Today’s Headlines: On California’s arid archipelago, the wildlife thirst

Closeup of a bison.
A bison (safely photographed from within a vehicle) stands on dry brush and dirt on Catalina Island, where animals are suffering amid the drought.
(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

By Laura Blasey and Amy Hubbard

Hello, it’s Friday, Aug. 5, and here are the stories you shouldn’t miss today:


Saltwater toilets and struggling wildlife on Catalina

California and its Channel Islands — a rugged, eight-isle archipelago that hosts several human outposts and a handful of species that exist nowhere else on Earth — are in the grips of a severe drought. On Santa Catalina Island, a desalination plant has meant less deprivation for the 4,000 human inhabitants. Still, conservation has become a way of life, and water is something of an obsession among residents.


Meanwhile, the island’s flora and fauna — including the famed Catalina Island fox, as well as the island’s non-native deer and bison — are “suffering mightily” due to the lack of moisture, which is tied closely to their food supply, said one conservation official. The island’s ancient ironwood trees, of which there are only about 120 left, are also under threat.

The Biden administration has declared monkeypox a public health emergency

The administration made the declaration in an effort to raise awareness and accelerate efforts to combat the outbreak. Several localities, including San Francisco and Los Angeles, as well as states such as California, Illinois and New York, have already declared emergencies.

A national emergency declaration allows federal agencies to direct more funding toward developing and testing vaccines and other drugs, unlock emergency funding reserves and enable the hiring of additional workers. The administration held off on a second emergency order that would fast-track other potential treatments and vaccines, which under such a declaration no longer require the usual federal reviews.

Sinema and Democratic leaders have reached a deal


Sen. Kyrsten Sinema said she would support moving forward with Democrats’ health, tax and climate bill, a strong sign that the party will be able to advance some of its major policy priorities before the midterm election. The Arizona Democrat’s vote is needed to pass the agreement hammered out between Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) and Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.).

The bill would allow the federal government to begin to negotiate drug prices in Medicare and would help combat the climate crisis, two major political priorities that Democrats are hoping to run on this fall.

More politics

  • Viktor Orban, Hungary’s autocratic leader, urged cheering American conservatives to “take back the institutions,” stick to hardline stances on gay rights and immigration and fight for the next U.S. presidential election as a pivotal moment for their beliefs.

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Brittney Griner was sentenced by a Russian court to 9 years in prison

The WNBA star was convicted of drug possession and sentenced following a politically charged trial that came amid soaring tensions between Moscow and Washington over Ukraine and that could lead to a high-stakes prisoner exchange between the two world powers.

President Biden denounced the verdict and sentence as “unacceptable.” He added that he would continue to work to bring home Griner and Paul Whelan, an American imprisoned in Russia on an espionage conviction.

Alex Jones has been ordered to pay Sandy Hook parents more than $4 million

A Texas jury ordered the conspiracy theorist to pay the compensatory damages to the parents of a 6-year-old boy who was killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre. It’s the first time the Infowars host has been held financially liable for repeatedly claiming the deadliest school shooting in U.S. history was a hoax staged in the interests of increasing gun controls.

The parents testified about enduring a decade of trauma, inflicted first by the murder of their son and what followed: gunshots fired at a home, online and phone threats, and harassment on the street by strangers. They said the threats and harassment were fueled by Jones and his conspiracy theory spread to his followers via his website Infowars.

The Austin jury must still decide how much Jones must pay in punitive damages.

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A fiery multi-car crash left five dead in Windsor Hills. Among those killed was a pregnant woman and an infant. Surveillance video shows a Mercedes-Benz barreling down La Brea Avenue at high speed as dozens of cars cross the intersection on Slauson Avenue. The Mercedes runs a red light and slams into cars, then bursts into flames and hurtles into a light pole, where it comes to rest.

Tom Girardi’s epic corruption exposes the secretive world of private judges. A Times investigation drawing on newly released internal firm records found that his unethical practice depended on private judges, who occupy a secretive corner of the legal world. Girardi’s reliance on them raises questions about whether there are enough safeguards in this highly confidential and largely unregulated industry to protect the public from predatory attorneys.

Citing L.A. as a model, Riverside has banned homeless camps in the Santa Ana River bottom. In an effort to address a burgeoning unhoused population and increasing fire risk, the Riverside City Council approved the ban on camping or sleeping in areas where undeveloped vegetation runs up against homes.

A lawsuit is alleging corruption and fraud in a long-delayed L.A. Valley college theater project. It’s billed as one of the most expansive theater and media arts spaces among community colleges in California. But since its 2016 groundbreaking, the project has been beset by troubles. It’s four years behind schedule. It has racked up $12 million in unanticipated costs. And now, it’s the subject of a lawsuit.

