Today’s Headlines: Russia lays siege to southern Ukraine

By Amy Hubbard

Hello, it’s Monday, March 7, and here are the stories you shouldn’t miss today:

TOP STORIES

As Russian attacks intensified in Ukraine, Zelensky again pleaded for a no-fly zone

With Russian troops besieging cities in Ukraine’s south, spurring a humanitarian catastrophe even as they press their offensive around the capital, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warned that the strategic coastal city of Odesa would soon be under attack as he again urged Western countries to create a no-fly zone.

His pleas came as Ukrainian authorities tried and failed for a second consecutive day to evacuate civilians from Mariupol and Volnovakha. In Mariupol, the International Committee of the Red Cross confirmed the evacuation of an estimated 200,000 people from Mariupol had failed, saying the city was enduring “devastating scenes of human suffering.”

Volunteers serve hot coffee to Ukrainian refugees on a cold evening in Medyka, Poland. Times photographer Wally Skalij is there and talks about the refugee crisis, plus more photos.

(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

More on Ukraine

  • Sanctions have clearly damaged Russia’s economy, writes Washington columnist Doyle McManus, but there’s no sign that they have affected President Vladimir Putin’s calculus. Putin came to power in 1999 largely by waging a savage war against separatists in Russia’s mostly Muslim republic of Chechnya. The resulting campaign killed tens of thousands of civilians and lasted 10 years. The lesson for Putin: Ruthless military action works.

As the pandemic enters Year 3, the global death toll tops 6 million

The milestone is the latest reminder of the unrelenting nature of the pandemic even as people are shedding masks, travel is resuming and businesses are reopening around the globe.

It took the world seven months to record its first million deaths from the virus after the pandemic began in early 2020. Four months later, another million people had died, and 1 million have died every three months since, until the death toll hit 5 million at the end of October. At 6 million, the total is more than the populations of Berlin and Brussels combined, or the entire state of Maryland.

An important COVID treatment is hampered because: People don’t know about it

Evusheld has been heralded as a way to armor people who are highly vulnerable to COVID-19 even after they’ve been vaccinated. The treatment has gained more urgency as masking requirements are loosened.

But immunocompromised people and their advocates say scant awareness and a complicated process for allocating the limited supply have hampered the rollout of Evusheld, which is far from a household name even among the immunocompromised. Some patients and their families have monitored a federal database to see where doses have gone.

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

Buscaino has spent tens of thousands from his officeholder account on family trips

L.A. City Councilman Joe Buscaino, who is running for mayor, has spent nearly $65,000 from his officeholder account on trips to Hawaii, Italy and elsewhere for his family since he was elected, according to a Times analysis of city records.

The accounts exist to help fund council members’ office operations and constituent services; the money is from donors and can’t be used for campaign purposes. Buscaino’s total was over $60,000 more than the next highest amount spent on family travel by a council member using such funds in that period.

Sign up for our free L.A. on the Record newsletter for news and analysis on the 2022 L.A. mayoral election and more.

Mexico suspended league soccer matches in the aftermath of a brawl

The country’s top-division soccer league suspended all matches scheduled for yesterday after the massive melee among fans at Saturday’s match between the host Queretaro and Atlas from Guadalajara, the reigning league champion. The Times’ Kevin Baxter delves into the soccer brawl that has left numerous Mexican families in mourning and shocked many observers.

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OUR MUST-READS FROM THE WEEKEND

Here’s what happened in the 12 hours before the LAPD blew up a neighborhood. The Times reconstructs what happened after the department received an anonymous tip of fireworks in South L.A., using a report from the department’s inspector general and input collected by reporters from local residents. Among key moments: “Bomb Technician C” expressed worry about the quantity of explosive devices being put into the containment vessel all at once. He said he was told to “relax.” The GIF with this article is gripping, showing the incident before, during and after, with an explosion likened to “the sun.” (Note: The article is an exclusive story for subscribers.)

