Today’s Headlines: A new poll finds that L.A. isn’t as unpopular as you might think

The Los Angeles skyline after dark with a lighted observatory in the foreground.
Dusk settles in over the city in a view from above the Griffith Park Observatory on Dec. 20.
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)
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By Laura Blasey and Amy Hubbard

Hello, it’s Friday, Feb. 18, and if you’re looking for something rewarding to do this weekend, we have a recommendation. The Times this week launched Short Docs, a monthly video series that will entertain but also make you think. (Hey, go ahead and watch “Marry Me” [we did], but when you’re done trying to figure out just what is it about Owen Wilson’s hair, stream “Victor and Isolina.” And, for six minutes, be riveted.)

The series — directed by The Times’ Nani Sahra Walker, an award-winning filmmaker herself — includes documentaries (up to 22 minutes long) on a Cherokee elder and first language speaker, the first female Sri Lankan surfer, a group of Black and Latina women working to remove police from their children’s schools, and more. (More day-off ideas toward the bottom of this newsletter in Your Weekend.)


Now on to today’s news you don’t want to miss.


They like it. They really like it.

Nearly three-quarters of respondents in a new poll co-sponsored by The Times rated Los Angeles as either “one of the best places to live” or “nice but not an outstanding place to live.” Although the poll hardly represents a consensus — it was taken among registered voters, suggesting a preexisting commitment to the city and to their opinions — its optimism might come as a surprise.

Just last year, the news from the Golden State was less ebullient. Not only had housing prices, homelessness, crime and general pandemic ennui sapped collective morale, but the state’s population also had taken a dive. But now masks are coming off, coronavirus infections are down, and the future — if not entirely bright — seems, at least for some, promising.

Speaking of L.A.: Tomorrow we launch a newsletter that’ll follow and explain all the upcoming drama of this year’s historic L.A. mayor’s race and other 2022 contests. Our City Hall team has it covered with L.A. on the Record.

Senate GOP moved to downplay race in the looming Supreme Court confirmation hearing


Some Senate Republicans are predicting a civil but tough Supreme Court battle in which their members largely steer clear of the nominee’s identity as a Black woman, a historic element that Democrats have played up as they tout the need for a more representative judiciary that looks like America.

That marks a shift from recent weeks when several drew criticism for comments: Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) quipped that he wanted “a nominee who knows a law book from a J. Crew catalog.” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) called Biden’s pledge to nominate the first Black woman to the court “an insult to Black women.”

More politics

  • The Justice Department announced it was launching an initiative to identify companies that were exploiting supply chain disruptions in the U.S. for increased profits in possible violation of antitrust laws.
  • The Senate gave final approval to legislation averting a weekend government shutdown, sending President Biden a measure designed to give bipartisan bargainers more time to reach an overdue deal to finance federal agencies until fall.
  • House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy endorsed the GOP primary challenger to Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, his latest show of fealty to former President Trump. Meanwhile, a judge ruled that Trump must answer questions under oath in New York state’s civil investigation into his business practices.
  • A handful of Democrats in the state Legislature are pushing again for a tax on “extreme wealth” in California, a move they say could bring the state billions in revenue by raising taxes on households worth $50 million.

California offers a cautious blueprint forward as COVID wanes and mask orders ease

State officials released a pandemic plan that gave an overview of how authorities would manage potential new surges, warning that although the Omicron surge is fading, the state must be prepared for the emergence of new variants and seasonal increases in coronavirus transmission.

More top coronavirus headlines

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


Russian disinformation has kicked into high gear as the Ukraine crisis drags on

To hear Russian media tell it, the government of Ukraine is run by neo-Nazis waging a genocidal campaign against ethnic Russians in the country’s east, where Moscow-backed authorities regularly uncover mass graves full of the corpses of women and children with bound hands and bludgeoned heads even as they face the hell of constant shelling.

Such false images and narratives have become a daily staple in Russia in the months since an estimated 150,000 Russian troops, along with armored vehicles, warplanes and naval ships, began assembling on Ukraine’s periphery. The Russian media have gone into overdrive with stories depicting a government in Kyiv so cruel that Moscow has no choice but to swoop in and protect the ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region.

