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Today’s Headlines: The truth about L.A.’s expensive gas stations

A sign with gas prices at the Mobil station at Cienega and Beverly boulevards.
The Mobil at La Cienega and Beverly boulevards is one of a handful of Los Angeles gas stations known for charging prices significantly higher than the norm.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
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By Elvia Limón and Laura Blasey

Hello, it’s Thursday, March 10, and here are the stories you shouldn’t miss today:

TOP STORIES

Gas prices are extremely high at a handful of L.A. stations. Is anyone actually buying it?

Gas prices in Los Angeles have climbed to new heights this week, with Angelenos shelling out more than $5.50 a gallon on average at the pump.

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For customers at a handful of gas stations across town, $5.50 would be a bargain. These stations are the mysterious outliers of the L.A. petroleum landscape, advertising $6.95, $6.99 or even $7.05 for a gallon of regular unleaded, seemingly in defiance of economic sense.

The owner and operator of a Beverly Center gas station said that there’s no economic mystery behind his prices: real estate is expensive and people shopping around the area are just willing to pay.

On a recent afternoon, many customers at a station charging $6.95 were in a rush, a little lost or using a company card.

Russia bombs maternity hospital amid evacuation effort, Ukraine says

With basic survival in Ukraine growing increasingly precarious, civilian evacuation efforts have been largely sputtered across a country battered by a relentless Russian assault that officials said heavily damaged a maternity hospital.

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Ukraine’s government had announced a daylong cease-fire along several corridors around the country that were designated for the safe exit of residents. The routes covered some of the hardest-hit areas, including the southern port city of Mariupol.

But Russia appeared to break the cease-fire when bombs slammed into a hospital complex in the city, burying children in the wreckage. Images showed emergency responders carrying a bloodied pregnant woman through a courtyard littered with mangled cars and a heavily damaged building still smoldering.

On Thursday, the highest-level meeting between Russia and Ukraine since the war began produced no breakthroughs as those on the ground tried to alleviate the suffering of devastated Ukrainian cities, evacuate more people to safety and assess the grim toll of the maternity hospital strike.

More on Ukraine

L.A. moves to lift vaccine verification mandate at indoor businesses

Los Angeles City Council members have taken the first step toward lifting vaccine verification requirements at many indoor businesses, the latest in a slew of rule relaxations as the Omicron surge steadily fades.

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Under an ordinance that will be drafted and later returned to the council for final approval, verifying whether indoor customers are vaccinated would be voluntary. Operators of major outdoor events in L.A. also would no longer need to check whether attendees are vaccinated.

More top coronavirus headlines

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

In L.A. elections, Ukraine — and the role of NATO — emerges as a campaign issue

L.A.’s local election campaigns traditionally have been framed around neighborhood-level issues. But this year, the bloody invasion of Ukraine by Russia could change that. Days after Russian troops entered Ukraine, the Democratic Socialists of America, whose supporters in L.A. are looking to unseat at least two City Council members, issued a statement calling for the U.S. to withdraw from NATO. It also argued against further intervention in Ukraine.

Councilman Mitch O’Farrell, who is seeking reelection in a district with several Ukrainian churches and cultural institutions, said such statements send the wrong message.

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Voters, he said, should see a connection between those “irresponsible” stances and labor organizer Hugo Soto-Martinez, a candidate backed by the DSA’s L.A. chapter. Soto-Martinez, in turn, accused O’Farrell of using an international crisis to distract voters from policies that are resulting in evictions and homelessness.

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

Four days, 170 miles in bone-dry Death Valley: Could you survive this walk?

There’s a growing subculture of people who have set their sights on completing outdoor running and hiking feats and breaking arcane records in the process. They compete in the insular world of fastest-known times, jockeying to capture records that come with minimal glory but often plenty of pain.

Astrophysicist Cameron Hummels is among those endurance obsessives. His goal was to traverse the entirety of Death Valley National Park on foot in four days — cutting the previous record nearly in half.

Hummels keyed into one of the movement’s more obscure routes, in which the “hiker has to feel/act as he/she is the only one on the planet,” according to the creator’s rules. It’s perhaps not the tallest order in the lonely expanse that is Death Valley, but Hummels took it one step further by bringing only 2 liters of water for the roughly 170-mile trek.

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PHOTO OF THE DAY

Two men wearing plaid shirts on wooden skis glide down a snowy hill.
Racers compete in the Historic Longboard Race Revival Series at the Plumas Eureka Ski Bowl on Sunday in Johnsville, Calif. Years before there were organized races in Europe, miners were competitively hurtling down mountains in a part of California known as the Lost Sierra, a heritage that is celebrated and reenacted each year.
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

CALIFORNIA

Women say widespread sexual abuse of girls plagued L.A. County detention camp. At least 20 women say they were sexually assaulted over the course of a dozen years at Camp Scott, Los Angeles County’s all-girls juvenile detention facility, according to a new lawsuit.

The EPA has restored California’s authority to set its own auto pollution rules. The decision, announced by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, reverses an attempt by the Trump administration to block the state from using its vast market power to push the auto industry in a greener direction.

