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Today’s Headlines: A rare call to action to address a youth mental health crisis

U.S. Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy meets with L.A. high school students.
U.S. Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy tours King/Drew Magnet High School of Medicine and Science before talking to a panel of students about mental health issues.
(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

Here are the stories you shouldn’t miss today.

TOP STORIES

Surgeon general addresses an emerging crisis among youth

U.S. Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy has issued a public health advisory on the mental health challenges confronting youth, a rare warning and call to action to address what he called an emerging crisis exacerbated by pandemic hardships.

Symptoms of depression and anxiety have doubled during the pandemic, according to the advisory, with 25% of youth experiencing depressive symptoms and 20% experiencing anxiety symptoms. In early 2021, emergency department visits in the U.S. for suspected suicide attempts were 51% higher for adolescent girls and 4% higher for adolescent boys compared with the same period in early 2019, according to research cited in the advisory.

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“It would be a tragedy if we beat back one public health crisis only to allow another to grow in its place,” Murthy said in the document.

Nunes is leaving Congress to work for Trump

Devin Nunes, the controversial San Joaquin Valley Republican is leaving Congress to head a social media company created by former President Trump. The Trump Media & Technology Group announced that Nunes, 48, would be its chief executive beginning in January. Nunes has served in Congress since 2003.

The former dairy farmer’s retirement comes in the midst of the every-decade redrawing of congressional districts and as California loses a member of Congress for the first time in its history. Under draft maps released in November, Nunes would have faced a tough reelection in the 2022 midterms.

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

Preparing to battle Omicron and Delta, too

California is preparing for a winter COVID-19 surge — if not from the newly identified Omicron variant, then from the Delta variant, which still poses a severe threat and has already caused surges in other states.

Health officials also suggest a multiprong strategy for a safer holiday — getting vaccinated and boosted, testing regularly and potentially scaling down holiday gatherings. Among the recommendations: Limit guests to those who are vaccinated, keep gatherings on the smaller size, and take steps to reduce risk, such as holding them outdoors.

More top coronavirus headlines

  • A USC student who traveled to the East Coast is L.A. County’s second Omicron case. School officials said the student was “currently isolating and doing well.” Late Monday, officials reported the county’s third confirmed Omicron case: someone who recently traveled from western Africa.
  • Could Omicron cause less severe COVID infections? Some health officials are hopeful but warn it is still far too early to tell.
  • Private employers in New York City will have to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations for their workers under new rules announced by Mayor Bill de Blasio.

For more, sign up for Coronavirus Today, a special edition of The Times’ Health and Science newsletter.

Should California have an $18 minimum wage? Voters may get to decide

Joe Sanberg, a Los Angeles investor and anti-poverty activist, spearheaded the Living Wage Act of 2022, which was filed with the state attorney general’s office Friday. Sanberg said he would finance the signature-gathering process to qualify the ballot initiative for the November election.

It would gradually increase the state minimum wage starting in 2023, then rise to $18 an hour for all-sized businesses by 2026.

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PHOTO OF THE DAY

PAVA World Traditional Korean Band marches in Hollywood.
The PAVA World Traditional Korean Band marches at the Hollywood Christmas Parade on Nov. 28. The parade, back after its pandemic hiatus, brought marching bands, floats, balloons and celebrities to a 3.2-mile route in Hollywood. See more photos.
(Brian van der Brug /L os Angeles Times)

CALIFORNIA

The former head of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power has agreed to plead guilty to a bribery charge. Officials said David H. Wright accepted bribes from a lawyer in exchange for supporting a $30-million, no-bid DWP contract. The charge is part of a widening corruption case involving the utility and City Atty. Mike Feuer’s office, prosecutors said.

Murder charges were filed against the L.A. man accused of killing Jacqueline Avant. Authorities also charged 29-year-old Aariel Maynor with attempted murder, saying he opened fire on a security guard with an AR-15-style rifle during a burglary at the Avants’ Beverly Hills home.

LAUSD’s independent study program is overwhelmed. Students with disabilities are paying the price. Months into the school year, many families in the remote schooling program are grappling with nonexistent or slow-to-arrive accommodations and services, such as aides, interpreters and therapists, according to interviews with parents and teachers.

Those closest to the homelessness crisis urge compassion. A recent poll of Los Angeles County voters shows that while Latino and Black respondents are the most likely to have either experienced homelessness or housing insecurity in the last year or to have known someone who has, they are also more optimistic about solving homelessness than their white and Asian American counterparts.

QAnon hijacked Hollywood to spread conspiracies. Many of the global conspiracy theory’s story lines, including evil lizard aliens disguised as humans, are pulled from films and television shows. For some writers who dreamed up the plots, it has been jarring if not wholly unexpected to see pirates repurpose them for dangerous and off-the-wall uses.

