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Today’s Headlines: Biden tries to reset the climate on climate change

President Biden
President Biden, pictured in March, will bring together global leaders for a virtual climate summit.
(Patrick Semansky / Associated Press)
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As President Biden gets set to hold a virtual climate summit next week, he faces a series of hard choices — and a difficult sales job.

TOP STORIES

Trying to Reset the Climate

Hours after he was sworn in, President Biden signed an executive order committing the United States to rejoin the international accord designed to prevent the most catastrophic effects of climate change — the Paris climate agreement.

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Now, as the White House prepares to host virtual climate talks next week, world leaders, American lawmakers and environmental advocates are waiting to see just how ambitious Biden will be.

All eyes are focused on the new goal he sets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 — a goal that may depend on a significant contribution from California and one that is a key step to reenter the agreement.

Wherever he lands, Biden will need to walk a careful line, policy experts said — to satisfy major environmental groups and progressive Democrats at home, and to persuade foreign leaders to strengthen their own climate-action commitments.

More Politics

— Biden formally announced a Sept. 11 deadline to end military involvement in Afghanistan, arguing that the 2001 terrorist attacks that led to the U.S. invasion can no longer justify prolonging an unwinnable war.

— The Biden administration is preparing to announce sanctions in response to a massive Russian hacking campaign that breached vital federal agencies, as well as for election interference, a senior official said.

— Biden has quietly relaxed one of former President Trump’s signature immigration bans against foreign workers with skills that U.S. employers say they cannot find in the domestic labor market.

— Vice President Kamala Harris faces diplomatic pitfalls in tackling the issue of migration from Central America.

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— A House committee advanced legislation, first introduced in 1989, that would study the issue of awarding reparations to the descendants of American slaves.

Outrage in Minnesota

The prosecutors of a suburban Minneapolis county have charged Kim Potter, the former police officer who shot 20-year-old Daunte Wright, with second-degree manslaughter. It was a swift legal move that some characterized as overly lenient after another Black man‘s death at the hands of police.

Officials from the Washington County Attorney’s Office announced the charge against Potter, who had resigned Tuesday from the Brooklyn Center Police Department. The veteran officer was arrested and booked into jail but was later released on $100,000 bail. The charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.

Ten miles from where Potter shot Wright, former Minneapolis Officer Derek Chauvin is on trial on murder and manslaughter charges in the May 25 death of George Floyd, whose neck he knelt on for more than nine minutes. The defense is presenting its case in the trial.

The Uneven Vaccine Picture

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Los Angeles County has made significant strides in administering COVID-19 vaccines in communities of color hit hardest by the pandemic, but those areas continue to lag far behind wealthier neighborhoods and the county as a whole, according to a Times data analysis.

Some neighborhoods in South Los Angeles — where the spread of the coronavirus was particularly devastating — saw the biggest increase in the number of residents who had received at least one vaccine dose between March 1 and Monday, the data show. Other areas that saw major improvement include Thai Town in Hollywood, Lennox and Cudahy.

Meanwhile, the data also show that 44% of women in L.A. County have received at least one dose of a vaccine, but only 30% of men have, even though men are more likely to die of COVID-19. It’s a trend across the U.S.: In the 38 states that have published a gender breakdown of vaccination rates, more women have been vaccinated than men in all of them, according to Kaiser Health News.

As of Wednesday night, everyone in California 16 and older can now book COVID-19 vaccine appointments on the state’s My Turn appointment system.

More Top Coronavirus Headlines

Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine will remain in limbo a while longer after U.S. health advisors told the government that they need more evidence to decide whether a handful of unusual blood clots were linked to the shot — and if so, how big the potential risk is.

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— The risk of being exposed to the coronavirus on a commercial flight drops by as much as half when airlines keep middle seats open, a new study published by the U.S. government concludes, but it’s a safety practice the carriers have abandoned.

— Officials say Orange County will not require a vaccine “passport” after a backlash.

A Toxic Legacy

DDT doesn’t just affect women directly exposed to it.

A team of researchers at UC Davis and the Public Health Institute in Oakland has confirmed for the first time that the effects trickled down to granddaughters of women who were exposed during pregnancy: namely, in higher rates of obesity and menstrual periods that start before age 11. Both factors, scientists say, may put these young women at greater risk of breast cancer — as well as high blood pressure, diabetes and other diseases.

The findings come at a time of renewed public interest in DDT. Concerns have intensified since The Times reported last fall that the nation’s largest manufacturer of DDT once dumped as many as half a million barrels of its waste into the deep ocean.

