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Today’s Headlines: Ukrainian fighters defy Russian surrender order as Mariupol on the brink of falling

A Ukrainian serviceman guards his position.
A Ukrainian serviceman guards his position in Mariupol, Ukraine.
(Mstyslav Chernov / Associated Press)
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By Elvia Limón

Hello, it’s Monday, April 18, and before we get to today’s top stories, we want to remind you that today is the last day to either submit your 2021 tax returns or file an extension.

Just remember, no one is immune from taxes, including the state’s wealthiest. If anything, wealthy taxpayers here will probably again provide an outsize amount of government cash.

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In California, there are almost 100,000 taxpayers with incomes above $1 million. While they represent only about one-half of 1% of all tax returns filed in the state, they collectively pay about 40% of all California personal income taxes, serving as a reminder of how dependent the state is on their fortunes.

Now, on to the stories you shouldn’t miss today:

TOP STORIES

Mariupol is on the brink of falling as Ukrainian fighters defy Russian surrender demands

A Russian deadline for Ukrainian troops to surrender in the devastated port city of Mariupol came and went in a pitched battle whose outcome could change the course of the war.

A few thousand Ukrainian fighters bunkered in the Azovstal steelworks plant were offered a chance to lay down their arms, according to the Russian Defense Ministry. But the Ukrainian side appears to have rejected the offer, and Russia’s military warned that troops who refused “will be destroyed.”

In an address to the nation, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky acknowledged that the strategic coastal city was on the verge of being lost, saying Ukraine’s troops were outnumbered 6 to 1 and the situation there “remains as severe as possible.”

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More on Ukraine

LAPD officers are firing bullets and ‘less lethal’ rounds at the same time, with deadly results

At least eight shootings in the past two years had groups of LAPD officers simultaneously firing handguns and weapons meant to avoid killing, such as projectile launchers or Tasers, according to a Times review of nearly 50 LAPD shootings since the start of 2020 along with hours of associated police video. The approach gave the “less lethal” options little or no time to work and resulted in five deaths.

The shootings often came in sudden bursts after longer standoffs, when officers had readied themselves with alternative weapons but failed to prioritize their use before resorting to deadlier force.

Some suspects were shot at a distance from police, including one man with a sword who was simultaneously shot in the street with a projectile and a rifle round from 77 feet away. Others were hit at close range, including a man who was simultaneously shot and Tasered next to his mother in a narrow hallway.

Rick Caruso missed nearly 40% of meetings as an LAPD commissioner

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Businessman Rick Caruso missed nearly 40% of Los Angeles Police Commission meetings when he served on the volunteer panel two decades ago, an attendance record far worse than his fellow commissioners.

Caruso has called his service on the commission one of his top qualifications to become mayor of Los Angeles. But during his tenure from 2001 to 2005 he missed 53 of 139 regular and special meetings, an absentee rate of 38%.

The billionaire mall developer also arrived late for a dozen meetings, according to the panel’s records, reviewed by The Times. The public record has a gap of about two months at the start of Caruso’s tenure, so the picture of his service is incomplete.

More politics

  • Caruso supported replacing LAPD Chief Bernard Parks with William Bratton. The leadership change triggered demonstrations and calls for Caruso’s resignation.
  • California’s freshman U.S. senator, Alex Padilla, says the last year has meant a lot of adjustment — and a regular 4,600-mile roundtrip commute, writes Times columnist Mark Z. Barabak.

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

Despite a coronavirus uptick, there’s hope L.A. County can avoid another surge

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Despite a recent rise in coronavirus cases, Los Angeles County’s public health director said she remained hopeful the region could avoid another major spike by taking sensible precautions. The number of newly reported coronavirus cases in L.A. County has risen by 42% over the last two weeks, from an average of 725 a day to 1,030, according to a Times data analysis.

Some experts say people who have eased up on precautions may want to be more cautious to avoid infection. Yet there remain some optimistic signs that the latest increase in cases could end up being more of a blip than the start of a new surge.

The share of emergency room visits in L.A. County related to the coronavirus remained low last week, at just 3%. Officials would express a medium level of concern if that figure were 5% or greater, and a high level of concern if it were more than 10%.

More top coronavirus headlines

  • The Los Angeles Unified School District is now confronted with a pivotal decision over whether to stick with its mandate for student COVID-19 vaccines for fall 2022 or align with the state, which has delayed its rule for at least a year.
  • China’s response to the pandemic has been the draconian approach known as “zero COVID.” It succeeded in stopping the virus’ spread in 2020. But now, the result has been the needless disruption of millions of lives and a blow to the world’s second-largest economy, writes Times columnist Doyle McManus.
  • Los Angeles County ended its order to quarantine asymptomatic people exposed to the coronavirus.
  • The Food and Drug Administration issued an emergency-use authorization for what it said is the first device that can detect COVID-19 in breath samples.

