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Today’s Headlines: After devastating tornadoes, Midwest and South residents pick through the rubble

A woman walks away from what is left of the Mayfield Consumer Products candle factory
A woman walks away from what is left of the Mayfield Consumer Products candle factory as emergency workers comb through the rubble.
(John Amis / AFP via Getty Images)

Hello, it’s Monday, Dec. 13, and here are the stories you shouldn’t miss today:

TOP STORIES

Devastating tornadoes tear through the Midwest and Southeast

Residents and recovery workers across Kentucky and a wide swath of the Midwest and South continued to pick through the rubble Sunday after a flurry of tornadoes rumbled through on Friday night. Five states reported deaths, including Illinois, where six employees at an Amazon warehouse were killed. Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said the best-case scenario in his state was that 50 people were killed.

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At a briefing Saturday, President Biden said he had approved an emergency declaration for Kentucky, “and I stand ready to do the same for the governors of the other states.” He said that the Federal Emergency Management Agency was sending resources, including help with temporary housing, and he planned to visit the affected areas in Kentucky.

Bogdan Gaicki surveys tornado damage
Bogdan Gaicki surveys tornado damage in Mayfield, Ky. See more photos.
(Brendan Smialowski / AFP via Getty Images)

Newsom in control as next year’s primary inches closer

Gov. Gavin Newsom is all but alone on the public stage with just seven months before the June statewide primary for governor, a testament to his dominating win in September and perhaps reflective of a post-election hangover among those who tried to oust him. At this point in the last race for California governor, the field of candidates was wide and two debates had been staged.

The governor probably will have to navigate around a few land mines on his path toward reelection, including possible outbreaks of new coronavirus variants or the continuation of California’s withering drought.

Currently, Newsom is focused on assault weapon restrictions. The governor said he was directing his staff to work with the state Legislature and Atty. Gen. Rob Bonta on a new law that would allow private citizens to sue manufacturers or distributors of assault weapons and ghost gun kits or parts. The law would work similarly to a Texas state law that bans most abortions there.

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.

Vicente Fernández dies at 81

During a career that began on the street corners of Guadalajara, the self-taught troubadour recorded more than 50 albums, all in Spanish, and sold tens of millions of copies, nearly half in the United States.

Fernández toured relentlessly, created the themes for wildly popular telenovelas and starred in more than two dozen movies throughout the 1970s and ’80s — often depicted in his iconic traje de charro, the ensemble typical of the Mexican gentleman rancher, featuring ornate sombreros, embroidered jackets and slim trousers.

The announcement of his death was made on his Instagram page. A cause of death was not made available.

More on Fernández’s death

Should the definition of ‘fully vaccinated’ be changed?

With a worrisome new coronavirus variant threatening to erode vaccine-induced immunity further, health officials are debating whether the definition of “fully vaccinated” should be amended to include a booster shot. Scientists are leaning heavily in favor, and public health leaders are not far behind.

So far, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention hasn’t officially shifted the goalposts. But the CDC has tiptoed up to those goalposts, telling all but the youngest vaccinated Americans that durable immunity will require an extra dose, and urging everyone 16 and older to get one as soon as they are eligible.

More top coronavirus headlines

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

Our daily news podcast

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OUR MUST-READS FROM THE WEEKEND

Uber blocks transgender drivers from signing up. Drivers have had their accounts permanently banned, according to documentation of written communications with the company shared by five workers. None managed to get their accounts reactivated through Uber’s appeals process.

Critics Choice Awards founder Joey Berlin wants to replace the Golden Globes but faces scrutiny. Interviews with nearly 20 current and former Critics Choice Assn. members, and a review of tax filings and internal emails, depict a struggling organization largely controlled by Berlin with the help of a close cadre of associates on the board.

Commentary: Steven Spielberg tried to save ‘West Side Story.’ But its history makes it unsalvageable. The collective effort does not correct the problematic appropriation on which the musical was built.

CALIFORNIA

L.A. may bring in outside experts to assess horses’ well-being. After an animal rights group has accused the city of Los Angeles of ignoring animal welfare laws at the Griffith Park Pony Rides, two City Council members want to hire an outside equestrian expert.

Seeking to ban freeway expansions in underserved communities. Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens) plans to introduce legislation that would prohibit the state from funding or permitting highway projects in areas with high rates of pollution and poverty and where residents have suffered negative health effects from living near freeways.

