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Today’s Headlines: California advocates say Newsom’s veto doesn’t shut door to safe injection sites

A woman placing photos on a collage
Shannon Knox, 38, places the photos of overdose victims at a makeshift memorial on International Overdose Awareness Day outside City Hall.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)
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By Elvia Limón

Hello, it’s Monday, Sept. 19, and here are the stories you shouldn’t miss today:

TOP STORIES

L.A. advocates say veto doesn’t shut door to safe injection sites

Gov. Gavin Newsom recently vetoed a state bill that would have allowed supervised sites for people to inject drugs to be launched through pilot programs in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Oakland. The decision disappointed and enraged activists who argue that such sites are desperately needed to save lives. But it has not halted their plans, local officials and activists said.

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In San Francisco, City Atty. David Chiu said he would support a local nonprofit moving forward with such a site. In Los Angeles, advocates and officials have been strategizing about what happens next.

Safe consumption or overdose prevention sites have long been established in other countries as a way to prevent people from dying of overdoses. As deaths from drug overdoses have soared, claiming more than 100,000 lives annually across the country, the idea has started to gain traction in the United States as well.

More politics

  • Private polling shows Proposition 26 running behind and likely to lose along with a vastly different sports betting initiative, Proposition 27. One reason for Proposition 27’s failure is its barrage of disingenuous TV ads, writes columnist George Skelton.
  • Gov. Gavin Newsom challenged his Florida counterpart, Ron DeSantis, to a televised debate, escalating his criticism of Republican governors’ mass transport of migrants to liberal bastions as “reprehensible” and possibly illegal.
  • Los Angeles mayoral candidates Karen Bass and Rick Caruso both have plans to tackle the city’s homeless issue. Listen to this episode of The Times podcast.

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

A nurse’s hidden mental struggles and a deadly L.A. crash

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Minutes before the fiery crash in Windsor Hills that killed five people last month, Nicole Linton was not making sense, her older sister said. FaceTiming with Kim Linton while driving her Mercedes-Benz, Linton would start speaking and stop after a few words. Worried, she called sibling Camille Linton with an urgent message. By then, it was too late.

The crash shocked Los Angeles and left many trying to understand how the woman they knew as a kindhearted nurse with a bubbly personality could be involved in such a horrific chain of events.

Linton’s family said she has struggled with bipolar disorder since 2018. Few but her closest confidantes knew about her diagnosis. Linton’s disorder occasionally manifested, her family said, with manic and sometimes aggressive behavior toward restaurant workers, neighbors, boyfriends and police. She seemed almost unrecognizable during those times, her sisters said.

COVID is still killing hundreds a day, even as society moves on

Americans have been urged to learn to live with the coronavirus, but this summer, hundreds were still dying from it each day. The death toll has fallen from the grim peaks of past surges but has persisted in recent months, averaging more than 400 lives lost a day from June through August, according to data from the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.

At that rate, COVID still amounts to one of the biggest causes of death in the U.S., even as public officials herald the availability of vaccines and treatments. The coronavirus “no longer controls our lives,” President Biden said this spring and summer. His COVID-19 coordinator has stated that most COVID deaths are now preventable.

Yet in Los Angeles County, more people died of COVID between May and July this year than during the same months last year. The virus claimed the lives of nearly 800 people in L.A. County in those months, compared with nearly 500 a year earlier. Elderly people bore the brunt of that increase, with a death rate that had tripled among people who had reached their 80th birthday.

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More top coronavirus headlines

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

A plan for a surf lagoon sparks outrage

In a part of the Coachella Valley where exclusive neighborhoods wrap around lush golf courses and ponds, a stretch of open desert could be transformed into a new sort of artificial oasis.

A developer has plans for hundreds of homes and a resort featuring a surfing lagoon. If La Quinta’s City County endorses the proposal, the sandy ground at the base of the Santa Rosa Mountains would become the site of a 12-acre pool where surfers could take off on sculpted lines of peeling waves.

A group of residents has organized to fight the proposed wave pool, and one of their primary concerns is water. They argue that, with the Colorado River in a shortage and the Southwest getting hotter and drier with climate change, the area can’t afford to have millions of gallons of precious water filling the giant water feature.

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Women are fueling flag football’s surging popularity

Flag football has quickly blossomed. The global appeal of the National Football League has helped fuel flag football’s rise, but the only thing the two sports share is the shape of the ball.

Flag football is typically played with five people on a side on a field about two-thirds the size of an NFL gridiron, which makes for a wide-open game played at a breakneck pace. That also makes speed, agility and creativity more important than size or brute strength, a reason women and girls are flocking to the game in huge numbers.

The California Interscholastic Federation, which governs high school sports in the state, is considering a proposal to certify flag football as a varsity sport. Six states have taken that step, and at least 20 others are exploring it. The NFL is also on board.