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

It’s not just physicians and nurses. Veterinarians are burning out too

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Across the country, about 23 million families adopted a pet in the first year of the pandemic. Other pet owners, working from home, started paying more attention to their animals’ daily routines, noticing symptoms such as vomiting or coughing. The resulting spike in pet health concerns has been straining a corner of the medical world that doesn’t get as much attention as doctors and nurses: veterinarians.

The overwork and staffing shortages of the pandemic have affected veterinarians as much as other doctors and nurses, and dealing with the constant moral dilemmas and emotional output was driving many to burn out even before 2020.

At the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals’ veterinary hospital in San Francisco, so many vets and technicians have left that the clinic has had to cut back its hours, said veterinarian Kathy Gervais.

Our daily news podcast

If you’re a fan of this newsletter, you’ll love our daily podcast “The Times,” hosted every weekday by columnist Gustavo Arellano, along with reporters from across our newsroom. Go beyond the headlines. Download and listen on our App, subscribe on Apple Podcasts and follow on Spotify.

OUR MUST-READS FROM THE WEEKEND

A big fight is brewing over a California ballot measure to reduce single-use plastics. The initiative would require all single-use plastic packaging and food ware used in California to be recyclable, reusable, refillable or compostable by 2030, and single-use plastic production to be reduced by 25% by 2030. Businesses and trade groups that produce or distribute single-use plastic items are overwhelmingly opposed.

The quest to save Cantonese in a world dominated by Mandarin. Many descendants of Cantonese speakers are third-, fourth- or fifth-generation Americans who find fewer and fewer places where they can learn their ancestral tongue, either to link them to the distant past or to relatives who are still alive.

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Inside the right’s ‘moral war against Disney’ as Florida culture conflict intensifies. The current conflict is just the latest clash to reveal underlying tensions that have existed between Disney and religious conservatives for decades as the company has increasingly embraced the LGBTQ community.

CALIFORNIA

 Nick Saballos shreds a rejection letter during a College Rejection Party
Nick Saballos shreds a rejection letter during a college rejection party at Downtown Magnets High School.
(Dania Maxwell / Los Angeles Times)

College admission season wraps up with a rejection party, a paper shredder and joy. After months of suspense, the seniors at Downtown Magnets High School in Los Angeles finally got their admission decisions. They are about to take a leap that will reshape their lives, their families — and California, which will rely on this new generation of diverse students to move the state forward.

Three people killed in the Sacramento shooting had ties to gangs, prosecutors say. Prosecutors said three men killed that night — Joshua Hoye-Lucchesi, Devazia Turner and Sergio Harris — were linked to gangs, and that tension was brewing between two rival groups in the minutes before the shooting.

Anaheim clamps down on motels accused of attracting drug dealing and prostitution. The Anaheim City Council voted to tighten restrictions on the Anaheim Lodge and Travel Inn on Beach Boulevard. Police claimed that crime has increased at both properties in recent months.

Beverly Hills residents wake up to antisemitic fliers — again. Police are investigating. The fliers, which appear connected to similar fliers that were distributed across the region in November and December, begin with the statement, “Every Single Aspect of The Ukraine-Russia War is Jewish,” followed by a list of government officials.

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Late-season storms bring snow and skiers to the Sierra Nevada. In the last week, upper portions of the mountains around Lake Tahoe received 1 to 3.5 feet of snow, said Dawn Johnson, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Reno.

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NATION-WORLD

Police arrest a suspect in a South Carolina mall shooting that left 14 injured. Columbia Police Chief W.H. “Skip” Holbrook said 22-year-old Jewayne M. Price, who was one of three people initially detained by law enforcement as a person of interest, remains in police custody and is expected to be charged with unlawful carrying of a pistol.

Archbishop says Britain’s plan to send migrants to Rwanda goes against God. Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby strongly criticized the British government’s plan to put some asylum-seekers on one-way flights to Rwanda, saying “sub-contracting out our responsibilities” to refugees can’t stand up to God’s scrutiny.