Every drop of water is valuable. But three years after L.A. voters approved a massive tax aimed at cleaning up storm water that contaminates the nearby coast and capturing more of it before it reaches the ocean, only a fraction of funds have been disbursed. In addition, actual construction has lagged well behind money disbursed, Ralph Vartabedian reports. A Times analysis shows that, although various planning is underway, storm capture projects appear to be low priority. That can be tough to hear amid a mega-drought: Our one big series of winter storms sent an estimated 29.5 billion gallons of fresh water into Long Beach Harbor — enough to supply 181,000 families annually.

Sherri Papini’s kidnapping stoked racial division and fear. Investigators say it was all a lie. Papini disappeared in 2016 while on a run around her Shasta County neighborhood. Twenty-two days later, she returned, beaten, bound and branded, claiming that her kidnappers were women who spoke Spanish and that one had long, curly hair, thin eyebrows and a thick accent. On Thursday, authorities arrested Papini, 39, charging her with lying to federal agents in faking her abduction and defrauding a California victims compensation fund of more than $30,000. She faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted. The racial undertones of the case are hard to ignore for many put on high alert after Papini shared her story about mysterious, menacing Latina abductors.

CALIFORNIA

The price of gas in California is now $5.28 a gallon. That’s the average price of a gallon of self-serve regular gasoline, compared with $3.73 at the same time a year ago. In L.A. County it’s $5.37; the national average is $4. Experts point to Russia’s war on Ukraine, plus a boost in gas demand coupled with a reduction in total supply.

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NATION-WORLD

A new Cold War is brewing in Latin America between the U.S. and China amid a shifting global order. China sees a foothold there as a strategic counterbalance to U.S. encroachments in Asia, notably Washington’s condemnation of Beijing’s crackdown on Hong Kong and China’s territorial claims over the self-governing democratic island of Taiwan. China has already convinced Costa Rica, Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic and El Salvador to drop their recognition of Taiwan. In exchange, it has offered lavish gifts. “The Chinese money basically gives [autocrats] space to consolidate their authoritarian rule,” one expert said.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is hinting at a political comeback. Just six months after he resigned from office in disgrace over sexual harassment allegations, Cuomo made his first public appearance: a campaign-like stop at a Brooklyn church, delivering a speech in which he condemned “cancel culture.” He also launched a digital and TV ad campaign saying he was driven from office unfairly.

The alleged plot to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer spotlights the growing abuse of female officials. Tomorrow, four men will face trial in a Michigan courtroom in the case, which experts say is evidence of an increasing level of anger and violence in U.S. politics. That violence disproportionately targets female elected officials, and particularly women of color. Although criticism of public officials is healthy and expected in a democracy, researchers say women are dramatically more likely than their male counterparts to face threats and violence.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

“The Batman” won big at the box office. The Warner Bros. Pictures film scored the second-biggest North American opening of the COVID-19 pandemic, grossing $128.5 million domestically and $120 million internationally for a global cumulative of $248.5 million.

“The Lost Daughter” won best feature at the Indie Spirit Awards. Maggie Gyllenhaal also won best director for the film at the 37th Film Independent Spirit Awards, which honor the industry’s leading indie films. The ceremony was held yesterday, an in-person event in Santa Monica after going virtual in 2021. Other winners: “Zola” took home awards for editing and for lead actress Taylour Paige; “Passing” won for cinematography and Ruth Negga in a supporting role; “Red Rocket’s” Simon Rex took home lead actor honors.

BUSINESS

Here’s who bought L.A.’s most over-the-top mansion. Richard Saghian, owner of fast-fashion juggernaut Fashion Nova, was the winning bidder for “The One.” He spent $141 million to buy the mega-mansion at auction, he confirmed to The Times.

ESG funds are invested in Putin’s Russia. An investing movement that promotes itself as a protector of people and the planet has somehow found itself providing capital to the autocratic regime behind Europe’s worst military conflict since World War II.

