Today’s Headlines: More sanctions hit Russia as Ukrainian investigators document evidence of war crimes

People walk outside amid destroyed military vehicles.
Residents walk amid debris and destroyed Russian military vehicles on a street in Bucha, Ukraine.
(Chris McGrath / Getty Images)

By Elvia Limón and Laura Blasey

Hello, it’s Thursday, April 7, and here are the stories you shouldn’t miss today:


More sanctions hit Russia as Zelensky warns of new wartime hardships

Russian forces carried out punishing strikes against key Ukrainian cities, brushing aside mounting world outrage over the execution-style killings of civilians even as Washington and its Western allies moved to impose sharp new sanctions against Moscow. Meanwhile, Ukrainian authorities urged residents of the imperiled eastern region of Luhansk to flee while they still could.


In suburbs around the capital, Kyiv, Ukrainian investigators pressed ahead with the grim task of documenting evidence of war crimes in the form of mass graves and mutilated bodies as Ukrainian troops and mine clearers worked to defuse booby traps and explosives left behind by retreating Russian forces.

Ukrainian officials accused Russia of trying to cover up war crimes in other occupied areas, saying that Moscow is now aware that haphazard efforts in the Kyiv region had left an abundance of evidence behind.

Among the fresh round of sanctions, the Biden administration took measures against two Russian banks and wealthy individuals, including President Vladimir Putin’s daughters.

More about Ukraine

  • As Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken visits NATO, he’s focused on leaders of strategically important countries whose reluctance to join the campaign against Russia has most perturbed the administration, including India, Israel and the United Arab Emirates.

At least five shooters were involved in the Sacramento massacre

Sacramento police said it appears at least five shooters fired guns during the downtown massacre, which killed six people and injured 12. Officials are still trying to determine the motive but said in a statement, “It is increasingly clear that gang violence is at the center of this tragedy.”

Police announced two arrests, including one man with a long rap sheet who is currently hospitalized with bullet wounds. That man, Smiley Martin, 27, will be booked at Sacramento County Main Jail on suspicion of “possession of a firearm by a prohibitive person and possession of a machine gun” as soon as his medical treatments are complete, police said.

A law enforcement source said that Martin and his brother are associated with a Crips gang while others involved have ties to the rival Bloods gang.

Despite rising cases, free coronavirus testing is reduced in L.A. County

Despite an increase in coronavirus cases, the availability of free testing sites has been reduced due to a stalemate in Washington over approving new COVID-19 pandemic funding.

The federal government has stopped offering money to fund coronavirus tests for uninsured people. After March 22, the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration is no longer accepting claims from health providers to get reimbursed for testing.

As a result, L.A. County has been forced to remove 25 community testing sites from the county’s website, but there are still 200 testing sites listed. L.A. County still plans to continue to offer coronavirus testing at no charge — including for the uninsured — by temporarily using funds from other sources.

More top coronavirus headlines

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

How a tech billionaire’s bid to uplift the poor became a windfall for the rich

Billions of dollars’ worth of tax breaks for the wealthy are being generated by the Opportunity Zone program, often in pursuit of luxury high-rises, high-end hotels and swank office space.

One thing the tax break has fallen short on: creating opportunities in low-income communities. Napster founder Sean Parker went to Washington with a plan to steer money to places desperate for investment, but the California dreaming was disrupted by Washington deal-making.

The final regulations were astoundingly permissive, full of provisions that allowed census districts in some of the nation’s wealthiest places to qualify as Opportunity Zones.

Afghan refugees observe their first Ramadan in the U.S.

Thousands of refugees who have left Afghanistan since summer are celebrating Ramadan in the U.S. Some are marking the holiday from their new apartments, others from hotel rooms, as resettlement organizations struggle to find them permanent housing in an expensive market.

In an attempt to bring the newcomers some semblance of home, the San Diego Afghan Refugees Aid Group hosted iftar, the sunset meal to break the daily Ramadan fast, in a hotel. The grass-roots organization plans to hold the meal at other hotels in the area where refugees are staying and to find volunteers to take them to nearby mosques to pray.

“We want them to feel a sense of community, even though it’s their first Ramadan by themselves,” said Zulaikha Rahim, secretary of the group and a first-generation Afghan American.

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a man on an electric scooter rides by a boarded-up storefront.
California is ground zero for the Opportunity Zone experiment, a plan that aims to lure investors into the nation’s poorest census tracts by offering them lucrative tax breaks. But wealthy investors have seized on its many loopholes. Hank Coca’s Downtown Furniture in San Jose is slated for redevelopment.
(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)


Gov. Gavin Newsom urged Californians to cut water use by 15%. In February they saved less than 1%. Figures released this week by the State Water Resources Control Board showed that even during a third year of drought, Californians have been slow to step up conservation efforts.

Sheriff Alex Villanueva launches a criminal investigation into the leak of a use-of-force video. The Times published the video last month of the March 2021 incident and detailed efforts by department officials to keep it under wraps. Department officials had worried at the time about the negative publicity that could come from a deputy kneeling on a handcuffed man’s head.

