Here are the stories you shouldn’t miss today:
City councilman indicted on federal bribery charges
Los Angeles City Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas was indicted on federal charges that he took bribes from a USC dean in exchange for directing millions of dollars in public funding to the university when he was on the L.A. County Board of Supervisors.
Ridley-Thomas is accused of conspiring with Marilyn Louise Flynn, who at the time was dean of USC’s School of Social Work, to steer county money to the university in return for admitting his son into graduate school with a full-tuition scholarship and a paid professorship.
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— The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol has issued a subpoena to Jeffrey Clark, a former Justice Department lawyer who aided Donald Trump’s efforts to challenge the results of the 2020 election.
— President Biden wants to save Christmas — but he may not be able to. He announced that the Port of L.A. would operate around the clock to alleviate a logistical bottleneck. But he can’t force overseas factories to churn out products, hire more truck drivers to pick up cargo or stop the pandemic’s disruptions of operations worldwide.
— The California attorney general’s office has filed felony charges against the executive director of the state’s largest labor union, alleging that an investigation into possible campaign finance violations revealed that Alma Hernández and her husband underreported their income by more than $1.4 million to evade taxes.
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L.A., San Diego school districts are sued over student vaccination mandates
California’s two largest school districts, Los Angeles and San Diego, are targeted in lawsuits challenging their student COVID-19 vaccine mandates, alleging the vaccines are too new and that unvaccinated children face discrimination and the denial of their equal right to a public education.
More coronavirus news
— The Food and Drug Administration said Wednesday it is wrestling with whether and when recipients of Johnson & Johnson’s single-shot COVID-19 vaccine need another dose — at six months or as early as two months.
For more, sign up for Coronavirus Today, a special edition of The Times’ Health and Science newsletter.
USC to apologize for WWII actions that derailed education of Japanese American students
In a policy reversal, USC will apologize to former Japanese American students and offer them honorary degrees posthumously eight decades after impeding their efforts to complete their education.
Social Security to get its biggest bump in 40 years
Millions of retirees on Social Security will get a 5.9% boost in benefits for 2022 — the biggest cost-of-living adjustment in 39 years — because of a burst in inflation as the U.S. economy struggles to shake off the drag of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The adjustment amounts to $92 a month for the average retired worker.
Hollywood crews say they could strike next week
Ratcheting up pressure on the major studios, the union representing Hollywood crews announced Wednesday that its members would go on strike on Monday if they couldn’t reach agreement on a new contract.
A walkout would bring film and television productions across the country to a standstill and would be the biggest Hollywood labor dispute in more than a decade.
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PHOTO OF THE DAY
— The Alisal fire in Santa Barbara County swelled for the third day as flames closed in on homes, threatened Ronald Reagan’s old ranch and kept the 101 Freeway shut down. It also endangered a rare plant species, the Refugio manzanita, shrubs found only between 1,000- and 3,200-foot elevations in the Santa Ynez Mountains.
— Strong, dry offshore winds — including Santa Anas and sundowners — are forecast to arrive in California this week, prompting fire warnings and potential power shutoffs.
— Members of the Los Angeles City Council are urging new measures to protect residents from extreme heat, citing a recent Los Angeles Times investigation that revealed the state has failed to adequately address the health dangers of worsening heat waves or accurately count heat-related deaths.
— One of the world’s largest trucking companies, XPO Logistics, agreed Tuesday to pay $30 million to settle class-action lawsuits filed by hundreds of drivers who said they earned less than minimum wage delivering goods for major retailers from the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.
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— North Koreans living under strict pandemic restrictions are facing a growing food crisis, and the most vulnerable children and elderly people in the isolated Asian nation are at risk of starvation, a U.N. investigator said.
— Amid an epidemic of ransomware attacks, the U.S. is sitting down to talk cybersecurity strategy this week with 30 countries while leaving out one key player: Russia.
— The Biden administration is attempting to build on landmark accords that normalized relations between Israel and a handful of Arab or Muslim nations, but without leaving out the Palestinians. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken on Wednesday in Washington hosted talks with his counterparts from Israel and the United Arab Emirates.
— Children with autism didn’t benefit from an experimental therapy made with oxytocin, a hormone thought to promote social bonding, researchers reported.
HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS
— Seven permanent installations in Destination Crenshaw, the 1.3-mile public art corridor on Crenshaw Boulevard, have been greenlighted. They include a 27-foot-tall bronze sculpture of a young West African woman atop a horse and headed into battle.
— Hulu’s low-key thrilling “Dopesick” miniseries carves the Sackler family name deeper into a Wall of Shame, our critic says.
— Get ready for sad girl fall: Adele’s new album finally has a date. Her long-anticipated fourth studio release, “30,” will be out Nov. 19.
— The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival has reversed its requirement for attendees to be fully vaccinated. Festival organizer Goldenvoice says attendees now have the option to present a negative COVID-19 test.
— Transgender Netflix employees and co-workers will stage a walkout next week protesting the streaming giant’s decision to release Dave Chappelle’s latest comedy special, multiple Netflix staffers have confirmed to the Los Angeles Times.
— “Star Trek” actor William Shatner became the oldest person to go to space when he lifted off Wednesday morning on Blue Origin’s second crewed flight. Shatner, 90, was part of a four-person crew.
FROM THE ARCHIVES
Fifty-three years ago, the TV series that made Captain Kirk a household name spurred a demonstration outside NBC Studios. Caltech students in 1968 protested the rumored cancellation of “Star Trek.” The series ended a year later after a three-year run. Signs included “Don’t scrap the Enterprise,” “Kirk runs a taut ship” and “Mr. Spock for president.”
— Pitcher Julio Urías came of age this season, writes columnist Dylan Hernández. On Thursday, he can seal the deal for the Dodgers in Game 5 of the NLDS against San Francisco. Plus: coach Dave Roberts says Max Scherzer is unlikely to pitch in Game 5.
— The Lakers’ Big 3 of LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook preached patience on making their new partnership work. After their first preseason game together, a 111-99 loss to Golden State, James said: “It’s going to take a minute.”
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— WhatsApp is a lifeline for 2 billion users. Last week’s shutdown makes clear that Facebook isn’t doing enough to protect it, writes attorney and author Heidi Boghosian.
— California is the first state to require large retail stores to provide shoppers with “gender neutral” sections for toys and some other children’s products. Columnist Robin Abcarian says the world has definitely shifted on its axis since her now-adult daughter was a toddler.
ONLY IN CALIFORNIA
An unsettling sound rang out above the crash of waves on a wild, lonely beach on Santa Rosa Island, part of the Channel Islands National Park, where Times staff writer and novice backpacker Lila Seidman and her partner, Emanuel, had bedded down after an arduous 10-mile trek.
The irate sound was like a rusty metal bucket scraping against rock. Emanuel investigated and said: “I think we have a problem. There’s a 2,000-pound elephant seal outside our tent.”
Today’s newsletter was curated by Amy Hubbard and Laura Blasey. Comments or ideas? Email us at email@example.com.
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