By Elvia Limón, Laura Blasey and Amy Hubbard
Hello, it’s Thursday, April 14, and here are the stories you shouldn’t miss today:
Accusing Russia of ‘genocide’, Biden will send more military aid to Ukraine
President Biden and other Western leaders pledged additional military aid for Ukraine, while Russia sharply rejected the president’s description of its wartime acts as “genocide.”
After an hourlong call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Biden announced his administration was authorizing an additional $800 million in weapons, ammunition and other security assistance to Ukraine.
Biden said the new military aid “will contain many of the highly effective weapons systems we have already provided and new capabilities tailored to the wider assault we expect Russia to launch in eastern Ukraine.”
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Is L.A. witnessing the end of the ‘Latino paradox’?
For years, public health experts have observed how Latinos have overall better mortality rates than white residents, despite being more likely to have lower incomes, chronic health issues and decreased access to healthcare. Now, the COVID-19 pandemic has upended the so-called Latino paradox in Los Angeles County.
For the first time in the last decade, the mortality rate for Latinos in Los Angeles County became worse than that of white residents, starting in 2020 and worsening the next year. Latinos also suffered the highest percentage increase in death rates for all reasons among the four racial and ethnic groups analyzed by L.A. County between 2019 and 2021.
The mortality rate for Latino residents in L.A. County rose 48% over that period, growing from a rate of 511 deaths for every 100,000 Latino residents to a rate of 756. The increase in Latinos’ death rate was double the increase in the death rate for all L.A. County residents, which rose 23%.
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Newsom and lawmakers haggle over a plan for relief from high gas prices
More than a month after Gov. Gavin Newsom pledged to give Californians money to offset rising gas prices, he and state lawmakers have yet to find common ground on the most basic details of the plan: Who should be eligible for refunds and how much should they receive?
Gas prices in the state are beginning to drop, but the $5.73 average price of a gallon of regular unleaded fuel remains $1.79 higher than what Californians paid one year ago and $1.65 above the current national average.
With higher transportation costs increasing the price of food and other goods, state leaders hope to reach an agreement soon. Yet little progress had been made by the time the Legislature broke for its spring recess last week.
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Villanueva threatens to quit Metro security if not given full control
Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva threatened that his department would quit patrolling Metro’s transit system unless the agency’s board gives him full control over security. Villanueva made the demand as the current contract is set to expire this summer. The LAPD patrols a majority of the transit system, 325 sheriff’s deputies are responsible for about a third of it, and Long Beach police handle a tiny fraction.
Villanueva and other sheriff’s officials said the Sheriff’s Department will submit to Metro a proposal for about 600 deputies to patrol the transit system for $30 million less annually than what they currently pay for the same level of staffing.
How Villanueva would be able to do that without badly depleting other areas of his department is unclear. The sheriff has blamed a hiring freeze imposed by the Board of Supervisors for leaving him with almost 1,000 vacancies across his department.
‘Ashamed’ Sherri Papini takes a plea deal and admits to a fake kidnapping scheme
Sherri Papini, who was arrested and charged in federal court last month for faking her 2016 kidnapping, accepted a plea deal and admitted to the scheme, federal prosecutors said.
“I am deeply ashamed of myself for my behavior and so sorry for the pain I’ve caused my family, my friends, all the good people who needlessly suffered because of my story and those who worked so hard to try to help me,” Papini said in a statement.
Papini, 39, went missing after reportedly going for a run in her Mountain Gate neighborhood. The disappearance drew national and international attention, with Papini’s husband appearing on “Good Morning America.” A GoFundMe to support the family raised nearly $50,000.
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PHOTO OF THE DAY
California’s Joshua tree is not threatened, regulators say. It could bring more development. A final decision by the state Fish and Game Commission on the petition filed by the Center for Biological Diversity is expected in June. If the Joshua tree is not listed as threatened, it will be up to local jurisdictions to set limits on development of commercial, residential and solar and wind projects across thousands of acres of southeastern California’s sunniest real estate.
Police are seeking another suspect in the Sacramento gang shooting that killed six. Police have identified a man they believe is among those responsible for the shootout that killed six and wounded 12 in downtown Sacramento this month, officials said, but they have exhausted “all leads” and need the public’s help to find Mtula Payton, 27.
Seven men were charged with gun trafficking in the Inland Empire, with “ghost guns” among the seized firearms. The men were indicted on charges of trafficking firearms and narcotics in Riverside and San Bernardino counties. During the investigation, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agents working with the Riverside Gang Impact Team recovered more than 30 firearms, including several fully automatic guns that were not legally owned.
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Police arrested a man in the Brooklyn subway attack. A man who posted numerous social media videos decrying the U.S. as a racist place awash in violence and recounting his struggle with mental illness was arrested a day after an attack on a subway train in Brooklyn injured 10 people. Frank R. James was charged with a federal terrorism offense.
Frustration is growing over truck backlogs at the Texas-Mexico border. The gridlock is the fallout of an initiative that Texas Gov. Greg Abbott says is needed to curb human trafficking and the flow of drugs. But critics question how the inspections are meeting that objective, while business owners and experts complain of financial losses and warn U.S. grocery shoppers could notice shortages as soon as this week. The two-term Republican said Wednesday he was ending inspections at one international bridge, but he would not rescind his new order at all bridges until he gets more assurances of security.
