Today’s Headlines: Russia strikes Ukraine as leaders plan new round of talks

By Elvia Limón and Laura Blasey

Hello, it’s Tuesday, March 15, and here are the stories you shouldn’t miss today:

TOP STORIES

Russian attacks hit breadth of Ukraine

Bombardments struck across Ukraine as the embattled nation’s leaders engaged in another round of talks with Russia despite little progress after previous negotiations.

Ukrainian presidential advisor Mykhailo Podolyak said his country would have a “hard discussion” with Russians on “peace, cease-fire, immediate withdrawal of troops and security guarantees.” Late Monday afternoon, he announced a “technical pause” in the negotiations but said they would pick up again today.

Podolyak expressed optimism over the new round of talks. But he also blasted Moscow about a conflict that has killed hundreds of civilians, caused ongoing destruction and sparked Europe’s biggest refugee crisis since World War II.

More about Ukraine

Karen Bass is running for mayor as a progressive. But some L.A. activists are frustrated

U.S. Rep. Karen Bass, a progressive Democrat running for mayor of Los Angeles, is facing criticism from outspoken left-leaning activists for her positions on homelessness and crime.

But this does not appear to have inflicted any meaningful damage on Bass’ campaign, at least for the time being. A poll conducted last month by the UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies, co-sponsored by The Times, showed Bass with a solid lead over her rivals, putting her in a strong position to make the top-two runoff in November.

Still, even some of Bass’ longtime supporters have begun warning publicly that her more moderate stances put her at risk of dampening enthusiasm among the city’s progressive voters.

Sign up for our L.A. on the Record newsletter to get the lowdown on L.A. politics in this pivotal election year.

The wellness community’s fight over COVID-19 vaccine misinformation

Health and nutrition influencers have whipped up a frenzy about the COVID-19 vaccine and other public health guidance during the pandemic, steering people already skeptical of pharmaceutical companies and traditional healthcare away from vaccination and toward health-related conspiracy theories.

The anti-vaccine movement has some overlap with right-wing politics and the QAnon conspiracy theory, which is popular in wellness and spirituality circles. But vaccine skepticism is a far more widespread phenomenon, drawing support from alternative medical practitioners, including chiropractors, as well as professional athletes, chefs, models, entrepreneurs and actors.

More top coronavirus headlines

  • Monday marked the first day that students across Los Angeles County have the option to remove their masks in class — although the L.A. Unified School District is an exception.
  • Masks are no longer required in most settings in France, and unvaccinated people are allowed back into restaurants, sports arenas and other venues.

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

Why it’s been hard to kill California’s ‘racist’ barrier to affordable housing

It’s been called a racist relic of California’s past, a rule that has stalled vital affordable housing developments for decades. But it’s been difficult for California to repeal Article 34, a state constitutional provision that requires cities to get voter approval before they build “low-rent housing” funded with public dollars.

No other state constitution similarly requires voter approval for public housing, according to the California Constitution Center at UC Berkeley’s law school. Earlier attempts to repeal or weaken the provision faltered, and now a plan for seeing its repeal this year might be delayed.

Newsom signs a law to stop UC Berkeley enrollment cuts

Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed legislation that will rescue UC Berkeley from a court-ordered enrollment freeze and steep admission cuts and allow the university to resume plans to enroll more than 5,000 California first-year students.

The court order over housing issues had threatened cuts and a major enrollment reconfiguration for first-year and transfer students, many of whom would have been forced online or given deferred admission offers.

The legislation will give the state’s public colleges and universities 18 months to complete any court-ordered environmental review before being subject to a mandatory reduction or freeze in campus population.

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PHOTO OF THE DAY

Ukrainian soldiers help civilians evacuate out of Irpin, Ukraine, on Sunday.

(Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)

CALIFORNIA

Why California gas prices are so high and vary so widely. Gas prices seem to have little logic, especially since Russia invaded Ukraine. Culprits? A combination of market forces, the “mystery gas surcharge” and more.

A cabin village for homeless moms is coming to El Cajon. Home Start, a nonprofit that provides housing and programs for young mothers and pregnant women who are facing homelessness, will refer clients to stay in the cabins. Clients will be from El Cajon and can stay in the cabins for just 90 days.

Authorities say a woman was caught on camera stealing a $4,000 cognac from a San Jose restaurant. Authorities said the woman was with a group of people who dined at the Mount Hamilton GrandView restaurant. A restaurant manager said the stolen bottle of Louis XIII cognac was 100 years old.

A Del Norte County sheriff has been charged with voter fraud. He is facing felony charges for allegedly filing false voter registration and nomination papers with a nonpermanent address, prosecutors said.

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NATION-WORLD

Trucker vaccine mandate protest hits the nation’s capital, snarling traffic. The protesters, separated intermittently by the usually congested traffic, waved flags and blew their horns as they drove. When asked why they had come to protest, one unidentified couple with Montana license plates answered, “freedom.”

