Today’s Headlines: Russia’s Ukraine invasion has escalated a brewing battle over space

By Elvia Limón

Hello, it’s Monday, April 11, and here are the stories you shouldn’t miss today:

TOP STORIES

Russia’s Ukraine invasion has escalated a brewing battle over space

Friction with the Kremlin, most recently aggravated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, has seeped into space, exacerbating tensions over the rules of behavior there and halting negotiations over space weapons at a time when the battlegrounds of war are moving to the edges of Earth’s atmosphere.

Space has long been a barometer of the U.S.-Russia relationship. The 1998 International Space Station agreement — which also includes the European Union, Japan and Canada — signaled a new era of shared advancement in the post-Cold War period. For more than two decades, the jointly operated station has been spinning around Earth.

But that space détente was waning long before Russia invaded Ukraine in February, and the U.S. and its allies targeted Moscow’s space industry in a raft of economic sanctions.

Ukraine braces for a redoubled Russian assault in the east and south

The Ukrainian military stiffened defenses against Russian assaults in the east and south as the nation’s president framed the war as an existential threat to all of European democracy.

The Ukrainian military said it was resisting Russian efforts in the east to break through from the city of Izyum, which Russian forces have seized as a strategic foothold to take more territory.

Ukraine said it was also continuing to fight off Russian attacks in the southeastern port city of Mariupol, much of which has been destroyed in weeks of street fighting and shelling. It also reported a missile strike on an airport in the city of Dnipro in which five emergency workers were wounded.

More on Ukraine

Homicides are up, but California sees a welcome decline in child victims

The stunning climb in homicide rates in recent years in California and big cities across the nation obscures a remarkably good-news trend involving young children: The number of child homicide victims fell dramatically in California over the last decade, the latest death certificate data show, a pattern mirrored to a lesser extent nationwide.

Most child homicides involve newborns, infants and young toddlers. Experts say “safe surrender” laws, which allow parents to confidentially surrender an infant 3 days old or younger without fear of prosecution, have clearly made a difference. Better access to family planning services may also play a role in the decline of child homicides as people give birth to fewer unwanted babies.

Back to normal? For some, the COVID-19 threat hasn’t gone away

As government agencies have cast off pandemic protections, many immunocompromised and disabled people have felt forgotten. Mask mandates have been rolled back, but crucial medications to prevent COVID-19 in immunocompromised people can still be hard to get. Federal money for testing and treating uninsured people has been drying up, just as a coronavirus subvariant is on the rise.

Health officials have started focusing more heavily on hospitalizations than coronavirus cases to gauge risk levels in communities. This fails to reassure immunocompromised people who face danger from high levels of coronavirus transmission. And although the White House recently announced a new push to clean indoor air, some critics say the government should have acted much sooner to ensure public spaces are safe.

More top coronavirus headlines

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

Karen Bass and Rick Caruso are in a dead heat, mayoral poll finds

A seemingly limitless geyser of cash and voters upset over crime have propelled Rick Caruso to the front of the race for mayor, reshaping the race and offering Los Angeles a stark contrast between the billionaire developer and his chief rival, Rep. Karen Bass.

If the primary were today, Caruso, with backing from 24% of likely voters, and Bass, with 23%, would move to the November runoff, according to a new UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies poll co-sponsored by the Los Angeles Times.

A contest between the two would feature stark divides of ideology, race and geography as well as different perceptions of Los Angeles and its governance, all of which have begun to emerge in the primary campaign.

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OUR MUST-READS FROM THE WEEKEND

Esther Loewen with her son as he practices the cello at home in Redlands.

(Dania Maxwell / Los Angeles Times)

Renewing faith, or losing it, in the time of COVID-19. The last two years have transformed the stability of our families, our jobs and our collective understanding of science and sacrifice. But, for many of us, COVID-19’s reach also rewired something more elemental: our faith.

A beloved USC custodian was accused of theft and fired. The campus is rallying behind her. Francisca Trigueros was a known and trusted face. So when word got out that Trigueros had been suspended and arrested for allegedly stealing a student‘s backpack with cash in it, many faculty members jumped to her defense, saying it was a misunderstanding.

Kids are balancing fasting and school during Ramadan. Here’s how to support them. In Muslim countries — or Islamic schools in the U.S. — entire schedules shift to accommodate Ramadan. But the holy month can be trickier to navigate in settings where peers and others may not understand Islam. The Times talked to youths, parents, teachers and health experts to gather advice on how to support school-age children during Ramadan.

CALIFORNIA

Mayor Eric Garcetti gave ‘unintentionally blended numbers’ on sex allegations involving an advisor, rep says. Garcetti told two reporters that 40 people “under oath” didn’t provide corroboration to bolster the sexual harassment allegations. The mayor’s figure of 40 individuals “is inaccurate,” said Greg Smith, the attorney for Los Angeles Police Department Officer Matthew Garza, a former member of Garcetti’s security detail who is suing the city.

BART may need to void a $40-million contract after a potential conflict of interest was found, Inspector General Harriet Richardson says. An investigation revealed a potential conflict of interest between a manager who played a role in making and administering the contract and the firm to which it was awarded.

With pedestrian and cyclist deaths rising, activists erect permanent memorials. Critics say the city of Los Angeles is not putting nearly enough resources to stem the number of injuries and deaths. In the first three months of this year, 76 people died in traffic collisions, including 39 pedestrians and two people on bicycles, and hundreds more have been severely injured, according to the LAPD.

The launch of condors on tribal land marks the species’ comeback, but a new threat looms large. The tribe believes the condor is a sacred animal, and it says annual releases of four to six captive-bred condors starting this month are part of its “obligation to bring balance to the world.” But wind farms pose a new threat to the critically endangered species.

