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Today’s Headlines: New details emerge on violent incident that left 49ers fan in a coma

SoFi Stadium in Inglewood.
(Al Seib/Los Angeles Times)
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By Laura Blasey and Amy Hubbard

Hello, it’s Friday, Feb. 4, and here’s a question to start your day: Who do you think could eat more vegetables in 10 minutes, a rabbit or a human?

Bugs Bunny was famous for his love of carrots, and Beatrix Potter’s Peter Rabbit was so consumed by his hunger for vegetables that he broke into Mr. McGregor’s garden, lost his clothes and — at least in the movie version — participated in an interspecies war. But neither of these floppy-eared heroes had to go up against competitive eater Raina Huang, who is real and a human.

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Huang and a retiree-turned-rabbit-breeder attempted to put this question to the test at a Glendale Chop Stop this week. Unfortunately, the rabbits (named Honey “Mega” Bunny and Precious) declined to participate, so we remain without an answer. But we at least have the photos.

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

TOP STORIES

A ‘PR nightmare’ ahead of Super Bowl?

Inglewood officials released new details about a violent altercation in a parking lot at SoFi Stadium on Sunday that left a San Francisco 49ers fan in a medically induced coma as they faced questions about why they didn’t inform the public about the incident sooner.

Inglewood Mayor James T. Butts Jr. said video had emerged showing 40-year-old restaurant owner Daniel Luna being pushed from behind, then punched “in what looked like the mouth area.” Butts said Luna then fell and hit his head.

It wasn’t until days later that the incident came out. Some experts said its timing — weeks before the nation’s attention turns to the stadium for the Super Bowl — created a “PR nightmare” for officials. Others said it raised important questions about safety and security protocols during big games.

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Islamic State’s leader died in a raid by U.S. forces, President Biden said

President Biden announced that Abu Ibrahim Hashimi Qurayshi, the leader of Islamic State, was killed during an overnight raid by U.S. forces in Syria, declaring the operation a success that eliminated a “major terrorist threat to the world.”

Administration officials said measures were taken to reduce civilian casualties in the raid against Qurayshi, but rescue workers reported that at least 13 people were killed, including six children and four women. U.S. officials blamed their deaths on Qurayshi, who they said blew up himself and his family in his third-floor apartment as the raid unfolded.

The U.S. accused Russia of an elaborate plot to fake an attack by Ukraine

The Kremlin plotted to fabricate the attack by Ukrainian forces so that Russia would have a pretext to take military action against its neighbor, a Pentagon spokesman said. John Kirby said the scheme included production of a graphic propaganda video that would show staged explosions and use actors depicting mourners.

More politics

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  • California had a recall election and it bummed people out, writes columnist Mark Z. Barabak. More broadly, recall fever may be waning.

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

Do we need new shots?

COVID-19 vaccines are saving an untold number of lives, but they can’t stop the chaos when a hugely contagious new variant bursts on the scene. That’s leading people to wonder: Will we need boosters every few months? A new vaccine recipe? A new type of shot altogether?

The answers are far from settled, but with the shots still doing their main job, many experts are cautioning against setting the bar too high. If the goal is preventing serious illness, one doctor said, “we may not need to be doing as much fine-tuning of the vaccines every time a new variant comes.”

More top coronavirus headlines

  • Days after facing criticism for being photographed maskless at Sunday’s Rams-49ers playoff game, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has offered an explanation: He was holding his breath.
  • Outlining how health and safety rules could be loosened as Omicron continues to wane, L.A. County officials said face coverings no longer would be required in certain outdoor settings once COVID-19 hospitalizations dropped, and indoor mask rules could be loosened after further gains.

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

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As the Earth warms, air conditioning use could exceed the power supply in the next decade

As climate change pushes temperatures ever higher, Californians could lose air conditioning for roughly one week each summer because the demand for cooling will have exceeded the capacity of the electrical grid, a new study has found. The state could hit this sweltering mark by the early 2030s. Researchers projected an even bigger increase in air conditioner-less days in some Southern and Midwestern states.

Meanwhile, California regulators are delaying a vote on a controversial proposal to slash incentives for home solar systems as they consider revamping the measure. California Public Utilities Commission President Alice Reynolds has asked for more time to consider making changes to the plan after getting feedback from solar companies, environmental groups, consumer advocates, utilities and other parties, according to a notice.

