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Oprah Winfrey Exits Weight Watchers Board After Disclosing Weight-Loss Medication Use; Love Is Blind's Jess Vestal Hints She's Dating Another Season 6 Contestant; Jesse Baird and Luke Davies Case: Australian Police Officer Charged With 2 Counts of Murder; and more from E! News... February 29, 2024   View Online   NEWS VIDEOS PHOTOS SHOP NEWS VIDEOS PHOTOS SHOP   Vanderpump Rules Alums Jax Taylor & Brittany Cartwright Announce Separation VIEW   Oprah Winfrey Exits Weight Watchers Board After Disclosing Weight-Loss Medication Use VIEW   Love Is Blind 's Jess Vestal Hints She's Dating Another Season 6 Contestant VIEW   Jesse Baird and Luke Davies Case: Australian Police Officer Charged With 2 Counts of Murder VIEW   Kate Middleton's Rep Speaks Out Amid Her Abdominal Surgery Recovery VIEW SEE MORE

Mammoth snowpack wreaks havoc in a ski town

In Mammoth Lakes, Calif., buildings groan and crack under the strain of accumulated snowpack. Relief isn't in sight.
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Los Angeles Times
Today's Headlines
Click to view images Rooftops and sidewalks are still covered in snow after recent winter storms dumped record amounts of snow in the area on April 3, 2023, in Mammoth Lakes, Calif. (Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Times)

By Laura Blasey

Hello, it's Monday, April 10, and here are the stories you shouldn't miss today:

TOP STORIES

Explosions, crushed buildings and flood fears as snow continues to cause chaos

Worry and fear are running high in Mammoth Lakes, Calif. Buildings groan and crack under the strain of accumulated snowpack, forcing occupants to flee. Slabs of snow and ice plummet from rooftops with the force of falling pianos. Columns of smoke rise from homes whose gas lines have become fouled by snow, causing them to explode.

For a community whose economic livelihood has long relied on skiable powder, a winter of record snowfall has suddenly transformed the white stuff into an oppressive, occupying force.

And relief likely won't come soon: As state officials warn Californians of treacherous snowmelt in the coming months, Mammoth Lakes still finds itself overwhelmed by snow that measures up to 30 feet deep.

Tainted pills from Mexican pharmacies kept killing Americans even after feds knew of threat

There was the teenager from Texas. The father from San Diego. The runner from Indiana. They all died after taking counterfeit pain pills purchased at drugstores in Mexico. And they all got those medications in the more than three years between the time the federal government found out about the threat and when officials finally warned the public.

A Times investigation published last month showed that both the U.S. State Department and the Drug Enforcement Administration have known since at least 2019 that some drugstores in Mexico are selling pills made of powerful drugs such as fentanyl and methamphetamine and passing them off as legitimate pharmaceuticals.

But the State Department didn't post a health alert until after congressional lawmakers called for the move last month in response to reporting by The Times. The DEA has yet to take public action to combat the problem.

Studios face turmoil and strife amid WGA negotiations. Not our problem, writers say

Hollywood studios are under pressure from Wall Street to cut costs and deliver reliable profits while they make risky investments in streaming. Meanwhile, talk of a recession percolates every day.

This uncertain economic landscape is complicating the already-fraught contract negotiations between the Writers Guild of America and film and TV studios as they try to hammer out a new deal this month. Failure to reach a new agreement could lead to the first strike by Hollywood writers since the disruptive work stoppage that hit the industry in 2007-2008.

But the guild argues that many of the studios' wounds are self-inflicted and not writers' problem.

Alarm and confusion after competing abortion pill rulings

On Friday, U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, a Trump appointee in Amarillo, Texas, overruled decades of scientific approval and put on hold federal approval of mifepristone, one of two drugs used in combination to end pregnancies.

The ruling, which does not go into effect for seven days and is being appealed by the Biden administration, could effectively halt FDA approval of the medication nationwide, including in California and other states where abortion is legal.

At about the same time in Spokane, Wash., U.S. District Judge Thomas O. Rice, an Obama appointee, directed federal officials not to hinder access to the drug in at least 17 states where Democrats sued to keep the drug's availability intact.

The dueling rulings set up a largely unprecedented legal battle that is likely to reach the U.S. Supreme Court, which last year overturned Roe vs. Wade.

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OUR MUST-READS FROM THE WEEKEND

fields with patches of orange and green plants
Fields of California poppies outside the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve on Friday, April 7, 2023, in Lancaster. (Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

SoCal's big superbloom is here. See breathtaking photos and a map of where to go. After an unprecedented series of winter storms, outdoor enthusiasts are expecting an unprecedented abundance of flowers.

Has L.A. D.A. George Gascón delivered on his police accountability promises? Gascón surged into office in 2020 on a promise to hold police accountable following a summer of protests in the wake of George Floyd's murder in Minneapolis. But halfway through Gascón's term, there are questions about his administration's ability to win convictions against the officers he charges.

A far-right media outlet targeted L.A.'s Asian business leaders. They're fighting back. The Daily Caller has suggested Chinese and Taiwanese Americans with any connections to China are probably up to some very un-American activities. But business leaders are speaking out, saying the articles are part of a poisonous campaign that pairs McCarthy-era Red Scare tactics with anti-Asian racism.

