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Today’s Headlines: As finals loom, fears grow around the UC strike

Dozens and dozens of signs are seen as protesters march outdoors. The signs say "UAW on strike: Unfair labor practice."
Academic workers and their supporters protest at UCLA on Nov. 16.
(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)
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Hello, it’s Monday, Nov. 28. We’re kicking off today’s newsletter with an outstanding piece by our colleague and crime reporter James Queally, who writes:

“The desperation pervading Los Angeles County’s juvenile halls can be distilled into a single incident and its aftermath.

“A veteran probation officer — too afraid of retaliation to reveal their name or gender — was so overwhelmed by the staffing crisis in the facilities that house the county’s most violent young offenders that they begged to be demoted so they wouldn’t have to go back inside.” More here.

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TOP STORIES

Fears are rising about the unintended consequences of the huge UC strike

As the nation’s largest-ever strike of 48,000 higher-education academic workers enters its third week today — with the crunch time of final exams just days away — fears are rising, especially among faculty, about potentially long-lasting consequences to the lauded University of California system’s core missions of teaching and research.

Higher labor costs to meet striking workers’ salary demands, without more state or federal funding to pay for it, could force faculty to hire fewer graduate students — jeopardizing the research they perform and the academic experiences of the undergraduates they help teach. UC grant applications could become less competitive if they have higher price tags, potentially affecting the university’s transformative work in climate change, genetic engineering, economic inequality and galactic mysteries, to name a few.

New state-level voter fraud units have found few cases from the midterm elections

The law enforcement units created after the 2020 presidential election to investigate voter fraud are looking into scattered complaints more than two weeks after the midterms but have provided no indication of systemic problems.

That’s just what election experts had expected and led critics to suggest that the new units were more about politics than rooting out widespread abuses. Most election-related fraud cases already are investigated and prosecuted at the local level. Florida, Georgia and Virginia created the units after the 2020 election at the behest of Republican governors, attorneys general or legislatures.

More politics

  • Washington columnist Doyle McManus asks: Can Ron DeSantis ride the culture war to the White House?

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LGBTQ people in red California are on edge

In politically red stretches of the state — from the old logging towns in the north through the dusty farmlands of the Central Valley — the Colorado Springs, Colo., massacre at a gay nightclub was yet another devastating reminder of how difficult and lonely it can be to be queer in conservative America.

In rural California, being openly gay is an act of defiance, said Jacob Hibbitts, a board member for the fledgling Lassen Pride Network who lives in Susanville with his husband, Richard Colvin.

“We live kind of a quiet life here,” said Hibbitts, 36. “Our home is our space to be ourselves, but you step out the door and you never know.’’

In China, protesters are calling for President Xi to step down

Demonstrators angered by strict anti-COVID measures called for the nation’s powerful leader to resign, an unprecedented rebuke as authorities in at least eight cities struggled to suppress protests Sunday that represented a rare direct challenge to the ruling Communist Party.

Police using pepper spray drove away demonstrators in Shanghai who called for Xi to step down and an end to one-party rule, but hours later people rallied again in the same spot. Police again broke up the demonstration, and a reporter saw protesters under arrest being driven away in a bus.

Stay up to date on variant developments, case counts and other COVID-related news with Coronavirus Today.

A new General Hospital: Turning an iconic L.A. landmark into homeless housing

After years of stagnation and hand-wringing over what should become of the 100-year-old Art Deco monolith that towers over Boyle Heights, answers are beginning to take shape.

Los Angeles County, which owns the former hospital, has launched a multi-year program to reconfigure the H-shaped building into homeless and affordable housing. This will be the centerpiece of a “Healthy Village,” with as many as 1,400 units with beds for housing, and medical and mental health care. Spaces for social services, community activities, arts and retail will be spread over its spacious grounds.

Free Christmas trees! This California forest is offering tree permits for the first time

Forest officials are now offering permits to cut down Christmas trees in designated areas of the Stanislaus National Forest, adding another location to the holiday program. The permits aren’t just a Christmas gift for the public, but will also help with fire suppression efforts by eliminating smaller trees that fuel fires.

