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Today’s Headlines: Thousands of L.A. Unified students could be barred from campus

Harnoorvir Singh Jabbal 11, gets the COVID-19 vaccine from nurse
Harnoorvir Singh Jabbal, 11, gets the COVID-19 vaccine from nurse Chelsea Meyer at Arleta High School on Nov. 8.
(Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)

Hello, it’s Wednesday, Dec. 8, and before we get to the news of the day, we’d like to think about breakfast. The Times went live last night with our annual 101 Best Restaurants in L.A. list, and it’s worth celebrating. Alice Short, acting Food editor and longtime colleague, told us restaurant critic Bill Addison (who keeps us up to date on all things delectable in his Tasting Notes newsletter) “spent months exploring the restaurants, pop-ups and food carts and trucks of Southern California.” Alice said Bill produced 101 write-ups — solo — a massive undertaking. Scroll down for more on the 101 in Only in L.A. To tide you over, here’s a tall breakfast sandwich.

Closeup of egg, meats and cheese on a biscuit. The sandwich is on a white plate with a red and white checked napkin.
A breakfast biscuit at All Day Baby.
(Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles)

Now, on to today’s top headlines.

TOP STORIES

Thousands of L.A. Unified students have not shown proof of vaccination

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About 34,000 students have yet to comply with the COVID-19 vaccine mandate in the Los Angeles Unified School District — and there’s no longer enough time for students to get the first shot and complete their required inoculation by the Jan. 10 start of the second semester.

This will probably force the nation’s second-largest school system into some difficult decisions. Students who are not fully vaccinated — or exempt — will be forced into the district’s independent study program or will have to leave the Los Angeles public school system.

Shifting 34,000 students 12 and older into independent study would be challenging. And who would teach these students? The 34,000 total, by itself, would make up one of the 25 largest school systems among about 1,000 districts in California. There’s no current indication, however, that L.A. Unified is backing down.

More coronavirus news

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

Pushing for more maternal healthcare

Vice President Kamala Harris urged Congress to allocate an additional $3 billion for maternal healthcare and expand postpartum Medicaid coverage to one year as part of the proposed social safety net and climate package now before the Senate.

Harris’ call to action came during the White House’s first summit on maternal health, held to draw attention to the fact that the U.S. maternal mortality rate is more than double that of most other developed nations.

More politics

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

$500 fines for California water wasters?

As California descends deeper into drought, officials are growing troubled by the public’s lackluster response to calls for water conservation, with residents falling far short of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s request for a voluntary 15% reduction in usage.

Now, state regulators are considering adopting emergency regulations prohibiting specific actions from curtailing water waste, such as washing vehicles with hoses that do not have shut-off nozzles and watering lawns within 48 hours after measurable rainfall. Under the proposed rules, violators could face fines of up to $500 each day.

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PHOTO OF THE DAY

Fans dance in the walkways as Los Ángeles Azules performs
A Mexican cumbia band stirs nostalgia on a U.S. tour. Fans dance in the walkways as Los Ángeles Azules perform in Estero, Fla. The crowd rarely sits during a show. See more photos.
(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

CALIFORNIA

L.A. approves its redistricting map, setting political boundaries for the next decade. Los Angeles City Council members approved a redistricting ordinance that places Koreatown in a single council district. It also reworks political boundaries in the San Fernando Valley and ensures that USC and Exposition Park remain in the South Los Angeles district represented by Councilman Curren Price.

Wilmington gunfire that killed one child and critically wounded another sparks outrage from the community. The motive for the shooting is unknown. Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore called the shooting “tragic” and said it was part of a broader increase in gun violence in the last two years, particularly since last month.

Melrose Avenue neighborhood group finds a new way to help investigators. Spurred by a series of robberies, shootings and other crimes in the area in recent months, neighborhood group Melrose Action has raised $30,000 for license plate readers that will be installed beginning this week.

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NATION-WORLD

President Biden urged his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin toward diplomacy, not war, with Ukraine. During a two-hour virtual meeting, the two world leaders also discussed U.S. and Russian long-term work on arms control, ransomware and joint efforts on regional issues such as Iran.

