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Today’s Headlines: Hefty payout for history-making gas leak

Here are the stories you shouldn’t miss today:

TOP STORIES

SoCalGas agrees to pay up to $1.8 billion in settlement for 2015 Aliso Canyon gas leak

Nearly six years after the worst methane gas leak in U.S. history forced more than 8,000 families in Porter Ranch to flee their homes, Southern California Gas Co. has agreed to pay a settlement of up to $1.8 billion.

In an announcement Monday, the gas company and its parent, Sempra Energy, denied any wrongdoing. The settlement came after years of lawsuits involving more than 35,000 victims.

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The October 2015 leak lasted four months and caused the largest known release of methane in U.S. history. More than 100,000 metric tons of the gas, a pollutant more potent than carbon dioxide, spewed into the air.

GOP blocks bill to keep the government funded

Republican senators blocked a bill Monday night to keep the government operating and allow federal borrowing, but Democrats aiming to avert a shutdown are likely to try again — at the same time pressing ahead on President Biden’s big plans to reshape government.

The efforts are not necessarily linked, but the fiscal-year-end deadline to fund the government past Thursday is bumping up against the Democrats’ desire to make progress on Biden’s expansive $3.5-trillion federal overhaul. The consequences are certain to shape his presidency and the lawmakers’ own political futures.

More politics

— Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) said she was wrong to have opposed same-sex marriage in the past, a stand that once split her family.

— California’s pandemic-inspired move toward mailing a ballot to every registered, active voter will become a permanent part of the state’s political landscape, as Gov. Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill 37 on Monday.

— U.S. Rep. Karen Bass officially launched her campaign for Los Angeles mayor on Monday, telling Angelenos she’s in the race with her “whole heart” and ready to tackle the city’s homelessness epidemic.

Sign up for our California Politics newsletter to get the best of The Times’ state politics reporting, including full coverage of the recall election and the latest action in Sacramento.

L.A. County D.A. to dismiss thousands of past marijuana convictions

The nation’s largest prosecutor’s office is moving to dismiss roughly 60,000 marijuana convictions, the latest step to undo what some reform advocates consider the damage caused by narcotics enforcement carried out before Californians voted to legalize marijuana, Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. George Gascón announced Monday.

A landmark deal shakes up Hollywood

Creative Artists Agency is set to acquire ICM Partners for an undisclosed price in a deal that could transform Hollywood’s talent agency industry. The transaction, subject to regulatory approval, would reduce the number of top agencies to: CAA, WME and United Talent Agency.

The sale would give CAA and ICM the size and scale to better compete against Beverly Hills entertainment juggernaut Endeavor. It gives CAA access to a lucrative publishing business and ICM’s top clients, including “Grey’s Anatomy” creator Shonda Rhimes, actor Samuel L. Jackson, director Spike Lee and Ellen DeGeneres.

Our daily news podcast

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FROM THE ARCHIVES

On this day in 1996, The Times reported that then-California Gov. Pete Wilson signed three bills creating a $10.5-billion state earthquake insurance authority.

The new agency became the state’s main provider of residential earthquake insurance. “But the new policies often will cost twice as much for only half as much coverage compared to insurance issued before the 1994 Northridge earthquake,” The Times reported.

Wilson said the authority would positively affect the homeowners insurance market because insurance providers had sharply curtailed new policies.

CALIFORNIA

— A wave of parents seeking remote learning for their children has overwhelmed public school programs in Los Angeles, causing teacher shortages, administrative snafus and enrollment delays that in some cases have kept students out of school for weeks.

— As the Colorado River’s largest reservoirs sit at their lowest levels on record, water managers have acknowledged that greater cooperation and larger steps are needed to prevent the reservoirs from bottoming out. To that end, the Imperial Irrigation District said it would settle its heated dispute with the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.

— Some California eviction protections expire this week, but low-income tenants who are behind on their rent can continue to hold on to their housing by applying for a state rent relief program.

