Today’s Headlines: As war rages in Ukraine, NATO leaders convene and double down

Men in suits stand in front of a row of flags.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, second from left, and President Biden talk at a NATO summit in Brussels on Thursday. Also pictured: Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, left, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and French President Emmanuel Macron.
(Doug Mills / New York Times)

By Laura Blasey and Amy Hubbard

Hello, it’s Friday, March 25, which means: The Oscars are Sunday — that’s a statement that, depending on your point of view, could be followed by a period or an exclamation point. Justin Ray — our colleague and Essential California author — is making his first Oscar foray and said he was excited. (“You never know who you might cross paths with!”) But, as he noted, it’s a long day’s work. Times film editor Geoff Berkshire called it “an all-day, into the next day, affair for coverage.”

“The real meat of it,” Geoff said, “is when the awards start and then into the night, closing the print section, doing more late-evening online breakout stories, and some people will be at parties.” Geoff said “a huge group of people” would contribute this year, “encompassing most of the Calendar editors and a small army of reporters including all the film team.” Among those heading over to the Dolby Theatre at Ovation Hollywood: Justin, Jessica Gelt, Amy Kaufman, plus Michael Ordoña on the red carpet. They’ll be getting quotes from A-listers, capturing the vibe in the room, writing and feeding info to editors compiling live awards coverage on The Times’ site. That kind of work does deserve an exclamation point. We’ll be looking for Justin’s tweets and following the whole team’s work. We hope you will too.


Now on to the top of the news.


Biden and NATO leaders held emergency meetings

President Biden and leaders of NATO allies agreed to double the organization’s troop presence in Eastern Europe, an effort to keep the alliance united in its efforts to isolate and punish Russia for its invasion of Ukraine. The White House also announced new sanctions against more than 400 Russian elites. And the U.S. plans to accept 100,000 Ukrainian refugees into the country and to donate $1 billion to help European nations flooded with Ukrainians fleeing the war.

Said Biden: NATO has “never been more united than it is today.”

More on Ukraine

  • The war in Ukraine entered its second month with Ukrainian military forces fending off Russian ground attacks in major cities even as deadly bombings continued to worsen the country’s humanitarian crisis. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky used a video address in English to call on global supporters to rally in city squares around the world to show that “Ukraine matters.”
  • In a city stalked by death and bombardment, only four mourners gathered in a blustery chill for a final farewell to Boris Romantschenko. But in the six days since the 96-year-old survivor of Nazi concentration camps was killed by a Russian missile strike in the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, the world came to know his story.

Big population declines in L.A. and San Francisco


Los Angeles and San Francisco saw sizable declines in population during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, new census data show, underscoring how California’s housing crisis and other demographic forces are reshaping two of its largest cities.

“We are in this new demographic era for California of very slow or maybe even negative growth,” said one demographer. “And it does have implications for everything in our state — from how we live our lives to which schools are getting closed down to how much capacity we might need for transportation networks, and eventually to housing.”

Sheriff’s Department ‘deputy gangs’ are under investigation

The civilian commission that oversees the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department is launching an independent investigation into deputy cliques that have existed inside the department for decades and have been linked to allegations of violence and corruption. The investigation will be conducted by a team of heavyweight attorneys working pro bono, including at least six former federal prosecutors and two former federal public defenders.

Filling up the tank — in Tijuana

Some California residents are going south of the border to buy their gas, a discount of about $2 a gallon. As the war in Ukraine triggered a run-up in world oil prices, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s administration promised to keep prices under control by providing subsidies to Mexican oil companies and refineries. López Obrador — who is facing a recall election — has staked much of his presidency on the oil industry, strengthening state control over the energy sector and halting renewable energy projects. Meanwhile, Californians who don’t live near Tijuana await the outcome of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s proposed $400 gas rebate. (Here are a few bullet points on that plan and the politics surrounding it.)

Clarence Thomas’ wife implored that the 2020 election be overturned


Virginia Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, sent weeks of text messages entreating White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows to act to overturn the 2020 presidential election, furthering then-President Trump’s lies that the free and fair vote was marred by nonexistent fraud, according to copies of the messages obtained by the Washington Post and CBS News.

More politics

  • The Arizona Legislature joined the growing list of Republican-led states to pass aggressive antiabortion legislation. The state’s lawmakers also passed bills to prohibit gender reassignment surgery for minors and ban transgender athletes from playing on girls’ sports teams, moving to restrict transgender rights at a time when they are gaining more visibility in culture and society.
  • Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell announced he would vote against confirming Ketanji Brown Jackson, saying he “cannot and will not” support the groundbreaking nominee for a lifetime appointment on the Supreme Court.
  • The Biden administration announced a long-awaited asylum system overhaul. The new policy is scheduled to take effect May 28, aiming to speed up processing at the border and alleviate backlogs throughout the country’s immigration courts.

