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Today’s Headlines: Released by ICE, on the edge of death

Tall fences with barbed wire are seen with mountains in the distance.
The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Otero County Processing Center in New Mexico.
(Justin Hamel / For The Times)

By Laura Blasey and Amy Hubbard

Hello, it’s Friday, May 13, and before we tell you about a new investigation from The Times, we’re taking a quick detour to reach out to Dodgers fans. Houston Mitchell, author of our Dodgers Dugout newsletter, wants to find out what you think are the greatest baseball moments at Dodger Stadium, as well as the greatest nonbaseball moments. The folks over in Sports are going to wrap up those great memories as part of a package of content focusing on the iconic L.A. venue on its 60th anniversary. The stadium this year hosts the MLB All-Star game on July 19 (with the home run derby the day before).

Houston provides some examples of top moments (Kirk Gibson’s home run, Sandy Koufax’s perfect game or — for a favorite nonbaseball moment, scroll down to From the Archives; hint: It involves a sparkly Dodgers uniform). But you’re free to come up with your own best moments too. More info in this week’s Dugout.

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

TOP STORIES

They were sick and dying in ICE custody. The agency released them, avoiding responsibility

Johana Medina Leon was in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody, and she was very ill. Emails reviewed by The Times show that although it took her six weeks to see a doctor in detention, ICE expedited her release in less than six hours — relieving the agency of responsibility when she died four days later.

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In a new investigation, Times staffers delved into documents that offer a rare look into instances in which ICE detainees have been discharged on the edge of death — underscoring longstanding complaints from advocates about uncounted deaths of those who have been in custody: “Why is ICE choosing to release people from custody who are on their deathbeds while they’re hospitalized?” said Eunice Cho, an attorney at the ACLU. “The impact is, of course, that ICE is then exempt from reporting requirements, investigation requirements and financial requirements from the deaths that have taken place” as result of inadequate healthcare.

ICE spokeswoman Paige Hughes declined to comment on Medina Leon’s case, but wrote in a statement that the agency “takes very seriously the health, safety, and welfare of those in our care, including those who come into ICE custody with prior medical conditions or who have never before received appropriate medical evaluation or care.”

As Finland endorsed joining NATO, Russia issued threats and continued its assault on Ukraine

Finnish leaders dealt Vladimir Putin a blow by announcing their support for a NATO bid. Meanwhile, the Russian president reaffirmed his determination to maintain Moscow’s sway over eastern Ukraine.

Putin in a message offered support to the head of pro-Russia separatists there, a sentiment backed by a torrent of Russian airstrikes and artillery barrages along the 300-mile-long eastern battlefront, including on a steel mill in Mariupol where the last pocket of Ukrainian military resistance remained.

How the Coastal fire grew from a small blaze to an urban conflagration

The sudden and severe destruction caused by the fire in Laguna Niguel has left many to wonder just how it could have erupted amid unremarkable weather conditions. Yet experts say that preliminary reports suggest the devastation was due to an unlucky combination of factors — moderate winds, steep terrain and drought-ravaged vegetation worked together to drive flames into a community where homes had been constructed before fire-hardening building codes took effect. On Thursday, thick smoke choked the neighborhood as ash rained down on cars.

  • Edison reported there was “circuit activity” close to the time the fire was reported.
  • These Laguna Niguel residents are returning to ruins: “30 years’ worth of memories” were consumed by fire.

Triggered by inflation, California’s minimum wage will rise to $15.50

The state’s minimum wage for all employers will rise to $15.50 an hour in January, advisors to Gov. Gavin Newsom said. It’s the first time rising inflation has triggered a provision of a 6-year-old state law governing automatic pay increases.

The announcement came one day before Newsom was set to unveil a revised state budget plan, a new spending proposal for state government that relies on an updated economic forecast and one that will offer rental assistance and cash rebates to struggling Californians.

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Biden will co-host a second global COVID summit as the U.S. nears 1 million deaths

The president will mark the grim milestone and appeal for a renewed international commitment to attacking COVID-19 as he convenes a second virtual summit on the pandemic.

“As a nation, we must not grow numb to such sorrow,” Biden said in a statement.

More coronavirus headlines

  • Is Paxlovid, the COVID-19 pill, reaching those most in need? The federal government isn’t saying how many people have received these potentially lifesaving drugs or whether they’re being distributed equitably.
  • North Korea imposed a nationwide lockdown to control its first acknowledged outbreak after holding for more than two years to a widely doubted claim of a perfect record of keeping out the coronavirus.

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

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.

CALIFORNIA

The California Coastal Commission voted against a plan by Poseidon Water to build a huge desalination plant in Huntington Beach. Despite worsening drought and repeated calls from Gov. Gavin Newsom to tap the Pacific Ocean as a source of drinking water, commissioners voted unanimously against the plan. The decision, which was recommended by commission staff, may end the company’s plans for the $1.4-billion plant.

