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Robert Pattinson, Adam DeVine and More Stars Celebrating Their First Father's Day in 2024

Rachel Morin Murder Case: Suspect Arrested in Connection to Maryland Woman's Death; Kourtney Kardashian Shares Adorable New Photos of Baby Rocky With Travis Barker on Father's Day; Reese Witherspoon Does a Nicole Kidman Impression While Honoring Her Onstage; and more from E! News... June 16, 2024   View Online   NEWS VIDEOS PHOTOS SHOP NEWS VIDEOS PHOTOS SHOP   Robert Pattinson, Adam DeVine and More Stars Celebrating Their First Father's Day in 2024 VIEW   Rachel Morin Murder Case: Suspect Arrested in Connection to Maryland Woman's Death VIEW   Kourtney Kardashian Shares Adorable New Photos of Baby Rocky With Travis Barker on Father's Day VIEW   Reese Witherspoon Does a Nicole Kidman Impression While Honoring Her Onstage VIEW   Joe Alwyn Hints at Timeline of Taylor Swift Breakup VIEW SEE MORE

California's 'very high' fire hazard zones increased

Nearly 17 million acres will fall under the worst ranking from the State Fire Marshal, a 14.6% increase since the map was last updated in 2007.
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Los Angeles Times
Today's Headlines
Click to view images Firefighters watch a helicopter battle the Dixie fire in August 2021.

By Elvia Limรณn, Laura Blasey

Hello, it's Tuesday, Dec. 27, and here are the stories you shouldn't miss today:


More than half of rural California is in a "very high" fire zone, proposed map shows

For the first time, more than half of California's rural and unincorporated communities could soon be classified as "very high" fire hazard severity zones, according to a proposed map from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

Officials unveiled the new map — which ranks the likelihood of certain areas to experience wildfire as "very high," "high" or "moderate" — this month and are taking public comments through February. If approved, nearly 17 million acres will fall under the worst ranking from the Office of the State Fire Marshal, a 14.6% increase since the map was last updated in 2007.

Hundreds sue over alleged sexual abuse at L.A. juvenile halls

For five decades, boys and girls in Los Angeles County juvenile camps and detention halls have suffered repeated sexual assaults at the hands of probation and detention officers, according to a 359-page lawsuit filed by nearly 300 former detainees.

Attorneys for the 279 plaintiffs say some of the boys and girls were victimized by more than one officer, and some officers are accused of being serial abusers, repeatedly finding new victims among those sent to the facilities over the years.

The alleged assaults, dating from the 1970s through 2018, spanned a wide swath of L.A. County's once vast and now mostly shuttered juvenile hall system. County officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Emails reveal Sam Bankman-Fried's courtship of federal regulators

Now that the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and the Justice Department are prosecuting cryptocurrency billionaire Sam Bankman-Fried for fraud, the extensive professional relationships he cultivated with current and former federal regulators risk embarrassment for all involved.

As CEO of FTX, a crypto exchange, Bankman-Fried hired multiple former federal regulators who helped connect him with top officials at the CFTC, the agency he hoped would be charged with regulating his industry, emails show.

Omicron boosters for the youngest children are here. Will they make a difference?

Updated COVID-19 booster shots are now available for children under 5 in California, a welcome development for officials hoping to head off a viral resurgence this winter.

Availability and uptake, however, are two different things. And given the meager vaccination rate so far, as well as modest overall demand for the new bivalent doses, it remains to be seen whether this latest expansion of eligibility will significantly increase the number of shots given.

Most children in this age range have yet to be vaccinated for COVID-19 at all.

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

Check out "The Times" podcast for essential news and more.

These days, waking up to current events can be, well, daunting. If you're seeking a more balanced news diet, "The Times" podcast is for you. Gustavo Arellano, along with a diverse set of reporters from the award-winning L.A. Times newsroom, delivers the most interesting stories from the Los Angeles Times every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Listen and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts.



Men dance with glow sticks
Men dance with glow sticks at an outdoor rave in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Read more: "Dancing is in, dissent is out as Saudi Arabia's crown prince transforms his country." (Tasneem Alsultan)


Rainstorms to bring "drastic change" to Southern California. The National Weather Service predicts rain paired with gusty winds starting today and lasting through tomorrow, with as much as 1.5 inches across the Los Angeles area.

Mass Southwest Airlines cancellations strand travelers and cause chaos at airports. Southwest did not disclose how many flights were cut. But many media and aviation outlets said about two-thirds of the fights were canceled. The website Flightware put the number at more than 2,800.

Imperial Beach's new mayor plans to tackle the Tijuana sewage crisis. Paloma Aguirre plans to leverage her experience in Washington and Mexico to address the crumbling wastewater plant that pollutes beaches near the border.

