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Today’s Headlines: Abortion activism ramps up before midterm elections

A crowd gathers outside the Supreme Court
A crowd gathers outside the Supreme Court on Tuesday after a purported leak that Roe vs. Wade will be overturned.
(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

By Elvia Limón, Laura Blasey and Amy Hubbard

Hello, it’s Wednesday, May 4, and here are the stories you shouldn’t miss today:

TOP STORIES

Abortion activism ramps up before midterm elections

Activists on both sides of the abortion debate have spent months planning for a blockbuster Supreme Court ruling this year on Roe vs. Wade. None of those plans anticipated the particular jolt of a leaked draft opinion that signaled a decisive end to the decades-long precedent.

The disclosure accelerated game plans already in the works for the upcoming midterm elections. While Republicans have been more effective in rallying supporters around abortion in the past, Democrats believe the reality of Roe’s seemingly imminent reversal may galvanize their voters to avoid steep losses in November.

Still, supporters and opponents of abortion access took care to hedge their messaging, mindful that Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr.’s proposed revocation of nationwide abortion protections telegraphed where the conservative court was leaning but was not its final say.

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More politics

  • Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. confirmed that a leaked draft opinion overturning Roe vs. Wade is “authentic” and said the Supreme Court will launch its own investigation into the source of the unauthorized release.
  • President Biden’s presidency may be defined over the next several months by his ability to navigate fast-shifting political currents — to rally voters in response to the Supreme Court’s apparent decision to strike down Roe vs. Wade, ending nearly 50 years of abortion as a federally protected right.
  • What went wrong with Roe vs. Wade? Why did the court’s effort to resolve the abortion controversy in 1973 lead instead to decades of division? Legal scholars and political scientists point to major missteps at the start that left the decision vulnerable.
  • L.A. mayoral candidate Rick Caruso is taking fire from fellow candidates and the political arm of Planned Parenthood Los Angeles on his past financial support of politicians and causes opposed to abortion.
  • Oklahoma Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt signed a Texas-style abortion ban on Tuesday that prohibits the procedure after about six weeks of pregnancy.

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California sees no relief from drought thanks to La Niña

As Southern California braces for unprecedented drought restrictions, long-range forecasts are predicting a summer that will be fraught with record-breaking temperatures, sere landscapes and above-average potential for significant wildfires, particularly in the northern part of the state.

At the same time, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported that while long-range forecasts had suggested the climate phenomenon known as La Niña was dissipating — raising a glimmer of hope that California might experience a normal winter in 2022 — it now appeared that the “little girl” was hanging on, possibly into a third year.

If NOAA is correct, high temperatures and a lingering La Niña will have major effects on urban and agricultural water use across the American West, as well as for California’s increasingly extreme fire season.

A top California official pushed hard for a $600-million mask deal. Fraud claims followed

In the frantic first weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic, three companies promised California officials that they could secure millions of protective masks in exchange for $1.6 billion. Each effort ended badly for the state.

Two years later, lawsuits stemming from the failed contracts provide a glimpse into the deal-making — including how California Controller Betty Yee, a two-term Democrat with no formal role in the contracting process, worked behind the scenes to help a pair of political operatives land a flawed deal.

The $600-million contract with a healthcare supplies startup was later flagged as a case of possible fraud. But Yee’s involvement with the effort never became public, even after state lawmakers demanded a full accounting of what had happened.

More top coronavirus headlines

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

Mariupol reported under renewed Russian fire after evacuees depart

Russian forces renewed bombings in the brutalized city of Mariupol and pressed their assault on Ukraine’s eastern heartland, according to Ukrainian officials who described the death and destruction that ensued. Small numbers of civilians managed to escape Mariupol and reach safety despite the new attacks, which probably doomed additional evacuations. Other evacuees were diverted to Russian-held territory, Ukraine said.

Elsewhere, the Ukrainian military said that 12 attacks were repelled overnight in Luhansk and Donetsk, the two districts that make up the eastern industrial Donbas area. U.S. officials now say they believe Russian President Vladimir Putin plans to annex large chunks of the Donbas region.

More about Ukraine

  • A video of Oksana Balandina, who lost both legs to a land mine, and Viktor Vasyliv dancing at their hospital wedding has lifted spirits in Ukraine. There were no family members present — just patients and volunteers.

