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Today’s Headlines: As virus cases soar, officials urge scaled-back New Year’s celebrations

The back of a "2022" sign in a city.
A 2022 sign is displayed in Times Square in New York on Dec. 20.
(Seth Wenig / Associated Press)

Hello, it’s Thursday, Dec. 30. We’ll be taking a break on Friday for New Year’s Eve but will be back in your inbox on Monday morning.

Now, on to the stories you shouldn’t miss today:

TOP STORIES

Coronavirus cases have health officials imploring: Cool it

A sharp rise in coronavirus cases, in part fueled by the new Omicron variant, is prompting health experts to urge that New Year’s Eve gatherings be toned down. Indoor parties are safer if smaller, with guests who have been fully vaccinated and gotten a booster shot. Larger gatherings can be held more safely outdoors. People should mask up in crowded settings, whether inside or out.

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Health experts also suggest getting a rapid test before a gathering with others and rethinking vacations.

“If your plans are to go to a 40- to 50-person New Year’s Eve party with all the bells and whistles and everybody hugging and kissing and wishing each other a happy new year, I would strongly recommend that, this year, we do not do that,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the White House’s top medical advisor.

More top coronavirus headlines

  • What should I do if I test positive for the coronavirus?
  • San Francisco and other Bay Area communities moved this week to expand mask requirements to all gyms, offices and other indoor settings that previously had been exempt.
  • In the last year, the pandemic has opened up conversations about how to provide more widespread and culturally sensitive mental health support. Here are five tips to help you tackle 2022.
  • Bosnia resists vaccines, but its inmate population has welcomed them.

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

A wild shootout helped militarize police decades before LAPD’s fatal Burlington shooting

Policing in Los Angeles changed forever after a 1997 shootout between two heavily armed bank robbers and outgunned Los Angeles police officers at a Bank of America. Law enforcement agencies across the country boosted their firepower, equipping officers with high-powered rifles and other weaponry. The LAPD also authorized its officers to carry high-caliber handguns, and Los Angeles passed a series of gun control measures.

Twenty-four years later, L.A. Police Officer William Dorsey Jones Jr., armed with a military-grade rifle, fired three rounds in a Burlington department store following reports that a man was attacking people inside. The shots killed the man. They also killed 14-year-old Valentina Orellana-Peralta, who was hiding in a nearby changing room with her mother.

A soggy ending to 2021

Another winter storm promises to bring even more moisture to the Los Angeles area through New Year’s Eve. It arrived in Los Angeles on Wednesday afternoon and should remain steady through today, with light showers possible Friday morning.

Ahead of the potential deluge, flood watches have been issued across much of the region, including portions of Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and San Diego counties, and will remain in effect through today. Wet weather will also threaten areas near wildfire burn scars, which are subject to debris flows and flash floods because burned soil is less absorbent.

The most noteworthy new California laws

Several new state laws take effect on New Year’s Day. Some were passed during this year’s legislative session, while others were approved years earlier and are only taking effect now. We highlighted 43 noteworthy new laws, including:

  • Protesters can’t videotape, photograph or otherwise record patients or providers within 100 feet of reproductive clinics.
  • Judges can order probation instead of time behind bars for more crimes related to the possession of drugs.
  • California law enforcement officers can lose their badge for serious misconduct.
  • California’s minimum wage rises to $15 per hour.
  • California death certificates will offer a choice of “nonbinary” in marking the deceased person’s gender.

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

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PHOTO OF THE DAY

A woman and dog are in silhouette against the setting sun and reflected in water.
A chilly trek at sunset: A woman takes her dog for an evening walk Tuesday at Will Rogers State Beach in Pacific Palisades.
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

CALIFORNIA

Violence perpetrated by rival drug cartels has increased the flow of Mexican migrants to California pleading for asylum. During fiscal year 2020, more than 80% of claims by people from Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala were denied. President Biden has called for a review of asylum regulations to evaluate whether the U.S. aligns with international standards in providing protection for those fleeing domestic and gang violence — cases categorically denied under the Trump administration.

A Los Angeles Superior Court judge blocked Inglewood from destroying police disciplinary records. The ruling came just ahead of a new transparency law set to go into effect Jan. 1 in California and three years after the city was thrown into controversy over its handling of law enforcement documents.

Officials declare O.C. oil spill’s cleanup is complete. The announcement came nearly three months after an undersea pipeline spilled thousands of gallons of crude oil into the waters off Southern California. The spill sparked a statewide conversation about fossil fuel reliance and renewed calls for the government to take more aggressive action against aging oil platforms.

A business manager to the Kardashians is found dead. Her boyfriend is charged with murder and torture. Angela Kukawski, 55, was reported missing Dec. 22. The following day, police found her dead in her car. Police think Kukawski’s boyfriend, 49-year-old Jason Barker, killed her inside their residence, put Kukawski in her car and drove to Simi Valley, where the vehicle was left.

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NATION-WORLD

Ghislaine Maxwell is found guilty in the Epstein sex abuse case. The British socialite was convicted of luring teenage girls to be sexually abused by the American millionaire Jeffrey Epstein. Jurors deliberated for five full days before finding Maxwell guilty of five of six counts.

