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Karen Bass' hard work as L.A. mayor has begun

Homelessness is the most pressing issue for most residents, and it has occupied most of Karen Bass' pre-inauguration attention.
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Los Angeles Times
Today's Headlines
Click to view images Los Angeles Mayor-elect Karen Bass arrives for her inauguration Sunday at LA Live. (Frederic J. Brown AFP/Getty Images)

By Elvia Limón

Hello, it's Monday, Dec. 12, and here are the stories you shouldn't miss today:


Karen Bass makes history as L.A. mayor

After 241 years, the nation's second-largest city has its first woman mayor. Karen Bass was sworn in by Vice President Kamala Harris as Los Angeles' 43rd mayor Sunday afternoon, with thousands of Angelenos cheering inside downtown's Microsoft Theater.

But now that Sunday's inauguration festivities have given way to Monday's workday, the difficult task of leading a city swept up in change begins in earnest. Homelessness is the most pressing issue for most residents, and has occupied most of Bass' pre-inauguration attention.

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Long delays are reported in California prenatal testing program

In online pregnancy discussion groups, dozens of California women have detailed their long waits for the results of genetic prenatal tests and the anxiety it has caused. The reported delays came after California health officials changed regulations governing the state's prenatal testing program.

On Sept. 19, without holding the public hearing that is usually required to change regulations, the state limited the program so that just four companies could process the tests that look for genetic disorders such as Down syndrome.

Until officials changed the regulations, women and their doctors could decide whether to use the state's program or instead opt to choose any lab offering the screenings and have it billed to their insurance. Results often took little more than a week.

Avoid illness as COVID-19 and the flu surge

A one-two punch of COVID-19 and the flu is striking California, sickening residents — some so severely they've had to go to the hospital — interrupting daily life and threatening to upend holiday plans.

Although both diseases are spreading widely, officials sayCalifornians aren't powerless. There are steps everyone can take to better protect themselves and those around them.

Some tips include getting COVID-19 and flu shots, consider using a face mask in indoor public settings, and practicing good health habits such as exercising and eating right.

More top coronavirus headlines

  • With COVID-19, flu and RSV cases rising in children, drugmakers and retailers say it's soaring demand in kid's medicine — not a shortage in supply — that's leading to empty shelves.

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

A Ukrainian city finds no easy surrender to Russia

On Feb. 27, the mayor of Kupiansk, Ukraine, politically friendly with Russia, spoke to a Russian commander over the phone. And then simply surrendered. Many of Kupiansk's roughly 27,000 residents were evacuating, and Ukrainian troops stretched thin by the Russian invasion had already withdrawn to defend Kharkiv, about 70 miles to the southeast.

The mayor promised all would return to normal. Schools, hospitals, food stores — all would remain open, he said, but under the Russian flag.

But nothing would be normal. While the deal with the devil may have saved civilian lives, the mayor's surrender unleashed a new kind of hell for Kupiansk — a sign that even on the rare instances when Ukrainians capitulated quickly, it was not enough for Putin's invading forces. Putin seems intent on the total submission of Ukrainians to the will of Russia.

Blind surfer Pete Gustin hits the waves to challenge himself

Surfing has a steep learning curve that has discouraged its fair share of newcomers. You may be tossed around by waves, yelled at by locals or hit by an errant surfboard.

Pete Gustin experienced these usual surfing perils and overcame it all with an additional hurdle — he's legally blind. Not only can he not see what's coming, but he also can't study how others do it.

Despite all that, six years after his first paddle out, Gustin has one of the most subscribed-to surf channels on YouTube. The content has gotten him industry accolades and messages from people around the world inspired by his life. He's recognized wherever he goes, thanks to his popular TikToks explaining how blind people maneuver through the world.

Pete Gustin catches a wave while out surfing in Carlsbad
Pete Gustin catches a wave while out surfing in Carlsbad. His motto and slogan is "Find a Way."
(Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times)

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Here's why capturing L.A.'s star mountain lion could take weeks. Although the prospect of finding and capturing an animal wearing a tracking collar may seem simple, a wildlife expert familiar with previous efforts to track and trap mountain lions told The Times that such operations are unpredictably complex.

