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Today’s Headlines: Cal State might drop its SAT and ACT admissions requirement

Visitors tour Cal State Fullerton
Visitors tour Cal State Fullerton, one of 23 campuses in the California State University system that may permanently drop the SAT and ACT as an admissions requirement.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

Hello, it’s Thursday, Dec. 16, and we’d like to take a moment for a shout-out to Jessica Roy on our utility journalism team. She’s launching an eight-week personal finance newsletter that’s worth a look. It’s for anyone who is trying to tame debt, create a realistic budget and build an emergency fund. And it comes right at resolution-making time!

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Now, onto today’s top stories.

Cal State is poised to drop SAT and ACT

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California State University is poised to drop the SAT and ACT as an admissions requirement. The move would put California in the vanguard of a national movement to eliminate standardized testing because of concerns over bias and a desire to seek more equitable ways to assess a student’s potential for college success.

Cal State Chancellor Joseph I. Castro said he supports scrapping the test requirements after a systemwide admission advisory council approved a recommendation to do so last week. The Board of Trustees will review the recommendation in January and vote on it in March.

More on higher education

Companies are charged with negligence in the Orange County oil spill

Amplify Energy Corp. and two subsidiary firms, Beta Operating Co. and San Pedro Bay Pipeline Co., face federal charges for the October oil spill off the coast of Orange County. The indictment alleges six instances in which the firms were negligent in the spill.

For more than 12 hours, federal prosecutors alleged, the companies repeatedly failed to properly respond to alarms from an automated leak detection system. This caused about 25,000 gallons of crude oil to be discharged from a crack in a 16-inch pipeline about 4.7 miles west of Huntington Beach.

Biden’s Year One plan and his unmet goals

President Biden entered office in January with a sketched-out template for his first several months. Biden succeeded in March in enacting the first piece of his agenda, the sweeping $1.9-trillion American Rescue Plan. He also signed the $1.2-trillion infrastructure bill, hailing the achievement as evidence that “Democrats and Republicans can come together and deliver results.”

But the bipartisan cooperation seems to be an isolated incident. The second recovery bill has stalled for weeks in the evenly divided Senate. Meanwhile, the pandemic continues, inflation has spiked, the unanticipated influx of migrants at the southern border has not slowed, and voting restrictions have passed in Republican-controlled states.

More politics

  • The Supreme Court is ending the year starkly split on abortion, with the five conservatives showing all signs they will overturn Roe vs. Wade and let state lawmakers decide whether women may legally end a pregnancy.

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

Omicron spreads as state mask order takes effect

The Omicron variant of the coronavirus has expanded its reach in California, with more cases reported in recent days in Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Ventura counties. The spread is a reason why California ordered a statewide mandate for people to wear masks in indoor public settings that took effect Wednesday.

California’s new mask order affects about half the state’s residents, those who live in counties that do not already have an indoor mask mandate, such as San Diego, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino, as well as wide swaths of the Central Valley and rural Northern California. The order expires on Jan. 15.

More top coronavirus headlines

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

Iraq’s children of war come of age with little hope

Eighteen years after American troops first stepped on Iraqi soil, Iraqi youths now grapple with a country still shattered by turmoil. Their graduation is months away. They wonder what they’ll amount to, if they’ll ever have the careers they imagine: engineer, police officer, tennis coach.

They now also have to contend with their prospects in a country where a quarter of those under age 25, who account for almost two-thirds of Iraq’s 41 million people, have no job despite Iraq possessing the world’s fifth-largest oil reserves.

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PHOTO OF THE DAY

A person carrying a load of shingles of their head walks across a roof. Mountains are in the background.
Huntington Beach workers have a roof with a view. Fresh snow on the San Gabriel Mountains provides the backdrop on Wednesday. Forecasters say more winter weather is on the way.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

CALIFORNIA

A proposed tax would fund L.A. homeless housing. The measure, if passed, would levy a 4% tax on property sales above $5 million and then rise to 5.5% on transactions above $10 million.

Fewer people are moving to California and more are leaving during the pandemic. A new study released Wednesday highlights the two trends, which signal that population loss due to domestic migration out of the Golden State has more than doubled since the beginning of the pandemic.

