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Today’s Headlines: Extreme heat adds a new dimension of danger for firefighters

A firefighter sprays a hose on a hillside. In the background, water falls from a helicopter.
A firefighter works on hot spots while battling the Route fire in Castaic on Wednesday.
(Ringo H.W. Chiu / Associated Press)

By Amy Hubbard and Jason Sanchez

Hello, it’s Friday, Sept. 2, and here are the stories you shouldn’t miss today:

TOP STORIES

Firefighters on the front lines are succumbing to extreme heat

Theirs is a challenging job under any circumstances: Firefighters wear flame-resistant shirts, jackets and pants. They hike up and down hills amid flames and smoke, carrying around 50 pounds of gear that includes drinking water, portable fire shelters, chain saws and shovels.

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Now climate-change-fueled extreme heat is adding a new dimension of danger. Experts say the combination of extreme dryness, soaring temperatures and hotter, faster wildfires is putting first responders at increasing physical risk. In 112-degree weather, seven firefighters battling the Route fire near Castaic were hospitalized with heat-related illness.

Also:

  • Firefighters battling a 4,400-acre blaze in San Diego County made progress amid the blistering heat.
  • The Southern California heat wave continued to break records, with Sandberg at 99 degrees, Palmdale at 109 and Lancaster at 112.
  • The Red fire and Rodgers fire, both caused by lightning strikes, have burned more than 5,000 acres in Yosemite.

What the end of the Pelosi era could cost California

Now in her second stint as House speaker, Nancy Pelosi has relentlessly promoted progressive California-backed policies on topics such as climate change, drought and healthcare. But some think she might retire after the midterm.

The prospect of her departure has some Californians pondering what it will mean for the state’s influence in Washington. More alarming for some accustomed to California Democrats’ outsize influence is that Pelosi might be handing the gavel to fellow Californian Kevin McCarthy. His Republican Party’s policies are often diametrically opposed to those supported by the state’s liberal leadership and most of its residents.

More politics

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

Reading and math scores nationwide fell sharply during the pandemic, data show

Math and reading scores for America’s 9-year-olds fell dramatically during the first two years of the pandemic, according to a new federal study — offering an early glimpse of the magnitude of the learning setbacks dealt to the nation’s children.

The declines hit all regions of the country and affected students of most races. But students of color saw some of the steepest decreases, widening the racial achievement gap.

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CALIFORNIA

A man wasn’t given a bed in L.A. County jails for two nights. A judge just declared a mistrial. The attorney for the defendant — who was facing life in prison — said his client was losing focus during the trial and unable to help with his own defense. “There is absolutely no way, if there was a conviction, that it would stand,” said the Superior Court judge.

Jewelers victimized in a Brink’s heist told of their devastation: “I was torn apart.” In interviews with The Times, they described a business built on handshake deals, generous favors and well-earned trust. It’s work that hinges on artful salesmanship and requires long days competing for customers — but also fosters a sense of camaraderie among jewelers who have made it a way of life. Now a July 11 heist at a trade show in San Mateo has upended this tightknit community.

The deaths of thousands of fish in the San Francisco Bay Area have been blamed on a toxic red tide. The carcasses of fish and other marine life are washing ashore, and experts say the die-off may be due to a harmful algae bloom that has been spreading in the region since late July.

Students are waiting months for mental health help. “We’re bombarded,” a counselor said. Legions of California students need immediate help but can’t get it in a state where the ability to deliver school-based mental health counseling and intervention is profoundly lacking. A massive influx of state dollars and pandemic relief funds is available to build mental health programs, but the labor force simply is not available — and there are few quick fixes, experts said.

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NATION-WORLD

The CDC endorsed booster shots that target Omicron for Americans 12 and older. The U.S. will replace most of its COVID-19 booster shots with updated versions that target the dominant Omicron strains and streamline its ongoing vaccination campaign, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced.

