Today’s Headlines: Challenger Robert Luna has lead over L.A. County Sheriff Villanueva, poll shows

Retired Long Beach Police Chief Robert Luna, left, and Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva
Retired Long Beach Police Chief Robert Luna, left, and Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva debate ahead of the Nov. 8 general election.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

By Elvia Limón

Hello, it’s Monday, Oct. 3, and here are the stories you shouldn’t miss today.


Challenger Robert Luna has a lead over L.A. County Sheriff Villanueva

In the race for Los Angeles County sheriff, retired Long Beach Police Chief Robert Luna has a 10-point lead among likely voters over the incumbent, Alex Villanueva, a new poll shows.


With little more than a month until the Nov. 8 runoff election, 36% of likely voters said they plan to support Luna, while 26% said they favor Villanueva, according to the poll by the UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies and co-sponsored by the Los Angeles Times. (“Likely” voters are those who have voted in a recent election and expressed a high interest in voting in November.)

The poll found that 36% of likely voters remain undecided.

More politics

  • With election day just over five weeks away, Times columnist Mark Z. Barabak peers into our crystal ball — which is foggier than a summer morning in San Francisco — and answers questions.
  • Rick Caruso has made significant progress in the race for L.A. mayor, closing a large part of the gap with Rep. Karen Bass since August. However, the businessman still trails by double digits among the people who are likeliest to vote.
  • President Biden signed into law a bill that finances the federal government through mid-December and provides another infusion of military and economic aid to Ukraine.

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Hackers release data after LAUSD refuses to pay a ransom

Hackers released data from the Los Angeles school district after Supt. Albert Carvalho said he would not negotiate with or pay a ransom to the criminal syndicate. Screenshots from the hack were reviewed by The Times and appear to show some Social Security numbers. But the full extent of the data breach remains unclear.

The release of data came two days before the deadline set by the syndicate that calls itself Vice Society — in apparent response to what it took as Carvalho’s final answer regarding whether the district would pay the hackers to prevent the release of private information and to receive decryption keys to unlock some district computer systems.


The new coronavirus subvariant BA.2.75.2 tops concerns

As officials in California and beyond try to assess how severe a fall-and-winter coronavirus wave may be, one key factor is the growth of several new subvariants.

It’s too soon to say whether any will rise to prominence in the way Omicron and Delta did. None have been documented in significant numbers in California or the nation. Still, experts say another super-spreading subvariant — combined with more people being indoors when the weather gets cold — could bring new challenges.

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

The biggest victim of the great California water crisis

As California fast approaches what is likely to be a fourth year of punishing drought, residents are being asked to cut water use to historic lows. While city dwellers are rising to the occasion, urban consumption represents only a small fraction of total water use in the state.

Where the rest of it goes depends on whom you ask. The California Department of Water Resources says 50% of the state’s water goes toward environmental purposes, 40% toward agriculture and 10% toward urban areas.

But experts say that calculation tells only part of the story, especially because the environment’s share tends to shrink dramatically during dry years. Instead, a clearer picture begins to emerge when you consider water designated for domestic and business use. Of that, 80% goes toward agriculture and 20% toward urban areas.

The major cases before the Supreme Court this fall

Here’s a look at some of the major cases to be heard by the Supreme Court in the term beginning today.

Race and college admissions: Are Harvard and the University of North Carolina violating the Constitution and federal civil rights law by giving an edge to qualified Black and Latino applicants and by discriminating against Asian American students?

Race and voting rights: Does the Voting Rights Act call for fair and equal representation for Blacks and Latinos, sometimes requiring states to draw election districts likely to elect a Black or Latino candidate?

Religion, free speech and gay marriage: Does a Colorado website designer who is a conservative Christian have a free-speech right to refuse to work on wedding plans for a same-sex couple, or does this discrimination violate the state’s civil rights law?

Read more about the cases here.

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A woman at a protest
Glaucia dos Santos attends a protest in Rio de Janeiro with other family members of those killed by police.
(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

‘The police come here to hunt’: Brazilian cops kill at 9 times the rate of U.S. law enforcement. Police killed 6,145 people in Brazil last year, according to the nonprofit Brazilian Forum on Public Safety — an average of almost 17 a day and nearly triple the 2013 total. In Rio de Janeiro state, killings by police accounted for nearly a third of all homicides. Most took place in favelas, former squatter settlements founded by ex-slaves that remain predominantly Black and have few state services and a heavy gang presence.

‘Blacklisted’ Afghan interpreters were disqualified from U.S. visas. Now they’re in hiding. The rapid and disorganized exit from Afghanistan a year ago left many people in danger under Taliban rule. Among them are interpreters, who refer to themselves as “blacklisted” and say they were unjustly barred from getting visas promised to Afghans who helped the United States. Advocacy groups such as the International Refugee Assistance Project say thousands have been affected.

An L.A. journalist’s suicide still confounds, years later. ‘Can we ever understand that?’ Scott Timberg was one of approximately 47,500 Americans who took their lives in 2019. Like the thousands of suicides that occur each year, Timberg’s death was unique. Yet the stresses he lived with are the signature of the suicidal impulse. Experienced separately, they might not have led to his death, but in unison, they overcame him.


Jaywalking is decriminalized in California. A law that goes into effect Jan. 1 comes years after activists have argued that jaywalking rules disproportionately affect marginalized and low-income residents.

