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Today’s Headlines: Biden presses on, unfazed

President-elect Joe Biden champions the Obama administration’s signature healthcare law as a case goes before the Supreme Court aimed at voiding the entire law.

President-elect Joe Biden called President Trump’s claims of victory “an embarrassment” and said the transition of power would go on.

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Biden Presses On, Unfazed

President-elect Joe Biden says he will not be deterred by President Trump’s increasingly aggressive attempts to thwart the transition of power and called Trump’s claims to be the rightful winner “an embarrassment.”

“We don’t see anything that’s slowing us down,” Biden said, seeking to assure the nation that the process would play out without significant disruption — even as former government officials express alarm at the behavior of the president and many of his fellow Republicans.

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Biden’s comments came about two hours after Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo flippantly told reporters “there will be a smooth transition to a second Trump administration.”

Even as the Pompeo joined in casting unfounded doubt on Biden’s election, leaders of foreign nations continued to send congratulations to the Democratic former vice president. Biden’s transition team announced immediately after his remarks that it had moved into its next stage: creating agency review teams tasked by law with ensuring that government operations are transferred smoothly at federal agencies and departments.

Biden said he could finish the work of the transition even if Trump blocks funding to which a president-elect is entitled under federal law or refuses to provide him with classified intelligence briefings.

More About the Election

— A single possible case of ballot fraud in Nevada shows the futility of Trump’s effort to reverse the election result.

— The ticket of Biden and Kamala Harris swept California this year, to no one’s surprise, securing nearly two-thirds of the vote so far. Now, officials are hoping Biden can engineer a burst of financial support for Californians.

— California voters have rejected Proposition 15, a ballot measure that sought to force large businesses to pay higher property taxes.

— U.S. Rep. Harley Rouda conceded to his Republican opponent, Michelle Steel, in the race for his Orange County congressional seat — a major win for the GOP in an area not long ago considered a conservative stronghold.

— Ardent Trump supporter Darrell Issa narrowly won his bid to return to Congress, this time representing the 50th congressional district in inland San Diego County. His victory carries some lessons for California.

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Obamacare’s Promising Day in Court

Conservative critics of the Affordable Care Act have brought their third major challenge of the healthcare law before the Supreme Court, and judging from Tuesday’s hearing, it sounds as if a majority of justices are ready to uphold Obamacare again.

Most of the justices gave a skeptical hearing to Texas Republicans and Trump’s lawyers, who insisted the entire law should be voided because Congress had eliminated the tax penalty for those who did not have insurance.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. — who twice before joined liberal justices to uphold Obamacare — said Congress in 2017 did nothing more than eliminate the tax penalty for those who did not have insurance. Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh took a similar view, suggesting that even if the insurance requirement is unconstitutional, that should not affect the rest of the law.

Joined by the three liberal justices, Roberts and Kavanaugh — Trump’s second Supreme Court pick — could form a majority to uphold the law. That would not only preserve coverage for millions but would allow Biden to focus on expanding insurance protections, a central plank of his campaign platform.

Backsliding in California

Eleven counties moved back to more restrictive tiers in California’s coronavirus reopening system, an unprecedented regression as the state contends with an increasingly worrying surge in infections. Among the backsliders were San Diego, Sacramento and Stanislaus counties, all of which moved into the strictest category of the state’s reopening roadmap.

Officials have said the tiered system is deliberative by design — meant to give officials time to review and digest data before deciding whether wider reopenings or further restrictions are warranted.

A spike in cases in San Francisco has also prompted officials there to ramp up restrictions, meaning that indoor dining will be suspended, capacity at gyms and theaters will be reduced, and high schools will have to wait to reopen.

More Top Coronavirus Headlines

Europe is running out of beds and the doctors and nurses to staff intensive care units.

— Brazil’s health regulator has halted clinical trials of the potential COVID-19 vaccine CoronaVac, citing an “adverse, serious event,” according to a statement on its website.

— Several members of the Los Angeles City Council have asked the city to study the feasibility of using the L.A. Convention Center, which has gone dark during the COVID-19 pandemic, to shelter homeless people.

— After calling some employees back to work in anticipation of reopening Disneyland and Disney California Adventure Park, the Anaheim resort has announced it will furlough many of those recalled workers now that it is clear the reopening won’t happen soon.

Will the Redwoods Rebound?

Two months after fires raced through Big Basin Redwoods State Park, the park still smells like a campfire and remains indefinitely closed. Crews are working to clear “hazard trees.” And the debate continues on whether its redwood forest can rebound as it did after past fires.

Some scientists say California is entering uncharted territory with climate change, leaving coastal redwoods with conditions that are hotter and less foggy than before.

The oldest of the old-growth redwoods in the mountains probably sprouted more than 2,000 years ago, into a forest nursery that was quite different from the one their descendants now face.

FROM THE ARCHIVES

On this date in 1918, a special edition of The Times proclaimed: “PEACE: World War Ends as Germany Signs Armistice!”

