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Today’s Headlines: Supreme Court blocks Biden’s vaccine mandate

The U.S. Supreme Court
The U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C.
(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

Hello, it’s Friday, Jan. 14. We will be taking Monday off for the upcoming holiday, but we will be back in your inbox on Tuesday.

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

TOP STORIES

The Supreme Court blocks Biden’s vaccine mandate for the workplace

The Supreme Court on Thursday blocked President Biden’s plan to require that most workers be vaccinated against COVID-19 or undergo weekly testing. But the justices, in a separate decision, upheld a smaller and more targeted regulation that will require workers in hospitals and nursing facilities to be vaccinated. Once put into effect, this rule is expected to cover about 17 million people working in healthcare, the administration said.

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The vote was 6-3. Biden’s rule was based on the Occupational Safety Health Act of 1970, which protects employees from toxins and other dangers in the workplace. The justices said it does not go so far as to authorize mandatory vaccinations.

More politics

  • Democrats’ strategy to begin a Senate debate on voting rights began to crumble Thursday when two key moderates reiterated their support for keeping the filibuster, another Democrat quarantined with COVID-19 and President Biden expressed doubt.
  • Stewart Rhodes, the founder and leader of the far-right Oath Keepers militia group, has been arrested and charged with seditious conspiracy in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, authorities said.
  • The Republican National Committee said it is planning a rules change that would force presidential candidates seeking the party’s nomination to sign a pledge saying they will not participate in any debates sponsored by the Commission on Presidential Debates.

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Lawmakers move to tighten restrictions on sex-offending doctors

Doctors who are convicted of sexually abusing patients would be permanently banned from practicing medicine in California under a bill introduced this week by state legislators.

The move comes a month after a Times investigation found that the Medical Board of California had reinstated 10 physicians since 2013 who lost their licenses for sexual misconduct. They included two doctors who abused teenage girls and one who beat two female patients when they reported him for sexually exploiting them.

Under the bill, any doctor who is criminally convicted for sexual misconduct with patients — as were several in The Times’ investigation — would lose their license and be prohibited from applying for reinstatement.

Omicron surge leaves U.S. parents, teachers and students on edge

As the Omicron variant continues, parents are faced with painful deja vu: toggling between virtual and in-person schooling and trying to keep up with evolving district policies.

This week the Biden administration announced that it is planning to make 10 million COVID-19 test kits available each month for schools as part of its push to keep classrooms open — a critical step considering that vaccination rates are lower among children.

Meanwhile, across the U.S., students are threatening boycotts and walkouts. In the Oakland Unified School District, students want the district to return to remote learning unless it provides KN95 masks for all students and are calling for increased COVID-19 testing, among other demands.

More top coronavirus headlines

  • California officials remain highly concerned about how the explosion of coronavirus cases is hitting hospitals.
  • A Riverside County infant died this week after contracting COVID-19, the youngest person to die in the county after contracting the virus since the pandemic began.
  • The Biden administration said insurers would be required to cover the cost of rapid home COVID tests, starting Saturday. But it’s not clear if the arrangement will ease the shortage of rapid tests.
  • President Biden acknowledged Thursday that “we’re all frustrated” with the ongoing pandemic as he announced additional federal support to help Americans navigate the Omicron wave, including sending military medical personnel to six states to help reinforce strained hospitals.

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

California was supposed to clear cannabis convictions. Tens of thousands are still languishing

When California voters legalized cannabis for recreational use in 2016, one promise was the creation of a legal pathway through the courts for clearing many past marijuana-related convictions or reducing them to a lesser charge. It was a step championed by reform advocates, meant to right many of the injustices inflicted by the nation’s war on drugs that was disproportionately waged on poor people and communities of color.

But despite a 2018 law intended to speed up and automate the process, tens of thousands of Californians are still stuck with felonies, misdemeanors and other convictions on their records, a Los Angeles Times investigation found.

Stranded sailors rely on this Walmart of the seas. COVID made it hard to stay afloat

Harbor Ship Supply holds a dominant position in its line of work, controlling the California coast from San Diego to Oakland, with inroads as far north as Anacortes, Wash. When ships arrive from distant ports, the company is called upon to restock them with a wide variety of goods, including groceries, tools and all manner of gifts for the folks back home.

But Harbor Ship Supply is trying to stay afloat in unprecedented times, facing challenges some experts say won’t ease this year. Experts say the goods-movement industry and consumers have been reeling from the greatest supply-chain disruption since World War II and the worst pandemic since the Great Influenza of 1918. Throw in the explosive growth of global purchasing. You’ve just taken three world-changing events and added them together.

