Today’s Headlines: Fight over Garcetti’s ambassador nomination intensifies amid expanding probe

By Elvia Limón, Laura Blasey and Amy Hubbard

Hello, it’s Thursday, March 31, and here are the stories you shouldn’t miss today:


The fight over Garcetti’s nomination intensifies amid a probe

Mayor Eric Garcetti’s nomination as U.S. ambassador to India has touched off a pitched battle in the U.S. Capitol, with more senators expressing concern about his handling of sexual harassment allegations and Garcetti and his aides ratcheting up their defense.

Republican Iowa Sen. Charles E. Grassley’s widening probe of alleged misconduct by former top Garcetti advisor Rick Jacobs and what the mayor may have known about it is spurring senators to weigh the claims ahead of a vote on Garcetti’s nomination. A growing number of senators, including some Democrats, have begun talking publicly about the allegations this week, creating doubts about a nominee who once appeared headed for easy confirmation.

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Pain, confusion, anger and a congressional F-bomb as L.A.’s homelessness crisis boils over

Fathers and Mothers Who Care, a nonprofit advocacy group, had planned three events at a South Los Angeles office to help unhoused people obtain emergency shelter. But when online rumors claimed they were handing out rare vouchers for permanent, subsidized housing, crowds showed up and quickly spiraled out of control.

Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority workers were unable to meet more than a small fraction of the need and left while throngs of people were still waiting for help. The housing authority was there at the behest of Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles), who delivered emotionally charged remarks to the crowd Friday, at one point using an expletive to defend her efforts to relieve the city’s housing and homelessness crisis.

The White House says Putin has been misled by aides

A day after Russia said it would “drastically” reduce attacks on strategic northern cities in its war against Ukraine, those regions came under fresh bombardment, deepening Ukrainian and Western officials’ skepticism over any easing of the offensive.

Meanwhile, the White House said U.S. intelligence indicated Russian President Vladimir Putin’s senior aides had been “too afraid to tell him the truth” about an invasion seemingly gone awry.

Five weeks into the war, the humanitarian crisis sparked by the fighting reached stunning new heights, with the United Nations saying more than 4 million people, including 2 million children, have fled Ukraine since the invasion began. At the same time, the U.S. announced an additional $500 million in budgetary aid for Ukraine.

More on Ukraine

LAUSD has a big problem with absenteeism

Nearly half of L.A. Unified students — more than 200,000 children — were chronically absent this school year, meaning they have missed at least 9{a78e43caf781a4748142ac77894e52b42fd2247cba0219deedaee5032d61bfc9} of the school year, according to data provided to The Times by the district in response to a public records request.

Like almost all education hardships wrought by the pandemic, the impact of missed school is being borne most heavily by the most vulnerable student groups. For Black students the chronic absence rate is nearly 57{a78e43caf781a4748142ac77894e52b42fd2247cba0219deedaee5032d61bfc9}; for Latinos, 49{a78e43caf781a4748142ac77894e52b42fd2247cba0219deedaee5032d61bfc9}; among homeless students, 68{a78e43caf781a4748142ac77894e52b42fd2247cba0219deedaee5032d61bfc9}. Supt. Alberto Carvalho said addressing the problem was “one of the highest levels of concern.”

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Worries over Bruce Willis’ declining cognitive state swirled on film sets

The public has learned what many filmmakers have privately been concerned about in recent years: Bruce Willis’ family said he was retiring from acting because he had aphasia. The cognitive disorder impacts a person’s ability to communicate and often affects individuals who have suffered strokes.

According to those who have worked with Willis on his recent films, the actor has been exhibiting signs of decline in recent years. In interviews with The Times this month, nearly two dozen people who were on set with the actor expressed concern about Willis’ well-being. Filmmakers described heart-wrenching scenes as the beloved “Pulp Fiction” star grappled with his loss of mental acuity and an inability to remember his dialogue.

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A woman sits on a couch in front of four small children sitting on the floor, reading a picture book.
Learning about acceptance: Clinical psychologist Tenika Jackson reads “The Skin You Live In,” which stresses inclusion, to a group of children. ICYMI: Read Tyrone Beason’s story on skyrocketing anti-LGBTQ bills.

(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)


What’s next as California’s reparations effort moves ahead? After hearing from experts, a state panel voted 5-4 to define eligibility as descendants of African Americans enslaved in the U.S. or of free Black people living in the country before the end of the 19th century. The vote marks a major milestone, but many other difficult questions lie ahead, including what those reparations will be.

After years of talk, there’s little progress on closing L.A. County’s aging jail. The slow pace has led to protests from activists and others advocating for people who are incarcerated, and underscores the challenges that would come with such a massive undertaking.

State lawmakers are targeting fentanyl as opioid overdoses surge. Officials are proposing a list of bills that include imposing stronger penalties for distributing the synthetic opioid and easing access to safer consumption and treatment.

Nearly 1 in 5 Airbnb listings in L.A. violated city law, an advocacy group says. A coalition of hotel employees, renters’ rights groups and housing advocates produced the report and called on the city to beef up enforcement. Critics of Airbnb, Vrbo and other platforms say short-term rentals drive up rents and cost hotel workers their jobs.

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The Supreme Court is weighing an employer’s challenge to California labor law. The closely watched case is the latest and perhaps most important test of whether companies can shield themselves from costly employment lawsuits through arbitration clauses that forbid group or class claims.

