Today’s Headlines: Senate confirms Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court

By Elvia Limón and Laura Blasey

Hello, it’s Friday, April 8, and here are the stories you shouldn’t miss today:

TOP STORIES

Senate confirms Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to Supreme Court

The Senate confirmed Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court, promoting the appellate judge to a lifetime seat no Black woman has occupied. Jackson, 51, becomes only the sixth woman and third Black justice to ascend to the high court, which will for the first time have two Black members, three members of color and four women.

Jackson shattered the glass ceiling with the Senate’s 53-47 confirmation vote. Three Republicans — Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Mitt Romney of Utah — joined all 48 Democrats and two independents in supporting President Biden’s historic nominee.

Biden’s first appointment to the Supreme Court won’t alter the ideological balance of a bench that now has a 6-3 conservative majority.

More politics

  • The Senate’s confirmation of Jackson to the Supreme Court concludes her historic nomination to become the nation’s first Black female justice. Here’s a visual timeline of the process.
  • Conservative statehouses are dropping rape exceptions from abortion bans as they look ahead to the Supreme Court’s expected decision in a major abortion case.

Sign up for our California Politics newsletter to get the best of The Times’ state politics reporting and the latest action in Sacramento.

U.N. removes Russia from human rights panel

As Ukraine braced for a redoubled Russian offensive in the east and unearthed fresh evidence of atrocities outside its capital, Kyiv, the United Nations General Assembly sharply rebuked Moscow by suspending it from the organization’s 47-member Human Rights Council.

At almost the same time, the U.S. Senate unanimously voted to revoke Russia’s preferential trade status, which would permit the imposition of higher tariffs, and in a separate vote affirmed the Biden administration’s ban on the import of Russian oil and gas.

Ukraine, meanwhile, appealed urgently for more Western weaponry and harsher punitive economic steps against Moscow.

Ukrainian authorities said a railway station in the city of Kramatorsk, where thousands of people had gathered for evacuation from their war-torn districts, was hit by a Russian rocket Friday morning. At least 39 people were killed — including several children — and scores more were wounded, officials said.

The new Omicron subvariant XE is getting attention. How concerned should we be?

Even as the highly contagious Omicron subvariant BA.2 is increasingly dominating California and the U.S., an even more potentially contagious subvariant, XE, has attracted the attention of global scientists.

Early estimates as noted by the World Health Organization say XE may be 10% more transmissible than BA.2, but it’s too soon to say whether XE will become the next prolific Omicron subvariant.

More than 700 cases of XE have been reported in Britain, with more than 600 of them in England, according to British authorities. To date, there have been only three cases of XE reported in the U.S., and none in California.

More top coronavirus headlines

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

Sacramento massacre shows rising dangers of handguns converted into automatic weapons

As state and federal authorities continue to piece together how so many people were killed and wounded in the shooting in downtown Sacramento, their attention has turned to a small, seemingly innocuous culprit: A gun accessory that quickly and cheaply turns many handguns into automatic weapons.

At least one of the guns police say were recovered had been modified with a so-called “auto-sear” or “switch” to boost its firepower. The conversion devices are illegal, and authorities say they are turning up at crime scenes across the U.S. with alarming frequency.

Semiautomatic handguns and rifles require shooters to pull the trigger each time they want to fire a bullet. When retrofitted with a switch, however, these types of weapons become fully automatic and can fire hundreds of rounds per minute, one expert said.

California salmon are at risk of extinction. A plan to save them stirs hope and controversy

The Shasta Dam has created California’s largest reservoir, which provides water for farms and cities across the state. But it has also blocked Chinook salmon from returning upstream to the cold, spring-fed streams near Mt. Shasta where they once spawned.

With California in a third year of drought, state and federal officials are moving ahead with plans to truck fish above Shasta Dam and reintroduce them to the McCloud River. After the fish spawn and die, their offspring would be captured and trucked back to the waters below the dam to begin their journey to adulthood in the Pacific Ocean.