California, Arizona and Nevada agree to take less water from the ailing Colorado River. The agreement, which was signed Wednesday after four months of negotiation, amounts to leaving 1 million acre-feet of water in Lake Mead over the next two years.

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NATION-WORLD

After eight die in a Kentucky candle factory, workers question the company’s tornado preparation. The company denied workers’ claims that supervisors or team leaders prevented employees from leaving.

The Biden administration pushes a plan to ease the truck driver shortage. The plan includes connecting veterans who left the service with extensive military trucking experience — 70,000 over the last five years — with trucking jobs as they transition to civilian life.

A top university in Mexico becomes a battleground over academic freedom. Protesting students are calling for the dismissal of the Center for Research and Teaching in Economics’ new government-appointed director, who caused anger by demoting several administrators and disparaging the school as a bastion of neoliberalism — a serious insult in the leftist rhetoric of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador.

Amid a crackdown, Afghan refugees in Iran fear being sent back. Several thousand Afghans continue to make their way into Iran every day, even though the Iranian economy is in a tailspin because of crippling U.S. sanctions.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

bell hooks, the author who brought Black women’s perspectives to feminism, has died at 69. The influential writer, feminist, poet and cultural critic who popularized intersectionality with works such as “Ain’t I a Woman,” “All About Love,” “Bone Black,” “Feminist Theory” and “Communion: The Female Search for Love,” died Wednesday after an extended illness.

Fans defend Jennifer Garner after Ben Affleck blames their marriage for his drinking. While appearing Tuesday on “The Howard Stern Show,” the “Tender Bar” actor said he would “probably still” be drinking if he had stayed married to Garner.

BUSINESS

Taking aim at inflation, the Fed prepares to raise interest rates sooner than it previously expected. With inflation now running at its fastest pace in nearly 40 years and showing no signs of slowing down, the Federal Reserve on Wednesday abandoned its wait-and-see strategy and indicated that it could begin stepping on the economic brakes soon.

Retailers say thefts are at crisis levels. The numbers say otherwise. Although some retail and law enforcement lobbyists cite eye-popping figures, there is reason to doubt the problem is anywhere near as large or widespread as they say.

What $600,000 buys in six L.A. County communities. That’s far less than the county’s median home price in November of $788,000. In a market that’s cooling ever so slightly, bargains can be found if you know where to look.

SPORTS

Three more Rams are added to the COVID-19 protocol list ahead of the Seahawks game. Linebacker Justin Hollins and tight ends Johnny Mundt and Jared Pinkney were added to the list, the team announced, increasing the number of Rams players to 16.

UCLA’s game against Alabama State was canceled because of COVID-19 protocols. The Bruins have had several COVID-19 disruptions since the start of the pandemic but none involving their own players or coaches that led to the cancellation or postponement of a game.

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OPINION

Why make L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti ambassador to India? Well, bluntly put, ambassadors aren’t nearly as important these days as they were decades ago. The higher the profile of the ambassadorship, the less operationally important it tends to be for U.S. policy.

California should not have hired a deputy schools chief who lives in Philadelphia. But here’s the real issue. The hiring came about through a combination of misunderstanding and questionable decisions.

ONLY IN L.A.

Where we take guests to eat to show them Los Angeles
There are tourist traps, critics’ choices — and then these picks: eateries where our lives actually happen.
(Daniel Sulzberg / For The Times)

It’s the end of 2021, and though the restaurant industry continues to struggle under the challenges of the pandemic, many of us still harbor that undeniable desire to get together with loved ones around a table to eat some food.

We asked Times Food staff and friends a simple question: Where do you take out-of-town guests to eat when you want to show them your L.A.? Their intimate, convenient and nostalgic choices include drinks at the Cozy Inn and lunch at Killer Noodle.

FROM THE ARCHIVES

End Poverty in California campaign posters for Upton Sinclair
Posters and pamphlets are arranged beside a portrait of Upton Sinclair at his downtown L.A. campaign headquarters in 1934.
(Los Angeles Times)

It has been 54 years since President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Wholesome Meat Act, which established a statute for federal meat inspection programs. The law partly responded to writer Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle,” an expose of the Chicago meatpacking industry.

About three decades before Johnson signed the law, Sinclair won the Democratic primary for California governor. But he was later defeated by Frank Merriam. Pictured above are some posters at Sinclair’s downtown Los Angeles headquarters.

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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