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Newsletter: A trillion-dollar starting point

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
(Andrew Harnik / Associated Press)

The Senate GOP has unveiled its coronavirus relief plan, but negotiations with Democrats on a final package could take some time.

TOP STORIES

A Trillion-Dollar Starting Point

Senate Republicans have rolled out the major pieces of a $1-trillion economic relief plan that would provide a second round of $1,200 coronavirus stimulus payments to many American adults and slash enhanced federal unemployment payments from $600 a week to $200.

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But given divisions within the GOP, it’s just the starting point for negotiations that will involve House Democrats, who passed their own, more generous relief bill in May. Republicans argue that reducing the enhanced unemployment payment would encourage people to go back to work.

The GOP plan also includes $100 billion for schools to either reopen or adapt to online instruction; a sequel to the Paycheck Protection Program targeting more vulnerable small businesses; and new tax incentives to encourage employers to bring employees back to work. It would also protect businesses from coronavirus-related lawsuits.

Negotiations are widely expected to stretch into next week or beyond, past the expiration of some current benefits, such as the $600 in unemployment, which expires Friday.

A Rural Coronavirus Hot Spot

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The coronavirus is spreading at alarming rates in California’s Central Valley, following a cruel and increasingly familiar path.

The demographics of those getting sick in the rural hamlets of America’s famed agricultural zone are the same as those who have been hit hard in big cities and suburbs: essential workers — many of them Latino — who cannot stay home for financial reasons when they fall ill on the job and also have a hard time isolating in housing that can be multigenerational.

Public health officials and medical experts say the pattern of spread underscores the deep inequities of the coronavirus, which has infected Black and Latino communities and poorer regions at much higher rates than more affluent and white ones.

The surge in Central Valley cases has taken a particular toll on farmworkers, in part because they often live in close quarters, share transportation to job sites and have little access to healthcare.

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Gov. Gavin Newsom says he is sending “strike teams” to eight counties there while asking the state Legislature to approve $52 million to improve testing, tracing and isolation protocols in those regions.

Not in a Bubble

Fans may have been caught off guard when, just four days into a new season, a COVID-19 outbreak among the Miami Marlins team forced the postponement of several pro baseball games, but the news did not surprise public health officials.

With cases surging in many parts of the country, experts say Major League Baseball’s predicament shows that anyone can catch the novel coronavirus. Six months after its first reported COVID-19 case, the United States has seen a significant increase in infections. And the Marlins figured to be at particular risk because they play in Florida, a state hit hard by the coronavirus.

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MLB executives have insisted their season is too long and requires too many ballparks for a “bubble” sequestration, which the NBA and NHL are using to restart their games. Now, the outbreak has called into question baseball’s strategy.

At least for now, MLB seems intent on continuing the season. But columnist Helene Elliott wonders how many positive COVID-19 tests it would take to shut down sports again.

More Top Coronavirus Headlines

— The world’s biggest COVID-19 vaccine study got underway Monday with the first of 30,000 planned volunteers helping to test one of several candidates in the final stretch of the global vaccine race. There’s still no guarantee that the experimental vaccine, developed by the National Institutes of Health and Moderna, will really protect against the disease.

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President Trump‘s national security advisor Robert O’Brien has tested positive for the disease.

For more, sign up for Coronavirus Today, a special edition of The Times’ Health and Science newsletter.

Difficult Territory

Amid all the uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 crisis, China’s movie theaters reopened last week with movies including the homegrown patriotic blockbuster “Wolf Warrior 2" and Pixar’s “Coco.” For Hollywood, the return of the film industry’s most important foreign market is cause for cautious optimism.

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Yet any sense of reassurance is clouded by a growing chorus criticizing Hollywood’s relationship with China. With ties between the U.S. and China increasingly strained, Trump administration officials and their political allies have repeatedly blasted the entertainment industry for its efforts to gain access to the lucrative Chinese market by changing movies to win approval from the government in Beijing.

Some film industry executives say Washington’s concern over censorship is overblown, noting that studios trim movies for many countries. But some critics argue that China’s influence has become so great that its preferences affect what kinds of stories are told globally, not just in mainland China.

FROM THE ARCHIVES

In 1900, piers lined the Southern California coastline. Age, neglect and storms led to the removal of many of these structures. Some, such as the Redondo Beach Pier, have had more than one incarnation.

