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Today’s Headlines: Mt. Baldy’s easy access helps make it a deadly peak

Mt. Baldy covered in snow after a winter storm.
Mt. Baldy covered in snow after a winter storm is an iconic Southern California image.
(Robyn Beck / AFP via Getty Images )
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Hello, it’s Friday, Feb. 3, and here are the stories you shouldn’t miss today:

TOP STORIES

Mt. Baldy is L.A.’s favorite mountain. That’s the problem. Mt. Baldy towers above Los Angeles, rising to 10,064 feet and looking like a winter wonderland to millions of people living below.

Despite flashing signs on the road up from Claremont that say, “WARNING ICY TRAILS” and “HIKING NOT ADVISED,” some Angelenos with little experience in the mountains — let alone in winter — can’t resist giving it a try.

That familiarity and easy access to a huge urban area have combined to give the mountain one of the worst records for death and injury in the U.S.

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Voices of terror from Monterey Park shooting 911 calls. In the aftermath of the Lunar New Year’s Eve mass shooting in Monterey Park that left 11 dead and nine wounded, the city clerk has released the 911 and Fire Department dispatch tapes of frantic callers as Huu Can Tran was making his deadly way through the ballroom dance studio.

Dozens of people were inside the dance hall for a Lunar New Year’s Eve celebration on Jan. 21 when Tran, 72, walked in and opened fire around 10:20 p.m. The next day, as officers closed in on him, Tran shot himself to death. Questions remain about the motive for the attack.

How will Tom Girardi’s dementia diagnosis play out in his prosecution? Will the man who ruled L.A.’s legal world for decades know where he is? Will he be able to understand the charges against him and assist in his defense? Or will Alzheimer’s disease prevent him from ever going on trial?

The charges announced against Tom Girardi this week were a long time coming, and in the end, they may be too late to hold him accountable.

9th Circuit upholds reforms in California prisons. Citing a “staff culture of targeting inmates with disabilities” within California prisons, a federal appellate court has upheld the legality of a set of measures aimed at improving the behavior of correctional officers.

The reforms include a requirement that officers in six state prisons wear video cameras and that the number of stationary cameras in prisons be increased.

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They also require the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to add more supervisors to prison staffs, and improve processes for investigating, tracking and disciplining officers who abuse prisoners.

Why is California going it alone in Colorado River talks? After a key deadline passed this week without an agreement on how to address the Colorado River’s crisis, California is now sharply at odds with six other states over how to take less water from the shrinking river.

California appears to be banking on its high-priority senior water rights, while the other states are presenting a united front to show the federal government they support a plan that would have California give up more water.

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.

CALIFORNIA

California is turning mountain lions into roadkill faster than they can reproduce. In the last eight years there have been 535 mountain lions reported killed on California highways — a steady toll of one to two each week that scientists say has reached a “critical threshold.”

Farmworkers are back at work after Half Moon Bay shootings. Agricultural workers returned to work at the sites where their colleagues and neighbors were gunned down, with some feeling they must keep working to survive.

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Inside a Tesla driver’s alleged ‘reign of terror’ on L.A. freeways. Before he was arrested and charged this week in what prosecutors described as a “reign of terror” on Southern California roadways, the driver seen on video attacking other vehicles with a pipe had a history of enraged outbursts, vicious threats and domestic violence, according to authorities and court documents.

COVID emergency declarations are ending. What does that mean for California? Transitioning out of the COVID emergency phase could eventually spell the end of universal access to free vaccines, treatments and tests.

Man with rifles pointed out the windows of his high-rise apartment faces charges, D.A. says. Braxton Kyle Johnson has been charged with one count of making criminal threats, two counts of possession of illegal assault weapons and one count of solicitation of murder, the district attorney said.

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NATION-WORLD

Chinese spy balloon spotted over western U.S., Pentagon says. The U.S. is tracking a suspected Chinese surveillance balloon for a couple of days, but the Pentagon decided not to shoot it down due to risks of harm for people on the ground, officials said Thursday.

More politics

  • House Republicans narrowly voted Thursday to oust Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota from the Foreign Affairs Committee, following the removal of two other Democrats from top committees.
  • Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) endorsed Rep. Adam B. Schiff’s (D-Burbank) bid for the U.S. Senate on Thursday, as long as incumbent Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) doesn’t seek reelection.

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

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The U.S. military has big plans for an Australian port. So does the Chinese firm that controls it. As the U.S. and Australia beef up their joint military presence and cooperation to respond to the danger they perceive from an increasingly aggressive China, the Chinese stake has sparked nervousness in both Washington and Canberra.

U.S. to send Ukraine longer-range bombs in latest turnaround. After months of agonizing, the U.S. has agreed to send bombs with roughly double the range of any other offensive weapon provided by America to Ukraine as it prepares to launch a spring offensive.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

His grandma’s story charmed Tom Brady. Now it’s a Hollywood movie. The Paramount Pictures comedy “80 for Brady,” which opens in theaters Friday, was inspired by one grandson’s memories of his grandmother’s devotion to football. But it represents a gamble for studios.