Howard Jarvis group and apartment owners sue to block L.A.'s new housing tax. The proceeds of Measure ULA, which passed with nearly 58% of the vote in the November election, would go toward a range of efforts to prevent people from becoming homeless. In addition, tens of millions of dollars would go to the construction of new housing and tenant defense.

Two Venezuelan families. Two immigration policies. Two different outcomes. A new Biden program allowed one family to get travel approval in a matter of weeks. Another Trump-era program barred another family from seeking asylum in the U.S.

Federal officials left dozens of migrants at bus stations across San Diego County on Christmas Eve. From El Cajon to Oceanside, migrants found themselves suddenly on the streets, some without phones, and in some cases without the family members they'd traveled with.

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Dancing is in, dissent is out as Saudi Arabia's crown prince transforms his country. The crown prince — himself only 37 — wants his peers to live, work and play at home rather than leave for jobs abroad or spend billions of dollars every year seeking out fun in places such as Dubai or Manama, the capital of Bahrain.

The Western New York death toll from the winter storm rises to 28. Those who lost their lives around Buffalo were found in cars, homes and snowbanks. Some died while shoveling snow, others when emergency crews could not respond in time to medical crises.

China's foreign minister signals deeper ties with Russia. China's refusal to condemn the invasion of Ukraine and join others in imposing sanctions on Russia has further frayed ties and fueled an emerging divide with much of Europe.


Writer Samuel D. Hunter digs deep to let loose his truth for "The Whale." The writing instructor-turned-playwright reveals how a single line from a student essay was a turning point in his artistic life.

Bill Nighy on mortality, fandom and the acclaim surrounding his role in "Living." His new movie, "Living," has swept him into a whirlwind of film festivals, global promotion and, possibly, a forthcoming Oscar nod for lead actor. He's had a taste of this sort of attention before — Nighy won a BAFTA for "Love Actually" and earned a SAG nomination for "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel." But "Living" is on another level.

Inside the biggest change Netflix made to "Matilda the Musical." A moving mid-tempo duet, written specifically for the Netflix adaptation, brings to the screen a dream the creative team could not realize onstage.


Spending bill aids retirees and boosts the financial industry. The retirement savings measure labeled Secure 2.0 would reset how people enroll in retirement plans. It also allows workers to use their student loan payments as a substitute for their contributions to retirement plans.


In "Wakanda Forever," Black filmmakers did right by Indigenous peoples. Namor, the brown antihero of the film, is no shallow villain. The actor and the character joined forces to send a larger message, writes Times columnist Jean Guerrero.

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How a need to succeed fueled Austin Ekeler's Rocky Mountain climb to the NFL. One way to express drive in football is by finishing plays. No one in the NFL has finished more plays in the end zone over the last two seasons than Ekeler.

"He's always been a lot like that." For the Angels' Jared Walsh, volunteering is a year-round endeavor. Since being called up to the Angels in 2019, Walsh has made multiple visits to children at MemorialCare Miller Children's and Women's Hospital Long Beach and Children's Hospital of Orange County. In 2020, he even joined team Zoom calls to talk to and play games with children in hospitals.


Manuel Jimenez directs Tim Diaz, in how to pick guavas
Manuel Jimenez directs volunteer Tim Diaz on how to pick guavas at the Woodlake Botanical Garden. (Tomas Ovalle / For The Times)

At the foot of the Sierra, an unusual garden grows and climbs and spirals. Papaya, bananas, jujube and three types of guava flourish at the 13-acre Woodlake Botanical Garden, which is wedged between a road and reservoir on a skinny, left-over piece of land where railroad tracks once ran. No chemicals are used here.

Visitors are welcome to pick any fruit they see and to sit in spots so deeply shaded they stay cool in the summer heat and dry in the rains that don't come often enough.

Each inch of irrigation water is counted and will soon have to be defended. But founders Olga and Manuel Jimenez argue that even in a state with an intensifying drought and conflicting needs, what's here is a priority: a charmed space tended by a volunteer workforce of Woodlake children and teenagers stretching back 30 years.


A woman in an elegant satin dress sings at a microphone on a stage
Eartha Kitt, whose sultry rendition of "Santa Baby" became a Chistmastime staple. (Los Angeles Times)

Actor and singer Eartha Kitt died on Christmas Day 2008, 14 years ago this week. She was 81. On stage and on the screen across six decades, Kitt was known for her sultry persona. Orson Welles once called her the "most exciting woman in the world." She was a pioneer among Black entertainers and her career included multiple albums, Broadway performances, movie roles and a turn as Catwoman on "Batman" from 1967-68. She was also outspoken about her opposition to the Vietnam War, a stance so controversial that she was investigated by the FBI and CIA.

Today, she's perhaps best known for her 1953 holiday hit, "Santa Baby."

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