FROM THE ARCHIVES

Cases weren’t all that was on trial at the Los Angeles Hall of Justice on April 16, 1926. The building’s plumbing was put to the test when a drain above an eighth-floor courtroom became clogged. According to The Times, water dripped, trickled and finally poured through the ceiling.

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Superior Court Judge Carlos Hardy called for umbrellas and adjourned the session. According to The Times, the flood wasn’t merely disruptive. The room had been intricately and expensively designed, with a $4,000 gilded ceiling — made of plaster of Paris — and was full of specialized equipment that was damaged.

a woman and two men sit under umbrella indoors
April 16, 1926: An overflowing drain at the Hall of Justice brought out umbrellas and pails in Judge Carlos Hardy’s courtroom. Hannah Richman, left, court reporter Edwin Williams, middle, and Hardy try to keep dry.
(Los Angeles Times Archive / UCLA)

CALIFORNIA

— Prosecutors alleged Paul Flores killed Kristin Smart in his college dorm room as he sexually assaulted the 19-year-old student nearly 25 years ago. Flores was arrested this week.

— Almost the entire roster of Huntington Park’s Finance Department was placed on administrative leave and one staffer was arrested as part of an investigation into a records breach that has sparked competing claims of wrongdoing.

Black students in Los Angeles County continue to face barriers to an equitable education, including concentrated poverty, high suspension rates and housing insecurity, a UCLA report found.

— Scores of tule elk died at Point Reyes seashore in 2020. Are their days numbered?

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NATION-WORLD

Bernard Madoff, the notorious financier who pulled off history’s biggest swindle and came to epitomize Wall Street corruption, died while serving a 150-year prison sentence. He was 82.

— The massive cargo ship that blocked the Suez Canal is stuck again — this time in the middle of a financial dispute. Egyptian authorities have impounded the vessel until it can be resolved.

— Why do flights from Central America often have the enticing aroma of fried chicken? It’s Pollo Campero, and many Guatemalans and Salvadorans say it’s so good, it’s worth carrying home.

Britain watches and wonders: Will brother princes make peace while grieving their grandfather’s death?

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

Hollywood productions are starting to awaken from the COVID-19 pandemic shutdowns. But some things will never be the same.

Kris Bowers and Travon Free, two first-time directors, put a spotlight on Black life in L.A. Now they’re Oscar nominees.

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— How did they create “Mulan’s” massive Imperial City? The film’s Oscar-nominated visual effects teams used an approach resembling a giant digital Lego kit.

— In an interview with “Good Morning America,” former “Bachelor” Colton Underwood came out as gay and apologized to the women he met on the show. The dating show has a troubled history when it comes to gay romance.

BUSINESS

— Who gets to make millions selling NFTs, or non-fungible tokens? The new technology has started exposing age-old tensions between rank-and-file creatives and powerful entertainment corporations, including in the comics industry.

— If you’re shopping for a place to live in L.A.’s hot housing market, prepare to pay way more than the price tag.

SPORTS

— The Dodgers beat the Colorado Rockies 4-2. A strong finish sealed the team’s fifth straight win, improving their major league-best record to 10-2.

Los Angeles Unified School District teams are playing some sports. But frustration is growing, along with chaos, columnist Eric Sondheimer writes.

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For more high schools sports, sign up for Sondheimer’s free newsletter, Prep Rally.

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OPINION

— There’s a fight over the direction of Black Lives Matter. The timing couldn’t be worse, columnist Erika D. Smith writes.

— The UC system is one of the best and worst parts of living in California, culture columnist and critic Mary McNamara writes.

WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

“Sluggish cognitive tempo” isn’t an officially recognized diagnosis, and many psychologists dismiss it as fatally flawed. But even though it’s in categorical limbo, many people who say they suffer from what they consider a unique mental health disorder have found validation with others online. (STAT News)

— A ketchup packet shortage has hit restaurants, creating a hot market on EBay for those packets in your cupboards. (Wall Street Journal)

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ONLY IN L.A.

Edwin Aguilar fled El Salvador’s civil war when he was 9. He grew up in East Los Angeles and went on to become an animator, layout artist and assistant director, including 20 years on “The Simpsons” franchise. “When he was a kid in El Salvador, he used to draw Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck,” said director David Silverman of Aguilar, who died at age 46 last week. “Then, years later, he works with Chuck Jones. Pretty incredible journey, when you think about it.”

Comments or ideas? Email us at headlines@latimes.com.

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