Madame Sylvia Wu, famed Westside restaurateur who served the stars, dies at 106. For decades, Madame Wu’s Garden in Santa Monica was where smartly dressed Hollywood A-listers huddled in the Imperial Room, with its jade and rose quartz statues, while birds chirped in antique cages and koi slowly glided in the elegant fountain. Wu is survived by sons George and Patrick and numerous grandchildren. Her husband died in 2011; the two had been married 67 years.

Child-care workers’ college costs are covered under a new San Diego County program. San Diego County education officials are paying $1 million for dozens of early childhood teachers to get free higher education. The initiative, launched this fall, covers tuition, books, fees and any other costs for an associate degree or child development permit for at least 80 child-care workers in the county.

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Mexico is the world’s deadliest place for environmental activists, a report says. The murder of Indigenous land defenders often conjures up images of Amazon activists killed deep in the jungle; Colombia and Brazil account for many of the deaths. But according to the report by the nongovernmental group Global Witness, Mexico saw 54 activists killed in 2021, compared with 33 in Colombia and 26 in Brazil.

Brazil holds a historic election, with former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva vying against President Jair Bolsonaro. Brazilians are voting in a highly polarized election. Bolsonaro’s administration has been marked by incendiary speech, his testing of democratic institutions, his widely criticized handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and the worst deforestation in the Amazon rainforest in 15 years. Da Silva is credited with building an extensive social welfare program but is also remembered for his administration’s involvement in vast corruption scandals.


After a major cast shake-up, ‘SNL’ confronts its weaknesses — but can’t overcome them. When it returned this weekend for its 48th season, the granddaddy of all sketch shows ripped itself apart before anyone else could. It was a clever way to address the challenges the storied NBC show faces, with the loss of a sports team’s worth of cast members between seasons.

Critics of Netflix’s controversial ‘Dahmer’ open up about the lack of ‘respect.’ Set off by a viral Twitter thread by Eric Perry, a relative of Jeffrey Dahmer victim Errol Lindsey, the series has been accused of profiting from the trauma suffered by those Dahmer murdered — many of them LGBTQ+ people of color — and those who survive them.

Here’s the true story behind the unique bond of ‘The Silent Twins.’ The twins, who began to refuse to speak to anyone except each other at an early age, were considered strange by their community and the British press, but director Agnieszka Smoczyńska wanted to showcase how they expressed themselves through the art they created and the novels they wrote.


Here are some strategies to survive inflation. If you are working, you can cut back. You can (at least temporarily) stop saving for long-term goals. Or you can find ways to earn more money. To cut back thoughtfully, separate your monthly expenses into necessities and discretionary spending.


I’ve seen how reading banned books can enrich kids’ education. Certainly, parents should have the right to choose the books their kids read. But parents calling for books they find offensive to be pulled from library shelves, or to be permanently removed from the curriculum, are claiming overly broad rights. They’re deciding what all kids can read, not just their own kids. And these days, it’s not just parents demanding book bans, writes the Times’ Minerva Canto.

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The Angels and Shohei Ohtani reach a $30-million contract for 2023; José Suarez excels in a win. Ohtani’s $30-million contract is a record for an arbitration-eligible player, worth $3 million more than what Dodgers star Mookie Betts received from the Red Sox in 2019 (one year, $27 million). And Suarez kept the Rangers and the Angel Stadium crowd on their toes in his final start of the season.

At least 174 were killed as Indonesian soccer fans stampeded after a match. Riots broke out after the match ended with host Arema FC of East Java’s Malang city losing to Persebaya of Surabaya 3-2. Disappointed after their team’s loss, thousands of Arema supporters, known as “Aremanias,” reacted by throwing bottles and other objects at players and officials. The rioting spread outside the stadium, where at least five police vehicles were toppled and set ablaze.


The bold letters of the Mojave Desert Land Trust sign outside its headquarters on Highway 62 in Joshua Tree.
(Jeanette Marantos / Los Angeles Times)

Head to Joshua Tree to buy these rare native plants before they’re gone. You’ll see it just east of Yucca Valley, along the busy Twentynine Palms Highway: a mysterious sign with four red letters — MDLT — underlined by a fat arrow pointing north. It’s only when you’re closer to the sign that you‘ll see the illustration of a Joshua tree arcing against a bright-blue sky, signaling that you’ve arrived at the headquarters of the Mojave Desert Land Trust.

You’ll need these directions, and an early wakeup call, if you plan to attend the Land Trust’s biannual native plant sale Oct. 8, which features solely plants that grow in the high and low lands of the Mojave Desert.

The sale is short — from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. — but eager buyers start lining up before 8 a.m., said a spokeswoman, “and when we open the doors, they run.”


O.J. Simpson whispers to Defense attorney F. Lee Bailey
O.J. Simpson whispers to attorney F. Lee Bailey during the testimony of FBI special agent William Bodziak in Simpson’s murder trial in Los Angeles.
(AFP/Getty Images)

O.J. Simpson was acquitted of two counts of murder 27 years ago, setting the football Hall of Famer free 474 days after he was arrested and charged with the double homicide of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman.

Nicole Simpson and Goldman were knifed outside her Brentwood condominium on June 12, 1994, a foggy summer evening in an otherwise quiet neighborhood. O.J. Simpson pleaded not guilty to the crimes, but he was the only suspect, and members of both victims’ families came to believe that he was responsible for the murders.

In 1997, he was ordered to pay more than $33 million for their wrongful deaths.

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