The reintroduction plan, however, has raised concerns among members of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe, whose ancestors were displaced by the construction of Shasta Dam, and who consider the salmon to be sacred.

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CALIFORNIA

Rick Caruso has loaned his campaign $10 million. It’s upending the mayor’s race. His willingness to tap his own fortune has profoundly reshaped the race since he officially entered two months ago. At City Hall, there is no recent precedent for the amount of money Caruso has put into his campaign at such an early date, with the June 7 primary still nine weeks away.

A counselor’s killing at an L.A. youth home raises alarms about care for troubled teens across the state. David McKnight-Hillman was beaten while trying to break up a fight between foster teens at a group home and later died. The incident marked one of the hundreds of times police had been called to the facility, Wayfinder Family Services, in recent years.

100-degree temps on tap as a heat wave comes to SoCal. A heat advisory in the Los Angeles area is in effect until 6 p.m. for the coastal plains and valleys, the Santa Clarita Valley and the Santa Monica Mountains. Temperatures could soar at least 15 to 20 degrees above normal, reaching 100 degrees or higher in some areas.

Can my rent go up in Los Angeles this year? Most Los Angeles tenants are protected from any rent increases at their apartments until at least spring 2023. But the rules are confusing and hard to follow. No tenant living in a rent-stabilized apartment in the city of Los Angeles is allowed to have their rent go up right now.

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NATION-WORLD

Michigan governor sues to secure abortion rights and vacate a 176-year-old ban. The Democratic governor’s preemptive lawsuit came as the Supreme Court’s conservative majority considers allowing states to ban abortion much earlier in a pregnancy and potentially overturning the right.

As prices soar, Canada bans most foreigners from buying homes. The move signals that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is becoming more assertive about taming one of the developed world’s most expensive housing markets — and that the government is growing more concerned about the political backlash to inflation and the rising cost of housing.

Turkish court transfers Jamal Khashoggi’s murder trial to Saudi Arabia. The Istanbul court’s decision comes despite warnings from human rights groups that turning the case over to the kingdom would lead to a cover-up of the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, which has cast suspicion on the crown prince.

Thailand sends thousands of refugees back to Myanmar, where war and danger await. Though international refugee laws forbid the return of people to countries where their lives may be in danger, Thailand — wary of jeopardizing its relationship with Myanmar’s ruling junta — has nonetheless sent thousands of people who fled violence by Myanmar’s military back home.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

How ‘The Dropout’ stuck the landing on Elizabeth Holmes’ downfall. How do you conclude a real-life saga that’s still unfolding? And how do you find emotional truth in a persona as carefully constructed as Holmes’? Series creator Liz Meriwether and the episode’s director, Erica Watson, spoke to The Times about the Hulu series finale.

‘Memoria’ is one of the greatest movies you’ll see — or hear — in a theater this year. The film, starring Tilda Swinton as a woman who hears mysterious sounds, reveals itself as a vision from the future — a declaration of faith in a medium that hasn’t lost its power to astonish, writes Times film critic Justin Chang.

The Comedy Store looks to tradition to keep the future funny. For 50 years, the Comedy Store has been a club in need of comics, and a place for comics in need of a club. But that only tells a fraction of the story of a venue that’s anchored itself in comedy history, creating a magnetic pull that brings new stars in and keeps the veterans coming back.

Here’s what really happened after Will Smith slapped Chris Rock at the Oscars. For those who witnessed the drama both onstage and behind the scenes on March 27, the recollections of exactly what followed The Slap have often been discordant and even contradictory. The Times spoke to more than a dozen people, and through the conversations, some measure of clarity emerged.

BUSINESS

Workers are suing their bosses to get their work-from-home costs reimbursed. One attorney has filed about 20 class-action lawsuits over business expenses demanded by employees. Home expenses such as telephone and internet fees, extra energy to heat or cool a house and office supplies can add up to $50 to $200 a month per employee, according to more than a dozen lawsuits examined by The Times.

