Today’s Headlines: L.A. Unified orders mandatory COVID testing for students, staff

Hello, it’s Tuesday, Jan. 4, and here are the stories you shouldn’t miss today:

TOP STORIES

L.A. Unified orders mandatory COVID testing as transmission rate is at its highest point

The Los Angeles Unified School District has ordered coronavirus tests for all students and staff before they return from winter break next week. The decision comes as the Omicron variant of the coronavirus is spurring new infections at a record rate in Los Angeles County, and as the county has tightened coronavirus safety rules at schools.

Many parents expressed fears over the contagion; others are terrified about possible campus closures that could derail a return to normalcy needed for their children. Although school districts in L.A. County are not shutting down campuses, staffing shortages have closed schools or forced them online in other parts of the country.

In the San Gabriel Valley, Alhambra Unified welcomed its 16,000 students back to school on Monday, with new rules requiring students to mask outdoors and advising all students and staff to wear medical-grade masks while on campus. Other school systems have been discussing what actions to take in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, many school districts resumed classes without having received a single at-home COVID-19 test from the state, despite Gov. Gavin Newsom having promised 6 million COVID tests for students. Only half have arrived.

More top coronavirus headlines

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

Former Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes is guilty of fraud and conspiracy

Former Theranos Chief Executive Elizabeth Holmes was convicted on four counts of fraud and conspiracy Monday, ending a lengthy trial that has captivated Silicon Valley. The jury found her not guilty of four other felony charges. On the three remaining charges, the jury was deadlocked.

Holmes was present at Monday’s hearing to review the jury’s note. Once the jurors were gone, Holmes turned around and hugged her mother, who was sitting behind her. Her father then kissed her forehead through his mask, which court rules require of everyone present.

Devin Nunes officially resigns from Congress

Devin Nunes made his resignation from Congress official over the weekend, clearing the way for him to take over as chief executive of former President Trump’s new media and technology company.

In the coming weeks, Trump Media & Technology Group is expected to launch Truth Social, Trump’s answer to Twitter and Facebook. The social media companies kicked the former president off their platforms last year for his role in inciting the attack on the U.S. Capitol and efforts to overturn the presidential election.

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Inside Klete Keller’s fall from Olympic gold to the Capitol riot

Klete Keller had been among the world’s elite freestyle swimmers in the 2000s, competing in three Olympics and winning two gold medals. He was also among the more than 700 people charged for their participation in the 2021 U.S. Capitol attack. Keller, 39, has pleaded guilty to a felony charge of obstructing an official proceeding before Congress and agreed to cooperate with the government’s investigation.

Friends and fellow swimmers knew him as easygoing and likable. Now they were mystified. Why had someone who spent much of his life representing his country joined the mob to attack a defining symbol of American democracy?

In Watts, a rise in homicides follows years of declining violence

Homicide is definitely up in Watts, in Los Angeles County and in the U.S. as a whole. But in this South L.A. enclave, the jump in deadly violence is more painful and complicated than the headlines and political bombast that have followed a string of smash-and-grab robberies in high-end boutiques elsewhere in L.A.

Capt. Ryan Whiteman, with the LAPD’s Community Safety Partnership Bureau, said a lot of variables over the last 18 months may have gone into the rise in homicides, and many are out of people’s control.

“Does COVID have to do with this? Does the shifting methodologies and practices of modern-day policing have anything to do with it?” he asked. “We don’t know. … Hopefully we have a safer 2022.”

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PHOTO OF THE DAY

Winter weather blanketed the East Coast on Monday, with snow falling over the U.S. Capitol in Washington. The mid-Atlantic storm further exacerbated holiday travel delays caused by pandemic staffing shortages and poor weather. Airlines have canceled thousands of flights and delayed thousands more since last week, leaving travelers stranded and frustrated.

(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

CALIFORNIA

San Francisco confronts a crime wave unusual among U.S. cities. Unlike nearly every other big U.S. city, San Francisco did not see a significant uptick in homicides during the pandemic. Instead, it has found itself in the grip of a different sort of crime wave: videos of thefts and break-ins that have fed the impression that the city has become a lawless place.

California lawmakers may stop tying K-12 schools’ funding to daily attendance. Lawmakers are poised to consider abolishing that decades-old standard, choosing instead a new method that could provide a significant boost to big districts such as Los Angeles Unified.

California Supreme Court rejects early release for violent felons. Corrections officials need not consider earlier release for violent felons, even those whose primary offense is considered nonviolent under state law. The ruling stems from inmates’ latest attempt to expand the application of an initiative championed by former Gov. Jerry Brown and approved by nearly two-thirds of voters in 2016.

