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Today’s Headlines: New superintendent will take on the challenge that is the LAUSD

New LAUSD Supt. Alberto Carvalho
New LAUSD Supt. Alberto Carvalho must face students’ academic and emotional setbacks from the pandemic and long-term financial and enrollment worries.
(Lynne Sladky / Associated Press)

Hello! It’s Friday, Dec. 10, and here are some of our top stories to get your day started.

TOP STORIES

The pick for L.A.'s next superintendent

Alberto Carvalho, who has led Miami-Dade County Public Schools since 2008 and is among the nation’s most experienced and admired school district leaders, has been named the next superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District.

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Carvalho, 57, takes on one of the highest-profile and most challenging posts in public education. At the LAUSD, he confronts a school district in which many students have long struggled to achieve and have been further set back — academically and emotionally — by the COVID-19 pandemic.

More: Details on Carvalho’s background, experience and record.

Biden convenes ‘democracy summit’ as America’s system grows imperiled

As President Biden convened leaders from more than 100 countries in a virtual “Summit for Democracy,” there are growing questions about the stability of America’s own democracy — and the credibility of a president proselytizing to others democratic values that no longer seem to unite his own country.

An administration official told reporters, however, that “the United States is approaching the summit from a place of humility.” As he opened the summit, Biden said preserving democracy was “the defining challenge of our time.”

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Early signs of a COVID winter surge

Health officials from several California counties say they’re seeing early indications of a rebound in coronavirus cases related to Thanksgiving. An upturn, some worry, could be the beginning of the state’s fifth COVID-19 surge.

Statewide, the daily average of newly reported infections has risen more than 30% since before Thanksgiving. The number of Californians hospitalized with COVID-19 also climbed, interrupting weeks of mostly steady declines. The Omicron variant of the coronavirus has dominated the recent pandemic discourse. However, officials say they’re still contending with the highly infectious Delta variant.

More top coronavirus headlines

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

A rise in school threats, fights and misbehavior

Months after students returned to campuses, multiple schools in Southern California and elsewhere have reported receiving threats of violence, compounding campus tensions when school administrators and teachers say students are increasingly acting out in class, showing aggressive behavior and fighting.

Educators say students are experiencing anxiety, suicidal ideation, and depression — signs, said one expert, “that children are not well and are dealing with the effects of the pandemic.”

Governments used the pandemic to normalize surveillance

From delivery robots to ubiquitous cameras, the world’s youngest generation is being born into an already digitally interconnected reality where big data and artificial intelligence will shape their everyday existence long before they’re old enough to contemplate notions of privacy or give consent.

The question facing citizens, governments, tech innovators and rights groups is how to keep the same technology that drives the benefits of “smart city” living from jeopardizing civil freedoms.

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CALIFORNIA

A new lawsuit alleges sexual battery by a top UCLA doctor. A former UCLA student has sued the university, alleging gynecologist Edward Wiesmeier engaged in medically unnecessary touching of young women’s body parts for his sexual gratification. Wiesmeier oversaw student health services for a quarter of a century.

California created the nation’s first state reparations task force. Now comes the hard part. The group must recommend ways to educate the public about its findings and propose a formal apology, potential compensation and other remedies.

California regulators sign off on the phaseout of new gas-powered lawn mowers and leaf blowers. The regulations ban the sale of new gas-powered leaf blowers and lawn mowers starting in 2024 and portable generators by 2028.

In Bakersfield, many push for bringing back the flow of the long-dry Kern River. A group of residents says restoring continual flows would nourish a green corridor in the heart of the city, enabling people to wade, kayak and picnic on the banks.

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NATION-WORLD

New York’s attorney general is seeking Trump’s testimony in a civil investigation. Atty. Gen. Letitia James’ office has requested that Trump sit for a deposition Jan. 7. The office is investigating whether the Trump Organization misled banks or tax officials about the value of its assets — inflating them to gain favorable loan terms or minimizing them to reap tax savings.

At least 53 migrants were killed in a trailer accident in southern Mexico. Authorities said more than 100 people were packed into the trailer as it sped along a highway near the city of Tuxtla Gutiérrez in Chiapas state before hitting a wall and flipping.

British court says Julian Assange can be extradited to U.S. on spying charges. A British appellate court has opened the door for the WikiLeaks founder to be extradited to the United States by overturning a lower court ruling. Assange and his lawyers plan to appeal.

El Salvador negotiated with gangs, U.S. Treasury says. The U.S. government alleges El Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele’s government bought the country’s powerful street gangs’ support with financial benefits and privileges such as prostitutes and cellphones for their imprisoned leaders.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

Compton-bred rapper Slim 400 was shot and killed in Inglewood. The 33-year-old rapper was known for songs such as “Goapele,” featuring YG, and “Piru,” featuring YG and Redrum 187.

Jussie Smollett was convicted of staging an attack and lying to police. The jury found the former “Empire” actor guilty on five counts of disorderly conduct. He was acquitted on a sixth count, of lying to a detective in mid-February, weeks after Smollett said he was attacked.

How Olivia Rodrigo went from Disney princess to pop queen. The teen is capping her breakout year with seven Grammy nominations, including nods in the four major categories of album of the year, record and song of the year and best new artist.