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

A woman sits with her arms around two small children. She looks toward a window as light illuminates her face.
Olena Chkhvan is staying with her eight children, including Milana, 5, and Valentin, 3, at a hotel in Lviv after a Russian missile struck the yard of their home in Nikopol.
(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

Lviv was once a haven for Ukrainians fleeing the war. Now it’s suffering too. As the weather’s bite sharpens, Ukrainians fleeing bombardment, cold and privation in the country’s battle zones are finding that areas once considered prime places of refuge — those nearest the Polish border and NATO territory — are staggering under the weight of caring for displaced people and blackouts triggered by a broadened Russian aerial offensive.

Analysis: President Biden faces a serious foreign policy headache in Israel’s new government. The Biden administration is grappling with how to deal with the new Israeli government, which is the most right-wing in that country’s history and may stand in the way of core U.S. goals for the Middle East.

PHOTO OF THE DAY

A man holds the hand of a chimp who's inside a cage.
Saying goodbye: Anher Flores of Wildlife Waystation parts with Connor. The male chimp, 31, was headed for a Louisana chimpanzee sanctuary. Read:Rescued chimps leave troubled California refuge for new home.”
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

CALIFORNIA

L.A. County health officials issued a cold weather alert. Starting today, wind chill temperatures are expected to drop below freezing in the Antelope and Santa Clarita valleys, as well as the San Gabriel Mountains, according to the L.A. County Department of Public Health. The cold weather is forecast to last until at least Friday. The alert warns that children, the elderly, and people with disabilities or special medical needs are especially vulnerable during cold weather.

After Whittier College ended its NCAA Division III sports, student athletes are feeling “tossed aside.” A week before Thanksgiving break, the school announced it would end its football, lacrosse and golf programs, affecting 120 student athletes and about a dozen coaches. Many of the athletes, still reeling from the news, are scrambling to find new schools so they can continue playing the sports they love.

Kelly Gonez and Rocio Rivas have declared victory in their races for seats on the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education. Their wins elevate the influence of the teachers union as the school system navigates contract negotiations, recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and critical funding issues.

“Please, I need help!” Guatemalans are frustrated with delays at the Los Angeles consulate. The problems besetting the Guatemalan Consulate have been snowballing since March 2020, causing delays and other glitches for Guatemalan citizens trying to process and obtain passports, personal identification documents, consular identification cards and birth certificates. Now website issues are exacerbating the frustration.

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NATION-WORLD

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador led a massive pro-government march. Hundreds of thousands marched in the country’s capital in a show of support for the president. The “people’s march” marked four years in office for the leftist leader and was a response to a large opposition march two weeks ago to protest his proposal to reform the country’s electoral authority.

After Morocco’s 2-0 upset win over Belgium at the World Cup, riots broke out in several Belgian and Dutch cities. Dozens of rioters overturned and torched cars, set electric scooters on fire and pelted cars with bricks. Police deployed water cannons and fired tear gas to disperse crowds in Brussels. They detained about a dozen people there and eight more in Antwerp. Two police officials were injured in Rotterdam.

A disgraced former U.K. minister sought redemption via a reality TV show. Matt Hancock, the scandal-prone former health secretary, attempted to win “I’m a Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here” — a grueling, often gruesome reality show set in the Australian jungle.

Teams were searching in Italy with “hearts broken.” Searchers recovered seven dead, including a 3-week-old infant and a pair of young siblings, buried in mud and debris that hurtled down a mountainside and through a densely populated port city on the Italian resort island of Ischia, officials said.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

Hollywood can make you “miserable.” “White Lotus” star Aubrey Plaza just laughs it off. Plaza spoke with The Times’ Yvonne Villareal about the actor’s role in the second season of the HBO series, where she plays a lawyer with a penchant for sarcasm. Plaza is also joining the cast of “Agatha: Coven of Chaos,” Marvel’s upcoming “WandaVision” spinoff series featuring Kathryn Hahn as the titular witch.

“Wakanda Forever” reigned supreme at the Thanksgiving box office as “Strange World” flopped. The “Black Panther” sequel easily fended off two new challengers and continued to dominate the domestic box office. “Strange World” launched in second place at $11.9 million, far below its anticipated $30-million opening — despite good reviews and audience scores.

Albert Pyun, the cult filmmaker behind “Cyborg” and “The Sword and the Sorcerer,” has died at age 69. After interning for Akira Kurosawa cinematographer Takao Saito and relocating from his home of Hawaii to California, Pyun helmed more than 50 projects spanning three decades. His website bio was recently updated to read, “His legacy lives on and he will never truly die.”