Our daily news podcast

If you’re a fan of this newsletter, you’ll love our daily podcast “The Times,” hosted every weekday by columnist Gustavo Arellano, along with reporters from across our newsroom. Go beyond the headlines. Download and listen on our App, subscribe on Apple Podcasts and follow on Spotify.

CALIFORNIA

After years of cuts, California could provide school buses for all kids. A new bill would provide state funding for daily transportation for all of California’s 6 million K-12 students starting next year, alleviating the financial burden for districts.

Los Angeles’ hourly minimum wage will rise from $15 to $16.04 on July 1. The city’s wage has risen steadily over the last seven years following a push by city leaders to boost the hourly rate and curb poverty. It will apply to businesses of all sizes, according to the city’s website.

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Southern California Gas Co. settled a lawsuit alleging Prop. 65 violations in a 2015 gas leak. As part of the settlement, the utility company must monitor for benzene at its Aliso Canyon facility in the San Fernando Valley and provide text and email alerts for all residents in the surrounding area in the event of another leak.

A new bill would allow patients to be heard at doctor disciplinary hearings. For nearly three decades, California law has forbidden the state’s medical board from considering victim statements in their decision-making.

Federal prosecutors have charged a former UCLA lecturer with making criminal threats across state lines. Matthew Harris, apprehended Tuesday in Boulder, Colo., by a police SWAT team after a three-hour standoff at his apartment building, had sent a video to students and faculty referencing a mass shooting, which in turn prompted a campus shutdown.

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NATION-WORLD

An Indonesian mother’s unending — and inspiring — protest to find her son’s killer. Indonesia has gradually transformed from an authoritarian state reeling from the Asian financial crisis into the world’s third-largest democracy and Southeast Asia’s biggest economy. Despite that progress, the country remains unable — and many say unwilling — to reckon with its past.

A man convicted in the death of Ahmaud Arbery won’t plead guilty to a hate crime. Greg McMichael, who initiated the deadly chase that ended in the shooting of Arbery, has reversed his plan to plead guilty to a federal hate crime in the 2020 killing of the unarmed Black man, according to a legal filing. The action came days after a U.S. District judge rejected terms of a plea deal that was met with passionate objections by Arbery’s parents.

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Xi Jinping sees the Beijing Olympics as a validation of his power. The Chinese leader, who has pored over venue blueprints and been involved in every aspect of planning, sees the Games not only as a validation of his stagecraft but also the rise of a confident, economically robust nation that is rearranging the world order.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

A new lawsuit says security failed and led to the killing of Drakeo the Ruler. The suit accuses concert promoter Live Nation, among others, of negligence that contributed to the rapper’s death in December at the Once Upon a Time in L.A. festival.

CNN staffers want to know why. Top talent at the cable news network grilled WarnerMedia Chief Executive Jason Kilar over his decision on Jeff Zucker, whose resignation as president of the network has shaken up the troops.

Review: ‘Moonfall’ is stupid. That’s mostly a good thing, writes Times film critic Justin Chang. Director Roland Emmerich’s film about the moon raining large chunks of space debris on Earth harbors no illusions about being useful. This particular moon is made of purest B-movie cheese.

BUSINESS

Uber faces ‘serious questions’ over transgender drivers’ treatment after a report by The Times. City attorneys in Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego called on the company to explain how it verifies accounts for transgender drivers. Uber’s conduct may violate several antidiscrimination and workplace safety laws.

Meta erased more than $230 billion in value. The Facebook parent plunged 26% on the back of woeful earnings results. That’s the biggest wipeout for any U.S. company ever.

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This is HitPiece, the digital music company artists despise even more than Spotify. For a few days this week, a new firm sold NFTs — pieces of code asserting ownership over a digital object — associated with thousands of musicians’ catalogs. But according to some artists, the company seemed to have done so without any permission or even notice.

SPORTS

Would you pay $4,850 for a Super Bowl parking spot? Attendance will be at an all-time high when the Los Angeles Rams and Cincinnati Bengals clash in SoFi Stadium, which typically seats about 70,000 but can expand to as many as 100,000. For a few hours that Sunday, Inglewood businesses and residents with driveways and garages will find themselves with some of the most valuable real estate in the city — and they’re looking to cash in. (For more, sign up for our daily Super Bowl newsletter, a special edition of the Sports Report.)

As the Winter Games are set to open, avoiding a disaster might be considered success. Controversy has beset the 2022 Olympics on two fronts, casting a harsh light on the host country’s human rights record while raising concerns about a coronavirus outbreak among thousands of athletes, coaches and media.

