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Newsletter: No unemployment relief in sight

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, joined by Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, speaks to reporters.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco), joined by Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), speaks at a news conference Thursday on Capitol Hill.
(Jose Luis Magana / Associated Press)

As talks in Washington, D.C., sputter, the chances of federal unemployment relief for millions of Americans are dropping.

TOP STORIES

No Unemployment Relief in Sight

Prospects for a quick deal to extend supplemental unemployment benefits and other stimulus for an economy still reeling from the coronavirus pandemic have taken a sharp turn for the worse, leaving millions of Americans in the lurch a week after many benefits expired.

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have signaled that they remain intent on eventually reaching an agreement, and the White House has set this weekend as an informal deadline for a deal, but the two sides remained trillions of dollars apart as of last night.

Three months out from election day, neither side can afford to leave the negotiating table. The fate of President Trump’s reelection bid and control of the Senate, which is now held by Republicans, may rest on Trump and the GOP’s handling of the coronavirus-plagued economy.

Polls show the public overwhelmingly supports more economic relief. But as many as half of Senate Republicans are skeptical of adding to the deficit to pay for new stimulus and are not expected to support any expansive plan.

Although White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said Trump might take unilateral action, the White House cannot issue new stimulus checks or further extend enhanced unemployment payments without Congress’ approval.

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Meanwhile, nearly 1.2 million Americans applied for state unemployment benefits last week as the pandemic kept forcing companies to slash jobs, marking the 20th straight week that at least 1 million people have sought jobless aid.

Flaws in the Data

The breakdown in California’s coronavirus test reporting system is disrupting pandemic response efforts across the state, leaving local officials in the dark about the spread of COVID-19 and blocking the ability of counties to get restrictions lifted until the system is fixed.

State officials have not yet provided details on when fixes will be made to the electronic system that reports coronavirus test results to the state’s disease registry system. California, as a result, lacks an accurate count of coronavirus infections, leading health officials to freeze the state’s watchlist, with no counties added or removed.

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The flawed picture has cast into serious doubt California’s pandemic outlook. On Wednesday, the state counted 5,300 new coronavirus cases, down from a peak of nearly 13,000 reported about two weeks ago. But the steep drop relies on the underreported data, and health officials remain unsure about the actual caseloads.

The system snafus come amid mixed signs about the state of the pandemic. While some hospitalization rates are down, the state’s death toll surpassed 10,000. Orange County also reported its single-day highest COVID-19 toll Thursday, adding 32 deaths for a total of 697. And White House coronavirus task force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx on Wednesday singled out California’s Central Valley as a worrisome region.

Overwhelming Challenges

In the absence of in-person school and one-on-one help, parents have become teachers … and occupational and speech therapists.

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California has mandated that school districts continue to provide special education to students with disabilities during the pandemic, but has waived key timelines that allow students to receive assessments and services quickly.

The result is that education of some 760,000 California children with disabilities has been inconsistent at best since campuses shut down in March. Parents’ worries have intensified as they see their children’s hard-fought advances diminishing — and fear losses will be compounded with more distance learning ahead.

“I don’t feel comfortable doing this,” parent Simon Tan, a clinical neuropsychologist at Stanford Hospital, said of trying to follow the directions of daughter Olivia’s professional therapists and teachers through a computer.

More Top Coronavirus Headlines

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Younger adults are fueling California’s COVID-19 pandemic like never before, health officials are warning, and raucous parties and other large social gatherings are threatening to unravel the progress the state is making.

— What will it take for schools to reopen safely in the midst of a pandemic?

— As many as 17,600 people incarcerated in California prisons may be released early due to the coronavirus, 70% more than previously estimated.

Africa’s confirmed coronavirus cases have surpassed 1 million, but global health experts say the true toll is probably several times higher.

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

‘A Culture of Violence’

Early last year, SWAT Sgt. Tim Colomey filed a whistleblower complaint about the elite LAPD unit he was in. Now, he’s filed a civil lawsuit accusing a group of veteran officers known as the “SWAT Mafia” of creating a “culture of violence” that glorifies deadly force, and alleges commanders turned a blind eye to the problems, despite his flagging them internally.

The lawsuit does not cite any specific incidents, but Colomey’s attorney said they include three cases he’d previously reported — each of which offers a window into SWAT’s actions and how Police Department leaders handled them. One was an incident in which officers shot and killed a man while firing rounds from a helicopter — a first for the LAPD.

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FROM THE ARCHIVES

Cruising Whittier Boulevard in East Los Angeles is a tradition that has spanned decades. But in August 1979, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department temporarily put a halt to cruising, citing a spate of homicides and other crimes, with those arrested mostly being people from outside the East L.A. area.

As an Aug. 8, 1979, Los Angeles Times article put it: "...Whittier Blvd. on a Saturday night. It’s an odd ritual — a cross among a harmless urban mating dance, a California car obsession, a relief from boredom and a senseless flirtation with death — that brings a subculture of Mexican-American teen-agers to this incorporated section of East Los Angeles just east of the Long Beach Freeway on weekend night.”

