Today’s Headlines: As California gets drier, snowpack melts faster and sooner
Hello, it’s Tuesday, Feb. 14, and here are the stories you shouldn’t miss today:
Wildfire and drought are shrinking California’s snowpack
For decades, Californians have depended on the reliable appearance of spring and summer snowmelt to provide nearly a third of the state’s supply of water. But as the state gets drier, and as wildfires climb to ever-higher elevations, that precious snow is melting faster and earlier than in years past — even in the middle of winter.
That’s posing a threat to the timing and availability of water in California, according to a recent study, which found that the effects of climate change are compounding to accelerate snowpack decline.
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Planada tries to recover from the January storms and flooding
The January storms inundated most of Planada. About half the homes were damaged and so was the elementary school. Many homes in the California town were destroyed. Most residents do not have savings to fall back upon, let alone flood insurance. Many residents are undocumented farmworkers, making it more difficult to qualify for federal disaster funds.
The challenges are daunting: How will people rebuild? Will a significant slice of the population wind up permanently displaced? How should the county, state and federal governments help?
Aerial objects raise questions about a national security threat
Biden administration officials are racing to provide more details on the origins of multiple objects shot down by the U.S. military over the weekend. The last three flying objects, officials stressed, are different in appearance and technological capabilities than the Chinese balloon downed on Feb. 4.
They are smaller and, unlike the Chinese balloon, unable to loiter or hover. At least two of the vessels have still-unspecified payloads, officials said, though they are not as large as that of the Chinese craft, which was about the size of three buses and carried surveillance equipment.
- In a letter to Atty. Gen. Merrick Garland, four U.S. senators described conditions in L.A. County jails as a “humanitarian crisis.”
- President Biden has fired embattled Architect of the Capitol Brett Blanton, who oversees the historic building and its grounds.
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California tops 12 million coronavirus cases
The total number of coronavirus cases reported in California has topped 12 million. That milestone — reached last week, according to data compiled by The Times — comes as California is seeing increased circulation of the Omicron subvariant XBB.1.5, which has been described as perhaps the most infectious strain of the coronavirus.
But in many respects, the pandemic picture remains relatively rosy, with newly reported infections declining and stabilizing in recent weeks. Hospitalizations have also ticked down to levels not seen since mid-November, indicating less strain on the healthcare system.
More top coronavirus headlines
- The pandemic took a harsh toll on U.S. teen girls’ mental health, with almost 60% reporting feelings of persistent sadness or hopelessness, according to the CDC.
- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is treading a fine line as it attempts to respond to misinformation on social media without amplifying it.
Stay up to date on variant developments, case counts and vaccine news with Coronavirus Today.
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PHOTO OF THE DAY
LAPD edits police shooting videos as other cities embrace greater transparency. The videos Memphis officials released showing the fatal police beating of Tyre Nichols last month earned praise for transparency. In Los Angeles, where such videos are heavily edited, the decision prompted a simple question: Why not here too?
California considers legalizing cannabis cafes to help the struggling marijuana industry. A bill aimed at changing the landscape of cannabis use from Assemblyman Matt Haney (D-San Francisco) would legalize the sale of food and nonalcoholic beverages at cannabis retailers and lounges.
Leaving prison for many means homelessness and overdose. California hopes to change that. California is the first state permitted to provide Medicaid to people behind bars, including those with mental illnesses and substance use disorders.
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China alleges that more than 10 U.S. balloons flew in its airspace in the last year. The claim follows Washington’s accusation that Beijing operates a fleet of surveillance balloons around the world. The U.S. denied that it operates any surveillance balloons over China.
Is the two-state solution for Israel and Palestine dead? Maybe. The long-running conflict over land, rights and safety has reached a new low point and an increasing number of experts are sounding the death knell for the two-state solution.
With the death toll above 35,000, Turkey earthquake survivors face despair as rescues wane. While stories of near-miraculous rescues flooded the airwaves in the early days of the disaster response, experts say that freezing temperatures and the total collapse of so many buildings mean the window for such rescues is nearly shut.
Moldova’s president outlines an alleged Russian plot to topple the government. Moldova’s president said Moscow plotted to use external saboteurs to overthrow her country’s government, put the nation “at the disposal of Russia” and derail its aspirations to one day join the European Union.
HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS
How Octavia Butler inspired a pathbreaking Black-owned Pasadena bookstore. On Feb. 18, Nikki High will open the doors to Octavia’s Bookshelf, a store she said she hopes will offer a space that didn’t exist when she was growing up.
Barney, the big purple dinosaur, is coming back. Mattel announced Monday that it plans to relaunch the purple-and-green dinosaur that was a staple of millennial childhoods with a new animated series in 2024
Trippie Redd proves there’s life after the SoundCloud rap. The online platform propelled young, independent artists to massive success. At 23, Redd is one of the most significant artists who stuck the landing after the dust had settled.
Amazon is taking half of each sale from small merchants that sell on its platform. Grappling with slowing sales growth and rising costs, Amazon is squeezing more money from the nearly 2 million small businesses on its marketplace, with a new study finding that the average cut of each sale surpassed 50% in 2022.
Dodgers aim to avoid ‘volatility’ of roster changes after understated offseason. After an offseason marked by extensive roster turnover and understated acquisitions, there are new obstacles littering their pathway to October — fraught with as many potential pitfalls as they’ve seemingly faced in years.
Another Super Bowl could be heading to L.A. sooner than you think. The Super Bowl is heading to Las Vegas next season, but Los Angeles could be awarded another future Super Bowl date by the NFL later this year.
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My Black ancestors were erased from my family’s memory. But I found them. “What they failed to grasp, and what I failed to see until finding my great-grandmothers, is that Blackness, like Indigeneity, is at the heart of who we are. Latinos must recognize, resist and reverse centuries of blanqueamiento,” writes columnist Jeanne Guerrero.
How should global leaders use trillions of dollars to combat climate change? Greta Thunberg writes that financial resources need to be directed to the best available solutions, adaptations and restorations, as much as we can possibly find. But the money seems to be going elsewhere.
ONLY IN L.A.
A battle to save Beverly Hills’ shady ficus trees is underway. Robertson Boulevard, one of the city’s major commercial corridors, is in the midst of a dramatic face-lift. Some 87 ficus trees, also known as Indian laurel figs, will be cut down for a sidewalk restoration project. The city and some business owners blame the majestic trees for leaving messy droppings and damaging buildings and sidewalks.
But the plan has upset some who say trees need to be preserved now more than ever.
FROM THE ARCHIVES
Musician Rob Thomas was born 50 years ago. Thomas, known for being the frontman for Matchbox Twenty, has previously said he lived through a tough childhood.
Thomas was raised in South Carolina by a single mother plagued with financial problems and a grandmother who sold illicit liquor out of her small market. By the time he was 17, his mother had regained her health and he was dying to escape. Thomas was homeless for the next three years But his high school days as “the homeless kid” were character-building.
Thomas has since won three Grammy awards.
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