“The world war will end this morning at 6 o’Clock, Washington time, 11 o’clock Paris time,” began the front-page story by the Associated Press. “The armistice was signed by the German representatives at midnight. This announcement was made by the State Department at 2:50 o’Clock this morning.”

With the news, businesses in Los Angeles closed, as people took to the streets in celebration.

One year later, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed Armistice Day an annual holiday. In 1954, to honor veterans of all wars, Armistice Day was changed to Veterans Day.

People in Los Angeles celebrate the end of World War I.
Nov. 11, 1918: Workers from Boos Brothers cafeterias ride through Los Angeles waving flags and singing war songs after Germany’s surrender ended World War I.
(Los Angeles Times Archive / UCLA)

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CALIFORNIA

— A divided L.A. County Board of Supervisors has escalated its running power struggle with Sheriff Alex Villanueva, voting to explore ways he could be removed from office, including through a change to the state’s constitution.

— L.A. County coroner’s officials said that they will conduct an independent inquest into the shooting death by sheriff’s deputies of an 18-year-old man that sparked large-scale protests this year. The inquest is the first of its kind in 30 years.

— L.A. County’s $300-million election system is receiving high marks for performing without any serious problems during the election, a sharp turnaround from the March primary.

West Hollywood ushered in a new era by voting out the two longest-serving members of the City Council.

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NATION-WORLD

— The U.S. Census Bureau denied any attempts to systemically falsify information during the 2020 head count used to determine the allocation of congressional seats and federal spending, even as more census takers told the Associated Press they were pressured to do so.

— A series of bishops, cardinals and popes all downplayed or dismissed reports of sexual abuse by ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, and Pope Francis merely continued their naive response until a former altar boy alleged abuse, the Vatican found in an internal investigation. Here are the inquiry’s key findings.

— A Russian-brokered truce has so far ended the skirmishes between Armenia and Azerbaijan in Nagorno-Karabakh. But the two sides’ propaganda war is likely to complicate plans for a long-lasting reconciliation.

— Deaf Americans are picking a new name for Biden, shorthand that would replace B-I-D-E-N in colloquial American Sign Language. But many have taken to social media to denounce the top contender, saying it looks like a gang sign.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

— With his scruffy gentle-giant persona, Chris Stapleton is credited with helping modern country shed some of its Nashville sheen. He talked with The Times about superstitions, emotional vulnerability and his belief that Black lives matter.

— What to make of the Netflix film adaptation of “Hillbilly Elegy”? Our critic calls it woefully misguided but says Amy Adams and Glenn Close act up a storm.

— Actress Eva Longoria has apologized for and clarified remarks she made during an MSNBC interview after many accused her of downplaying the pivotal role of Black women in Biden’s election win.

— To remember Alex Trebek, we gathered the eight best books on him and “Jeopardy!” Plus, a “Jeopardy!"champion — our very own Lucas Kwan Peterson — offers this story of being on the show.

BUSINESS

ByteDance is seeking relief from the federal appeals court in Washington to block a move by the Trump administration that would force it to sell its popular video sharing app TikTok.

— The Los Angeles Times and previous owner Tribune Publishing have agreed to pay $3 million to settle a class-action discrimination lawsuit brought by journalists who said they were paid less than their white male counterparts.

— With millions of kids stuck indoors and playgrounds closed, the Nugget modular couch has vaulted from a cute playroom accoutrement to a must-have item. The company has had to expand quickly to meet demand.

SPORTS

Bryson DeChambeau is the talk of the Masters, even when defending champion Tiger Woods is vying for his sixth green jacket and Augusta National is staging its storied tournament in the autumn for the first time, and without spectators.

Joc Pederson is a World Series hero and a free agent. Will he return to the Dodgers?

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OPINION

— “Biden keeps telling us he wants to bring Americans together,” writes Al Franken, the author, comedian and former senator from Minnesota. “Good! Also, good luck!”

— Can Trump pardon himself? The short answer is probably not, writes Harry Litman. The longer answer is ... here.

WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

— “Election officials in dozens of states representing both political parties said that there was no evidence that fraud or other irregularities played a role in the outcome of the presidential race.” (New York Times)

Singles’ Day in China, billed as the world’s largest shopping event, is expected to get a boost from “revenge spending.” (BBC)

ONLY IN L.A.

While many people have not had a problem gaining weight during the COVID-19 pandemic, Greg Dulcich of the UCLA football team has been on a mission to put on the pounds, especially muscle. When the UCLA campus shut down, he had to scavenge for workout equipment to use at his Glendale home. His mom, meanwhile, struggled to keep her freezer sufficiently stocked, making extra trips to Moffett’s Family Restaurant & Chicken Pie Shoppe in Arcadia for her son’s favorite beef pot pies. And now that he’s in Westwood, mom is making deliveries.

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


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