SPORTS

Dodgers’ opening day roster features only one real surprise. As expected, the team will carry 16 pitchers and 12 position players when they begin the season against the Colorado Rockies today. Major League Baseball expanded rosters to 28 for the opening month of the season and removed limitations on the number of pitchers a team could carry.

Two Black coaches join Brian Flores’ racial discrimination lawsuit against NFL. The updated lawsuit in Manhattan federal court added coaches Steve Wilks and Ray Horton. Wilks alleges he was discriminated against by the Arizona Cardinals in 2018 and Horton claims he was subjected to discriminatory treatment when he interviewed for the Tennessee Titans’ head coaching position in January 2016.

Tiger Woods opens Masters at one-under-par, four behind leader Sungjae Im. Woods, 46, said that his challenge wouldn’t be ball-striking or putting, but walking the undulating course on his rebuilt legs. He looked slightly stiff but not overly uncomfortable, although he did briefly clutch at his back after his errant tee shot on No. 9.

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OPINION

Sarah Palin quit as Alaska governor. Now she wants to be relevant again. A tarnished reputation and hardline views make her an underdog in Alaska’s unique election system, writes columnist Mark Z. Barabak.

Amazon workers scored a huge union victory but face a tough road ahead. The legal delay likely to come will give a bird’s-eye view of why unions represent just 6% of the private sector workforce.

YOUR WEEKEND

Thursday was National Beer Day. Celebrate this weekend with these creative recipes. If you think beer is only for drinking, you may want to reconsider. Much like cooking with wine, beer adds depth and nuances of flavor to stews, sauces, marinades, baked goods and even ice cream (yes, you read that correctly). In a simple chilled tomato soup, a light Pilsner or lager is well-suited as its flavor can shine without overwhelming the delicate essence of the broth. Stout adds a malty dimension to Danish Rye Bread as well as to a dense Beer Cake.

We asked, you answered: Your favorite California travel recommendations. The Times’ Rachel Schnalzer has asked for reader suggestions each week and has gathered these in this week’s edition of the Escapes newsletter. The list includes places to go in Ojai, San Diego, Cambria and Joshua Tree.

Visiting a state park? Your library card can get you in for free. California residents can now use their library cards to check out day passes for free access to more than 200 state parks. The move is part of a partnership between California State Parks and the California State Library, which will distribute at least three of the new “California State Library Parks Pass” hangtags to all branches in the state, including mobile libraries.

WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

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How Phoebe Bridgers found ‘fun in the darkness.’ Bridgers’ debut on Coachella’s main stage comes on April 15 as a four-time Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter. An intimate, folk-macabre history of emotional turmoil, her sophomore album “Punisher” became a restorative, cooling balm for many upon its June 2020 release, which coincided with the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as a national uprising after the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police, reports The Times’ Suzy Exposito.

Two kids, two shootings, two parents gone. Every day in America, more than 40 children lose a parent to shootings. Across 20 cities that were the site of nearly a quarter of the nation’s gun homicides in 2020, more than 3,600 children lost their mother or father in a shooting. Kaleigh and Kavon are two children who were orphaned by the epidemic, reports the Washington Post.

How two friends took on Amazon — and won. In 2020, Christian Smalls planned a small walkout over safety conditions at the retailer’s only fulfillment center in New York City. Amazon’s outsized reaction, which smeared him as “not smart, or articulate,” and involved more executives than people who actually participated in the protest, only fueled his determination. Last week, he helped secure the first successful unionization effort at any Amazon warehouse in the United States, one of the most significant labor victories in a generation, reports the New York Times.

FROM THE ARCHIVES

Ozzy Osbourne of Black Sabbath performing before a crowd at California Jam concert in Ontario in 1974

(Tony Barnard / Los Angeles Times)

Were you at California Jam 48 years ago? The Coachella-like festival attracted approximately 300,000 music fans to Ontario for four nights. The lineup included Earth Wind and Fire, the Eagles, Black Sabbath and Emerson, Lake and Palmer. The festival is now remembered as one of the most well-executed and profitable.

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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