Today’s Headlines: Russian President Vladimir Putin orders troops into eastern Ukraine

By Elvia Limón

Hello, it’s Tuesday, Feb. 22, and before we get into today’s news, we want to let you know that the time our Today’s Headlines newsletter is first sent out is moving by an hour to 6 a.m. Pacific time.

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Now, on to the stories you shouldn’t miss today:

TOP STORIES

Russia orders troops into eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin raised the specter of war on Monday by ordering troops into separatist areas of eastern Ukraine in his most dangerous provocation yet with Washington over the fate of a nation that could redraw the map of Eastern Europe and upset the decades-long security architecture on the continent.

The announcement of the troop deployment came shortly after Putin recognized the independence of the breakaway Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics. Though his ultimate intentions remain unknown, Putin’s almost-hourlong address to the Russian people earlier Monday alternated between furious anti-Western rhetoric and the excoriation of Ukraine as a puppet nation.

Putin’s action drew swift rebuke and condemnation from the international community. President Biden and the European Union announced economic sanctions aimed at cutting trade and business with the enclaves. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Tuesday that he has taken steps to halt the process of certifying the controversial Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia, the strongest economic action from the West so far.

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As drought lingers, larger and more destructive wildfires pose new threats to the water supply

Already diminished by drought and extreme heat, California’s water supply will face yet another peril as wildfires continue to incinerate ever larger areas of forested land, according to new research.

Researchers determined that increasing forest fire activity is “unhinging” western U.S. stream flow from its historical predictability. In areas where more than a fifth of the forest had burned, stream flow increased by an average of 30% for six years after the fire.

On its surface, increased stream flow — the rate at which water is carried by rivers and streams — could be seen as a boon for the drought-stricken region. But too much water comes with hazards, including increased erosion, flooding and debris flows.

L.A. Unified drops its outdoor mask requirement

Starting today, students in the Los Angeles Unified School District will be able to remove their masks outdoors on campus for the first time since in-person schooling resumed 10 months ago. Supt. Alberto Carvalho announced the decision last week.

L.A. Unified has maintained some of the strictest COVID-19 safety protocols in the nation. Until the recent surge of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, outdoor masking had been dropped as a requirement for K-12 schools in Los Angeles County. But L.A. Unified was among the districts that continued that safety measure throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

More top coronavirus headlines

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

Even freeways that don’t get built leave a scar. How one Bay Area city is healing

Just over a decade ago, the state of California gave up on plans to build the proposed 238 Freeway in the East Bay city of Hayward. Its escape from limbo could foreshadow the future in Los Angeles, where transportation officials are just now preparing to dispose of hundreds of homes and other properties they began acquiring in the 1960s for the ill-fated extension of the 710 Freeway through the San Gabriel Valley.

In Hayward, many tenants along the five-mile abandoned freeway corridor bought their homes. New neighbors and property flippers renovated battered bungalows that the state neglected to maintain. On the once-vacant land, construction is underway for what could be 1,500 new homes.

But blight and resentments linger. Some tenants feel embittered that they were forced to leave houses because they couldn’t afford required repairs and upgrades.

A war to halt logging in Northern California reignites. Will it end differently this time?

A decades-long war over Jackson Demonstration State Forest’s trees has pitted environmental activists against state and timber industry leaders. At the heart of the dispute are differing opinions about the best use of public land and who should steward the precious resource. Those who oppose logging call it a greed-fueled operation that runs contrary to climate goals. Supporters see it as pragmatic management of a renewable resource.

Now, Native American tribes indigenous to the area have joined the fray, demanding a say in the fate of their ancestral homeland. And state officials are listening. The renewed debate playing out behind the so-called redwood curtain could deliver the first agreement with Indigenous tribes to co-manage a state demonstration forest, according to officials at the California Natural Resources Agency.

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PHOTO OF THE DAY

Debbie Frederick, 72, stands in the frontyard of the home she purchased from Caltrans in Hayward. After decades, hundreds of homes in the Bay Area became available when a freeway project was abandoned. What happened?

(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

CALIFORNIA

After a sunny weekend, the coldest storm of the winter is expected to move into Southern California. Some areas may get rain, thunderstorms and hail today and Wednesday, and higher elevations should expect 1 to 3 inches of snow, with up to 5 inches possible in the San Gabriel Mountains.

Greater Los Angeles homeless count resumes after pandemic-related hiatus. This year’s count is an especially important one since it’s the first time volunteers will conduct the count electronically. It also coincides with an election year when homelessness and housing affordability have become pressing issues for voters.

Los Angeles County’s D.A. says the sentence of a woman who assaulted a 10-year-old may be too short. Dist. Atty. George Gascón said in a statement that he was made aware after Hannah Tubbs’ sentencing of “extremely troubling statements she made about her case, the resolution of it and the young girl that she harmed.”

