Today’s Headlines: A federal lawsuit jeopardizes use of crucial wildfire retardant

An airplane drops bright pink fire retardant on a forest.
An air tanker drops fire retardant on a brush fire in Lytle Creek in December 2020.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

Hello, it’s Wednesday, March 29, and here are the stories you shouldn’t miss today:


U.S. Forest Service defends the use of pink wildfire retardant

For most Californians, the sight of an aircraft spewing neon pink liquid over flaming trees and brush has become a hallmark of aggressive wildfire suppression campaigns.

But some forest advocates say the substance does more harm than good. They claim wildfire retardant drops are expensive, ineffective and a growing source of pollution for rivers and streams.


Now, a federal lawsuit in Montana that seeks to stop the U.S. Forest Service from dropping retardant into water could reshape how the agency battles wildfires throughout the western United States.

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Southern California refills its largest reservoir in a dramatic fashion.

Following a series of winter storms that eased drought conditions across the state, Southern Californians celebrated a sight nobody has seen for several punishing years: water rushing into Diamond Valley Lake — the largest reservoir in Southern California.

But although the state’s abundance of water is the silver lining of a deadly and devastating winter storm season, it’s also a reminder of how delicate conditions are in the face of California’s changing climate.


More on the storms:

As talks with teachers heat up, the LAUSD budget shows a higher ending balance, with caveats.

For months, the Los Angeles Unified School District had been saying that, despite an ending balance of $4.93 billion for the current school year, the district could be at financial risk in the future. A $5.1-billion ending balance adds fodder to unions’ call for higher pay, but the district points to gloomier three-year projections in a new budget forecast.

At least 40 die in a migrant center fire by the U.S.-Mexico border

At least 40 migrants were killed and dozens more were injured when a fire broke out in an immigrant detention center in Mexico, just south of the U.S. border, authorities said.

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said the blaze in Ciudad Juarez probably began when migrants learned that they were going to be deported to their home countries — and ignited mattresses in protest. He said most of the dead were from Central and South America.

A Mexican federal official with knowledge of the case who spoke on condition of anonymity offered a different explanation, saying the protest began because 68 men were packed into a cell meant for no more than 50 people — with no access to drinking water.


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A man leans against a printer
Print shop owner Carlos Pena is dealing with the damage caused by a SWAT raid after a fugitive holed up in his North Hollywood store. Read more: “Column: An LAPD SWAT raid wrecked this man’s print shop. He can’t get compensation
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)


The University of California proposes a first-time systemwide admission guarantee to all qualified transfer students. To receive the guarantee, community college students would need to complete a newly unified set of general education courses required by both UC and California State University, complete specific coursework needed for UC majors, and earn a minimum GPA.

Magnitude 3.5 earthquake wakes up part of San Francisco Bay Area. A magnitude 3.5 earthquake woke up parts of the San Francisco Bay Area on Tuesday morning. The earthquake, which struck at 6:01 a.m., was centered in Pacifica, along an area of the coastal city around the San Andreas fault, and was strong enough to be felt near San Francisco International Airport.

Runaway train carrying iron ore derails in San Bernardino. A runaway train with no passengers, carrying cars of iron ore — the raw material used to make steel — derailed near Kelso and caught on fire, according to the San Bernardino County Fire Protection District and fire department radio transmissions.

Disney’s planned community in California takes shape with a nod to ‘The Incredibles.’ Officials released fresh details about the first Storyliving by Disney project in Riverside County, an ambitious effort to infuse a master-planned community with the Burbank entertainment giant’s trademark whimsy and wonder.


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The James Webb Space Telescope finds no atmosphere at a faraway Earth-sized world. The Webb Space Telescope has found no evidence of an atmosphere at one of the seven rocky, Earth-sized planets orbiting another star. That doesn’t bode well for the rest of the planets in this solar system, some of which are in the sweet spot for harboring water and potentially life, scientists said.

Ukraine’s Zelensky extends his tour of front-line areas as a spring offensive looms. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky visits the northern Sumy region, continuing his tour over recent days of areas of the country that have felt the brunt of Russia’s full-scale invasion and as the stage increasingly looks set for a Ukrainian counteroffensive.

Russia convicts and sentences the father of a teen who drew antiwar pictures. A Russian court convicted a single father over social media posts criticizing the war in Ukraine and sentenced him to two years in prison — a case brought to the attention of authorities by his daughter’s drawings about the invasion at school, according to his lawyer and activists.

Can this town save itself from fentanyl addiction? The race to turn around a threatened community. The town of Española, N.M., has struggled with drug addiction for generations. But fentanyl has contributed to rising homelessness and overdose rates.


