Today’s Headlines: Russia strikes Ukrainian base near Poland, killing at least 35

By Elvia Limón

Hello, it’s Monday, March 14, and here are the stories you shouldn’t miss today:

TOP STORIES

Russia strikes a Ukrainian base near Poland, killing at least 35

Bringing the war closer to NATO territory, Russian fighter jets fired dozens of missiles at a Ukrainian military training base near the border with Poland, killing at least 35 people, injuring 134 others and rattling nerves in western Ukraine’s largest city. No American troops were present at the center when it was hit.

The training center’s proximity to the frontier raises the specter that Russia may seek to block a crucial artery for humanitarian supplies and shipments of weaponry.

The fighting has galvanized an enormous refugee exodus, with more than 2.6 million people, mainly women and children, fleeing to neighboring countries. More than 1.5 million have arrived in Poland alone, which has appealed for more international help in caring for them.

More on Ukraine

  • In Poland, military enlistments are spiking, demands for passports are surging, and memories of the bad old days of the Cold War are fraying the collective nerves of the Polish people.
  • Moscow has signaled it could soon expand the war to embroil Kyiv’s allies, warning the U.S. that it would consider convoys carrying weapons to Ukraine to be “legitimate targets.”
  • When Russia invaded Ukraine last month, China’s government struck a pose of neutrality. But Chinese President Xi Jinping’s policies have been far less neutral than advertised.
  • French President Emmanuel Macron has been a principal interlocutor of Russian President Vladimir Putin. He’s applauded for this engagement, but are his efforts bearing fruit?

In the coming battle over Biden’s Supreme Court nominee, Republicans seek other targets

Mitch McConnell openly acknowledges Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson is qualified to sit on the Supreme Court. But that doesn’t mean the Senate minority leader is backing down from her nomination battle. He is just directing his fire elsewhere.

McConnell (R-Ky.) has signaled he is not going to try to bludgeon Jackson’s character or experience ahead of her confirmation hearings, which are set to begin March 21. Instead, he is using the nomination as an opportunity to bash liberal activists championing her cause.

The messaging from McConnell highlights the difficulty his party is facing as it seeks to muster opposition to Biden’s historic nomination of Jackson, who would be the first Black woman on the nation’s highest court.

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Ending the national public health emergency could leave us vulnerable

As the coronavirus releases its deadly grip on the United States and pandemic rules governing daily life fall away, is it time to declare the national public health emergency over? More than one-third of Americans think so, polls show. So do dozens of Republican members of Congress.

The desire to move on is understandable. But experts warn that ending the health emergency now would leave Americans in a vulnerable position if a new variant sparks another surge and officials lack the legal authority to respond.

It would also terminate the Food and Drug Administration’s power to fast-track authorization of COVID-19 vaccines, tests and treatments. Plus, it would deprive many Americans of perks they’ve come to take for granted, including the ability to get those items for free.

More top coronavirus headlines

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

How L.A.’s Bob Baker Marionette Theater survived COVID

Since Gov. Gavin Newsom announced in 2020 that all of California’s live entertainment venues needed to shut down to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, the puppeteers at the Bob Baker Marionette Theater have not stopped brainstorming new ways to keep the theater going.

They offered puppet-making lessons over Zoom as well as behind-the-scenes backstage tours. They set up an account on Patreon, the subscriber-based platform service, offering perks such as private Zoom shows, often capped with question-and-answer sessions that turned out to fill a need to connect for both fans of the theater and puppeteers cooped up in quarantine.

The Bob Baker gang even trained its sights on a promising untapped demographic: engaged couples looking for a safe wedding venue, with the novel bonus of being married by a brightly colored puppet officiant.

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OUR MUST-READS FROM THE WEEKEND

Dr. George Berci, Holocaust survivor and surgical pioneer, is a surgeon at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

This 101-year-old surgical pioneer still works every day. And he’s not about to retire. Just looking at him, there isn’t much physical evidence that Dr. George Berci, a Holocaust survivor and a pioneer of surgical technique, is in his second century. His eyes are clear, his mind sharp, writes columnist Steve Lopez.

California backs syringe programs. But they’re nowhere to be found in Orange County. The county has been a perennial battleground for the fight over syringe programs, which are backed by health officials as a lifesaving tool but have been anathema to some local governments that denounce them as a hazard and nuisance.

Most LAPD officers who break deadly force policy in shootings avoid serious discipline. Of 66 officers who the department’s civilian oversight board determined violated the LAPD’s rules on the use of deadly force between 2015 and 2020, about 41% were not disciplined.

CALIFORNIA

Why it has been so warm and windy in Southern California this winter. A high-pressure pattern that promotes clear skies and warm, dry winter weather also provides the perfect setup for Santa Ana winds. There have been at least 20 Santa Anas since September.

Want the vulnerable to have healthier pregnancies? Doulas say California must pay up. The state was supposed to start paying doulas this year to facilitate healthier pregnancies for Medicaid enrollees. But the benefit has been delayed. Doulas feel lowballed by the state.

Chinatown is one of L.A.’s trendiest dining destinations. But residents don’t have a supermarket anymore. The neighborhood’s elderly immigrant residents live in a food desert, struggling to buy groceries easily and affordably, residents and community organizers say.

