By Amy Hubbard and Jason Sanchez
Hello, it’s Friday, Aug. 26, and here are the stories you shouldn’t miss today:
Cases drop as experts pledge to change this disease’s name
The number of monkeypox cases reported globally dropped by 21% in the last week, reversing a monthlong trend of rising infections and possibly indicating that Europe’s large outbreak is starting to wane, according to a World Health Organization report. The trend was also playing out in L.A. County, where new cases are starting to flatten as more vaccination doses are distributed and some people are reducing riskier sexual activity.
Meanwhile, experts around the world have pledged to change the disease’s name to something that doesn’t carry the weight of stigma. But tossing out the old term is easier than deciding on a new one.
Poll: Karen Bass has a big lead over Rick Caruso in the L.A. mayoral race
Rep. Bass has built a double-digit lead in the race with a little over two months to go until election day, firming up her base among the city’s Democratic voters and eroding Caruso’s margin in the San Fernando Valley, a new poll shows.
Since beating Caruso in the June primary by 7 points, Bass has widened her advantage against the businessman to 43%-31%, with 24% undecided, according to a new UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental studies poll, co-sponsored by the Los Angeles Times.
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California has banned sales of new gas-powered cars by 2035. Now the real work begins
The move marks a historic turn in the decades-long battle to curb motor vehicle pollution, a momentous shift for consumers, industry, the economy and the environment. But the transition to electric vehicles won’t be easy, and uncertainties remain.
Cost is one. An electric car still costs far more than an equivalent gasoline car. As EV costs remain high, green-oriented politicians feel pressure to offer incentives. The $369-billion climate package recently passed by Congress contains a significant increase in EV subsidies.
Charging is another issue. Although homeowners can install their own EV charger in a garage, most people who live in apartment buildings and condos don’t have that option. The state plans to require multifamily housing landlords to provide some way to charge electric cars, but the details are still being worked out.
Tweaked COVID boosters are close. How much will they help?
COVID-19 vaccines modified to better match today’s dominant Omicron strains are expected to roll out in a few weeks, but still up in the air is how much benefit the booster shots will offer, who should get one, and how soon.
Dr. Peter Marks, the FDA’s vaccine chief, said that the tweaked boosters could help right away — while BA.5 infections still are too high — as well as possibly blunt yet another winter surge. Marks said the new boosters could rev up the immune system to prevent not just serious illness but maybe milder infections too, like the original vaccines did earlier in the pandemic. Read more of the Q&A.
Stay up to date on variant developments, case counts and vaccine news with Coronavirus Today.
California churches don’t have to provide abortion coverage in health plans, a federal court ruled
The trio of churches no longer has to cover abortion services as part of their employee healthcare plans after winning a years-long legal battle against the state.
The case, based on a lawsuit filed by the churches in 2015, weighed their claims of religious discrimination against the state’s position that abortion services represent basic care that should generally be covered by all healthcare plans offered in the state.
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NFL punter Matt Araiza and two San Diego State football players stand accused in a gang-rape lawsuit. The civil suit accuses the three of gang raping a 17-year-old girl last year at an off-campus party. Matt Araiza, 22, whose powerful and precision kicking in college earned him the moniker “Punt God,” was accused of having sex with the minor outside the home and then bringing her inside to a room where she was repeatedly raped.
A sister’s DNA helped to identify the remains of a woman missing for decades. Through forensic testing, authorities have identified the remains found 31 years ago in Thermal, Calif., as those of Kathryn Coffey of Baldwin Park. Cold case investigators met with her sister in June and obtained DNA, confirming on Aug. 8 that the remains were Coffey’s and notifying her family about the identification.
Most Californians see the state’s water shortage as a serious issue, a new poll found. The survey of more than 9,000 voters statewide found that 71% said the state’s water shortage was “extremely serious,” while 23% described it as somewhat serious. Far fewer of those voters indicated they were directly feeling the effects of the drought.
Conflicting claims in the Bryant photo case have exposed deeper problems in the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department. On Wednesday, jurors ordered L.A. County to pay Vanessa Bryant and Chris Chester $31 million for distress caused by deputies and firefighters taking and sharing graphic photos of the Kobe Bryant crash scene. The jury faulted the Sheriff’s Department for failing to adequately train deputies and implement policies that could have prevented such behavior and found there had been a longstanding problem of deputies sharing photos of dead bodies without reason.