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More than a million people could die waiting for green cards as U.S. immigration buckles amid COVID. Unprecedented delays processing millions of visas, work permits, green cards and naturalization petitions, as well as cases languishing in immigration courts, are so severe that experts say they can’t be resolved without significant reforms. The human cost could be profound, according to researchers.

Louisville officers are facing federal charges in the drug raid that led to Breonna Taylor’s death. U.S. Atty. Gen. Merrick Garland announced federal charges against the four for violating Taylor’s civil rights. Taylor, a 26-year-old Black medical worker, was shot to death by Louisville officers who knocked down her door in a botched attempt to execute a search warrant.

Polio was detected in New York. But most people don’t need to worry. An unvaccinated person was identified in New York’s Rockland County as having polio; wastewater samples taken there detected poliovirus. About 1 in 200 people who contract poliovirus will present with paralysis as one of their symptoms. Officials have urged those who are unvaccinated to get their shots.

Russia is trying to fabricate evidence in POW deaths in Ukraine, the U.S. says. Intelligence officials have determined that Russia is looking to plant false evidence to make it appear that Ukrainian forces were responsible for the attack on Olenivka Prison that left 53 dead and dozens more wounded, a U.S. official familiar with the intelligence finding told the Associated Press.


How Issa Rae’s hot new comedy perfected the social media aesthetic. The world created by the filmmakers behind HBO Max’s “Rap S—” gives viewers an authentic social media experience. With fast-moving phone shots and unflattering angles, the series brings to life an emerging film language. But it couldn’t have been accomplished without the creative team collaborating and experimenting.

An old art form gets a fresh approach on the L.A. comedy scene. What exactly is “clowning,” especially in 2022? A new generation of performers wants to take the art beyond children’s birthday parties. The levels of absurdity that modern clowns aspire to often go further than other disciplines in comedy, demanding a level of commitment that sacrifices any notion of being explicitly clever or cool.

Jennifer Coolidge has been a big deal for years. Now, she’s starting to believe it. Too long “best known” as “Stifler’s Mom, the original MILF” from “American Pie,” or Paulette from “Legally Blonde” (films that came out more than 20 years ago), Coolidge, at 60, is finally having the moment her career deserves, writes columnist Mary McNamara. She recently sat down with the actor to talk about Coolidge’s career hits and recent Emmy nomination.

It has its sharp moments, but “Bodies Bodies Bodies” could use a few corpse corrections. The smirky, squirmy comic freakout is kind of funny and kind of scary, if ultimately neither funny nor scary enough to keep the two modes from canceling each other out as director Halina Reijn tries to pull off something appreciably ambitious here: the nihilistic crowd-pleaser, writes film critic Justin Chang.

Warner Bros. Discovery gave more details about its plan to combine streaming services HBO Max and Discovery+ into one offering. The company is seeking a more disciplined strategy to succeed in the streaming wars amid wild speculation about its future. Executives said a merged version of the two streamers would begin to roll out in the U.S. next summer. The company did not say what the new service would be called.


More California cities are backing $25-an-hour minimum wages for healthcare workers. Here’s why. Following in the steps of Los Angeles, Downey and Monterey Park, the Long Beach City Council approved an ordinance in a preliminary vote. The City Council’s approval comes after renewed efforts by labor unions to improve the living standard of healthcare workers across the country.

If rising prices are stressing your finances, here are some things you can do. Economists are divided over whether a recession is looming. What’s clear is that economic uncertainty isn’t going away anytime soon. There are a few steps that could help. Among them: Negotiate your monthly bills. Since the pandemic many companies have become more flexible with users. Also: Start budgeting. (Check out The Times’ eight-week newsletter course, “Totally Worth It,” for details on how to set up a budget.)

A dip in mortgage rates. Whew! Mortgage rates in the U.S. slipped below 5% for the first time in almost four months, giving borrowers a reprieve after this year’s rapid surge.


Column: How Joe Manchin got his superpowers. Manchin has his swing voter clout thanks to a reliably divided Senate and “conservative Democrat” views, writes Nicholas Goldberg. So what makes some people willing to shift their loyalties while others stand firm? The positive view is they’re willing to compromise; the negative is that they’re wishy-washy, self-interested, unprincipled or uninformed. In fact they can be any or none of those things.

Op-ed: Iran’s robust protest culture has deep roots. The 116-year-old Persian Constitutional Revolution spawned the country’s long tradition of protest, seen in recent demonstrations over cuts to food subsidies. Although the 1906 revolutionaries lifted some of their language and ideas from Europe and the U.S., the movement was grounded in more than a century of Persian political thought. The result was an indigenous democratic movement that led to a freely elected independent parliament and a constitution guaranteeing basic rights for all Iranians.

