednesday night’s debate that he’s the only candidate on the debate stage “who actually got anything done on health care” when he worked to get the Affordable Care Act passed, but “Mike called it a disgrace.” Bloomberg disputed that, saying he is a fan of “Obamacare” and wrote an op-ed praising the plan. He said he thinks Democrats should build on the plan and not try something new. Biden again asserted that Bloomberg had criticized the law, saying, “Look it up. Check it out.” ___ 6:40 p.m. The Democratic contenders are looking for clever new lines in the health care debate they keep having over and over. Sen. Elizabeth Warren said Wednesday that Pete Buttigieg’s health care approach is “not a plan, it’s a PowerPoint,” made up of slogans thought up by consultants. And she’s called Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s plan the equivalent of a “Post-It note.” Both Buttigieg and Klobuchar are advocating for a public option that will allow more people to access Medicare while maintaining private insurance. Warren supports transitioning to a “Medicare for All” system. Klobuchar hit back, with a reference to the debate being in Las Vegas. “You don’t put your money on a number that’s not even on the wheel,” she said, adding that Medicare for All does not have the support from most Democratic senators, making it a non-starter. Health care has been one of the key flash points in the Democratic primary and has been regularly debated. ___ 6:35 p.m. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is 'disowning' any of his supporters who lob sexist attacks online. During Wednesday night's debate in Las Vegas, the Vermont senator defended his supporters after leaders of the influential Culinary Union said that they've received attacks from some Sanders backers online and over the phone. Of his online army, Sanders said that '99.9% of them are decent human beings,' but that 'if there are a few people who make ugly remarks, who attack trade union leaders, I disown those people.' Pete Buttigieg rebutted Sanders, challenging him to ask himself: “Why did this pattern arise? Why is it especially the case among your supporters?” He also suggested that Sanders' supporters were taking his lead, saying that “leadership is about what you draw out of people, it's about how you inspire people to act.” ___ 6:30 p.m. Mike Bloomberg is taking criticism from his Democratic presidential rivals over a controversial policing program while he was mayor of New York. Bernie Sanders opened Wednesday’s debate in Las Vegas by saying the “stop and frisk” program “went after” blacks and Hispanics, allowing police to unfairly target minorities. Former Vice President Joe Biden also criticized Bloomberg and stop and frisk. Bloomberg didn’t mention the policing program but responded by arguing that he was in a better position to defeat President Donald Trump in November. He said of Sanders, “I don’t think there’s any chance of the senator beating President Trump.” The former mayor has apologized for stop and frisk and said he should have acted faster to stop police from using it. ___ 6:25 p.m. Pete Buttigieg says Mike Bloomberg and Bernie Sanders are “the two most polarizing figures on this stage” and the Democratic Party can’t let its presidential primary come down to those two candidates. Buttigieg said during Wednesday night’s debate that the party shouldn’t have to choose “between a socialist who thinks capitalism is the root of all evil and the billionaire who thinks that money ought to be the root of all power.” The former South Bend, Indiana, mayor said the choice would be between “one candidate who wants to burn this party down and another candidate who wants to buy this party out.” He said the party should instead put forth someone who “is actually a Democrat.” Sanders shot back and said his campaign is trying to give a voice and power to working people “rather than your billionaire campaign contributors.” ___ 6:20 p.m. The gloves have come off in the opening moments of the Nevada presidential debate, with Sen. Elizabeth Warren taking on Mike Bloomberg for calling 'women fat broad and horse faced lesbians.' The Massachusetts senator on Wednesday night in Las Vegas referred to comments attributed to Bloomberg in a story published online this week by The Washington Post. Warren went on to say that four years of President Donald Trump is not 'substituting one arrogant billionaire for another.' The Democratic debate is the first to feature Bloomberg, who has opted not to compete in the four early voting states. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders said the former New York City mayor's 'stop-and-frisk' policy was too polarizing for a general election candidate. Bloomberg responded by saying, 'I don't think there's any chance whatsoever' that Sanders could defeat Trump. ___ 6:05 p.m. Nearly 75,000 Democrats participated in a four-day early voting period ahead of Nevada’s caucuses on Saturday. The Nevada Democratic Party said Wednesday that a majority of those who filled out a preference card were first-time caucus-goers. Early voters filled out a paper ballot marking at least their top three choices for president. The results will be kept secret until the main caucuses have started on Feb. 22. Early results will be added to selections made in person at about 2,000 caucus locations around the