Check out "The Times" podcast for essential news and more.

These days, waking up to current events can be, well, daunting. If you’re seeking a more balanced news diet, “The Times” podcast is for you. Gustavo Arellano, along with a diverse set of reporters from the award-winning L.A. Times newsroom, delivers the most interesting stories from the Los Angeles Times every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Listen and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts.

OUR MUST-READS FROM THE WEEKEND

People hiking in a canyon.
U.S. Geological Survey biologist Elizabeth Gallegos leads her team on a hike to release Southern California mountain yellow-legged frogs into a pair of remote creeks in the San Gabriel Mountains.
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

Rare yellow-legged frogs are returned to the drought-hammered San Gabriel Mountains. The yellow-legged frog thrived for thousands of years in hundreds of streams cascading year-round down the San Gabriel, San Bernardino and San Jacinto mountains. Today, federal biologists say, about 200 yellow-legged frogs are barely hanging on in isolated wild populations along a handful of hard-to-reach streams. The biologists originally planned to release frogs into three streams on Thursday. One of them, however, evaporated in August.

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Hurricane Fiona makes landfall in powerless Puerto Rico. Fiona hit about 15 miles south-southeast of Mayaguez with maximum sustained winds of 85 mph, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center. Anxiety ran high across the island with Fiona due just two days before the anniversary of Hurricane Maria, a Category 4 storm that hit on Sept. 20, 2017, destroying the island’s power grid and causing nearly 3,000 deaths.

She’s 86. She’s 28. They love their hang time as the wallpaper queens of Los Angeles. Reita Green, a former dancer and actress, has become best friends with wallpapering partner Beverly Pate, who’s 58 years her junior. Since 1960, Green has run her own wallpapering business — lugging buckets, ladders and a folding table from her car to her clients’ homes by herself, well into her 80s. But a few years ago, even the Wallpaper Queen had to acknowledge that eventually, she might need some help.

CALIFORNIA

Brink’s heist mystery: Questions about a timeline that ‘doesn’t make any sense.’ It has been more than two months since the multimillion-dollar heist of jewelry from a Brink’s big rig. This much is known: A Brink’s big rig loaded with the wares of jewelers participating in the International Gem and Jewelry Show departed the San Mateo County Event Center on July 11 for a storage yard about 370 miles south in downtown L.A. From there, the players in the case disagree.

Suspension was rescinded for an L.A. journalism teacher who refused to censor a student article. Adriana Chavira was facing a suspension of three days without pay over the article about employees who declined to follow the L.A. Unified School District’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate. Chavira stood behind her students’ reporting and refused to change the story, citing a California law that protects student journalists from censorship.

Did a seal attack a triathlete off Malibu? Video captures encounter with the animal. The athlete, Vasco Vilaca, was not seriously injured in the encounter off Zuma Beach, according to a post by Super League Triathlon. Vilaca said he also got cuts on his hand while grabbing the animal’s mouth to try to pry himself loose after it wouldn’t let go.

Armenians protest U.S. assistance to Azerbaijan’s military forces. More than 100 people gathered outside the Azerbaijani Consulate in Los Angeles demanding an end to attacks by Azerbaijan forces in a disputed border region with Armenia and Artsakh, where an estimated 200 people were killed in the past week.

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NATION-WORLD

The Bidens were among the thousands paying their respects to Queen Elizabeth II. President Biden signed the official condolence book and attended a reception Sunday at Buckingham Palace hosted by King Charles III. He is one of 500 world leaders and royals invited to the queen’s state funeral at Westminster Abbey, along with hundreds of British charity workers.

Ukraine alleges torture at a village near the Russian border. Ukrainian authorities say a dank basement behind the local supermarket was a makeshift prison where Russian forces abused detainees before Ukrainian troops swept through the border village of Kozacha Lopan in a major counteroffensive in the Kharkiv region this month.

The EU proposes to suspend billions in funds to Hungary. The European Union’s executive branch recommended that the bloc suspend about $7.5 billion in funding to Hungary over concerns about democratic backsliding and the possible mismanagement of EU money.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

People looking up during a celebration at an intersection
From left, Alejandra Fernández, daughter of Mexican ranchera legend Vicente Fernández; Los Angeles City Councilman Kevin de León; Fernández’s widow, Maria del Refugio Abarca Villaseñor; and other relatives are among those celebrating the renaming of a Boyle Heights street segment after the late entertainer Friday.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

Vicente Fernández, king of ranchera music, is honored with a Boyle Heights street naming. The length of Vicente Fernández Street stretches about 400 feet from the edge of Mariachi Plaza to the gates of Adventist Health White Memorial Hospital. Fernández is the second ranchera legend whose name graces Bailey Street. Pioneering singer Lucha Reyes has a statue in Mariachi Plaza and signs along Bailey Street, placed in 2014, welcoming visitors to Avenida Lucha Reyes.