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NATION-WORLD

Mexicans on Sunday were deciding whether to boot their president from office two years early — a recall election that was unusual not only because it was the first in the country’s history but also because President Andrés Manuel López Obrador pushed for it himself.

A Texas district attorney says the murder charge in an abortion case will be dropped. Lizelle Herrera was arrested in Rio Grande City, a community of about 14,000 people along the Mexico border, after a Starr County grand jury indicted her on March 30 for murder for allegedly causing “the death of an individual … by self-induced abortion.”

In response to killings, El Salvador’s bitcoin president attacks civil liberties. In recent days, Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele and his loyalists in the Legislative Assembly ordered a state of emergency that restricts freedom of association, suspends the norm that detainees be informed of their rights at the moment of arrest and denies prisoners access to lawyers.

French President Emmanuel Macron is challenged by the far right as the French vote for president. Macron, a centrist, is asking France’s 48 million voters for a second five-year term — but there are 11 other candidates and widespread voter apathy standing in his way.

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan was ousted in no-confidence vote. Anticipating his loss, Khan has called on his supporters to stage rallies nationwide. Khan’s options are limited, and should he see a big turnout in his support, he may try to use the momentum of street protests to pressure Parliament to hold early elections.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

Jussie Smollett’s new song asks, ‘You think I’m stupid enough to kill my reputation?’ After he was convicted on charges of staging a hate crime and sentenced to 150 days in jail, the actor released a defiant new song.

Exes Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck are engaged — again. The couple fell for each other for the first time in 2002. That summer, Lopez announced that she was divorcing Cris Judd. Later that year, Lopez and Affleck were engaged. But the couple postponed their wedding in 2003 days before they were set to say “I do,” citing the media frenzy.

‘Let’s ban the Oscars’: The film academy’s 10-year ban on Will Smith from events held by it was met with disbelief and accusations of racism. While the “King Richard” star has repeatedly apologized and accepted the academy’s decision, the organization contended that its ban was “a step toward a larger goal of protecting the safety of our performers and guests, and restoring trust in the academy.” But many people on social media didn’t see it that way (and celebrities were mostly silent).

BUSINESS

Elon Musk, now Twitter’s largest shareholder, has decided not to join the company’s board. It was an unexpected move after Musk had floated a series of changes he would like to see on the social media platform.

YouTube offers a new shopping option during the Coachella livestream. Viewers will be able to click on a link on their phones or scan the QR code on their television screens to purchase shirts through Coachella’s store — without leaving the concert on YouTube.

With the Discovery merger, can David Zaslav restore Warner Bros. to its former glory? The mogul faces numerous challenges in restoring the Warner Bros. studio to its former glory after nearly four years of AT&T ownership.

SPORTS

The Big Fail: Inside the Lakers’ most disappointing season in franchise history. Once upon a time the Lakers’ Russell Westbrook bet was a sign of hope. Then the reality of an aging roster, and injuries to LeBron James and Anthony Davis, set in. Coach Frank Vogel’s job is in peril, even after the Lakers put together a miraculous comeback in their final game of the season.

How Major League Baseball’s latest grand experiment is fueling skepticism and mistrust among players. This season, for the first time, Major League Baseball will store game balls in humidors at all 30 stadiums. The science is complicated. The effects are a mystery. And the unknown adds to the skepticism, frustration and anger players have with MLB’s handling of baseball.

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OPINION

Amid Florida’s fight with Disney over LGBTQ rights, a Disney family member comes out as trans. Charlee Cora Disney and parents Roy P. and Sheri Disney gave the Human Rights Campaign half a million dollars. “Equality matters deeply to us,” Roy wrote in an appeal, “especially because our child, Charlee, is transgender and a proud member of the LGBTQ+ community.”

ONLY IN CALIFORNIA

People in a swimming hole.

Yosemite National Park

(Christopher Reynolds/Los Angeles Times)

Want to cool down by swimming in some fresh, cool water? California’s coastline and beaches typically get all the attention, but consider an old-fashioned swimming hole to cool off on hot days. Some of these include the Punch Bowls north of Santa Paula and east of Ojai in Los Padres National Forest, Rainbow Pool in Yosemite National Park and the Natural Bridges swimming hole in the Sierra foothills.

If you go, be mindful of fast-moving water, check the park websites for current conditions and restrictions, and make sure to pack out all of your trash.

FROM THE ARCHIVES

Two people with golf clubs.

Golfer Lee Elder and his wife, Rose, stand on a golf course in Los Angeles in 1969.

(Larry Sharkey / Los Angeles Times)

Golf pioneer Lee Elder broke the color barrier as the first Black golfer to play in the Masters 47 years ago. But the indignities that Elder and other Black golfers endured at that time were a constant.

Fearing for his safety, he rented two houses in Augusta during his first Masters so people wouldn’t know exactly where he was staying. During the week leading up to the tournament, he and friends who had joined him on the trip from Washington, D.C., were denied service at a local establishment because of their race.

Upon hearing that, Julius Scott, then the president of Paine College in Augusta, Ga., told Elder and his friends that chefs from the school would be preparing their meals for the rest of the week.

During his career, Elder made 448 starts on the PGA Tour with four victories, including the 1974 Monsanto Open in Pensacola, Fla., which earned him an invitation to the Masters. During that Florida tournament, he received death threats and was accompanied by armed security guards as he walked down the middle of the fairways.

He died in November at age 87.

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]

For the record: Friday’s edition of the newsletter incorrectly stated that California Jam in 1974 was four days long. The festival was only one day.

Eleanore Beatty

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