Today’s Headlines: Offer by Russia to reduce attacks in Ukraine is met with skepticism

By Elvia Limón, Laura Blasey and Amy Hubbard

Hello, it’s Wednesday, March 30, and here are the stories you shouldn’t miss today:

TOP STORIES

An offer by Russia to pull back is met with skepticism

Russian negotiators offered to reduce attacks on the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv in a step toward ending the war, but U.S. and Western officials remained skeptical of Moscow’s true intentions.

The offer came as Russian and Ukrainian officials held a new round of talks, and Ukrainian forces continued to mount fierce resistance in northern parts of the country. But rather than ending the war, it seemed more likely that Russian President Vladimir Putin was merely shifting focus to the eastern and southern parts of Ukraine, where his forces have moved deeper into the separatist Donbas region and battered the coastal town of Mariupol.

More about Ukraine

  • A spiritual defense of war in Ukraine? Patriarch Kirill, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, is trying, delivering weekly sermons on Russian TV that paint the war as an apocalyptic battle against evil forces that have sought to destroy the God-given unity of Holy Russia.

Infectious Omicron BA.2 is now dominant in the U.S.

The highly infectious BA.2 Omicron subvariant is now the dominant version of the coronavirus circulating in the United States, according to federal estimates, a development that is triggering fresh concerns of a potential springtime wave. How big that potential upswing might prove to be remains the subject of debate.

Some experts believe California is well-armored against another significant surge — largely because the vast majority of residents have either been vaccinated or likely have some natural immunity from a recent infection. But BA.2 has fueled substantial increases in other countries, demonstrating how readily the super-contagious subvariant spreads.

More top coronavirus headlines

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

Biden signs anti-lynching law a century after it was first introduced

President Biden signed a bill making lynching a federal hate crime, finally cementing a legislative triumph that’s eluded generations of lawmakers, civil rights groups and seven presidents — and one, he lamented, that’s still needed in a country where racial violence persists.

The Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Act is named in honor of a 14-year-old Black boy who was kidnapped and tortured to death in Mississippi in 1955. The law will designate conspiracies to commit crimes in which hate is the motivating factor and which result in death or serious bodily injury as federal hate crimes punishable by up to 30 years in prison.

More politics

  • A key Senate Republican said it would be at least another month before he finished an investigation into whether L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti was aware at the time of a top aide’s alleged sexual harassment of others in the mayor’s office, likely further delaying any Senate action on Garcetti’s nomination to be ambassador to India.
  • The House panel investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection has identified a roughly eight-hour gap in official records of then-President Trump’s phone calls as the violence unfolded and his supporters stormed the building, according to a person familiar with the probe.

Sign up for our California Politics newsletter to get the best of The Times’ state politics reporting and the latest action in Sacramento.

Activision Blizzard to pay $18 million to victims of harassment and discrimination

Activision Blizzard agreed to set up an $18-million fund for employees who experienced sexual harassment or discrimination, pregnancy discrimination or retaliation as part of a settlement with a federal employment agency.

The consent decree comes in response to a suit filed against the Santa Monica video game company in September by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which alleged that Activision employees were subject to “severe” and “pervasive” sexual harassment in the workplace.

The company officially denied all wrongdoing as part of the settlement, which included requirements for regular audits overseen by the federal agency over the next three years, changes to workplace policies and anti-harassment trainings.

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PHOTO OF THE DAY

The Kharkiv Regional Administration building was destroyed by Russian bombardments. The site in Ukraine is shown on March 25. To many, the targeting of a landmark square in a densely populated city center marked the crossing of a frontier: In this war, nothing was out of bounds.

(Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)

CALIFORNIA

“Large-scale fraud” and lax oversight plague California’s hospice industry. According to an audit, there’s been a sharp increase in the number of hospices in L.A. County since 2010 without a proportional need for end-of-life care. Hospice patients received services for long periods of time and were often still alive when they were discharged — both telltale signs of potential fraud.

L.A. County sheriff accuses high-ranking officials of trying to cover up an incident in which a deputy kneeled on an inmate. Sheriff Alex Villanueva made the allegations at a hastily called news conference he held to discuss a Times report that revealed the violent detention and detailed efforts by department officials to keep it under wraps.

Chesa Boudin’s radical life made him a lightning rod for the progressive prosecutor movement. In 2019, he ran for San Francisco district attorney. Everything about his victory was improbable. He was a public defender who had never prosecuted a case. He was a candidate who had never run for anything. His four parents had been faces on FBI Most Wanted posters.

Amid pandemic recovery efforts, L.A. Unified struggles to reach students with tutoring. Considered a cornerstone to academic recovery from the pandemic, tutoring has reached fewer than 1 in 10 Los Angeles students. It represents just one way by which educators hope to accelerate learning, but the figures were a cause for concern among local officials.

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NATION-WORLD

Oregon has ended its residency rule for medically assisted suicide. A lawsuit successfully challenged the restriction as unconstitutional. In a settlement filed in U.S. District Court in Portland on Monday, the Oregon Health Authority and the Oregon Medical Board agreed to ask the Legislature to remove it from the law.