Black population continues to grow in suburbs and shrink in cities across the U.S. Those two trends have now spread to even more areas of the country, according to the 2020 U.S. census. The patterns echo the “white flight” that upended urban landscapes in the 20th century, but there are key differences.

The evidence in the Jan. 6 investigations is overwhelming — literally. The amount of evidence rivals what the Hubble telescope has amassed in its three-decade orbit. And sorting through it all has ground many of its criminal cases to a halt, even as U.S. attorneys and public defenders have teamed up to create a massive, searchable database to help speed things along.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

‘The Bachelor’ is again embroiled in controversy, this time over gaslighting. Clayton Echard has spent the last several days in damage-control mode. The controversy has fueled new questions about the long-running franchise’s ability to maintain its rose-colored fantasy of romantic love in the face of changing mores and dating rituals.

Inside the already-filmed secret prequel to A24 slasher ‘X.’ The ambitious feat was partly inspired by the unique demands of making films during COVID-19. Production for “X” took place in New Zealand and facing the country’s mandatory two-week quarantine on arrival, writer-director Ti West thought, why not use the time to pen a sequel?

After COVID and turmoil, a female-led indie label reemerges as a safe space for noisy women. The artists on the venerable L.A. heavy-rock label Sargent House are known for their clamor. But over the course of the pandemic, they learned to appreciate total quiet as well.

BUSINESS

Renting a car from Hertz? You could wind up in jail. Some 230 Hertz customers say they were falsely arrested based on groundless company theft reports. Some faced prosecution for felonies and spent days or weeks in jail, even though they had returned their rented cars to Hertz and paid their bills. Their experiences may be the tip of a large iceberg, writes columnist Michael Hiltzik.

Bob Iger invests in the metaverse. The former Walt Disney Co. chief executive has invested in Genies Inc., a company known for making virtual characters for virtual worlds. He will also join the board of the Los Angeles-based startup, which allows customers to create digital avatars and virtual fashion lines.

SPORTS

The Chargers make bold moves and agree to deals with J.C. Jackson, two others. The five-year deal with Jackson, a cornerback, includes $40 million in guaranteed money and is worth up to $82.5 million, according to multiple reports. The team also agreed to terms with interior linemen Sebastian Joseph-Day and Austin Johnson, bolstering a defense that sagged at times in 2021.

The Rams agree to terms with offensive linemen Joe Noteboom and Brian Allen. Terms of the contracts were not revealed, but NFL.com reported that Noteboom’s is worth as much as $47.5 million, with $25 million guaranteed. Allen’s deal is worth $24 million, according to ESPN.

Dodgers begin spring training as Freddie Freeman speculation continues to swirl. Usually, Major League Baseball’s offseason hot stove plays out behind the scenes. But free-agent speculation took center stage at Camelback Ranch during the Dodgers’ first official workout of spring training.

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OPINION

A racist relic blocks affordable housing in California. It must go. Democrats and Republicans are in rare agreement: It’s time for the state to repeal a racist, classist provision in the state Constitution that makes it harder to build affordable housing. And yet, lawmakers have been hesitant to put the Article 34 repeal on the ballot, writes The Times editorial board.

Idaho and Texas are using trans kids as political pawns. That’s a crummy way to win votes. Several GOP-dominated states are targeting a vulnerable group by restricting a family’s ability to get gender-affirming care for transgender minors.

ONLY IN CALIFORNIA

Why did the chicken cross the road? It didn’t — the traffic was too bad. A lone Chick-fil-A in Santa Barbara has been ruffling the feathers of local residents as hungry customers queuing up for their waffle fries and chicken sandwiches snarl traffic.

Drive-thru businesses are rare in Santa Barbara because the city banned the construction of new ones more than 40 years ago. The Chick-fil-A is grandfathered in, because it occupies a site that was previously a Burger King. But it also brought more traffic than the old restaurant, and its owner says they’ve tried to fix the problem.

City officials have lined up their own response: possibly declaring the business a public nuisance.

FROM THE ARCHIVES

Two Red Cross workers sorted clothing donations

Two Red Cross workers sorted clothing donations for the survivors of the flood following the failure of the Saint Francis Dam in 1928.

(Los Angeles Times)

This month marks 94 years since the collapse of the St. Francis Dam. In terms of loss of life, it was the second-greatest disaster in California history. The first was the San Francisco earthquake and fire of 1906. The death toll from the collapse varies from about 400 to more than 600.

Built by William Mulholland, known as the father of Los Angeles’ municipal water system, the 1,300-foot span of concrete in San Francisquito Canyon held more than 12 billion gallons — a year’s supply for the entire city.

It was three minutes before midnight on March 12, 1928, when the dam broke, freeing a 10-story-high avalanche of water that engulfed whole towns and dozens of ranches. It demolished 1,200 houses, washed out 10 bridges and knocked out power lines. Bodies would wash ashore as far south as San Diego.

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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