Today’s Headlines: Biden endorses changing Senate rules to pass voting rights protections

Hello, it’s Wednesday, Jan. 12, and here are the stories you shouldn’t miss today:

TOP STORIES

President Biden urges filibuster changes to protect voting rights

In a fiery speech Tuesday in Atlanta, President Biden called for changing Senate rules to pass voting rights protections, going further than he has before to unify Senate Democrats around what he framed as an existential issue for the country. Biden endorsed changing the rule that allows the minority party to block any bill that doesn’t receive 60 votes.

Noting the difficulty of passing legislation out of an evenly divided Senate — “we have 51 presidents,” he quipped — Biden urged a small group of holdouts within his own party to consider how their position on this civil rights issue may define their legacy.

“I ask every elected official in America: Do you want to be on the side of Dr. King or George Wallace?” Biden said. “The side of John Lewis or Bull Connor? The side of Abraham Lincoln or Jefferson Davis?”

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With hospitals reeling, California tells COVID-positive medical workers to stay on the job

The Omicron-fueled surge of COVID-19 has contributed to a crippling shortage of doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers — leaving the medical infrastructure on edge. State officials are seeking to address this through a sweeping policy change that allows asymptomatic healthcare workers who have tested positive for the coronavirus to return to work immediately, without isolation or testing.

Some experts say California’s stance is an unorthodox yet necessary solution to a difficult problem. Yet many healthcare workers and community members say the policy is not only ill-advised, it’s potentially dangerous.

More top coronavirus headlines

  • Sonoma County health officials have enacted a 30-day ban on large gatherings in response to a dramatic spike in coronavirus infections. Meanwhile, L.A. County health officials are urging residents to postpone nonessential gatherings and avoid some activities.
  • Los Angeles County has reached another milestone in the pandemic: more than 2 million confirmed coronavirus cases.
  • Some health experts are now warning that a rapid test may produce a negative result even if you’re infected and contagious while still being visibly healthy.
  • The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a motion Tuesday to address fraudulent COVID test sites and at-home kits.
  • Hundreds of thousands of Los Angeles Unified students returned to campus from winter break Tuesday, as the district reported more than 62,000 active cases among students and staff.

Stay up to date on variant developments, case counts and vaccine news with Coronavirus Today.

California schools face a funding crisis as student population declines

Gov. Gavin Newsom projected another year of record funding for schools during his budget presentation on Monday but warned that some districts could be in financial trouble as student enrollment continues to decline.

Newsom’s budget proposal pointed to a state population decline driven by plummeting birth rates and proposed tweaking California’s education funding formula. School funding is currently based on student enrollment and reduced by average daily attendance records to hold schools accountable for chronic absenteeism. The pandemic has also compounded these declines.

L.A. County foster care system to provide better services in Indigenous and other languages

The L.A. County Board of Supervisors has passed a motion directing the Department of Children and Family Services to develop a plan to improve its language services for Indigenous families and strengthen its Asian Pacific and Native American programs.

L.A. County is home to more than 30 Indigenous groups from Mexico and Central America who speak at least 17 languages, according to data collected by Comunidades Indigenas en Liderazgo, or CIELO. Often, people wrongly assume that Indigenous people are fluent in Spanish. Advocates say that Indigenous children have been placed into foster care because of miscommunications and discrimination within the child welfare system.

The Red Cross says there’s a national blood shortage. Here’s how to donate

The Red Cross is experiencing what it’s calling “the worst blood shortage in over a decade.” Always in need of blood, the nonprofit said that the combination of the relentless pandemic and an unusual flu season has exacerbated the preexisting shortage.

The Red Cross is in need of all blood types year-round, as well as platelets and plasma. Donating usually takes less than an hour, and the process is fairly simple. To promote social distancing, donations are by appointment only. All donors must wear a mask when at the donation site, regardless of their vaccination status.

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PHOTO OF THE DAY

I remember you! Students return to Olive Vista Middle School in Sylmar on Tuesday. As L.A. Unified students returned to campuses after winter break, the coronovirus surge caused problems and tested the district’s carefully laid plans to open.

(Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)

CALIFORNIA

Off-duty LAPD officer killed while house-hunting in South L.A. with girlfriend. LAPD Chief Michel Moore said the couple had just parked their car and were crossing a street to look at a home when three suspects drove up.

Bomb threat shuts down Charles R. Drew medical school in Willowbrook. The Times obtained a copy of the threat sent from an individual who identified as a white, male, neo-Nazi fascist who alleges to have planted three titanium nitrite sulfuric bombs around the eastern and northern parts of campus. The bombs were allegedly going to detonate around 1 p.m. Sunday.

L.A. County to pay $1 million to an FBI informant in a jail abuse scandal. The Board of Supervisors on Tuesday voted to approve the settlement agreement in a lawsuit filed by Anthony Brown, a convicted bank robber who worked as an informant for FBI agents investigating conditions in county jails. His reports helped set off a federal investigation that led to the convictions of nearly two dozen sheriff’s officials.

