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Same-sex marriage: Congress makes it official

The House gave final approval to legislation protecting same-sex marriages, reflecting a stunning turnaround in societal attitudes.
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Los Angeles Times
Today's Headlines
Click to view images House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco), center, high-fives Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) at the U.S. Capitol on Thursday during a ceremony for the Respect for Marriage Act. (Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

By Laura Blasey, Amy Hubbard

Hello, it's Friday, Dec. 9, and here are the stories you shouldn't miss today:

TOP STORIES

A bill protecting same-sex and interracial unions cleared Congress

The House gave final approval to legislation protecting same-sex marriages, a monumental step in a long battle for nationwide recognition of such unions that reflects a stunning turnaround in societal attitudes. The measure requires all states to recognize same-sex marriages.

President Biden, expected to promptly sign the legislation, said it provided "hope and dignity to millions of young people across this country who can grow up knowing that their government will recognize and respect the families they build."

The legislation, which the House passed 258 to 169, would also protect interracial unions by requiring states to recognize legal marriages regardless of "sex, race, ethnicity, or national origin." Although the bill received GOP votes, most opposed it: "God's perfect design is indeed marriage between one man and one woman for life," said Rep. Bob Good (R-Va.).

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P-22 will be captured after dog attacks; 'no options are off the table'

The Los Angeles area's most renowned wild animal, mountain lion P-22, will be captured and evaluated for possibly "exhibiting signs of distress" including killing a leashed Chihuahua last month and attacking another Chihuahua last week, California wildlife officials said.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife said it planned to capture the lion for a health evaluation, after which "CDFW veterinarians and [National Park Service] biologists will determine the best next steps for the animal while also prioritizing the safety of the surrounding communities."

The news release did not say what the next steps could be, but Fish and Wildlife spokesperson Tim Daly said, "No options are off the table."

L.A. hospitals are strained by the COVID surge and a very bad flu season

Officials have worried throughout the pandemic about the potential risks of another disease circulating widely at the same time as COVID-19. But whereas previous "twindemics" failed to materialize, California is now contending with a surge in coronavirus transmission, an early onslaught of respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, and a historically strong start to the flu season.

Patients are heading to emergency rooms in droves and presenting a steep new challenge for a healthcare system already worn thin by nearly three years of the pandemic.

Related reading: Parents are finding empty store shelves as — amid the surge in illness — kids' medicines grow scarce.

Brittney Griner was freed from a Russian penal colony

The WNBA star is home after 294 days in Russian detention. Griner was freed in a dramatic high-level prisoner exchange, with the U.S. releasing notorious Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, U.S. officials said.

The swap, at a time of heightened tensions over Ukraine, achieved a top goal for President Biden but carried a heavy price — and left behind another American who has been jailed for nearly four years in Russia.

As ties between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia falter, China sees an opportunity

As Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman met with Chinese President Xi Jinping, the summit carried an unmistakable message: If Washington intends to pivot its foreign policy toward Asia, then so can Riyadh, but with the aim of turning Beijing into a friend rather than an adversary.

The focus of the summits is mostly economic, at least on the surface. China gets almost a fifth of its oil from Saudi Arabia and was the country's largest trading partner. But beyond the economic impact of Xi's extended visit is the political one, with China probably spying an opportunity to increase its influence in a region where the U.S. has long held greater sway and Saudi Arabia looking to expand its diplomatic horizons beyond Washington.

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.

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CALIFORNIA

Animal rights and changing times doomed Griffith Park Pony Rides. For more than 70 years, the pony rides have drawn generations of Los Angeles' equestrian-loving locals. But the last few years have been marked by protests, a critical review by city officials and now, the decision to close.

California public schools allow "pay to learn" summer courses at high prices. Is it legal? Across the state, private educational foundations rent campus space and run tuition-based programs that fill a void for school systems that can't afford to offer free summer courses. A new lawsuit argues the fees are illegal.

Here's where you can participate in Southern California toy drives. Every holiday season, organizations large and small hold toy drives to collect donations of new and unwrapped toys for children of all ages, distributing them to kids on or before Christmas. We've rounded up a number of community events where toys will be given out as well as local organizations that are having toy drives.

New allegations of sexual abuse against a Servite High School priest surfaced in court. Three former students allege they were repeatedly sexually assaulted by the priest, who also acted as a teacher and swimming coach at the prestigious private Anaheim school, according to three new lawsuits.

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NATION-WORLD

Scientists discovered the oldest-known DNA. They used it to reveal what life was like 2 million years ago on the northern tip of Greenland. Today, it's a barren Arctic desert, but back then it was a lush landscape of trees and vegetation, with an array of animals, including even the now-extinct mastodon.

Iran announced the first execution of a prisoner arrested in the recent protests. Officials said the person was convicted of a crime allegedly committed during the country's ongoing nationwide protests, which began as an outcry against Iran's morality police. The protests have since expanded into one of the most serious challenges to Iran's theocracy since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Activists warn that others could also be put to death in the near future.

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HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

A "Law & Order: SVU" showrunner was accused of mistreating women and support staff on multiple shows. More than a dozen individuals who have worked with David Graziano previously on several other shows described him variously as a volatile and bullying boss who rage-fired underlings, left staffers in tears and made inappropriate and demeaning comments toward women, support staff and people of color. Graziano has denied allegations.

Does Brendan Fraser give a great performance in "The Whale"? It's complicated. For all the praise the film has received, it features "a good actor giving a well-meaning, unevenly directed and often touching performance in a movie that strives to wrest something raw and truthful from a story that's all bald contrivances," writes film critic Justin Chang.

