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Today’s Headlines: Biden condemns Buffalo mass shooting, calls Americans to reject racist theory

President Biden and First Lady Jill Biden pay their respects at a memorial
President Biden and First Lady Jill Biden pay their respects at a memorial to the Buffalo shooting victims outside Tops supermarket.
(Andrew Harnik / Associated Press)
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By Elvia Limón, Laura Blasey and Amy Hubbard

Hello, it’s Wednesday, May 18, and here are the stories you shouldn’t miss today:

TOP STORIES

Biden condemns the mass shooting in Buffalo

President Biden called the mass shooting in Buffalo a “racist rampage” and an act of “domestic terrorism,” urging Americans to reject the racist theory that authorities said appeared to have motivated the gunman to carry out the massacre: “White supremacy is a poison running through our body politic,” he told grieving families during an impassioned speech at a community center. “It’s been allowed to fester and grow right in front of our eyes.”

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Officials say the suspected killer allegedly wrote a 180-page document that included references to the racist and antisemitic “great replacement” conspiracy theory, which posits that a cabal of elites are engineering the replacement of whites with nonwhite immigrants. The 18-year-old has been arrested and charged in the massacre.

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Laguna Woods church shooting suspect is charged

The Orange County district attorney filed a murder charge that could carry the death penalty against a man accused of fatally shooting one man and wounding five other people at a Taiwanese church in what authorities have characterized as an apparent political hate crime. The FBI has also opened a federal hate crime investigation into the shooting

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One of the victims — John Cheng, a 52-year-old doctor — died from his wounds. Five others, ranging in age from 66 to 92, were taken to hospitals.

Meanwhile, Taiwan’s president has condemned the shooting and a lawmaker from her ruling party questioned whether Chinese propaganda was a motivating factor behind the violence.

Ukraine relinquishes Mariupol

With full control of the beleaguered port city of Mariupol in hand, Russian forces kept up their assault on eastern Ukraine, now the focus of a grinding conflict that bears the hallmarks of a grim war of attrition.

Images posted online depicted wounded Ukrainian servicemen taken on stretchers from the vast Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol to buses that evacuated them to a hospital in Russian-controlled territories. The sprawling plant was the soldiers’ last redoubt in the strategic city, whose capture gives Russia a badly needed victory and a bastion on the Sea of Azov.

More on Ukraine

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FDA clears COVID booster shot for healthy kids ages 5 to 11

U.S. regulators authorized a COVID-19 booster shot for healthy 5- to 11-year-olds, hoping an extra vaccine dose will enhance their protection as infections once again creep upward.

There is one more hurdle: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention must decide whether to formally recommend the booster for this age group. The CDC’s scientific advisors are scheduled to meet this week.

More top coronavirus headlines

  • The Biden administration announced it would provide eight more home coronavirus test kits free to any U.S. household that wants them. Here’s how to get them.

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

Scientists find DDT chemicals accumulating in California condors

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After years of study, a team of environmental health scientists has identified more than 40 DDT-related compounds — along with a number of unknown chemicals — that have been circulating through the marine ecosystem and accumulating in the California condor.

This latest study builds on much-needed research into DDT’s toxic legacy in California. Public calls for action have intensified since The Times reported that the nation’s largest manufacturer of this pesticide once dumped its waste into the deep ocean. As many as half-a-million barrels could still be underwater today, according to old records and a UC Santa Barbara study.

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PHOTO OF THE DAY

A man and a woman stand in front of a pile of balloons, flowers and candles on a sidewalk
President Biden and First Lady Jill Biden place flowers at a memorial across the street from the Tops Friendly Market on Tuesday in Buffalo.
(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

CALIFORNIA

Political scandal is growing in Anaheim. The former head of the city’s Chamber of Commerce has been charged, accused by the FBI of plotting with an unnamed political consultant to launder chamber money through the consultant’s public relations firm into the former business leader’s personal bank account. The case against Todd Ament was announced a day after public disclosure of an FBI affidavit showing that Anaheim Mayor Harry Sidhu is the subject of a public corruption investigation, and state Atty. Gen. Rob Bonta said it was not yet clear whether the federal probe could make the sale of Angel Stadium illegal.

A man who provided drugs to rapper Mac Miller has been sentenced to 17½ years. Stephen Andrew Walter had agreed to a plea agreement last year to serve 17 years. But a U.S. district judge rejected it and added to the sentence, saying that Walter continued to distribute dangerous substances even after the rapper’s death.

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L.A. hikers love Temescal Canyon. A developer just got fined $6 million for blocking it. After years of complaints, lockouts and delinquent taxes, coastal authorities have fined a developer for failing to maintain a trailhead facility.

A brush fire was contained near Griffith Observatory. The blaze was contained at 6 acres. It was near the Boy Scout Trail in Griffith Park, just south of the observatory.

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NATION-WORLD

Spot a UFO? The Pentagon wants to know. The Defense Department wants to remove the stigma around reporting such incidents so that it can better investigate them, starting with military personnel, Pentagon officials told members of the House Intelligence Committee at a hearing.

Cross-border tunnel found in Otay Mesa; six people charged. The tunnel was estimated to be about 1,744 feet long, 61 feet deep and 4 feet in diameter with reinforced walls, a rail system, electricity and ventilation system, authorities said. It’s the first tunnel found in the region since March 2020.

