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Today’s Headlines: Firefighters battle Northern California’s McKinney wildfire

A woman leans against a fence next to a pool as a fire burns in the hillside above
Angela Crawford leans against a fence as the McKinney fire burns in the hillside above her home in Northern California’s Klamath National Forest.
(Noah Berger / Associated Press)

By Elvia Limón

Hello, it’s Monday, August 1, and here are the stories you shouldn’t miss today:

TOP STORIES

The battle intensifies against a Northern California wildfire

Firefighters were expecting triple-digit temperatures and thunderstorms that could set off dangerous conditions in the battle against an out-of-control fire near the California border with Oregon. The McKinney fire had ripped through more than 51,468 acres in the Klamath National Forest, destroying homes and threatening hundreds more in neighboring communities.

Officials said firefighters were prioritizing protecting Fort Jones, Yreka and other communities in the Highway 96 corridor. Highway 96 was shut along the Klamath River, where crews overnight worked to keep homes and buildings from burning, forest officials said in a social media update.

Some neighborhoods on the western side of Yreka were ordered to evacuate, though officials said they saw little progression on the fire’s edge closest to the city.

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More people are catching the coronavirus a second time

Emerging evidence suggests that catching the coronavirus a second time can heighten long-term health risks, a worrisome development as the circulation of increasingly contagious Omicron subvariants leads to greater numbers of Californians being reinfected.

Earlier in the pandemic, it was assumed that getting infected afforded some degree of lasting protection, for perhaps a few months. As the coronavirus mutates, though, that’s no longer a given. And each individual infection carries the risk not only for acute illness but also the potential to develop long COVID.

More top coronavirus headlines

  • As the pandemic drags on, cleaning up indoor air has become a passion project not just for aerosol scientists and epidemiologists, but also for citizens.
  • As the BA.5 subvariant has driven up coronavirus infections in L.A. County, contact tracers are only reaching a fraction of reported cases.
  • Several criticisms of Mayor Eric Garcetti and his office’s handling of L.A.'s emergency response to the COVID-19 crisis have been softened or removed from the final version of a report.
  • President Biden tested positive for the coronavirus for the second straight day, in what appears to be a rare case of “rebound” following treatment with an antviral drug.

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

Tens of thousands of students are missing from back-to-school rosters

Los Angeles Unified Supt. Alberto M. Carvalho estimates that between 10,000 and 20,000 students are not enrolled or stopped attending school last year, with the problem most pronounced in the youngest grades.

As school officials work to identify and enroll the children, the district also is scrambling to fill about 900 classroom teaching positions and find more than 200 bus drivers. Carvalho said he is optimistic that most of the vacancies will be filled by the Aug. 15 start of school.

The superintendent’s estimate of missing students is based on outreach efforts by district staff to families and on assessments from outside groups. Carvalho said he personally contacted or attempted to reach about 50 students who were chronically absent and their families in order to better understand the problem and asked 25 members of his senior staff to do the same.

America’s allies are watching the Jan. 6 hearings

Many of the televisions in Washington’s embassies have been tuned to the Jan. 6 committee hearings and the barrage of testimony detailing former President Trump’s plot to subvert the will of the electorate with help from an angry mob of his supporters.

But concern that America was adrift began increasing before the hearings, as Western allies saw the rise of nationalism and isolationism, and a sense of disenfranchisement among voters that was spreading to their own countries, according to interviews with American foreign policy veterans and diplomats, many of whom requested anonymity to speak candidly about an ally’s problems.

Despite the red flags, several diplomats said they saw the transition of power to Biden, however rocky, and the accountability brought by the Jan. 6 hearings as signs of resilience.

More politics

  • Kari Lake was a television news anchor in Phoenix for decades. Now, the Arizona gubernatorial candidate bashes the media as propagandists and uses her on-air savvy to rally Trump supporters.
  • Californians have contributed more to Republican Rep. Liz Cheney than donors from any other state, including her Wyoming home, as the outspoken Trump critic faces an increasingly perilous reelection bid.
  • Julian Nava, the first Latino elected to the Los Angeles Unified School District board of trustees and first Mexican American U.S. ambassador to Mexico, died Friday in San Diego of natural causes. He was 95.
  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s possible stop in Taiwan has riled Beijing, which claims the island democracy as its own territory.
  • Sen. Joe Manchin, one of the Democrats’ most conservative and contrarian members, declined to endorse Joe Biden if the president seeks a second term in 2024.
  • Viktor Bout, a Russian national and former Soviet army officer, was an equal-opportunity smuggler whose deliveries are alleged to be responsible for thousands of deaths. Today, his possible release from U.S. custody is at the center of a trade to free WNBA star Brittney Griner and another U.S. citizen.

Sign up for our California Politics newsletter to get the best of The Times’ state politics reporting and the latest action in Sacramento.