A street musician spent years building a one-of-a-kind drum kit on wheels. Then, one morning, it was gone. The former owner of an appliance business, Sheriff Drumman had hand-crafted the metal that made the setup possible. It was his pride and joy. As the disbelief that it was stolen turned to a horrifying realization, the emotions were simply too much to bear.

Kari Howard, The Times editor who championed narrative writing, dies at 59. Howard, who helped edit the 2015 Pulitzer Prize-winning series on California’s drought, died Monday of cancer. Howard worked as assistant foreign editor before becoming editor of Column One, the newspaper’s front-page narrative showcase.

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NATION-WORLD

The Biden administration urged the Supreme Court to deny bond hearings for immigrants facing deportation. In a pair of cases, the Justice Department called on the court to overturn rulings by judges in California and Pennsylvania, who said such immigrants deserve a bond hearing if they are held for more than six months.

Myanmar teak shipments are still being imported to the U.S. despite sanctions, group says. Shipments over the last year of the highly coveted hardwood prized by luxury yacht builders were nearly equal to 2020. The timber trade helps finance repression and human rights abuses, according to the advocacy group Justice for Myanmar.

U.S. announces $308 million in aid for Afghans as a humanitarian crisis grows. The White House is offering new aid to Afghanistan as it edges toward a humanitarian crisis since the Taliban takeover nearly five months ago. The country’s long-troubled economy has been in a tailspin.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

Kaci Walfall is only 17, and she’s about to be the center of her own TV universe. The actor plays the title character in “Naomi,” DC Comics’ panel-to-screen adaptation about an overachieving teen who discovers that she’s beyond extraordinary.

Quinta Brunson was ‘a scaredy-cat.’ Then she met the teacher who inspired her sitcom. A middle school teacher of Brunson’s inspired the series’ eventual title: Ms. Abbott. She recalls Ms. Abbott easing her transition into middle school after starting elementary in her mother’s kindergarten class.

How a high-rise martial arts visual feast came to life in ‘Shang-Chi.’ To prep, storyboards and previsualizations outlined the action. The stunt coordinator created a reel of fighting techniques and camera movements to share ideas about how the martial arts could play out.

BUSINESS

Survey finds 2 out of 3 Kroger workers struggle to afford food and housing. Workers say they struggle to afford food, housing or other basic needs due to low wages and part-time work schedules. The Economic Roundtable group based its findings on a survey of more than 10,000 workers at stores in Southern California, Colorado and Washington.

The California Department of Motor Vehicles is ‘revisiting’ its approach to regulating Tesla’s public self-driving test. Confronted with dozens of viral videos showing Tesla’s Full Self-Driving beta technology driving the car into dangerous situations and a letter of concern from a key state legislator, the DMV now says it’s reviewing Tesla’s behavior and reassessing its own policies.

SPORTS

‘It’s kind of a miracle.’ Referee Natalie Simon is the first Black woman to earn a FIFA badge. Simon never set out to blaze trails or make history when she first picked up a whistle. She just wanted to stay involved in soccer.

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OPINION

Gov. Newsom campaigned for single-payer plan, but that’s not in his budget. The California governor is still trying to have it both ways on the healthcare debate that divides Democrats. He should be clear about where he stands.

What would you pay for Melania’s big white hat? The former first lady is auctioning off a single white hat and two pictures of herself wearing it. But the white hat evokes no specific historic contribution, or even a strong sense of Melania Trump’s physical presence or signature style.

ONLY IN L.A.

Go ahead and rub L.A.’s winter sunshine in people’s faces. We’ve been doing it forever, writes columnist Patt Morrison. L.A. made its first fortune by selling winter — badmouthing other places’ icy, grim months, and hyping our own bland, bright, balmy winter.

Really, for years, that’s all it had to sell. Far into the 19th century, L.A. was a scruffy village of dust and mayhem — but just look up, the new Angelenos insisted. Look at our fine mountains, breathe our air, fragrant (eventually) with citrus blossoms. Look at us — in shirtsleeves, in the winter!

FROM THE ARCHIVES

An overview of a stadium with fans in the seats and lights shining onto the field.

The Times’ Sept. 7, 1946, edition had this caption: This was the scene last night as some 68,188 fans watched the Los Angeles Rams battle to a 16-14 victory over the Washington Redskins in a gridiron classic climaxed by a 45-yard field goal in the fourth quarter.

(Los Angeles Times)

Seventy-six years ago today, the Cleveland Rams were given permission to move to Los Angeles. The Times’ Jan. 13, 1946, Sports section carried the headline “Los Angeles Gets Rams’ Pro Grid Franchise.” They remained the L.A. Rams until 1994, when they moved to St. Louis. The team returned to L.A. in 2016. On Monday night the Rams host the Arizona Cardinals in an NFC wild card game, the first step in what they hope will be a successful run to Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadium on Feb. 13.

We appreciate that you took the time to read Today’s Headlines! Comments or ideas? Feel free to drop us a note at [email protected] — Elvia Limón, Laura Blasey and Amy Hubbard

Eleanore Beatty

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