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Today’s Headlines: Families still shattered a year after LAPD fireworks explosion

Maury Bryan Samano, Kenia Quintanilla and Mia Samano return to their home that was damaged in the LAPD fireworks explosion
Maury Bryan Samano; his girlfriend, Kenia Quintanilla; and their daughter, Mia Samano, 2, return to their home, which was damaged in the LAPD fireworks explosion in 2021.
(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)
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By Elvia Limón and Laura Blasey

Hello, it’s Thursday, June 30, and here are the stories you shouldn’t miss today:

TOP STORIES

Families still shattered a year after LAPD fireworks explosion

One year ago, the Los Angeles Police Department bomb squad botched the detonation of a fireworks cache discovered in South Los Angeles. The resulting blast injured 17 people and badly damaged many homes. More than 80 residents were displaced.

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Displaced residents moved to the luxury Level Hotel downtown — where the city rented out rooms on the taxpayers’ dime. These were only meant to be a stopgap. But for many, that hasn’t been the case.

Today, 18 families still reside at the Level, according to city officials. As of April, the city’s hotel bill ran to $1.4 million. More recent invoices for the rooms have yet to be tabulated.

Extreme heat and drought will permanently scar California

Unprecedented dryness is meeting with increasingly warm temperatures to create climate conditions so extreme that the landscape of California could permanently and profoundly change.

Some say what’s in store for the state could be akin to the conditions that drove people thousands of years ago to abandon cities in the Southwest.

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But California’s current transformation is being accelerated by carbon emissions and human-caused climate change, which is creating not only longer and more severe droughts but also hotter ones. It’s a process known as aridification, and many say it’s here to stay.

The campaign to discredit Cassidy Hutchinson has begun

In the hours after Cassidy Hutchinson delivered bombshell testimony to the Jan. 6 committee, former President Trump and his allies rushed to attack the former White House staffer.

Hutchinson told the panel that Trump was aware that some of his supporters were armed when he urged them to march to the Capitol. She also testified that Anthony Ornato, then the deputy White House chief of staff, told her the president was so “irate” that the Secret Service would not drive him to the Capitol that he reached for the steering wheel and lunged at an agent.

Trump and his allies have seized on media reports of pushback from unnamed Secret Service sources to paint Hutchinson’s sworn testimony as unreliable.

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Will everyone in California eventually get coronavirus?

With tens of thousands of new coronavirus cases being reported in California each week, it might seem inevitable that everyone will get infected at some point.

But that’s not necessarily the case, officials and experts say. Even with the near-constant drumbeat of transmission this spring and summer, millions of Californians have still been able to avoid catching the virus.

For some, that might be a matter of circumstance. Others may still be avoiding nonessential activities to lessen their exposure risk. Many might chalk it up to luck.

More top coronavirus headlines

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

Suspected truck driver pretended to be a victim

The alleged driver of a truck packed with people who died in the sweltering Texas heat this week initially tried to pass himself off as a victim to evade authorities and may have been under the influence of narcotics during the smuggling attempt.

Those are among the details to emerge about a man authorities say is a central figure in one of the deadliest human-trafficking incidents in U.S. history. With the deaths of two more migrants, the total number of fatalities climbed to 53.

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PHOTO OF THE DAY

A woman poses by a large stone memorial sign while a man takes her photo
A man and woman celebrate Bruce’s Beach in Manhattan Beach on Tuesday as the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved a plan to return the land to the Black family it was taken from nearly a century ago.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)
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CALIFORNIA

Los Angeles will launch an ‘extreme heat campaign,’ says the city’s first heat officer. Marta Segura will work across city departments to help create an early-warning system for heat waves and develop long-term strategies to reduce heat exposure, such as planting trees and updating building codes.

El Monte cop killer had not been seen by L.A. probation officials for months before the attack. Justin Flores’ probation officer hadn’t seen him in person in more than six months, though the Los Angeles County probation department had received concerning reports about Flores. The L.A. County Office of the Inspector General and the civilian Probation Oversight Commission have been ordered to investigate the probation department’s handling of the case.

Newsom has a plan to keep the lights on in California — using fossil fuels. The bill would give the Department of Water Resources unprecedented authority to build or buy energy from any facility that can help keep the lights on during the next few summers, but it would also make it easier for solar and wind farm developers to sidestep local government opposition.

A Korean man’s shocking killing on the streets of L.A. sends his daughter searching for answers. To Cathy Lee, 40, her 70-year-old father’s killing was so random and vicious that it at first seemed like some bizarre nightmare. Then, she learned that the suspect is believed to have committed a similar attack on another Asian victim just days before.

A wildfire in rural Northern California burns in ‘dangerous’ terrain. The Rices fire started around 2 p.m. Tuesday in the area of Rices Crossing Road, north of the south fork of the Yuba River and west of the community of North San Juan. It had grown to 904 acres with 10% containment as of Wednesday night.