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“Vin Scully was my childhood.” Our colleagues in Sports asked readers for their memories of late Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully. They had some great ones. A Red Sox fan recalled Scully calling Game 6 of the 1986 World Series: “Little roller up along first. Behind the bag! It gets through Buckner! Here comes Knight and the Mets win it!” It was devastating, he said, but hearing it from Scully made it “(almost) bearable.”

Mike Trout has continued to make progress in his recovery and return from a back injury. The Angels center fielder has not played since getting pulled from the middle of a game against Houston on July 12 with back spasms. Now he’s day to day, doing rotational work in preparation for swinging the bat again.

Meanwhile, Clayton Kershaw exited the game with lower back pain as the Dodgers swept the Giants. The left-handed pitcher’s injury overshadowed the team’s win, dealing an already banged-up Dodgers pitching staff another potential blow to one of its most important starters.

The window for LeBron James and the Lakers to extend his contract with the organization opened amid an offseason full of change for the franchise. James is eligible for a two-year contract extension. Will he seek the maximum or give L.A. a more favorable deal?


Closeup of a glass dish with creamy dessert that's been scooped out.
Big & Boozy Panna Cotta served family style with peaches and plums.
(Silvia Razgova)

Fix a creamy, cold panna cotta. When it’s hot, you want desserts that are chilled and waiting in the fridge, ready to serve. Panna cotta is great for that — but the individual ramekins? Not so much. Columnist and Cooking newsletter author Ben Mims has created a family-style panna cotta you can serve up like ice cream. “I pride myself in making an iteration that gets the perfect Goldilocks texture, where the panna cotta can stand up as a solid but is smooth and luxurious when you spoon and eat it.”

Make a new friend and go on a friend date. Los Angeles is one of the best-known cities in the world, famous for celebrity sightings, gorgeous beaches, warm winters — and a tricky social scene. We’ve gathered 19 of the quirkiest and most delightful L.A. friendship stories to inspire you to get back out there. Sometimes it’s being in the right place at the right time, but sometimes you have to take matters into your own hands.

And when you do meet someone, here are The Times’ favorite spots for friend dates to deepen your relationships. Just make sure you set good boundaries — it’ll make you a better friend!


Note: Some of the sites we link to may limit the number of stories you can access without subscribing.

Living in a doomed paradise where the sea consumes cottages, cliffs and the A&W Drive-Thru. Quebec’s Magdalen Islands have been walloped by climate change, with waters rising fast and winters warming at twice the global mean. Sea ice used to form long enough — and strong enough — for motorists to access one island via an ice bridge. With ever more powerful winter storms, coastlines have been rapidly and dramatically retreating. Armoring the coastline means compromising its beauty. Revegetation of dunes may provide some hope as locals try to improve the fate of their beaches. Hakai Magazine

The fallout from stars’ private-jet short hops. Megastars including Taylor Swift, Jay-Z, Kylie Jenner and Drake have been weathering intense criticism after a flight-data analysis of their private jet use, which pointed up some flights of less than 20 minutes. One expert noted that emissions per passenger mile are much higher for private jets compared with fuel-efficient commercial planes and electric cars. But the fuel economy of a private jet with a reasonable number of passengers might be comparable to a single person driving a Ford F-150 pickup. Washington Post


An older man sits among teenagers of different races.
May 16, 1981: Dick Clark sits with the audience while introducing acts on “American Bandstand.”
(Los Angeles Times)

Sixty-five years ago today, on Aug. 5, 1957, “American Bandstand” began airing nationally. In the pages of The Times on Nov. 16, 1958, This Week Magazine tried to explain the popularity of the show’s host, Dick Clark — a “wholesome, good-looking, junior-executive type young man.”

“He doesn’t sing, he doesn’t wiggle, yet he’s the biggest thing in the teen-age world today. And parents love him, too.” The article noted Clark’s popularity was tied up in his show, which “points its cameras at a throng of youngsters dancing blissfully to such airs as ‘Itchy Twitchy,’ ‘Blip Blop,’ ‘Splish Splash’ and ‘Skinny Minnie.’”

The Philadelphia TV show relocated to Los Angeles in 1964. In 1973, The Times wrote of Clark: “He was the boy wonder of the Howdy-Doody generation. And then he turned that Beechnut grin on parents. Adults who were scared and confused by this rock fervor were soothed by Clark’s slicked-down boyishness, and as a result they not only let their kids watch but, more important, let them buy the music.” Clark and “Bandstand” held incredible sway and shaped the music industry. The show aired, in total, from 1952 to 1989.

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