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L.A. County’s sheriff leans on his Latino identity. Does he exemplify our worst traits? Columnist Gustavo Arellano sat down with Alex Villanueva for a three-part series on el sheriff. Villanueva, he writes, is “even more Latino than I gave him credit for. He had tapped into the vein of anti-Blackness latent in all Latinos, one that gets exacerbated when Black and Latino communities compete for the same resources in the United States.”

Rep. Karen Bass and businessman Rick Caruso showed up to the latest mayoral debate with two sharply different messages. Caruso casts Los Angeles as a dystopian Gotham City, selling himself as the only person capable of stepping in as mayor of a city beset by scandals. Bass has urged him to stop denigrating people who have “devoted their life to public service” and presents herself as a collaborative presence.


USC pulled its education school out of annual rankings due to a “inaccuracies” in data. The Rossier School of Education will not appear in U.S. News & World Report’s next annual ranking of best graduate schools after officials discovered “a history of inaccuracies” in data reported by the school going back at least five years. USC officials have also informed the U.S. Department of Education and accreditors of the situation.

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North Korea tested long-range missiles. The country fired possibly its biggest long-range missile toward the sea, according to its neighbors, raising the ante in a pressure campaign aimed at forcing the United States and other rivals to accept it as a nuclear power and remove crippling sanctions.

Wing and engine parts were found in the China Eastern crash as hunt for a second black box continued. No survivors have been found since the China Eastern Airlines Boeing 737-800 nosedived into a mountainous area Monday during a domestic flight, but authorities say they still are looking. The carrier, one of China’s four major airlines, said it and its subsidiaries had grounded a total of 223 Boeing 737-800 aircraft while they investigated possible safety hazards.

Airlines are pushing Biden to drop the mask mandate for travel. The trade group that supported a federal mask mandate for all air travelers has asked the Biden administration to end the requirement.


Apple’s stunning “Pachinko” is so good that it makes the competition look unworthy. The show is a lesson in how to do melodrama right. In its acting, production, respect for character over machination and for stillness over action, in its interest in domestic details and the limitless depths of the human face, “Pachinko” transforms the most well-worn narrative gambits into something that feels real and alive and lived, writes television critic Robert Lloyd.


The “Halo” TV series misunderstands the video game’s fans. Games critic Todd Martens says it’s hard not to worry that the nine episodes will unfold like a “greatest hits” of the game — playing it safe rather than being at peace with the fact that “Halo” diehards already have their favorite “Halo.” And it isn’t a TV series.

This is the couple behind Artists Who Code. When the pandemic hit, Catherine Ricafort McCreary, a Broadway performer turned software engineer, and husband Scott McCreary — a full-time cellist, singer and actor turned software engineer — launched a support group for artists interested in making a career switch. Artists Who Code was born out of the pair’s deep frustrations working as full-time artists.


Black Tesla employees described a culture of racism. In interviews with The Times, three former workers described how jobs at the pioneering automaker devolved into personal nightmares due to a pattern of rampant racism and harassment at Tesla’s Fremont, Calif., factory.

Stephen Wilhite, inventor of the GIF, dies at 74. An Ohio native who lived in the Cincinnati suburb of Milford, Wilhite won a Webby lifetime achievement award in 2013 for inventing the internet-popular short-video format the GIF. Decades after its creation, it became omnipresent in memes and on social media, often used as a cheeky representation of a cultural moment.

A peek inside “Stapleview,” a viral live comedy show. A sort of Gen Z answer to “Saturday Night Live,” the show is not only staffed mostly with TikTokers but also broadcasts exclusively on the platform, and leans into the visual language and comedic sensibilities of the most downloaded social network in the world.


Christian nationalists are behind LGBTQ+ laws. California isn’t immune. We see legislation across the country testing out our tolerance for bigotry and hate. It may not be within the borders of our state, but like the Disney workers, it’s on us to take a stand, writes columnist Anita Chabria. Let’s not wait to see who they come for next.


Ketanji Brown Jackson had me at “Whoa!” The Senate hearing this week on Jackson’s nomination to be the first Black woman on the Supreme Court had several uplifting moments that captured just how momentous her ascension would be, writes columnist Jackie Calmes. The nominee told of a pivotal moment when she was told to persevere.

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U.S. plays to 0-0 draw with Mexico and moves closer to qualifying for World Cup. Gone was Mexico’s fearsome, intimidating Azteca, where opponents’ World Cup dreams have long gone to die and the country’s national soccer team has lost just two competitive matches. The United States men’s soccer team played to a 0-0 tie and the U.S. has a chance to punch its World Cup ticket Sunday.

Jaime Jaquez Jr. will play for the Bruins in their biggest game of the season. Cross one major worry off the list for UCLA. Jaquez’s fluid movement during the 15 minutes of open practice at the Wells Fargo Center only bolstered the notion that the Bruins’ grittiest player could push his way through the sprained ankle that sidelined him at the end of the team’s victory over Saint Mary’s last weekend in the second round of the men’s NCAA basketball tournament.