Black Lives Matter has $42 million in assets. It spent more than $37 million on grants, real estate, consultants and other expenses, according to tax documents filed with the IRS. The foundation reports that it invested $32 million in stocks from the $90 million it received as donations amid racial justice protests in 2020, and that investment is expected to become an endowment.

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HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

A condition affecting 190 million women has been mostly ignored on TV. Until now. In Hulu’s “Conversations With Friends,” Frances, the show’s protagonist, suffers from endometriosis. Her struggle with her body and her eventual diagnosis are key to understanding her journey, and the storyline was one that everyone involved wanted to get right.

Here are 12 films our critic can’t wait to see at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. This year’s lineup includes “Top Gun: Maverick” and “Elvis.” But Justin Chang writes: “I’m especially curious about the movies that arrive here on less grandiose swells of advance hype, the ones from great filmmakers whose work I’ve loved in the past and hope to love again.”

Forget the voice of a generation — Kendrick Lamar’s just trying to get himself right. Lamar is not the man we thought he was. That’s the painful yet liberating message embedded in “Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers,” the daring new album from the 34-year-old Compton-born rapper who has shouldered more expectations over the last decade than any other hip-hop superstar, writes critic Mikael Wood.

BUSINESS

Elon Musk says doubt about spam accounts could doom his Twitter deal. Musk says his deal to buy Twitter can’t move forward unless the company shows public proof that less than 5% of the accounts on the social media platform are fake or spam. Separately, he suggests that he may seek to renegotiate the deal to a lower price, after which Twitter shares fell 8.2%.

Netflix has cut 150 jobs after a subscriber slump and revenue slowdown. The announcement came after Netflix reported a loss of 200,000 subscribers in the first quarter for the first time in more than a decade. The Los Gatos, Calif.-based streaming service expects to lose 2 million more subscribers this quarter.

They came out of the ‘cannabis closet’ to help other Asian Americans do the same. Sysamone Phaphon and Eunice Kim embarked on an ambitious project to create a pot primer called “Modern Cannabis: A Beginner’s Guide to Conscious Consumption” in an effort to increase education and decrease stigmatization surrounding the plant.

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SPORTS

Orioles’ Matt Harvey has been suspended for 60 games after admitting he provided drugs to Tyler Skaggs. The former New York Mets star also admitted in February during a federal trial in Texas stemming from Skaggs’ death that he used cocaine while in New York and California.

Galaxy and LAFC are in the top half of MLS payrolls. ‘Chicharito’ is the second-highest paid player. Individually, Galaxy captain Javier “Chicharito” Hernández will make $6 million this season, trailing only the Chicago Fire’s Xherdan Shaqiri, who will be paid a league-record $8.153 million in guaranteed compensation.

Reliever Caleb Ferguson makes a return for Dodgers. David Price’s next steps are unclear. Ferguson was recalled from a triple-A rehabilitation assignment. Price hasn’t pitched since April 22 because of a positive coronavirus test and corresponding move to the injured list and doesn’t seem to know when he’ll return.

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OPINION

Tucker Carlson has hit a dangerous new low in his response to the Buffalo shooting. The hypocrisy was stunning, even by Carlson’s standards. The Fox News host blamed the mass shooting on the policies of President Biden, the Democratic Party and pretty much anyone who‘s called for a stop to the hate speech and racist ideology espoused by the suspect — and Carlson himself, writes television critic Lorraine Ali.

ONLY IN L.A.

An illustration of a crowded beach area, with sunbathers on the sand beneath umbrellas and a pier in the background.
It’s easy to see how Hermosa Beach got its name. (It’s seen here on a vintage postcard from Patt Morrison’s collection.) But what about L.A.’s other beaches?
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The names behind L.A. beaches include actors, bandits, priests and one English bulldog. Second perhaps only to the Hollywood sign, the free-association image of Los Angeles is “beach” — swimming, surfing, sunshine and skin. San Francisco has the natural harbor, but we have the beaches, those soft, wide, sybaritic beaches, writes columnist Patt Morrison.

How did they acquire their names? Leo Carrillo and Dockweiler beaches were named in the spirit and practice of christening places after public-spirited leaders. There’s the informally known RAT Beach, a once-private beach whose rodent nickname by legend stands for “right after Torrance,” and Burnout Beach, where a private beach club burned down in 1958. And in Long Beach, the county’s only off-leash dog park has a canine namesake.

FROM THE ARCHIVES

People walk along a road next to heavily damaged shops.
May 19, 1940: The day after a devastating earthquake, buildings were collapsed at 9th Street and Imperial Avenue in Imperial, Calif.
(Los Angeles Times)

Eighty-two years ago today, on the night of May 18, 1940, a magnitude 6.9 earthquake rocked the Imperial Valley near the border with Mexico. According to Cal Tech’s Southern California Earthquake Data Center, the earthquake caused at least $6 million in direct damage and was directly responsible for the deaths of eight people. The towns that took the brunt in California were Imperial, Brawley, El Centro, Calexico and Mexicali.

Two days later, The Times reported on the quake and its aftermath, saying residents faced a water shortage and the threat of typhoid. The article claimed lives had been saved: “When Mother Earth cracked and rumbled at 8:37 p.m. and then gave another warning shake at 8:39, the hand of merciful fate saved hundreds from possible death or injury. The first shake was severe and warned crowds of downtown shoppers to rush out of buildings and away. … When the rumble and shaking turned suddenly to a sullen roar at 9:54 the vast majority were out of the business areas. At 9:55 the earth roared and snapped,” collapsing or damaging a number of businesses and other public buildings.

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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