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Today: A wounded city on edge

Minneapolis boarded up ahead of the murder trial of the former police officer who knelt on George Floyd’s neck for nine minutes just before he died, but community advocates worry the city isn’t prepared.

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A Wounded City on Edge

The former police officer seen kneeling for about nine minutes on George Floyd’s neck before he died last spring is due to go on trial on murder charges, and Minneapolis has been on edge, protesting, barricading and boarding up.

Over the weekend, demonstrators supporting the conviction of former Officer Derek Chauvin gathered in front of the governor’s mansion nearby, chanting, “Prosecute the police!” More protests were planned for Monday outside the court, now lined with concrete barriers and razor wires, that will hear the criminal case — likely to be among the most closely watched in U.S. history.

But is the city ready for whatever might happen? Community activists worry it’s not. Michelle Gross, founder of a local group that opposes police brutality, said city officials have not contacted them about preparations for the trial and instead have focused on fortifying downtown. “They are more afraid of the community than they are of police violence,” she said.

The Toughest But Most Vital Talk

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COVID-19 patients can go from bad to worse quickly, leaving conflicted families little time for the biggest decisions: Ventilators and tracheostomies? Or pain medication and comfort care? Fewer than 30% of American adults have a living will that states their wishes; only slightly more have designated someone to make healthcare decisions for them if they can’t.

The details of resuscitation and intubation are grim: chest compressions that break ribs; a tube down the throat to speed oxygen to diseased lungs; a battery of powerful drugs; weeks in a coma; and after all that, bad odds of survival. When faced with such reality, many elderly COVID-19 patients don’t want to be intubated — but absent such instructions, a hospital’s default is do everything possible to keep them alive.

During the pandemic, one Orange County hospital has begun asking the sickest when they arrive what they would choose if drastic measures were ever needed. Normally, in most hospitals, such conversations don’t happen. “It really drove home to me the central theme,” said one doctor: When it comes to timing, “it’s always too early. Until it’s too late.

More Top Coronavirus Headlines

— Now that federal and state rules requiring businesses to offer employees two weeks of paid sick leave to recover from COVID-19 have expired, many Californians have just three days of paid leave. What happens if they get COVID-19?

— Northern California Catholic schools, including high schools, have opened campuses five days a week, with few virus outbreaks. Science and discipline have helped.

— The pandemic made for bargain airfares. But as more Americans get vaccinated and want to travel, expect plane tickets and hotel rooms to get more expensive.

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

The Last Big Pandemic Relief Bill

After it was passed by the Senate over the weekend, a $1.9-trillion pandemic relief package is expected to be signed this week and become the last major legislative response to the pandemic.

After surprise last-minute haggling between moderates and progressives, Senate Democrats passed the landmark bill — scaling back unemployment benefits and narrowing the number of Americans who receive $1,400 payments, in an effort to mollify centrists — by a party-line vote of 50 to 49.

The measure includes direct financial assistance for struggling Americans; targeted aid to the restaurant, child-care and airline industries; funding for COVID-19 vaccines and testing; aid to small businesses; and support for state and local governments. Here’s what else is in it, who gets a check and what it means for your taxes.

The bill next moves back to the House, which is expected to approve the Senate changes and send the bill to President Biden before Sunday, when some current unemployment benefits are set to expire.

More Politics

— On the 56th commemoration of the “Bloody Sunday” police attack on civil rights marchers in Selma, Ala., President Biden signed an executive order directing federal agencies to move to promote voting access, as congressional Democrats press for sweeping legislation to protect it.

— Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has threatened to use the filibuster to block such a bill, among others, a signature move that’s helped make the Senate a legislative graveyard. To outfox him, Washington columnist Doyle McManus writes, Biden should move to reform the filbuster.

— Yes, Gov. Gavin Newsom’s effort to reopen baseball stadiums is politicking, but as the recall effort against him gains momentum, his move is bound to be bipartisan and popular, columnist George Skelton writes.

— Newsom is considering some of the state’s leading death penalty critics for California attorney general, underscoring the sea change in California when it comes to the politics of capital punishment, columnist Mark Z. Barabak writes.

For more news and analysis, sign up for our Essential Politics newsletter, sent to your inbox three days a week.

The Young and the Debtless

For two decades, billionaire Jack Ma, a self-styled champion of China’s youth, embodied the country’s technological prowess. And when Beijing finally cracked down on his fintech empire last year, its message was clear: Big Tech and Big Finance must be reined in; capitalists should not be given free license.

A surprising audience agreed: China’s youth. Many of the “ants” born since the 1990s no longer worship figures like Ma. Coming of age in a slowing economy under constant pressure to consume, they are suspicious of capitalism and the inequality it spawns.

To understand why, look to Ma’s microlending services Huabei and Jiebei — Mandarin for “just spend” and “just borrow” — which targeted young users with little financial experience, quickly qualifying them for unsecured loans. “Huabei and Jiebei are like fake money,” said Eva Wang, 23, who soon found herself deeply in debt. “You just spend it without realizing.”

OUR MUST-READS FROM THE WEEKEND

— Subscriber exclusive: Tom Girardi and his firm were sued more than a hundred times between the 1980s and last year, with at least half of those cases asserting misconduct in his law practice. Yet Girardi’s record with the State Bar of California remained pristine.

— For two Holocaust survivors, a picture in a Times op-ed unlocked their childhood mysteries, thanks to some distinctive traditional costumes and an astute reader a hemisphere away.