Many homeless people are not interested in the expansion of shelters

The Los Angeles mayoral primary has seen candidates throwing big numbers around concerning how much shelter they’d like to see built for homeless people. The candidates haven’t broken down exactly how many of those beds would be group shelters, but to achieve their lofty goals there likely would need to be large number of them. The question is, if these beds are built, will homeless people use them?

New research from the Rand Corporation suggests that the type of shelters that could end up being the centerpiece of multiple candidates’ homeless plans is not homeless people’s preferred destination. Fewer than a third of those surveyed in Hollywood, skid row and Venice said “group shelter” was an acceptable housing option.

Asked for reasons they would reject an offer of housing, 38% of respondents said privacy was their biggest concern, far outweighing resistance to housing rules (19%), not being able to have a partner (14%) or pets (10%) or possessions (10%).

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PHOTO OF THE DAY

A group of people hold up signs and coat hangers.
Crowds of protesters gathered outside the Supreme Court in Washington on Monday night. A leaked draft opinion has revealed the justices plan to overturn Roe vs. Wade.
(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

CALIFORNIA

As the drought crisis deepens, the government will release less water from the Colorado River reservoir. The plan protects the dam’s ability to generate hydropower and the facility’s infrastructure and will ensure water supplies continue to be available for the nearby city of Page, Ariz., and a portion of the Navajo Nation.

Can a monthly injection be the key to curbing addiction? These experts say yes. In California, where overdose deaths have been rising for years, addiction experts say administering a month’s worth of anti-addiction medication holds great potential, particularly for people without housing or who struggle with other forms of instability. Why aren’t more patients getting it?

An O.C. man was convicted of double murder in a case that prompted D.A. Todd Spitzer’s racist comments. The case has been mired in controversy since Orange County Dist. Atty. Todd Spitzer made racist comments during an October meeting about whether to pursue the death penalty against the 47-year-old man.

Three are charged with murder in the Sacramento shooting, the nation’s deadliest this year. Sacramento County Dist. Atty. Anne Marie Schubert said Smiley Martin, his brother Dandrae Martin, and rival gang member Mtula Payton are each charged with the murders of three women — Melinda Davis, Johntaya Alexander and Yamile Martinez-Andrade — struck in the crossfire of their shootout.

A federal plan to thin a forest on Pine Mountain has drawn lawsuits from Patagonia, the city of Ojai and others. The Forest Service says the trims would alleviate firefighting risks. But in lawsuits filed last week in federal court, plaintiffs said the project was improperly vetted, would damage the area’s flora, fauna and cultural history, and is a vestige of Trump administration logging initiatives.

Dave Chappelle tackled during Hollywood Bowl comedy show. The comedian was performing his standup routine at the amphitheater as part of the “Netflix Is a Joke” festival when the man rushed onstage and tackled him on Tuesday night. Security guards chased and overpowered the attacker.

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NATION-WORLD

Tracking Trump’s endorsements in the 2022 midterm election. The success of his chosen candidates can offer clues into how much of a political force Trump remains as he looks ahead to a likely White House run in 2024. Here is an ongoing look at some key tests of Trump’s endorsement power.

Lawmakers in 18 states want to offer refuge for trans youth. Democratic lawmakers in more than a dozen states are following California’s lead in seeking to offer legal refuge to displaced transgender youth and their families. The coordinated effort announced by the LGBTQ Victory Institute and other advocates came in response to recent actions taken in conservative states.

The U.S. has classified Brittney Griner as being wrongfully detained in Russia. The Biden administration has determined that the WNBA star is being wrongfully detained in Russia, meaning the U.S. will more aggressively work to secure her release even as the legal case against her plays out, two U.S. officials said.

A Sydney man gets 12 years in prison for pushing a gay Caltech graduate off a cliff in 1988. The death of mathematician Scott Johnson was initially called a suicide, but his family pressed for further investigation. A coroner in 2017 found a number of assaults, some fatal, in which the victims had been targeted because they were thought to be gay.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

With a ‘Marvelous’ star turn, 15-year-old Miya Cech steps into the spotlight. Having acted for nearly half her life — making impressions in the young adult adaptation “The Darkest Minds,” Netflix’s “Rim of the World” and on Nickelodeon‘s revival series “Are You Afraid of the Dark?” — the Davis, Calif., native has hit a new milestone with filmmaker Kate Tsang’s Sundance-launched indie dramedy “Marvelous and the Black Hole,” her first film lead role.

