Today’s Headlines: Supervisors move to gain the power to unseat sheriffs

A woman speaks into a microphone. Behind her people hold signs including "Check the sheriff."
Lisa Vargas, the mother of Anthony Vargas, who was killed by deputies in 2017, speaks in downtown Los Angeles at a 2019 rally calling for more accountability for the Sheriff.
(Ana Venegas / For The Times)

By Laura Blasey and Amy Hubbard

Hello, it’s Friday, July 8, and here are the stories you shouldn’t miss today:


L.A. County supervisors are poised to ask voters for the power to remove a sitting sheriff from office

Under a proposed change to the county’s charter, which would need approval of voters in November’s general election, the board would assume the authority to force out a sheriff if four of the five supervisors agreed the sheriff was unfit for office.


The extraordinary move would fundamentally reshuffle the balance of power in the county and highlights the bitter and dysfunctional relationship between Sheriff Alex Villanueva and county leaders. Supervisors Holly Mitchell and Hilda Solis, both vocal critics of Villanueva, have proposed the plan, saying it is needed because the board has been “limited in its ability to serve as a sufficient check against the sheriff’s flagrant disregard of lawful oversight and accountability.”

A Sheriff’s Department spokesperson called the idea a “politically motivated stunt” designed to hurt the sheriff’s chances of winning reelection in November.

Shinzo Abe, former prime minister of Japan, is assassinated at a campaign event

Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, an arch-conservative and one of the country’s most divisive figures, died Friday after being shot during a campaign speech in western Japan. He was 67.

He was airlifted to a hospital, but officials said he was not breathing and his heart had stopped. Police arrested a suspect at the scene of the shocking attack. The country is one of the world’s safest and has some of its strictest gun-control laws.


The incident drew reactions from political leaders of other countries, including Iran, Spain, Italy, Germany, New Zealand, Australia, Singapore and the U.S.

The Supreme Court likes the separation of powers, but not of church and state

The Constitution is famously built on checks and balances, but nowhere does it specifically call for a “separation of powers” or insist on a “separation of church and state.” Those two widely understood legal concepts evolved over more than two centuries of rulings.

Today, however, the emboldened Supreme Court conservative majority is relying on one — separation of powers — to block progressive policies and regulations, even as it chips away at the other — the line between government and religion.

Defenders of church-state separation worry where the court is headed. “The more the government is allowed to promote religion, the more it will distort religion,” said Holly Hollman, counsel for the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty. “Christians should be concerned that religion will become just another tool in a politically divided nation.”

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We went grocery shopping

The Times went on a hunt for the most affordable L.A. grocery store. We checked prices at the 10 most-visited grocery store chains in the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim region, including Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and Food4Less.

We found: A gallon of whole milk can range in price from $3.59 to $4.99, depending on where you shop. A loaf of white bread sells for as little as $1.49 and as much as $3.99. A dozen large eggs can sell for $2.49 at one store and $3.99 at another. With a 15-item grocery list, our shoppers found the cost ranged from $79.65 at the high end to $48.88 on the low end. Plus: Here are 10 tips to save you money on your grocery run.

Brittney Griner pleads guilty to drug possession in a Russian courtroom

The abrupt guilty plea by the WNBA star and Olympic gold medalist — one that could see her sentenced to up to 10 years in prison — came amid growing calls for Washington to do more to secure her freedom nearly five months after her arrest in February amid rising tensions between the U.S. and Russia over Ukraine.

A senior Russian diplomat said earlier that no action could be taken by Moscow on Griner’s case until the trial was over, and her guilty plea could be an effort by her and her advisers to expedite the court proceedings.

In drought news: A year’s worth of missing rainfall, a water battle, and new restrictions on farms

Much of Northern California received only two-thirds of its normal rainfall for the last three years. Some places, such as Ukiah, Santa Rosa and Mount Shasta City, did even worse, logging about half or less of their normal precipitation.

Meanwhile, L.A. won a battle with Mono County as an state appellate court reversed a judge’s ruling that would have required the L.A. Department of Water and Power to conduct an environmental review before making annual decisions about deliveries of water on pastureland it owns east of Yosemite — a decision that dismayed both environmentalists and ranchers.

And California regulators have begun curtailing the water rights of many farms and irrigation districts along the Sacramento River, forcing growers to stop diverting water from the river and its tributaries.

