Today’s Headlines: Hurricane Ian slams southwest Florida as a Category 4 storm

By Elvia Limón and Jason Sanchez

Hello, it’s Thursday, Sept. 29, and here are the stories you shouldn’t miss today:

TOP STORIES

Ian makes landfall as a Category 4 storm

Hurricane Ian made landfall in southwest Florida as a catastrophic Category 4 storm. About 2.5 million people were ordered to evacuate the region before the storm hit the coast near Cayo Costa with maximum sustained winds of 150 mph.

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It heads inland, where it is expected to weaken, at about 9 mph, but residents in central Florida could still experience hurricane-force winds. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said the state has 30,000 utility linemen, search-and-rescue teams and 7,000 National Guard troops from Florida and elsewhere ready to help once the weather clears.

Before moving through the Gulf of Mexico to Florida, Hurricane Ian tore into western Cuba, killing two people and bringing down the country’s electrical grid.

California allows affordable housing on some commercial properties

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed two major bills to convert underutilized and vacant commercial buildings into housing.

Senate Bill 6 and Assembly Bill 2011 incentivize housing projects in commercial corridors otherwise zoned for large retail and office buildings to help California fill a multimillion-unit shortage in its housing supply.

Both bills guarantee union-scale wages and promise an expedited construction process while keeping development close to city centers to help the state meet its environmental goals and avoid sprawl. Newsom said the two laws would help California address the state’s “original sin” of housing affordability.

Why Korean Americans are seeking more mental health help

Buoyed by everything from BTS to Zoom therapy and nudged by the stress of the pandemic, Korean Americans are seeking more mental health help than ever before, with one Koreatown clinic in Los Angeles seeing its number of clients nearly double over the last four years.

The skyrocketing need, along with the continuing scarcity of therapists competent in the Korean language and knowledgeable in Korean culture, has strained the community’s ability to get mental health care. Still, community organizations and experts are optimistic that this shift in attitude about mental health will last.

I recovered from COVID but my nose didn’t

The Times’ Nicole Kagan says her nose stopped working two and a half years ago. She has anosmia, a symptom of long COVID. Kagan caught the virus early in the pandemic and had terrible symptoms, but after a week of bed rest, she was ready to resume her life. Her nose wasn’t.

With the pandemic now well into its third year, anosmia — once an obscure problem — has become increasingly widespread.

Roughly 5% of people who experience smell loss during COVID-19 will develop long-term anosmia, according to Dr. Bradley J. Goldstein, an ear, nose and throat doctor at Duke University Hospital. The effects are more drastic than most people realize.

More top coronavirus headlines

Stay up to date on variant developments, case counts and vaccine news with Coronavirus Today.

For Iranian protesters, a digital double-edged sword

Iran’s anti-government protests, which were sparked by the death of a young woman in police custody, have gone viral. The internet is an essential tool for these demonstrators. They’ve topped news broadcasts and ricocheted across the globe.

The hard-line government in Tehran has deployed digital trackers and waged an all-out media war against protesters and their supporters — a strategy it used in 2019 to quash protests in just three days. This time is different. The protests are well into their second week and show little sign of waning.

A key reason protesters have been able to keep the demonstrations going and maintain the world’s attention: They were ready to do battle in cyberspace.

Check out “The Times” podcast for essential news and more.

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PHOTO OF THE DAY

 Currency traders organize stacks of Afghan bills

(Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)

CALIFORNIA

A woman was charged with murder after allegedly running over a man she thought was killing a cat. Star Esser, 20, thought she saw a man trying to run over a cat with an SUV and confronted him, according to prosecutors. Both Esser and Luis Anthony Victor, 43, exited their cars to argue before Esser allegedly returned to hers, made a U-turn and struck Victor with her car. Esser faces a maximum sentence of 25 years to life if convicted.

L.A. County supervisors propose adopting permanent rental protections. Some of the proposals would be the first of their kind in L.A. County, including allowing tenants to avoid being evicted if they fall behind on about a month’s worth of rent. The county will push to make several pandemic-era programs permanent, which will help low-income tenants with access to legal services and rental assistance and establish limitations on the types of questions landlords can ask renters.

Gov. Gavin Newsom signs a UFW bill aimed at helping California farmworkers organize. The official signature came after union members and their supporters made a 335-mile pilgrimage from Delano to Sacramento and then camped out in front of the state Capitol for weeks as dignitaries visited — a vivid and theatrical display of political heft.

A teen allegedly ran toward deputies and wore body armor when she was killed with her father in a freeway shootout. Law enforcement had been searching for Anthony Graziano, 45, and his daughter Savannah Graziano after Fontana police and the California Highway Patrol issued an Amber Alert. During the freeway shootout, the teen was fatally shot when she ran toward San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputies wearing body armor and a tactical helmet.

Sirhan Sirhan, convicted of killing Robert F. Kennedy, challenges his parole denial. Sirhan shot Kennedy moments after the U.S. senator from New York claimed victory in California’s pivotal Democratic presidential primary. He wounded five others. Gov. Gavin Newsom said in January that Sirhan remains a threat to the public and hasn’t taken responsibility for a crime that changed American history.

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NATION-WORLD

A judge plans to order R. Kelly to pay $300,000 to a victim in his sex crimes case. A restitution order by U.S. District Judge Ann Connelly that was still being finalized is meant to cover the cost of treatment for herpes and psychotherapy for one of his victims in a decades-long scheme to use his fame to sexually abuse young fans. The victim, referred to only by a pseudonym, has accused the jailed Kelly of giving her the sexually transmitted disease during one of their encounters.

