Today’s Headlines: L.A. students’ learning sputtered badly in pandemic

A teenage girl walks by a colorful mural.
Tristan Gamboa, a senior at Abraham Lincoln High School in Los Angeles, heads back to campus in August.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
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Here’s a look at today’s news.

L.A. students have suffered a steep falloff in learning. For months, California educators have been warning that the pandemic and school closures have had significant effects on student academic progress. A first-of-its-kind Los Angeles Times analysis of data shows the impact on L.A. students: deep drops in assessment scores or below-grade-level standing in key areas of learning.

Chris Taylor hit three home runs to help power the Dodgers to an 11-2 season-sustaining victory over the Atlanta Braves in Game 5 of the NLCS at Dodger Stadium. The Dodgers trail the best-of-seven series 3-2 heading into Game 6 in Atlanta on Saturday at 2:08 p.m. PDT.


Alec Baldwin fired a prop gun that killed the cinematographer
and injured the director of a film he was producing and starring in. The incident occurred on a movie set in New Mexico, according to the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office. Production was halted on “Rust.” A spokesperson for Baldwin said there was an accident on the set involving the misfire of a prop gun with blanks.

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A surfer and the moon are seen in dim light through the pilings of a pier.
The setting hunter’s moon hovers over a predawn surfer off Manhattan Beach. The hunter’s moon is the first full moon of the fall.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

USC officials have placed the school’s Sigma Nu fraternity chapter on interim suspension following allegations that women were drugged and sexually assaulted at the house.

California has taken a first step toward banning new oil and gas wells. The Newsom administration proposed a ban on new wells within 3,200 feet of homes, schools and healthcare facilities, and requiring emissions monitoring of existing wells within those buffer zones, a move urged by environmental and public health advocates who say the toxins, odors and hazards from oil fields disproportionately affect Latino and Black communities.


Rainstorms barreling into Northern California could lead to a heavy, moisture-laden weather pattern called a “bomb cyclone.” With downpours come fears of flooding and debris flows in areas scarred by wildfire. “We are going to have some problems,” said a Plumas County government official. “But we will deal with it. We are strong and resilient.”

More than two months after a Northern California family was found dead on a hiking trail in a remote area of the Sierra National Forest, authorities released the cause of death: heat-related illness and probable dehydration.


Marilyn Monroe sits alongside her attorney in court alongside photographers holding flash cameras.
Marilyn Monroe attracts photographers’ attention in October 1954 while in court for her divorce from Joe DiMaggio. The Times reported that Monroe, shown with lawyer Jerry Giesler, told the court she was disappointed in love.
(Los Angeles Times)

A judge ruled that layoffs of port truck drivers were illegal. Weeks after a group of drivers voted to unionize, they opened their mailboxes to find termination notices from their employer. The layoffs violated federal labor law, a judge ruled in a decision that will reinstate the drivers with back pay and interest.

Millions more Americans are closer to getting a COVID-19 booster as a CDC panel has endorsed extra doses of all three of the nation’s authorized vaccines — and opened the possibility of choosing a different company’s brand for that next shot.

The pandemic has spurred young families to leave big cities. For generations of young people reared in the nation’s heartland, it has been almost a rite of passage: Grow up in a small town, finish school, head out for the opportunities of cities. It’s been a major factor in the aging populations and declining economies of rural communities. But the pandemic may be reversing — or at least slowing — that trend. Will they stay?


Questioning whether a “right to abortion exists” in this country, Texas state lawyers urged the Supreme Court to reject the Biden administration’s plea to suspend a new state law that makes it illegal for doctors to perform abortions after about six weeks of a pregnancy.

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Climate-fueled migration is coming. National security officials warn that worsening heat waves, droughts and other climate-fueled hazards are likely to drive a surge in global migration in the coming decades, increasing political instability among the United States’ allies and strengthening its adversaries.

A Haitian gang leader has threatened to kill 17 kidnapped American missionaries. The leader of the 400 Mawozo gang is seen in a video released Thursday saying he will kill them if he doesn’t get what he’s demanding, which is $1 million per person, although it wasn’t immediately clear whether that included the five children in the group.

Who will be the champion for immigrants? When he was president, Donald Trump was above all an enemy of immigrants: a Mexican-bashing, Muslim-banning, border-wall-building mogul, writes columnist Jean Guerrero. But nine months into the Biden administration, Democrats have yet to protect millions of undocumented people who helped the nation survive the pandemic by harvesting our food, cleaning our hospitals and more.


The Times’ Mary Forgione, the outdoors guru behind the Wild newsletter, has this late-October tip: Visit Descanso Gardens in La Cañada Flintridge if you’re into a Halloween that’s more gourdy than gory. “There’s a Pumpkin House, a Pumpkin Arch leading to the Camellia Forest, pumpkin mandalas at the base of trees at the Oak Grove, carved pumpkins and other decorations that last through Oct. 31.” Tour the gardens 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. with timed tickets purchased in advance. More info at the Wild.


Today’s quiz from the pages of The Times:
Wonder Woman Flight of Courage, which will be the world’s tallest single-track roller coaster, is coming to what Southern California theme park?
[Answer at the bottom of the newsletter]

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Why did a Maryland couple allegedly try to sell government secrets? When the U.S. government announced the couple’s arrest on suspicion of espionage last week, it filed a 23-page affidavit. But left unanswered in all the plot twists: What drove a suburban engineer and his schoolteacher wife to apparently try to sell secrets to a still-unidentified country? (Washington Post)

What animals will exist on Earth in a million years? Some creatures are sure to endure in this age of mass extinction and climate crisis. Transformations are already underway, scientists say. Climate change, some research suggests, is already “shape shifting” animals. Evolutionary biologists say it’s worth trying to imagine what creatures will evolve in the future, such as the flightless, carnivorous pigeon and the fully aquatic whale-rat. (Vox)

Having trouble finding a yacht? Yacht brokers say demand is through the roof, with little to no inventory and months-long wait lists. In part, that’s due to pandemic supply chain disruptions. But also the rich got even richer. (Los Angeles Times)


To say that in Los Angeles your car is an extension of your identity might be the understatement of the century. No aspect of a vehicle exemplifies this more than a vanity license plate. It’s both a first impression and a final thought.


The Times spoke to the owners of 19 vanity license plates: One father wanted to commemorate an off-roading experience with his son. A woman wanted to pay tribute to her favorite Canadian pop diva. And for one couple, it’s a call to be kind to one another. So, what’s on your plate?

a pile of license plates with different phrases on them like "R I P" and "MORE TK"
Some of the 19 vanity license plates whose owners shared their stories with The Times.
(Los Angeles Times)

Answer to today’s quiz:
Mega-coaster Wonder Woman Flight of Courage is planned for Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia. As The Times’ Hugo Martín writes: It will “race at 58 mph, climb a 131-foot tower and plunge down an 87-degree drop along a 3,300-foot track.” It’s set to open next summer.

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