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Cellphones will be banned in L.A. schools in January

Essential California The policy has divided students, who want to be included in decision-making processes.  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  June 20, 2024   View in browser By Defne Karabatur Good morning. It's Thursday, June 20 . Here's what you need to know to start your day. LAUSD approves cellphone ban. How do students feel? A USC student with a knife, a suspected car burglar and a deadly confrontation on fraternity row. We ranked every ride at Knott's Berry Farm . And here's today's e-newspaper LAUSD approves cellphone ban, but students demand to be heard on it Will I be allowed to bring my phone to school? Will it be somehow locke

A rare desert blaze burns Joshua trees

Firefighters continued their nearly week-long battle against an unusual desert wildfire that is searing through Joshua trees and threatening to irrevocably alter the desert landscape.
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Los Angeles Times
Today's Headlines
Click to view images The York Fire has burned over 70,000 acres, including Joshua trees and yucca in the Mojave National Preserve, and has crossed the state line from California into Nevada. (David Swanson / AFP via Getty Images)

By Karim Doumar, Kevinisha Walker

Hello, it's Thursday, Aug. 3, and here are the stories you shouldn't miss today:

TOP STORIES

California's iconic Joshua trees are burning. They may be impossible to replace. A light rain fell on the Mojave National Preserve on Wednesday, where firefighters continued their nearly week-long battle against an unusual desert wildfire that is searing through Joshua trees and threatening to irrevocably alter the desert landscape.

But in many ways, the damage has already been done. The fire is now the largest to burn through the eastern Mojave in recorded history, surpassing the 71,000-acre Hackberry complex fire of 2005 and singeing a delicate ecosystem already strained by invasive species and human-caused climate change.

Expanding the Supreme Court is a longshot. Why California's Senate candidates support it. Revelations of questionable ethical behavior by some justices have further exacerbated the growing public distaste for the nation's highest court, polls show, especially among Democratic and independent voters.

Not only have Democratic Reps. Adam B. Schiff, Barbara Lee and Katie Porter all endorsed instituting more stringent codes of conduct for Supreme Court justices, but the three also want justices to be bound by 18-year term limits of active service. They also support expanding the court from nine justices to 13.

Sign up for our California Politics newsletter to get the best of The Times' state politics reporting and the latest action in Sacramento.

Taylor Swift, please postpone: Officials make request in show of support for strikers. Ahead of Taylor Swift's Eras tour beginning a six-night stint in Los Angeles, a group of state and local elected officials signed an open letter to the pop star urging her to postpone the tour dates in solidarity with striking hotel workers.

"Your shows make our region's hotels a lot of money. In Los Angeles, hotels are doubling and tripling what they charge because you are coming," the letter reads in part. "Speak Now! Stand with hotel workers and postpone your concerts," it concludes.

Poll: More Americans support striking actors and writers than studios. Nearly 3 out of 4 Americans surveyed said they were aware of the strike and 60% said they were at least "somewhat aware" of the issues in the dispute, according to the survey, which was conducted for the L.A. Times by Leger, a Canadian-based polling firm with experience in U.S. surveys.

As they weigh those issues, the public generally feels more sympathy toward the actors and writers than the studios, networks and streamers, poll found.

How 600-plus California inmates got more than 11,000 years cut off their prison sentences. According to a first-of-its-kind analysis by the Office of the State Public Defender, at least 602 people in California detention facilities had their prison sentences reduced between 2019 and 2022 as a result of a pair of criminal justice reform measures that revised the way California punishes unwitting accomplices to killings.

That erased an estimated 11,353 years from their combined terms and saved taxpayers between $94 million and $1.2 billion in prison costs.

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PHOTO OF THE DAY

Two people are dressed in Halloween costumes while holding plastic pumpkins
Maddi Estrada, left and Sam Lokelani, both from Los Angeles, created their own characters, called Trick and Treat, respectively, as they attended their sixth Midsummer Scream, a Halloween and horror convention in Long Beach. The gathering, held last weekend at the Long Beach Convention Center, featured all things Halloween and horror. (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

Midsummer Scream convention brings out the horror faithful. Screams, moans and zombies, as well as dozens of demonic clowns, roamed the Long Beach Convention Center all in celebration of the sixth Midsummer Scream convention, celebrating Halloween and horror.

CALIFORNIA

How a madam at Chinese massage parlors outside L.A. took on federal law enforcement. Mei Xing was a tough madam overseeing sex workers at San Gabriel Valley massage parlors. But prosecutors struggled to prove she was guilty of sex trafficking.

Public Counsel sues Temecula school district over its ban of critical race theory. The action will take the battle over the classroom instruction about racism to the state civil courts. If the suit overturns the ban, it could have a broad effect in California, where a small number of districts have passed similar bans or restricted instruction on race.

A last resort: Families turn to private contractors to help children lost to the street. Part private investigator, part street clinician, a self-described crisis interventionist takes to the street to help one mother reconnect with a daughter who is homeless and mentally ill.