— A 20-year-old accused in the fatal shooting of a TikTok star and his friend at a Corona movie theater in July pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity Monday. Charges against the man make him eligible for the death penalty.

— Californians have legal rights to abortion, but getting one can be difficult. Advocates say many Californians struggle to afford the procedure, and some live far from a clinic that provides it.

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NATION-WORLD

— Homicides in the U.S. in 2020 increased in the largest one-year jump since the FBI began keeping records, according to figures released Monday by the agency.

— A federal judge said Monday that John Hinckley Jr., who tried to assassinate President Reagan four decades ago, could be freed from all his remaining restrictions next year if he continued to follow those rules and remained mentally stable.

— An Amtrak train that derailed in Montana was going just under the speed limit when it went off the track along a gradual curve, killing three people and possibly ejecting passengers, federal investigators said Monday. An NTSB official said camera footage was being studied “frame by frame to make sure that we see exactly what the engineer saw — or maybe didn’t see.”

— The party that narrowly beat departing German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s bloc pushed Monday for a quick agreement on a coalition government amid concerns that Europe’s biggest economy could be in for weeks of uncertainty.

— Thousands of British gas stations ran dry Sunday, an industry group said, as motorists scrambled to fill up amid a supply disruption from a shortage of truck drivers.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

— R&B star R. Kelly was convicted in a sex trafficking trial after decades of avoiding criminal responsibility for numerous allegations of misconduct with young women and children. A jury found Kelly guilty of racketeering on their second day of deliberations.

— Britney Spears’ lawyer has taken Jamie Spears to task in the wake of new allegations of intrusive and possibly illegal surveillance.

— For hip-hop and Black communities, Nicki Minaj’s “BallGate” is no laughing matter.

— Say hello to the Season 47 cast of “Saturday Night Live,” with familiar faces as well as some fresh talent that includes Los Angeles-based comedian Aristotle Athari.

BUSINESS

— Gov. Gavin Newsom signed legislation ensuring an hourly rate and new protections for garment workers in California. Senate Bill 62 faced heavy opposition from fashion brands and trade groups. It aims to overhaul a pay model for garment workers that has led to subminimum wages.

— Instagram hit pause on a kids’ version of its app after leaked research about its negative effect on children, especially on teenage girls, drew criticism.

SPORTS

— Kyrie Irving said he wouldn’t answer questions about his vaccination status, citing, like some other players, privacy. But this is a very public issue in a very public league that has allowed players like Irving to become very publicly lauded and compensated. And vaccination refusal, at least from a basketball sense, is relevant because of the potential effects it could have on a team, writes staffer Dan Woike.

— Two months after undergoing surgery on his right knee to fix a partially torn anterior cruciate ligament, Kawhi Leonard said Monday he had no timeline for his recovery but indicated he hadn’t closed the door on playing this season.

— The Dodgers’ bat boys are different than they appear to be. For one, they’re men, and it’s a more complex job than it seems.

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OPINION

— Shame on Congress for blowing police reform. Hope died when it failed to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.

— At airports, travelers get the clear message: Do it yourself. New technologies mean “the passengers themselves take care of most of the administration,” as one industry consulting firm put it, reducing the need for paid humans. The country, and indeed the world, is headed for an extraordinary wave of robotization and automation — and not just in travel.

ONLY IN L.A.

It’s hard to grasp the enormity of “The One,” but an aerial photograph of the largest modern home in the United States provides perspective. The massive property was once marketed for $500 million. It’s a testament to the will of an obsessive developer driven to build the most extravagant mansion he could imagine — a colossus he now finds slipping through his fingers as he battles a hard-nosed money lender who’s in for more than $100 million on the project.

An aerial view of a multi-story structure occupying the entirety of a large hill.
An aerial view of “The One,” a 105,000-square-foot mansion in Bel-Air, Calif., with a sky deck, a night club, several swimming pools, a 50-seat theater and more.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Today’s newsletter was curated by Laura Blasey and Amy Hubbard. Comments or ideas? Email us at headlines@latimes.com.


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