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CALIFORNIA

Gov. Gavin Newsom rejects parole for Sirhan Sirhan, the convicted assassin of Robert F. Kennedy. Sirhan has been imprisoned for more than half a century since his conviction in Kennedy’s shooting death at the Ambassador Hotel the day after the senator won California’s 1968 Democratic presidential primary.

Blood shortage reaches crisis levels at San Diego County hospitals. Hospital administrators say San Diego County is one mass-casualty event away from lives being lost. They also note that while “mass-casualty” conjures visions of a bombing or a plane crash, it wouldn’t take anything nearly so big to exhaust blood supplies.

L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti questions LAPD discipline for out-of-policy police shootings, orders review. Garcetti said he had ordered the inspector general to produce a public report that will outline the discipline received by officers found to have broken policy in shootings in recent years and the outcomes of any appeals they made to those punishments.

California’s undergraduate enrollment dropped by about 250,000 during pandemic years. The report from the National Student Clearinghouse shows that California saw an overall decline of more than 99,000 — or 4.3% — in undergraduate enrollment from fall 2020 to fall 2021, driven largely by a 9.9% drop in community colleges.

Newsom’s latest housing fix: More Californians living downtown. Newsom wants to shift home construction in California away from rural, wildfire-prone areas and toward urban cores as part of his $286.4-billion budget plan to align the state’s housing strategy with its climate goals.

Plan to charge shippers for abandoning empty containers is on hold at Port of L.A. U.S. supply chains have strained under unprecedented demand, worker and truck-chassis shortages and a shift to buying more material goods as Americans avoided travel and social outings over the course of the pandemic.

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NATION-WORLD

Queen removes Prince Andrew’s military roles and patronages. Buckingham Palace said that his titles and royal patronages have been returned to Queen Elizabeth II with her “approval and agreement” after a U.S. district judge refused to dismiss a civil case against Andrew by an American woman who alleges the royal sexually abused her.

Former Syrian intelligence officer convicted for crimes against humanity. A German court convicted the officer of carrying out crimes against humanity while heading a detention center in Damascus, concluding what activists and human rights advocates say is a landmark trial over systematic torture perpetrated by Syria’s government.

Ukrainians are wary of Russia’s ‘imperial ambition,’ but hoping war won’t happen. Many Ukrainians describe a kind of split-screen existence, in which their daily routines are undisturbed, but they obsess over events they track in news reports and on social media.

Earth hits its sixth warmest year on record. Scientists say the exceptionally hot year is part of a long-term warming trend that shows hints of accelerating.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

Is the pandemic-set ‘Station Eleven’ great TV or not? The show has drawn both acclaim and criticism. Now, as HBO Max’s tale of a pre-, post- and post-post-apocalyptic society concludes, Times senior editor Matt Brennan and columnist and culture critic Mary McNamara have it out about whether the series was truly great — or something less.

How these masters of makeup brought Tammy Faye, the Guccis and Lucy to the big screen. The Envelope spoke with some of the hair and makeup artists responsible for the transformation of Jessica Chastain, Lady Gaga, Jared Leto, Nicole Kidman and Javier Bardem in three buzzed-about biopics.

Ronnie Spector’s swagger made her a rock ’n’ roll immortal. It also saved her life. The fortitude in Spector’s singing helped carve out space for fresh ideas about women in pop and in society. Her voice was of freedom that foretold her own liberation from Phil Spector, the producer-turned-husband-turned-tormentor who essentially imprisoned her at their home in Beverly Hills.

BUSINESS

What’s driving inflation, who benefits and when will it end? With the pitch of arguments around what’s causing inflation and what to do about it rising even faster than prices, The Times spoke with economists to understand what’s happening.

Can’t find pasta or cat food? Blame Omicron. A rise in infections means more workers are getting sick at farms, factories, distributors and retailers, crimping the flow of goods to shoppers just as the variant prompts people to eat at home more. Port congestion and winter weather aren’t helping, either.

NBCUniversal selects an audience measurement alternative in a move away from Nielsen. The media company has been critical of the audience measurement data it receives from Nielsen and will use iSpot.tv, a Bellevue, Wash.-based company, next month to track viewing of the Olympics and the Super Bowl.

SPORTS

NHL player-free U.S. Olympic men’s hockey team features the youngest roster in decades. The average age of the 14 forwards, eight defensemen and three goaltenders who will represent Team USA will be 25.1 years old, the youngest team since 1994.