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NATION-WORLD

Trump, Ivanka and Don Jr. were subpoenaed by New York’s attorney general. Atty. Gen. Letitia James recently subpoenaed former President Trump and his two eldest children, demanding their testimony in connection with an ongoing civil investigation into the family’s business practices, according to a court filing made public Monday.

A document that Prince Andrew claims prevents a lawsuit is released. The private 2009 legal deal was related to a woman’s allegations that Jeffrey Epstein had hired her as a teenager to be a sexual servant at his estate in Palm Beach, Fla. Andrew was not named in that lawsuit.

Investigators narrow the search for the origin of a Colorado wildfire. The fire destroyed nearly 1,000 homes and two people were still missing as of Monday. Experts say the winter fire was rare, but similar events will become more common as climate change warms the planet and the suburbs grow in fire-prone areas.

Mideast tensions rise as Yemeni rebels seize a UAE ship and hackers hit an Israeli newspaper. A string of assaults showed the reach of Iran-allied militias. The attacks coincided with a massive memorial in Tehran for Qassem Suleimani, the top Iranian general killed by a U.S. drone strike in 2020 in Iraq.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

The 18 TV shows we’re most excited to watch in 2022. As the backlog brought on by the start of the COVID-19 pandemic clears — even if the pandemic itself does not — 2022 promises a bumper crop of prominent TV titles.

David Bowie’s estate sells his songwriting catalog for a reported $250 million. The nine-figure sale covers songs such as “Starman,” “Heroes” and “Ziggy Stardust,” along with music from his 26 studio albums released between 1968 and his death in 2016.

Jean Chen Ho’s debut book captures a bittersweet L.A. friendship. “Fiona and Jane” is a refreshingly honest treatment of long-term friendships — particularly their inexorable ebb and flow. Story by story, the book captures the way friendships negotiate their own boundaries.

BUSINESS

Be your money’s boss. The Times’ Jessica Roy made a New Year’s resolution to buckle down and started budgeting. Now she’s writing a newsletter to help readers do it, too. First step: here’s how to make a budget you’ll stick with.

Massage chair mogul sells his Brentwood fortress for $56.55 million. Security was the property’s selling point. Gates guard the 6.2-acre grounds, which back up to the Santa Monica Mountain Preserve, adding to the privacy. In addition, there’s a subterranean level with meeting spaces that boast a towering vault door and state-of-the-art security.

SPORTS

Lakers roster moves could soon include the debut of Kendrick Nunn. One of the few offseason moves that the Lakers were able to invest more than a minimum deal, the Lakers signed Nunn with the expectation that he’d be a contributor on both ends of the court.

Steven Cherundolo will be named LAFC’s new head coach, replacing Bob Bradley. At 42, Cherundolo is the seventh-youngest manager in MLS and one of 15 who never played in the league. But managing a first-division team is something he began aiming for before he retired as a player.

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OPINION

As far as political satire goes, ‘Don’t Look Up’ fails in more ways than one. Adam McKay’s black comedy doesn’t need to be subtle. But it gets the media, politics and the effect of climate change all wrong, writes columnist Jonah Goldberg.

What the U.S. can learn from Stalin’s abortion ban. In 1920, Soviet Russia, which would become the Soviet Union in 1922, became the first country to legalize abortion. Soviet leaders saw abortion less as an individual human right than “an evil” resulting from poverty and oppression. The reasoning behind the U.S. legalization of abortion was different.

ONLY IN L.A.

Pork Katsu Sando

The Pork Katsu Sando from Chinatown’s Katsu Sando. The restaurant’s second location is expected to open in San Gabriel this year.

(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)

Perhaps the truest glory of dining in Los Angeles is that a street-side taco can equal a white-tablecloth tasting menu in complexity and pleasure.

In a season driven by flagrant spending, it’s always a good moment to highlight the most affordable restaurants from our annual 101 Best Restaurants guide. Whether they serve burritos, za’atar-dusted Lebanese flatbreads, noodles, dumplings, bubbling tofu stews or smash burgers, their deliciousness and cultural significance far outweigh their cost.

FROM THE ARCHIVES

1930s-era cars are buried in mud.

January 1934: Cars are marooned by flood debris outside a Los Angeles nightclub.

(Los Angeles Times)

Eighty-eight years ago this week, communities were digging out from flooding and a deadly landslide that followed fall wildfires. Around midnight on New Year’s Eve, a 20-foot-high wall of rocks and mud swept over La Crescenta and Montrose, killing 49 people. More such disasters, with a higher toll, occurred in subsequent years.

The 1934 tragedy demolished an American Legion Hall where the Red Cross was helping flood victims. In the Jan. 2, 1934, Times, one survivor said: “As the black demon of roaring water hit, the building quivered for a few minutes, then the wall went out and we found ourselves tossing about, fighting rocks, boulders and debris as we were swept on and on.” More historical photos here.

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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