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Today’s Headlines: Democrats propose funding a massive shift in the war on wildfires

Here are the stories you shouldn’t miss today:

TOP STORIES

Democrats propose a massive shift in the war on wildfires

The growing effects of climate change as well as the intensity of wildfires in the past two years have forced lawmakers to reconsider how they spend wildfire dollars.

Traditionally, the federal government has focused its wildfire spending on putting out fires at the expense of prevention.

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Under the social safety-net and climate bill passed by the House and now being negotiated in the Senate, Democrats would funnel $27 billion into the nation’s forests, including $14 billion over a decade for clearing vegetation and other dry debris that can fuel a fire.

Local fire officials in California and elsewhere in the West have viewed the federal government as a poor partner in combating wildfires, largely because it has left the Forest Service underfunded.

But the new money is not yet secured, and Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) is likely to play a key role in the outcome.

Horses graze in a field off as smoke rises in the background
Horses graze as the Dixie fire burns near the Greenville, Calif., in August.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

Brazen crimes shake L.A., leaving it at a crossroads

A string of high-profile thefts and a fatal shooting in Los Angeles has renewed the focus on crime and punishment.

In recent weeks, crews of burglars have smashed their way into some of the region’s most exclusive stores; robbers have followed their victims, including celebrities, to their residences; and 81-year-old philanthropist Jacqueline Avant, wife of music legend Clarence Avant, was killed in her Beverly Hills home.

After two years of rising violent crime in L.A., these incidents have sparked a national conversation and led to local concern about the crimes themselves and where the outrage over the violence will lead.

While overall city crime rates remain far below records set during the gang wars of the 1990s, violent crime has jumped sharply in L.A., as it has in other cities. Much of the violence has occurred in poor communities and among vulnerable populations, such as the homeless, and receives little attention.

Omicron spreads, but how dangerous is it?

Will Omicron overtake the Delta variant? It remains unknown. However, Omicron dwarfs its coronavirus compatriot in the number of mutations it possesses. Scientists are still trying to wrap their heads around the full ramifications of that.

On Sunday, Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNN’s “State of the Union” that scientists need more information before drawing conclusions about Omicron’s severity, though he and other U.S. health officials said early indications suggest the variant may be less dangerous than Delta, which continues to drive a surge of hospitalizations.

“Thus far, it does not look like there’s a great degree of severity to it,” Fauci said. “But we have really got to be careful before we make any determinations that it is less severe or it really doesn’t cause any severe illness, comparable to Delta.”

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The life and times of a Republican stalwart

Robert Joseph Dole, the 1996 Republican presidential nominee and for more than a third of a century a leading figure in American politics, has died at age 98.

The veteran of World War II was a state legislator, House member, Senate leader, four times a candidate for national office — and always an advocate for the nation’s farmers and war veterans.

“No Republican, aside from Richard M. Nixon, was at the center of Washington and the searing battles within the Republican Party for so long and with so great an impact,” writes special correspondent David M. Shribman.

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OUR MUST-READS FROM THE WEEKEND

A bomb, a death, a war’s painful legacy: Remembering the first Californian killed in Afghanistan. Twenty years later, the soldier’s family speaks more openly about their loss and the frustrations they have felt as the country’s longest war ground to an end.

In Oxnard, a tamale festival persists after becoming husk of its former self. The festival has been only to-go for the past two years because of COVID-19. But it’s found a way to continue.

The quiet, extraordinary life of Darlene Hard, U.S. Open champ and USC employee. The most under-publicized, underappreciated, possibly underrated tennis player of the last half-century died last week at Northridge Hospital.

PHOTO OF THE DAY

Three people sit in an inflatable craft on a body of water. In the background are low mountains.
Looking for trouble: Tim Lyons, a professor at UC Riverside, left, doctoral student Caroline Hung and UCR postdoctoral fellow Charlie Diamond use a corer to collect a sample of sediments from the Salton Sea, California’s largest and most troubled lake.
(Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times)

CALIFORNIA

After weeks of speculation, Art Acevedo says he will not enter the L.A. County sheriff’s race. The decision by the prominent law enforcement figure, who has run some of the country’s largest police agencies, spares Sheriff Alex Villanueva from what would have been a significant challenge.