state. Nevada Democrats had 82 early voting sites at union halls, community centers, libraries and even the employee dining halls at several casinos on the Las Vegas strip. Democratic officials did not report any major problems over the weekend, but party officials were overwhelmed by long lines at some caucus sites. About 84,000 people participated in Nevada’s Democratic presidential caucuses in 2016. ___ 6 p.m. Six Democratic presidential candidates have taken the stage in Las Vegas for a debate ahead of Nevada’s caucuses. The Wednesday night debate offers former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg his debut appearance on stage. It’s the first debate he’s qualified for since entering the race in November after the Democratic National Committee adjusted some of its requirements. Other candidates participating in the debate are former Vice President Joe Biden, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar. Sanders’ and Biden’s campaigns took aim at Bloomberg before the debate, with the former raising questions about his health and the latter pointing to his reversals on key issues. The attacks underscore how seriously Democrats are taking the former New York City mayor’s campaign, now that he’s rocketed to double-digit support in national polls and qualified to appear in debates. ___ 1:30 p.m. President Donald Trump’s campaign manager, Brad Parscale, will speak to Nevada Republican activists on Saturday as Democrats hold their caucuses. Republicans canceled their caucuses this year and are expected to pledge the state’s national convention delegates to Trump during a central committee meeting in Pahrump. Nevada is among several states where Republicans are forgoing their typical primaries or caucuses. The meeting is a day after Trump holds a campaign rally in Las Vegas. He’s offering a counternarrative as Democrats choose from a crowded field of candidates at some 2,000 precinct caucuses around the state Saturday. Thousands have already weighed in during four days of early voting. ___ 11:15 a.m. Democratic presidential candidates are joining union members picketing outside a Las Vegas casino. Elizabeth Warren arrived first Wednesday at the Palms Casino Resort off the Strip. Wearing red like the picketing workers of the powerful Culinary Union, Warren marched with workers. She joined in chants of “Palms Casino look around, Vegas is a union town.” Pete Buttigieg carried a Culinary sign saying “No contract, no peace” as union officials pushed through a throng of television cameras to clear a path for him along the picket line. Amy Klobuchar carried a sign for the Teamsters. Joe Biden wrapped an arm around Culinary leader Geoconda Argüello-Kline. Tom Steyer joined in chants of “No justice, no peace,” bobbing his head to the rhythm. Workers at the Stations Casinos, a chain of neighborhood establishments, and the Palms have voted to join a union but are still working without contracts. The owners are billionaires Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta, who are staunch supporters of President Donald Trump. Bernie Sanders, who has feuded with union leaders after they warned members that his “Medicare for All” plan would jeopardize their vaunted health care, did not join the picket.
  • Gov. Gavin Newsom wants to make it easier for the government to force psychiatric treatment for people with mental illness and expand statewide a still-developing test program that allows officials to more easily take control over those deemed unable to care for themselves. In a State of the State address Wednesday devoted almost entirely to the issue of homelessness, the Democratic governor said the state should broaden those laws “within the bounds of deep respect for civil liberties and personal freedoms — but with an equal emphasis on helping people into the life-saving treatment that they need at the precise moment they need it.” Newsom drew support from members of both political parties. But civil libertarians have concerns, while advocates for the mentally ill warned that proper services must be in place and voluntary options exhausted first. ”We often look too quickly to getting individuals off the street involuntarily without assuring that the resources are available, the treatment is available first. And I think the governor candidly acknowledged that in his address,' said Curtis Child, legislative director at Disability Rights California. San Francisco, with one of the nation's most visible homeless populations, is on the verge of trying a new conservatorship program to allow court-ordered mental health treatment for people deemed incapable of caring for their own health and well-being because of serious mental illness or drug addiction. Temporary conservatorships could be triggered with an individual's eighth 72-hour involuntary mental health hold in a 12-month period. Such commitments are commonly called “5150s,' after the legal code section for detaining someone considered to be a danger to themselves or others due to mental illness. Under the program, a 28-day temporary conservatorships could be followed by six-month programs in which judges could order patients to receive treatment. If they can't be treated at home, they could be ordered into community-based residential care facilities. San Francisco is “very close” to having the five-year test program running after creating new processes and safeguards in coordination with providers and the courts, said Jeff Cretan, a spokesman for Mayor London Breed. 