Today’s Headlines: Biden’s big swing at immigration reform

Eufemia Didonato

Democratic lawmakers will introduce an ambitious immigration reform bill, but it could just be the opening bid.

TOP STORIES

Biden’s Big Swing at Immigration Reform

President Biden will make official today his aggressive opening salvo in a decades-long effort to reform a broken U.S. immigration system, which ground to a near-halt under his predecessor.

Democratic lawmakers are set to introduce the legislation that Biden officials touted on his first day in the White House — an ambitious bill that would offer a pathway to citizenship for an estimated 11 million immigrants in the United States without legal status.

With Democrats having a tenuous hold on both chambers of Congress, progressives have pushed the Biden administration to go “big, bold and inclusive” on immigration reform, as Rep. Linda T. Sanchez (D-Whittier) and Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), the bill’s chief sponsors, put it in a statement Wednesday.

Republicans, for their part, began to decry the bill before it was announced, a potential sign that Biden’s proposal could join the congressional graveyard of efforts before it under Democratic and Republican administrations.

But even as they insisted that “this is not a bipartisan bill,” administration officials signaled that they view the legislation more as an opening bid and don’t necessarily expect it to pass with the needed Republican support in its current form.

More Politics

— The Biden administration and progressive Democrats are heading for their first big policy clash over whether to gradually increase the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour as part of the upcoming COVID-19 stimulus bill.

— After calling more than a dozen other world leaders since taking office, Biden telephoned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Could it signal a more evenhanded U.S. stance in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?

— Biden is promising a majority of elementary schools will be open five days a week by the end of his first 100 days in office, restating his goal after his administration came under fire when aides said schools would be considered open if they held in-person learning just one day a week.

— Emerging from his post-White House seclusion, former President Trump enjoyed the warm embrace of conservative media as he called in to television shows and continued spreading lies about his election defeat.

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California’s Aid Package

Low-income Californians are set to receive a $600 state stimulus payment to help them weather financial hardships during the pandemic.

Gov. Gavin Newsom and legislative leaders announced that they have agreed to a $9.6-billion economic recovery package that also includes $2.1 billion in grants for small businesses, as well as help for state-subsidized child-care and preschool providers.

The “Golden State stimulus” payments provided under the state proposal, which will be expedited for legislative approval next week, are in addition to the $600-per-person stimulus checks already approved by Congress and would be on top of direct payments of up to $1,400 per person that have been proposed by House Democrats.

More Top Coronavirus Headlines

— Coronavirus infections have plummeted to pre-Thanksgiving levels in California, bringing renewed optimism that a wider reopening of the still-shackled economy may be just around the corner.

— The U.S. is ramping up its COVID-19 vaccination effort, nearly doubling the daily rate of inoculations for Americans in the four weeks since Biden took office, according to data released by his administration.

— As worries about vaccine delays swept across Europe, Pfizer and BioNTech said they have finalized an agreement to supply the European Union with an additional 200 million doses of their COVID-19 vaccine.

Extremism in Their Own Ranks

After the Capitol attack and other recent incidents exposing far-right sympathies among law enforcement officers and the military — which is a big feeder of recruits into police forces — law enforcement leaders across the country are confronting anew an old threat: far-right extremism within their own ranks.

While leaders say they have long vetted for white supremacist, anti-government and other racist and radical beliefs, they also acknowledged that cops are among a broad cross-section of Americans who have found themselves sucked into conspiratorial rabbit holes and into the fold of radical right-wing militias and white supremacist organizations.

In a response to congressional questions last month, Major Cities Chiefs Assn. President Art Acevedo said law enforcement leaders nationwide would be reviewing the Capitol attack and looking for ways to root out extremism.

Mission to Mars

A rover designed and built at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Cañada Flintridge is scheduled to land on Mars this afternoon. If Perseverance lands safely, it will search for hints of past life.

The rover is designed to collect terrain samples that future missions would bring to Earth to be studied. Though Mars is dusty and dry today, scientists think it was warmer and wetter more than 3.5 billion years ago.

The Curiosity rover that landed in 2012 revealed that Mars had the right organic ingredients to host life. Perseverance’s mission of finding signs of ancient life is far more difficult.

FROM THE ARCHIVES

In February 1965, an Alta Loma woman named Lucille Miller was on trial, charged in the death of her husband, dentist Gordon “Cork” Miller.

