Today’s Headlines: Officials warn against inaccurate COVID test results

By Elvia Limón and Jason Sanchez

Hello, it’s Thursday, Aug.17, and here are the stories you shouldn’t miss today:

TOP STORIES

Officials warn of misleading COVID rapid test results

At-home coronavirus screening has become a way of life for many Californians — a vital and accurate way of tracking COVID-19 infections. But some medical experts are now cautioning that one test may not be enough to definitively determine whether someone is infected.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration suggested last week that those checking to determine whether they were infected should use multiple tests over a period of days.

When you “get a positive result, the results are typically accurate,” government officials wrote in a public statement. “However, if you perform an at-home COVID-19 antigen test, you could get a false negative result.”

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More top coronavirus headlines

  • The head the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced a shake-up of the organization, saying it fell short in responding to COVID-19 and needed to become more nimble.
  • A San Jose church that defied safety regulations during the COVID-19 pandemic by holding large religious services won’t have to pay about $200,000 in fines, a state appeals court ruled.

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

An O.C. lawyer’s bragging prompts a judge to throw out a winning malpractice verdict

When his medical malpractice trial concluded in April, Dr. Essam Quraishi left an Orange County civil courtroom in victory. Swiftly and unanimously, 12 jurors had decided that the gastroenterologist had not been responsible for the death of a patient.

That was before his lawyer, Robert McKenna III, appeared in an online celebration video, bragging about his work and saying the case involved “a guy that was probably negligently killed, but we kind of made it look like other people did it.”

Citing McKenna’s remarks, the judge who presided over the trial vacated the verdict, ordering the case back to court. “I think I have to protect the system and say plaintiffs deserve a new trial,” Orange County Superior Court Judge James Crandall said at an Aug. 4 hearing.

Southern California home prices slip again

In recent months, rising mortgage interest rates have put the brakes on a once-hot housing market in Southern California and across the country. With would-be buyers choosing to sit on the sidelines, sales are plunging and homeowners are slashing their asking prices to close a deal.

Now, there are signs overall home values may be headed down as well. Few, if any, economists predict a crash in values similar to 2008, but a growing number of experts say overall home values are likely to decline in the near future.

UC leaders have proposed limits on major athletics changes after UCLA’s jump to the Big Ten

Concerned about UCLA’s hasty exit from the Pac-12, the University of California system leadership proposed new rules that could limit campuses from making major decisions involving athletics contracts on their own.

A report, discussed during a regents meeting at UCLA’s Luskin Center, recommended potential limits on the UC president’s ability to delegate decision-making authority to campuses on such issues as athletics affiliations or conference memberships in certain cases. They include those that would have a significant adverse impact on other campuses in the UC system; raise major issues involving university policy; or could create significant risk of reputational harm to the university or any UC campus.

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PHOTO OF THE DAY

Two young people atop a fake floating whale in calm ocean water.

(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

CALIFORNIA

Officials warn about algae blooms in Lake Elsinore and Big Bear Lake. The California State Water Resources Control Board and the Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board are telling both fishermen and recreational users to stay out of the water.

This former L.A. politician took cash in envelopes. Now he’s been fined $79,830. Investigators with L.A.’s Ethics Commission concluded that Mitchell Englander, who left office in 2018, far exceeded the city’s limits on gifts to public officials, failed to fully report those gifts to the public and misused his position as a City Council member.

A Chowchilla man behind the 1976 kidnapping of 26 children and a bus driver will be released on parole. Frederick Woods was one of three men convicted of the kidnapping. Woods’ release date was not disclosed for safety and security reasons.

ASAP Rocky pleads not guilty to firearm assault charges in Los Angeles. He is accused of drawing a gun and firing it twice in the direction of a former friend during an argument in November. He pleaded not guilty to two counts of assault with a semiautomatic firearm and was ordered to return to court Nov. 2.

An Oakland church that gives cannabis and psychedelic mushrooms as communion sues over a police raid. The lawsuit originates from an incident in which police raided Zide Door Church of Entheogenic Plants on Aug. 13, 2020, over allegations that the church was operating as a dispensary.

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NATION-WORLD

Rudolph W. Giuliani testified in the Georgia 2020 election investigation. It was unclear how much the former New York mayor and Trump attorney would be willing to say before a grand jury after his lawyers informed him that he was a target of the investigation. Grand jury secrecy rules prohibit people present during testimony from discussing it, but that prohibition does not apply to witnesses. Giuliani is a former federal prosecutor.

Is a prehistoric fish making a comeback in Georgia? Scientists and students embarking on a census of Georgia lake sturgeon have found three females with mature eggs — an indication that the armored “living fossils” may be reproducing in the state for the first time in half a century.

Ukrainians are fleeing Russian-occupied Kherson. The city north of the Crimean peninsula was the first one to fall after Russia’s invasion began Feb. 24. Many residents had been determined to hold out as long as possible for a promised Ukrainian counterattack, which hasn’t materialized.

Syria denies holding U.S. journalist Austin Tice, rejecting Biden’s allegations. The Syrian Foreign Ministry said Damascus “denies it had kidnapped or is holding any American citizen on its territories.” Biden’s comments last week came in a statement released by the White House to mark the 10th anniversary of Tice’s abduction, which took place when he was in Syria covering its lengthy conflict.

WHO’s chief suggests that skin color is to blame for the lack of a global response to Tigray. The head of the World Health Organization described the persistent crisis in the region of Ethiopia as “the worst disaster on Earth” and wondered aloud if the reason global leaders had not responded was due to “the color of the skin of the people in Tigray.”