Expelled Coast Guard cadet from Whittier sues over a policy banning parents. According to the lawsuit, the academy expelled the cadet under a regulation that requires cadets to either resign or be “disenrolled” if they incur a “parental obligation” for a child or pregnancy beyond 14 weeks.

A winter storm slams Northern California before heading south. A powerful storm began walloping Northern California on Sunday, bringing up to 10 feet of snow at higher elevations. Forecasters said the storm in Southern California will be significant on Monday and Tuesday.

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NATION-WORLD

Vice President Kamala Harris plans to announce new private investments aimed at slowing Central American migration. President Biden asked Harris in March to help curb migration from the region by addressing the so-called root causes, which include poverty, corruption, crime and natural disasters.

The U.K. hikes its coronavirus alert level as the Omicron variant surges. In a televised statement, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said everyone age 18 and older will be offered a third shot of vaccine by the end of this month in response to the Omicron “emergency.”

Details of Emmett Till’s killing are still a mystery as a probe ends. In a sense, the nation as a whole was denied a proper ending to an awful tale because the true story of one of the most infamous hate crimes of the last century may never be known.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

Chris Wallace exits Fox News Channel for CNN’s upcoming streaming service. The surprising departure makes Wallace the latest in a series of high-profile cable news stars to leave their long-standing posts.

Authors and ‘Vampire’ actors honor Anne Rice’s legacy. The revered gothic novelist, whose bestselling debut, “Interview With the Vampire,” was adapted into a 1994 film starring Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise, died Saturday night at 80 after suffering a stroke.

BUSINESS

Your holiday booze costs more this year. Supply chain problems and higher energy and material costs mean that traditional year-end holiday liquor runs are putting a much bigger dent in your wallet than in 2020.

Five tips to survive self-employment. The benefits of self-employment — flexibility, independence and greater income potential — are well worth the challenges. But a brief guide can help you sidestep some of the most vexing problems. These five tips can help you survive — and thrive — in self-employment.

SPORTS

Why the NBA killed the Chris Paul trade to the Lakers and preferred the Clippers. Ten years later, the moment remains a controversial, intertwined chapter in the histories of both L.A. franchises and the league — one not everyone cares to revisit.

Rams starter Rob Havenstein and reserve Donte Deayon are put on the reserve/COVID-19 list. They are the second and third players to be placed on the list ahead of the Rams’ Monday night game against the NFC West-leading Arizona Cardinals.

The Rams know what is at stake when they face the Cardinals. Five games remain in the regular season. But the Rams are not waiting for the postseason to play games they categorize as playoff-worthy.

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Get our free daily crossword puzzle, sudoku, word search and arcade games in our new game center at latimes.com/games.

OPINION

Ghislaine Maxwell’s case puts a spotlight on trafficking’s victim-defendants. Most victim-defendants in trafficking cases in the U.S., unlike monied socialite Maxwell, are more likely to be people of color, indigent and have suffered a history of abuse.

If Miss America isn’t a beauty pageant, what exactly is it? The organization is in a desperate battle to maintain its place in the culture, writes columnist Nicholas Goldberg. And it’s doing that by evolving.

ONLY IN L.A.

Main art illustration for Issa Rae story
(Illustrations by Brie Henderson / For the Times)

In many ways, Issa Rae’s “Insecure” is a love letter to Black and brown L.A., showcasing communities and businesses often overlooked — or actively stigmatized — by the media.

Rae’s devotion to the city shines boldly and brightly in ways that not all L.A.-set shows successfully achieve. With the series finale set to air later this month, The Times is taking a look back at a number of local businesses highlighted in the series’ run.

Here’s our guide to 10 local eateries featured in the HBO comedy, which not only offer a range of cuisines, but also in many cases give back to the community.

FROM THE ARCHIVES

Maria Duran portrays Our Lady of Guadalupe on a float
Sixty-three years ago: Maria Duran portrays Our Lady of Guadalupe in an East Los Angeles procession that honored the Queen and Patroness of all the Americas.
(Los Angeles Times)

This year marked the 90th edition of the Virgen de Guadalupe procession in East Los Angeles. The event was founded in 1931 by refugees from the Cristero War between pro- and anti-secular forces in Mexico. It commemorates what the faithful believe was a series of appearances by the Virgen de Guadalupe to Juan Diego.

Pictured above is a float in the procession in 1958.

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


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