Today’s Headlines: The crisis in Ukraine

A woman in a winter coat covers her mouth amid a crowd.
A woman walks away from a crowded line for an ATM in Slovyansk, Ukraine, Thursday as the Russian invasion began.
(Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)

By Laura Blasey and Amy Hubbard

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


Russia conducts an all-out assault; U.S. and allies spell out sanctions

Moscow accelerated its assault on neighboring Ukraine, with explosions resounding in cities across the country, airstrikes crippling its defenses and reports of troops crossing the border by land and sea as Russian forces closed in on the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, and citizens fled on clogged highways and took cover in subway stations.


Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky gave a defiant video address calling on his compatriots not to flee, ordering men of fighting age, in particular, to stay.

It was uncertain how long the Ukrainian army could hold back a withering attack from Russian forces that included paratroopers, missiles, heavy artillery and cyberattacks. But with the Russians on brisk offensives advancing from the south, north and east, it appeared Russian President Vladimir Putin had his sights set on not just taking eastern Ukraine but also conquering a former Soviet republic he has long desired.

Meanwhile, President Biden announced the U.S. would impose severe economic sanctions on Russia, while steering clear of measures that might upset global energy markets. Putin “chose this war. And now he and his country will bear the consequences,” declared Biden as he disclosed that the U.S. and European allies would sanction five Russian banks holding around $1 trillion in assets and block high-tech exports to the country. “Every asset they have in America will be frozen,” Biden pledged.

Here is the latest.

More on the invasion

  • Ukrainians in California decried the attack: “A lot of innocent people will die.”
  • Shocked Russians turned out by the thousands to protest their country’s invasion of Ukraine as emotional calls for demonstrations grew on social media. Some 1,745 people in 54 Russian cities were detained, including at least 957 in Moscow, according to a rights group.
  • Beijing may be tempted to side with Putin. The conflict puts Chinese President Xi Jinping in an uncomfortable position that could prove consequential for his country and its relationship with the U.S. and American allies.
  • The invasion could spur more supply chain disruptions. Economists worry that higher food and energy prices could push inflation into double digits. An economic Q&A. Although markets swung wildly as the world reacted, stocks in the U.S. recovered from early losses.
  • Will sanctions work? History says it will take time, writes Business columnist Michael Hiltzik.

L.A. must add a quarter of a million new homes to its zoning plan — or suffer the consequences

Can the city accomplish in months a task that would normally take several years? It’s a must after state housing regulators rejected L.A.’s long-term plan for growth and ruled that the city must rezone to accommodate an additional 250,000 homes by mid-October.

The cost of failure could be high, experts say. If city leaders do not fix the housing plan or complete the rezoning by the new deadline, they could lose access to billions of dollars in affordable housing grants, officials say. Without the money, the production of new housing for low-income and homeless residents throughout L.A. would take a massive hit at a time when more than 41,000 people are homeless.

More politics

  • A Superior Court judge blocked the city of Los Angeles from allowing Herb Wesson, former council member, to return to City Hall, handing a victory to a civil rights group and allies of Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas. Wesson was sworn in just Tuesday as a temporary replacement for Ridley-Thomas, who is fighting corruption charges and was suspended by his colleagues in October.
  • The L.A. police union backed Rick Caruso for mayor, spurning Councilman Joe Buscaino, a former LAPD officer.

Sign up for our L.A. on the Record newsletter to get the lowdown on L.A. politics in this pivotal election year.

CDC is easing pandemic mask guidelines today


The Biden administration was set to significantly loosen federal mask-wearing guidelines, meaning most Americans will no longer be advised to wear masks in indoor public settings.

In Los Angeles County, the CDC’s new guidance could affect the decision on when a local indoor public mask mandate would be eliminated. Previously, it had been forecast to be lifted in mid- to late March. L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said it would take at least a few days for local health officials to evaluate the agency’s newest recommendations.

More top coronavirus headlines

  • The vaccination drive in the U.S. is grinding to a halt, and demand has all but collapsed in some places.
  • In England, all government-mandated coronavirus restrictions were lifted, including the requirement for people who test positive for COVID-19 to isolate at home.
  • Some people getting the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines should consider waiting up to eight weeks between their first and second doses, instead of the three or four weeks previously recommended, U.S. health officials said.