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As monkeypox spreads in California, the LGBTQ community is demanding urgent action. Leaders are asking for a much more aggressive response to the virus from government and health agencies, saying shortages of vaccines and limited public outreach are exacerbating the outbreaks.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg announced a near $100-million award to upgrade terminals and improve roadways in California’s airports. Improvements include $10 million to Long Beach Airport for repaving and realigning the terminal loop; $24 million to San Diego International Airport for the demolition of Terminal 1 and the construction of a new one; $10 million to Norman Y. Mineta San José International Airport to improve compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act; and $50 million to LAX for a multiyear project to increase passenger capacity by reconfiguring and repaving roadways around the airport.

L.A. just banned cars from a major Griffith Park road. Is it the beginning of a road revolution? The movement caught momentum after the death of an experienced cyclist in April. The pilot program marks a major effort by Los Angeles — a place known as the capital of car culture — to reclaim some public roadways for bikes and pedestrians amid growing traffic deaths caused by cars.

A man trying to do “personal research” into the deaths of a hiking family was rescued after getting lost. Nearly one year after a family died on a remote trail in Northern California, a man from Michigan who tried to retrace their steps had to be rescued last week, drawing the ire of the local sheriff.

The oldest Magellanic penguin at San Francisco Zoo dies at 40. The estimated age of the male, named Captain Eo, was much older than the species’ average life expectancy of 20 to 30 years. He was believed to be one of the oldest penguins living under human care anywhere in the world.

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The EU is warning of a dire summer of droughts and fires worsened by climate change. With extremely dry weather hitting several Mediterranean nations, EU Commissioner Maros Sefcovic told legislators “the present drought in Europe could become the worst ever.” Fires ravaging huge swaths of countryside only exacerbated the climate crisis, he said.

The last abortion clinic in Mississippi closed its doors. Dubbed “The Pink House” for its bubblegum-pink exterior walls, the clinic had long been at the epicenter of the nation’s fight over abortion and the last bastion of reproductive rights in this staunchly conservative state. The Times’ Jenny Jarvie spent the clinic’s final day with its staff as they closed the doors for the last time.

Britain’s Boris Johnson, a man with “remarkable gifts” but an “absence of conscience,” was felled by his flaws. Johnson’s career was always one of extremes and it ended with a series of crises of his own making, as a trickle of ethics allegations became a flood that engulfed his government and turned his own party against him.

Derek Chauvin was sentenced to 21 years for violating George Floyd’s civil rights. The former police officer had agreed to a plea deal that called for a sentence of 20 to 25 years. He is already serving a 22½-year sentence on state charges of murder and manslaughter for pinning Floyd to the pavement outside a Minneapolis store for more than nine minutes even as Floyd pleaded, “I can’t breathe,” and became unresponsive.

Haiti’s struggles have worsened in the year since the slaying of its president. Not only have authorities failed to identify and arrest all those who masterminded and financed the killing of Jovenel Moïse, but Haiti also has gone into a freefall as violence soars and the economy tumbles.


James Caan, Oscar-nominated for his role as Sonny Corleone in “The Godfather,” has died at age 82. The actor was best known for his tough-guy roles, but he starred in a wide variety of beloved films. He was on Santa’s Naughty List as Walter in 2003’s “Elf,” and he sang and danced in 1982’s “Kiss Me Goodbye” and in 1975’s “Funny Lady.” In 1990’s “Misery,” he found himself at the mercy of Kathy Bates’ obsessed Annie Wilkes.

E3 will make its L.A. Convention Center comeback in 2023 with an online component too. The annual event returns three years after forgoing in-person gatherings due to the COVID-19 pandemic. An exec promised E3’s Los Angeles return would be “recognizably epic” and set “a new benchmark for video game expos.”

Anime fans are mourning the manga artist who created the Yu-Gi-Oh! universe. Kazuki Takahashi died in a diving accident on Wednesday. He was 60. He was best known for the classic manga comic that spawned a popular anime series and trading-card game of the same name.