The Weeknd returned to So-Fi Stadium after he abruptly ended his previous Inglewood show mid-concert. In September, the pop musician stunned fans by calling off his sold-out SoFi concert just a few songs into the show after losing his voice. At Saturday’s performance, the Grammy winner repeatedly thanked the city of L.A. for its support.

BUSINESS

California regulators OK’d $1 billion for an EV charging project, mostly for trucks. The California Public Utilities Commission approved the project, with most of the money earmarked to accelerate the number of midsize and heavy-duty trucks on the state’s roads. Some 70% of the funds will go to charging medium- and heavy-duty vehicles, which combine to account for a disproportionate amount of greenhouse gas emissions in the transportation sector.

OPINION

We have a rare opportunity to fix City Hall. This is how. Outrage over the leaked racist recording of three City Council members and a labor official opens a door through which reforms can be pushed. We look at how to make three key changes happen. The simplest first step is to change the redistricting process, so that never again can the city’s politicians draw their own lines and, in effect, choose their own voters.

How to find freedom from “worst-case scenario” thinking. As a recession threatens, many people understandably are worried about their finances and job security. But constant worry and stress about things that might go wrong take a toll on a person’s well-being, writes clinical psychologist Seth Gillihan, who encourages being open to an unknowable future.

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SPORTS

I knew Lincoln Riley was going to be good for USC. But not this good. The Times’ Brady McCollough writes that, once Riley persuaded star quarterback Caleb Williams to transfer from Oklahoma, and once Biletnikoff Award-winning wide receiver Jordan Addison followed Williams here from Pittsburgh, he figured USC’s turnaround from a deflating 4-8 season would be definitive and swift. But the team has leaped past his expectations: “Holy smokes, these Trojans are tough.” Also: Williams shone against Notre Dame; he deserves the Heisman, writes columnist Bill Plaschke.

Justin Herbert put the finishing touches on the Chargers’ win over Arizona with clutch passes. In the frantic span of two snaps in the game’s final 20 seconds, the Chargers brushed aside their recent second-half offensive woes, stopped their two-game losing streak and breathed belief into their playoff chances.

Canada hadn’t been to the World Cup since disco was popular. And their stay then was short. This time around, their stay also was short as they lost 4-1 to Croatia. But they accomplished something they hadn’t before. They scored a goal — and it was satisfying.

ONLY IN SoCAL

A person on a ladder next to a banner with an illustration of a Santa in shorts and holding a surfboard.
Big Wave Dave’s tree lot is open now at three locations, including Ventura.
(Spencer Weiner / Los Angeles Times)

25 spots for finding the perfect Christmas tree. There are few holiday décor decisions you’ll be forced to confront as often and as visibly each year as choosing the Christmas tree upon which lights are strung, under which presents are stacked and around which so much merriment is made, writes our colleague Adam Tschorn.

We’ve rounded up 25 places across Southern California for picking up a great holiday tree. Heavy on long-running, family-owned lots and choose-and-cut tree farms (in case your inner arborist is curious, you’ll find firs at the former and mostly Monterey pines and Leyland cypress at the latter), the options cover a lot of ground, from Ventura in the north to San Juan Capistrano in the south. Here’s one: Big Wave Dave’s in Ventura offers fresh-cut fir trees from the Pacific Northwest, including Douglas, Fraser, Grand, Noble, Nordmann Noble and Silvertips. More here.

FROM THE ARCHIVES

A woman in a formal portrait wearing a button-up jacket and bow at her neck.
Biddy Mason.
(Seaver Center for Western History Research)

One hundred and fifty-six years ago today, on Nov. 28, 1866, Biddy Mason bought her first piece of Los Angeles real estate. Mason, born into slavery, was brought to California from Mississippi; she walked most of the way, according to the L.A. Conservancy.

A 1991 article in The Times wrote of the opening of a “tree-shaded mini-park and rest area” dedicated to Mason. The park was situated in the middle of a $24-million parking garage and shopping arcade built at 333 S. Spring St. — the site Mason purchased for $250 in 1866. “An 81-foot-long concrete time wall at the edge of the park traces Mason’s life. It tells of how she was born a slave in 1818, grew up to be a nurse and midwife and then walked across the continent behind her master’s wagon train in 1848.”

After Mason met freed slaves in San Bernardino, she fought in court for her freedom, which she won in 1856. Over the years, Mason bought more property, founded L.A.’s first African Methodist Episcopal Church and its first elementary school for Black children, and became a well-known philanthropist and humanitarian.

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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