The couple had gone out to buy milk one night, according to a 2006 account from their daughter, and gotten into a crash that killed Gordon. Miller and her attorneys argued a blown-out tire led to the crash, but prosecutors argued she’d caused it herself.

A jury convicted Miller of first-degree murder. She was sentenced to life in prison but served only seven years. The Times covered the trial, sending a photographer to capture the proceedings. The image below ultimately won several awards.

a seated woman is seen through a car tire

Feb. 17, 1965: Framed by a burned tire entered as evidence, Lucille Miller, above, confers with attorney Edward P. Foley before returning to the witness stand in her San Bernardino murder trial.

(John Malmin / Los Angeles Times)

CALIFORNIA

— New legislation would ban all fracking in California by 2027, taking aim at the powerful oil and gas industry in a state already planning to ban the sale of new gasoline-powered cars by 2035.

— The city of Los Angeles is suing “ghost gun” maker Polymer80. The LAPD said more than 700 seized weapons are tied to its parts.

— L.A. police say they arrested a woman last month after she allegedly offered to inject undercover officers with counterfeit Botox in a downtown hotel room that she’d converted into a makeshift medical office.

— The Anaheim City Council is backing a state bill that could allow Disneyland to reopen from its pandemic closure earlier than expected.

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NATION-WORLD

— In Texas, blackouts continued to plague swaths of some of America’s largest cities. And a new winter storm was expected to hit many of the same areas across the U.S. still crippled by outages and shortages of supplies.

Rush Limbaugh, the controversial and widely influential conservative radio personality, author and television host, has died at 70. Even in death, he was reviled and revered.

— Three North Korean computer programmers have been charged in Los Angeles with committing a wide array of cyberattacks and attempting to steal more than $1 billion in a conspiracy that targeted companies around the world.

— A powerful junta spent decades inflicting terror in Myanmar. Faced with a military takeover of the civilian government, demonstrators are resorting to creative acts of civil disobedience to protest.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

— There’s only one Dwayne Johnson — among the most famous, most likable, most followed and therefore most bankable people on the planet. NBC’s new comedy “Young Rock” tells the story of his life with three versions of the actor.

— HBO has released a new trailer for “Allen v. Farrow,” a documentary series that delves into accusations of pedophilia and sexual assault against writer-actor-director Woody Allen.

— Ratings titan Nielsen has begun tracking inclusion in television to accelerate diversity and equity in media.

— A negroni made Stanley Tucci a social media star. There’s more where that came from.

BUSINESS

— U.S. radio broadcaster IHeartMedia said it’s buying Sherman Oaks-based ad technology company Triton Digital for $230 million to further expand its podcasting business.

— The frenzy around GameStop’s stock may have quieted down, but the outsize influence small investors had in the saga will probably stick around.

SPORTS

Naomi Osaka defeated Serena Williams to advance to the Australian Open final. “It was an honor to play her,” Osaka, who grew up idolizing Williams, said after the match. “Just to be on the court playing against her, for me, is just a dream.”

Willie Mack III has gone from being homeless and living out of his car to playing on the PGA Tour. He will make his second tour start at the Genesis Invitational at the Riviera Country Club today.

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OPINION

— On the COVID-19 vaccination front, the U.S. is doing better than it might seem, The Times’ editorial board writes. No other country has administered as many shots as the U.S. — not even close.

— For any parent who has a high school student enrolled in the L.A. Unified School District and values the importance of having a sports experience, it’s time to find other districts or private schools, writes prep sports columnist Eric Sondheimer.

WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

— Federal prosecutors are investigating how New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration handled the COVID-19 pandemic in nursing homes, people familiar with the matter told the Wall Street Journal. The inquiry comes amid growing scrutiny of the state’s data on deaths in those facilities. (Wall Street Journal)

— The danger of the myth of “good” and “bad” COVID-19 vaccines. (STAT News)

— Climate change is costing once-snowy places their identity, and their denizens’ shared experience with the natural world. Call the feeling winter grief. (BBC Future)

ONLY IN L.A.

Courtney Warwick is a budding plant parent in Long Beach who combines her love of flora and fashion on the Instagram account @blkgirlgrnthumb. The airline industry employee has a side hustle: “I Rap to My Plants”-branded mugs, canvas bags and T-shirts. “I’m more than just a plant mom, I’m a cool ass plant mom that literally raps to her plants every damn day,” she says, “so it was a no brainer.”

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