Hello, it’s Wednesday, Jan. 4, and here are the stories you shouldn’t miss today.
A historic defeat for speaker
Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) failed three times to secure a majority of votes to succeed Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) as speaker of the House before the chamber adjourned with the outcome of the leadership contest still in doubt.
McCarthy became the first majority party leader in a century to fail to secure the speakership on the first ballot. He failed to win additional votes on a second ballot and lost support on the third ballot, as Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.) switched his vote from McCarthy to Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio).
However this plays out, one thing is true: Serving as House speaker will be more like ‘being mayor of hell.’
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Storm will bring fresh hazards
Only days after a deadly New Year’s Eve storm brought record rainfall and catastrophic flooding to parts of Northern California, residents are bracing for an atmospheric river that could deliver a torrential deluge and wreak fresh havoc across the state.
The National Weather Service is warning of strong winds and potentially life-threatening flooding and debris flows in multiple areas Wednesday and Thursday.
Experts say considerable groundwork for the storm’s dangerous nature was laid long before the rains arrived. Prolonged drought conditions have weakened the state’s soil and left trees brittle and prone to breaking, while worsening wildfires have left large swaths of burn scars that are highly vulnerable to landslides and increased stream flows.
Inside a children’s hospital strained by viruses
The collision of RSV, influenza, COVID-19 and other viruses has strained children hospital’s across the country, including Loma Linda in the Inland Empire, where “these numbers are beyond what we’ve ever had,” said Dr. Cynthia Tinsley, chief of the division of pediatric critical care.
As RSV and other viruses sent more babies and toddlers to the hospital, she said, “we didn’t have enough cribs.”
Some children had been sickened by two or more viruses at once, worsening their illness. While the death rate for children has remained extremely low, the strain on pediatric hospitals echoes those of facilities for adults a year ago due to COVID-19.
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Inside the LAPD’s secretive private funding arm
The Los Angeles Police Foundation enjoys regular access to top Los Angeles Police Department officials, working closely with them to craft fundraising campaigns and host meetings with L.A.’s mega-rich and other philanthropic and corporate donors, a Times investigation has found.
The foundation’s donors are rarely disclosed publicly, although they have an effect on how the LAPD provides for public safety, with a majority dictating how the department can spend the money they give.
Since the rise of the “defund the police” movement in 2020, such nonprofits have faced criticism nationwide. The L.A. foundation is no exception.
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PHOTO OF THE DAY
Snowpack is far above average amid January storms, but much more is needed. Despite a series of atmospheric river storms bringing heavy rains and snow, the state needs many more storms to begin to emerge from drought, experts say.
Family to sell Bruce’s Beach property back to L.A. County for nearly $20 million. The announcement comes six months after the board unanimously voted to return the beachside property to the Bruces.
California’s endangered salmon population plummets with a new threat. Scientists suspect the precipitous decline of California’s Chinook salmon is being driven by an ocean diet that has shifted to anchovies.
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Mexico’s Supreme Court elects its first female chief justice. Justice Norma Lucía Piña was sworn in for her four-year term as the head of the 11-member body, pledging to maintain the independence of the country’s highest court.
Drone advances in Ukraine could bring the dawn of killer robots. The longer the war lasts, the more likely it becomes that drones will be used to identify, select and attack targets without help from humans, according to experts.
The first tanker carrying American natural gas arrives in Germany. The shipment is part of a wide-reaching effort to help the country replace energy supplies it previously received from Russia.
HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS
“Top Gun: Maverick” dispute casts spotlight on a Russian oligarch. A Los Angeles production company’s alleged financial ties to Dmitry Rybolovlev and the Russian invasion of Ukraine are at the center of a legal dispute.
A “Love and Rockets” box set cements the Hernandez Brothers’ literary legacy. In the world of comics, there is nothing quite like the work of Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez, who changed U.S. comics and infused the form with elements of Latin American folklore and Chicano life.
Dressing the “Babylon” cast has ups and downs (including elephant poop). The film’s costume designer was tasked with making thousands of 1920s-appropriate costumes for medieval warriors, silent-movie stars and even elephant wranglers, who will variously be drenched in blood, vomit or poop, because, of course, this is Hollywood.
California workers get new protections this year. Far-reaching laws seek to improve working conditions for a broad swath of Californians in 2023, from white-collar employees to blue-collar farm laborers, fast-food servers and construction workers.
Sam Bankman-Fried pleads not guilty to fraud. The disgraced crypto firm founder appeared in a New York courtroom Tuesday. He will face trial in October in what could be one of the highest-profile white-collar fraud cases in recent years.
A disastrous, embarrassing first day for the GOP-controlled House. Whether the next speaker is the oft-humiliated Kevin McCarthy or someone else, Republican control of the House has gotten off to a disastrous start, and things are likely to get worse.
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Bills-Bengals will not resume this week. The NFL has not made a decision about the possible resumption of the Buffalo-Cincinnati game, which was suspended Monday night after Bills safety Damar Hamlin suffered a cardiac arrest on the field. He remains in critical condition.
Ken Block, champion pro rally driver and social media icon, dies at 55. Block, who was born in Long Beach, was riding down a steep slope near his Park City, Utah, home at about 2 p.m. “when the snowmobile upended, landing on top of him,” the Sheriff’s Office said. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
ONLY IN CALIFORNIA
Want a July 4 campsite at Big Sur, Leo Carrillo or Crystal Cove? Move fast. California state parks use a reservation system that opens up six months ahead of your intended stay. So if you want to book a campsite for July 4, the window of opportunity opens today at 8 a.m.
With the nationwide surge of interest in camping and other outdoor activities since the pandemic, the urgency may be greater than usual this year.
FROM THE ARCHIVES
This month marks 81 years since Carole Lombard died in a plane crash. She was 32. Lombard was married to William Powell, a suave and debonair lover in films, and later to Clark Gable.
At a dinner party, a studio executive suggested she take a screen test. She would go on to become one of the highest-paid women in film in the 1930s, playing opposite Powell and Gable, as well as George Raft, John Barrymore, Bing Crosby, Robert Armstrong, Cary Grant and Charles Laughton.
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