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

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hundreds of people sit in a dark subway car with their belongings and pets
People crowded subway platforms, dark train cars, even emergency exits in a Kharkiv train station Thursday. The Times’ Nabih Bulos and Marcus Yam are in Ukraine as the Russian invasion continues.
(Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)


UC smashes the record for first-year fall applications. For the second straight year, the University of California shattered records for first-year fall applications, as the elimination of standardized test requirements and greater online outreach paid dividends in drawing the largest and most diverse applicant pool ever.

An ex-UCLA lecturer accused of making threats pleaded not guilty. Matthew Harris, 31, entered the plea after a grand jury indicted him on charges of sending emails with an 800-page document and links to videos to people at UCLA. On Feb. 1, UCLA canceled classroom instruction as a precaution.

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Three former Minneapolis police officers were convicted of violating George Floyd’s civil rights. Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane were charged with depriving Floyd of his right to medical care when Officer Derek Chauvin pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck for 9½ minutes as the 46-year-old Black man was handcuffed and facedown on the street on May 25, 2020. Thao and Lane were also charged with failing to intervene to stop Chauvin.

Wildfires are getting worse across the globe. How does California compare? An alarming new United Nations report warns that the number of extreme wildfires is expected to increase 50% globally by the end of the century, and that governments are largely unprepared. It also shines a light on the hard lessons California is already learning — including what it’s getting right and what more needs to be done.

More than half of U.S. abortions are now done with pills, not surgery. Medication abortions surged during the COVID-19 pandemic with the increase in telemedicine, a report shows.


Ten years later, Trayvon Martin’s death continues to change the nation. The 2012 slaying of the unarmed Black teen still reverberates — in protest, in racial reckoning and reactionary response, in social justice and social media.


The conflict in Ukraine and backpedaling were the main themes of Tucker Carlson’s show Thursday. On Wednesday, the Fox News host had sympathized with former KGB agent-turned-despot Vladimir Putin and discounted Ukraine as “a pure client state of the United States State Department.” He was subsequently slammed for it and spent the next day’s show backpedaling, writes TV critic Lorraine Ali.

“Law & Order” is back, and it hasn’t changed. That’s exactly why it’s lasted so long. The Coca-Cola Classic of NBC’s Dick Wolf universe is back after a 12-year interregnum. Television critic Robert Lloyd writes that the taste remains the same, even with the series’ penchant for swapping new characters in and out over its many years.

Netflix hopes to recover $200,000 worth of props stolen from “The Crown.” Thieves took a replica of an 1897 Imperial Coronation Fabergé coach egg, 12 sets of silver candelabras and a clock face from a William IV grandfather clock among other antique props from the England set.

We’ve been thinking about Lionel Richie all wrong. To a whole generation, Richie is just his famous kids’ dad, or that emotional judge on “Idol” alongside Katy Perry and Luke Bryan who advises without being judgmental. But for fans of Richie’s own music, the sight and the sound of him on piano is enough to bring tears, writes Danyel Smith, host of the Spotify Original show “Black Girl Songbook.” He’s always been both awkward and sophisticated, and his ability — via voice, composition, mood, a spiritual reverence for his own talent — still personifies a seductive mix of vulnerability and courage.


What’s behind California’s painful gas prices? Oil, taxes and geopolitics. To a large degree, it’s the same force that’s pushing California housing prices into the stratosphere: Demand has been outstripping supply for some time now. Add in California state politics and sanctions on Russian oil and you’re paying $4.75 per gallon.



No. 12 UCLA’s shooting goes cold in loss to Oregon. The UCLA men’s basketball team was without several key players down the stretch and cold from long-range shooting in the 68-63 loss to Oregon on Thursday.

No. 16 USC barely escapes Oregon State in double overtime. Drew Peterson had 24 points as No. 16 USC extended its winning streak to five games, beating Oregon State 94-91 in double-overtime.

The Lakers must trade LeBron James. It sounds crazy, but it’s the best path forward, writes columnist Bill Plaschke.

The Super Bowl champs could soon set up camp a kick away from Victory Boulevard. The Rams are in negotiations to buy the site of the former Woodland Hills Promenade and build a team practice facility there, according to people familiar with the talks who are not authorized to discuss them publicly and asked for anonymity.

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In charging a molester as a minor, Los Angeles D.A. George Gascón is helping critics and hurting reform, writes columnist Anita Chabria. It’s hard to imagine a scenario in which the Hannah Tubbs case won’t help the recall effort against George Gascón.


Brian Dahle wants to challenge Newsom and avoid Trump. It won’t work, writes Laurel Rosenhall. The Republican legislator challenging Gov. Gavin Newsom’s reelection has an unusual record in Sacramento. But he is still unlikely to escape the Trump trap.

