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Today’s Headlines: Texas school shooting leaves town ‘shaken to its core’

Members of the community gather at a vigil for the 21 people killed at Robb Elementary School
Members of the community gather at a vigil for the 21 people killed at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.
(Jordan Vonderhaar / Getty Images)
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By Elvia Limón, Laura Blasey and Amy Hubbard

Hello, it’s Thursday, May 26, and here are the stories you shouldn’t miss today:

TOP STORIES

Texas school shooting leaves town ‘shaken to its core’

There is now a clearer timeline of the mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, a small town about 80 miles west of San Antonio. Authorities say the gunman started the rampage by shooting his 66-year-old grandmother in the face at her home in Uvalde before arriving at the school. He barricaded himself inside a fourth-grade classroom, where all the fatalities and injuries occurred.

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The victims’ names and stories have also emerged. Among them is a 10-year-old girl who had just made the honor roll and a fourth-grade teacher who had worked for the school district for about 17 years.

But as the people of Uvalde mourned, there was little agreement on the root cause of the tragedy — or the solution to the staggering toll of gun violence in America.

In an exchange that underlined America’s divisions over gun control, Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott was challenged by Beto O’Rourke, the former Democratic congressman running for governor of Texas, at a news conference. O’Rourke walked up to the stage and confronted Abbott.

“This is on you until you choose to do something different,” O’Rourke told Abbott.

More about the Uvalde shooting

Should we wear masks and limit gatherings with the new COVID wave?

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As California contends with another resurgence of the coronavirus, what should residents consider doing to protect themselves from infection? Unlike in earlier waves of the pandemic, officials have not demonstrated an appetite for renewed restrictions, unless hospitalizations dramatically worsen.

California lifted its statewide public indoor masking orders months ago. However, officials have consistently urged residents to use face coverings in public interior settings. Experts also suggest wearing face coverings on public transit.

There are a few steps people can take if they’re going to attend or host a gathering. Outdoors is preferable to indoors. If you must gather inside, make the setting well-ventilated. Wearing masks offers an additional layer of protection, officials say.

More top coronavirus headlines

  • New U.S. research on long COVID provides fresh evidence that it can occur after breakthrough infections in vaccinated people, and that older adults face higher risks for suffering the long-term effects.

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

Ninety-nine percent of L.A. asylum seekers in a Biden program — many of them kids — face deportation, a report says

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In 2021, President Biden promised an accelerated docket would resolve asylum cases “more expeditiously and fairly.” But according to a new UCLA report, the docket’s fast-track timeline has imposed new hardships and obstacles that ultimately lead to higher rates of deportation orders.

In Los Angeles, an estimated 99% of the 449 cases completed on the dedicated docket as of February of this year resulted in removal orders and about 72% of those cases were issued to people who missed their court hearing — “in absentia.” Perhaps most striking, the report shows that almost half of those in absentia removal orders are for children, many 6 and younger.

Russia takes steps to bolster its army and tighten its grip on Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin issued an order to fast-track Russian citizenship for residents of parts of southern Ukraine largely held by his forces, while lawmakers in Moscow passed a bill to strengthen the stretched Russian army.

Putin’s decree applying to the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions could allow Russia to strengthen its hold on territory that lies between eastern Ukraine, where Moscow-backed separatists occupy some areas, and the Crimean peninsula, which Russia seized in 2014.

The Russian army is engaged in an intense battle for Ukraine’s eastern industrial heartland known as the Donbas. In a sign that the Kremlin is trying to bolster its stretched military machine, Russian lawmakers agreed to scrap the age limit of 40 for those signing their first voluntary military contracts.

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PHOTO OF THE DAY

A person in a denim jacket reclines in a patio chair. Another individual in a hoodie stands holding a makeup palette.
Ceidy Zethare has her makeup done with the help of Luis Fernando Umana on a Tijuana rooftop.
(Ana Ramirez / The San Diego Union-Tribune)

A voice message in a laundromat, and a rebirth across the border. Luis Fernando Umana, 24, does the makeup of Ceidy Zethare, 22, on her last morning at Jardin de las Mariposas, a shelter for LGBTQ migrants and asylum seekers in Tijuana, Baja California. The shelter’s residents face unique challenges as they wait to find out if they will be admitted to the U.S. under a small program to identify especially vulnerable migrants.

CALIFORNIA

California just adopted new, tougher water restrictions: What you need to know. California water regulators strengthened the state’s drought rules this week, ordering local suppliers to take steps to reduce water usage to stretch limited supplies this summer.

Mold and plumbing problems persist at a South L.A. apartment complex as the city pledges action. For years, housing inspectors and others responsible for overseeing Chesapeake Apartments, owned by Pama Properties, missed obvious warning signs about its condition. City and county inspectors are now planning to reassess all 425 units in early June, following a Times story in April.

Villanueva calls for stepped-up enforcement against homeless riders on L.A. County transit. Pointing to several recent high-profile assaults on the Los Angeles County transit system, Sheriff Alex Villanueva said his department would ramp up enforcement against homeless riders who attack and harass fellow passengers.

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NATION-WORLD

Cuba says it won’t attend the Summit of the Americas in L.A. after Biden administration snub. The president of Cuba announced that his country will not attend next month’s Summit of the Americas, a major conference to take place in Los Angeles, after the U.S. refused to extend a proper invitation.

The FDA has acknowledged a slow response and ‘suboptimal’ decisions leading up to the infant formula shortage. Lawmakers grilled FDA officials during an hours-long hearing with the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, questioning what led to the formula shortage that is plaguing parents of infants across the nation. Agency officials pointed to sluggish responses and questionable decisions.