Nevada’s governor declares a snow emergency with bitter cold on the way. The emergency declaration will allow state officials to order vehicles traveling on mountain highways to turn around and return to lower elevations until weather conditions subside and the roadways are safe to use.

President Biden and Vladimir Putin are set to talk as tensions rise over the military buildup near Ukraine. The two plan to speak by phone today at the Russian leader’s request in hopes of finding a diplomatic offramp to the volatility surrounding Russia’s military buildup at its border with Ukraine. The call will mark the second direct leader-to-leader talks this month.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver are finally divorced, a decade after filing. The court signed off on the split at a hearing Tuesday, according to court records. A private judge had signed off on their property settlement (also private) earlier this month.

Your Oscars 2022 actors power rankings. This year’s Oscar marathon has an abundance of appealing faces on the acting side — including, at No. 15, Ben Affleck (“The Tender Bar”) and, at No. 13, Kodi Smit-McPhee (“The Power of the Dog”). The ceremony isn’t until March 27, so you’ll have plenty of time to catch up.

How four ’70s-obsessed Italians became America’s favorite new rock band. Måneskin is an almost unnervingly lithe band of 20-somethings who can squeeze into ’70s David Bowie bodysuits. The Italian rock band emerged victorious at 2021’s Eurovision Song Contest that, decades earlier, gave the world ABBA and Celine Dion.

BUSINESS

Airlines have a recipe to reach zero emissions by 2050. The key ingredient: cooking oil. Airlines say they must go carbon-neutral to satisfy consumers and avoid harsh regulations. Biofuels can get the industry partway there, but completely eliminating aviation emissions — responsible for 3% to 4% of the world’s carbon emissions — will take huge government investments and technological breakthroughs, such as the development of hybrid or all-electric jet planes, experts say.

Apple gives top engineers bonuses up to $180,000 to curtail defections to Meta and other rivals. The perk was presented by managers as a reward for high performers. But some engineers who didn’t receive the shares were irked and said the selection process was arbitrary.

Mohamed Hadid’s infamous Bel-Air estate is auctioned off for $5 million. After half a decade of criminal charges and court battles, the half-finished mega-mansion has sold. Next, it will be destroyed.

SPORTS

A decade after a tragic high school hockey game accident, Jack Jablonski is confident he will walk again someday. Jablonski, 26, doesn’t know when that will happen or what forms the gains will take, but he is sure that ongoing research will open new horizons for him and others who live with devastating spinal cord injuries. He’s helping make that happen by raising funds for that research.

LeBron James defies aging in a seemingly inevitable march to the all-time scoring title. The Lakers star is 37 years old. When he entered the NBA as a teenager, James played with a physicality and a maturity that contradicted his years. Now, he’s playing with an energy and spring in his legs that again defies time.

Depleted but victorious. The Clippers put together a strong second half to beat the Celtics 91-82 in Boston.

The Lakers’ carelessness is too much to overcome. LeBron James’ record three-pointers and Russell Westbrook’s triple-double were not enough in the Lakers’ 104-99 loss to the Grizzlies in Memphis.

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OPINION

Do Trump’s Jan. 6 sins of omission and commission make him criminally liable? The more we find out about the former president’s inaction (and his actions) related to Jan. 6, the more his potential culpability becomes clear. His omissions once the rioting began weren’t just irresponsible and despicable; they were deadly.

In a year of plague and insurrection, a longboard saved me. Whether you’re a goofy dad and proud cholo like Nathan Apodaca, who went viral longboard dancing to Fleetwood Mac en route to work in Idaho, or a graceful model like South Korea’s Kyo Hyojoo pirouetting through city streets, longboard dancing offers a refuge from an unraveling world, writes columnist Jean Guerrero.

ONLY IN L.A.

A girl in a mask peers closely at a section of a parade float.
Ellerose Chan, 14, glues mung beans onto a portion of a Rose Parade float on Monday in South Pasadena.
(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

Rose Parade officials are telling everyone: “The bloom is back.” Amid the cancellations of hundreds of flights, the Holiday Bowl, a performance of “Hamilton” at the Hollywood Pantages and more, the parade will go on this year.

It’s true, the 6,000-plus parade participants, as well as spectators 12 and older in ticketed areas, must all provide proof of vaccination or a negative coronavirus test. But many are just thrilled the parade is back after going dark in 2020. It’s about “trying to make people happy,” said one participant. “To give people something to smile about. Especially nowadays, when there’s not a lot to smile about.”

FROM THE ARCHIVES

Two young women in white gowns are seated on a float amid greenery, with a small castle made of flowers behind them.
The theme of the 1933 Rose Parade was “Fairy Tales in Flowers.” The city of Santa Barbara’s entry was “A Castle in Spain,” with a miniature castle and a princess with ladies in waiting.
(Los Angeles Times)

One hundred and thirty-one years ago this week, the first Tournament of Roses was held. (The photo above is from the 1933 edition of the parade.) The event was held Jan. 1, 1890. The Jan. 11 Los Angeles Times had this to say of the inaugural event:

“The festival was held on the first, as the Tournament of the Roses, and it was intended to have it opened by a procession, the carriages of which were to be decorated with flowers, etc. Old Spanish games and sports were to have been introduced, but it was difficult to enthuse people with the idea, and flowers were scarce. The exhibition was, however, a decided success.”

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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