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Today’s Headlines: Solar sprawl is tearing up the Mojave Desert

Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas is home to one of the nation's largest rooftop solar arrays.
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)
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Hello, it’s Wednesday, June 28, and here are the stories you shouldn’t miss today.

TOP STORIES

Solar panels could save California. But they hurt the desert

Las Vegas has more solar panels per person than any major U.S. metro area outside Hawaii, according to one analysis. There’s an enormous opportunity to lower household utility bills and cut climate pollution — without damaging wildlife habitat or disrupting treasured landscapes.

But that hasn’t stopped corporations from making plans to carpet the desert surrounding Las Vegas with dozens of giant solar fields — some of them designed to supply power to California. The Biden administration has fueled that growth.

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Those energy generators could imperil rare plants and slow-footed tortoises already threatened by rising temperatures. They could also lessen the death and suffering from the climate crisis.

Supreme Court rejects GOP redistricting claim in N.C.

In another surprise ruling, the Supreme Court firmly rejected a Republican claim that the Constitution gives state lawmakers full and unchecked power over the elections of members of Congress and the president in their state.

The so-called independent state legislature theory had alarmed Democrats and threatened to inject uncertainty into the 2024 national elections.

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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Some L.A. fireworks shows are canceled after new environmental rules

In response to new environmental rules, several July 4 fireworks shows along Los Angeles County’s coastline have been canceled.

The decisions come after the L.A. Water Board in late May adopted a protective fireworks display permit, which requires new best practices aimed at reducing plastics and other pollution that could fall into oceans or marinas from firework displays.

Can food stalls help save China’s economy?

As China’s economic growth falters and young workers vie for dwindling jobs, many are embracing a humble occupation they might have once considered beneath them: street vending.

Local governments that once treated it as a public nuisance have encouraged the trend, relaxing regulations in the hopes that more markets and food kiosks will boost spending and employment.

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The paradigm shift is a sign of the deep wounds that the pandemic, along with tight government controls, have left on the world’s second-largest economy.

PHOTO OF THE DAY

Julia Samaniego, watering, and Jose Campos, check for weeds in seed flats under a canopy at a nursery.
Julia Samaniego waters seedlings as Jose Campos checks for weeds in the seed flats at the Wallis Annenberg Wildlife Crossing Project Nursery. Read more:Saving the next P-22 starts with a million ‘hyperlocal’ seeds and a bare-bones nursery
(Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)

CALIFORNIA

Los Angeles Department of Water and Power to halt shut-offs during extreme weather. The decision will adopt local alerts from the National Weather Service as a “trigger” for suspending utility shut-offs due to nonpayment during extreme heat and cold weather events.

Takeaways from the California budget deal between Gov. Gavin Newsom and Democratic lawmakers. Newsom and California lawmakers agreed to a $310.8-billion budget deal that will reduce investments in climate change and delay funding for kindergarten facilities to offset a nearly $32-billion shortfall.

San Francisco board member wants to mandate pharmacies to carry naloxone as overdose cases grow. Between January and May, 275 people died of fentanyl overdoes, according to the San Francisco medical examiner’s office. During the same period in 2022, the city reported 168 fatal fentanyl overdoses.

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NATION-WORLD

The Supreme Court makes it harder to prosecute online stalkers. The Supreme Court ruled that the 1st Amendment protects the free speech of those who repeatedly send unwanted and harassing messages as long as they are not intended as threats.

A watchdog report shows negligence and misconduct at the N.Y. prison where Jeffrey Epstein died by suicide. Epstein, the wealthy financier accused of orchestrating a sex-trafficking ring involving girls, died by suicide and not foul play, according to a watchdog report released nearly four years after his death that highlighted negligence, misconduct and other failures at the New York jail.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

What Ryan Murphy’s and Harry and Meghan’s deals say about the state of Hollywood. Even people with limited to no experience in entertainment have secured rich deals based largely on name recognition. But such deals have fallen out of fashion among some executives, as media and entertainment companies rethink how they spend their resources.

Don Lemon hints at his gripes with CNN in his first interview since his firing. Speaking Saturday on the state of journalism and perhaps hinting at the newly adopted strategies of CNN, the former talk show host reprimanded organizations that give equal footing to disparate voices.

Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Flea on the meaning of God, the band’s worst album and the vice he misses most. The 60-year-old bassist said “Blood Sugar Sex Magik” is the band’s best album, but he’ll “always regret the way we made the first one.

Thousands chatted with this AI ‘virtual girlfriend.’ Then things got even weirder. For a dollar a minute, fans can chat with the personalized AI “clone” of influencer Caryn Marjorie — and thousands have. The main competition to the bot is Marjorie herself.

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BUSINESS

‘Deceiving and disgusting’: Readers react to the rise of restaurant service fees. “I feel that the ‘service charge’ is deceptive. These restaurant owners should include the cost of doing business in the pricing on the menu. Why do I need to additionally subsidize their operating cost in this manner? I don’t buy their explanation as to why they do this,” Mark Tulowitzky writes.

Starbucks union says Pride weekend strikes closed 21 U.S. stores. The strike will continue through this week and is expected to disrupt operations at more than 150 stores, Starbucks Workers United said.

SPORTS

Column: What the halo happened to Angels’ tradition of lighting up the iconic ‘Big A’? Might be a big deal to you. Might not. But in this most must-win of all must-win seasons, for a franchise afflicted by alleged curses for much of its existence, why tempt fate? Light that baby up, or keep it entirely dark.

Lance Armstrong cheated. Now he wants to discuss fairness of trans athletes in sports. A number of folks on social media have weighed in on whether someone with Armstrong’s history of cheating should be leading such a discussion.

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OPINION

Column: Wagner Group’s coup attempt may be over, but it shows a real crack in Putin’s power. “Putin and his apologists have assumed that time is on Russia’s side in the war with Ukraine. On paper, it can look that way militarily. But Ukraine and its Western backers have proved strong and supple, while Putin’s Russia looks more brittle by the day,” writes Jonah Goldberg.

Opinion: A wet winter began to replenish Mono Lake. L.A. should let it be a lake again. The L.A. region needs a radical new approach to water. Importing it from distant watersheds is expensive, energy-intensive and unsustainable. We have the water we need, provided we make the most of every drop.

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ONLY IN L.A.

A view of Colorado Lagoon.
(Mark Gozonsky)

Where should one loaf in L.A.? These 13 chill parks are ideal settings for doing nothing alone or with friends.

FROM THE ARCHIVES

Flags affirming LGBTQ identity dress the fencing surrounding the Stonewall National Monument in New York.
The Stonewall National Monument in New York.
(Bebeto Matthews / Associated Press)

On June 28, 1969, a police raid on a Mafia-run, New York City gay bar called the Stonewall Inn sparked a three-day riot and, in many eyes, launched the gay rights movement.

In 2010, The Times wrote about the history of the rebellion and how Stonewall became the birthplace of the LGBTQ+ movement.

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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