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Idaho, Tennessee and Texas are set to enact abortion “trigger laws.” The Republican-led states will ban almost all abortions this week as yet another slate of laws severely limiting the procedure takes effect following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe vs. Wade. To date, 13 states have passed so-called trigger laws that were designed to outlaw most abortions if the high court threw out the constitutional right to end a pregnancy.
Dangerous heat is predicted to hit three times more often in the future. In much of Earth’s wealthy mid-latitudes, spiking temperatures and humidity that feel like 103 degrees or higher — now an occasional summer shock — statistically should happen 20 to 50 times a year by mid-century, said a new study. By 2100, that brutal heat index may linger for most of the summer for places like the U.S. Southeast.
Vladimir Putin ordered the Russian military to start beefing up in 2023. Russia’s president aims to increase the size of the country’s armed forces by 137,000 amid Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. Putin’s decree, which takes effect Jan. 1, didn’t explain whether the military would beef up its ranks by drafting a bigger number of conscripts, increasing the number of volunteer soldiers or using a combination of both. Plus: Despite extensive sanctions on Moscow, plenty of Russian goods continue to enter the U.S. legally, worth more than $1 billion a month.
HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS
Welcome to the “Hotel California” saga. In the mid-2000s, a rare book dealer was presented with the opportunity to buy Eagles co-founder Don Henley’s handwritten lyrics for much of the band’s landmark 1976 album, “Hotel California.” Those pages are at the center of an indictment handed down last month by Manhattan Dist. Atty. Alvin Bragg, in which three prominent figures in the entertainment artifact world were charged with crimes related to efforts to sell the “Hotel California” lyric sheets.
A “Lilo & Stitch” children’s choir reflects. More than two decades ago, the director of a Hawaiian school’s children’s chorus received a call from Disney inviting the chorus to record music for the “Lilo & Stitch” soundtrack. The 2002 movie features standout tracks sung in Hawaiian and English by Mark Kealiʻi Hoʻomalu and members of the Kamehameha chorus. Former members of the chorus have come to understand the collective power of their performance.
How the game design legend behind “King’s Quest” was lured out of retirement. Roberta and Ken Williams, the founders of Sierra On-Line, helped mainstream the idea of narrative-driven games. And now, Roberta and Ken are making a comeback: They’re readying their first new game in about 25 years. “Colossal Cave 3D Adventure” is still a ways from release, but it will mark their return to an industry that they left amid professional heartbreak, lots of frustration and a multiyear noncompete agreement that led them away from the game business.
A former Nickelodeon star said the network’s child actors “were not safe.” Former “Zoey 101” actor Alexa Nikolas led a protest to voice concerns about the children’s TV network outside its Burbank animation studio.
Chateau Marmont has agreed to let workers unionize, and canceled plans for a members-only hotel. The owner of the famed hotel has agreed to let its workers be represented by Unite Here Local 11. He also dropped plans to convert the Hollywood hangout for the rich and beautiful into a members-only establishment — a plan floated in 2020 that would have allowed a select clientele to purchase shares, pay management fees and, in exchange, get extended access to the property.
The National Labor Relations Board filed a complaint accusing Starbucks of withholding pay hikes at unionized stores. The board says Starbucks is violating U.S. labor law by withholding pay hikes and other benefits from stores that have voted to unionize. The complaint is based on charges filed by Workers United, the union trying to organize Starbucks’ 9,000 company-owned U.S. stores.
Op-Ed: With a volatile U.S. electorate, no one can predict what’ll happen in November’s midterms. Just think about how much has shifted, how quickly and unpredictably, over the course of this election cycle. In spring 2021, who was worried about inflation? A couple of months ago, who would have thought a gridlocked Congress would produce a gusher of legislation? Raise your hand if you expected big bipartisan votes in favor of abortion rights (in Kansas!) and same-sex marriage (in the U.S. House!). I’m old enough to remember when everyone was certain the 2022 midterms would be a referendum on Democrats’ COVID policy.
