Today’s Headlines: U.S., NATO step up over possible Russian invasion of Ukraine

Troops in green camouflage fatigues walk through a snow-covered park
Members of Ukraine’s Territorial Defense Forces, volunteer military units of the armed forces, train in a city park in Kyiv on Saturday.
(Efrem Lukatsky / Associated Press)

Hello, it’s Tuesday, Jan. 25, and here are the stories you shouldn’t miss today:


U.S. and NATO step up war footing over the possible Russian invasion of Ukraine

With the crisis over a potential Russian invasion of Ukraine intensifying on Monday, U.S. officials placed thousands of troops on “high alert.” Plus, NATO is taking steps to position personnel and war machinery in Eastern Europe, further signaling that a diplomatic solution to the standoff was nowhere within reach. However, Biden administration officials said a final decision to dispatch troops had not been made.


The moves followed a decision on Sunday by U.S. officials to order families of U.S. personnel at the U.S. embassy in Kyiv to leave the country. White House officials and U.S. national security officials have said that Russian President Vladimir Putin is likely to launch an attack, which Biden insists will be met with crippling economic sanctions.

All California schoolchildren would be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 under a new bill

California students would be required to be immunized for COVID-19 under a bill introduced Monday that will offer backup to districts like L.A. Unified that have struggled with their mandates while pushing schools in more conservative parts of the state to jump on board. Senate Bill 871 by state Sen. Richard Pan (D-Sacramento) would add COVID-19 vaccines to California’s list of required inoculations to attending K-12 schools, which can be skipped if a student receives a rare medical exemption.

If passed by the Legislature and signed by the governor, the legislation would supplant California’s scaled-back COVID-19 vaccine mandate created by Gov. Gavin Newsom last year. Under the bill, the California Department of Public Health could mandate vaccines in the future without requiring the state to offer personal belief exemptions.

More top coronavirus headlines

  • Deaths from COVID-19 in Los Angeles County have soared over the last week, with officials saying some of the recent fatalities appear to be from the Omicron variant.
  • San Diego Unified has sent termination notices to 73 workers for failing to comply with the school district’s COVID-19 vaccination mandate.

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

Supreme Court signals it may outlaw most affirmative action at universities

The Supreme Court agreed Monday to hear a pair of appeals contending that Harvard University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill are violating civil rights laws by giving preferences to some minority students seeking admission while discriminating against others, including Asian Americans. They ask the court to rule that universities, whether public or private, may “not use race as a factor in admissions,” relying on the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Since 1978, however, the Supreme Court has held that colleges, universities and law schools may consider a student’s race or ethnicity as a “plus factor” to create more diversity in their classes. In recent decades, the court took up anti-affirmative action challenges to the admissions policies at the University of Michigan Law School and the University of Texas but upheld them narrowly over sharp dissents from the conservatives.

More politics

  • Rick Caruso, the shopping mall magnate considering a run for mayor of Los Angeles, said he changed his political affiliation from no party preference to Democrat.
  • The Supreme Court turned down an appeal from House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) seeking to strike down a rule that allows members to cast proxy votes during the pandemic.

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

For one Pasadena neighborhood, gun violence is unrelenting

In Pasadena, shootings rose 22% between 2020 and 2021, from 60 to 73, according to the police department. Seven were killed in 2020 and six more last year. The increase has sparked grief, pain and outrage in the city, and some residents say city leaders are not doing enough to make conditions safer.

The shootings in Pasadena have been concentrated in the northwest part of the city, home to mostly Black and Latino residents. In response, city leaders and police have increased patrols in the neighborhoods hardest hit by gun violence and have pledged to bolster after-school programs and invest in ShotSpotter technology. The technology, however, feels like a half measure to some Black and Latino residents, who have seen more shootings despite the increase in police patrols around their neighborhoods.

A big-wave surfer from San Diego was hooked on the ocean’s power. Then came the concussions

Growing up in La Jolla, all Derek Dunfee wanted to do was surf. He was good at it. He loved the power of the ocean, the thrill of the tube rides, the camaraderie of the lineup. Loved being on the cover of Surfer magazine. He loved it all so much that he ignored the concussions. His first one came in 2007. There were other concussions as the years went by.

Now, Dunfee, who turned 39 in December, is among a growing chorus of surfers raising awareness about head injuries in the sport. Some surfers say the openness is making a difference. Researchers are paying attention, too, and drawing parallels to the kinds of long-term injuries suffered by football players.

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two women hold cardboard boxes on a beach as a gray bird walks out of each box
Are the ills of the Arctic hitting California? Julie Skoglund, left, and Kelly Beffa, right, of International Bird Rescue, release two fulmars back into the wild at Doran Beach, in Bodega Bay, on Jan. 18, after overseeing their rehabilitation. Over the last half-decade, scientists have documented unprecedented die-offs of birds, marine mammals and other creatures in the northern waters where fulmars breed each year. Researchers say the marine food web of the Arctic and sub-Arctic has been drastically altered, possibly because of climate change.
(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)


The State Bar of California probes whether insiders helped ‘Real Housewives’ star Tom Girardi avoid scrutiny. The newly disclosed bar investigation, which is being handled by an outside law firm, is attempting “to identify actions by anyone with ties to the State Bar that may constitute malfeasance in how discipline complaints against Girardi were handled,” the agency said in a statement.

