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Today’s Headlines: Trump’s pressure and threats put state officials in danger, committee says

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, center, testifies
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, center, testifies before the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, alongside Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers, left, and Georgia Secretary of State Chief Operating Officer Gabriel Sterling.
(J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press)

By Elvia Limón and Amy Hubbard

Hello, it’s Wednesday, June 22, and here are the stories you shouldn’t miss today:

TOP STORIES

State officials detail frantic pressure campaign to keep Trump in office

Republican state legislators and elected officials detailed the intense pressure they faced from President Trump and his lawyers to subvert the will of voters and submit to Congress false slates of electors backing him.

Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and Georgia Secretary of State Chief Operating Officer Gabriel Sterling, all Republicans, testified at the fourth hearing of the House select committee investigating Jan. 6, 2021. They described the numerous lengthy phone calls and in-person meetings from Trump and those in his inner circle pushing them to act to keep him in office.

The elected officials detailed in their testimony the retaliation they faced for not complying, as did Wandrea ArShaye “Shaye” Moss, a former Georgia election worker who gave a wrenching account of racist death threats she and her mother faced after being accused by Trump of processing fraudulent ballots.

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More politics

— British filmmaker Alex Holder complied with a subpoena to turn over to the House Select Committee investigating Jan. 6, 2021, documentary footage he filmed during the final six weeks of President Trump’s reelection campaign.
— The Senate voted to start debate on a bipartisan effort to combat gun violence, a sign of progress for what could be the most substantial gun policy to get through Congress in more than three decades.
— The Supreme Court extended its support for religious schools, ruling that parents who send their children to these institutions have a right to tuition aid if the state provides it to similar private schools.

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Two million California kids are now eligible for the COVID vaccine

Following the recent decision by federal health officials to authorize children as young as 6 months to receive either the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, Californians are now able to book appointments for their tiniest charges.

The move marks the latest and last major expansion of the U.S. COVID-19 vaccination campaign, which sputtered to life in highly limited form in December 2020. But until now, shots for the youngest children remained elusive — leaving many families in the unenviable position of having everyone but baby inoculated.

There are approximately 2.2 million children under the age of 5 in California who are now eligible to be vaccinated, according to state health officials.

More top coronavirus headlines

— President Biden visited a vaccination clinic in Washington, D.C., where some of the first shots were given to young children in the last major age group ineligible for vaccines.

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

L.A. needs 90,000 trees to battle extreme heat

In 2019, Mayor Eric Garcetti unveiled an ambitious plan to plant 90,000 trees in Los Angeles by 2021 as part of L.A.’s Green New Deal. But more than a year after Garcetti’s deadline, it turns out that planting trees in Los Angeles is a lot more difficult than it sounds. To date, just over 65,000 trees have been planted.

Now, as global warming and extreme heat increase health risks for people who live in areas with little to no tree cover, Los Angeles officials are finding that their reliance on city residents to plant and care for the trees comes with significant limitations: Residents in poorer neighborhoods who don’t own land can find it difficult to actually plant trees, or they can encounter difficulty caring for new trees during their critical three-year establishment phase.

Kremlin says the death penalty is possible for U.S. fighters

Fears have mounted over the fate of two Americans reportedly taken captive while fighting for Ukraine, as Russia declared that international protections for prisoners of war did not apply to foreign “mercenaries” and that capital punishment could not be ruled out if they were put on trial in separatist territory.

The two Americans — Alexander Drueke, 39, and Andy Tai Ngoc Huynh, 27 — went missing this month while fighting near Kharkiv, 25 miles from the Russian border. Both are military veterans from Alabama.

Those comments out of Moscow came as U.S. Atty. Gen. Merrick Garland visited Ukraine to meet with the country’s top prosecutor and offer U.S. assistance in investigating and prosecuting alleged war crimes committed by Russian troops during the nearly 4-month-old war.

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PHOTO OF THE DAY

Denise Diggs holds a photo of her late mother as she looks at a table full of old family documents and pictures
A few years ago while cleaning out their home, Denise Diggs and her brother Richard Diggs stumbled upon an old Bible with notes that document their family’s history.
(Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times)

The Diggs family came across a dusty and worn Bible in the 1980s while combing through a cardboard box of books earmarked for charity in San Bernardino. In the Bible’s pages, the family found notes from an enslaved, literate ancestor who documented five generations of births, deaths and marriages. Read about how that Bible ended up at the Smithsonian.

CALIFORNIA

Investigators probing ‘deputy gang’ violence were told not to ask about Banditos, chief says. In a sworn declaration, a retired chief highlights failures by the Sheriff’s Department to properly investigate gang-like groups of deputies.

More Californians are gaining broadband internet access. But Black and Latino households still lag. Eighty-seven percent of white households had access to high-speed internet, compared with 83% of Black households and 80% of Latino ones. Plus, in general, households headed by adults 65 or older or non-college graduates lagged behind younger and college-educated households.

$1.5 million worth of fentanyl and powder were seized by gang investigators in Riverside County. The operation occurred over three separate investigations conducted by the gang unit across Riverside County over a two-week period.

California must euthanize 350,000 trout after a bacteria outbreak. Recreational fishing could see an impact. Two Fish and Wildlife hatcheries in the Eastern Sierra typically stock waterways for recreational fishing in Imperial, Inyo, Mono, Riverside and San Bernardino counties, so availability in those areas could be affected.