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NATION-WORLD

So, why is Turkey in NATO, anyway? A look at the country’s complex history with the alliance. In 1952, Turkey joined NATO hoping to ensure its security against the Soviet Union. That makes the problems NATO is having today with Turkey — its friendliness with Moscow, buying Russia’s weapons and refusing to join sanctions — all the more curious.

The Supreme Court rules a Texas veteran may sue to get his job back. The justices ruled an injured Iraq war vet may sue to get his job back as a Texas state trooper in accordance with a federal law guaranteeing that returning soldiers can reclaim their government positions. But the decision came over the dissent of four conservative justices.

The lone surviving attacker in the Paris massacre was found guilty of murder and sentenced to life in prison. The man was part of a team of Islamic State extremists that planned and carried out the 2015 bombings and shootings across Paris that killed 130 people in the deadliest peacetime attacks in French history.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

Singer R. Kelly was sentenced to 30 years in prison in a sex trafficking and racketeering case. An emotional sentencing hearing came more than nine months after a federal jury in New York convicted the “I’m a Flirt” singer on nine counts of sex trafficking and racketeering to recruit women, as well as underage girls and boys, for sex.

‘Cha Cha Real Smooth’ leans into authenticity with a filmmaker willing to criticize himself. Apple’s “Cha Cha” gives a boost to 25-year-old writer-director-actor Cooper Raiff and 18-year-old actor Vanessa Burghardt.

A nightmarish ‘Minions’ prequel is just under 90 minutes of pure chaos. The ‘70s references, and the relentless assault of ‘70s needle drops, are fun, to a point, but the movie itself is a hallucinatory, cacophonous fever dream of nonsensical subplots and Minion gibberish, our reviewer writes.

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‘Friends’’ lack of diversity ‘embarrassed’ its co-creator. So she made a $4-million decision. For a time, co-creator Marta Kauffman felt “Friends” was being unfairly singled out for the near-absence of people of color. But now she says she gets it, and to show it, she has established an endowed professorship at her alma mater’s African and African American studies department.

BUSINESS

Column: The big contributors to inflation you’re not hearing about: profiteering corporations. Worker-bashing remains the prevailing theme among inflation watchers, writes columnist Michael Hiltzik. But the expansion of corporate profit margins has far outpaced wage gains — and as long as the narrative focuses on wages, policymakers may make the wrong choices.

Gas-saving tips and tricks for Southern California road trips this Fourth of July. If you are driving to your holiday getaway, experts suggest that you travel at off-peak traffic times or on less popular travel days, or that you point your car toward a hidden gem closer to home.

OPINION

Drastically reducing nicotine levels will save a lot of lives. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has wanted to reduce nicotine levels in cigarettes since the 1990s. But now it has an administration willing to back the idea.

Brett Kavanaugh’s vote to overturn Roe shows again that he has a problem with the truth. Kavanaugh’s credibility was widely in doubt long before the he-said, she-said allegations of sexual assault that convulsed the country during his Supreme Court confirmation hearings and nearly killed his nomination.

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SPORTS

High school teams praying isn’t new, but football coaches are concerned by the Supreme Court ruling. The decision blurs the line between church and state in public schools. But for some coaches captaining high school programs, that line has long been hazy.

With Russell Westbrook returning, the Lakers enter free agency with little flexibility. The Lakers are now left to fill out their roster with limited financial options for a talent pool that most evaluators around the NBA believe is weak.

New Angel City forward Sydney Leroux says Kobe Bryant taught her to ‘never soften.’ Her decision to play for the U.S. rather than Canada made her the target of attacks and racial slurs in 2013, which she called out on social media. Around the same time, she met the Lakers legend and quickly forged a deep bond with his family.

ONLY IN L.A.

A bridge with undulating arcs along the sides
The 6th Street Bridge, designed by architect Michael Maltzan, in Los Angeles.
(Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times)

More than a bridge, Michael Maltzan’s 6th Street Viaduct addresses mistakes of L.A.’s past. Construction workers and engineers are putting the finishing touches on the new 6th Street Viaduct, an enormous, decadelong public works project — current tally: $588 million — that is set to open early next month.

It’s a project that has been scrutinized and dissected, hailed and assailed. Soon, it will beckon the public with a new form, a series of arches that bound effortlessly over a panoply of industrial sites just east of downtown, redefining the city’s skyline in the process. It also will attempt to soften the hard edges of transportation infrastructure, which have generally shown little regard for the communities in its path, columnist Carolina Miranda writes.

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FROM THE ARCHIVES

It has been 55 years since Jayne Mansfield died in a horrific late-night car accident on a Mississippi road. Mansfield was 34 years old. Three of her five children, including “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” star Mariska Hargitay, were riding in the back seat and escaped injury. Police at the time reported that she had been decapitated when the car she was traveling in hit the back of a truck, although that was later disputed.

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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