SPORTS

Clippers doomed by missed shots against the Knicks. Their shooting proved barely effective in a 116-93 loss Sunday to the New York Knicks. While never leading and trailing by as many as 32 points, they missed from all distances — from a dunk, to shooting 43% in the paint and 32% from beyond the arc.

LeBron James had a 56-point game Saturday. It was his single-game high as a Laker. He’ll likely become the NBA’s all-time leading scorer someday, writes The Times’ Dan Woike, but teammate Carmelo Anthony explained why James shouldn’t be labeled as just a scorer.

The invasion of Ukraine is top of mind at this tennis tournament. Many of the highest-ranked players in the world will assemble this week in Indian Wells for the BNP Paribas Open, a popular stop because of its lush surroundings and high-caliber competition. But amid the picturesque desert setting, the hearts of some players will be half a world away. Ukrainians and Russians will be competing, including Ukraine’s Dayana Yastremska and Elina Svitolina.

These U.S. stars lead a new wave of true soccer moms. Crystal Dunn and Alex Morgan are among the latest U.S. Women’s National Team players who are juggling their careers and motherhood.

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OPINION

Are state fair officials high? They should not reward super-potent marijuana. California voters made cannabis legal, so it’s reasonable for pot farmers to showcase their goods at the state fair. What isn’t reasonable, the editorial board writes, is a contest category that recognizes the pot with the highest concentration of the acid form of THC, the ingredient that produces a high when it’s smoked, vaped, baked or otherwise heated.

ONLY IN L.A.

Magic Johnson raises his hands as fans in the stands applaud.

Magic Johnson interacts with the crowd after the Lakers beat the Philadelphia 76ers to claim the 1982 NBA title.

(Lennox McLendon / Associated Press)

What if Jerry West had gotten his way in the 1979 NBA draft? An excerpt from Jeff Pearlman’s “Showtime” recounts how the Magic Johnson-led Showtime dynasty nearly didn’t happen. In Lakers owner Jack Kent Cooke’s mind, Johnson “was merely another good college player in an ocean of good college players. Why, immediately after the draft, Cooke told those within his small circle of confidants that the team could have gone with Sidney Moncrief, the high-scoring guard from the University of Arkansas. That was the advice presented to him by Jerry West, the outgoing coach, who wasn’t fully convinced a 6-foot-9 point guard would function in the fast-paced NBA.”

Last night, HBO launched “Winning Time,” based on Pearlman’s book. In the premiere of The Times’ new podcast “Binge Sesh,” the author talks to hosts Matt Brennan and Kareem Maddox about how Johnson, a generational athletic talent, and new Lakers owner Jerry Buss, a born salesman, came together to create the Showtime Lakers.

FROM THE ARCHIVES

A man kneels, trying to cover his head, as a man in uniform swings a club at him. Other uniformed men swarm behind.

March 7, 1965: In the foreground, John Lewis, a future U.S. congressman, is among peaceful marchers beaten by club-swinging state troopers. He suffered a fractured skull.

(Associated Press)

Fifty-seven years ago, about 600 people gathered in Selma, Ala., for a 54-mile march to the state capital, Montgomery. They were demonstrating for voting rights for Black people and commemorating the death of Jimmie Lee Jackson, an activist and church deacon shot to death by a state trooper during a protest. But when the Selma marchers crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge, they were assaulted by state troopers and deputies.

“Bloody Sunday” spurred protests in 80 American cities and Congress’ passage of the Voting Rights Act. Yesterday, Kamala Harris — the nation’s first female VP and first African American and Indian American in the role — went to the site to commemorate the anniversary, making her trip as congressional efforts to restore the landmark act have faltered.

For the record: Thanks to the readers who called out the error on the date with Friday’s Archives [facepalm]. As was pointed out, it would have been quite a feat for President Franklin D. Roosevelt to sign a park bill prior to his birth. Kings Canyon, of course, became a national park not in 1872 but in 1940.

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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