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Today’s Headlines: Holiday will bring traffic congestion and fire danger

Hello, it’s Wednesday, Nov. 24. Thanksgiving is tomorrow, and the best news of the day is that you still have time to make Mom Parsons’ Cranberries. We don’t know if it’s the orange zest, allspice or the cinnamon sticks (it’s probably the cup and a half of sugar), but this is the best of all cranberry sauce recipes.

It’s been decades since Russ Parsons — our former Food editor who is now delighting Irish Times audiences with his culinary know-how — turned his mom’s recipe into a Times classic. After cooking this simple dish, you refrigerate it for three days — but one will do in a pinch. Here’s the recipe.

LA bowl of cranberry sauce.
Mom Parsons’ Cranberries.
(Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

Now on to today’s headlines.

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TOP STORIES

Heavy traffic and howling winds. Happy Thanksgiving.

An estimated 3.8 million Southern Californians will be driving to their holiday destinations — only 1% less than in 2019, according to the Automobile Club of Southern California, with the heaviest congestion in major metro areas from 1:30 to 6 p.m. today as commuters leaving work join holiday travelers on the road.

If you’re looking to avoid the rush and your travel plans allow, you could wait until Thanksgiving morning, when roads are typically clearer.

In the meantime, Santa Ana winds are expected to howl across the Southland on Thursday, delivering the potential for critical fire weather conditions and power shutoffs just as people gather for their holiday meals. A red flag warning indicating fire weather conditions will be in effect from 10 a.m. today to 6 p.m. Friday across large portions of Los Angeles, Orange and Ventura counties as well as the Inland Empire.

Coronavirus case rates are accelerating in some parts of the U.S.

Millions of Americans return to the Thanksgiving table this week for the first time in two years, with vaccines and boosters in their arms and rapid tests at their disposal. But as the holiday season kicks off, coronavirus cases are accelerating.

They’re surging in the frigid Upper Midwest, with hospitals in Michigan — where infections have increased by 67% in the last two weeks — nearing capacity. In New England, where vaccination rates beat the national average of 59%, outbreaks are appearing in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont as immunity wanes. In New Mexico, Santa Fe Public Schools went back to remote learning after an uptick in cases. California is urging residents not to let their guard down despite the state having one of the lowest infection rates in the country.

More top coronavirus headlines

  • Early demand for the COVID-19 vaccine for young children has been startlingly uneven in California, a Times data analysis has found. It’s a pattern that has serious implications for how a coronavirus winter surge could spread through regions of the state.
  • The WHO’s Europe office says projections show its 53-country region could face another 700,000 deaths in the pandemic by next spring, topping 2 million in total.

Stay up to date on pandemic developments, coronavirus case counts and vaccine news with Coronavirus Today.

Child dies, bringing death toll from Wisconsin parade tragedy to 6

Prosecutors in Wisconsin charged a man with intentional homicide in the deaths of five people who were killed when an SUV was driven into a Christmas parade, also leaving 62 people injured, including many children. They said a sixth person — a child — had died and more charges were pending.

Follow-home robberies, mass smash-and-grabs spur action by authorities

L.A. Police Chief Michel Moore announced he was setting up a task force to apprehend follow-home robbers, saying the department has not seen violent hold-ups “like this in decades.” Celebrities and upscale restaurants have been targeted, and a man was gunned down Tuesday during an attempted robbery outside Bossa Nova restaurant in Hollywood.

L.A. police also will step up patrols near retail hubs to prevent group takeover robberies after a break-in at Nordstrom in the Grove shopping center, which was targeted by 18 to 20 people who smashed a window and stormed the store.

San Francisco’s D.A. charged nine people with felonies after dozens of people in a shoplifting caravan allegedly cut a swath through the city’s high-end boutiques, creating a scene of chaos while stealing more than $1 million in merchandise.

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CALIFORNIA

A high-living thief reaped millions from a Coachella resort she never built. In court, Serena Shi admitted that she’d duped scores of investors in China into making $23 million in down payments. The scale of the three-year swindle stunned investors, who hired lawyers in California to file long-shot lawsuits to recover losses.

We look at one school district’s confounding struggle to define critical race theory. An Orange County school district’s debate shows how a hard-to-define academic concept has become a proxy for uncomfortable conversations about racial injustice in the U.S.

The L.A. City Council deferred a decision on Joe Buscaino’s “Safer and Cleaner L.A.” measure. The councilman’s ballot measure committee announced plans to begin collecting signatures to get the measure — which would prohibit people from sleeping or camping on sidewalks and other public spaces if they have turned down offers of shelter or emergency housing — on the November ballot.

The Police Commission backed a 12% increase in the LAPD budget for next year. The panel approved a proposed $213-million budget increase for the Police Department, a plan that would increase staffing levels. Last year, the City Council cut $150 million from the department following massive protests over the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer.

The director of Los Angeles County’s Department of Children and Family Services is resigning. Bobby Cagle told county leaders he would step down next month from running the nation’s largest child welfare agency. The DCFS is facing mounting scrutiny over a series of highly publicized fatalities and abuse of children under the agency’s care.

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NATION-WORLD

A nearly all-white jury has begun deliberations in the Ahmaud Arbery case. The jury began deliberating in the case of three white men accused of hunting down and murdering a 25-year-old Black man in Georgia. The killing has already spurred the state to repeal its antiquated citizen’s arrest law and pass a new hate crimes law.