Senators push new oversight to combat federal prison crisis. The proposed Federal Prison Oversight Act would require the Justice Department to create a prison ombudsman to field complaints about prison conditions and would compel the department’s inspector general to evaluate risks and abuses at all 122 federal prison facilities.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

Rapper Coolio, known for the Grammy-winning song ‘Gangsta’s Paradise,’ is dead at 59. The musician was found unresponsive on the bathroom floor at a friend’s house, manager Jarez Posey told TMZ, which first reported the news. No official cause of death has been determined, but cardiac arrest was suspected, Posey told the website.

Lionsgate looks to spin off a film and TV studio, instead of Starz. The Santa Monica-based company told investors that it has decided to focus on spinning off the studio behind the “Hunger Games” movie franchise instead of its Starz cable network. The decision comes after months of talks to sell a stake in Starz, the producer of shows such as “Outlander,” as a way to boost the valuation of the company.

Emo is back. And so is Paramore. Two decades after Paramore’s debut, contemporary artists such as Olivia Rodrigo, Demi Lovato and Willow Smith have cited the band’s music as inspiration. This fall, they are heading on the road for the first time since 2018, and the group spoke with The Times about their enduring cultural relevance and their upcoming album set to be released Feb. 10.

Warner Bros. Discovery faces a lawsuit alleging inflated HBO Max numbers. The suit alleges false statements were made about the health of the HBO Max streaming service and its subscriber numbers. The suit also proposes to expand to include other Discovery shareholders who have watched the value of their holdings plummet after the $43-billion merger of Discovery and AT&T’s WarnerMedia unit.

Expansion is set for an old Hollywood studio amid surging demand for L.A. soundstages. The owner of Television Center, once home to Technicolor’s filmmaking laboratory and Metro Pictures Corp., plans to turn the dated complex on Romaine Street into a bigger, more modern studio that will rent production facilities to people who make movies and television shows.

BUSINESS

SEC sues former MoviePass executives for alleged fraud and misleading investors. The market regulator said that for more than two years, Theodore Farnsworth and former Netflix executive Mitchell Lowe, who were CEOs of Helios and Matheson Analytics and MoviePass, respectively, “intentionally and repeatedly” disseminated materially false or misleading statements about the business, according to a filing with the U.S. District Court in New York.

Why four-day workweeks may be better for your career and health. Workers who shifted to 32-hour workweeks logged 7.58 hours per night of sleep, nearly a full hour more than when they were keeping 40-hour workweeks. The concept of shortened workweeks is gaining traction since the pandemic upended schedules and gave many workers a glimpse of how flexibility could improve their lives.

OPINION

We have nothing to fear but email fundraising pleas. Politicians need to cut it out with the histrionics and fear-mongering when asking for donations, says Times Opinion contributor David L. Ulin. “Politics, after all, is blood sport, particularly in the divided nation we’ve become. Still, if the fundraising texts and emails I’m receiving are any indication, some candidates have lost sight of this. No one, not even a supporter, wants to be harassed all day and told, primarily, how troubling things are,” Ulin writes.

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SPORTS

The Rams can’t stop talking about bringing back Odell Beckham Jr. During the team’s 23-20 Super Bowl LVI victory over the Cincinnati Bengals, Beckham caught a touchdown pass and had a 35-yard reception before he suffered a torn ACL. Beckham is not expected to be ready to play for any team until late October or November at the earliest. And the Rams almost certainly will be challenged for his services by other suitors, especially playoff contenders. But Beckham never seems far from the Rams’ thoughts.

The Dodgers’ postseason rotation plans come into focus. Manager Dave Roberts said the team would like to have a four-man rotation when its postseason begins in the National League Division Series on Oct. 11. Julio Urías and Clayton Kershaw seem like locks for Game 1 and 2. Tyler Anderson will start a game as well, Roberts said. The fourth spot is somewhat up in the air.

ONLY IN L.A.

Two women twirling streamers in the surf.

Dancers twirl streamers while listening to music as part of a So We Are Silent Disco event in Long Beach.

(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

A disco on the beach? The So We Are Silent Disco has met every Sunday in Long Beach since launching in March — almost two years to the day after Los Angeles County first implemented its Safer at Home COVID-19 order and changed the way we could socialize in public together. It begins with a simple mirroring exercise, each willing participant contributing a dance move that the rest of the circle mimics. Some freeze under the pressure of creativity, only repeating a variation on what the last dancer did. It doesn’t matter, though, because no one’s keeping score. However sheepish this hodgepodge crew seemed before, everyone spends the next hour quietly panting as their limbs flail in uncoordinated dance to music only they can hear.

FROM THE ARCHIVES

James Dean in the 1956 movie "Giant," directed by George Stevens.

James Dean in the 1956 movie “Giant,” directed by George Stevens.

(Warner Bros. / TCM)

This September marks 67 years since actor James Dean died in a car accident. The 24-year-old was killed in a head-on collision at the rural town of Cholame, about 19 miles east of Paso Robles. He was in his German-built Porsche sports car while en route to road races at Salinas.

The Indiana-born star left Hollywood with his mechanic, Rolph Wuetherich, several hours before the fatal crash for a weekend of racing at Salinas. He had just completed a role in “Giant,” the film version of Edna Ferber’s book about Texas. Both “Giant” and “Rebel Without a Cause,” in which he had a starring role, were released after his death.

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