Hello, it’s Wednesday, Dec. 7, and here are the stories you shouldn’t miss today:
As L.A. County coronavirus cases leap, more people head to hospitals
Los Angeles County appears to be in the midst of another full-blown coronavirus surge, with cases doubling since Thanksgiving.
The big rise — which partially captures but likely does not fully reflect exposures over the Thanksgiving holiday — is prompting increasingly urgent calls for residents to get up to date on their vaccines and consider taking other preventive steps to stymie viral transmission and severe illness.
Also on the rise is the number of coronavirus-positive patients being cared for in hospitals, sparking concerns about renewed stress on the region’s healthcare system and raising the specter of an indoor public mask mandate if the trends continue, possibly soon after New Year’s Day. COVID-19 deaths also have begun to increase. Fatality rates are highest among those who either haven’t been vaccinated or are not up to date on their booster shot, officials say.
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Raphael Warnock defeated Herschel Walker in the Georgia Senate runoff
Sen. Warnock bested Walker, a Republican, securing a 51st seat for Democrats in Congress’ upper chamber and giving the party greater power to push its agenda in a closely divided Washington.
Warnock’s victory means Senate Democrats — as long as they vote in unity — will no longer need to rely on Vice President Kamala Harris to cast tie-breaking votes. It also lessens the ability of moderate Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin III of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona to block or soften legislation, as they’ve done in the current Congress.
- Donald Trump’s company was convicted of tax fraud for helping executives dodge taxes on lavish perks such as Manhattan apartments and luxury cars.
- The city of San Diego aims to transform the car-dependent neighborhood of Mira Mesa and its suburban strip malls into several pedestrian-friendly urban villages featuring high-rise housing and less traffic, under a new growth blueprint.
- In response to the L.A. City Hall audio leak scandal, a proposed state law could force the city to establish an independent redistricting commission, curtailing the City Council’s influence over the lines that delineate their districts.
- In audio-leak-related news, a recall petition against Los Angeles City Councilmember Kevin de León was approved by the city clerk, allowing organizers to begin collecting signatures.
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The Times reviewed rodeo animal injury reports and found scores of casualties
As the Los Angeles City Council prepares to weigh in on a measure to effectively ban rodeos, a review of 21 years of rodeo animal injury reports shows a hidden, violent and deadly side to a sport heralded as an icon of American tradition.
A Times review of the reports shows that since 2001 — when a state a law went into effect requiring all rodeos to have a veterinarian in attendance or on call — more than 125 animal injuries have been reported. The reports document injuries ranging from minor maladies such as superficial abrasions to crushed skulls, broken legs, gored flanks and snapped spines. In 35 of the reports, the animal died immediately or within minutes of the accident, or had to be euthanized.
Douglas Corey, chairman of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Assn.’s livestock welfare committee, said he could not comment on the reports or numbers cited by The Times. But he said that rodeos were very safe for animals, and that just 0.00046, or fewer than 0.05%, of animals used in rodeos were injured.
The ‘catfishing’ Virginia cop who killed a California family was detained in 2016 after violent threats
The Virginia police officer who “catfished” a 15-year-old California girl online and killed her mother and grandparents was detained for psychiatric evaluation in 2016 after threatening to kill himself and his father and experiencing relationship troubles with his girlfriend, according to a police report obtained by the Los Angeles Times.
The 2016 incident, which has not been previously reported, raises new questions about how Austin Lee Edwards became a law enforcement officer and offers details about his life. Authorities in Virginia have said they were shocked by the California rampage and knew of no red flags in Edwards’ background.
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PHOTO OF THE DAY
As a sacred minnow nears extinction, Native Americans of Clear Lake have called for a bold plan. The Pomo Indian tribes are watching the symbol of abundance and security they call chi dwindle into extinction. Now, they’ve taken the rare and drastic step of urging Interior Secretary Deb Haaland to use her emergency powers to intervene.
The D.A. for Northern California’s largest prosecutor’s office quit Twitter. The Santa Clara County district attorney has announced that he’s leaving the social media network due to a rise in extremist posts following the purchase of the company by billionaire Elon Musk.
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Argentina’s vice president was found guilty in a $1-billion fraud scheme. Cristina Fernández was convicted and sentenced to six years in prison and a lifetime ban from holding public office for the scheme that embezzled $1 billion through public works projects.
The suspect accused of killing five people at a Colorado gay club was charged with hate crimes. Prosecutors said the suspect entered the nightclub last month clad in body armor and opened fire with an AR-15-style rifle before patrons wrestled him to the ground. The charges include 305 criminal counts, including hate crimes and murder.
Restoring power to thousands of homes after two substations were shot up in North Carolina could take until Thursday. Duke Energy said crews were making progress on restoring power to Moore County, where authorities said one or more people shot up the substations, but the repairs won’t be complete until later in the week. Police have not released a motive for the attack.
A former Florida GOP congressman was arrested over his ties to the Venezuelan government. Former Rep. David Rivera, who had signed a $50-million consulting contract with Venezuela’s socialist government, was arrested Monday on suspicion of money laundering and representing a foreign government without registering.
HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS
“Cheers” stars Kirstie Alley and Ted Danson made one of TV’s most iconic pairings. “Cheers” is one of the best written comedies in television history, and the combination of actor and role created the part for which Alley is rightly best remembered, writes television critic Robert Lloyd.
In a new lawsuit, 38 women accuse James Toback of sexual misconduct. Five years after a Times investigation into sexual harassment allegations against the filmmaker, dozens of women filed a joint lawsuit against Toback.
Anne Heche wasn’t under influence when she crashed. The actor was not impaired by alcohol or any substance at the time of her death, according to a new report from the L.A. County Medical Examiner-Coroner office that was reviewed Tuesday by The Times.
A plea deal “buried” the abuse at a Mexican megachurch. A new doc hopes to unearth it. “Unveiled: Surviving La Luz del Mundo,” on HBO, is a three-part docuseries exploring the history and power of the church, whose congregants believe its leader is an “apostle” appointed by God to whom they must show unwavering loyalty and obedience. And it’s against this backdrop that former members detail the years of abuse they say they endured.
HBO Max has returned to Prime Video as Warner Bros. Discovery searches for revenue. A little more than a year after its departure, Prime Video subscribers can pay an additional $14.99 a month to receive the channel. HBO Max’s return signals parent company Warner Bros. Discovery’s nearly complete unwinding of AT&T’s business strategy.
Amazon Studios unveiled a massive virtual production stage in Culver City. Stage 15, built in 1940 and once the home to movies including “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “RoboCop,” has been transformed into the largest virtual production stage in Los Angeles with high-tech upgrades that marry Amazon’s technology and entertainment businesses.
Outgoing Twitter employees are preparing for a legal campaign against the world’s richest man. Several legal actions are brewing in the wake of Elon Musk’s chaotic and layoff-intensive tech takeover, which, amid a sectorwide downturn, has left many outgoing Twitter staffers scrambling for money, employment and a sense of closure.
Michelin added 18 new stars to its California guide, including eight restaurants in L.A. One of the world’s most prestigious dining guides fanned out across the state and found only one restaurant newly deemable of three stars — the highest level of rating within the company — though 17 garnered new accolades of one star.
UCLA is rushing for the Big Ten and the big payday. But what about the players? With Big Ten money about to flow into the school’s coffers, making everyone who doesn’t actually play a nice chunk of change, the toll on the players is going underdiscussed. In effect, the plan is to treat UCLA’s 18-to 22-year-old student athletes as fungible material in the manufacture of money.
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Cody Bellinger’s career with the Dodgers has ended. In recent years, few players have had a bigger presence among the Dodgers than center fielder Cody Bellinger. But less than three weeks after he was non-tendered by the team and became a free agent, the slugger’s roller-coaster tenure in Los Angeles ended. Bellinger agreed to terms on a one-year contract with the Chicago Cubs.
Also: Here’s a look at the Dodgers’ top prospects.
“We want to go down in the history books.” Morocco upset Spain on penalty kicks following 120 scoreless minutes, becoming the first African team since 2010 to reach the World Cup quarterfinals.
The Rams claimed quarterback Baker Mayfield off waivers, believing he remains a playmaker. Mayfield was released by the Carolina Panthers on Monday after failing to revive a career that began with the Cleveland Browns. He was the No. 1 pick in the 2018 NFL draft.
ONLY IN SoCAL
21 secret spots in La Jolla that shine in the winter. Times travel guru Christopher Reynolds has a guide to the seaside San Diego community — just as the weather cools, crowds thin and prices drop.
For example: Go “body whomping” at Windansea Beach, where the shore break is abrupt and powerful (not recommended for splashing around with the kids). Or go to the Cave Store, which really does have a cave entrance. The passage is 145 carved-out steps, dug in 1902-03. The opening at the bottom, he writes, is known as Sunny Jim Cave. Lots more here.
FROM THE ARCHIVES
Eighty-one years ago today, on Dec. 7, 1941, Japanese bombers attacked the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor. The report on the front page of The Times said, “War struck suddenly and without warning from the sky and sea today at the Hawaiian Islands.” More than 2,300 U.S. troops were killed. Of those, 1,177 were those serving on the battleship USS Arizona, which was moored in the harbor.
Last year, on the 80th anniversary of the attack, our colleague Times columnist George Skelton wrote of his own memories of the day: “I was 4, playing with my little brother at the bottom of a slope behind our hilltop house in Santa Barbara when Mom rushed down, very intense. Kneeling at face level, she lectured: ‘Remember this day. It’s Dec. 7. Dec. 7. It’s historic. America has been attacked. … We’re at war.’”
He also recalled an incident on Feb. 23, 1942, when a Japanese sub surfaced just north of Santa Barbara and shelled the Ellwood oil field, where his father was working. “Dad was ticked. ‘They gave us pitchforks and told us to go stand on the beach and defend it. … What was I supposed to do with a pitchfork?’” Skelton wrote: “My generation is the last that will have any personal recollection of the war that made America a superpower and California a nation-state.” You can read more of George’s story here.
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