A dance with wartime destiny

In the sinewy 41-year-old ballet dancer’s telling, it wasn’t really such a grand jeté to exit the stage of an iconic opera house and enlist in the Ukrainian army. When Russian troops rolled into Ukraine more than five months ago, Vitaliy R., a longtime member of the corps de ballet at the Opera Theater in the Black Sea city of Odesa, didn’t even wait for the mobilization call to come.

Odesa — a onetime Russian imperial outpost, coveted strategic seaport, a quirky multicultural mélange redolent of salt air and tragic history — has always paired an artistic soul with a martial bearing. As the war grinds on, both are on full display.

Our daily news podcast

If you’re a fan of this newsletter, you’ll love our daily podcast “The Times,” hosted every weekday by columnist Gustavo Arellano, along with reporters from across our newsroom. Go beyond the headlines. Download and listen on our App, subscribe on Apple Podcasts and follow on Spotify.

OUR MUST-READS FROM THE WEEKEND

A little boy sits on a man's shoulders as he rides a tricycle
Zabih Khan, 27, keeps his 4-year-old brother Mojib entertained on a trip to the park. The two fled Afghanistan but their parents and other siblings are still there.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

An Afghan refugee plays three roles — mother, father, sibling — caring for his baby brother. The eldest brother of nine siblings, only Zabih Khan and Mojib, the youngest child, were able to escape Afghanistan as U.S. troops departed and the country fell to the Taliban. Zabih, 27, has struggled to balance jobs with child care. To save enough to pay rent and buy a car. To keep Mojib from crying for the family they left behind.

Nichelle Nichols, who played Lt. Uhura on ‘Star Trek,’ dies. A Black American cast as a master of 23rd century intergalactic technology, her role defied the typical portrayal of Black women as domestics or entertainers. When she contemplated leaving the show for a Broadway play after its first season, she was dissuaded by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Nichols suffered a stroke at her Woodland Hills home in 2015 and was struggling with dementia. She had been in a years-long conservatorship battle that pitted her son, Kyle Johnson, against a former manager and a close friend.

Several San Diego State football players allegedly raped a teen. Now, she’s speaking out. Now 18, the young woman at the center of a sexual assault scandal at the university spoke publicly for the first time, recalling details of what happened at the Oct. 16 party as well as her frustrations with the ongoing police inquiry and the lack of action by the university.

CALIFORNIA

A sewage "warning" sign posted on a beach
A sewage “warning” sign posted on the Silver Strand gives beachgoers discretion over whether to swim in the ocean.
(Joshua Emerson Smith / San Diego Union-Tribune)

Swim at your own risk: How safe are Coronado and Imperial Beach waters? San Diego County public health officials had for decades placed loud yellow and red placards telling people to stay out of the Imperial Beach and Coronado water. However, swimmers have had to make that choice for themselves since the July 4 weekend, when authorities started posting the new blue “warning” signs instead.

California banned the sale of kangaroo leather years ago. Lawsuits contest its continued presence. Former Gov. Ronald Reagan first signed legislation banning the sale of kangaroo meat and leather in 1970. Yet, “K-leather soccer cleats are openly sold throughout California by various retail stores,” states a recent lawsuit filed by two national animal welfare groups.

Is San Onofre’s nuclear waste destined for New Mexico? Last month, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission issued a final environmental impact statement that recommended granting a license to a proposed facility on land that is currently used for grazing cattle, in between the New Mexico towns of Carlsbad and Hobbs.

California exodus continues, with L.A. and San Francisco leading the way. California ranks second in the country for outbound moves. Citing changes in work-life balance, opportunities for remote work and more people deciding to quit their jobs, a report found that droves of Californians are leaving for states like Texas, Virginia, Washington and Florida.

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NATION-WORLD

Floods strike a new blow in an area of Kentucky that has known hardship. For many people who lost their homes, connections with family and neighbors will only grow in importance in the aftermath of the floods. Still, in a part of the state that includes seven of the 100 poorest counties in the nation, they may not be enough for people already living on the margins.

Prince Charles’ charity received a $1.2-million donation from the Bin Ladens, a report says. The Sunday Times reported that the Prince of Wales’ Charitable Fund received the money in 2013 from Bakr bin Laden, patriarch of the large and wealthy Saudi family, and his brother Shafiq. Both are half-brothers of the former Al Qaeda leader, who was killed by U.S. special forces in Pakistan in 2011.

Part of Beirut port silos, damaged in a 2020 blast, collapses. The 50-year-old, 157-foot-tall silos had withstood the force of the explosion two years ago, effectively shielding the western part of Beirut from the blast that killed over 200 people, injured more than 6,000 and badly damaged entire neighborhoods.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

Taylor Swift’s rep calls a private jet report ‘blatantly incorrect’ amid backlash. Don’t blame Swift for all the carbon dioxide emitted by her private jet, her rep insisted. “Taylor’s jet is loaned out regularly to other individuals,” a rep for the Grammy winner said in a statement provided to the Los Angeles Times.