‘Rust’ crew members claim the set was not ‘chaotic’ or ‘dangerous’ before the fatal shooting. The narrative echoes one that Alec Baldwin has promoted in media interviews after the deadly shooting of the film’s cinematographer, Halyna Hutchins. Last week, Baldwin told ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos that he was unaware of any safety complaints on set.

BUSINESS

Starbucks workers voted to unionize at a store in Buffalo, N.Y. It’s the first successful effort at a Starbucks-owned store in the U.S. The National Labor Relations Board said workers voted 19-8 in favor of a union at one of three locations. The board is still counting votes for two other stores.

Universal movies will go to Peacock after 45 days in theaters. Streaming service Peacock is hoping to get a boost from movies made by its corporate sibling, movie studio Universal Pictures. The change starts next year.

SPORTS

LeBron James is left frustrated by another wasted Lakers effort in a loss to the Grizzlies. There was nothing he could do. Another blown possession, another wasted night, another chance at grabbing the tiniest piece of momentum lost and he couldn’t stop it.

Ducks rolling behind goal of the year? Another lost year for Kings? In the latest roundtable moderated by Times hockey editor Hans Tesselaar, Times columnist (and Hockey Hall of Fame honoree) Helene Elliott was joined by Times staffers Curtis Zupke (former beat writer for both teams), Jim Barrero (a Kings season-seat holder) and Nick Leyva (a longtime Ducks fan) to discuss the Southland rivals.

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OPINION

The FDA may be about to make the abortion pill more accessible. Removing federal restrictions and letting all healthcare providers prescribe mifepristone would give more patients access to abortion care sooner. It also would acknowledge the reality that abortion is healthcare and should be treated that way.

The real cultural significance of “West Side Story”? It spread powerful myths about gangs. These themes may be reintroduced in pop culture on Friday when Steven Spielberg’s remake of the film opens in theaters.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed the nation’s toughest abortion law. Was it principle or posturing? Running for a third term in 2022, the governor faces Republican challengers seeking to outflank him by running to Abbott’s right.

YOUR WEEKEND

Try a pop-up restaurant. In 2020’s darkest COVID-19 pandemic months, laid-off, furloughed and otherwise unemployed chefs and dining room staff started pop-ups as a means of survival. And some are seeding the next generation of Los Angeles dining. The Times chose 11 favorites, including A’s BBQ and Bridgetown Roti.

Then work off the calories by going ice skating. Santa Monica and Pershing Square in downtown L.A. canceled their rinks for this winter. But many seasonal rinks remain (with holiday trimmings), plus indoor year-round rinks. We list 10, including the L.A. Kings Holiday Ice at L.A. Live, priced at $25 per adult. (Splurge on a $45 “fast pass” and you can cut the line.)

WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

Note: Some of the sites we link to may limit the number of stories you can access without subscribing.

“Selfie Wrld bills itself as a place to express yourself, but it’s where you go to look like everyone else.” Across the country, photographic venues are popping up in malls and shopping centers, promising the perfect backdrop for your selfies, but what’s it like to visit one? This reviewer calls it “a Build-A-Bear Workshop of visual cliche.” Washington Post

J.P. Morgan’s million-dollar pocket watch vanished. The hunt for it became an obsession. Around 1905, the Gilded Age tycoon commissioned the English firm J. Player & Son to create the timepiece. Then, in the mid-1970s, the pocket watch disappeared, spawning an enduring mystery. Los Angeles Times

How to care less about work. People are growing more certain in the notion that the status quo of American working life is untenable. But the pandemic has created an opportunity to reconsider and reimagine the structure of our lives. The Atlantic

ONLY IN CALIFORNIA

A woman holding a basket stands inside a grocery store.
Tawanee Ryan, left, shops at the newly opened Erewhom in Studio City.
(Genaro Molina/Los Angeles Times)

Erewhon made luxury groceries a lifestyle. Vogue called the chain a “health-food holy site,” the New York Times said it was “the unofficial hangout for the young, beautiful and bored,” and Vanity Fair declared: “The hottest pandemic club in Los Angeles is Erewhon.” L.A. Times columnist Frank Shyong said Erewhon was “the Whole Foods for people who think Whole Foods is a dump.”

It’s a cultural phenomenon (and occasional spectacle) that customers, critics and industry analysts joke could only exist in L.A. Company executives, in the midst of an ambitious expansion plan to bring Erewhon stores outside L.A. County, hope that’s not the case.

FROM THE ARCHIVES

Bishop Asaiah talks with police and reporters.
Bishop Asaiah talks with police and reporters outside the ruins of the headquarters of the Fountain of the World religious collective in 1958.
(Los Angeles Times)

Sixty-three years ago today, two men set off a bomb with 20 sticks of dynamite at the Box Canyon headquarters of a cult known as WKFL Fountain of the World — Wisdom, Knowledge, Faith and Love. The men believed the group’s leader, Krishna Venta, a former Berkeley boilermaker, was having sex with their wives.

The blast, which was heard more than 20 miles away, killed Venta and six other sect members. It also caused a fire that burned more than 150 acres. A few members remained at the monastery after the explosion and, in the 1960s, even fed and sheltered Charles Manson for several days.

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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