Today’s Headlines: Russia readies eastern Ukraine onslaught

A young man pushes a wheelbarrow in front of a destroyed apartment building
A young man pushes a wheelbarrow in front of a destroyed apartment building in the town of Borodyanka, Ukraine.
(Petros Giannakouris / Associated Press)

By Elvia Limón and Laura Blasey

Hello, it’s Tuesday, April 12, and here are the stories you shouldn’t miss today:


Mariupol teeters as Russia readies eastern Ukraine onslaught

For the record:

7:49 a.m. April 12, 2022An earlier version of this newsletter said consumer inflation jumped 7.9% over the past year. The correct figure is 8.5%.

With Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky telling compatriots to brace for a fateful week, Western military officials warned that Russian forces will probably resort to even more brutal tactics against civilians in a looming offensive in the country’s south and east.


Nearly seven weeks into the war, Russian forces, whose campaign has been marked by strategic stumbles, appeared poised to achieve a major objective: capturing the port city of Mariupol. A Ukrainian marine brigade that described itself as among the last holdouts posted on Facebook that the unit had suffered a “mountain of wounded” and was running out of ammunition.

Zelensky said the city, the scene of one of the war’s most sustained and savage Russian offensives, had been “destroyed” and that tens of thousands of its residents were dead.

More on Ukraine

PG&E will pay more than $55 million to avoid criminal prosecution for starting two wildfires

Pacific Gas & Electric Co. will avoid criminal charges for two wildfires started by its equipment under settlements announced by district attorneys in six Northern California counties.

Prosecutors said the agreements were a better outcome for fire victims and communities because limitations in criminal law make it difficult to hold corporations accountable. Some community advocates said the utility essentially bought its way out of culpability.

As part of the agreements, no criminal charges will be filed in connection with last year’s Dixie fire, and a criminal complaint regarding the 2019 Kincade fire will be dismissed. The utility still faces charges in the 2020 Zogg fire, which killed four people and destroyed more than 200 buildings.

Voters are split on Garcetti. Here’s what that tells us about the race to succeed him

Voters in Los Angeles are evenly divided on Mayor Eric Garcetti’s performance, according to a new poll — a finding that may yield insights into the race to succeed him. The figures are a big decline from when Garcetti won reelection in 2017 with 81% of the vote in a race that wasn’t particularly competitive, but follow a trend of voters expressing unhappiness with elected officials at all levels.

The poll revealed notable data about perceptions of the mayor and candidates in this year’s mayoral election. Voters supportive of candidate Rick Caruso were more likely to disapprove of Garcetti’s performance, while voters who backed candidate Rep. Karen Bass were likely to approve of the mayor.

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Coronavirus cases on the rise in L.A. County, prompting calls for caution

Coronavirus cases are once again on the rise in Los Angeles County, according to new data, prompting officials to urge residents to keep up safety protocols as the busy spring break holiday season arrives.

Data show that for the seven-day period that ended Monday, an average of 960 new cases were reported daily countywide, which pencils out to 67 cases a week for every 100,000 residents. That’s up 23% from the previous week, when L.A. County reported an average of 783 cases a day.

Caseloads of this magnitude remain a far cry from the tens of thousands of new infections that were being announced daily during the height of the Omicron surge. In mid-January, L.A. County was reporting as many as 42,000 new coronavirus cases a day.

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A transgender psychologist reckons with how to support a new generation of trans teens

The parents come to Erica Anderson, 71, in part because she herself is transgender. Anderson also stands out because she is one of the few clinical psychologists specializing in transgender youth to publicly question the sharp rise in adolescents coming out as trans or nonbinary.

She has helped hundreds of teens transition. But she has also come to believe that some children identifying as trans are falling under the influence of their peers and social media and that some clinicians are failing to subject minors to rigorous mental health evaluations before recommending hormones or surgeries.

Her skepticism — and her willingness to speak directly to the public — puts her at the center of America’s culture war over trans kids. On the other side, trans activists want to tear down barriers to transitioning, with some accusing Anderson of having abandoned them.

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a woman and her young adult son sit in two chairs and face each other at a dining table
Back to normal? The COVID-19 threat persists for immunocompromised people. Emily Brooke Holth feeds her son Ry Brooke through a feeding tube in their home in Monrovia, California. Ry, 24, and his twin sister Kaia are both autistic and immunocompromised. While California and most of the country push to get back to a normal life after the pandemic, little has changed in their daily routine.
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)


California public school enrollment spirals, dropping by 110,000 students this year. Enrollment has dropped for the fifth year in a row as K-12 schools struggle against pandemic disruptions and a shrinking population of school-age children, among other factors. Large urban districts accounted for one-third of the drop.

The government says Klamath farmers will be allocated little water. As severe drought persists in Northern California and southern Oregon, the federal Bureau of Reclamation announced Monday that farmers will be allocated a limited amount of water in the Klamath Basin this summer. The bureau also announced $20 million in drought-response aid and an additional $5 million for projects led by Klamath Basin tribes.

USC sues YouTubers over disruptive prank videos. The school alleges Ernest Kanevsky and Yuguo Bai, who are not USC students, staged three “classroom takeover incidents” in the university’s Mark Taper Hall of Humanities, court documents say. A Los Angeles County Superior Court judge on Friday issued a temporary restraining order banning the pair from campus and school buildings.

