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L.A. roadway reckoning: safety advocates vs. firefighters

Essential California A coalition of community activists, labor groups and environmental organizations say the surging death toll on L.A. streets requires dramatic action. Firefighters say safety upgrades will slow response times.  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  February 28, 2024   View in browser Firefighters against Measure HLA stand in front of supporters of the ballot measure just before a press conference by firefighters union leaders in downtown Los Angeles on Feb. 14, 2024. (Courtesy Healthy Streets LA - Yes in HLA campaign) By Ryan Fonseca Good morning. It's Wednesday, Feb. 28 . Here's what you need to know to start your day. L.A.'s ro

Federal housing vouchers go unused in L.A.

Many of the 3,000 people and families in L.A. who have received the emergency vouchers remain in limbo.
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Los Angeles Times
Today's Headlines
Click to view images Yolanda Robins washes her face with water from a fire hydrant on skid row in downtown Los Angeles. Robins remains homeless more than six months after she received an emergency housing voucher. (Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

By Scott Sandell and Amy Hubbard

Hello, it's Monday, July 25, and here are the stories you shouldn't miss today:

TOP STORIES

A plan to help homeless people stalls in L.A.

Yolanda Robins' dream was finally coming true after her three decades of living on skid row, punctuated by brief stays in hotel rooms and shelters.

In December, she received one of the 3,365 emergency housing vouchers awarded to the city of Los Angeles by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development on July 1, 2021, to help get the most desperate people off the streets.

Instead, like the vast majority of those who have received the emergency vouchers in L.A., she remains in limbo. Although the city's housing authority has distributed all of its vouchers, it has had little success getting recipients into permanent housing, with only 196 people or families housed as a result.

Meanwhile, in San Diego, HUD issued 480 vouchers. As of Thursday, 385 had been leased out, according to Azucena Valladolid, who runs the commission's rental assistance program. That means 385 people or families had received a voucher and moved into permanent housing.

Inside Democrats' plan to win over parents

The era of COVID-19 school closures appears to be over, but parents' frustration with that difficult period is set to play a pivotal role in November's midterm elections.

Last summer, anger about months of remote learning energized Republicans, who founded activist groups, launched recalls of school board members, introduced new legislation, and attacked not only school closures, but also "critical race theory" and sex ed.

Now, with the elections that will determine control of Congress just months away, Democrats are fighting back, recalibrating their message to K-12 parent voters. Pandemic-era fights in the classroom have reengaged parents on broader concerns such as school shootings, learning loss and economic anxiety, and lessened voters' focus on the culture war issues that dominated Republican complaints about public education last summer, Democrats argue. Indeed, polling suggests that many parents' top concerns are economic.

More politics

  • As Kevin McCarthy's California district gets redder, discontent brews on his right. The low level of trust conservatives have in institutions and government is palpable in the district — and its manifestation isn't always friendly to McCarthy, who has served in Congress since 2006.
  • Latinos favored Rick Caruso over Karen Bass in the L.A. mayoral primary, but they may not swing his way in November. City Councilman Kevin de Leรณn, the only major Latino candidate, had strong support among Latinos in the primary, and it is unclear where those voters will end up.
  • Jan. 6 panel deepens inquiry of Trump Cabinet and awaits Ginni Thomas. The House Jan. 6 committee said it will interview more former Cabinet secretaries and is prepared to subpoena conservative activist Virginia "Ginni" Thomas, who's married to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

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'The fire blew up'

Firefighters were struggling to battle California's largest fire of the season so far, a fast-moving inferno tearing through the Sierra Nevada foothills west of Yosemite National Park that has burned at least 10 structures, forced several thousand people to flee their homes and is threatening multiple mountain communities.

The Oak fire, which started Friday, marked an ominous start to the state's peak wildfire season, with more dangerous blazes expected due to a combination of drought, climate change and overgrown vegetation that has increased the likelihood of fires igniting quickly and spreading rapidly.

It came as much of the globe was in the grip of extreme heat, with record-breaking temperatures fueling fires across Europe and prompting alerts in large swaths of the United States and China.