FBI impersonator is convicted of defrauding California immigrants. Ivan Isho, an Arizona resident, pretended to be an FBI agent between 2016 and 2017 and claimed that he could help Assyrians living in Ceres, in Northern California, get visas for their family members living outside the country, the U.S. attorney’s office for the Eastern District of California said.

Can UC Berkeley’s plan to house homeless people inspire other campuses to tackle the crisis? In a partnership unique in American higher education, UC Berkeley and city and nonprofit collaborators unveiled plans to provide interim housing at a converted motel, as well as meals and social services, to unsheltered people sleeping in People’s Park.

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NATION-WORLD

Man who received the world’s first pig heart transplant dies. David Bennett, 57, died Tuesday at the University of Maryland Medical Center two months after the groundbreaking surgery. Doctors didn’t give an exact cause of death, saying only that his condition had begun deteriorating several days earlier.

Thousands of feminists march in Mexico City: ‘I am scared to simply be a woman in Mexico.’ The protest, held on International Women’s Day, demanded an end to gender-based killings that the marchers say are rooted in a culture of machismo and urged the government to do more to protect them.

Are certain dishes Ukrainian or Russian? It’s complicated. Americans are seeking out Ukrainian dishes and products and shunning Russian ones as they try to show their support amid war in the region. But in much the same way that the identities of the people in the former Soviet Union are intertwined, the foods of the region overlap.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

A24 raises $225 million amid Hollywood deal frenzy. The independent studio behind the Oscar-winning “Moonlight” and HBO’s “Euphoria” has closed an equity investment of $225 million to fund its expansion plans. A24 is the latest entertainment company to raise capital as investors look to buy into the surging demand for content on streaming services.

Disney’s Bob Chapek comes out against the Florida LGBTQ school bill. After taking substantial heat for staying neutral on the controversial bill meant to limit classroom instruction of sexual orientation and gender identity, Chapek said Disney had pledged $5 million to LGBTQ+ rights groups and the company would sign a statement opposing anti-gay legislation.

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BUSINESS

Biden signs executive order on cryptocurrency as its use explodes. The directive urges the Federal Reserve to explore whether the U.S. central bank should jump in and create its own digital currency. It also directs the Treasury Department and other federal agencies to study the effect of cryptocurrency on financial stability and national security.

‘Friday Night Baseball’ is coming to Apple TV+. The Cupertino-based tech giant announced that it will have the exclusive rights to stream two Friday night games during the MLB’s regular season once it begins.

SPORTS

MLB cancels another week of games as talks to end lockout break down. For the second time in two weeks, talks on a new collective bargaining agreement collapsed under the weight of a league-imposed deadline. Now, the league says, no games will be played until at least April 14.

Wide receiver Mike Williams credits the Chargers’ coaching staff for throwing a new contract his way. Brandon Staley’s impact was obvious during his first season as an NFL head coach. His influence also was profound when it comes to Williams.

UCLA enters the Pac-12 tournament hoping to recapture its magical March ride. A year ago, UCLA showed it was possible to prevail in the games that matter after going splat in the conference tournament.

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OPINION

Op-Ed: The processed food industry makes us desperate to lose weight — and then profits from it. A cartel of Big Food manufacturers has engineered the products that dominate grocery stores. And yet, this $1-trillion industry has successfully gotten us to blame ourselves.

What’s better than a ban on Russian oil imports? Ending our dependence on fossil fuels. The ban should make it clearer than ever how urgently we need to accelerate renewable energy and hasten the end of fossil fuels that empower autocrats and are incompatible with a safe and secure planet, The Times editorial board writes.

ONLY IN L.A.

L.A.’s famous mountain lion was spotted roaming Silver Lake. The area received an unusual visitor Tuesday night — a mountain lion, captured on home doorbell cameras.

Residents of the hilly Los Angeles neighborhood reported sightings on social media and some wondered: Could it be Griffith Park’s famed P-22, a male cougar that has made many appearances around the Hollywood Hills over the last decade? A trek into Silver Lake would take the cougar well out of the relative safety of the park, though he once took up residence in a Los Feliz basement.

The National Park Service, which tracks and monitors P-22, confirmed the mountain lion had indeed passed through Silver Lake.

FROM THE ARCHIVES

Ruth Handler, co-founder of Mattel Inc., posing with a collection of Barbie dolls
Ruth Handler, co-founder of Mattel Inc., posing with a collection of Barbie dolls in 1961.
(Los Angeles Times)
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Sixty-three years ago this month, the first Barbie doll made its debut at the 1959 American Toy Fair in New York City. Barbie, a teenage doll with a tiny waist, slender hips and impressive bust, became not only a bestselling toy with more than 1 billion sold in 150 countries, but also a cultural icon analyzed by scholars, attacked by feminists and showcased in the Smithsonian Institution.

Ruth Handler created the doll after noting her daughter Barbara’s fascination with paper dolls of teenagers or career women. Handler realized there was a void in the market and began to wonder if a three-dimensional version of the adult paper figures would have appeal.

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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