Op-Ed: Seize the downturn. The Great Recession showed us that corporate investors are not going to solve our affordable housing crisis. Building homes for poor people simply isn’t profitable enough as a big business. But we can learn from their tactics. During the next downturn — whenever it officially shows up — California should be prepared to bring strong public investment to the housing sector.
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Now pitching NIL deals. Trevor Bauer has not pitched for the Dodgers in 14 months, after being first put on investigative leave and then suspended for violating baseball’s policy on sexual assault and domestic violence. Bauer is appealing the suspension, but in the meantime he is offering college athletes — primarily baseball players — the chance to earn money and gain exposure by promoting his Bauer Outage line of merchandise.
Meet LAFC’s surprise MVP. The roster includes a five-time Champions League winner, a former league MVP, a U.S. national team regular and the captain of the last team to win the European Championship. Yet its leading scorer over the last 12 months is a relatively unknown Colombian with just 10 minutes of international experience. In fact, Cristian Arango is so anonymous even his teammates don’t always recognize his name. “Oh, Chicho!” he said. “A lot of people don’t call him Cristian Arango. It sounds so weird sometimes.”
Why do Lakers fans think Patrick Beverley and Russell Westbrook hate each other? The team’s latest acquisition, Beverley, has a history of on-court animosity with Westbrook, the guard the team wants to unload. Westbrook says the trash talking is “fine.” Is it? If the Lakers enter camp with both players on the team, there will be a lot of people trying to figure that out.
The Rams’ Aaron Donald was involved in a skirmish with the Bengals in a joint practice. Tempers flared. Helmets came off and were swung. Punches were thrown and there was also kicking and shoving before Rams coach Sean McVay and Bengals coach Zac Taylor ended the workout prematurely.
Eat at Pijja Palace. Have you swung by the summer’s hottest dining sensation yet? The sports bar that serves Indian American food in the Silver Lake strip mall where the legendary Happy Foot Sad Foot sign spun for 30 years? When Pijja Palace opens at 5 p.m., cars quickly fill the few parking spaces in the complex’s tight lot. The rest of us drive around, finding what we can along Sunset Boulevard or on neighboring residential streets. Approaching the doorway, the eyes begin tracking the rapid-pace images flashing inside: Thirteen TV screens mounted around the dining room are broadcasting whatever game happens to be playing locally that night. Its crisscrossing influences and owner Avish Naran’s we-do-what-we-want irreverence feel innate to the city, but there is also nothing else quite like it in Los Angeles.
WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING
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The remote work revolution is reshaping America. In 2020, at the height of the pandemic’s shutdowns, almost two-thirds of work in the U.S. was being done remotely. Fewer people are now remote, but the number has stabilized at a fairly eye-popping level: one-third in 2021 and 2022, according to data from some economists. And fresh estimates support evidence of populations on the move, with “seismic disruptions as Americans spread into rural, exurban and suburban areas at rates we haven’t seen in at least a decade.” Washington Post
They met their doppelgängers. A photo project by Canadian artist François Brunelle paired hundreds of unrelated people who just so happen to look eerily similar. The project, big on social media, drew the attention of scientists. They performed DNA and other tests on 32 of those look-alikes. Those who looked most alike shared significantly more genes. “There are so many people in the world that the system is repeating itself,” said a researcher.” So, there’s a good chance you too have a doppelgänger. New York Times
FROM THE ARCHIVES
Fifty-eight years ago this week, on Aug. 27, 1964, comedian Gracie Allen died in Los Angeles at age 69. The Times reported that Allen, born in San Francisco, “studied at Star of the Sea Convent and at a secretarial school.” Allen performed on vaudeville, at times with her sisters, and in 1922 met song-and-dance man George Burns backstage at a New Jersey theater. At first she played it straight, “but Burns soon recognized that her set-ups got more laughs than his punch lines,” according to “Notable American Women: The Modern Period.”
Burns said Allen “made me a success after years and years of failure.” The couple went on to decades of success in vaudeville, film and TV.
Among punch lines attributed to Allen:
- “This recipe is certainly silly. It says to separate two eggs, but it doesn’t say how far to separate them.”
- “They laughed at Joan of Arc, but she went right ahead and built it.”
- “There’s so much good in the worst of us, and so many of the worst of us get the best of us, that the rest of us aren’t even worth talking about.”
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