'That's an important, thoughtful process we have to go through because these are people’s civil rights we’re talking about,” Cretan said. Newsom said California should allow every county to establish similar so-called housing conservatorships. They are different than longstanding probate conservatorships, in which a judge appoints a guardian for an adult who is unable to care for himself or herself. “I am thrilled that the governor understands that it is not compassionate, it’s not humane, it’s not progressive to let people unravel and die on our streets,' said state Sen. Scott Wiener, a Democrat from San Francisco who wrote two related laws creating the test program. “There are people on our streets who are so severely debilitated with mental health and eviction challenges that they cannot accept voluntary services and we have to help them.” Opponents to his legislation included the ACLU of California, Western Center on Law and Poverty, and Disability Rights California, which were concerned it didn't do enough to respect individual rights, and the California Public Defenders Association, which feared it could “sweep many more people into the civil commitment system.” The governor also called for removing some of the conditions for counties to implement what's know as Laura's Law, which lets service providers and loved ones ask judges to force recalcitrant people into outpatient mental health treatment programs. It is named after 19-year-old Laura Wilcox, who was fatally shot with two others at a Nevada County mental health clinic in 2001 by a man who had refused psychiatric treatment. Newsom said the law currently is too hard to use, but his office could not provide more details on what he wants to see changed. Republican Sen. John Moorlach of Costa Mesa, who also proposed an involuntary commitment bill that died last month, applauded Newsom's proposals. “We as a state shut down our mental health institutions and the patients migrated to the streets and to the jails,” Moorlach said, calling current conditions inhumane. Then-Gov. Ronald Reagan in 1967 outlawed lifetime commitments for those deemed mentally ill, while the U.S. Supreme Court in 1975 ruled that mental illness alone is not enough to justify involuntary commitments. The governor said all his other proposals hinge “on an individual being capable of accepting help, to get off the streets and into treatment in the first place.” “Some, tragically, are not,” he said while advocating “better legal tools' to “help people access the treatment they need.” Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, said the Legislature would need to take a “cautious approach' to some proposals, including making it easier for local governments to force the mentally ill into treatment. ___ Associated Press reporters Adam Beam and Cuneyt Dil contributed to this story.
  • The Tampa Bay Rays are offering fans a win-win-win-win proposition. Trying to draw bigger crowds to barren Tropicana Field, the Rays came up with a crowd-pleasing ticket plan Wednesday. The ``Win Pack’’ lets a fan pick any four regular-season Rays game to attend for a total of $99. If the Rays win all four, the fan gets a voucher redeemable for a free ticket to another game. Fans with four straight wins can keep choosing games for free until they either attend a loss or the regular season ends. Despite going 96-66 and making the playoffs last year, the Rays drew an average home crowd of just 14,734 and ranked second lowest in the majors, ahead of only the Miami Marlins. Tampa Bay has made the playoffs five times since 2008 but is consistently at or near the bottom of the majors in attendance. __ More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
  • A Southern California man charged with bilking nearly $150 million out of 70,000 investors worldwide through a phony digital currency scheme has agreed to enter a guilty plea to federal charges, it was announced Wednesday. Steven Chen, 62, of Bradbury agreed Tuesday to plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of tax evasion, the U.S. Attorney's office announced. He has a court appearance scheduled for next month and could face up to 10 years in federal prison. According to his plea agreement, Chen owned U.S. Fine Investment Arts Inc. and six other companies, all based in Arcadia, California. The companies issued a sham digital currency called “Gem Coins” that supposedly was backed by amber and precious gems from mines that Fine Investment Arts owned in several countries. “Mr. Chen’s promises to investors were as worthless as his non-existent mines and phony digital currency,” U.S. Attorney Nick Hanna said in a statement. “This case should remind all investors that trappings of success may convey legitimacy, but everyone should exercise extreme care when considering giving hard-earned money to any outfit promoting trendy products and extravagant profits.” Chen used millions of dollars in proceeds to buy homes and pay for a gambling habit, authorities said. Another company executive, Leonard Stacy Johnson, 53, of Huntington Beach, pleaded guilty last year to tax evasion and making a false statement on an immigration document. He is scheduled to be sentenced in June.