U.N. inspectors reached a Ukrainian nuclear plant despite fierce fighting. A 14-member inspection team of experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency entered the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant on a mission to safeguard it from catastrophe. The plant has been occupied by Russian forces but run by Ukrainian engineers. Ukraine alleges that Russia is using the plant as a shield, storing weapons there and launching attacks from around it, while Moscow accuses Ukraine of recklessly firing on the area.

Restrictions on carrying guns in public in New York have gone into effect. People are no longer allowed to bring guns to schools, churches, subways, theaters, amusement parks and other places in the state.

Hawaii shut down its last coal-fired power plant. The state has mandated a complete transition to renewable energy by 2045. Like other Pacific islands, the Hawaiian chain has suffered the cascading effects of climate change. The state is experiencing the destruction of coral reefs from bleaching associated with increased ocean temperatures, rapid sea-level rise, more intense storms and drought that is increasing the state’s wildfire risk.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

Ana de Armas on the role of a lifetime. Marilyn Monroe’s troubled life story has inspired numerous scripted and nonfiction productions. Now, Cuban actor De Armas is adding to the canon with her fictionalized portrayal of Monroe in “Blonde.” “Everything in the way she moved, the way she spoke, her tone, her breathiness, her facial expressions ... it was all connected to her emotions,” said De Armas.

Feist left the Arcade Fire tour after allegations against Win Butler. In an Instagram post, singer-songwriter Leslie Feist announced that she’d no longer open for Arcade Fire on its European tour, citing recent allegations of sexual misconduct against that band’s frontman. Feist’s exit from the tour comes as Canadian and U.S. radio stations begin to pull Arcade Fire’s music from their playlists.

Inside the preposterous task of writing original songs for TV. Creatives from 12 beloved shows, from ‘Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’ to ‘Rap S—,’ explain how they surmounted what may be the medium’s most daunting challenge.

L.A.’s history of Black-Korean relations inspired a debut novelist. At the heart of Ryan Lee Wong’s “Which Side Are You On” is a 21-year-old college student set on dropping out to devote himself to the Black Lives Matter movement. On a visit back home, Reed and his mother zip around L.A. and embark on a series of transformative talks about organizing, racial justice and historical traumas. The story was inspired by Wong’s parents’ roots in activism.

BUSINESS

Hudson Pacific bought Quixote Studios in a $360-million deal. The Los Angeles-based real estate company said it expected the takeover of Quixote — whose clients include HBO, Walt Disney and NBC Universal — would help it meet growing demand for soundstage space. Quixote operates studios in West Hollywood and Pacoima and near Griffith Park.

Hazards of filming in cities are all too real, location managers say. The halting of an Apple TV+ production last week in Baltimore was a reminder of potential hazards that crews face as they film in neighborhoods where they may not always be welcomed by residents and business owners. Earlier this summer, threats or acts of violence disrupted filming in cities across the country.

L.A. gas prices set a Labor Day weekend record high. The average gas price for a gallon in California and Los Angeles was $5.25 on Thursday, according to the Automobile Club of Southern California. The U.S. average was nearly $3.83 a gallon, down about a nickel in the last week largely because of lower oil prices.

OPINION

Op-Ed: The nuanced political views among diverse Latino voters are overlooked. As the second-largest group of voting-age Americans, with many not solidly aligned with either party, Latino voters can be a powerful and stabilizing force in American politics. But misconceptions about this voting community persist. For instance, a new poll found that Latino voters highly value self-reliance, but also believe that government has an important role to play in ensuring a level playing field.

Op-Ed: A Ukrainian nuclear plant is under attack. We can’t risk another Chernobyl. Since this year’s invasion of Ukraine began, Russia has revealed military ineptness and poor leadership. By placing troops at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, it also demonstrates ignorance. Do Russian leaders not realize that prevailing winds blow from west to east? Nuclear radiation particles and vapor would head toward Russia.

