Today’s News: Prayers for the new pope; County healthcare challenge; ‘Oz’ casts a spell

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Conclave prayers. An overnight prayer vigil will be held at downtown L.A.’s Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in advance of the selection of a new pope. The College of Cardinals is scheduled to begin meeting tomorrow in Rome to elect a successor to Benedict XVI. The Archdiocese of Los Angeles says that every hour during the vigil there will be a recitation of the rosary and other prayers. KTLA

Healthy debate. The AIDS Healthcare Foundation is leading a push for the city of L.A. to create its own health department. The non-profit is gathering signatures for a 2014 ballot measure. It says L.A. is being shortchanged by a county health agency that is too big and that does a poor job of controlling disease. Jonathon Fielding, director of the County health department, rejects those charges. Fielding says county officials are studying the ballot measure. L.A. Times

Farm labor. California’s $44 billion agricultural industry is facing a worsening labor shortage as farmworkers age. The workforce is shrinking for a number of reasons, including tougher immigration enforcement and an improving economy in Mexico. Many children of farmworkers are also opting for work away from the fields. The California Farm Bureau Federation says that more than 70 percent of state agricultural producers expect a worker shortage this spring. AP

Ferry tale. Alaska’s infamous $78 million “ferry to nowhere” could be coming to L.A. The craft was commissioned as a prototype military assault vehicle for the Navy. When the Navy passed, it was sent to Alaska to serve as a ferry, but it was never used and became a symbol of wasteful federal spending. L.A. County officials are now kicking the tires on the vessel, as it were. They think the ship could be a valuable public asset for emergency response, mainly to Catalina Island. L.A. Times

Wizardry. It didn’t impress some critics, but “Oz the Great and Powerful” is a hit with moviegoers. The 3-D prequel to the “Wonderful Wizard of Oz” took in more than $80 million in North America this weekend, and $150 million worldwide. No other movie came close. “Jack the Giant Slayer was in second place this weekend with about $10 million in ticket sales. Hollywood Reporter