  • President Donald Trump on Wednesday named Richard Grenell, the U.S. ambassador to Germany, as acting director of national intelligence, putting a staunch ally in charge of the nation's 17 spy agencies. The move drew immediate criticism from Democrats who said the job should be held by someone with deep intelligence experience. It also puts a Trump loyalist in charge of an intelligence community that the president has routinely disparaged and ignored, notably in the context of Russian interference in the 2016 election. Grenell, who prefers the nickname “Ric,' served for two years as the top U.S. envoy to Germany and before that as the spokesman for the U.S. Mission to the United Nations during most of President George W. Bush's eight years in office. But immediately before taking the ambassador's post in Berlin, Grenell was known mainly as an online media critic and conservative Fox News foreign policy analyst. “Rick has represented our Country exceedingly well and I look forward to working with him,” Trump tweeted. A loyal and outspoken Trump supporter, Grenell also becomes the first openly gay official in Trump's Cabinet. Trump has been consolidating his administration's senior ranks with ardent supporters following his acquittal by the Senate on impeachment charges related to withholding aid to Ukraine in exchange for an investigation into his political rival Joe Biden. Since Trump's acquittal, he has removed at least two witnesses who testified in the impeachment inquiry, National Security Council staffer Alexander Vindman and U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland. And, earlier Wednesday, he demanded and got the resignation of the senior Pentagon official who had signed off on the Ukraine assistance, Under Secretary of Defense John Rood. Grenell replaces Joseph Maguire, who has been acting national intelligence director since August. It was unclear if Maguire would return to the National Counterterrorism Center; Trump left open the possibility that he could get another job in the administration. Trump named Grenell as acting national intelligence director, meaning he would not have to be confirmed by the Senate. As the Senate-confirmed ambassador to Germany, Grenell is eligible to take over the intelligence portfolio on an acting basis. An administration official, who was not authorized to discuss the appointment and spoke only on condition of anonymity, said Grenell was named in an acting capacity because Trump wanted him in quickly and there were doubts about whether he could be confirmed in the job. Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said Trump had “selected an individual without any intelligence experience to serve as the leader of the nation’s intelligence community in an acting capacity.” Warner accused the president of trying to sidestep the Senate's constitutional authority to advise and consent on critical national security positions. “The intelligence community deserves stability and an experienced individual to lead them in a time of massive national and global security challenges,' Warner said in a statement. “... Now more than ever our country needs a Senate-confirmed intelligence director who will provide the best intelligence and analysis, regardless of whether or not it’s expedient for the president who has appointed him.” Susan Hennessey, a fellow in national security law at Brookings Institution and a former attorney at the National Security Agency, tweeted: “This should frighten you. Not just brazen politicization of intelligence, but also someone who is utterly incompetent in an important security role. The guardrails are gone.” However, at least some GOP hawks are prepared to support Grenell's appointment, according to one Senate staffer, who said this included Republican Sens. Tom Cotton, Ted Cruz, Lindsey Graham and Marco Rubio. In his current role, Grenell has angered numerous German officials and politicians with his blunt and often abrasive manner, particularly on Twitter, where he has repeatedly called out Germany for not following the Trump administration’s lead on issues ranging from Iran to NATO and information technology. Grenell has publicly criticized his German hosts for their defense spending not yet meeting a NATO member minimum pledge of 2% of GDP, Berlin's support for the Russia-to-Germany Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline despite major U.S. objections, and its continued consideration of allowing the Chinese communications giant Huawei to participate in the development of its 5G internet networks. Just last weekend, Grenell tweeted that Trump had called him from Air Force One to instruct him to warn European nations of possible retaliation, including the cutting of intelligence cooperation, if they allowed Huawei to participate in their next generation communications networks. However, Grenell has not been without some diplomatic accomplishments. He has helped in recent months to engineer a rapprochement between Serbia and Kosovo, brokering transportation deals that could see the resumption of direct flights, rail service and new roads between the rival neighbors split apart after the disintegration of the former Yugoslavia. And, perhaps of more domestic political interest to Trump ahead of the November election, Grenell has championed the LGBTQ cause: spearheading an