A help or a hindrance?

It's an emerging technology that climate experts say can prevent billions of tons of greenhouse gases from entering Earth's atmosphere. By capturing carbon dioxide as it spews from oil refineries, power plants and other industrial smokestacks and then forcing it deep underground for storage, humanity can reduce fossil fuel emissions while developing alternative energy sources, advocates say.

Now, as California attempts to meet ambitious climate goals, environmental officials are embracing carbon capture and storage. But some environmentalists are urging officials to abandon the idea. Instead of helping to wean California off fossil fuels, they say the technology will actually increase oil production.

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OUR MUST-READS FROM THE WEEKEND

In the vastness of the Inland Empire, people of color find 'peace in these troubled times.' Recent U.S. census figures show the Inland Empire to be one of the fastest-growing regions in the country. "The presence of Black and brown faces isn't new, but when I set out to understand why so many are packing up and moving to the Inland Empire now, I learned that it wasn't simply because the region is regarded as a bastion of affordable housing in pricey Southern California," writes The Times' Tyrone Beason. "There was something else — a yearning that you can't easily measure in numbers."

A young girl clings to a person holding empty plastic jugs as they wait in line for water
A young girl waits in line for water delivered by a tanker truck in Garcia, a municipality to the northwest of the Monterrey metropolitan area in Mexico. (Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

Taps have run dry in Monterrey, Mexico, where there is water for factories but not for residents. Drought has drained the three reservoirs that provide about 60% of the water for the region's 5 million residents. Most homes now receive water for only a few hours each morning. And on the city's periphery, many taps have run dry.

Entering a sixth month of war, Ukraine faces thorny dilemmas. President Volodymyr Zelensky and other top officials continue to issue forceful pleas for more Western weaponry, declaring bluntly that Ukraine cannot seize the military initiative without far more donated armaments. At the same time, Zelensky and his lieutenants seek to depict a landscape in which their armed forces already may be poised to gain the upper hand.

CALIFORNIA

Two people were killed and five wounded after gunfire erupted Sunday afternoon in San Pedro's Peck Park, authorities said. Initial reports indicated that the shooting took place at the park's baseball diamond, and police said the shooting was a dispute between two parties.

A takeover hot spot, 6th Street Viaduct is shut down by LAPD for second night in a row. Two weeks after opening, the celebrated bridge was closed Saturday after daredevils climbed its arches and traffic backed up for miles.

Coronavirus cases start to flatten in L.A. County as a decision on a new mask mandate looms. Should a steep decrease follow in the coming days, it is possible that a universal mask mandate could be postponed.

An aerospace engineer and Black WWII veteran who was falsely labeled a mutineer dies at 101. Bernard Benedict James spent two years in prison after hastily being convicted of mutiny and insubordination, a Black soldier who dared question a white superior officer.

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NATION-WORLD

Amid threats to their safety, public officials increase security at meetings. State and local election officials in the U.S. have become targets for those upset with Donald Trump's loss and who believe any number of unfounded conspiracy theories about a rigged election.

Pope lands in Canada, set for apologies to Indigenous groups. Pope Francis began a fraught visit to Canada to apologize to Indigenous peoples for abuses by missionaries at residential schools, a key step in the Catholic Church's efforts to reconcile with Native communities and help them heal from generations of trauma.

Diana Kennedy, who spent decades documenting Mexican regional cuisines, has died at 99. The British-born author translated her love of Mexican cuisine into cookbooks that made hundreds of regional recipes accessible to home cooks in the U.S. at a time when many still thought of the cuisine as little more than combo plates and tacos.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

HBO's dazzling 'Irma Vep' is just the TV series to restore your faith in movies. "For a show as deliriously playful as 'Irma Vep,' the HBO limited series created, written and directed by the French filmmaker Olivier Assayas, its deepest truths are often the most bluntly spoken," film critic Justin Chang writes.

Marvel unveiled a 'Black Panther 2' trailer and two new 'Avengers' films at Comic-Con. Marvel Studios has a history of announcing big projects at San Diego Comic-Con during its panel events in Hall H — and bringing out unexpected stars. It didn't disappoint this year.

