Today’s Headlines: UC admits a diverse, competitive class

A person walks through a hallway on a college campus.
(Christina House / Los Angeles Times)

Here are the stories you shouldn’t miss today:


UC admits a diverse competitive class

According to UC data released Monday, the University of California admitted its largest, most diverse undergraduate class ever for fall 2021 — but it was harder to get in as a record-shattering number of applicants vied for access to the renowned public research system.

The UC system’s nine undergraduate campuses collectively admitted 132,353 prospective freshmen — including out-of-state and international students — an increase of 11% over last year. Among California applicants, Latinos were the largest group admitted for the second year in a row, making up 37% of the 84,223 students offered freshman seats. Asian Americans made up 34%, white students 20% and Black students 5%. The rest were American Indians, Pacific Islanders, or those who declined to state their race or ethnicity.


About 45% of prospective first-year students admitted were low-income, while 45% would be the first in their families to attend a four-year university. The campuses also admitted 28,453 transfer students from the California Community Colleges system, the largest class ever.

“These remarkable numbers are a testament to the hard work and resiliency of students and their families across California,” UC President Michael V. Drake said in a statement.

The admission offers came in a year of unprecedented changes triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic and UC efforts to ensure more equitable access. UC eliminated the use of SAT and ACT scores in admissions decisions and made other changes, such as suspending the letter-grade requirements for most of the last two academic years. Such changes helped boost the number of applications for freshman seats this fall to record levels — 203,700, an 18% increase over last year.

Those conditions played out in myriad ways. Admission rates fell at seven of the nine campuses — they rose at UC Davis and UC Merced — with UCLA again setting the highest bar for entry as the most applied-to university in the nation.

Taps could go dry for Needles’ 5,000 residents

Rick Daniels lies awake at night worrying about a rusty contraption in a forlorn field littered with discarded pipes and fire hydrants. Across California and the West, the current drought is causing many wells to dry up, but few other communities are looking at their single water lifeline going to zero.

According to Daniels, the city manager, it is the only water pump in Needles that meets state water quality standards, running 23 hours a day to keep up with demand. That’s a thin margin in one of America’s hottest cities, an urban speck in the desert near California’s border with Arizona.

If this lone pump fails, 5,000 residents face the ultimate risk of taps running dry, as temperatures soar past 120 degrees and people need to drink as much as two gallons daily — or else face dire consequences.

Historically, the city has depended on four wells that draw from the river’s nearby aquifer. That worked fine for decades until late last year when California’s water authorities notified the city that three of its wells failed to meet state standards because of a naturally occurring mineral — manganese — that affects health. A May citation found the city had violated state water law and ordered a corrective plan by the end of this year.


But the city says it can’t afford a fix, which would include a new well for $1.5 million.

Trying to avoid a superspreader event

With the clock ticking down to the start of the Summer Games on Friday, Olympic executives and Japanese organizers find themselves increasingly on the defensive.

COVID-19 cases continue to run high in Tokyo. There have been public protests about holding a massive sporting event in the midst of a global health crisis. And each new day seems to bring another positive test — an American gymnast, two South African soccer players — in and around the Games’ bubble.

If the motivation to persevere seems obvious — think billions of dollars in broadcast rights — the methods are not. On the ground in Tokyo, where the government has implemented a state of emergency, the International Olympic Committee and organizers are scrambling to avoid a superspreader event.

Thousands of athletes, coaches, officials and media arriving in Tokyo have become accustomed to spitting into plastic tubes for COVID saliva tests. There is no dining in local restaurants or visiting tourist attractions, with the Olympic community restricted to hotels and official sites.

And athletes have been encouraged to stay away from the city until five days before their first event and depart within 48 hours of finishing competition. That means the traditional athlete parade at Friday evening’s opening ceremony should be considerably smaller.

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More top coronavirus headlines

— A federal judge is allowing Indiana University to continue with its COVID-19 vaccine requirement, rejecting a request from eight students who sought to block the policy while they pursued a lawsuit claiming the rule violated their constitutional rights.

Canada announced it would begin letting fully vaccinated U.S. citizens into the country on Aug. 9, and those from the rest of the world on Sept. 7.

Los Angeles County’s indoor mask mandate is now the law of the land. But how — or whether — it will be enforced remains an open question.

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In 1979 after critical statements by Dodgers manager Tom Lasorda, Montreal Expos pitcher Bill Lee made a fashion statement during warmups at Dodger Stadium. These three photos accompanied this caption in the July 22, 1979, Los Angeles Times:

Even though they don’t give points for neatness in baseball, Dodger manager Tom Lasorda was quoted the other day as saying the first-place Montreal Expos were disgraceful the way they came on the field during warmups. So? So Bill Lee, Le Grand Flake of Montreal, gave Lasorda a pregame fashion show Friday night and beat him Saturday.