Coronavirus test provider says it plans to sue L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva over China claims. Fulgent Genetics, the Temple City company contracted to administer tests and track the vaccination status of county employees, plans to sue for defamation over claims the sheriff made in a letter to the Board of Supervisors in November alleging the company has links to the Chinese government.

Four California universities rank in the top 10 nationally for research spending. UCLA, UC San Diego, UC San Francisco and Stanford finished in the top 10 nationally, according to newly released figures from the National Science Foundation. No other state had more than one school in that elite bracket.

‘Beautiful young ladies’ were among the four gunned down in ambush at Inglewood birthday party. Four people were killed and one was injured when multiple gunmen opened fire into the celebration shortly after 1:30 a.m. in what police say was an act of gang-related violence. The shooters were still at large Monday, and no descriptions of the suspects were available.

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James Webb Space Telescope reaches final stop in space. The world’s biggest, most powerful space telescope reached its final destination 1 million miles from Earth, a month after it lifted off on a quest to behold the dawn of the universe.

Journalist Lourdes Maldonado López told Mexico’s president she feared for her life. Then she was killed. For years, Mexico has been one of the deadliest countries in the world to be a journalist. And for years, in impassioned speeches and street protests, media workers have begged authorities to do more to protect them.

Michael Avenatti is cast as both thief and generous lawyer at his N.Y. trial. Avenatti stole nearly $300,000 in book proceeds from porn star Stormy Daniels to pay employees at his debt-ridden law firm and to fund his personal expenses, a prosecutor told jurors as the once-highflying attorney’s third criminal trial in two years began.


For Damon Albarn, modern life is still pretty much rubbish. Over coffee on the rooftop of his hotel, Albarn, 53, discussed his dual citizenship, the upcoming 25th anniversary of Blur’s self-titled 1997 LP, and the legacy of the band’s biggest American hit, “Song 2.”

Sujata Day wrote the roles she wanted to play, onscreen and off. Three years ago, Day decided to take the biggest leap of her career: she would direct and star in her own feature film, “Definition Please,” about a 20-something former spelling bee champion still living at home in the Pittsburgh suburbs. The film is now available on Netflix.

Manfred Thierry Mugler, French fashion icon known for sculpted designs, dies at 73. Mugler, who launched his brand in 1973, became known for his architectural style, defined by broad shoulders and a tiny waist. He defined haute couture over several decades, dressing up Diana Ross and Beyoncé at galas, on red carpets and runways.


When a medical team quit, this hospital sued to force them to keep working. The ThedaCare workers plainly were participating in the Great Resignation. It’s a measure of how ill-equipped employers have been to deal with it that ThedaCare thought it had no option other than to ask a judge to force them to stay, writes business columnist Michael Hiltzik.

D.C. and three states sue Google, saying it invades users’ privacy. The lawsuit accuses the company of deceiving consumers and invading their privacy by making it nearly impossible for them to stop their location from being tracked.

Peloton says it had no part in ‘Billions’ heart attack reminiscent of Mr. Big’s fate. Peloton has been implicated in the fate of another TV character, prompting a swift response from the popular stationary-bike company on Twitter.


Who wants the Angel Stadium land deal to fail? It’s not easy to say. Anaheim Mayor Harry Sidhu should be able to identify who doesn’t want the city’s Angel Stadium land deal with Arte Moreno to succeed, but he’s not talking.

NBA player Jaxson Hayes was charged with domestic violence and resisting arrest in L.A. The incident happened in July at his Woodland Hills home, in which LAPD officers choked him and hit him with a Taser.

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California must do more to get bad doctors out of the profession. Lawmakers and Gov. Gavin Newsom should embrace sweeping reforms that put patient safety at the center of how California regulates doctors.


What you need to know before going to Yosemite and other national parks in 2022: After 2021, national park destinations in the West sound like a great travel choice — but there’s plenty of change and uncertainty outdoors, too. If you’re leaning toward a park trip, here’s a roundup of what to expect at 17 parks in California, Arizona and Utah, including bigger crowds in the deserts, reduced services because of pandemic measures and worker shortages and miles of scorched earth.


Charles Manson is escorted by two sheriffs
Charles Manson is escorted by two Los Angeles Sheriffs in 1973.
(Los Angeles Times)

Fifty-one years ago, Charles Manson, Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel and Leslie Van Houten were convicted of murder in the killings of actress Sharon Tate and six others. Manson was sentenced to death in 1971 but was resentenced to life in prison after the California Supreme Court ruled the death penalty unconstitutional. The photo above shows Manson two years after his conviction. Manson died in 2017 at 83 after decades in prison.

We appreciate that you took the time to read Today’s Headlines! Comments or ideas? Feel free to drop us a note at — Elvia Limón and Laura Blasey