— “These migrant dead haunt California, like an Edgar Allan Poe horror story,” columnist Gustavo Arellano writes, days after a tragic highway crash near the U.S.-Mexico border killed 13 — more “martyrs of the California Dream.”

Santa Monica’s Black community, once tightknit, was decimated by racist policies, but vestiges of it remain. Historian Alison Rose Jefferson took us on a tour of what’s still there.

FROM THE ARCHIVES

On March 7, 1965, state troopers in Selma, Ala., beat civil rights marchers in a brutal attack that earned the date the name “Bloody Sunday.” In the days following, demonstrations were held across the United States — including in Los Angeles, where protesters demanded federal intervention to protect the marchers.

Civil rights protests and sit-ins would continue in L.A. for a week, and more than 100 protesters would be arrested. On March 13, more than 6,000 marched from Pershing Square to City Hall and the Federal Building.

A white man, standing, drags a prone Black demonstrator, who appears limp, by the arm, amid a row of sit-in demonstrators.
March 9, 1965: Sit-in protestors are removed from a hallway in the U.S. attorney general’s office in the L.A. Federal Building. The demonstration was in support of marchers in Selma, Ala. This photo was published in the March 10, 1965, Los Angeles Times.
(Bruce Cox / Los Angeles Times)

CALIFORNIA

— A cold storm with gusty winds is expected to bring rain and snow to Southern California beginning Tuesday but will do little to make up for Los Angeles’ rainfall deficit this season.

— When Lady Gaga’s dog walker was shot in Hollywood as the attackers stole the singer’s French bulldogs, the attack fit into a local crime pattern raising alarm among Los Angeles police officials: More robbery victims are being shot.

— With the stroke of a pen by a judge, nearly 26,000 Californians with felony marijuana convictions on their records recently had them reduced to less onerous misdemeanor convictions.

— In coastal San Diego County, studies have begun to prepare for eventually moving railroad tracks off the crumbling Del Mar coastal bluffs to an inland route using tunnels or trenches.

— A new state bill would require department stores to stop divvying up toys into boys’ and girls’ sections. “We just want to let kids be kids,” said one of its coauthors.

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NATION-WORLD

— The U.S. is on track for its deadliest avalanche season in modern history. The culprit, experts say: weather conditions leave the the snowpack unstable and prone to slides, plus an explosion of outdoor activity in remote areas fueled by the pandemic.

— Among the bombshells that Prince Harry and Meghan dropped in their interview with Oprah Winfrey, which aired Sunday: The royal family raised concerns about their baby’s skin color, and that the palace refused help when Meghan was having a mental health crisis.

— New York’s other top two elected Democrats have withdrawn their support for Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who faces growing accusations of sexual harassment and scrutiny of his administration’s attempt to cover up COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes. One, Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, called on him to resign, which he has said he won’t do.

— In the first papal visit to Iraq, Pope Francis held a historic meeting with the country’s top Shiite cleric and later visited the wrecked shells of churches, where he called on the country’s Christians to forgive the injustices committed by extremists and rebuild.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

— Before reuniting with her “Real World” cast mates, Julie Gentry, a.k.a. “Julie from Alabama,” had to grapple with the very public life of a “naive” 19-year-old: herself.

— Why not jettison the Golden Globes in favor of the SAG Awards, our awards columnist asks? He has some thoughts on how to make it work.

— Taylor Swift, BTS, Cardi B and Billie Eilish are among the artists who will perform at next week’s Grammy Awards.

— In biopics this winter, Black actresses gave transformative performances as three gifted singers — Ma Rainey, Billie Holliday and Aretha Franklin — who raised a soul-stirring hue and cry destined to resound through the ages.

BUSINESS

— Could universal basic income help low-income people get better jobs? A Stockton study’s findings suggest it might, giving the policy concept another boost.

— It’s International Women’s Day. Here are more than 80 women-owned businesses in L.A., with a focus on architecture, fashion, interiors, landscape design and houseplants.

SPORTS

— In a decade, Julio Urías went from the boy with one good eye to teenage phenom to injury concern to suspension under Major League Baseball’s domestic violence policy to, for many Dodgers fans, World Series hero. In some ways, at 24, he’s still tapping into his potential.

Shohei Ohtani could finally be the two-way star the Angels envisioned, columnist Dylan Hernández writes. His team, meanwhile, is turning to a decades-old bible to improve its outfield defense.

Free online games

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OPINION

— Allegations of sexual misconduct at the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California reported last month by The Times reflect a deeper history of mistreatment and disrespect at the powerful agency, The Times’ editorial board writes.

— Biden should make reducing gun violence a national priority, the board also says.

WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

— The discreet charm of the Olsen twins’ boring-chic fashion label the Row may not be enough to survive the pandemic. (The Cut)

— In defense of our weird pandemic eating habits. (The Atlantic)

ONLY IN L.A.

After a brazen daylight robbery on Friday — a diner’s $500,000 watch was stolen at gunpoint at a fashionable restaurant — Beverly Hills police have promised to bring in private security guards to patrol the city’s business district. “I want the world to know that Beverly Hills is a very safe community,” the police chief says — so his department is adding 12 armed security guards and six marked cars to the downtown. Audacious robberies that end in gunfire are on the rise, according to L.A. police; the last high-profile one was of Lady Gaga’s dog walker in Hollywood.

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


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