The U.S. couldn’t stop Russia from attacking Ukraine — but it can make it pay. This week’s attack fully justifies the significant sanctions the U.S. and its allies are moving to impose on Russia. Sadly, it’s not clear whether these measures will cause Russia to relent in its aggression against Ukraine. They may, however, put Putin on notice that Russia’s economy, and its “corrupt billionaires,” will pay a heavy price for this act of aggression — and an even steeper cost if Russia were to menace a member state of NATO.


A bowl of dessert sits on a wooden table.
Roasted chestnut mochi from pastry chef Thessa Diadem.
(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)

Eat at a great restaurant that’s made an improbable comeback. After a 17-month closure, Here’s Looking at You has reopened in Koreatown. Its comeback is no out-of-the-blue miracle for its owners, writes Times restaurant critic Bill Addison: They had to weigh nearly two years of back-rent, debt and responsibility to employees against the wager of customers returning nightly to one of the city’s quirkiest, most ambitious havens for modern Angeleno cooking. He recommends ordering the “scorched shishitos served in a bowl over creamy tonnato dusted with powdered huamei (Chinese preserved plums)? Unorthodox, wonderful and perfectly Los Angeles.”

Take a hike and grab a beer. Every wonderful thing deserves a similarly wonderful follow-up. Dinner? Dessert. Hot sauna? Ice bath. Follow up a trek at Griffith Park with a pint of Paperback Brewing Co.’s Bunny With a Chainsaw, or a long walk at Upper Newport Bay Preserve with Salty Bear Brewing Co.’s Aloha Guava Kölsch.

Plan to take a walk with a swimming legend. A week from tomorrow, open-water swimmer Diana Nyad, who at age 64 swam 53 hours from Havana, Cuba, to Key West, Fla., wants people to get off their duffs. She and longtime pal Bonnie Stoll lead walks the first Saturday of each month starting at Pan Pacific Park, just east of the Original Farmers Market in L.A., says The Wild‘s Mary Forgione. The next walk, with options of 1- to 5-mile loops, starts at 9 a.m. March 5 and meets at the north side of the park near the basketball courts. Read more about it.



An illustration of a car in heavy fog.
(Paul Duginski / Los Angeles Times)

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

This winter the tule fog returned to California’s Central Valley. The Times’ Diana Marcum, with wonderful illustrations by Paul Duginski, has written a Column One on the white-out phenomenon that had gone missing for years, its causes, as well as the family stories, disasters, fondness and hate that it has spurred. “This fog isn’t the type that rolls in from the ocean, or wraps curling tendrils around hillsides. Tule fog is not the mist in a horror movie, parting to reveal a monster. It is the monster, suddenly materialized.” Los Angeles Times

More of us could wind up in the dark. In 2000, there were fewer than two dozen major disruptions of the U.S. electrical system. In 2020, there were more than 180. The Wall Street Journal lays out in simple terms and graphics the historic transformation of the system and factors creating strains — the aging WWII-era transmission system, climate-change-caused extreme weather — that could lead to even more large, sustained power outages. WSJ

Avoid falling for and spreading misinformation about Ukraine. This article offers a range of tips. Among them: “Slow down. Do not hit that share button. Social media is built for things to go viral, for users to quickly retweet before they’re even done reading the words they’re amplifying. No matter how devastating, enlightening or enraging a TikTok, tweet or YouTube video is, you must wait before passing it on to your own network. Assume everything is suspect until you confirm its authenticity.” Washington Post


Martin Luther King Jr. is surrounded by people, some with signs. One sign says "Welcome Our Hero."
Feb. 24, 1965: The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. arrives at Los Angeles International Airport.
(Los Angeles Times)

Fifty-seven years ago today, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered a speech at the Hollywood Palladium. King’s visit to Los Angeles came at a pivotal moment, just three days after the assassination of Malcolm X in New York and a month before the brutal attacks by police on peaceful protesters in Selma, Ala.

When King had arrived at LAX, he told a Times reporter: “I hope nothing happens to me.” But should he be killed, he said, there should be no violent retaliation. The Times reported in its Feb. 26, 1965, edition that the atmosphere at the Palladium was tense because of “an anonymous threat to blow up the hall with dynamite stolen from a Sylmar powder magazine earlier.” The following night, he delivered a sermon to a packed house at Temple Israel of Hollywood, where security was heightened because of threats.

“One has to conquer the fear of death if he is going to do anything constructive in life and take a stand against evil,” King told The Times. “I am prepared to face anything that comes.”

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