UC, CSU and community colleges, California’s three systems of public higher education, are set to get a big funding boost. But in exchange they’ll need to meet comprehensive targets to improve access, affordability and equity under Gov. Gavin Newsom’s revised budget proposal set to be unveiled today.

He walked into a burning house but was carried out. What happened? Jonathan Flagler, a 21-year veteran firefighter, suffocated after the tank in his breathing apparatus ran out of air while fighting a fire in a Rancho Palos Verdes home. In a confidential report obtained by The Times, L.A. County Fire Department investigators reconstructed the rare death, exposing failures that cost Flagler his life.

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NATION-WORLD

A Texas militia is patrolling the U.S.-Mexico border — and law enforcement is OK with that. Times staffer Molly Hennessey-Fiske spent time at the border with Patriots for America, a conservative, Christian militia. Members say they’re trying to stop human trafficking and drug cartels. The American Civil Liberties Union of Texas maintains Patriots for America is a racist group that has been patrolling without adequate training, detaining, questioning and intimidating migrants, who often assume they are law enforcement. The militia initially faced some resistance from state troopers and local lawmakers. But they have since expanded their rotations to three border counties.

Astronomers captured the first image of the supermassive black hole at our galaxy’s center. The world got a look at the first wild but fuzzy image of the supermassive black hole at the center of our own Milky Way galaxy, with an astronomer calling it a “gentle giant” on a near-starvation diet.

In other space news: For the first time, scientists have grown plants in soil from the moon collected by NASA’s Apollo astronauts. Thale cress was planted in moon soil, and the good news was all of the seeds sprouted. The downside was that, after the first week, the coarseness and other properties of the lunar soil stressed the small, flowering weeds so much that they grew more slowly than seedlings planted in fake moon dirt from Earth.

Victims of the Florida condo collapse reached a nearly $1-billion tentative settlement. An attorney announced that a settlement had been reached in the class-action lawsuit brought by families of victims and survivors of last June’s condominium collapse in Surfside, Fla. Still pending final approval, the settlement involves insurance companies, developers of an adjacent building and other defendants.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

Tom Cruise flies high — again — in the exhilarating ‘Top Gun: Maverick.’ Jets still scream and muscles still gleam in the ridiculous and often ridiculously entertaining sequel, though in several respects, the movie evinces — and rewards — an unusual investment of brainpower, writes film critic Justin Chang. It has plenty on its mind, and it’s gloriously alive.

Inside the ‘brutally honest’ ‘Hacks’ scene that made its star cry. Jean Smart, Hannah Einbinder and the creators of HBO Max’s Emmy-winning comedy break down Season 2’s first big reveal. (Spoilers.)

Norm Macdonald, who died last year, filmed a secret comedy special that Netflix will air. The former “Saturday Night Live” comic, who died in September at 61 after privately battling cancer for nine years, recorded an hour of new comedy while sitting in his living room under what were dire circumstances.

The ‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ crew talk about bringing the story to life. Director Sam Raimi and writer Michael Waldron expound on putting together Marvel’s first horror, expanding the multiverse and following “Spider-Man: No Way Home.” Said Waldron: “Sam did a great job of always reminding me that the movie needed to be accessible even to people who maybe weren’t super well-versed in the MCU or in the multiverse and all this sci-fi stuff. We tried to make a movie that could be followed by somebody who maybe just stumbled into the theater off the street.”

BUSINESS

Elon Musk says his planned purchase of Twitter is ‘temporarily on hold.’ The billionaire said Friday that his plan to buy Twitter for $44 billion is “temporarily on hold” as he tries to pinpoint the exact number of spam and fake accounts on the social media platform, another twist amid signs of internal turmoil over the proposed acquisition. Research The Times covered last month found Musk’s company Tesla has benefited from bot activity on the platform.

Markets are tumbling. In the wild west of crypto, a dangerous health problem lurks. Bingeing on all things cryptocurrency has been a long-running joke in the community since the release of bitcoin in 2009. Investors boast on social media about being degens — degenerates — attached to their screens 24/7, but some worry that their habits have morphed into full-blown dependency.

OPINION

Once the most trusted branch of government, the Supreme Court has been hijacked by the Republican Party for its war on equality and civil liberties, writes columnist Jean Guerrero. Latinos, who make up nearly 19% of the U.S. population, are seen by many conservatives as a threat. Not surprisingly, the effect of the court’s rulings will fall heavily on Latinos and other people of color. Its plans to revoke Roe vs. Wade, for example, will disproportionately harm low-income women with limited time and resources to travel across states for abortions.

If men could get pregnant, abortion and baby formula would be free, writes columnist Mary McNamara. As the U.S. Supreme Court appears poised to overturn Roe, America is suffering a baby formula shortage. Connect those dots and it isn’t too hard to imagine a world where women are forced not only to have babies they do not want but to breastfeed them too. When cis men know what it’s like to obsess about preventing an unwanted pregnancy or even to carry a wanted one, then they can talk about abortion.

