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When mundane mistakes end in shootings

In one week, three incidents across the country have put 'stand your ground' laws back in the spotlight.
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Los Angeles Times
Today's Headlines
Click to view images Hundreds of marchers rally against Florida's "stand your ground" law in 2014. (Phil Sears / Associated Press)

By Kevinisha Walker, Laura Blasey

Hello, it's Friday, April 21, and here are the stories you shouldn't miss today:

TOP STORIES

Wrong-place shootings put 'stand your ground' laws in spotlight

They were shot after pulling into the wrong driveway, ringing the wrong doorbell, getting into the wrong car in a parking lot.

In the space of a single week, four young, unarmed Americans were shot after simple, everyday mistakes. One died.

The recent incidents would be mundane if not violent. In a country home to the most armed populace on earth, where fear of violent crime often reflects spin rather than statistics, and where "stand your ground" laws proliferate, a simple mistake can turn deadly.

Experts say the high-profile incidents highlight fast-moving and unique cultural and legal trends in the U.S., one of just a handful of countries with the constitutional right to carry guns. Dozens of "stand your ground" state laws passed in the last 18 years have vastly transformed how Americans may think of the traditional right to self-defense.

California boosts water allocations to 100% for first time in nearly 20 years

For the first time since 2006, California officials have increased allocations from the vital State Water Project to 100% of requested supplies, as reservoirs across the state are nearing capacity with an epic snowmelt forecast for the coming weeks.

An unusually wet winter brought unprecedented snowfall and a succession of heavy rainstorms, pulling much of the state out of a punishing years-long drought.

Just last year, state officials slashed water allocations to 5%, bracing for the third year without substantial precipitation.

SpaceX Starship explodes after clearing launch pad

On its first test flight Thursday morning, SpaceX's massive, uncrewed Starship rocket — considered key to the future of U.S. human space exploration — roared off the launch pad and soared into the south Texas sky for a few minutes, but ultimately exploded into a trail of smoke.

The rocket — currently the most powerful in the world — lifted off from the company's launch site near Boca Chica, Texas around 6:33 a.m.

However, the explosive end to the test beat SpaceX's publicly-broadcast goals. The company had been careful to set expectations low for this flight.

'Rust' prosecutors drop charges against Alec Baldwin

New Mexico prosecutors have dropped criminal charges against actor Alec Baldwin in the "Rust" shooting tragedy, a dramatic reversal that comes after numerous missteps by prosecutors, according to three people familiar with the matter who were not authorized to comment.

The stunning development comes after prosecutors received information that the gun that Baldwin used had been modified before being delivered to the low-budget western in October 2021, the sources said.

The replica of the vintage weapon had been fitted with a new trigger, making it possible for it to misfire, as Baldwin has said, according to the sources. Prosecutors are reserving the right to eventually charge Baldwin with a lesser charge.

How Palm Springs ran out Black and Latino families

Beneath Palm Springs' mystique lie layers of troubled history that stacked up to form a segregated geography that survives today.

In the name of "slum clearance," officials in the 1950s and 1960s ran Black and Latino families out of prime downtown land, without proper notice or relocation aid, and burned their homes to clear a path for hotels and shops.

Palm Springs was being sold as a fantasy playground for the rich and famous, but as former Section 14 resident Pearl Devers points out, "We were not part of the vision."

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CALIFORNIA

New luxury L.A. hillside development in severe fire danger zone brings protests. A 20-year battle over the fate of a rugged, verdant hillside in Los Angeles is barreling toward an epic conclusion as developers move forward with plans to construct a luxury housing project in the Verdugo Mountains, above the Sunland-Tujunga neighborhood.

The fight to limit solitary confinement in California prisons is set to roil Sacramento again. A debate rages on in the state Capitol over legislation to restrict the practice of holding incarcerated people for up to 23 hours a day in small cells.

Judge rejects L.A. County's revamped homeless settlement. A frustrated federal judge once again refused to sign off on an agreement that would have ended a long-running lawsuit over the government response to the homeless crisis, criticizing Los Angeles County officials for bringing him a settlement he felt the court had no way to enforce.

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NATION-WORLD

Mexico's president says the U.S. is suffering from moral decay and offers some advice. Take better care of your kids. Try more hugs. Cut down on the drugs and guns. Keep your cops, troops and spies off our turf. And leave Donald Trump alone. Those are some of the latest musings from Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador.

Florida expands 'don't say gay' through 12th grade while the House OKs anti-LGBTQ bills. The rule change would ban lessons on sexual orientation and gender identity from grades four through 12, unless required by existing state standards or as part of reproductive health instruction that students can choose not to take.

Mexico calls off search for 3 missing Americans who were sailing to San Diego. The three sailors — Kerry O'Brien, Frank O'Brien and William Gross — were aboard the 44-foot sailboat Ocean Bound when they were last heard from April 4, officials said.

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HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

After 'Rust' shooting, California moves closer to impose film set safety rules. The proposed legislation is a narrower attempt at imposing legal safety requirements on film production than previous bills, and would create the first state regulations around the use of firearms and live ammunition on film and TV sets.