A Virginia jury awarded millions in damages for Unite the Right violence. In a mixed verdict, a jury awarded more than $25 million in damages against white nationalist leaders for violence that erupted during the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville but deadlocked on two key claims.

A Missouri man has been exonerated and freed after more than 40 years. Kevin Strickland was released from prison after a judge ruled that he was wrongfully convicted of three murders in 1979.

World Cup host Qatar used an ex-CIA officer to spy on FIFA. The tiny Arab nation has for years employed the former CIA officer to help spy on soccer officials as part of a no-expense-spared effort to win and hold onto the 2022 World Cup tournament, an investigation by the Associated Press has found.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

The 2022 Grammy nominations are in. Absent a clear favorite (and secret committees), there’s a little something for everyone, writes pop critic Mikael Wood. Here’s the full list.

  • No, Adele didn’t land a single Grammy nomination: “30" and its monster hit of a lead single missed the deadline. Other buzzy 2021 albums did too.
  • This year’s nominations came with the inevitable left-field surprises and snubs. Snubs: a single nom, each, for Taylor Swift and BTS. Surprise: a nomination for ABBA!
  • How Jon Batiste went from Stephen Colbert’s bandleader to 11 Grammy nominations — the most of any act this year.

Lady Gaga brings down the “House of Gucci.” In Ridley Scott’s canny and engrossing movie, an Italian luxury brand and a family are brought low by greed, fraud and vicious infighting, plus a notorious black widow. It’s a calculated, highly controlled amalgam of the stylish and the tacky, writes The Times’ Justin Chang.

True-crime TV fuels the “missing white woman syndrome.” But two powerful documentaries, HBO’s “Black and Missing” and Oxygen’s “Murdered and Missing in Montana,” break the mold, highlighting cases of Black and Indigenous women, respectively, who’ve gone missing. Each production explores why law enforcement and the national media pay far less attention to a disappearance when the victim is Black or a person of color.

BUSINESS

CVS, Walgreens and Walmart pharmacies are held responsible for their part in the opioid crisis. The pharmacies recklessly distributed massive amounts of pain pills in two Ohio counties, a federal jury said in a verdict that could set the tone for U.S. city and county governments that want to hold pharmacies accountable.

West Coast dockworkers declined a contract extension. The union representing about 15,000 dockworkers at the nation’s largest ports declined an offer by employers to extend existing labor contracts for a year, setting the stage for heated negotiations.

SPORTS

No. 2 UCLA is no match for No. 1 Gonzaga. Seven months after a classic national semifinal that ended with Gonzaga’s Jalen Suggs pumping his arms atop a courtside table after banking in a 40-footer at the overtime buzzer, there was no late drama during the Bulldogs’ runaway 83-63 victory.

Lakers get cold late and fall short against Knicks. The problem was the Lakers getting down 10-0 in the first quarter and then having to exert a lot of energy and effort to get back in the game. When they got as close as 85-84 in the fourth quarter, the Lakers eventually hit a wall because of bad shooting.

St. Louis lost the Rams but may win big in court. A favorable judge and a nebulous NFL relocation policy are helping St. Louis beat Stan Kroenke and fellow owners in court over the Rams’ move to L.A.

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OPINION

Another COVID Thanksgiving — sigh. Although 2021 is an improvement over 2020, we are still in a pandemic, and if we don’t remember that, Thanksgiving could be the start of another deadly wave, writes the editorial board.

“King Richard” strikes a deep chord. Columnist LZ Granderson writes that it wasn’t until his son was born that he fully understood what it must’ve felt like for his stepfather — as the sole family provider — to sit in the apartment where Granderson grew up with no lights, no heat and hungry mouths to feed. “This is why I cried while watching ‘King Richard.’

ONLY IN L.A.

A sculpture resembles stone gasoline pumps.
A sculpture of a fossilized gas station sits in a courtyard at the California Air Resources Board’s new research and testing center in Riverside.
(California Air Resources Board)

California is full of contradictions when it comes to the move away from fossil fuels, writes Tony Barboza. We’re a climate leader and we have the nation’s worst air pollution. We want to end sales of new gas-powered cars, yet we won’t stop drilling for oil, says The Times editorial writer.

But the California Air Resources Board’s decision to make a sculpture depicting a row of petrified gas pumps the centerpiece of its new headquarters in the smoggy Inland Empire? The symbolism is perfect.

FROM THE ARCHIVES

Men, mostly in hats and ties, line up outside a building whose sign includes "Don't beg or steal. Come to us."
Nov. 26, 1936: Men line up outside L.A.'s Union Rescue Mission for a Thanksgiving meal.
(Los Angeles Times)

A Times headline 85 years ago this week said confidently that no one was going hungry on the holiday: “City Greets Thanksgiving: Los Angeles Prepares to Enjoy Dinner; All Needy Supplied.”

The Times reported that police had held a turkey shoot and were providing 150 families with turkeys. At the Union Rescue Mission, 300 “unemployed men” sat down to “roast beef, pumpkin pie and other standard dishes.” Another location had dinner for “needy women, girls and children.” Actress Joan Bennett, meanwhile, used funds she’d raised at a charity dance to give 160 children at Los Angeles Orphanage “a toy and a pair of shoes and a turkey dinner.”

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.

— Amy and Laura


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