Whittier Boulevard in 1979
August 1979: A mile-long strip of Whittier Boulevard between Atlantic Boulevard and Eastern Avenue popular with cruisers would soon be closed down.
(Larry Armstrong / Los Angeles Times)

YOUR WEEKEND

— The ultimate Los Angeles restaurant delivery and takeout guide from our critics and writers.

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— Sixteen picks for weekend culture to watch at home: Brandi Carlile, James Turrell and a K-pop dance party are among them.

— Wear a mask and remain stylish. Here are 31 of our favorite masks.

— “This rice is life-giving!”: An Eagle Rock chef shares her recipe.

CALIFORNIA

Homeless people in Los Angeles and its environs are dying by hanging at an increasing rate. Over 4½ years ending in mid-June, 196 people experiencing homelessness in Los Angeles County took their lives. In 2016, 40% of the suicides were by hanging; so far this year, it’s 55%, according to a Times analysis of coroner’s reports.

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— The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department has issued new evacuation warnings for residents of Morongo Valley, where the nearby Apple fire has ravaged Cherry Valley and the mountains of the San Bernardino National Forest for nearly a week.

— As Poseidon Water pursues the final approvals to build a $1-billion seawater desalination plant in Huntington Beach, the company still can’t definitively say who will buy the 50 million gallons a day of drinking water it wants to produce.

— For California and especially for Gov. Gavin Newsom, there’s a lot more riding on Joe Biden’s running mate pick than who fills out the Democratic presidential ticket.

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NATION-WORLD

— In Beirut, estimates of the number of people missing after a massive explosion this week have ranged from the dozens to hundreds. One family’s agony is a window to a nation’s suffering.

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— More than 2,000 unaccompanied children have been expelled from the U.S. since March under an emergency declaration enacted by the Trump administration, which has cited the coronavirus in refusing to provide them protections under federal anti-trafficking and asylum laws.

— New York’s attorney general has sued to dissolve the National Rifle Assn., accusing its leaders of diverting millions of dollars for lavish personal trips, no-show contracts for associates and other suspect spending.

— With a scourge of disinformation afflicting American politics, a counter-insurgency is testing an arsenal of weapons to fight back — among them a “war room” that arms Black and Latino voters.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

— NBCUniversal has cut ties with Paul Telegdy, chairman of NBC Entertainment, after he was accused of homophobic, sexist and racist behavior.

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— Is Shia LaBoeuf in “cultural brownface” in “The Tax Collector?” The director says no, but the actor’s cholo role is still controversial. Our reviewer calls the film “one of the most atrocious viewing experiences of the year.”

— What’s a Hollywood costume designer to do during a pandemic? Some of the four we checked in with are keeping busy with books, mask-making and diversifying the industry. We spoke with celebrity stylists about their pandemic pivots too.

Luke Bryan talked with The Times about country music’s “delicate conversation” about race, and about how when fans asked, he neither condemned nor supported gay people.

BUSINESS

— Trump has issued an executive order that will bar TikTok‘s parent company, ByteDance, from conducting business transactions with American companies beginning in 45 days. A separate order bans business transactions involving WeChat, a popular communications and commerce app owned by the Chinese internet giant Tencent.

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— Just how big a hit to movie theaters has the pandemic been? AMC Theatres, the world’s largest cinema chain, lost more than half a billion dollars in the most recent quarter as its revenue plunged 99% year over year.

SPORTS

Dylan Bundy threw a complete game and struck out 10 batters in the Angels’ win over the Mariners.

— The Lakers had to do some experimentation, given the players they had available, in their game against the Thunder. But, back to the drawing board: They lost.

Free online games

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

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OPINION

Partying in the face of a pandemic isn’t just foolish, The Times’ editorial board writes. It’s a giant slap in the face to everyone who has followed the rules, even at great personal cost, in order to protect the larger community.

— Trump is promising (yet again) a comprehensive healthcare plan. While we await that, columnist David Lazarus asks, how about a greater commitment to price transparency?

WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

— Amid reports that GOP and Trump-affiliated political operatives are trying to get Kanye West onto ballots for November’s presidential election, West indicated that he is running to draw votes away from Joe Biden. (Forbes)

— The sights, sounds and smells of rural France may soon be protected by a “sensory heritage” law. (Atlas Obscura)

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ONLY IN L.A.

Plant power couple Jon Perdomo and Jerrilyn Peralta, who live in Koreatown, are the brains behind Plant Man P — an online store, YouTube channel and an Instagram account with more than 14,000 followers. They offer tips for plant care and for the fashion-forward, sell fresh “plant-core” merch and use their platform to uplift and advocate for people of color in the plant world. Jerrilyn’s favorite plant “is the Alocasia ‘Regal Shields’ because I am in love with how big the leaves can get and how fast they can grow. We have one at home and it’s named after one of our favorite rappers of all time: Tupac!

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


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