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Today’s Headlines: Trump finally signs the bill

President Trump, with First Lady Melania Trump
President Trump, with First Lady Melania Trump, waves as he boards Air Force One last week on the way to his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Fla.
(Patrick Semansky / Associated Press)

After days of bashing a sweeping coronavirus relief and spending bill, President Trump has grudgingly signed it.

TOP STORIES

Trump Finally Signs the Bill

Under intense bipartisan pressure and days of self-inflicted drama, President Trump has signed a sweeping coronavirus relief and spending bill.

The abrupt reversal by the president came as converging crises of COVID-19, economic suffering, the looming government shutdown and Trump’s ongoing fight to overturn the election drew expressions of alarm from lawmakers.

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The measure renews enhanced jobless benefits that have been a lifeline for those thrown out of work by the still-raging pandemic, which has killed more than 333,000 Americans, and provides funding for distributing COVID-19 vaccines. It also keeps the government afloat for the rest of the fiscal year, which ends in September.

Before signing, Trump had spent much of the weekend golfing and lashing out at members of his own party, as millions of people lost enhanced unemployment benefits.

More Politics

— In just over a week, Democratic hopes of winning control of the Senate will rise or fall on whether the party’s candidates in twin runoff elections in Georgia can repeat the pattern that brought Joe Biden victory there: strength among Black voters.

— Politicians getting vaccinated: Setting an example or cutting in line?

— For young Californians, climate change is a mental health crisis too.

What Went Wrong in L.A.?

Los Angeles County health officials are warning of a possible new surge in COVID-19 cases after family gatherings and out-of-town trips during the holidays, despite guidelines that asked the public to stay home.

But already, COVID-19 patients have begun to flood hospitals, and the influx may soon force doctors to ration care. In addition, Southern California and other areas are likely to see stay-at-home orders extended.

The dire situation has prompted confusion and dismay among Angelenos, many of whom are wondering whether their sacrifices over nine months have been for naught. L.A. County was an early adopter of masks, quickly instituted stay-at-home orders in March and November and, until this point, has kept its rate of coronavirus cases and COVID-19 deaths relatively low.

So, what went wrong? Interviews with 31 epidemiologists, health experts and public officials offer clues: L.A. was far more vulnerable to an extreme crisis than nearly anywhere else in the nation.

More Top Coronavirus Headlines

Tens of thousands of travelers are expected to pass through Los Angeles International Airport this week. If you are one of them, here’s how to quarantine.

— In East L.A., nearly every street corner holds some sign of the virus that has stolen lives, widened the wealth gap and rewired the rhythms of how we mourn, learn, work and worship.

Christmas in the ICU: Prayers, pain, few miracles. “Jesus is holding your hand. Don’t let go.”

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

A Nashville Nightmare

Federal officials have not revealed a motive in the Christmas Day bombing that tore through downtown Nashville but said the man believed to be responsible blew himself up in the explosion and appears to have acted alone.

The blast damaged several buildings, including an AT&T facility, and caused widespread communications outages that took down police emergency systems and grounded holiday travel at the city’s airport.

Meanwhile, police officers provided harrowing details of responding to the incident, at times getting choked up reliving the moments that led up to the blast and offering gratitude that they were still alive.

The New Word Order

“Socially distanced.” “Flatten the curve.” “Covidiot.” As 2020 comes to a close, many of us find ourselves fluent in a language that would have been nearly indecipherable just one year ago.

It’s no surprise that the tremendous change wrought by the pandemic was instantly reflected in our vocabulary. Our new reality demanded new words to process and describe the cataclysmic shifts around us.

Of course, the English language is always in flux, but linguists and lexicographers say this year has been especially noteworthy for the sheer volume of words that have rapidly entered into daily usage.

YEAR IN REVIEW

— 2020 in pictures: A visual journey through a historic year.

— The moment the reality of the COVID-19 pandemic sank in.

— The year America embraced Black Lives Matter as a movement, not just a moment.

— For L.A. sports fans, its was a year of unbridled joy and incomprehensible sorrow.

FROM THE ARCHIVES

In December 1988, a weeklong cold snap hit Southern California, with temperatures in downtown L.A. dropping to the low 30s. In many agricultural areas, temperatures fell to the mid-20s.

Deaths blamed on cold weather occurred in Orange and Santa Barbara counties, Long Beach, Glendale and downtown L.A. Three of the dead were believed to have been homeless.

Homeless people warm themselves near an open fire.
Dec. 28, 1988: Two homeless men sit against a wall on Towne Street in downtown Los Angeles, as a woman warms herself near an open fire.
(Douglas R. Burrows / Los Angeles Times)

CALIFORNIA

— The first considerable storm of the season is hitting Southern California, bringing rain and snow ahead of the new year.

— Beverly Hills officials have moved to thwart plans for a “speakeasy”-style New Year’s Eve dinner at La Scala, reminding the management about L.A. County’s dining ban.

— Are tattoos free speech that should override coronavirus restrictions? Some artists say yes.

Virginia Ellis, a trailblazing journalist whose government accountability reporting spanned four decades, has died at age 77.

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NATION-WORLD

— Israel is back in election mode for the fourth time in two years, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu facing major challenges to staying in power.

— The leader of Lebanon’s Hezbollah said his group has twice as many precision-guided missiles as it had a year ago and that Israel’s efforts to prevent it from acquiring them failed.

— A U.S. serviceman from Florida has been charged in a shooting at an Illinois bowling alley that left three people dead and three wounded, authorities said.

— A hot-food and drink eatery known as a thermopolium has been excavated at Pompeii, helping to reveal dishes that were popular for the citizens of the ancient Roman city who were partial to eating out.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

— After the financial success of “Wonder Woman 1984,” Warner Bros. has announced plans to expedite development of the third installment in the franchise.

— How accurate is Shonda Rhimes’ first Netflix series, “Bridgerton,” a tale of sex and scandal in Regency England?

Paula Abdul is back on Fox, this time as a panelist on “The Masked Dancer,” a spinoff to the wacky competition show “The Masked Singer.”

BUSINESS

— Retailers are bracing for a flood of returns from online shopping. Shoppers are expected to return twice as many items as they did during last year’s holiday period, according to Narvar Inc., a software and technology company that manages online returns for hundreds of brands.

— How an L.A. indie bookstore’s GoFundMe inspired a small-business lifeline.

SPORTS

— The Rams’ playoff hopes are in peril after a lackluster loss lets the Seattle Seahawks snatch the division crown.

— After a 50-point halftime deficit, the largest in NBA history since the league introduced the shot clock 66 years ago, the Clippers lost to the Dallas Mavericks 124 to 73, their biggest loss in franchise history.

— With no games or practices, high school basketball coaches in L.A. are missing their players.

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OPINION

— California is clobbering small businesses with a retroactive tax grab, The Times’ editorial board writes. The state’s pursuit of small out-of-state sellers was bad enough when times were good; it’s even harder to stomach now.

— Southern California is losing its fight against smog. Things have to turn around in 2021, the board writes.

WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

— Eight persistent COVID-19 myths and why people believe them. (Scientific American)

— Sales of jazz are paltry, but the art form is alive and well — even though some musicians say it shouldn’t be called “jazz.” (The Undefeated)

ONLY IN CALIFORNIA

Another mysterious monolith? On Christmas Day, a nearly 7-foot-tall monolith made of gingerbread appeared on a San Francisco hilltop. Phil Ginsburg, head of the city’s Recreation and Parks Department, told the radio station KQED-FM the site looked “like a great spot to get baked” and said his staff would not remove the monument “until the cookie crumbles.” It collapsed the next day.

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


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