Hollywood hotels are being scrutinized for financing under a visa program: ‘Not fair,’ say critics. Millions of dollars from Chinese investors helped finance the Dream Hollywood, Thompson Hollywood and Tommie Hollywood hotels under the EB-5 program. They are now mired in a dispute involving a powerful labor union and 16 members of Congress.

A carousel glides to a milestone: 100 years in San Diego’s Balboa Park. The carousel is almost exactly as it was when it started operating. Pretty much the same menagerie of 52 hand-carved wooden animals and four chariots, put in motion by the same 10-horsepower General Electric motor. Same military band organ playing the same music. Same oil paintings adorning the decorative panels. Same opportunities to grab the brass ring.

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NATION-WORLD

An EPA plan would limit downwind pollution from power plants. The federal plan is intended to help more than two dozen states meet “good neighbor” obligations under the Clean Air Act.

Antiwar protests pop up across Europe, while small rallies happen in Russia. Many participants carried flags in the blue and yellow colors of Ukraine, while others bore banners reading, “Stop the War” and “Peace and Solidarity for the people in Ukraine.”

Iran claims responsibility for a missile barrage near the U.S. Consulate in Iraq. No injuries were reported in the attack on the city of Irbil, which marked a significant escalation between the U.S. and Iran. Hostility between the longtime foes has often played out in Iraq, whose government is allied with both countries.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

‘The Batman’ and a BTS concert broadcast power the box office. During much of 2021, amid the ups and down of the pandemic, most films struggled to remain sizable draws after their first or second week in theaters. This weekend, not only did “The Batman” hold well, so did other top films.

Jane Campion rejects Sam Elliott’s ‘Power of the Dog’ complaints: ‘He’s not a cowboy.’ Elliott — who made a name for himself acting in westerns — drew sharp criticism earlier this month for complaining about “The Power of the Dog” and its “allusions to homosexuality” on comic Marc Maron’s podcast.

Sandra Bullock makes ‘The Lost City’ feel like home at SXSW. At the SXSW premiere of “The Lost City,” Bullock had a good day at the office, taking over the Austin, Texas, Paramount Theatre with amiable ease.

BUSINESS

Meet the woman who wants to transform Hollywood Teamsters into a ‘fighting union.’ Lindsay Dougherty, 38, is no stranger to Local 399, where she led recent contract negotiations with the major producers that secured 3% wage increases and penalties to curb weekend work for crews.

French Laundry restaurant founder Sally Schmitt dies at 90. Schmitt died on March 5 at her home in the Mendocino County town of Philo after several years of declining health, the Santa Rosa Press Democrat reported.

SPORTS

‘I had slim hope and had my fingers crossed’: Bruce Arians got his Tom Brady wish. The 44-year-old quarterback is coming back to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers less than two months after announcing his retirement. Citing “unfinished business,” he announced the news on social media.

Gambling has been embraced by sports leagues, but the relationship is still complicated. Is the NFL hypocritical for suspending Calvin Ridley after he bet on games, an activity it promotes through partnerships with DraftKings and FanDuel?

Private equity firms invest in MLB teams because the revenue is plentiful. The Dodgers’ program is an example of how teams are developing loyalty in and making money from fans in ways that go far beyond selling tickets, T-shirts and cable television subscriptions.

Atlas and FC Juárez fans embrace enhanced security after last week’s bloody brawl. ‘We feel safer.’ At tiny Estadio Benito Juárez, regular army troops, camouflaged national guardsmen and members of the municipal police carrying riot shields formed a security corps of more than 500 to watch over a crowd of just 9,000.

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OPINION

California’s loitering law is discriminatory and makes everyone less safe. Provisions of the loitering law allow police officers to make arrests based on their suspicion that people may be sex workers or soliciting sex workers. But officers form that suspicion with little more than guesswork and their own biases.

How can we make more students fall in love with math? California’s proposed new math framework could lead to more children engaging with the subject — and excelling at it.

ONLY IN CALIFORNIA

Go camping without giving up a thermostat, a walk-in shower of your own and linens suitable for a four-star hotel. The grounds of AutoCamp Joshua Tree, a luxury “camp,” has 47 Airstream trailers that started checking in guests in January but isn’t quite finished. (The swimming pool is due for completion in late March.)

The location, about 125 miles east of downtown Los Angeles, is clearly aimed at couples and families with the outdoors on their mind and more money than time. And it will win many over.

FROM THE ARCHIVES

People stand by a streetcar

The last cable streetcar completed its final run in Los Angeles in 1963.

(Los Angeles Times)

This month marks 59 years since the last time a local electric streetcar operated in Los Angeles. The electric-streetcar system, debuted in 1901, included intercity electric streetcars and yellow intra-urban streetcars in central L.A.

In its glory years, the cars ran from the San Fernando Valley to Long Beach and the amusements of Balboa Island in Orange County, from Santa Monica to Riverside and San Bernardino counties.

People eventually stopped riding them because they had gotten shabby, their speeds dropped from 40 to 50 mph into the teens, and the cars were forced to share the road with a growing number of personal automobiles and buses — unlike when they first operated.

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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