informal yet administration-approved campaign to press other nations to recognize and respect gay rights. At the United Nation, as the longest-serving spokesman for the U.S. Mission, Grenell served under former Ambassador John Bolton, Trump's erstwhile national security adviser, and Zalmay Khalilzad, the current special envoy for Afghanistan. He also served in that post under former U.N. Ambassador John Negroponte, who became the first director of national intelligence when the office was created in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Grenell also briefly served as a foreign policy adviser to Mitt Romney's failed 2012 presidential campaign before leaving amid allegations that he was forced out because his sexuality was problematic to supporters. In the early days of the Trump administration, Grenell was considered for the job as U.S. ambassador to NATO but was never nominated due to objections from then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
  • American men’s soccer coach Gregg Berhalter earned nearly as much from the U.S. Soccer Federation in his first four months than women’s counterpart Jill Ellis took home in 12. Berhalter, hired on Dec. 2, 2018, had compensation of $304,113 from the USSF in the year ending last March 31, according to the tax return released by the federation on Wednesday. That figure included a $200,000 signing bonus. Ellis, who became women's coach in May 2014, had compensation of $390,409 in the fiscal year. She went on to lead the Americans to their second straight World Cup title, was voted FIFA Women's Coach of the Year, then left in October. Any bonus she earned as a result of the title likely will be listed on the next year's tax return. Her base salary was raised to $500,000 in late 2018, a person with knowledge of her contract told The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the USSF has not announced that. The USSF has said she was the highest-paid women's coach in the world. Tab Ramos, who was the men's under-20 team coach before leaving in October to become coach of Major League Soccer's Houston Dynamo, outearned Ellis with compensation of $460,772. Ellis did earn more than Earnie Stewart ($291,667), hired as men's general manager in June 2018, and Dave Sarachan ($241,869), interim men's national team coach from October 2017 until Berhalter was hired. Jürgen Klinsmann, fired as men's coach in November 2016, was paid $1,475,000 on Feb. 1, 2018. He received $3,354,167 in the year ending March 31, 2018. Bruce Arena, who replaced Klinsmann and led the men's team through its failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup , was not listed on the latest return. He received $1,249,348 in the year ending March 31, 2018, which included what was listed on that return as a $300,000 settlement. Earnings were listed for several of the players on the U.S. women team, including Alex Morgan and Carli Lloyd (both $313,390), Crystal Dunn ($312,142), Lindsey Horan ($304,142) and Julie Ertz, Alyssa Naeher and Megan Rapinoe (all $304,140). Their salaries ranged from $164,642 to $171,140 and include $100,000 for time with the national team. The remainder is what the federation pays for the time with clubs in the National Women's Soccer League. Bonuses were from $133,000 to $146,000 and include per match fees and the payment for qualifying for the 2019 World Cup. Women's national team players have filed a gender discrimination lawsuit against the USSF that is scheduled for trial starting May 5 in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles. The top two salaries of the administrative staff were chief executive officer Dan Flynn ($899,440) and chief commercial and strategy officer Jay Berhalter ($779,765), the coach's brother. Flynn retired in September and the federation said Jay Berhalter is leaving at the end of February. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Socce r and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
  • Jennifer Lawrence will star in the Adam McKay comedy “Don't Look Up” for Netflix. The streaming giant on Wednesday announced that it acquired the the project. McKay, who wrote the script, will direct the film about two low-level astronomers who go on a media tour to warn of an approaching asteroid heading for Earth. Lawrence has been little seen on the big screen lately, most recently co-starring in last year's “X-Men: Dark Phoenix.” The 29-year-old actress took a roughly two-year hiatus from acting but has recently returned to work. She recently wrapped production on an untitled film for A24 directed by Lila Neugebauer. “I’m so thrilled to make this movie with Jen Lawrence,' McKay said in a statement. 'She’s what folks in the 17th century used to call ‘a dynamite act.’ And the fact that Netflix sees this movie as a worldwide comedy sets the bar high for me and my team in an exciting and motivating way.” McKay's most recently movie was 2018's Oscar-nominated “Vice,” starring Christian Bale as Dick Cheney. “Adam has always had great timing when it comes to making smart, relevant and irreverent films that depict our culture,” said Scott Stuber, head of film at Netfix. 'Even if he somehow ends up predicting planet Earth’s imminent demise, we’re excited to add this to our slate before it all comes to an end.” Shooting on “Don't Look Up' is set to begin in April.