Ray Liotta was perfectly cast in “Black Bird,” his final TV performance. In the series, “inspired by a true story,” he plays the father of a felon who goes undercover in a prison for the criminally insane. Beyond the remarkable subject matter, Liotta’s presence makes the series noteworthy, writes TV critic Robert Lloyd. He’s an old lion playing an old lion, still trying to do right by his son and somehow failing. Above all there is that singular, inborn mix of the rough and the sweet, a softness to his voice, his eyes, that from “Something Wild” on has provided a sort of complicating countermelody to the darker aspects of his less savory roles.

For fans of “The Chi,” these actors steal the show. No shock: They grew up on it. As Showtime’s drama marks its fifth season, Alex Hibbert, Michael Epps and Shamon Brown Jr. reflect on their friendship and coming of age on TV.


Former Theranos executive Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani was convicted of fraud. A jury found that Balwani collaborated with disgraced Theranos Chief Executive Elizabeth Holmes in a massive fraud involving the blood-testing company that once enthralled Silicon Valley. Both Holmes and Balwani face up to 20 years in prison.

Patients are turning to apps for therapy. But do digital mental health startups really help? Many U.S. adults aren’t able to find help because of a shortage of therapists. But the rapid proliferation of the online commercial therapy industry worries some mental health professionals.

Universal Studios Hollywood is updating an attraction for a movie that hasn’t yet been released. A new stop on the Studio Tour will debut the same day that Jordan Peele’s latest film, “Nope,” is released.


Op-Ed: USC and UCLA won ugly when they defected to the Big Ten. Just like that, some 100 years of tradition — a word used a lot by both universities — was out the window, essentially destroying the Pac-12 for the other 10 member universities. Welcome to yet another episode of “Follow the Money,” this one all about the millions the Big Ten’s TV deal allows it to parcel out among its member schools annually.

Op-Ed: How IVF could be derailed by abortion restrictions. In vitro fertilization and other fertility services seem separate from, even opposite to, abortion. And new post-Roe laws do not explicitly mention lab-created embryos. Yet many abortion bans define “unborn child” or “person” with reference to fertilization. Fertility patients and doctors are understandably nervous. Several IVF practices put embryos at risk, making the practice vulnerable to legal challenges in abortion-hostile states that view life as beginning at fertilization. Take selective reduction. IVF can result in a multiple pregnancy, which increases risk to the pregnant person and to the fetuses. Selective reduction is used to eliminate some embryos to continue the pregnancy with fewer fetuses.

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“Total package” Miguel Vargas was one of three Dodgers prospects selected for the Futures Game. The Triple A infielder, plus double A pitcher Bobby Miller and high A catcher Diego Cartaya, were all selected for the game, which will be part of the All-Star week festivities at Chavez Ravine. The New York Yankees were the only other team to have three players selected.

Rafael Nadal withdrew from a Wimbledon men’s semifinal because of a torn abdominal muscle. The 22-time Grand Slam champion had been scheduled to play Australia’s Nick Kyrgios today for a spot in the final. He aggravated the nagging injury Wednesday in his five-set quarterfinal victory over Taylor Fritz.

Q&A: Everything you need to know about the AVP Tour’s return to Hermosa Beach. For the first time since 2019, beach volleyball fans will flock to the South Bay to witness 16 men’s and women’s teams battle it out in the sand today through Sunday for the AVP Pro Series Hermosa Beach Open. Olympians and NCAA champions from the likes of USC and UCLA make up the teams headlining the free event.

Did you know that Wimbledon uses 55,000 tennis balls a year? So many elements of these glorious championships are ageless. The tennis balls, however, age like a pitcher of cream in the sun. Players punish these optic yellow Slazengers with such ferocity that the balls have to be replaced several times per match.

Did Larry Scott kill the Pac-12? The answer is more complicated than you might think. A year had passed since the former Pac-12 commissioner stepped down, yet people blamed him for the loss of USC and UCLA, two marquee programs, to the Big Ten. Though some gambles didn’t pay off, how much criticism does he deserve?


A glass container is lifted from over a cocktail glass. Smoke swirls around.
Start your day transforming your lawn, and end it with an Apples to Oranges cocktail.
(Photo by Michelle Groskopf / For The Times)

Get started tearing out your lawn. Yep, that’s a whole lot of work. But as lawns turn crunchy with water restrictions and drought, many Angelenos are looking to install lovely, much less thirsty landscapes. We dig into the process of DIY sheet mulching, a.k.a. lasagna mulching, which basically smothers your lawn under a ton of wet cardboard and mulch, creating a rich, healthy soil teeming with beneficial microbes busy devouring the decomposing grass and cellulose in the cardboard. The cost can be offset with a $2-a-square-foot rebate from the Metropolitan Water District ($3 a square foot in Orange County). We tell you how.