A former doctor gives teary testimony on Day 5 of the Gwyneth Paltrow ski-collision trial. Inside the Park City, Utah, courtroom, Gwyneth Paltrow shook her head as Terry Sanderson gave his testimony on the fifth day of a civil trial over allegations that she recklessly crashed into the retired optometrist in a 2016 skiing accident at Deer Valley Resort.


The post-jailhouse confessions of Watts rapper 03 Greedo. After serving five years in prison, rapper 03 Greedo speaks exclusively to The Times about the death of his friend Drakeo and the ‘voo’ elevating his new music.

In 2020, CBS made a landmark deal with the NAACP. So where are the TV shows? Economic headwinds have left the CBS Television Studios/NAACP pact without a finished product. But executives say they’re as committed as ever.

The Hammer Museum unveils its impressive contemporary collection. The UCLA Hammer Museum has been quietly collecting a trove of contemporary art since 2005. But while gallery space has expanded in the last two decades, none is dedicated to a permanent display of these contemporary holdings. Where will they put it?


Founder of the popular Din Tai Fung restaurant chain dies at 96. Bing-Yi Yang helped popularize xiao long bao dumplings around the world,

A fired Fox News producer said she was coerced into giving misleading testimony. Abby Grossberg has altered her deposition testimony in the defamation case against the network, claiming she was coerced by company lawyers to give misleading answers.

U.S. officials signal new rules for banks after SVB and Signature failures. Top U.S. financial officials outlined what’s likely to be the biggest regulatory overhaul of the banking sector in years, in an initiative aimed at addressing underlying issues that contributed to the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank and other U.S. regional lenders.


Lyft names a new CEO in a move that could set the stage for a sale. Lyft Inc. tapped David Risher to be its new chief executive, replacing co-founder Logan Green and setting the stage for a potential sale as the ride-hailing company struggles to compete with bigger rival Uber Technologies Inc.


The Dodgers want to build the next era of great teams. But can they be great in 2023, too? After perhaps the most extensive offseason roster turnover of Andrew Friedman’s tenure, the Dodgers enter the 2023 MLB season in a transitional phase. They are still confident they can be a title contender and they should still have one of the best teams in baseball, but they are also cycling from one generation of franchise favorites to what they hope will be the next.

How Shohei Ohtani became baseball’s record $70-million man this year. Shohei Ohtani might secure the richest contract in baseball history next winter, but his 2023 earnings will set a record for any baseball player in a single year.

In an up-and-down season for the Lakers, Dennis Schroder has been a consistent spark. Dennis Schroder, the smallest player on the Lakers roster, has a higher individual net-rating than anyone other than LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

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Gender-affirming care has a long history, though anti-trans laws pretend it’s ‘untested.’ Proposals to restrict transgender healthcare are ignoring a history of safe and effective treatment for both transgender and cisgender Americans.


Who says L.A.’s mayor doesn’t have power over schools? Los Angeles mayors have no official authority over local schools, but they have a big stake in their success. And the kind of political capital that can make people listen. For that reason, Mayor Karen Bass was wise to use her authority to help end the labor impasse that shut down Los Angeles Unified campuses last week.


A group of women during a cupsleeve event at R&B Tea in Pasadena, CA.
From left, Destiny Arriaza, of Pasadena, Lindsay Barajas, of Pasadena and Kelda Rivero, of Pasadena, during a cupsleeve event at R&B Tea in Pasadena.
(Eric Thayer / For The Times)

Every weekend, the internet’s biggest K-pop fans swarm L.A. cafes. Venture into an L.A. boba shop on any given weekend, and you may just find a space transformed by K-pop fans, throwing a party for their favorite musical artist. Life-size cardboard cutouts of beautiful Korean men greet you by the door. Colloquially called “cupsleeves,” these fan events are becoming increasingly common in Southern California. They began in Seoul and other Asian cities as a way for K-pop fans — mostly girls and women — to meet others like them in person, not just online.


Charles Manson is sentenced to death in the gas chamber.

Charles Manson is escorted into court for a hearing Dec. 3, 1969.
(John Malmin / Bill Murphy / Los Angeles Times)

On this day in 1971, Charles Manson, the mastermind behind the 1969 killing spree in the Los Angeles area, was sentenced to death in the gas chamber. The sentence was never carried out because the California Supreme Court abolished the death penalty in 1972.


Considered one of the most infamous criminals of the 20th century, Manson died of natural causes at 83 on Nov. 19, 2017.

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