Other cities have tried sending less serious 911 calls to nurses, not hospitals. Did it work? Washington, D.C., is one of a handful of places nationwide rethinking how to respond to emergency calls, and one city in San Diego County wants to follow suit.

Why do people pick the ocean as their final resting place? Full body burials at sea are not new, but they are rare. In 2020, 162 Californians were buried at sea, according to data collected by the Environmental Protection Agency. There are many reasons why people want to be buried at sea. For some, the decision is financial. For others, the decision is environmentally motivated.

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Power is restored in Puerto Rico nearly five days after a blackout. A fire at a main power plant sparked an island-wide blackout and prompted public schools and government agencies to close. Officials are now focused on investigating what caused the failure of a circuit breaker.

Mexicans vote on whether to recall the president in an election he pushed for. Election officials estimated that about 90% of those who went to the polls cast their ballot for the president, but that overall turnout only reached between 17% and 18% of a total of more than 92 million eligible voters. That fell far short of the 40% required for the result to be binding.

Pakistani lawmakers elect Shahbaz Sharif as prime minister. Sharif, the only contender, was elected after more than 100 lawmakers walked out in protest. He is the brother of disgraced former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, and his election will not guarantee a peaceful path forward — or solve Pakistan’s many economic problems, including high inflation and a soaring energy crisis.


Oh baby, baby: Britney Spears is pregnant with her third child. In a lengthy and enthusiastic Instagram caption, Spears joked that she and her fiancé, Sam Asghari, initially thought she might be “food pregnant” after noticing some weight gain in her stomach.

The first rule to understanding Vince Staples? Don’t even try. Since the mid-2010s, Long Beach’s Staples has carved out a career by making vivid, hard-to-define hip-hop that’s perpetually been on the verge of finding a larger audience. In conversation, he is notoriously resistant to explaining the meaning behind his work, holding firm to his belief that art is open for interpretation.

Travis Scott billboards near the Coachella site hint at the rapper’s return with a new album. Four billboards for his long-awaited album “Utopia” have been spotted on the I-10 freeway in California, leaving cryptic clues about Scott’s next move. The signs popped up over the weekend near Indio, not far from where the Coachella festival will be held this weekend and next.

JoJo Siwa wasn’t invited to the Kids’ Choice Awards. Fans think they know why. Though the 18-year-old recording artist hasn’t personally speculated about why she was excluded from the ceremony, fans have posited some theories — which Siwa has retweeted. Siwa was nominated for favorite social music star at the 2022 Kids’ Choice Awards.


U.S. inflation soared 8.5% in past year, a fresh 40-year high. Propelled by surging costs for gas, food and housing, consumer inflation jumped 8.5% over the past year, likely only a harbinger of even higher prices to come. The increase reported by the Labor Department reflected the 12 months ending in February and didn’t include the oil and gas price surges that followed Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24.

Can cancer blood tests live up to the promise of saving lives? “Liquid biopsies” are already used in patients with cancer to tailor their treatment and check to see if tumors come back. Now, one company is promoting its blood test to people with no signs of cancer as U.S. government researchers plan a large experiment to see if the tests can catch tumors earlier.


Lakers fire coach Frank Vogel after a season burdened by injuries and turmoil. The news comes just two years after he led the team to its 17th NBA championship and first since 2010. In the seasons since, Vogel’s teams have been decimated by injuries, with the Lakers losing in the first round of the 2021 playoffs before missing the postseason in 2022.

Dodgers’ lineup starts Rocky Mountain cold: Five takeaways from the opening series. Despite a few bright spots from the bottom of the lineup and parts of the bullpen, sloppy play in the field and surprising struggles at the plate conspired to drop the Dodgers to a 1-2 start to the season.

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France’s election shows how political parties can fade away. French politics have changed a lot in recent years. The most notable change is that the center of gravity has moved decidedly rightward.

California school salaries should be easier for the public to see. Under a new bill, California’s school districts would be required to submit salary data with the state controller, as local governments have been doing for a decade.


A wood paneled entryway with ornate carved banisters, carpeted steps, and paintings on the walls
The interior of the Magic Castle in Hollywood.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

The Magic Castle is getting a new, preservation-minded owner. Video game mogul Randy Pitchford plans to buy the famous home to the Academy of Magical Arts.

The Magic Castle, a familiar sight on Hollywood’s Franklin Avenue, is an Edwardian manor with French and Gothic elements built in 1908 by Rollin Lane, a Redlands financier and orange grower, and his wife, Katherine. In 1961, Thomas O. Glover bought the home and land, leasing it to the founders of the Magic Castle. The sale comes a little more than a year after the storied institution was shaken by allegations of bad behavior, detailed in a Los Angeles Times investigation.

The purchase will ensure the prime property in the heart of the tourist district remains the academy’s clubhouse and performance venue, said Pitchford, a lifelong magician and member of the academy. The price has yet to be disclosed.


Jackie Robinson, Joe Nadel, and Al Green on the set of "The Jackie Robinson Story"
Jackie Robinson, Joe Nadel, and Al Green on the set of “The Jackie Robinson Story” in Los Angeles in 1950.
(Los Angeles Times)

This year marks 75 years since Jackie Robinson made his major-league debut at Brooklyn’s Ebbets Field. There he scored a run in the Dodgers’ 5–3 victory. Robinson broke the color barrier and faced challenges few major leaguers ever had to endure.

Players on other teams called him every racial insult in the book. Some opposing managers were worse. Fans called him vile names. But Robinson refused to give in and lose his temper.

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