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A wildfire east of Bishop in Owens Valley grew to over 4,100 acres. Driven by wind, the Airport fire was the largest of three wildfires to have broken out so far in 2022, according to Cal Fire statistics. By last night, firefighters had begun to gain control of the blaze.

L.A. Unified Supt. Alberto Carvalho confronts his first big decision: Should LAUSD relax mask requirements? Even as some districts are lifting outdoors mask rules, the superintendent said, L.A. Unified is deliberating and soliciting expert advice before making its own decision early next week.


The Rams and Matthew Stafford will cover medical bills for the team’s photographer. Kelly Smiley fractured her back after falling off the 7- to 8-foot stage where the Rams were holding a rally at Exposition Park. Video of the incident was not a good look for quarterback Stafford. After Smiley fell off, he appeared to pivot and quickly move in the opposite direction while his wife went to try to help.

L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva told county leaders to stop using the term “deputy gangs.” Villanueva sent a cease-and-desist letter this week to the Board of Supervisors, demanding they and others stop using the phrase to refer to secretive groups that operate within department stations.

CSU Chancellor Joseph Castro has resigned. After an hours-long closed-door session with the board of trustees, Castro announced he would step down. The move follows widespread criticism sparked by reports that, as president of Fresno State in 2020, Castro quietly authorized a $260,000 payout and a retirement package for a former school official who was the subject of complaints of bullying and sexual harassment.

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A drug that is supposed to help prevent premature births doesn’t work, the FDA says. But the company that makes it has refused to take it off the market. The story of the drug Makena shows how pharmaceutical companies can use America’s drug approval system to make hundreds of millions of dollars from a cheap, decades-old medicine with questionable effectiveness and safety.

Capitol Police made a third of the changes that were recommended after the Jan. 6 riot, a watchdog testifies. The police force has not made the majority of recommendations, the department’s inspector general told a House committee, and it still needs more training and intelligence gathering to anticipate and protect against threats to Congress.


The death toll following torrential rains in Brazil rose to over 100 with more than 100 still missing. Floodwaters and mudslides dragged cars and houses through the streets of the mountain city of Petropolis during the most intense rainfall in decades.


Bad news: “Stranger Things” will end with Season 5. Good news? Season 4 is extra long. Creators, showrunners and brothers Matt and Ross Duffer said they’d always predicted the sci-fi period drama would last four or five seasons: “It proved too large to tell in four.” Even Season 4 is large enough that Netflix will release it in two parts — dropping on May 27 and July 1.

Dante Basco tapped the whole family to make his “Fabulous” directorial debut. For years he developed the saga of four brothers gathered for a wedding that he’d star in alongside his actual brothers, Derek, Darion and Dionysio. The film’s title proudly placed their heritage front and center: “The Fabulous Filipino Brothers.”


Instagram made Theragun a hit. So why did the company just open a physical L.A. store? Not only can customers try out the popular massage gun but they can also dabble in cryotherapy, light therapy and hyperbaric chambers. E-commerce sellers have been making the leap to brick-and-mortar to lure customers — and sell them even more stuff.

Tesla’s co-founder wants to solve California’s battery waste problem. Electric vehicles may be cleaner than gasoline or diesel fuel cars and trucks. But that doesn’t mean they’re clean, especially when they’re no longer usable. Nevada-based Redwood Materials announced it was expanding a used-battery collection program to California, with Ford and Volvo as project-launch partners.

Want to live at Disneyland? Walt Disney Co. says it is moving beyond “storytelling” and into “storyliving.” The Burbank-based company said it planned to develop a string of real estate projects around the country, beginning in Rancho Mirage, that incorporate “legendary guest service” and “curated experiences.”



Embroiled by doping accusations, ROC’s Kamila Valieva tumbled out of medal contention. The 15-year-old Russian hailed as the new face of women’s figure skating stumbled through triple jumps and tumbled out of quadruples, waving a hand in disgust as her free skate program ended. She finished in fourth place.

Eric Kay was found guilty in Tyler Skaggs’ death. A Texas jury found the former Angels employee guilty of distributing fentanyl and oxycodone since “beginning or before 2017” and of providing Skaggs the fentanyl that resulted in his death in a suburban Dallas hotel room.