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‘The Woman King’ takes North American box office throne. The Viola Davis-led action epic easily conquered the North American box office in its first weekend in theaters, against a crowded market of new releases. The film, directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood, surpassed expectations and earned $19 million in ticket sales, according to estimates.

‘The Fabelmans’ looks like this year’s Oscar front-runner, but here’s why that’s complicated. With three major fall festivals now over, most of the year’s awards contenders have been revealed, and Steven Spielberg is sitting at the top of the heap. For now, writes entertainment columnist Glenn Whipp.

‘Let’s just call it what it was’: Chrissy Teigen says her miscarriage was actually an abortion. In September 2020, Teigen took to social media to document the difficulties she endured during that pregnancy. “Let’s just call it what it was: It was an abortion,” Teigen said, as reported by the Hollywood Reporter. “An abortion to save my life for a baby that had absolutely no chance. And to be honest, I never, ever put that together until, actually, a few months ago.”

BUSINESS

An L.A. judge halts claims by a script supervisor against ‘Rust’ producers. The litigation is being closely watched as one of several civil cases being brought against the producers of the western, where Alec Baldwin accidentally discharged a prop gun that fatally wounded cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and injured director Joel Souza.

How to practice good credit card hygiene to avoid getting hacked. Many online retailers and web browsers offer to save your card information to make purchases easier. Refusing this option — and deleting your stored cards from browsers and retail accounts — means less convenience but more security.

OPINION

Think it’s righteous to abstain from voting when you don’t like the choices? Think again. By not voting you could leave people unrepresented and unprotected. Nonvoters are credited for Donald Trump’s win over Hillary Clinton in 2016. Not voting had a definite outcome. “It wasn’t my fault” is a selfish argument when you could have made a choice for the greater good, contributing writer Diana Wagman says.

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SPORTS

College football review: How Lincoln Riley’s hot USC start affects Nebraska, Urban Meyer. USC is being rewarded for chasing Riley. Nebraska fans are envious of the Trojans’ rapid makeover, pushing them to overlook Urban Meyer’s flaws. USC, no matter what happens from here in 2022, is evidence that the right head coaching hire can paint an entirely new and refreshing trajectory after one strategic offseason.

Canelo Álvarez defeats Gennadiy Golovkin and thanks him ‘for three great fights.’ Álvarez, 32, wore a gold crown and a smile. He had Golovkin wait four years, until after the Kazakh’s 40th birthday, to complete their trilogy and he ended it with a convincing, unanimous-decision victory to remain the undisputed super-middleweight champion despite fighting with a ligament tear in his left wrist that could require surgery.

After a stroke nearly killed her at 14, Dakota Lam perseveres in life and golf. Few understand, really, what Dakota has gone through: memory loss, speech deficiency, headaches that feel like needles stabbing her brain. But she shrugs it off, hiding it all behind a happy-to-be-here smile. Golf can bring Lam pain, but it’s also her happy place, a present free of the worry over an uncertain future.

ONLY IN L.A.

Where did L.A.’s phantom towns vanish? Ever driven around the vastness of Greater Los Angeles and seen the freeway offramp for the town of Gladysta? Or Terracina? How about the San Gabriel River town of Chicago Park — literally in the San Gabriel River? If you saw them, you might not have passed a Breathalyzer test. Those towns never existed, writes columnist Patt Morrison.

The county of Los Angeles embraces more than 4,000 square miles. Within those miles are now 88 incorporated cities, Los Angeles chief among them. But here’s a vanishing act for you: There were once at least 100 towns laid out here, all ready to welcome the big wave of settlers from points east who created the region’s big real estate boom just over a century after the city was founded in 1781.

Some were actual burgs that grew and dwindled, were annexed or swallowed up. Some were “dream towns” imagined by real estate developers, planned and platted and sold, but never born.

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FROM THE ARCHIVES

Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev among a crowd of people
Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, center, in Vienna in 1961.
(Los Angeles Times)

Sixty-three years ago, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev learned that he would not be allowed to visit Disneyland.

Not long after his jet airliner touched down LAX in 1959, the burly Russian made two requests: One was to visit Disneyland; the other was to meet John Wayne, Hollywood’s top box-office draw. However, security concerns and the Cold War prevented the world leader from visiting the fantasy-inspired mecca of American consumerism.

Khrushchev’s visit marked the first time a Soviet leader set foot on U.S. soil. His whirlwind 20-hour Los Angeles journey, part of a six-day, coast-to-coast tour, is better remembered for the Kremlin boss’ bumptious antics than for his talks with President Eisenhower at the White House and at Camp David.

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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