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SPORTS

John McEnroe reflects on his life as tennis’ bad boy. Tennis legend John McEnroe, subject of a new documentary on Showtime, hasn’t forgotten his grudges against the chair umpires and linespeople who heard his wrath while they called the matches that catapulted him to No. 1 in the world for 170 weeks and 155 men’s tour titles, still a record. He cringes when he watches those outbursts, but he hasn’t disowned them.

Can USC’s Caleb Williams win the Heisman? In the debate over whether USC is “back” under Lincoln Riley, one important factor should be considered: When USC is USC, its top players win Heismans. Period. For the next two seasons Caleb Williams, USC’s much-hyped quarterback transfer from Oklahoma, will be among the favorites to win the Heisman. What will it take for him to do it in 2022?

YOUR WEEKEND

Close up of Puttanesca spaghetti, with a red sauce, fresh basil and tomato.
Puttanesca at Mother Wolf got the thumbs up from actor Alison Brie.
(Dania Maxwell / Los Angeles Times)

Eat pasta like Alison Brie. Our colleague in Food Jenn Harris went on a pasta crawl with the actor known for her roles in shows including “Mad Men” and “Community.” She spent months in Italy for her new film “Spin Me Round.” Stops included Osteria la Buca for mezzelune pasta and puttanesca pasta at Mother Wolf, which was a hit: “Oh, my God,” said Brie, “the freshness of the tomato and the saltiness from the anchovy is so subtle. The olives are great and this is unlike any tomato sauce I’ve ever had.”

Celebrate the “Maestro of the Movies.” An annual tradition continues as legendary composer John Williams again joins the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl for selections from his classic movie scores — think “Star Wars,” “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and “Jaws” — accompanied by film clips. More details in this week’s Culture Guide.

WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

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

If anyone was going to save this world, it was Kevin Cooper. At 14, he “had just published his autobiography. He was making plans to expand his 350-acre farm to buy up surrounding farms to convert to regenerative agriculture. He was saving money to build a house for his parents and another for his autistic older brother. He was polishing a movie script and a series of children’s books teaching business literacy for kids. He was looking for a celebrity to endorse his line of luxury toiletries made from the milk of his goat herd. He was breeding heritage turkeys. He was writing guest essays for notable bloggers higher up the political food chain.” Kevin, killed in a kayaking accident, was the only member of his small family who wasn’t disabled. His parents are trying to come to terms with the loss of a kid whom they said they didn’t raise; he raised them. Deseret News

This is what it’s like to be Taiwanese American right now. Taiwan’s complex geopolitical and ethnic history came to the nation’s attention in May after a gunman opened fire on a Taiwanese church congregation in Laguna Woods, killing one and wounding five. As details emerged about the Taiwan-born suspect and his political beliefs, Taiwanese Americans found themselves explaining a subject that takes paragraphs, not sentences, to get straight. Some who grew up in the U.S. realized they needed to learn more themselves before answering friends’ questions. Los Angeles Times

FROM THE ARCHIVES

A woman with white blond hair and dramatic makeup and wearing a sparkling gown leans against a railing.
Jean Harlow in a photo from the 1930s.
(Associated Press)

Ninety years ago this month, on Sept. 5, 1932, Jean Harlow’s husband Paul Bern was found dead of a gunshot wound in their Benedict Canyon home.

In The Times, news of the death of the MGM executive ran under the headline “Bern Death Mystifies.” The account told of “a cryptic note in Bern’s handwriting … ‘Dearest dear: Unfortunately this is the only way to make good the frightful wrong I have done you and to wipe out my abject humiliation.’”

Bern’s death was ruled a suicide, but what was more shocking was the discovery that the 22-year-old blond bombshell wasn’t his only wife. “While MGM went to work spinning the story to protect their star, police were seeking a paper trail,” wrote SFGate in 2019. It was found that Bern was still married to Dorothy Millette, whom he was supporting financially. After news spread of Bern’s death, Millette checked out of the San Francisco hotel where she’d been staying and booked passage on the Delta King riverboat. That night, she jumped overboard; her coat and shoes were found on the deck.

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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