After months of optimism, prospects for an Iran nuclear deal are ‘tenuous’ at best, the U.S. says. Two issues threatened to scuttle the talks. Iran wants its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, a militant branch of its armed forces that has been accused of attacks throughout the region, removed from the U.S. list of terrorist organizations. And then came Ukraine.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

Baz Luhrmann’s unruly ‘Elvis’ has shaken up the Cannes Film Festival. Luhrmann’s unsurprisingly extravagant new movie had its world premiere Wednesday night. But while the performance sequences crackle with live-wire energy and star Austin Butler makes a credibly charismatic Elvis, Tom Hanks’ villain, set up as something of a co-protagonist, is “hammy, grating and unmodulated to a fault,” writes film critic Justin Chang.

Fans and record labels are addicted to TikTok. But some artists are just saying no. More than two years after TikTok became pop music’s most efficient new hit-making platform, a growing number of musicians are voicing concerns about the record industry’s reliance on the app. Artists including Halsey and Florence Welch have posted videos lamenting the pressure to go viral.

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Bill Cosby is back on trial nearly a year after being released from prison. The disgraced comedian and actor is set to face a civil trial next month after California resident Judy Huth accused him of sexually assaulting her at the Playboy Mansion while she was a teenager in the mid-1970s. The allegations first came to light in 2014 and are now seeing their day in court after years of setbacks.

Ricky Gervais knew people would be upset by the flood of anti-trans jokes in his latest Netflix special. And as far as he’s concerned, there’s nothing controversial about it at all: “Every single line, someone is going to complain, either because they hate it, or they don’t get it.”

BUSINESS

Texas forces companies to be neutral on guns or lose business. The unusual provision shows how much power the gun lobby has wielded in the nation’s statehouses to fend off any efforts to curtail access to firearms in the wake of mass shootings.

Explaining Hollywood: How to get a job as a production designer. In the latest edition of this Times series, seven professional production designers share their advice on the job of building a film or show’s visual world with unique settings, art and décor.

OPINION

How many times has Biden said, ‘We’ve got to act’ on guns? What’s taking so long? Our gun laws are not just weak and insufficient, writes columnist Nicholas Goldberg. They are, to put it bluntly, suicidal. Yet year after year, we do little or nothing to change them. Instead we offer tears and prayers for the victims and then let the tragedies slip from our minds until the next nightmare inevitably occurs.

The ‘older, whiter’ San Fernando Valley no longer exists, writes columnist Sandy Banks. Who appeals as mayor? “The question on my mind was this: Does a progressive Black political veteran [Karen Bass], widely admired for her work in the trenches on issues such as homelessness, addiction and mental illness, have a chance against a wealthy white real estate mogul [Rick Caruso], who is bankrolling his own campaign and can afford to blanket the Valley with messages about vanquishing corruption and crime?”

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SPORTS

How Super Bowl champ Brad Johnson became TikTok trick shot artist BigBadBrad14. What started as a hobby during the pandemic has morphed into something of an obsession for Johnson, who 20 years ago guided the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to their first Super Bowl win. He now spends hours a day stringing together trick shots.

Juan Soto trade rumors have begun. Where do the Dodgers fit? Soto is a 23-year-old left-handed hitting machine who has drawn comparisons to Ted Williams. He boasts power to all fields. His plate discipline is otherworldly. His tranquil swagger is unflappable. He’s a superstar. And he’s is a National. At least for now.

ONLY IN CALIFORNIA

Here are the coolest Ojai shops for when you want to bring the vibes back to L.A. Although you won’t find an Apple store or a Whole Foods in Ojai — the city, roughly 80 miles north of Los Angeles, has a long-standing ban on chain stores — you will find family-run shops offering goods by local makers, not to mention farm stands and a bookstore that operates on the honor system.

The Times’ Lisa Boone rounds up some of the best independent stores the area has to offer.

FROM THE ARCHIVES

A man in a short-sleeve shirt sits in a chair with an ankle crossed over a knee, reading a packet of papers.
Sept. 13, 1953: William A. Wheeler, a House Un-American Activities Committee investigator, looks over testimony by Lucille Ball. The Times devoted an entire page to her testimony.
(Los Angeles Times)
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Eighty-four years ago today, on May 26, 1938, the House Un-American Activities Committee was created. Rep. Martin Dies Jr. (D-Texas) was named its chairman. The Times the next day ran an article titled “Threat to Kill President Told” that said the House had “ordered an investigation of ‘un-American’ propaganda in the United States” after Dies recounted an assassination plot against President Roosevelt hatched at a Nazi camp within the U.S.

In 1938, HUAC’s official role was to investigate Communist and fascist organizations, but it may have been most successful at political discord. The committee under Dies was “a soapbox from which New Deal programs were denounced,” according to the House. It was a source of resentment among many representatives because of the panel’s costs and “its tendency to conduct witch hunts.” In the Cold War years, “HUAC’s influence soared and contributed to a climate of domestic fear.”

The committee said Communists disloyal to the U.S. were rife in areas including government, academia and Hollywood. The Times in 1997 wrote of HUAC’s 1947 hearings targeting the film industry. “It was the age of loyalty oaths and McCarthyism, a chilling time in which free speech and the 1st Amendment were tossed out the window. Lives and careers were also ruined in other fields, but it was Hollywood, the incubator for America’s popular culture, that became center ring for the Red Scare circus.”

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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