For centuries, the Ukrainian language was overshadowed by its Russian cousin. That’s changing. More bilingual Ukrainians are switching languages as a rebuke to Russian meddling, and many outsiders who once saw Ukrainian as a linguistic afterthought to Russian are now picking up Ukrainian instead, leading to a surge in interest in language courses and apps like Duolingo.

Here’s a look at Earendel, the most distant star ever seen by humans. Astronomers have discovered a star farther than has ever been detected, a super-hot, super-bright giant that formed nearly 13 billion years ago at the dawn of the cosmos. Earendel is so far away that it took eons for its light to reach us, so the luminous blue star is long gone.


Will “Promised Land” be ABC’s “last serialized drama”? The show broke ground when it premiered in January, but it was quickly pushed to Hulu. Experts say the move says less about the value of Spanish-language content and more about the power of streaming services as network viewership declines.

The academy has vowed consequences for Will Smith’s Oscar slap. It’s unclear what disciplinary action the organization may take against one of the industry’s biggest and most generally well-liked stars. According to the academy, Smith was asked to leave after the incident but refused.

“I’m not Indian enough?” A bhangra musical addresses identity with radical nuance. “Bhangin’ It” presents multiple sides of complex discussions around cultural identity without declaring a definitive winner as it incorporates deeply rooted South Asian art forms into an American musical.

From Olivia to Bruno to H.E.R., Filipino American artists enjoy a breakout year at the Grammys. For the more than 4 million Filipino Americans in the U.S., and especially the 1.6 million in California, it’s a moment in the limelight for a tradition of Asian American music culture that’s often blended into other sounds here.


Having trouble buying a home? Four alternative ways to succeed in this market. For The Times’ new guide to buying a home in Southern California, we asked real estate agents, homeowners and a real estate investor to share their stories of less-conventional first-time home purchases, such as buying your rental unit or waiting for someone you know to move.


Bruce Arians stepped aside so Todd Bowles could become the Buccaneers’ head coach. Normally, a team would need to comply with the Rooney Rule and conduct in-person interviews with at least two minority candidates for a head-coaching vacancy. But because this is happening after the start of the league year, when the interview window has closed, this type of coach-to-coach succession is permissible.

Mick Cronin’s contract makes him the highest-paid public-school basketball coach in the Pac-12. His new six-year contract, which takes effect Friday, pays him $4.1 million annually. Given the early returns on investment, it might count as a major bargain. In his two seasons at the school in which the NCAA tournament has been played, the Bruins have reached a Final Four and a Sweet 16.

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Why is it taking so long to get rent relief to tenants and landlords? California lawmakers are again scrambling to extend the state’s eviction moratorium for tenants who have fallen behind on their rent during the pandemic and are still waiting for promised emergency rental assistance to be delivered. It’s frustrating that they have to take this step at all, the editorial board writes.

This teachers’ strike is not just about money. It’s about respect for public education. Whether it’s school closure protests in Oakland or Sacramento’s all-in strike, those who work in our schools are telling us they cannot do this job under the conditions we are imposing. These include mediocre pay, vicious political blowback and more, writes columnist Anita Chabria.


a family of five adults gather at the back of a peach cargo van and smile, surrounding by potted plants

The Alvarado family owns Pasadena Roots, a mobile plant store.

(Silvia Razgova / For The Times)

Years after moving to L.A. from Guatemala, her dreams of a mobile plant shop came true. When Vilma Alvarado and her husband, Edwin, left Guatemala in search of a better life in Los Angeles 25 years ago, she found herself without a job. Eventually, she found work cleaning houses while raising her three children, but her work disappeared with the spread of the coronavirus in 2020.

When the world shut down during the pandemic, it gave Vilma and grown daughters Wendy and Cindy an opportunity to seek solace together in plants. “We would post plant things on our personal Instagram and people started asking us for advice and where to buy plants,” said Wendy. As interest in their plant content increased, they began to wonder if they could turn their love of plants into a business.

They started with a table and a tent. But last March, the women decided they needed to “step up their display game.” They weren’t ready to invest in a brick-and-mortar store, so when they spotted a cargo trailer on OfferUp, they knew they had found the answer to their prayers. Now Pasadena Roots operates out of the black cargo trailer they lovingly refer to as “La Chula” (Cutie).


Two women sit side by side. One wears a fur and long necklaces.

“I used to be Snow White, but I drifted.” Mae West, a star of pre-code Hollywood, is shown in 1933.

(Los Angeles Times)

Ninety-two years ago today, the Motion Picture Production Code was created. It was a backlash to the “moral quagmire” of Hollywood, as NPR put it in 2008. In pre-code films (the code was created March 31, 1930, but wasn’t fully enforced until 1934), “Hollywood outrageously pushed boundaries of all sorts and made films that featured strong violence, stronger sexual content and candor about drug use, homosexuality, even nudity,” wrote former Times movie critic Kenneth Turan in 2003.

Also called the Hays Code for creator William Hays, the code aimed to sanitize movies. Among its principles: “No picture shall be produced which will lower the moral standards of those who see it. Hence the sympathy of the audience shall never be thrown to the side of crime, wrongdoing, evil or sin.” The Production Code began to lose its grip on Hollywood in the 1950s and was replaced in late 1968 by the MPAA rating system.

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].

Eleanore Beatty

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