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SPORTS

The L.A. Kings lost 4-2 to the Edmonton Oilers in Game 6 of their playoff series. The series heads back to Edmonton on Saturday for a decisive Game 7, with the winner to advance to the second round of the playoffs against the winner of the Calgary-Dallas series. Can the Kings finish the job?

NFL players-turned-broadcasters have warnings for Tom Brady when he goes in the TV booth. Brady confirmed this week that, after his playing career is done, he will turn his attention to TV, becoming NFL lead analyst for Fox. But everybody has to start somewhere and, if history is a guide, Brady will go through some growing pains the way every analyst does.

The Angels’ bullpen has a unique way to celebrate victories. Relievers Aaron Loup, Ryan Tepera and Archie Bradley light upa mini fire pit at Loup’s corner locker, pop open a cold beverage and talk about what went right, what went wrong, what they might do differently next time. They began the fireside chats to help build camaraderie in the clubhouse. Said Tepera: “The past couple of years with COVID and stuff, we’ve kind of missed that team morale, getting together. I think everybody looks forward to coming in every day and hanging out with each other, and that’s a big, big part of a winning team.”

YOUR WEEKEND

a tree with foliage made from glowing squares on a large wire frame
Glenn Kaino, a conceptual artist, has created a magical forest that includes animatronic performing trees, illusions of fire and interactive sound sculptures.
(Willem Verbeeck / For The Times)

Step into Glenn Kaino’s magical and immersive forest installation. Kaino’s “A Forest for the Trees” is an immersive new show he created and directed inside a 28,000-square-foot Boyle Heights warehouse. The ticketed experience, which speaks to Indigenous practices around land stewardship, ecological interconnectedness and preservation of the environment, leads visitors on an hourlong journey through an actual forest with 87 redwood trees, handmade sculptures, animatronic robots, original music and glimmering installations that alternately employ mirrors, light, water and shadows to create a range of visual trickery.

Try a lighter, spicier spin on the summertime potato salad at your next picnic. Cooking columnist Ben Mims has heard lots of negative descriptions of this classic side dish, “overrated” and “disgusting” among them. And he gets it; most people didn’t grow up with great potato salad — his mom’s recipe was zesty and bracing in the best way, and never felt heavy or gloppy with mayo. Ben’s version uses a bright and spicy dressing inspired by zhoug, the famous Yemeni chile sauce, made with serrano chiles and cilantro.

WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

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Welcome to Portugal, the new expat haven. Now please go home. Californians are finding a slice of home on the west coast of Europe: ocean breezes, mountain views, hot spring days on palm tree-lined promenades, and the glow of sunsets that seep into the night. A mix of retirees, digital nomads and young families fed up with issues including the costs of housing and healthcare are making themselves known in a country once considered the forgotten sibling of Spain. But resentment of newcomers is growing, and Angelenos can’t always escape — and sometimes are at the root of — questions over gentrification, income disparities and immigration. Los Angeles Times

The Holocaust started with my great-uncle’s murder. Mattie Kahn knew that Arthur Kahn died within 24 hours of arriving at Dachau: “The Nazis ruled that Arthur had been killed in an attempted escape, gunned down while he tried to flee. But I had been told — had I ever not known? — that [Arthur’s father] pried open the coffin. He saw that his son had been shot through the forehead.” Arthur Kahn was the first Jewish victim of the Holocaust. His great-niece, however, wanted to learn about his life. “He is frozen at 21, on the brink of becoming.” The Atlantic

Here’s a new social app that’s mundane, and still enjoyable. Have you heard of BeReal? The app notifies its users at an unpredictable time each day that they must post a pair of pictures within two minutes. “Though its rules are simple — post, now — the message is mixed. Don’t be too hard on yourself, just post whatever, it suggests, clock ticking. And then in a whisper: But don’t be a try-hard.” BeReal is offering a fresh version of a social experience that may be worn out on other platforms. But it could be fleeting. New York Times

FROM THE ARCHIVES

Closeup of a man in large round glasses and a sparkling baseball hat that says "L.A."
Circa 1975: Elton John performs at Dodger Stadium.
(Marilynn K. Yee / Los Angeles Times)

In October 1976, Elton John performed at Dodger Stadium — a concert that’s a great contender for top 10 favorite nonbaseball moments at the stadium. Legendary Times pop music critic Robert Hilburn wrote the story: “John’s Saturday and Sunday appearances were indeed akin to a World Series for rock music fans. Not only is singer-composer-pianist John the biggest star in pop music, but his weekend concerts marked the first time a rock act had played Dodger Stadium — the city’s most prestigious and best-designed outdoor athletic facility — since the Beatles in 1966. The audience response, predictably, was tumultuous at times.

“In fact, the 55,000 fans Saturday reacted to the key moments of John’s show with the kind of enthusiastic abandon that [owner Walter] O’Malley and his staff had probably thought was limited to a series-winning, bottom-of-the-ninth Steve Garvey double.”

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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