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NATION-WORLD

U.S. and Iran have a tense encounter at sea. Tehran preps new centrifuges. The incident involving the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and the Navy comes as tensions remain high over stalled negotiations over Iran’s tattered nuclear deal with world powers and as Tehran enriches uranium closer than ever to weapons-grade levels under decreasing international oversight.

Leftist Gustavo Petro’s election will test Colombia’s alliance with the U.S. His promise of sweeping change in a country that has long been a bulwark of regional stability has many in Washington on edge.

‘It always wins’: North Korea may declare a COVID-19 victory. According to state media, North Korea has avoided the mass deaths many expected in a nation with one of the world’s worst healthcare systems, little or no access to vaccines and what outsiders see as a long record of ignoring the suffering of its people. There’s widespread doubt about the state media’s accuracy.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

Beyoncé returns with the liberating house jam ‘Break My Soul.’ The single finds Beyoncé using her growliest voice to describe a search for liberation from a crushing job (“They work me so damn hard”) and a nerve-jangling pandemic (“You said you outside but you ain’t that outside”) over propulsive drums and a soulful piano lick.

Jury finds Bill Cosby sexually abused teen in the 1970s and orders him to pay $500,000. Cosby sexually abused a teenage Judy Huth at the Playboy Mansion in the mid-1970s, a civil jury decided in Santa Monica. Huth said her mind always went back to the alleged attack by Cosby, especially once other women began accusing him of similar behavior.

How queer Asian American rom-com ‘Fire Island’ became summer’s sexiest breakout hit. Writer and star Joel Kim Booster feared he’d have to ‘protect’ his deeply personal film from criticism. Instead, the fresh spin on Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice” found legions of adoring fans.

Don’t blame her: Kim Kardashian denies she damaged that Marilyn Monroe dress. Photos showing apparent wear and tear on the historic dress renewed the controversy last week, but Kardashian doubled down on her handling of the “Some Like It Hot” star’s glittering garment and the care that owner Ripley’s Believe It or Not! took in loaning it to her.

Kate Bush always sounded like the future. With a boost from ‘Stranger Things,’ that future is now. That Bush is having a resurgence and connecting with a whole new generation is cosmically perfect. In a time of elevated cultural comprehension of female genius, her place in pop’s pantheon is undeniable.

BUSINESS

L.A. City Council bypasses the ballot and approves a measure to reduce the workload for hotel housekeepers. Most hotels in the city of Los Angeles will be required to limit the daily workload of housekeepers, offer overtime pay under certain circumstances, provide “panic buttons” to protect their workers from sexual harassment and do away with policies that automatically forgo daily cleaning.

Gas prices are falling nationwide. Will California drivers see some relief? The drop is little consolation for California drivers who pay an average of $6.38 a gallon, but it’s an indication that prices will be slightly lower before the July 4 holiday, experts say.

OPINION

The Texas GOP platform betrays historic Texan and Republican values. Texas Republicans just adopted a roadmap for undermining liberty, individualism, loyalty, progress and a host of other professed Texan and GOP values.

A ruinous Supreme Court decision to dismantle the wall between church and state. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of providing government aid to religious schools, repudiating the 1st Amendment’s ban against the establishment of religion.

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SPORTS

Still the Angels’ finest hour: A look back at their 2002 World Series win. In the same year Disney was looking to part ways with the Angels, the team put up its most memorable season, defeating the Giants in the 2002 World Series.

Complaints about slick baseballs spur MLB to make changes. MLB is mandating a ball be stored in a humidor for at least 14 days before game use, and ball storage must be recorded by the home team’s gameday compliance monitor and then certified in a signed form by the clubhouse manager.

Rob Gronkowski retires again and won’t join Tom Brady for a third season in Tampa. In an Instagram post, the four-time Super Bowl champion with the New England Patriots and Tampa Bay Buccaneers thanked his teammates and coaches over the years and said he’s going back to “chilling out.”

ONLY IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

A person crouches next to a small redwood structure in a home's backyard.
Jordan Karambelas crouches next to a vegetable bed. The junior at Mira Costa High in Manhattan Beach created the garden, watered by an attached fish pond, with the help of landscape contractor Mike Garcia.
(Christina House / Los Angeles Times)

Tearing out our lawns is a good start toward wiser water use in Southern California, but it’s not enough. To do the job properly, we must also be ready to collect the rain that will someday fall out of the sky, advocates say. The Times’ Jeanette Marantos spoke with Southern Californians who have come up with inventive ways to recycle water.

In Redondo Beach, Mike Garcia meshed his interest in water conservation with his landscape design aesthetic to create waterfalls in his front- and backyards powered by recycled rainwater and a koi pond. And in Hyde Park, Beverly Lofton has turned her frontyard into a microfarm. Raised beds have sausage-like bundles of soil on top of impermeable pond liner, so the runoff from watering the plants can be collected and diverted back to storage tanks, where it is used again and again for irrigation.

FROM THE ARCHIVES

People stand in line to board a train.  The locomotive has a sign that says "Burlington Route."
June 22, 1934: Burlington’s Zephyr at Exposition Park.
(Los Angeles Times)

Eighty-eight years ago today, on June 22, 1934, the Burlington Zephyr was drawing crowds at Exposition Park. The Times reported that day that the train “recently broke all distance records for railway speed.” The Zephyr, according to a PBS article, “was unlike any train that had come before it. … The corrugated stainless-steel exterior emphasized the machine as art, and the interior stressed efficiency: clean and simple, without the overstuffed look of Pullman cars. For the first time, aesthetics and engineering acted together, spawning the streamlined craze of the 1930s.”

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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