L.A.’s mayoral candidates agree homeless encampments need to go. The question is how. The candidates were asked about their plans after the release of a poll of voters’ views on homelessness.

It’s another no-burn day in Southern California. Heavy fog cut visibility, snarled air traffic at Hollywood Burbank Airport on a busy travel day and worsened air quality in the Los Angeles Basin on Sunday. Blame a strong marine layer.

The Virgen de Guadalupe procession returned to East Los Angeles after a pandemic year away. A few thousand Roman Catholic devotees lined up along Cesar Chavez Avenue to greet images of the mother of Jesus and view floats, bands, dancers and marchers.

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NATION-WORLD

Few parents have been charged when children use their guns in school shootings. That’s what makes the case against a 15-year-old’s parents uncommon, after the fatal shooting of four students at Oxford High School in southeastern Michigan.

Why Mexico’s president is promoting an April recall against himself. President Andrés Manuel López Obrador probably believes he has nothing to worry about. Recent polls show that about two-thirds of the public approve of his performance since taking office in 2018.

Rescuers were searching for survivors on the slopes of the highest volcano on Indonesia’s island of Java. An eruption killed at least 14 people, as smoldering debris and thick mud hampered rescuers’ efforts.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett urged world leaders to take a hard line against Iran in negotiations aimed at reviving an international nuclear deal. His top defense and intelligence officials headed to Washington to discuss the flailing talks.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

A sexual misconduct claim against Chris Cuomo was the last straw for CNN. The anchor was already doomed at CNN after the New York state attorney general’s report described the extent of his role in guiding his brother Andrew’s sexual harassment crisis. But a claim made by a former colleague at ABC News accelerated the end of Chris Cuomo’s career at the cable news network.

Legal experts on Alec Baldwin’s risky ABC News interview: “It’s really a no-upside situation,” said one. Baldwin’s decision to speak on national television during an active criminal investigation, and amid two civil lawsuits, was a highly risky tactic that could compound problems for Baldwin.

Britney Spears vents her frustrations in a skit about what she experienced in therapy. The “Lucky” singer is getting creative on her Instagram feed, revealing some frustrations she faced while under conservatorship for almost 14 years. She was released from the legal arrangement on Nov. 12.

Call him Mr. Christmas Movie: The man behind “Real Housewives of the North Pole” and much other contemporary holiday fare loves the season too.

BUSINESS

Inflation, supply chain and wage threats loom over small businesses. They’re less able to navigate these challenges than larger competitors. For many small stores selling goods from furniture to footwear, and for providers of services from haircuts to home care, it is a nerve-wracking time: Do they charge more and risk losing clients?

Don’t rush into spending your FSA money just yet. Most years, you could roll over only some of that balance left in your healthcare flexible spending account to the following year. But Congress changed the rules for 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic. If your workplace opted in, you might be able to roll over the entirety of your remaining balance to 2022.

SPORTS

The parents of a former Mater Dei football player shared new details of the attack against their son and the school’s response. In a 90-minute conversation with The Times, they shared their feelings about an experience they say forever changed their lives.

Lincoln Riley jetted for USC, and Oklahoma is left to furiously wonder why. The new USC football coach may have replaced Kevin Durant as Oklahoma’s most disliked sports figure.

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OPINION

Where are men on the demolition of abortion rights? “I could not imagine being a father or brother or son and thinking none of this has anything to do with me,” columnist LZ Granderson writes.

America is a safe haven for domestic terrorists. What can we do about it? A former counterterrorism official says perhaps the greatest threat to our nation comes from within, and we are ill-equipped to fight it.

ONLY IN L.A.

Neighbors fear Hollywood’s hidden convent is about to go up for sale. For nearly a century, the cloistered nuns of the Monastery of the Angels have lived quietly on a rambling four-acre property just beneath the “H” of Los Angeles’ famous Hollywood sign. But the Dominican Order that oversees the monastery said it no longer meets the criteria designated by canon law and will be closed down.

FROM THE ARCHIVES

Men sit around a table sharing drinks as a waiter pours.
88 years ago today: The 21st Amendment, which repealed Prohibition, was ratified on Dec. 5, 1933. A group of men celebrate with a toast at an L.A. restaurant.
(Los Angeles Times)

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.


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