Family, friends search for a man missing in the San Bernardino Mountains for over a week. San Bernardino County authorities are calling for the public’s help in finding Derrick Kwan as his family and friends criticized the law enforcement response as slow and disjointed.

Los Angeles lifts its moratorium on towing RVs and pledges to move problem campers. City officials say they will begin to enforce the regulation next month, prioritizing RVs and campers that are unregistered, inoperable or heavily damaged, as well as ones that interfere with construction, pose a safety hazard or have had multiple responses from the Department of Sanitation.

School board votes to ban critical race theory in the Placentia-Yorba Linda district. The 3-2 board vote came after pointed comments from trustees, two of whom called the measure censorship. Supporters, however, said parents should be the ones who decide what to teach their children about race.

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Lawmakers question oil executives on price gouging but seem cool to price controls. As consumers fume over skyrocketing prices for gasoline, congressional Democrats on Wednesday called executives from big oil companies on the carpet to explain why they appear to be making unseemly fat profits in the face of an international crisis.

Minnesota prosecutors file no charges in no-knock warrant killing of Amir Locke. Locke, 22, who was Black and not named in the warrant, was staying on a couch in an apartment when authorities entered it on Feb. 2 without knocking. Prosecutors said in a statement they had “insufficient admissible evidence to file criminal charges.”

Rights groups say ‘ethnic cleansing’ is happening in Ethiopia’s Tigray. Widespread abuses against civilians in the western part of the embattled region amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have charged in a new report.


Coachella replaces Kanye West with the Weeknd and Swedish House Mafia as headliners. The EDM supergroup and the R&B superstar star will collaborate for the Sunday shifts at the desert festival on April 17 and April 24. West, now known as Ye, pulled out of the festival this week.

Directors Guild launches safety committee after ‘Rust’ shooting. The union, which represents more than 18,000 directors, unit production managers and assistant directors, said it is taking a tougher stance on film set safety in the wake of the tragedy, forming a new committee that will recommend and advance various safety measures.

You can call Courtney B. Vance an ‘overnight sensation.’ But you’d be wrong. The actor is now the lead in AMC’s “61st Street,” playing a veteran public defender just days from retirement who gets wrapped up in the charged case of a Black college-bound athlete accused of killing a white Chicago police detective.

Cole Sprouse defends female Disney Channel stars who ‘were so heavily sexualized. ’ Sprouse was quick to reject the notion that he and his identical twin brother, Dylan, came out “OK” in comparison to some former teen idols who have struggled in the public eye since retiring from children’s television.


Work-from-home costs are adding up. Employees are suing to get their bosses to pay up. Home expenses such as telephone and internet fees, extra energy to heat or cool a house and office supplies can add up to $50 to $200 a month per employee, according to more than a dozen lawsuits examined by The Times.


Dodgers’ rotation has plenty of talent. But will a lack of depth haunt them in 2022? The Dodgers have been in better spots in years past, though, when they had experienced depth with such pitchers as Rich Hill, Alex Wood and Kenta Maeda. This year could be different, with a potentially drastic drop-off if one (or more) of the team’s top arms goes down.

All eyes, and many bets, are on Tiger Woods as the Masters is set to tee off. In a development that would have been inconceivable a year ago, when he was in the early stages of recovery from a rollover car accident that nearly cost him his right leg, Woods is competing for a record-tying sixth green jacket.

How do Rob Pelinka and Kurt Rambis build a competitive Lakers team next season? How the Lakers improve the team will be interesting to see. They don’t have a first-round draft pick until 2027. They are most likely looking at the taxpayer mid-level exception of about $6.4 million and veteran exceptions to sign players, much like last offseason.

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Congress says it’s liberalizing pot research laws. What pot researchers really need is money. Despite some recent baby steps, the untangling of the federal government’s enduring and preposterous opposition to cannabis as a medicine or recreational substance is going to take a long, long time, writes columnist Robin Abcarian.


a lush backyard garden with a canopy of leaves
Mike Esparza took a boring lawn and created an “English gentlemen’s garden” around his Long Beach home.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

How to visit the best private gardens in and around L.A. It’s been a tough two years for garden voyeurs. So thank goodness for 2022 (and COVID-19 vaccines), because the garden good times are back, with at least 17 SoCal garden tours scheduled in April and May.

Almost all of these gardens are at private residences, grown and maintained by meticulous owners like Mike Esparza. His “Man Garden,” a lush, shade-dappled retreat behind his 1926 Tudor home in Long Beach, is opening for its 13th year. Other tours for your gardening inspiration focus on flowers and even wise-water-use techniques.


A soldier in uniform bids farewell to his wife and son.
At a Los Angeles train station, a World War I soldier in uniform bids farewell to his wife and son.
(Los Angeles Times)

It has been 105 years since the United States entered World War I. The four-year nightmare, which started three years before the U.S. got involved, engulfed dozens of nations, redrew the map of Europe and introduced the world to new horrors such as chemical weapons and shell shock.

The war came to an end on Nov. 11, 1918. In Los Angeles, businesses closed as people took to the streets in celebration. A year later, President Wilson proclaimed Armistice Day a holiday, and it was celebrated every year. In 1954, to honor veterans of all wars, Armistice Day was changed to Veterans Day.

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