Today’s Headlines: Police are making fewer stops but finding more contraband, Times finds

A police officer leans on the driver's side window of a car.
L.A. Police Officer Jason Goode issues a traffic warning in Encino in October.
(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

Hello, it’s Monday, Nov. 14, and here are the stories you shouldn’t miss today:


This is why minor police encounters have plummeted in Los Angeles

Pull a driver over for a minor infraction. Use something vaguely suspicious to justify a search. Hope to find drugs or weapons.

Police officers have been trained for decades in tactics for pretextual stops. Now, L.A. police must have a reason to suspect a more serious crime is afoot before initiating a pretext stop and are required to record their reasoning on body camera beforehand.


A Times analysis shows that, since the new policy took effect, officers are making far fewer pretextual stops but finding illegal contraband more often.

All eyes are on Biden and Xi ahead of the superpower showdown at the G-20 summit

President Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping will meet today on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit and again try to repair the world’s most important bilateral relationship. China and the U.S. have clashed over economic competition, security, human rights and Beijing’s tacit support for Russia’s war in Ukraine.

On the topic of Taiwan, Biden has said the U.S. would defend Taiwan militarily if China attacked. In response, China’s military launched missile tests, warships and planes around Taiwan for several days, imposed sanctions on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and cut off all communication with the U.S.

Their upcoming confab is “a very good development,” said one professor of government. “They are at least talking.”


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For some COVID patients, ‘Paxlovid rebound’ has nothing to do with Paxlovid

Americans have been quick to embrace the idea that the antiviral drug is to blame for COVID-19 relapses in people just days after they’ve seemingly recovered. President Biden was said to have experienced Paxlovid rebound this summer, after White House doctors declared him coronavirus-free. The same thing happened to Dr. Anthony Fauci and Stephen Colbert, among others.

It’s tempting to presume a cause-and-effect relationship between two things that occur in quick succession. But researchers are not so sure Paxlovid rebound is real. Relapses have occurred in COVID-19 patients who didn’t take the drug. Doctors fear some patients who could benefit from Paxlovid are skipping it in an effort to avoid a boomerang bout — which is troubling because the medication has been found to powerfully reduce the risk of hospitalization or death.

How the war in Ukraine has raised hopes in Venezuela and bolstered its strongman president

The sense of despair in Venezuela has receded ever so slightly as the government of President Nicolás Maduro has backed away from leftist orthodoxy and the war in Ukraine has boosted oil prices and given him more leverage on the international stage.

Few here would say times are good — not when 90% of Venezuelans remain mired in poverty, the minimum wage is about $15 a month and inflation recently topped 200%. But many have taken note of improvements: wider availability of food, more reliable electricity, water and telephone service, sufficient supplies of gasoline, and fewer people fleeing.

Capt. Hollywood: The ex-LAPD boss who tipped off CBS to the Moonves assault claim

Tall and telegenic, Cory Palka scored bit parts in Amazon Prime Video’s detective drama “Bosch.” The former police commander was a regular at Hollywood Boulevard star dedication ceremonies. He was once honored as a “Hero of Hollywood” by the Chamber of Commerce, and he picked up a lucrative off-duty assignment as a bodyguard for CBS’ former chief, Leslie Moonves.

New York’s attorney general recently revealed that, five years ago, Palka tipped off CBS executives to the existence of a confidential complaint alleging Moonves sexually assaulted a co-worker in the 1980s. Palka, then captain of the LAPD’s Hollywood station, worked closely with CBS to contain the allegations they knew could destroy Moonves’ career.

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Is California on its way to banning rodeos? For some, a rodeo highlights the skill, bravery and strength of participants — a rider deft with a lasso, in control of wild, bucking animals, and laser-focused on a chaotic task at hand. For others, the rodeo is a horror show in which terrified animals are chased around an arena, kicked by strangers, tossed onto the ground with potentially bone-crushing impact while music blares and people yell and clap from the stands. In California, there is a growing movement to ban — or seriously curtail — these kinds of performances. And lawmakers are stepping into the fray, exposing one more hot-button issue seemingly emblematic of the nation’s growing cultural discord.

In Ukraine’s power-starved capital, there are glimmers of light amid the darkness. With winter’s gloom beginning to settle over the country, Kyiv is plunged nightly into near-darkness by rolling power cuts meant to help preserve an energy infrastructure devastated by Russian drone and missile strikes. President Volodymyr Zelensky has accused Russia of trying to break his compatriots’ spirits by plunging them into cold and darkness. Instead, morale has soared. On Friday, rejoicing broke out across Ukraine as a Russian pullback from the strategic southern city of Kherson marked the latest in a string of defeats for Moscow’s forces. Also: Zelensky vowed to keep driving out Russian forces after the success in Kherson.


A woman stands in front of a mural of a man in military uniform.
“Awakening”: The story of Eureka’s mass expulsion of Asian immigrants is told. Above, Mary Chin with a mural depicting late husband Ben Chin; when he moved to Eureka, he was said to be the first Chinese American to move there in seven decades.
(Myung J. Chun/Los Angeles Times)


San Diego city and county officials plan to pursue stricter penalties for fentanyl dealers. Mayor Todd Gloria said he would issue an executive order this month that includes pursuing legislation that would enhance criminal sentences when fentanyl sales result in injury and death. The maximum sentence for selling fentanyl is three years, even if it leads to a fatal overdose. Meanwhile in San Bernardino, authorities seized 100 pounds of fentanyl pills.