Skier Mikaela Shiffrin’s inexplicable Olympics took another inexplicable turn in her fifth and final individual event. One of her skis clipped a gate seconds into the race and sent her crashing into the snow as disbelieving gasps filled the finish area. “Right now I just feel like a joke,” she said. It was her last chance to win an individual medal.

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The twisted path that led Michele Tafoya from covering the NFL to denying systemic racism. The former sideline reporter is said to be backing a politician whose organization aims to counter “the prevailing narrative in popular culture that America is structured to undermine the lives of black Americans,” writes columnist LZ Granderson.

Can California Latinos save Democrats in the midterm elections? According to a new congressional map, maybe, writes columnist Jean Guerrero.



Two people carrying surfboards walk in the sand in front of a lighted pier in the evening.
Oceanside’s pier stretches 1,954 feet into the Pacific, attracting tourists, street performers and seagulls.
(Christopher Reynolds / Los Angeles Times)

Pay Oceanside a visit (yes, Oceanside). For decades, a lot of tourists overlooked the blue-collar city that operated in the shadow of Camp Pendleton. But there’s a new generation of lodging, restaurants and retailers, writes The Times’ Christopher Reynolds. Among his recent stops: the Green Room, a 12-room boutique hotel with surf-minimalist white interiors, no lobby, forward-looking technology and flat black exteriors; also, the Mission Pacific Hotel Rooftop Bar, a “brilliant spot for sunset-viewing.” The U-shaped hotel is wrapped around a tiny beach cottage. Why? It was Kelly McGillis’ house in the 1986 movie “Top Gun.” It’s set to open as a dessert bar called the Top Gun House.

Go to Palm Springs for Modernism Week events. Modernism is celebrated in a big way at Palm Springs’ annual festival. From Feb. 17 to 27, there are more than 350 events planned, including house tours, panel discussions, bike and walking tours and parties. Take a double-decker architectural bus tour, peek inside one-of-a-kind renovated vintage trailers and more.


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Two Wordle answers? Cue the internet fury. The word-guessing game took off online due in part to its communal appeal: there is only one answer per day. After the New York Times bought the game in January, some players worried the company would change Wordle. This week, a glitchy website transition resulted in two possible sets of answers, a discovery that unleashed mayhem and the fury of scorned Wordle devotees. Washington Post

The unbearable weirdness of watching culture change around you. Some call this a “vibe shift”: how trends in thought, clothing, media, politics, interests and the social ecosystem they all create can morph into new eras. At least one trend expert thinks another vibe shift is upon us. New York Magazine


Ukrainians had long been divided. Now a common enemy is causing them to unite. Residents have come together “in the eight years since Russia first invaded and snatched away parts of their country. A people long divided by profound disputes over what language to speak, what church to follow and what historical heroes to revere has begun to stitch together a sense of common purpose in the face of a menacing foe.” A reporter and photographer document their trip along the Dnieper River. New York Times


A woman holding a baby cries as she is pulled along by deputies. Two small children near her sob.
May 9, 1959: Sheriff’s deputies take Aurora Vargas from her Chavez Ravine home.
(Los Angeles Times)

Sixty-two years ago today, Dodgers owner Walter O’Malley wrapped up the purchase of a dozen remaining properties in Chavez Ravine to make way for Dodger Stadium. A few days earlier, a headline in the Feb. 12, 1960, edition of The Times said: “Price for 12 Affected Home Lots Reported to Be Nearly $490,000, O’Malley Hints.” It was $494,000, and the purchases capped a dark episode in L.A. history in which more than 1,000 mostly Mexican American families were evicted from the neighborhood.

On April 5, 2012, on the 50th anniversary of the opening of Dodger Stadium, The Times’ Hector Becerra wrote about the “rural village overlooking downtown L.A.” People he spoke to recalled “a life of few luxuries but a sense of community and adventure, with sprawling Elysian Park as a backyard playground.” Some of those who fought the evictions were “dragged away kicking and screaming and weeping, and the removals became a rallying symbol of Latino L.A. history and activism.”

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