Broadway's trailblazing "KPOP" musical is abruptly closing. What went wrong? The Times spoke exclusively with composer Helen Park, book writer Jason Kim and producers Tim Forbes and Joey Parnes about why opening an original musical is particularly difficult at this time, how a 2017 iteration may have affected its Broadway reception, and where the production might pop up next.

BUSINESS

The FTC will seek to block Microsoft's $69-billion deal for Activision. Regulators said Microsoft's ownership of Activision could curb competition in the gaming market, which is worth more than $200 billion, by limiting rivals' access to the company's biggest games.

The hype around esports is fading as investors and sponsors dry up. Sports-business billionaires and gaming executives had hopes that esports could one day scale into an organization like the National Basketball Assn. But after a boom five years ago, several prominent esports teams and organizations, particularly in the U.S., are contracting.

A sleek new arena opens in the Coachella Valley. Is it destination or gentrification? Acrisure Arena, set to open Dec. 14, is a glistening 11,000-person-capacity arena near Palm Springs. Its developers are betting fans will travel to the vacation town. For wary locals, the arena is a very visible sign of big L.A. entertainment money moving into the desert.

OPINION

"Parents first" conservatives mostly lost, but their school board bids should be a wake-up call. These candidates were rightly denied seats by voters in a mostly progressive state, though they succeeded in some places, and educators would be wise to address concerns over student achievement to ward off future challenges.

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SPORTS

Why are so many Americans upset Brittney Griner is free? The freeing of the women's basketball star from her Russian incarceration in a prisoner swap should have led to a unified nationwide cheer, writes columnist Bill Plaschke. Instead, "many folks seem actually disappointed that America went out of its way to free a Black, lesbian, tattooed female athlete who has refused to come out of the locker room for the national anthem."

Here's how the Dodgers' puzzling offseason strategy can be justified. There's only one way for the team to justify its head-scratching approach to the winter meetings, writes columnist Dylan Hernández. When Shohei Ohtani becomes a free agent next winter, they have to sign him. Otherwise, what are they doing?

The Chargers need to be in a rush to protect Justin Herbert against Dolphins defense. The team has had a difficult time protecting the quarterback recently because of an injury-depleted line. The solution: Do everything faster on offense.

YOUR WEEKEND

A golden-topped, sculptural looking dessert on a plate.
Baked Alaska Flambe at République. (Ron De Angelis / For The Times)

Dive into the 101. Thumb through the annual Times guide to L.A.'s best restaurants, which turns 10 this year. Among this year's picks: République — "a bakery plus a restaurant serving three meals daily in a spectacularly baroque Hancock Park building." Restaurant critic Bill Addison says highlights include "one of the country's finest pastry selections. They fill the counter with cakes, sweet and savory pies, canelés, fruit-filled tarts and laminated doughs so finely structured their layers can be stretched like an accordion." Much more here.

Have a Sunday Funday. Check out the series from The Times' West Coast Experiences team, where they ask L.A. people for a play-by-play of their ideal Sunday around town. The latest is from Adam Conover, host of "Adam Ruins Everything" (HBO Max, truTV, etc.) and the Netflix comedy docuseries "The G Word." Conover practices "slow mornings" that include the Sunday L.A. Times in paper form and relaxed jazz. Among his day's activities: a visit to the Sunnynook Bridge on the L.A. River. "Birdwatching in that spot is incredible."

WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

Note: Some of the sites we link to may limit the number of stories you can access without subscribing.

Expiration dates are meaningless but hard to quit. You may know these dates as well as their close cousins, "best before," "sell by" and "best if used by." They've confused us on what is truly safe to eat. "They do so by insinuating that food has a definitive point of no return, past which it is dead, kaput, expired — and you might be, too, if you dare eat it. If only food were as simple as that." With food waste a huge climate issue ("rotting food's annual emissions in the U.S. approximate that of 42 coal-fired plants"), we need to use other ways of judging whether food is still edible. The Atlantic

What social media are doing to our concept of pregnancy. Researchers have found that, for some people — especially those who already lean toward social comparison — engagement with Instagram momfluencers spikes anxiety and guilt. "There are intense cultural expectations of how a pregnant person should act (endlessly joyful) and how a pregnant person should look (like a model who swallowed a basketball)." Vogue

FROM THE ARCHIVES

Thousands of people crowd a city street.
Dec. 11, 1969: Protesters flood the street outside Los Angeles' Hall of Justice to decry the Dec. 8 raid. (Associated Press)

Fifty-three years ago this week, on Dec. 8, 1969, Los Angeles police moved on Black Panther headquarters in the world's first major raid by a SWAT team. It was an "experiment in policing," The Times wrote in a 2019 Opinion piece; in subsequent years Special Weapons and Tactics teams became a mainstay of modern policing across the nation.

The Times' Dec. 9, 1969, coverage noted the action followed a deadly Dec. 4 police raid in Chicago. Black Panther leader Fred Hampton was killed in his bed.

In Los Angeles, "more than 350 officers took on 13 Panthers, ostensibly to execute arrest warrants," according to The Times' 2019 piece. "The group they battled included three women and five teenagers. Before the day was over, police would detonate explosives on the Panthers' roof and call in a tank for reinforcements. Six Panthers were wounded, as were four SWAT officers, before the men and women in the house surrendered. Miraculously, no one was killed."

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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