High gas costs hurt California drivers as refiners rake in huge profits. High California gas prices and accusations of price gouging play into Gov. Gavin Newsom's plan to cap oil refinery profits in California. Here are four charts to help you understand what's at issue.


As home prices decline, Southern Californians who bought at the peak are nervous. Real estate analysts said the loss in equity — which is expected to deepen — could curtail economic growth as people have less to spend on home renovations, pay for emergencies or invest in a business.

Taix restaurant redevelopment in Echo Park clears a final hurdle. The Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously to reject an appeal filed by a group seeking to preserve the long-standing Echo Park restaurant's building. The appeal could have delayed the redevelopment of the old-school restaurant, known for its tureens of soup and lounge brimming with Dodgers fans after games.

A Tijuana doctor was charged in the cosmetic-surgery death of a Long Beach woman. The doctor is accused in Baja California state court of manslaughter due to malpractice and negligence in the January 2021 death of 38-year-old Keuana Weaver, a mother of two. He is also charged with a crime related to performing a function he is not authorized to perform.

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In Peru, the president's ouster is just the latest manifestation of extreme political turmoil. While democratic elections are held regularly in Peru, critics say that the results often have more to do with settling scores and politicians getting rich than installing effective governments.

Venezuelans stranded in Mexico hold out hope Biden will shift border policy: "I want to have faith." The authority to keep them out came from a decades-old public health law, Title 42. Last month, however, a federal judge ruled that the application of Title 42 to restrict immigration was "arbitrary and capricious," giving the Biden administration until Dec. 21 to end the practice.


TikTok, authenticity and self-care: The 2023 Grammy roundtable. From a 12-time winner to first-time nominees, Kim Petras, Muni Long, Babyface, Blake Slatkin and Nija Charles discuss their paths to the Grammy Awards.

The "Harry and Meghan" Netflix series revives controversy over the British royals and racism. TV news in the United Kingdom has led with the series, in which Prince Harry accuses his family of having an "unconscious bias" against his biracial wife, and Meghan Markle characterizes the British media as being out to "destroy" her.

Why fascist Italy was the perfect backdrop for Guillermo del Toro's "Pinocchio." In juxtaposing a specific moment of history with a story about a child, "Pinocchio" carries on the spirit of such earlier Del Toro works as "The Devil's Backbone" (2001) and "Pan's Labyrinth" (2006), which used moments during the Spanish Civil War period as their backdrops.


The legal fight over the "Back to the Future" car revs up. The Texas-based owner of the DeLorean car trademark is suing NBCUniversal, alleging it hasn't paid the royalties it is owed. NBCUniversal, the owner of the Universal Pictures film studio, has denied the allegations.


What Sheriff Robert Luna is up against as he takes over the troubled department. Luna, who just completed his first week as Los Angeles County sheriff, was elected in large part to restore the sense of order and confidence that characterized the department through much of the 20th century.

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Caleb Williams wins the Heisman Trophy, cementing his place in USC football lore. Despite his relatively late arrival to the Heisman conversation this season, Williams won the award handily, beating Texas Christian's Max Duggan, Ohio State's C.J. Stroud and Georgia's Stetson Bennett, each of whom will get a shot at a national title as his consolation prize.

Darvin Ham survived the streets, a stray bullet and intense grief to coach the Lakers. The weight of Ham's past, even during a professional high point, is too heavy to hide yet too important to keep silent. He must share.


Two cocktails on a wooden bar counter
Cocktails at the Guild Club in Costa Mesa. (Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)

Here's where to get Los Angeles' best drinks. Our region's drinking culture can express as much about the breadth of our communities as our dining landscapes. These 10 bars, restaurants and shops — some newly opened, some well-established — are favorites where the atmosphere matches the excellence we find in our glasses, mugs, cups or stemware.


Actors Sidney Poitier, Katharine Houghton and Spencer Tracy in a scene
Actors Sidney Poitier, Katharine Houghton and Spencer Tracy in the 1967 film "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?" (George Rinhart / Corbis/Getty Images)

"Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" opened in theaters 55 years ago. The film about an interracial romantic relationship starred Katharine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy, Sidney Poitier and Katharine Houghton. The film opened in an era of unrest that would lead months later to the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and nationwide race riots.

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