Jonathan Majors' attorney says his accuser appears to be unhurt in video taken just after the alleged attack. The attorney for embattled actor — who was arrested last month on suspicion of assault and charged with misdemeanors a day later — has filed evidence with a New York court that appears to show the accuser uninjured and out on the town after parting ways with Majors the night of the alleged incident.

I asked people at Coachella how much money they make — and if their ticket was worth it. Tickets for the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival remain some of the highest-priced in the U.S. Still, the event is widely seen as the "gold standard of pop music gatherings." Here's who bought tickets.

BUSINESS

BuzzFeed News is shutting down as company cuts 15% of its staff. A memo from BuzzFeed chief Jonah Peretti announced the closure of the once formidable unit Thursday. "While layoffs are occurring across nearly every division, we've determined that the company can no longer continue to fund BuzzFeed News as a standalone organization."

How a stripper, a barista and an electrician ended up at a 'Troublemakers School' for L.A. labor activists. More than 400 activists poured onto the campus of Los Angeles Trade-Technical College for a daylong "Troublemakers School." Whether they were long-term union members or would-be organizers, they shared a similar goal: to energize the struggling labor movement.

SPORTS

The Oakland A's plan to buy land for a new stadium in Las Vegas and move there in 2027. Las Vegas raided Oakland of its football team three years ago, and Las Vegas appears on the verge of making off with Oakland's baseball team as well.

Meet Miguel Ramirez, the reason visiting teams look forward to playing in Yankee Stadium. It's no secret that the Yankee Stadium visitors' clubhouse food is a favorite among many players and coaches across all the teams that come through, including the Angels. "They have Dominican food, like rice and beans, concón [the crust of crispy rice formed at the bottom of the pot.] The guy who makes it is amazing," Angels infielder Luis Rengifo said.

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OPINION

Editorial: U.S.-Mexico officials must put aside animosity to stop fentanyl deaths. With the drug wars having claimed thousands of lives on both sides of the border, it's imperative that American and Mexican leaders stop antagonizing each other and focus on their common goal of reducing the violence and death associated with the illegal fentanyl trade.

Column: Why are we stuck with a Supreme Court justice who doesn't follow the law? Trump, once the most powerful person on the planet, lost the protection of a controversial Justice Department policy against indicting a sitting president when he left office. But the nine justices have their jobs for life. They judge, but are virtually unjudged.

Editorial: Feinstein's continued absence from the Senate jeopardizes progress on her life's work. While judicial appointments may be the foremost concern, Democrats' slim majority in the Senate means Feinstein's continued absence will make raising the debt ceiling or approving Biden's nominee for labor secretary difficult, if not impossible.

YOUR WEEKEND

How to have the best day ever at Disneyland — all by your damn self. Disneyland has built its brand since 1955 as a place to visit with friends and loved ones. But as the Times' Todd Martens writes, any Disney fan with the means to do so should do themselves the favor of visiting the park solo at least once.

Avoid squishing wildflowers by soaring over the superbloom. If you're swooning over the superbloom, Skull Canyon Ziplines has a two-fer deal for you — a chance to walk on private trails through lush beds of wildflowers and then speed back to the start on skyscraper-high zip lines that zig-zag over golden fields of poppies and bush sunflower. Just don't plan on using your cellphone to take photos during the ride.

You've never seen a Caesar salad like this before. This week we're celebrating excellent salads. Because sometimes, you just need a salad. From Echo Park to Santa Monica, here's where you can get some extraordinary ones.

WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

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

Janelle James on Refusing to Disclose Her Age, Hoping 'Abbott Elementary' Doesn't Last Forever and Why She's Not Interested in 'Sexy' Roles. James, who declines to disclose her age, isn't first-name famous like Oprah or Denzel. But she also doesn't seem to be seeking that out. She's spent her whole life putting her craft and her skills ahead of her affable, contagiously warm personality.

Diversity in medicine can save lives. Here's why there aren't more doctors of color. A recent study in the journal JAMA Health Forum highlights the factors, including financial pressures and discrimination, that can keep determined students of color from actually making it to medical school.

Western Armenian Is An Endangered Language. A New Generation In LA Is Learning It. Western Armenian is still used in plenty of places — even in Armenia's second-largest city, Gyumri — and there are concerted efforts to revitalize it. Still, it's in a precarious position.

FROM THE ARCHIVES

Queen Elizabeth II
Britain's Queen Elizabeth II watches the red arrows fly over to mark her official birthday at Windsor Castle on June 12, 2021. She was born on April 21, 1926, but it was sometimes confusing for the public to know when to celebrate. There was no universally fixed day for her "official birthday:" It's either the first, second or third Saturday in June, and was decided by the government. (Chris Jackson / Associated Press)

On April 21, 1926, a queen was born. Well, she wasn't always a queen. In fact, Queen Elizabeth II wasn't even expected to ascend to the throne when she was born. Nonetheless, she went on to become Britain's longest-reigning monarch, overtaking her great-great-grandmother Victoria.

Queen Elizabeth's death last year ended a remarkable 70-year rule — so long that most of Britain's 68 million people had known no other sovereign.

On the brink of her 90th birthday in 2015, the Times compiled key milestones from her life, including footage from her first public speech at age 14 and her first coronation.

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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