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NATION-WORLD

Climate change-attributed heat touched 81% of the world's population in July, study finds. Four out of every five humans alive experienced at least one day of abnormally hot temperatures in July — a global onslaught of extreme heat that would not have been possible without climate change, according to new research.

It's Kamala Harris vs. Ron DeSantis in the fight over Florida's new teachings on slavery. DeSantis, facing heavy criticism for defending "anti-woke" teaching in Florida, teed up an unusual proposal to the nation's first Black vice president: Come debate the merits of the state's new curriculum on African American history. Less than 24 hours later, Harris was in an African Methodist Episcopal church in Orlando, firing back.

Pittsburgh synagogue gunman to be sentenced to death in nation's deadliest attack on Jews. The gunman who stormed a synagogue in the heart of Pittsburgh's Jewish community and killed 11 worshipers will be sentenced to death for perpetrating the deadliest antisemitic attack in U.S. history.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Dwayne Johnson and others donate millions to help struggling actors. The SAG-AFTRA Foundation announced Wednesday that its Emergency Assistance Program raised more than $15 million in the last three weeks. The program provides grants to help performers pay expenses like rent, groceries and medical bills.

Lizzo's former dancers sue the singer, alleging sexual harassment and a hostile work environment. In the lawsuit filed Tuesday in Los Angeles Superior Court, the dancers alleged they were pressured to touch nude dancers at a club in Amsterdam, ridiculed for their weight and forced to participate in "excruciating" re-audition processes.

How the Universal Studios tram tour defined the modern theme park. The most important theme park ride ever created? It may just be the Universal Studios Tram Tour, which dates to the silent film era. Once primarily a behind-the-scenes tour, the trek has evolved to define the modern theme park.

The soundtrack of 'This Fool' is central to the show's identity. On the heels of Friday's release of season two of "This Fool," De Los caught up with music supervisor Hilary Staff to discuss some of the standout tracks from the Hulu comedy.

BUSINESS

Didn't get Eras tour tickets? How to land a job inside SoFi Stadium to see Taylor Swift. And you don't have to be a whiz at sound engineering, lighting or other technical field to join them — you just have to be 18 or older.

Bed Bath & Beyond is back, this time as an online retailer. The online retailer Overstock.com said in late June that it was dumping its online name and becoming Bed & Bath & Beyond, which declared bankruptcy earlier this year.

SPORTS

Doesn't anyone want to play for the Dodgers? The trade deadline is over, and the Dodgers missed out on the big names they targeted. Ouch.

UCLA and USC will join the Big Ten in one year. This is their plan for an elite move. According to some projections, UCLA and USC stand to make between $65 million and $75 million per year in media rights fees — likely more than double what they would have pocketed by staying in the Pac-12 — while gaining a larger recruiting footprint and increased national exposure.

Chicago's Latinx running clubs are reclaiming their neighborhoods. Too often the world of running has felt exclusionary and limited to the more affluent parts of any city. But in Chicago, a group of runners, young and old and at all levels of fitness, is creating healthy spaces for Latinos to take back their neighborhoods and improve their mental and physical health.

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OPINION

Black people presiding over the downfall of Donald Trump is poetic justice. "It's gratifying to think of a man who sees himself as Teflon Don having to recognize the authority of a Black person," Erika D. Smith writes.

Need a respite from Trump, DeSantis, the Bidens and global warming? Check out 'Suits.' "It features handsome men in beautifully tailored — yes — suits, women in skintight 'office' attire teetering on sky-high stilettos, and witty, Aaron Sorkin-esque repartee. 'Suits,' in other words, is pure escapism," writes Robin Abcarian.

Trump is facing his most important indictment yet — and nearly insurmountable odds at trial. "If the prosecution is interrupted by a Trump victory, we are lost regardless. But if [special counsel] Smith can prove these serious charges beyond a reasonable doubt, he will secure accountability for the worst series of political crimes in our history," Harry Litman writes.

ONLY IN L.A.

Mariachi Plaza at 131 S. Boyle Ave. Los Angeles
Mariachi Plaza at 131 S. Boyle Ave., Los Angeles, on July 28. (Ringo Chiu / For The Times)

There's so much hidden Mexican history to be found in Los Angeles. So where can you go to uncover these stories?

Here are 10 places to learn or think about L.A.'s Mexican history.

FROM THE ARCHIVES

A woman smiles and poses against a backdrop of artificial grass
Business executive Martha Stewart attends the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit 2023 issue release event at the Hard Rock Hotel New York on May 18 in New York. (Andy Kropa / Invision/ap)

On Aug. 3, 1941, lifestyle guru Martha Stewart was born.

Earlier this year, the Times wrote about her history-making turn as the oldest swimsuit model to grace the cover of Sports Illustrated.

The 82-year-old TV host is one of four women to pose for the magazine's swimsuit edition this year.

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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