North Korea tests a new weapon designed to bolster its nuclear capability. The test came amid concerns that North Korea may soon conduct a larger provocation, such as a nuclear test, in an effort to expand the country’s weapons arsenal and increase pressure on Washington and Seoul amid stalled diplomacy.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

A crowd dances to the Conan Gray
After two COVID-19-related cancellations, the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival returned to the Empire Polo Club in Indio. The Times’ staff photographers Gina Ferazzi, Christina House and Dania Maxwell showcased the best moments of all the must-see performances and the magic surrounding the stages.
(Dania Maxwell / Los Angeles Times)
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Rapper Isaiah Rashad addresses leaked sex tape for the first time at Coachella. Rashad played a prerecorded video just before his Sahara Tent set. The short clip included media commentary and voiceovers about the unauthorized release of the footage. “The purpose of doing that was to embarrass him. However, it backfired,” said one voice in the clip.

‘Black-ish’ transformed television. Especially when it ‘ran into trouble.’ With a thrust that was frequently revelatory but never harsh or preachy, “black-ish” succeeded as a situation comedy about a loving family and as a sharp look at how successful Black people still need to push back against stereotypes and false perceptions.

Art Rupe, a pioneering rock ‘n’ roll mogul who helped launch Little Richard, dies at 104. The producer, businessman, philanthropist and Rock & Roll Hall of Fame member served as an essential amplifier of the vibrant post-World War II music scene along Central Avenue in South Los Angeles.

BUSINESS

The FDA is investigating Lucky Charms after reports of illness. The FDA said it has received more than 100 complaints related to the cereal this year. Several hundred people have also posted on a food safety website, iwaspoisoned.com, complaining of nausea, diarrhea and vomiting after eating Lucky Charms.

Tesla investors suing over Elon Musk’s 2018 tweet say they’ve won a key ruling. The investors said a federal judge agreed with them that “no reasonable jury could find Musk’s tweets on Aug. 7, 2018, accurate or not misleading,” according to a court filing.

SPORTS

Inside the Lakers coaching search: Will they learn from problems of the past? Three years ago they were hiring a coach in the wake of Magic Johnson’s surprise resignation as team president of basketball operations. Now they’re fighting an image problem around the NBA and a leveraged future with LeBron James, the ultimate win-now player, getting older and, seemingly, more susceptible to injuries.

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Once homeless, UCLA’s Zaylon Thomas makes his mark on the track. Thomas battled homelessness starting in eighth grade, crisscrossing the country with mother Wanda McKinney. Living in three states in five years, Thomas doubted whether he would graduate from high school. Now he’s dreaming of leaving his mark at UCLA.

Chet Brewer’s best delivery was helping Black players reach the major leagues. In an era of change for baseball, just a couple of decades after Jackie Robinson broke the sport’s color barrier, Smith was one of many young Black players who came out of South Los Angeles in the 1960s and broke into the big leagues.

Free online games

Get our free daily crossword puzzle, sudoku, word search and arcade games in our new game center at latimes.com/games.

OPINION

How a national park can honor Coast Miwok ancestors and their living descendants. My family’s ancestral home in Northern California is now controlled by the National Park Service. We can be good stewards together.

Why I’m telling my abortion story now. We cannot let abortion be stigmatized by a minority that holds extreme views on what is a crucial human right.

ONLY IN L.A.

In L.A., it’s already outdoor reading season because it’s really always outdoor reading season, writes The Times’ former books editor Carolyn Kellogg. The city is made for outdoor reading because it’s always beautiful outside. If reading takes you away from the world, L.A. allows you to also be in it, with the sun on your shoulders, the warmth of a concrete bench, the rustle of leaves.

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We are of this natural world, and L.A. invites readers to step out into it. Put on your sunscreen, grab a book and head outside to read.

Also, remember to join us on Saturday and Sunday for the largest book festival in the Northern Hemisphere, The Times’ Festival of Books.

FROM THE ARCHIVES

Damaged buildings
Damaged buildings after an earthquake and fire in San Francisco in 1906.
(Los Angeles Times)

Today marks 116 years since the great San Francisco earthquake struck with an estimated magnitude of 7.8, which was felt as far away as Oregon, Nevada and Los Angeles. It hit San Francisco at 5:12 a.m and lasted for approximately 48 seconds. The temblor was followed by major fires that lasted for several days, and it awakened California to the dangers of these natural disasters.

The first deaths came when low-rent tenements collapsed in the South of Market area. The fire chief was fatally injured when a hotel’s spire tower collapsed on his fire station home. Telephone and telegraph messages were cut.

Three hours after the first quake, a major aftershock brought down many of the damaged buildings that had been standing. The toll was high, with about 3,000 people dying and more than 80% of the city of San Francisco was destroyed.

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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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