Watch out for the winds. Moderate to strong Santa Ana winds are expected to continue throughout the week in Southern California. Forecasters predict gusty winds Tuesday to Thursday with a slight pause before another round of strong gusts Saturday and Sunday. Residents should brace themselves for downed trees, power outages and fire weather issues in Ventura and Los Angeles counties.

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A Sandy Hook memorial opened nearly 10 years after the massacre that killed 20 first-graders. The memorial was designed as a peaceful place of contemplation. Paths with a variety of plantings lead to a water feature with a sycamore tree in the middle and the victims’ names engraved on the top of a surrounding supporting wall.

Mexican immigration officers are set to begin inspecting northbound travelers in the border wait line. The move highlights Mexico’s escalating role in helping the U.S. control migration to the United States. Mexican officials say it’s an attempt to speed up border crossings. With Mexican immigration officers filtering out travelers without valid documents before they get to the United States, U.S. officials could redirect resources to staffing more travel lanes.


Marvel’s “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” dethroned DC’s “Black Adam” at the domestic box office. The highly anticipated sequel to 2018 blockbuster “Black Panther” shattered the domestic opening weekend record for the month of November, amassing $180 million in ticket sales in the U.S. and Canada, according to estimates from measurement firm Comscore.

Budd Friedman has died at 90. Friedman earned the nickname the godfather of comedy by founding and expanding the Improv, one of the most prominent comedy club franchises in the United States.

Dave Chappelle targeted Kanye West, Donald Trump and others on “Saturday Night Live.” NBC and executive producer Lorne Michaels faced criticism for giving Chappelle a spotlight in light of what were called transphobic comments on his 2021 special, “The Closer.” But Chappelle’s comments fell far short of the rawness he had expressed in previous routines.


Flexible spending account use-or-lose deadlines are back after a pandemic hiatus. The rules about spending FSA money were loosened after the COVID-19 pandemic hit, but not all employers opted in to those changes. Check deadlines, and make sure you spend the money before it’s gone forever, writes certified financial planner Liz Weston.


Why L.A. needs a larger City Council. One Los Angeles council district has roughly the same population as St. Petersburg, Fla., or Laredo, Texas, cities that have eight council members each. Outdated districts, each covering about 34 square miles, are a key reason why city government just doesn’t seem to function.

10 ideas for fixing Los Angeles. With new leadership coming to City Hall, The Times asked civic leaders for ideas on how to make L.A. government better able to solve problems. Among them, from former Councilmember Michael Woo: Create an independent inspector general for City Hall.

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Commentary: UCLA’s choke job robbed L.A. of a grand return to college football’s big stage. With UCLA administrators praying for UC regents who meet Wednesday to let them leave for the Big Ten without real punishment, the Bruins could not have behaved more like a Pac-12 football team that suddenly had legitimate aspirations for the College Football Playoff. What is more Pac-12 than losing a home game to a 3-6 team (now 4-6! Bear Down, Wildcats!) at the exact moment a clear path to national relevance opened up?

Column: That thud was the Rams. The reigning Super Bowl champion dropped to the bottom of the NFC West, a stunningly swift plunge even for a team that was bound to face the physical and mental challenges that usually follow a title run, writes columnist Helene Elliott.


A man in a tie-dye shirt walks in front of a bookstore decorated to look like a row of oversized books.
“They tried to burn me down,” said Iliad Bookstore owner Dan Weinstein, outside the North Hollywood shop.
(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

A beloved book emporium has bounced back. The Iliad Bookshop in North Hollywood was saved on Nov. 3 when a passerby saw flames lapping at the building’s off-street entry and called 911. Owner Dan Weinstein said firefighters told him the quick response prevented the fire from engulfing the building.

The reverence for the decades-old bookstore whose owner, Weinstein, has dedicated his life to the Grateful Dead — and books — manifested quickly when he set up a GoFundMe page asking for $5,000 to cover his insurance deductible. The response has topped $34,000, sparing him the need to file a claim at all, he said.

Weinstein, whose parents operated bookstores, opened his own in 1987, and while his chain competitors were falling to competition from Amazon and cavernous secondhand stores were dying out, he thrived with a faithful customer base of buyers and sellers coming from all over the city. With his stock growing, he moved to larger quarters in 2007, laid the floorboards and built the bookshelves that now hold about 150,000 volumes, adding furnishings that supply the ambiance of a Gertrude Stein salon. More here.


A performer holding a long staff and wearing heavy makeup stands on stage against a red background.
Performer Fuschia portrays Rafiki in “The Lion King” at the Pantages in 2000.
(Los Angeles Times)

Twenty-five years ago today, on Nov. 14, 1997, Disney’s “The Lion King” set a Broadway record of $2.7 million in ticket sales in one day. The musical, based on the successful animated movie of the same name, opened in New York in 1997 at the New Amsterdam Theatre.

In October 2000, The Times wrote about the musical having “an old-style Hollywood premiere” in Los Angeles at the Pantages Theater, with a block-long red carpet, celebrities and jostling news crews. The story noted that “The Lion King” came at a time when New York was “generating few major shows — particularly big musicals — with popular appeal. ... Whether ‘Lion King’ can revive the genre remains to be seen.”

It did. It became the first Broadway show to pass $1 billion in ticket revenues, and has since surpassed $1.75 billion.

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