CALIFORNIA

California has already run out of cash to help first-time home buyers. The California Housing Finance Agency launched the California Dream for All Shared Appreciation loan program just two weeks ago, offering qualified first-time buyers up to 20% of the purchase price of a house or condominium.

All 29 Skid Row Housing Trust buildings have been placed under receivership. Many of them fell into extreme disrepair and reports of drug use became widespread. The Friday ruling came two days after three people died of drug overdoses in an apartment unit at a Skid Row Housing Trust building, 649 Lofts.

Border Patrol investigates after volunteers say agents destroyed supplies for migrants. Volunteers left crates full of water, canned food and first aid supplies, hoping to prevent the deaths of people trying to cross the border there amid warnings about dangerous conditions.

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NATION-WORLD

Expelled Tennessee lawmakers are both seeking seats again. Two former Black Democratic lawmakers who were expelled by Republican colleagues in Tennessee say they want to be reappointed, then elected back to their seats, following their ouster for a protest on the House floor urging passage of gun-control measures in the wake of a deadly school shooting.

Texas governor seeks to pardon Army sergeant convicted of murder. Gov. Greg Abbott said Saturday that he is seeking to pardon a U.S. Army sergeant who was convicted of murder in the 2020 fatal shooting of an armed protester during nationwide protests against police violence and racial injustice.

Ukrainians celebrate Palm Sunday in church marred by dispute. The occasion marks the first significant religious service to be held in the the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra monastic complex following the March 29 eviction order issued by the Ukrainian government against Orthodox monks residing in the monastery over their alleged links to Russia.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

EDM may have waned, but the Sahara Tent remains the beating heart of Coachella. The nearly 100-foot-tall Sahara Tent is as old as Coachella and was originally built as the dance-driven corner of the fest. It's become known for the multiple generations of headliners who have emerged from its stage.

'The Super Mario Bros. Movie' races to first place at the box office. Based on the popular video-game series of the same name, "The Super Mario Bros. Movie" exceeded its lofty box office projections.

Warner Bros. Discovery called out for scrapping Latino programs, CNN cuts post-merger. Four Democrats in Congress have asked the U.S. Department of Justice to review the Warner Bros. Discovery merger, alleging the deal is responsible for "hollowing out an iconic American studio."

BUSINESS

As Southern California ports reopen, shutdown highlights high-stakes contract talks. Dockworkers returned to the job Friday night, ending an approximately 24-hour shutdown at the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports. The temporary closure has exacerbated fears about struggling logistics infrastructure.

Column: They take care of aging adults, live in cramped quarters and make less than minimum wage. Hard work. Long hours. Paltry wages. Isolation from relatives. Barracks-style housing. That's a snapshot of life for thousands of California workers who toil in the elder-care industry, which doesn't always function well for the clients, either.

SPORTS

How James Outman went from development project to Dodgers standout. At every step of his burgeoning career — going from a raw college prospect to an unheralded mid-round draft pick to an undeniable rising star — Outman has left a similar impression; praised for his quiet confidence and determination almost as much as the total transformation he has made to his game.

'Can't be sleeping right now': A behind-the-scenes look at NBA playoff preparation. As the Clippers fight for playoff position, a team of video coordinators, scouts and coaches spend countless hours preparing for a number of scenarios.

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OPINION

What the U.S. can learn from other nations about how to prosecute Trump. France, Italy, South Korea and plenty of other countries have been offered as examples of nations that tried, convicted and in some cases incarcerated their top leaders for corruption, theft, bribery and other crimes.

Bravos for Mark Ridley-Thomas, boos for Kevin de León. A double standard? They each served as totems for Black and Latino political power in Los Angeles, and weren't afraid to say so. But the public reaction to their misdeeds diverges wildly.

ONLY IN L.A.

Digital painting of Melanie Lynskey with tarot cards, pie, pizza, cheese, wine, a fossil, a smoothie, and marmite on toast
(Ariana Pacino / For The Times)

The best Sunday in L.A., according to playground connoisseur Melanie Lynskey. Melanie Lynskey is busy, between filming obligations, those of her husband Jason Ritter and their 4-year-old daughter's social life. When there's not some bounce house to supervise or birthday gift to purchase, though, Lynskey spends her weekends in a fairly chill manner: sleeping in, ordering out, hosting game nights and arranging cheese plates.

FROM THE ARCHIVES

Newspaper front page with the headline "Girl, 3, trapped deep in old well"
The front page of the Los Angeles Times on April 9, 1949. (Los Angeles Times)

On April 8, 1949, 3-year-old Kathy Fiscus fell down an abandoned well in San Marino. She had been playing with her sister and two cousins in an open field and slipped into a hole in the ground. Authorities responded quickly to the scene, deploying bulldozers, well diggers and clamshell cranes. Kathy died before they could reach her.

But the 50 hours rescuers spent digging were historic. The local incident quickly became a national story — it fueled television sales and marked the invention of breaking television news. According to a 1999 Times story, KTLA televised 27 hours and 30 minutes of the rescue effort. "As word spread that this race to rescue could be seen live, neighbors scanned the roof lines for antennas to see who among them might have a TV. Strangers crowded into hardware stores where sets were sold," and people gathered outside store windows to watch the broadcasts, according to The Times.

Through television, the tragedy was viewed as a national one — a sentiment that would be repeated in the 1987 rescue of "Baby Jessica" from a Texas well.

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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