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

A Latino executive’s journey to Hollywood by way of El Monte. Cris Abrego is one of Hollywood’s few high-ranking Latino executives, overseeing U.S. and Latin American operations for reality TV juggernaut Banijay. The French-owned company owns rights to such shows as “Survivor,” “Big Brother” and “MasterChef.”

How Penny Marshall pitched in on the series “A League of Their Own.” The co-creators were grateful to speak with Marshall before her death in 2018. “We wanted to make sure she knew how much we loved the film that she made,” said creator Abbi Jacobson. “We want to continue and showcase the spirit and the joy and the grit and athleticism and all the things we loved about it.”

This Black collective carved out pathways for a new generation of photographers. The photography collective Kamoinge was familiar with mainstream media and art spaces overlooking its work. So its members took the lead instead, showing their photos in an unofficial Kamoinge gallery, critiquing one another’s work, putting together portfolios and mentoring young photographers.

A filmmaker was catfished by his own father. Then he cast Patton Oswalt in a movie about it. Based on the experience of filmmaker and co-star James Morosini, “I Love My Dad” finds Oswalt in a grimly funny turn as a troubled father.

BUSINESS

Buying an EV? Here’s what you should know about upcoming tax credits. Under the Inflation Reduction Act, starting Jan. 1, low- and middle-income Americans would be eligible for a $7,500 tax credit for buying a new clean-air vehicle — a designation that includes hydrogen-fuel-cell vehicles as well as battery electrics — and $4,000 for buying a used one.

Data from period-tracking and pregnancy apps may be used to prosecute pregnant people. After studying 20 of the most popular such apps, researchers from the nonprofit Mozilla Foundation found that 18 of them had data collection practices that raised privacy or security concerns.

OPINION

A ban on hikes to a famous tree isn’t the answer. The chief problem in hiking to Hyperion is that there is no main route to the tree, and most visitors are just guessing how to find it. Instead of forbidding viewing, the park could allow visitors to hike to Hyperion if they were accompanied by a certified and permitted guide.

Liz Cheney’s Wyoming defeat is a win for Trump and a decisive blow to the fading GOP establishment. Cheney’s congressional primary loss, along with George P. Bush’s failed bid this year for Texas attorney general, emphatically sealed the coffin on the old party establishment, and erased for now any lineal claims to its future, writes Times columnist Mark Z. Barabak.

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SPORTS

LeBron James agrees to a two-year contract extension worth $97.1 million with the Lakers. The deal keeps James from free agency until at least 2024, when he could exercise his option. It also includes a 15% trade kicker. The deal could grow to more than $110 million with a rise in the salary cap. Related: Columnist Bill Plaschke writes that the new contract guarantees more Lakers mediocrity.

The Lakers will retire Pau Gasol’s jersey. The two-time NBA champion’s No. 16 jersey will be raised to the rafters at Crypto.com Arena during a ceremony March 7, 2023.

Can the Dodgers rely on Craig Kimbrel as closer? For now, Dave Roberts thinks so. The Dodgers have done this song and dance before. They’ll have a veteran closer who begins to struggle. They’ll stick with him down the stretch of the regular season. Then, come the playoffs, they’ll pivot. In the past, it has been Kenley Jansen. This year, it seems increasingly likely they’ll do the same with Craig Kimbrel.

ONLY IN L.A.

You can find more at L.A. libraries than just books. At the many L.A. County and independent library locations in the city, you can be hooked up with nifty items such as power sanders, telescopes and free passes to the zoo. (But as any librarian will tell you — in a solemn tone as she lowers her glasses — reference books must remain on the premises.) We look at eight little-known things you can check out.

Here’s one: The “Discover & Go” program at both the LAPL and L.A. County Library allows card holders to make online reservations at select museums and attractions, up to three months in advance. Participating partners include the Broad, La Brea Tar Pits, the L.A. Zoo, the Natural History Museum of L.A. County and the brand-new Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, where, for an additional fee, guests can strut across the stage at the (simulated) Dolby Theatre and accept (a replica of) an Oscar.

FROM THE ARCHIVES

A woman looks down as she sews a flag bearing stars

Circa 1920s: Alice Paul, a vocal leader of the women’s suffrage movement, sews a suffrage flag in Washington. After the 19th Amendment passed, she focused on the Equal Rights Amendment.

(National Photo Co. Collection / Library of Congress)

One hundred and two years ago, on Aug. 18, 1920, Tennessee became the 36th state to ratify the 19th Amendment, granting women the right to vote. It had been a very long, and at times very ugly, fight. Suffragists were often heckled by opponents, jailed or even physically abused.

The West was ahead of the curve. Many territories out west, even before they were states, had guaranteed women the right to vote. Part of the reason was to attract women to come west, but it was also recognition of how vital women were in settling those states. As The Times’ Patt Morrison wrote in 2019, California passed legislation in 1911, but it was “so close it amounted to one vote per precinct as the margin of victory.” California was “a big get” for the movement, and it was where suffragists tried out new tactics, such as cars. “They had a motorcade,” one history professor told Patt. “They would send out a car and bring speakers around and show off this new mode of transportation. … We would expect nothing else of California, to really put some pizzazz into the whole suffrage campaign.”

Staff writer Amy Hubbard contributed to this report.

We appreciate that you took the time to read Today’s Headlines! Comments or ideas? Feel free to drop us a note at headlines@latimes.com.

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