After a hard day’s yardwork, reward yourself with a dramatic new cocktail. Nostalgia Bar & Lounge in Santa Monica offers the Apples to Oranges cocktail, which contains terpenes. The scent-forward chemical compounds are found in a range of plants, including cannabis, and add an earthy or fruity bouquet. The show-stopping Apples to Oranges, a fruit-forward take on an old-fashioned, invites Insta immortalization. It is shrouded in a billowy, hypnotizing cloud of smoke generated by a gravity bong. “The second that $600 Stündenglass bong hits the bar, the phones come out. This is high drama in cocktail form,” reports Times Food writer Stephanie Breijo.


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L.A. Affairs: I signed up for online dating, and this happened. He said, “I look like a distinguished Tony Curtis.” The man she met? He wore a mismatched suit and a tie that had ketchup and mustard stains. Several of his hairs were combed from the back of his head forward. He was about 5 feet 3. Then there was the man she spent a lovely evening with who gently took her hand and looked her directly in the eyes. Then he explained he was married and in an unhappy situation. He didn’t have to say anything else. Are L.A. men really this extra? Los Angeles Times

Real estate is getting spooky, and no, it’s not just the high demand. Millions of would-be homeowners have found themselves competing against nearly impossible odds, with little confidence in their offers and little clarity when things don’t work out. But is it really just business? Is there any more they could have done? A subset of real estate agents offers buyers the practical advice with a side of spirituality, claiming to help the desperate break through the competition. These “woo-woo” agents write offers, and also preach “manifesting,” rituals and more to attract your dream home. Curbed

I’m lying on a table in Istanbul and a doctor I’ve never met is about to cut 4,250 holes in my head. He might be a doctor. I think he’s a doctor? The procedure will take six hours. I have no friends or family within 5,000 miles. ... So starts Alex Hawkins’ hair-transplant tale. The writer looks at why Turkey has become a hair-restoration hotbed while weaving in the particulars of being a patient: his worries about how the hairline would be drawn — “too low or too straight, then it could look fake, even cartoonish, for your age ... And if you draw it too high, well, that feels like leaving money on the table, right?” GQ

Did this Trump-loving, leopard-hunting dentist kill his wife? An investigation digs into the gripping case of Larry Rudolph, who built an empire based on pain-free dentistry, became a diehard trophy hunter, and was arrested in the death of his wife of three decades. Bianca Rudolph was killed by a shotgun blast inside their cabin while they were on safari in Zambia in 2016. Rudolph’s saga includes a longtime love triangle, multiple accusations of fraud — and a tale of a croc attack. “Larry grabbed his rifle and went fishing alone, downstream on the banks where the crocodiles roam. ‘I was bringing the fish in,’ Larry would say in a deposition. ‘When I reached for it, a crocodile came out and grabbed me and pulled me in, rolled me over.’ The river, the story goes, exploded. And that, Larry claims, is how a mighty snarling reptile bit off his thumb. Or at least the chunk by the nail, before he allegedly said that the croc — Larry’s attorneys later referred to it as an alligator — chomped on his jeans and pulled him back in the water.” Rolling Stone


A man in white tie and tails is handed a small statuette by a woman in a strapless gown and short white gloves.
March 21, 1956: Grace Kelly, Academy Award winner from the previous year, presents Ernest Borgnine with an Oscar for “Marty.”
(Los Angeles Times)

Ten years ago today, on July 8, 2012, film and TV actor Ernest Borgnine died in Los Angeles. He was 95. Borgnine won an Oscar for his role as a lonely Bronx butcher looking for love in the 1955 film “Marty.” That was on the heels of playing a sadistic sergeant in 1953’s “From Here to Eternity.” As The Times reported in his obituary, the actor had a seven-decade career in which he moved “easily from scoundrels and serious portrayals to a comedic role on the 1960s TV sitcom ‘McHale’s Navy.’” In his later years, Borgnine, along with his “McHale’s” costar Tim Conway, became known to younger audiences as the pair voiced the roles of Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy, respectively, on the animated children’s TV show “SpongeBob SquarePants.”

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