He thought it was a date. Instead, he walked into a deadly MS-13 trap. Bryan Cojon Tuyuc, 20, died, it seems, as he lived — innocently. Believing he was going to meet a woman he’d been messaging online, he drove into a trap. A construction worker with no criminal record, he was robbed and stabbed to death, then dumped in La Tuna Canyon, detectives say.

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NATION-WORLD

Women’s rights are eroding in Kuwait as conservatives and clerics crack down. For Kuwaitis, it’s an unsettling trend in a country that once prided itself on its progressivism compared with its Gulf Arab neighbors.

Dictators, suspected war criminals and drug dealers are among Credit Suisse clients, a leak shows. A German newspaper and other media Sunday said that a leak of data from Credit Suisse, Switzerland’s second-biggest bank, reveals details of the accounts of more than 30,000 clients.

Canada extends emergency powers for truck protests. Canadian lawmakers voted Monday night to extend the emergency powers that police can invoke to quell any potential restart of blockades by those opposed to COVID-19 restrictions. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the powers were still needed despite police ending the occupation of the nation’s capital by truckers over the weekend and ending border blockades before that.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

Warner Bros.’ ‘Matrix’ legal slugfest exposes Hollywood’s shifting priorities. For 25 years, Los Angeles-based Village Roadshow and Warner Bros. enjoyed a fruitful relationship during which Village provided some $4.5 billion to co-fund 91 movies, including hits such as “The Matrix.” But the power couple’s partnership has become mired in a conflict rivaling a messy celebrity divorce.

Courteney Cox already has fame and fortune. Now, she says, ‘I want to be respected.’ More than 25 years after “Friends” and “Scream” made her a household name, Cox opens up about pursuing — and landing — her most personal role to date.

How ‘Arthur’ grew up: Inside the beloved TV show’s emotional finale. Based on a series of books by Marc Brown, TV’s longest-running children’s animated program marked the momentous occasion by flashing forward 20 years into the future, giving viewers a glimpse of their beloved characters as adults.

BUSINESS

Rents reach ‘insane’ levels across the U.S. with no end in sight. Economists worry about the effect of rent increases on inflation because the big jumps in new leases feed into the U.S. consumer price index, which is used to measure inflation.

Former President Trump’s social media app launches a year after his Twitter ban. His Truth Social app was offered for download from the Apple App Store to a limited number of subscribers who had preordered, with others added to a waiting list to be given access over the next 10 days.

The family behind Fatburger is under investigation for alleged fraud and money laundering, records show. The status of the investigation is unclear. No charges have been filed against any person or against FAT Brands, of which Chief Executive Andrew Wiederhorn is the largest shareholder.

SPORTS

Galaxy star Douglas Costa’s career began in Ukraine. Now he fears for his former home. From half a world away, Costa, who joined the Galaxy in Southern California two weeks ago, follows the news closely, his joyful memories giving way to dreadful fears.

Medina Spirit is stripped of his Kentucky Derby victory and Bob Baffert is suspended. The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission has voted to strip the since-deceased colt of his victory after he tested positive for a legal medication banned on race day. In addition, trainer Baffert was suspended 90 days and fined $7,500.

He went from running the Dodgers to fighting sex trafficking. Kevin Malone, once the Dodgers GM, now leads a variety of anti-trafficking efforts.

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OPINION

The upside of inflation? It reduces America’s enormous wealth gap. Inflation helps the balance sheets of debtors (the middle class) while hitting harder the very rich, who have far less debt.

Climate change fuels deadly heat waves. Ranking them like hurricanes could save lives. Lawmakers should get behind legislation to make California the first state in the nation to rank heat waves, a step that could save countless lives.

ONLY IN L.A.

For decades, a lot of tourists overlooked Oceanside. It was the blue-collar city that operated in the shadow of Camp Pendleton, a beach town without the frills found farther south in Del Mar and La Jolla.

But maybe that reputation has reached its expiration date. Despite the pandemic, Oceanside has launched and sustained a new generation of lodgings, restaurants and retailers, including several lively places in the neighborhood locals call South O.

FROM THE ARCHIVES

Author Betty Friedan and Mary E. Tingloff at the UCLA Extension Conference in 1964.

Author Betty Friedan and Mary E. Tingloff at the UCLA Extension Conference in 1964.

(Los Angeles Times)

Fifty-nine years ago this month, author Betty Friedan published “The Feminine Mystique,” which expressed the latent discontent many American women felt with their position in society. The book would help trigger the women’s movement worldwide.

Friedan later helped found the National Organization for Women and the National Women’s Political Caucus and led fights for women’s equality through the 1960s and ‘70s. Friedan often clashed with other prominent feminists and was eventually snubbed by the groups she helped found.

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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