“Put it on record.” Dave Roberts has guaranteed a Dodgers World Series win in 2022. The Dodgers manager also announced that Walker Buehler would be the team’s opening day starter when the season kicks off on April 8 in Colorado. It’s a first for Buehler.


a group of men unroll a red carpet
While they roll out the red carpet, work on your drinks menu. Crews construct the red carpet area on Wednesday ahead of the 94th Oscars at the Dolby Theatre.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Make these stellar recipes for Oscar-party quaffs on Sunday. Our cooking staff has pulled together classic cocktails with a twist to sip while you watch Hollywood honor its stars. Try a Dirty G.L.T., a cross between a gin and tonic and a dirty martini, or a robust Tequila Negroni that taps into both the growing popularity of tequila and bitter flavors. There are also alcohol-free options, like a Yuzu Spritzer mocktail, which has a sour, lemon-lime-grapefruit quality to it that is mellowed with a rosemary and bay-leaf simple syrup, and Sparkling Chile Lemonade — bubbly and lemony with a kick of heat.

See the tiny, huge SoFi Stadium. A model of the Inglewood architectural feat is newly part of the Legoland theme park in Carlsbad. But don’t call it small, writes The Times’ Lila Seidman. “Park officials say the model is actually massive — earning the title as the largest Lego stadium in the world. It will be the first addition to Miniland U.S.A. in two years.” About half a million Lego bricks were used to build the model, which is 30 feet long, 15 feet wide and 4 feet tall.


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Life underground. Some of the thousands of Kharkiv residents living in the city’s metro system talk about living deep underground as war rages above. In a place built to withstand nuclear war, they take shelter from a daily rain of artillery fire, rockets and cluster bombs. People have created makeshift homes in tents, atop mattresses and in subway cars parked with their doors. Children play on the elevators. “The sounds of two loud explosions ring out, but the 3-year-old doesn’t flinch. ‘She knows whether to ask if it’s ours or incoming,’ said her mother, Alexandra Cakhno.” Washington Post

It was so hot in Kuwait last summer that birds dropped dead from the sky. But action on climate change is stuck; the same authorities that regulate Kuwait’s emissions get nearly all of their revenue from pumping oil. Kuwait’s welfare state is lavish. There are sumptuous subsidies even for the wealthiest, and Kuwaitis waste prodigious energy, leaving the air conditioner running at home during months-long vacations. Meanwhile, the natural gas remains untapped and a renewable-energy project that showed huge promise became mired in bureaucracy. Associated Press

Two or three times a month, somebody jumps off the Golden Gate Bridge — hence the suicide net. Engineers are gradually expanding the net beneath the bridge. Meanwhile, trauma surgeons in Marin County are wrapping a report on those who have survived the 220-foot, freeway-speed fall — 14 people in the last 22 years. Odds of survival have actually improved. One reason is the hospital where they’re taken: “The institution has become adept at the resuscitation and care of this patient population,” the report says. Jump survivor Kevin Hines said he remembered landing in the water and that a creature kept him afloat. According to bystanders, it was a sea lion. San Francisco Chronicle


California dairy farmers are using cow-manure lagoons to trap methane to turn into fuel — and the state is paying them handsomely to do it. And it’s not just manure being rewarded; refineries across the state are retrofitting their operations to make fuel that burns cleaner from used cooking oil and animal fat. The state’s low carbon fuel standard incentivizes companies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But this new frontier of transportation biofuels is filled with uncertainty, writes The Times’ Evan Halper. Detractors say what’s being incentivized for dairy farmers is the production of cow poop — encouraging them to expand operations, with only a portion of the methane that the cows produce actually being trapped. Meanwhile, retrofitted oil refineries are making renewable fuel with animal tallow, which gets high scores for climate friendliness. But there likely won’t be enough tallow to go around, so they may use the far less climate-friendly soybean oil. To top things off? Food manufacturers that can’t get enough soybean oil could turn to palm oil from Asia: Palm oil plantations are potent accelerators of global warming. Los Angeles Times


A man in a suit speaks at a lectern. Young people sit in rows on the grass in front of an imposing building.
UC Chancellor Robert Gordon Sproul speaks to undergrads in front of Royce Hall on Oct. 1, 1947, a talk that included a warning about communist propaganda invading college campuses.
(Los Angeles Times)

Seventy-three years ago today, amid the Red Scare, UC Chancellor Robert Sproul proposed a loyalty oath for faculty and other university employees. With the March 25, 1949, proposal, UC employees would disavow support of any organization advocating “the overthrow of the United States government,” as The Times’ Michael Hiltzik wrote in 2017. The oath adopted by regents specified disavowal of membership in the Communist Party.

It “split the UC faculty. A majority opposed but nevertheless chose to sign,” Hiltzik wrote. The oath controversy “reached its climax with the firing of 31 non-signers in 1950. That also marked the beginning of the end. Two years later, the state Supreme Court ordered them all reinstated; in 1954 they won back pay for the period of their dismissal. One, David Saxon, would later become president of the university.”

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