'Nope' gallops to the top of the domestic box office — a hat trick for Jordan Peele. Universal Pictures' "Nope" opened atop the domestic box office with $44 million over the weekend, according to estimates. That means Peele's first three feature films have debuted at No. 1 at the domestic box office.

Ethan Hawke discusses his six-part documentary on the lives and careers of Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward. "The spine of the movie is their love affair.... But what makes their story worth talking about is the breadth and scope of it, the fact that through their work, you see the '50s, the '60s, the '70s, the '80s, the '90s, and the fact that they had this level of sustained excellence for so long," he says of the project now streaming on HBO Max.

BUSINESS

Roland Martin believes in Black-owned media, and he's using his own money to prove it. The onetime CNN commentator launched his scrappy digital operation, Black Star Network. He says it's profitable and expanding.

The NFL games you may have been watching on your phone are going behind a paywall. The NFL is unveiling a new subscription streaming service that will offer consumers local and national prime-time game telecasts that were previously streamed at no cost to consumers on Yahoo Sports and the NFL mobile app.

OPINION

Donald Trump should be charged for crimes against the United States. The Times' editorial board says that what's needed now is not genteel deference to political norms but an unflinching pursuit of justice.

Friendship bracelets gave meaning to my childhood in a way my kids will never know. Jillian Horton writes that her kids' relationships with their phones leave no time or space for writing letters or making bracelets, and their gifts to one another leave no tangible traces.

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SPORTS

Middle-of-the-order production drives the Dodgers to a sweeping win over the Giants. Unlike most days, when the Dodgers' superstar trio typically carries the offensive load, the Nos. 4 to 7 batters in the order provided the most offensive fireworks.

Believe it or not: Three L.A. Times sportswriters raised Major League Baseball sons. Sons of sportswriters adept at doing anything more athletic than dripping mustard on their shirts while gobbling hot dogs and typing at the same time are indeed a surprise.

Despite huge success at the world championships, track's popularity lags in the U.S. Our country is the powerhouse of the sport, but the world championships in Eugene, Ore., drew few sellouts, while questions lingered about how much of the action went noticed in the rest of the U.S.

ONLY IN L.A.

Roy Lichtenstein's "Cold Shoulder." Charles Dickson's "Wishing on a Star." Sabato Rodia's "Nuestro Pueblo," more commonly known as the Watts Towers. These are among Los Angeles' many art treasures — and among the 17 works of art you need to see in L.A. County, according to Christopher Knight, The Times' Pulitzer Prize-winning art critic. "Each is something I find myself returning to, so the more time one spends, the more they reveal themselves."

FROM THE ARCHIVES

A woman with a hat and walking stick smiles while standing on a mountain trail.
Hulda Crooks, 90, is shown during one of her Mt. Whitney climbs. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

Thirty-five years ago this week, on July 24, 1987, Californian Hulda Crooks became the oldest woman to conquer 12,388-foot Mt. Fuji in Japan. The 91-year-old told the Associated Press after the feat that she planned to "rest up, then I'll keep up my exercises, climbing stairs, and walking two to four miles a day. ... The secret is to take care of yourself when you're young so you have something left when you're older."

Crooks had already summited California's Mt. Whitney two dozen times between the ages of 66 and 91. At 14,495 feet, Mt. Whitney is the tallest peak in the continental U.S. In 1991, the mountaineer was swooped to the top of Mt. Whitney via helicopter for a ceremony to designate a nearby peak as Crooks Peak. She died in 1997 at age 101. As The Times recounted in her obituary, "The 5-foot-1, 115-pound phenomenon also backpacked the 212-mile John Muir Trail, hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and trekked the Sierra 80 miles from west to east."

She told the paper in 1978: "Good health doesn't always happen by accident. Sometimes you have to work at it."

We appreciate that you took the time to read Today's Headlines! Comments or ideas? Feel free to drop us a note at headlines@latimes.com.

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