An enjoyable ‘Doctor Strange’ sequel delivers the flyin’, the witch and the red robe. There are witchy doings and evil twins aplenty in “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.” The Marvel Cinematic Universe has rarely ventured in a direction this playful, this ghoulish, this exuberantly grotesque, writes film critic Justin Chang.

Phoebe Bridgers opens up about her abortion: ‘Everyone deserves ... access.’ In her tweet and matching Instagram post, the Grammy-nominated “Motion Sickness” hitmaker shared a link to a list of abortion funds across the country, compiled by the Cut. She encouraged her millions of social media followers to donate.

‘Who’s Jack Harlow?’: A guide to the unavoidable rap star. The Grammy-nominated rapper is gearing up for the release of his sophomore studio album, “Come Home the Kids Miss You.” The rollout is well underway, and Harlow even made a buzzworthy appearance at this year’s Met Gala.

How this CBS journalist and organ-donating mom finds purpose in military vet reporting. Catherine Herridge’s investigations led to Purple Hearts and medical benefits for military veterans — while she also fights to keep her son healthy.

BUSINESS

Amazon is expanding in Southern California with plans to add 2,500 tech and corporate jobs. The e-commerce giant said it had signed three leases, which combine for 439,000 square feet, for what it described as “tech hubs” in Santa Monica, Irvine and San Diego. The space will accommodate 2,500 new corporate and technology jobs.

SPORTS

How a book spurred Long Beach State’s transformation into a volleyball powerhouse. One of the first things coach Alan Knipe did to establish a new culture of trust, open communication and accountability was to assign team reading, handing out copies of “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team,” a book that identifies things that plague even successful teams and how to address potential problems.

Should defending champ Phil Mickelson play at PGA Championship in light of controversy? Mickelson stunned the sports world last May by becoming the oldest player to win the PGA Championship. Since then, he has been steeped in controversy because of derisive comments he made to Golf Digest and the Fire Pit Collective about the PGA Tour and the Saudi Arabian regime bankrolling a rival golf league.

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OPINION

He fooled voters once. Can Sheriff Villanueva do it again? L.A. Democrats endorsed Villanueva four years ago. That hasn’t happened this time. The so-called progressive has turned out to be the exact opposite, arrogantly presiding over a string of outrageous scandals in a department with a long history of corruption.

L.A. Times electoral endorsements for 2022. To help voters choose, the Times editorial page publishes endorsements based on candidate interviews and independent reporting.

ONLY IN L.A.

The Hollywood sign.
(Reed Saxon / Associated Press)

Why doesn’t the Hollywood sign light up at night? We have answers. Audience engagement editor Rachel Schnalzer answers reader-submitted questions about life in L.A. Her latest research delves into the misconception that you can see the famed sign after dark — and why lighting it up is a surprisingly controversial topic.

A sign reading “Hollywoodland” in flashing bulbs was lighted on Dec. 8, 1923, to promote a housing development, but it was turned off by 1933 due to the cost of maintaining the bulbs. Special occasions, such as the 1984 Olympics, saw the sign re-illuminated, but it’s largely stayed in the dark. And it’s not likely to shine regularly again: There’s not only a lack of infrastructure but also a range of concerns from residents and officials about wildlife, neighborhood impact and, of course, tourist traffic.

FROM THE ARCHIVES

A crowd of men in uniform hold guns in the background. In the foreground, people kneel over a body on the ground.
May 4, 1970: Young people cluster around a wounded student, with Ohio National Guardsmen in the background.
(Associated Press)

Fifty-two years ago today, four students were killed and nine wounded by National Guard troops who opened fire on the campus of Kent State in Ohio. The unarmed students were protesting the Vietnam War. Columnist Sandy Banks, who wrote about the massacre on its 50th anniversary, noted that in a Gallup poll taken days after the shootings, 58% of respondents blamed the students for the bloodshed. “But college students across the country saw things very differently. The carnage sparked a national student strike, which mobilized more than a million young people and forced the shutdown of hundreds of universities.”

In the immediate aftermath of the shootings, a Times staffer reported from an eyewitness: “After the troops [drove] the students to the bottom of the hill, they turned and returned to the top of the hill, formed into something resembling a skirmish line and began firing on the students below.” One Ohio guardsman told the paper the shootings were “uncalled for.” Another said: “It had to happen someplace, you know that.”

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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