Everything you need to know about L.A.’s February 2023 art fair extravaganza. This year, the fairs, including the L.A. Art Show and Frieze Los Angeles, return in full force — and all at once. The 2023 season will be bigger than ever with more international participants, full visitor capacity and one new fair added to the mix.

This former Bachelorette-turned-aspiring comedian is trading love for laughs. Katie Thurston was already a prolific content creator before being cast on “The Bachelor.” But after appearing on the show and “The Bachelorette,” she began to look at comedy as a potential career, not just a hobby.

BUSINESS

Disney proxy fight heats up as Nelson Peltz increases pressure for board seat. The activist shareholder’s hedge fund, Trian Fund Management, asked other Disney shareholders to boot board member Michael B.G. Froman to make room for Peltz on Disney’s board, the latest move in an aggressive campaign.

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Gas stoves are back under scrutiny with new U.S. limits proposed. An Energy Department proposal, published Wednesday, would set first-of-their-kind limits on energy consumption for the stoves. The proposal comes weeks after intense industry and public reaction to the idea of a ban.

OPINION

Before Tyre Nichols was a martyr, he was a Sacramento kid who didn’t ‘see color.’ He’s now an unwitting martyr in an increasingly desperate and seemingly never-ending mission to finally put a stop to police brutality. And yet to focus on that alone is to miss much of who Nichols really was, writes columnist Erika D. Smith.

Stay off Mt. Baldy. It’s dangerous, and rescue workers deserve a break. Rescue workers who look for lost hikers in dangerous conditions selflessly provide a safety backstop so we outdoor enthusiasts can explore the wilderness at Los Angeles’ doorstep. At a minimum, they deserve our good judgment of whether it’s too dangerous to venture out, writes letters editor Paul Thornton.

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SPORTS

UCLA and USC fans should feel good about their recruiting haul despite their rankings. After traditional National Signing Day closed Wednesday, Los Angeles Times college football experts Ben Bolch, Ryan Kartje and J. Brady McCollough weighed in on how well UCLA and USC restocked their rosters.

Dodgers brass finally addresses Trevor Bauer release, but leaves several key questions unanswered. On Wednesday, club president Stan Kasten and president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman addressed the team’s decision to part ways with the embattled pitcher during a meeting with local reporters at Dodger Stadium.

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YOUR WEEKEND

Braised pork with rice and chopped peppers
Braised pork with rice and chopped peppers is the star dish at Luyixian, a new restaurant in Alhambra that combines several regional Chinese cuisines, including Shanghai and Sichuan.
(Mel Melcon/Los Angeles Times)

L.A.’s next great comfort food? Find it at hidden Luyixian in Alhambra. Walk into the tiny space and owner Chun Hua Tao will wave you toward a table; there’s also a spillover space through a nondescript door for when the main dining room is full, which has increasingly become the case since she and her chef husband, Yao Ye, opened the restaurant in August. The reason: His excellent home-style cooking strikes universal chords of warmth and goodness, writes food columnist Bill Addison.

Curious about mushroom foraging? It’s an ‘exceptionally good’ year to start in SoCal. There are plenty of reasons why people enjoy foraging for mushrooms: Some forage for their own cooking and baking purposes, while others just enjoy the opportunity to get out of the house. One big draw for both beginners and experts is the challenge of exploring a field that still has so many unidentified species.

WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

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What will make us cringe when we look back on today? Trends come and go, habits change, culture moves on — that’s a given. But some things age better than others and it’s not always easy to tell what has staying power and what will shock your grandkids while you’re living through them. The New York Times tried anyway, asking more than 30 people and one chatbot to guess what parts of life in the 2020s we’ll regret. New York Times

Trying to be happy is making you miserable. Here’s why. Research published in the journal Emotion found that overemphasizing happiness can make people more likely to obsess over failure and negative emotions when they inevitably do happen, bringing them more stress in the long run. Time

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A Mississippi River journey by kayak brings lessons in history, friendship and life. Over four humid summers, traveling the Mississippi River became an annual ritual for The Times’ Connor Sheets’ crew of longtime, 30-something friends. Life, jobs and circumstance had scattered them, but they all saved a week of vacation to reunite for what they came to simply call the river trip. Then the pandemic intervened. Los Angeles Times

FROM THE ARCHIVES

Feb. 4, 1959: The Times' news story on the deaths of Ritchie Valens, Buddy Holly and J.P. Richardson.
Feb. 4, 1959: The Times’ news story on the deaths of Ritchie Valens, Buddy Holly and J.P. Richardson.
(Los Angeles Times archive)

Sixty-four years ago, rock stars Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson were killed in a plane crash. The three died in an ice-covered field near Mason City, Iowa, following a show in Clear Lake.

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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