A Busch beer heiress entered the U.S. Senate race in Missouri. Trudy Busch Valentine’s announcement shook up what had been a low-profile Democratic primary in a solidly red state. It came amid widespread calls from Republicans for Eric Greitens to drop out of the race to succeed retiring GOP Sen. Roy Blunt after the former governor’s ex-wife accused him of physically abusing her and one of their children.

Women in Lesotho’s garment industry have lost jobs and hope amid the pandemic. When the pandemic hit the world two years ago, the global fashion industry crumpled. In Lesotho, a mountainous speck of a country nestled inside South Africa, the pain was especially widespread.

Afghan women are traveling alone and boarding flights despite a ban. A senior airport official said it was business as usual for women traveling alone, a sign that at least some of the orders coming from a conflicted Taliban leadership are being ignored.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

Here are our expert predictions for the wide-open, COVID-delayed, gone-to-Vegas 2022 Grammy Awards. The 64th Grammy Awards will take place Sunday, with big changes. To think through how all this might shake out, Times pop music critic Mikael Wood convened with Times music reporter Suzy Exposito and Julian Kimble, who writes about music and culture for the Ringer, GQ and the Undefeated. Among predictions: Olivia Rodrigo for best new artist. But could she sweep the big four prizes like Billie Eilish did in 2020?

Will Smith’s mom was surprised by the Oscars slap: It was “the first time I’ve ever seen him go off.” Amid her joy over her son’s win for best actor, Caroline Smith admitted she was taken aback when her second-oldest child slapped presenter Chris Rock over a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith’s bald hairstyle.

Elliot Page’s “Umbrella Academy” character will come out as transgender in Season 3. Page shared a Season 3 still of Viktor Hargreeves — the sonically gifted superhero he plays on the show — sitting in a diner. Viktor’s pronouns are he/him/his.

BUSINESS

Welcome to the great SoCal house hunt. Humbling. Exhausting. Overwhelming. These were a few of the words Times readers used to describe their experience buying a house. Emotional. Exhilarating. Epic — those too. Use this guide to smooth the path to your first Southern California home with step-by-step expert advice, tips from successful home buyers and more.

Nielsen is set to go private in a deal that values the TV ratings company at $16 billion. As the television industry transitions further from broadcast and cable, questions about Nielsen’s ability to accurately quantify activity on next-generation media platforms have increased pressure on the company to keep up. Nielsen’s stock has been hounded as clients weigh alternative audience-measurement firms.

SPORTS

Trevor Bauer filed a defamation lawsuit against the Athletic and writer Molly Knight. The complaint, filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, claims the website and the writer published knowingly false information about Bauer online and on Twitter “with hatred, ill will, and spite, with the intent to harm Mr. Bauer or in blatant disregard of the substantial likelihood of causing him harm.”

Hoop dreams don’t die on his watch. He finds new life for players from L.A. overseas. Mike Creppy, owner of Vindicated Sports, helps launch and manage the careers of professional basketball players, particularly those playing overseas.

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OPINION

How bad was the financial aid fraud at California’s community colleges? We still don’t know, and that’s a problem. It’s not the fault of California’s community colleges that fraudsters filed thousands of fake student applications. But once the deception was uncovered, colleges had an obligation to help document the extent of the problem and some failed.

ONLY IN L.A.

Stuck in traffic? Try mindfulness. Pauline Peck was driving the 110 Freeway to a job interview when traffic came to a halt. It became increasingly clear she was going to be late. “The freeway just stopped,” she says. “I felt angry and defeated and anxious and helpless. I wanted to scream.”

That anxious, helpless feeling is all too familiar for Angelenos, who spend an average of 119 hours each year stuck in traffic. Mindfulness, or paying attention to present experiences with openness and curiosity, has become an important skill during the pandemic. It can be helpful during your commute, too.

Rather than ruminate on the past (the driver who cut you off five miles ago) or worry about the future (the appointment you might miss if traffic doesn’t clear up soon), mindfulness encourages you to focus on the present. Here’s how to get started.

FROM THE ARCHIVES

Next to a crowd of people of people lounging on a grassy hill, four women dance.

March 29, 1970: People dance at the Elysian Park love-in.

(Los Angeles Times)

Fifty-two years ago this week, about 7,500 people gathered in Elysian Park for an “Easter Love-In.” The Times reported on March 30: “The flower children of 1970, in the myriad colors of their Easter finery, lounged on the grass in Solano Canyon, waiting for the bands which were waiting to play. … The style setters were there, as in every Easter parade: young men in jeans with ponchos over bare chests, wearing wide-brimmed, high crowned black felt hats” as well as “girls in long skirts and denims (miniskirts are Establishment) and bikini tops. … It was not a crowd to reassure the Barber’s Union or the nation’s brassiere manufacturers, but it was good-spirited and, for the most part, well behaved.”

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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