An article in the July 22, 1979, Los Angeles Times looked at their history: “Piers. They were once as symbolic of the Southern California lifestyle as the surf itself. For some, they were Disneyland equivalents in the ’30s and ’40s. For others, commercial endeavors for boaters, fishermen and sea-bound vessels. But for most people, piers have sort of symbolized what some were called — fun zones, places where you could go to shoot the chutes or bait for halibut, or pitch for Kewpie dolls or study the tides and swimmers.”

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Fishing off the end of Redondo Beach Pier at sunset
Fishing off the end of Redondo Beach Pier at sunset. This photo, from the L.A. Times Archive at UCLA, appeared in the July 22, 1979, edition of the paper.
(Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times)

CALIFORNIA

— As part of a reimagining of law enforcement after the killing of George Floyd, the Los Angeles Police Department is expanding its signature community policing program. The program will now have its own bureau within the LAPD, headed by Emada Tingirides. She will become the LAPD’s second Black female deputy chief.

— Federal officials have accused L.A. City Councilman Jose Huizar of running a criminal enterprise fueled by bribes from real estate developers seeking to build in his downtown district. It is unclear what might happen to the as-yet unbuilt skyscrapers.

— Former UCLA men’s soccer coach Jorge Salcedo has pleaded guilty to accepting $200,000 in bribes to help two students get into the school as recruits.

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Jun Won, a popular Koreatown restaurant known for its homestyle fare, is permanently closing at the end of the month. It’s the latest casualty of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

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NATION-WORLD

— As protests against federal agents grow in Portland, Ore., Black activists worry their message is getting lost.

— The casket containing the late Rep. John Lewis arrived at the U.S. Capitol, where his body will lie in state as lawmakers pay tribute. Notably absent: Trump, who publicly jousted with Lewis.

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— The University of Notre Dame has become the second university to withdraw as the host of one of this fall’s three scheduled presidential debates amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Melania Trump has announced plans to redo the White House Rose Garden to make it more in line with the original design implemented during the 1960s Kennedy administration.

— About 80,000 people, mostly local tourists, are being evacuated from the popular Vietnamese beach city of Da Nang after more than a dozen people there were confirmed to have COVID-19, the government said.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

— This morning’s Emmy nominations come at a moment of heightened attention to diversity and representation in TV. A Times analysis of nominees from the past five years reveals they’ve been overwhelmingly white.

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— The producer of Ellen DeGeneres’ talk show told employees it was looking into reports of a toxic workplace, including complaints of intimidation and racism.

— The new Epix docuseries “Helter Skelter: An American Myth” is a six-part production chronicling the ominous ascent of the Manson Family. Do we really need another project about Charles Manson? TV critic Lorraine Ali says yes.

BUSINESS

Amazon’s policies on safeguarding workers during the pandemic are being examined by California Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra, according to a court filing.

— Target is joining Walmart in closing its stores on Thanksgiving Day, ending a decadelong tradition of jump-starting Black Friday door-buster sales.

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SPORTS

— As the Dodgers embark on their first trip of the season, ensuring the health and safety of the team is No. 1 — not seeking revenge against the Houston Astros.

— The Lakers defeated the Washington Wizards in their final scrimmage before the NBA season gets underway Thursday.

Free online games

Get our free daily crossword puzzle, sudoku, word search and arcade games in our new game center at latimes.com/games.

OPINION

— If the Trump administration succeeds in lowering prescription drug prices this year, you can apparently thank this weird and disturbing rationale from Trump.

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— Is an army of secret Trump voters skewing the polls toward Biden? Columnist Jonah Goldberg breaks down a MAGA theory.

WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

— Atty. Gen. William Barr is expected to go before the House Judiciary Committee this morning, and things are likely to get heated. (Politico)

— The Americans with Disabilities Act is 30 years old. It’s had a profound effect for people who are deaf and hard of hearing. (The Conversation)

ONLY IN L.A.

If you’re looking for house painted hot-pink on the outside and with clashing colors, extravagant murals and rooms full of roses on the inside, actress Bella Thorne has a deal for you. Her 4,500-square-foot home in Sherman Oaks is on the market. Asking price: $2.55 million. But you can look for free here.

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Comments or ideas? Email us at headlines@latimes.com.


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