The Clippers defeated the Lakers 111-110. Reggie Jackson’s driving layup with 4.1 seconds left gave the Clippers the victory.

No. 3 UCLA lost to No. 7 Arizona 76-66. UCLA fell behind by 12 points in the first half and was unable to rally. Arizona moves into first place in the Pac-12.

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OPINION

Dismantle death row, but don’t stop there. Gov. Gavin Newsom said condemned prisoners would be moved to other prisons within two years. What he didn’t do was commute the sentences of current inmates awaiting execution to life in prison, or promise to close San Quentin.

The U.S. Postal Service wants to waste billions of dollars on a new fleet of gas-guzzling mail trucks. While Amazon, FedEx, UPS, Walmart and other companies are racing to replace their fossil-fuel-powered delivery vehicles with zero-emission models, the Postal Service is careening in the opposite direction. It’s a colossal waste of money and opportunity, writes the editorial board.

YOUR WEEKEND

Plastic foam takeout containers hold dumplings, buns, shrimp and custard tarts.
A combination of dim sum offerings from Giai Phat Food Co. and Dim Sum Co. in Westminster.
(Edwin Goei)

Whip up some dim sum. A touching L.A. Affairs column put us in the mood for dumplings. The coming-out story centers on a family’s dim sum tradition. “I called my mom for her birthday and just said it. ‘Happy birthday, Mom. I’m gay.’ There was a momentary silence. ... I heard her clear her throat. ... She asked, ‘Have you met someone?’ ‘No, not yet.’ ‘I hope he likes dim sum.’ She laughed.” Here are some recipes from The Times’ Food vault: Shrimp dumplings, Beijing-style pork and cabbage dumplings, vegetable dumplings and golden bag chicken dumplings with Thai sweet chili sauce.

Or plan for Super Bowl eats with make-ahead accompaniments for your chips, including lemon pepper chicken dip and fried onion chili crisp dip.

(Speaking of the Super Bowl), you could explore 34 things to do with people who are in town for the game. These are non-football L.A. places to eat at, drive by, hike in, etc. Among them: the Museum of Jurassic Technology, “where deadpan humor meets natural history,” and the Korean Bell of Friendship: The park with its historic bell is a great spot to soak up history, reflect, fly a kite and enjoy a picnic.

WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

Note: Some of the sites we link to may limit the number of stories you can access without subscribing.

What athletes fear. “Winter Olympic athletes in the most extreme sports tend to fall into two categories: Those who have sustained serious injuries. And those who will.” The New York Times talked with dozens of athletes and found that, yes, they’re scared, mostly of getting hurt. This one’s worth a click for the videos alone. Perhaps athletes are also afraid of packing: The Times’ David Wharton writes about the massive undertaking of getting the winter athletes — and their heaps of hockey sticks, scads of skis, bobsleds the size of grand pianos and more — to the Olympics.

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Why there’s only one Black head coach in the NFL. An explainer from NPR digs into the controversy surrounding a discrimination lawsuit by fired Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores. Among the issues: The NFL has few owners of color; also, more quarterbacks have managed to take a career path to the top — but African Americans have long been discouraged from becoming quarterbacks. Times columnist LZ Granderson says it’s up to the NFL players to take action and fight for Flores and Black coaches.

How Mexican American segregation is being remembered in Marfa, Texas. Times Houston bureau chief Molly Hennessy-Fiske writes about the Blackwell School, where students were paddled for violating the no-Spanish rule: “Hiding in plain sight on a dusty corner of this remote west Texas town, the Blackwell School stands as a lasting reminder of what Mexican American students endured during decades of segregation.”

FROM THE ARCHIVES

A girl dances in front of musicians playing horns. Everyone is in traditional costume.
February 1964: Norma Lopez, 4, dances at the City Hall rotunda as a mariachi band serenades the city to open Good Neighbor Week, a lead-up to a presidential visit.
(Los Angeles Times)

Fifty-eight years ago this month, Los Angeles held a week of festivities around a visit to the state by President Lyndon B. Johnson and Mexican President Adolfo López Mateos. The pair spent two days in Palm Springs, a good-natured confab that was capped in L.A. by “an entertainment program” at the Memorial Sports Arena, The Times reported on Feb. 23, 1964. In a passage that’s so sunny it’s hard to imagine it appearing in modern-day news coverage, the paper said “the presidents concluded their talks in complete agreement that they will devote their best efforts to maintaining the close, friendly relations that happily exist between their two countries.”

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.

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