The Wisconsin Supreme Court is set to hear arguments on ballot boxes. The case will likely determine how extensively absentee ballot drop boxes can be used in the upcoming midterm election where the battleground state’s Democratic governor and Republican U.S. senator are on the ballot.
Mexico and other Latin American countries were condemned in an annual U.S. report on human rights. The U.S. State Department’s annual report on human rights zeroed in on many of the widely denounced human rights abuses, including the killing of journalists, discrimination against LGBTQ people, targeted murders of women, and widespread violence fueled by drug traffickers.
HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS
Review: A drab, gray dream, “Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore” is best forgotten. The third installment of the “Harry Potter” prequel franchise is a bafflingly bad project that can only be described as “anti-cinema.” It has all the charm and fun of a contractual obligation, and dares to pose the question: What if an entire movie were gray?
Alongside Harry and Billie, top Mexican regional acts share the spotlight at Coachella 2022. This weekend, Grupo Firme, along with Banda MS and Natanael Cano — three of today’s most prominent regional Mexican acts, as the genre is known — will all make their first appearances at Coachella. The festival’s promoter, Goldenvoice, has made concerted efforts to captivate Latino audiences in recent years.
Comedian Gilbert Gottfried was diagnosed with a heart condition before his death. In a statement, his longtime friend and publicist Glenn Schwartz confirmed that Gottfried died of recurrent ventricular tachycardia due to type 2 myotonic dystrophy.
‘As a humanitarian,’ Cary Joji Fukunaga is documenting the horrors of war in Ukraine. Posted on March 24, his first photo from Ukraine showed three women sitting side by side at a shelter in Lviv and gave a glimpse of their plight.
Your package was delivered on time? You have this supply chain workaround to thank. Manufacturers, retailers and seafood distributors have increasingly turned to air cargo planes to transport products — a more expensive but faster and more reliable alternative to long-haul trucks, trains and ocean vessels bogged down by pandemic-related problems.
A California lawyer quit, claiming Newsom meddled in the Activision case. Melanie Proctor, the assistant chief counsel for the Department of Fair Employment and Housing, said she was resigning to protest the abrupt firing by the governor of the agency’s chief counsel. The allegations raise questions about the fate of the Activision lawsuit, which accuses the Santa Monica-based video game publisher of sexual discrimination and misconduct.
Elon Musk offers to buy Twitter. The offer comes just days after the Tesla CEO said he would no longer be joining the social media company’s board of directors. Musk has been a vocal critic of Twitter in recent weeks, mostly over his belief that it falls short on free speech principles.
Three lawsuits accuse Dodgers security of violence against fans. The suits, filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, outline three incidents in which security officers allegedly perpetrated acts of assault, battery, false imprisonment, civil rights violations and emotional distress against fans at Dodger Stadium.
The Clippers are confident they can win the next play-in game if they focus on sharper execution. The Clippers were disappointed in how they played down the stretch against the Timberwolves, but they are sure they can win their upcoming elimination game.
Baseball reveres Jackie Robinson, but Robinson didn’t revere baseball. Here’s why. In 1972, 25 years after he broke MLB’s color barrier, Robinson reflected on the ongoing fight for equality. Former Times sportswriter Ron Rapoport recounts that interview just months before Robinson’s death.
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Puerto Rico’s future status should not be a pawn in political gameplay. Congress is considering two bills that aim to change Puerto Rico’s commonwealth status. Only one truly considers the will of the Puerto Rican people.
Keep saying ‘gay,’ despite new legislation. Kids need to hear it. A documentary about drag balls made all the difference for columnist LZ Granderson as a young gay man. Positive representation matters.
ONLY IN L.A.
L.A. loves to gawk at and fight about extravagant real estate. For almost 150 years, it’s been Angelenos’ universal Topic A. Buying it, selling it, looking at it, yearning over it — a pastime, a hobby, and a preoccupation, and everyone has a story to tell. It’s a genre in reality TV. It was the founding impetus for our once-vast streetcar system, built at the outset not to carry people to where they wanted to go, but to where its real estate mogul-creator wanted them to go to buy his property.
There are places in the country and in the state where “million-dollar house” still sounds like a lottery-ticket fever dream, but L.A. isn’t one of them. Still, it took years for the market to get as extravagant as is today, writes columnist Patt Morrison.
FROM THE ARCHIVES
One hundred and sixty-two years ago today, the first Pony Express arrived in San Francisco. The Chronicle reported in 2017 about the historic service to a city that in 1860 was “the end of the West, a region that was remote and almost mythical to most Americans.” The Pony Express famously lasted only a year and a half and ran up huge debts, but it succeeded in delivering mail at a then-breakneck pace of 10 days from St. Joseph, Mo., to Sacramento. (The final leg of the journey was by boat.)
In Southern California, the mail service was celebrated by W. Parker Lyon with his Pony Express Museum, which The Times said in a 1929 report was “chock full of California antiques from the gold-rush days.” The paraphernalia, according to the story, included a pair of handcuffs that one visiting schoolboy got clamped around his wrists: “Let this be a warning to all small boys with taking ways: A South Pasadena schoolboy whose name doesn’t matter, is in the Pasadena police station tonight trying to keep a stiff upper lip while burly policemen are using might and mainly an acetylene torch to free his fragile wrists from the torturing pressure of a pair of rusty, fifty-year-old handcuffs.”
The boy was freed. The museum and its Pony Express history moved to Arcadia in 1935, where it had a 20-year run before closing.
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