Pitcher Bill “Spaceman” Lee of the Montreal Expos wears a baseball mitt and unkempt uniform during warmups at Dodger Stadium
July 20, 1979: Pitcher Bill “Spaceman” Lee of the Montreal Expos wears a baseball mitt and unkempt uniform during warmups at Dodger Stadium.
(Andy Hayt / Los Angeles Times)


— Utility equipment from Pacific Gas & Electric Co. may have sparked the Dixie fire, which has scorched more than 30,000 acres in Butte and Plumas counties over the last week, according to a report the utility company filed.

— Two bodies found inside a vehicle that tumbled off the Angeles Crest Highway were identified as a couple of missing 19-year-olds last seen earlier this month, according to the Los Angeles County coroner.

Caltech agreed to pay $25,465 to cover the costs of repairing a sacred Native American petroglyph site near Bishop, four years after a research team damaged it while collecting unauthorized samples.

— Los Angeles police attempting to safely detonate a stash of illegal fireworks last month significantly underestimated the weight of the devices before they exploded, injuring 17 people in a South L.A. neighborhood.

Jerry Lewis, the longest-serving Republican congressman in California history, has died at his home in Redlands. He was 86.

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President Biden took some credit for the country’s expanding economy and urged support for his two long-term infrastructure proposals, which hang in Congress’ balance this week as lawmakers battle over the details.

— The Justice Department declined to prosecute former Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross for misleading Congress about the origins and purpose of asking about citizenship on the 2020 census, a government watchdog told Congress.

— A Florida man who breached the U.S. Senate chamber carrying a Trump campaign flag was sentenced to eight months behind bars, the first resolution for a felony case in the Capitol insurrection.

Ben & Jerry’s said it was going to stop selling its ice cream in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and contested East Jerusalem, saying the sales in the territories sought by the Palestinians are “inconsistent with our values.”

Haiti’s interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph, who has been leading the country since the July 7 assassination of President Jovenel Moise, will step down from his role as the government reckons with the fallout of the killing.


Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, Megan Suri, and writer Amina Munir discuss what “Never Have I Ever’s” second-season “frenemy” arc says about the unjust pressures facing women of color.

— Backed by Penguin Random House, Prince Harry will publish an “intimate and heartfelt” memoir on the life, lessons and losses that have shaped him.

— Three stars grace the cover of the 2021 swimsuit edition of Sports Illustrated: tennis champion Naomi Osaka, rapper Megan Thee Stallion and model and activist Leyna Bloom.

— The press-averse Osaka agreed to let Netflix make a docuseries about her life. It was about taking back control of her story.


CNN will launch its first standalone direct-to-consumer streaming service in the first quarter of 2022, giving consumers its live video content without a pay-TV subscription.

— Fears that faster-spreading variants of the virus may upend the economy’s strong recovery have spooked investors, knocking stocks lower from Wall Street to Sydney.


— The Giants took the first game of of their four-game series with the Dodgers, who are now two games behind San Francisco in the NL West.

— How cursed are the Tokyo Olympics? Japanese composer Keigo Oyamada has resigned from his work on the opening ceremony after coming under fire for decades-old bullying.

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— The energy of the crowd has always been part of the glory of the Games. This year, not even family members will be allowed at the event. “But I predict triumph and joy, too. After all, it’s still the Olympics. I’ve found that you attach those five interlocking rings, and magic happens,” writes David Leon Moore.

— California has a glaringly obvious housing shortage, The Times’ editorial board writes. So why are Gov. Gavin Newsom and lawmakers letting a labor standoff block important housing bills?


Military-grade Israeli spyware was used in attempted and successful hacks of 37 smartphones belonging to journalists, human rights activists, business executives and the fiancee of murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a global investigation finds. (Washington Post)

— American children watched a lot of “Peppa Pig” during the pandemic. So much “Peppa Pig,” some started speaking with her British accent and vocabulary. (Wall Street Journal)


An average gravesite headstone, depending on quality, might cost around $1,000. But engraved 4-by-8-inch bricks at Angel Stadium? Just over $100, with all the memories of baseball fandom attached. The team began offering the service in the early 2000s to give fans a permanent piece of the stadium to hold on to and now hundreds of names are grouped in neat squares, each with their own story.

Today’s newsletter was curated by Daric L. Cottingham and Laura Blasey. Comments or ideas? Email us at