‘The Unofficial Bridgerton Musical’ is officially being sued. It started off so well. A fan-made TikTok musical tribute to Netflix’s “Bridgerton,” heating up into a lush suite of songs in a concept album with roses from the streamer. Now, Netflix is suing the creators of “The Unofficial Bridgerton Musical” for copyright and trademark infringement following the project’s move to live, paid performances.

‘DC League of Super-Pets’ takes No. 1 with $23 million at the domestic box office. The superhero spinoff about Superman’s dog earned $23 million from 4,314 locations, according to studio estimates. Though slightly less than expected, it was still enough to capture the first-place spot and knock Jordan Peele’s “Nope” into second place in its second weekend.

Succeeding as often as it stumbles, ‘Sharp Stick’ marks the return of Lena Dunham. Dunham’s newest intimate and vulnerable coming-of-age sex comedy follows Sarah Jo (Kristine Froseth) a 26-year-old home care aide living on the edges of Hollywood with her mother, Marilyn (Jennifer Jason Leigh), and sister Treina (Taylour Paige).

BUSINESS

Disneyland has been raising food prices. Blame inflation. Some customers have also complained about portions shrinking — something a Disney executive suggested during an earnings report last year might be enacted to help save money, but which the company denies doing.

OPINION

The debt crisis that sick Americans can’t avoid. Little public attention has been focused on what is, statistically at least, a bigger, broader debt crisis in our country: An estimated 100 million people in the U.S. — 41% of all adults — have healthcare debt, compared with 42 million who have student debt.

We’re not as pious as we used to be, and this terrifies Justice Alito. The Supreme Court is intent on breaking down the wall that separates church and state. Samuel A. Alito Jr. is doing more than his part to help, writes Times columnist Robin Abcarian.

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SPORTS

Bill Russell, legendary Celtics center and NBA coach, is dead at 88. Russell was professional basketball’s first Black superstar and a game-changing big man who reinvented the center position with the dynastic Celtics of the late 1950s and ’60s. A cause of death wasn’t given, nor did a family statement say where he died.

Thomas Cole left UCLA football after a suicide attempt. He hopes his story helps others. Through intensive therapy, he lost the urge to inflict unspeakable harm upon himself. Adjusting his medication also helped, and so did meditation. Mostly, he learned to express how he was feeling. After months of withdrawing from others, Thomas now immerses himself in daily conversations with family and friends.

Tony Gonsolin and James Outman lead the Dodgers to a series-clinching win over the Rockies. Gonsolin improved to 12-1 and Outman went three for four with a home run and three RBIs in his Dodgers debut in a 7-3 win. The team is now 68-33 on the season.

ONLY IN L.A.

How do you make friends in Los Angeles? We asked our readers to tell us how they did it. They responded with a fire hose of charming stories about dating apps, coffee shops, dog parks, desert raves and everything in between.

However, for every endearing tale of found families, there was a cry for help. The words “fake” and “flaky” came up more than a few times. “L.A. is filled with vapid, career-climbing wannabes that have opportunistic motives,” said one particularly passionate responder. Another remarked woefully on the “sheer loneliness of Los Angeles life.”

To these despondent few, we offer the following advice: Don’t give up. We’ve gathered 19 of the quirkiest and most delightful L.A. friendship stories to inspire you to get back out there.

FROM THE ARCHIVES

A man interviews another man on camera in a crowded room
MTV’s Mark Goodman interviews comedian Eddie Murphy at the premiere of the movie “Purple Rain” in 1984.
(Ellen Jaskol / Los Angeles Times)

Here’s something that might make Gen Xers and millennials feel old: MTV was launched 41 years ago. CNN and HBO were already running. A cable exec and rock ‘n’ roll fan named John Lack eventually convinced the Warner Amex Satellite Entertainment Co. that a channel showing prerecorded music clips would besot teenagers and therefore pimple cream and soft drink advertisers. The television network — a business and technology experiment — launched in 1981 with 250 music videos.

For a number of years, when there were few cable channels and music videos were a novelty, MTV’s ratings were competitive with other major cable networks, The Times reported in 1994. It was promoted as a beachhead for channel surfers. During commercials on other channels, people were encouraged to flip over to catch a quick music video on MTV, the first real channel for the remote-control age.

Viewers tend to associate the brand with popular reality programs such as “The Real World” and “Jersey Shore” rather than award-winning dramas. However, its bailiwick has expanded in recent years under the leadership of Chris McCarthy, a longtime executive at Paramount Global, the cable programming giant formerly known as ViacomCBS. The growing umbrella of the MTV group now covers dramas such as “Yellowstone,” TV’s most-watched scripted series in 2021, The Times’ Ryan Faughnder reported in May.

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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