Matthew Stafford’s playoff performance figures to reflect on Rams coach Sean McVay. Will Stafford finally win a playoff game? The reputation of McVay might depend on it, since the Rams coach said this quarterback would make a difference, columnist Bill Plaschke writes

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OPINION

1 in 3 Americans now ‘alarmed’ by climate change. Why aren’t our leaders? Instead of acting decisively to slash emissions, switch to renewable energy and phase out fossil fuel production, our government is still stuck in the mud, even as U.S. greenhouse gas emissions roar back after a pandemic-induced lull, The Times editorial board writes.

I just spent 45 minutes on hold, and here’s what I thought of the music they blared at me. The idea of playing music while people are on hold can be traced back 60 years to a Long Island factory owner. Apparently music alters our perception of time, and “occupied time” moves more quickly than “unoccupied time,” writes columnist Nicholas Goldberg.

YOUR WEEKEND

Finding the flavors of Indonesia in L.A. — from a church, a mosque and a consulate parking lot. Southern California is home to the largest Indonesian population in the United States and their cuisines thrive at houses of worship in L.A., where cooks share their prized dishes via webs of WhatsApp messages.

Thirty-three self-care practices to recharge your mind, body and soul in 2022. It’s evident that taking care of yourself — be it a bubble bath or getting enough sleep — isn’t selfish. It’s survival. So the question remains: Do you need to partake in a little self-care going into this year? Hint: The answer is yes.

Veg Out During ‘Veganuary.’ The mission is to create a global mass movement committed to ending animal farming, protecting the planet and improving human health. Whether you want to change the world or just cook some great plant-based food, check out these 10 favorite vegan recipes from our archives.

WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

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A green glow against a background of space and stars.
An aurora streams above the Earth, as seen from the SpaceX Crew Dragon Resilience on April 17, 2021.
(Michael Hopkins / NASA)

This one is less reading and mostly looking. Crew members of the International Space Station have, in recent months, been snapping stunning new pictures of the Earth. That’s a bonus image, from NASA, above. The Atlantic

2021 was a deadly year for weather and climate disasters. Twenty separate disasters in the U.S. each cost at least $1 billion in damage. At least 688 Americans died in disasters. That’s the most disaster-related fatalities for the contiguous U.S. since 2011 and more than double last year’s number of 262. USA Today

Donovan Carrillo is the best ice skater in Mexican history. He’s also virtually unknown. He practices in a shopping mall, on an undersized rink, tucked between a travel agency and a Japanese import store, often sharing the ice with teens on dates and wobbling preschoolers. Yet next month in Beijing, the 22-year-old Carrillo will become just the fourth Mexican figure skater — and first since 1992 — to compete in the Winter Games, the latest twist in a complicated, quixotic journey that began with an ice-fated, grade-school romance. Los Angeles Times

ONLY IN L.A.

illustration for story about new year new you
(Lively Scout / For The Times

)

The beginning of the new year is the perfect time to launch a new fitness regimen. We’re giving you dozens and dozens of options to jump-start a wellness tradition. And we’re going to make sure your workouts are fun — all the more likely to keep you going back for more.

Many of these fitness options are outdoors, but they’ll include everything from palatial clubs to tiny storefront boutiques to oceanside exercise groups that meet on the sand. We all know that mixing it up keeps things fresh, so we’ve also got aerial hoop sessions, wall-climbing and rebounding classes, plus new takes on traditional workouts such as running and swimming.

Now get started on your New Year, and your New You!

FROM THE ARCHIVES

Headline reads: Storm rips Northern California; Sierra snow traps 226 on train
(Los Angeles Times)

Seventy years ago this week, more than 200 passengers and crew found themselves snowbound in the Sierra Nevada aboard the Southern Pacific streamliner City of San Francisco. The Times wrote in 2006 about the Jan. 13, 1952, event: “The 18-car train bound for Oakland rolled out of Norden, Calif., near Donner Summit, at 11:23 a.m., and into a blizzard.”

Stopped by a massive snow slide, passengers “settled in to pass the time. Steam generators supplied heat. A card expert gave bridge lessons. A salesman organized a talent show.” But over the days, steam heat stopped, food was rationed, battery-powered lights ran down. “Soon, there was only darkness.” A morphine addict in withdrawal had to be locked into a compartment. “Nervous or hysterical” passengers who’d been placed in a car with propane-fueled generators were nearly poisoned by carbon monoxide.

Meanwhile, rescuers worked their way toward the train; one was killed in an avalanche and another died of a heart attack. Once the blizzard abated, snowplows cleared a path for cars, which took everyone to a nearby lodge. All aboard had survived, no one sued, and each got a letter of thanks from Southern Pacific.

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, Laura Blasey and Amy Hubbard


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