Evacuated Afghans adjust to a temporary life on U.S. military bases. The last-minute evacuation of 83,000 people from Afghanistan gave resettlement agencies no lead time to find housing for refugee families. Meanwhile, refugees are desperate to get off the military bases and find jobs to start sending money back home.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

Nick Cannon grieves the death of his youngest son, Zen, from brain cancer. The talk-show host and TV personality said he “embraced every moment” of his young son’s life, and praised Zen’s mom, model Alyssa Scott.

Holly Madison felt trapped in a “cycle of gross things” at Hugh Hefner’s Playboy Mansion. The former Playboy bunny and Hefner’s onetime girlfriend is about to give up some of the mansion’s secrets in a 10-hour series on A&E.

BUSINESS

The fight for truck drivers. The nationwide battle to combat a shortage of truck drivers has become a serious problem for the U.S. economy as it struggles against the seemingly endless assaults of the COVID-19 pandemic. This competition has led industry giants to resort to extreme measures, including unprecedented pay increases and benefits and signing bonuses as high as $20,000.

Are you a first-time home buyer in Southern California? We want to hear from you. Please fill out our form here and you may hear from a Los Angeles Times reporter.

SPORTS

Lakers tap into green energy as their Big Three power a win over the Celtics. LeBron James scored 30 points and provided energy on defense as the Lakers beat the rival Boston Celtics 117-102 on Tuesday at Staples Center.

Isaiah Mobley scores 23 to lead No. 16 USC past Eastern Kentucky. USC remained undefeated with a 80-68 win over Eastern Kentucky on Tuesday at Galen Center.

USC star Drake London is chosen Pac-12 offensive player of the year despite missing games. London is the eighth USC player to receive the honor and the first since Marqise Lee in 2012.

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OPINION

Ending the travel bans for southern Africa. The Biden administration’s decision to ban travel from eight African countries after scientists detected the Omicron variant is discriminatory to Africans, writes April L. Raphiou. Especially now that the variant has been detected in dozens of countries, including the U.S.

Things have not gone well for Vice President Kamala Harris, writes columnist Jonah Goldberg. According to one recent poll, she broke Dick Cheney’s record for most unpopular sitting vice president. The White House insists there’s nothing amiss in Harris-land, even as much of her senior staff is jumping ship.

ONLY IN L.A.

Food arranged on multiple platters including 16 small white dishes.
Some of the offerings at Soban in Koreatown.
(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)

The 101 list has arrived, and as Times restaurant critic Bill Addison says in his intro, he set out to “capture, as much as a finite number can, the overall breadth and spirit of dining in L.A. … The number of stories to tell about L.A.’s food culture is limitless.” It’s a mad range of cuisines, and there are plenty priced at $ along with $$$$.

The pandemic has wreaked havoc on the restaurant industry. Acting Food Editor Alice Short said part of the project was considering what the industry had been through, “the heroic efforts of various chefs and restaurateurs to persevere.” Bill writes: “After nearly two brutal years fighting for its survival, the soul of Los Angeles dining remains resilient.”

Here are three from the list for your consumption:

  • “Winter apple galette perfumed with the smoke of a wood oven” can be found at A.O.C. in West Hollywood
  • The smashburger — “griddled onions dangle off the side like commas” — at For the Win in the Hollywood Hills
  • Ganjang gejang, a super-fresh raw crab cut into pieces, marinated in house-made soy sauce and dressed with green chiles, at Soban in Koreatown: “Eating it is hands-on, full-sensory business.”

FROM THE ARCHIVES

John Lennon being interviewed
John Lennon is interviewed in Los Angeles in 1974. He said he was “clearheaded and not drinking,” and he was writing more.
(Tony Barnard )

John Lennon was shot and killed 41 years ago today. Weeks before his death, he talked with The Times’ longtime, widely respected pop music critic Robert Hilburn, who recalled the shock of the pop star’s death in his memoir. Hilburn spoke with Lennon about his solo music, separation and reconciliation with Yoko Ono, public and personal pressure, and a Beatles reunion. “All these Beatles rumors are silly,” Lennon said. “I mean, do we really want to go out there and try to re-create something that happened 15 years ago? There’s no way we could live up to their dreams.”

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 Amy Hubbard


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