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NATION-WORLD

Biden plans to confront Putin about Ukraine’s border. As the two leaders prepare to speak Tuesday, tensions are rising over Russia’s ongoing buildup of troops along its border with Ukraine. President Biden, who last spoke with Putin in July, will urge the Russian leader to deescalate the conflict.

U.S. plans a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics. The White House confirmed the move, which China has vowed to greet with “firm countermeasures.”

Myanmar sentences Aung San Suu Kyi. Civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi was sentenced to two years under house arrest on charges of inciting violence and violating COVID-19 rules, dealing another blow to democracy in a country plunged into chaos by a military coup. Her sidelining leaves Myanmar’s democratic hopes in the hands of others.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

Why Adele’s team took away her Instagram password. Last week, the “30” artist told popular YouTuber NikkieTutorials that a controversial photo she posted in 2020 to promote the Notting Hill Carnival was why her team had taken her password away.

Controversy be damned, Dave Chappelle will open Netflix’s comedy festival next year. The polarizing star will kick off the 11-day comedy fest next spring. Netflix Is a Joke: The Festival will spread across 25 major venues in the L.A. area and feature more than 130 artists, Netflix announced Monday.

Chris Cuomo exits his daily SiriusXM satellite radio show. Two days after being fired from CNN, Cuomo announced his exit from “Let’s Get After It” in a Twitter post. Cuomo has done the daily program since 2018 and was absent from Monday’s program, which aired before the announcement.

A new TV network wants to make Christmas great again — and that message is a harmful one. All but one of GAC Family’s 12 movies this year revolve around straight, white characters. Its underlying message, writes TV critic Lorraine Ali: The “real” America is suburban or rural, predominantly white, heterosexual and Christian.

BUSINESS

Congress members are blasting a proposed Discovery-WarnerMedia merger over “antitrust concerns.” More than 30 Democratic members of Congress are raising concerns about the proposed $43-billion takeover of WarnerMedia, owner of CNN, HBO, Cartoon Network, and the Warner Bros. television and film studio. It’s the first major pushback against the deal in the U.S.

L.A. news radio station KNX will be heard on FM. Audacy, the Philadelphia-based audio company that owns KNX, announced it would simulcast the station’s signal at 97.1 FM. KNX will continue to air on 1070, its AM frequency since 1941. The move is an attempt to get more younger listeners to sample the station.

SPORTS

Clippers grind out win against shorthanded Trail Blazers. The Clippers pulled away late to beat the Trail Blazers 102-90 on Monday in Portland to improve to 13-12 on the season.

2021 Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit died after a workout at Santa Anita. The 3-year-old colt had just finished a workout at about 7:45 a.m. when he collapsed around the finish line. Here are six things to think about as the situation unfolds.

Addressing the heat. Asked about the criticism directed at coach Frank Vogel for the Lakers’ slow start, LeBron James said that anyone on the sidelines should be used to it. Vogel echoed that sentiment, saying this job’s pressure isn’t different from what he’s already felt in his career.

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OPINION

Big changes are coming to the California Capitol. Yes, the physical building, which will be replaced with a larger, more luxurious structure for about $1.3 billion — plus interim office space. It’s a new era, and it won’t be cheap, writes columnist George Skelton.

So you think Kamala Harris has it rough. Remember Dan Quayle? Undoubtedly, some criticism Harris faces is the product of racism, sexism or some poisonous combination. But the vice presidency is an inherently subordinate position that sits ripe for ridicule, columnist Mark Z. Barabak writes.

ONLY IN L.A.

A theme park castle at night with icicle lights.
Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland gets the holiday lights treatment.
(Joshua Sudock )

Visiting Disneyland over the holidays? Every holiday season, the park is adorned with hundreds of twinkly lights, ornaments and wreaths, a glittering display that brings heavy crowds over December. Here are 10 tips for making the most of your visit this festive season, including using Disneyland’s new Genie app and getting the park’s new holiday meals and snacks.

FROM THE ARCHIVES

USS California anchored at the Port of Los Angeles, San Pedro
The battleship California, based in San Pedro, was the flagship of the U.S. Pacific Fleet.
(File photo)

Today marks eighty years since the attack on Pearl Harbor. The day after the attack, The Times reported that “every man and woman” in Los Angeles had been “electrified by the news that Japan had struck at this country 2400 miles westward in the Pacific.” The city was “set buzzing as news flashed through the streets.” Pictured above, before World War II, is the battleship California, which sank during the attack but was salvaged and reconstructed.

Our sister publication the San Diego Union-Tribune talked with longtime San Diego resident Joedy Cronin Adams who was 12 at the time of the attack. She lived in new military housing with her family about 21 miles from Pearl Harbor. On Dec. 7, 1941, with her mother at her side, Adams sheltered in a basement during a barrage of machine gun fire. Now 92, she is among a shrinking number of Pearl Harbor eyewitnesses who speak publicly.

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.

— Elvia Limón and Laura Blasey


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