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Today’s Headlines: The fear and pain after Atlanta

A man in a coat and tie speaks at a lectern as others, wearing masks stand with hands clasped
Stewart Kwoh, president emeritus of Asian Americans Advancing Justice L.A., speaks against the hate and recent violence targeting Asian Americans on Wednesday.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

Amid a historic rise in hate crimes against Asian Americans, the Atlanta-area shootings have left many wondering what’s next.

TOP STORIES

The Fear and Pain After Atlanta

For more than year, fears about anti-Asian hatred have grown as police and advocacy groups have reported record numbers of hate crimes and incidents of harassment. This week, Stop AAPI Hate, a tracker launched a year ago by Asian American advocacy groups, released data on 3,800 incidents of harassment and violence against Asian Americans that took place over the last year.

Then, on Tuesday evening, eight people, including six women of Asian descent, were killed in shootings at three Atlanta-area spas. On Wednesday, the 21-year-old man arrested in connection with the killings was charged with eight counts of murder and one count of aggravated assault. Police said the early stages of their investigation indicated that man, who is white, “did not appear to be” motivated by race.

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But many Asian Americans say the killing of so many Asian women, at businesses known to employ Asian workers, was a racial targeting by its very circumstances. Many are bristling with pain and fury, seeing the killings as a culmination of a steady drumbeat of racist attacks, with some people blaming them for the coronavirus pandemic because of its origins in China.

The shootings in Georgia have stirred a wave of fear — for parents, grandparents, friends, children and themselves. “I’m checking in with my friends, with my family. We’re all wondering what will happen next,” said June Macon, a Korean American doctoral candidate at the University of Illinois at Chicago. “Who will the next person be?”

Rep. Judy Chu (D-Monterey Park) is set to testify at a congressional hearing today on the rise in hate crimes against people of Asian descent. She laid the eight deaths at former President Trump’s feet, as did some other Asian Americans, because of his rhetoric, particularly surrounding the coronavirus.

A United Front?

With backers of the recall against California Gov. Gavin Newsom formally submitting the last of their petitions Wednesday, Democrats around the state and in Washington are readying what they hope will be a united front to keep him in office.

Newsom’s campaign is trying to keep the party focused on fighting the recall and preventing prominent Democrats from getting into the race to replace him if it qualifies for the ballot as expected. He has racked up high-profile endorsements from Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), among others, and hopes to tie the recall campaign to former President Trump and extremist groups.

It’s still unclear whether any Democrats will enter the race to replace Newsom as an insurance policy against the growing field of Republican candidates, something that happened during the 2003 recall that ended with voters ousting Democrat Gray Davis and replacing him with Arnold Schwarzenegger.

More Politics

— President Biden is calling for changes to the filibuster, as Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell warns of “scorched earth” tactics if Democrats use their new majority to end the legislative roadblock.

— Biden’s head of Homeland Security sparred with members of Congress over the surge of migrants at the Southwest border, refusing to concede that the situation was a crisis or even much different from what the two previous administrations faced.

— The Senate confirmed Katherine Tai as the top U.S. trade envoy in an overwhelming bipartisan vote. She will be the first Asian American and first woman of color to hold the position.

The Physical Toll of WFH

For many people who have been working remotely since last year, the home office never truly became one. But those less-than-ideal workstations — monitors too small and too low; desks that don’t adjust; chairs without armrests and back support; built-in keyboards and touchpads instead of external ones — combined with sedentary work habits have taken a physical toll as the pandemic has dragged on.

Remote workers report suffering from aches and pain, joint soreness, stiffness, numbness, carpal tunnel and headaches. That’s a concern for employers, especially as many adopt permanent work-from-home policies.

And it’s an opportunity for the businesses that are offering solutions such as pain-relief devices, office equipment and ergonomic consulting.

More Top Coronavirus Headlines

— The grim horse race that is the U.S. COVID-19 pandemic has been reduced to a contest between two tenacious coronavirus strains: a variant native to California and an import from the United Kingdom.

— More than a year after closing due to the pandemic, the theme parks at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim are scheduled to open April 30 with limited capacity and restrictions on some attractions.

— Over the last year, businesses cut hours, services and staff, or closed altogether. A trip down L.A.'s Pico Boulevard shows how much has changed.

— The European Union is considering certificates that would allow EU residents to travel freely across the 27-nation bloc by the summer as long as they have been vaccinated, tested negative for the coronavirus or recovered from COVID-19.

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

QAnon’s ‘Collateral Damage’

Once dismissed as a crackpot belief system undeserving of serious attention, QAnon has emerged as a national security priority in the wake of the Jan. 6 mob attack on the U.S. Capitol. The FBI has labeled it a domestic terror threat and it has been linked to more than a dozen potentially criminal acts across the country. Experts estimate that as many as 20 million Americans have at least partially embraced Q-inspired conspiracies that are often racist, anti-Semitic and untethered to reality.

These include claims of lizard aliens intent on enslaving humans, plots for a mass depopulation of the planet and support of public executions. Many parents, spouses and siblings feel like a cult has ensnared one of their loved ones, and are unsure if they should intervene or focus on protecting their own mental health.

Lonely and often isolated, such family members have been seeking support wherever they can find it. In recent months, a reddit group called QAnon Casualties for family and friends of believers has grown to 144,000 members.

FROM THE ARCHIVES

As Southern California expanded in the early 1900s, the Pacific Electric Railway system with its signature red cars helped fuel that growth.

But it declined after World War II, as highways, buses and car transportation expanded in the area. By the 1950s, most of the streetcars had been taken out of circulation and were hauled off for scrap metal, according to The Times. The March 19, 1956, Los Angeles Times featured a “monumental boneyard” on Terminal Island in Los Angeles Harbor, where the old cars were stacked four high.

The last line — from Los Angeles to Long Beach — closed in 1961. An attempt to bring a piece of the system back in San Pedro in the 2000s was ultimately expensive and unsuccessful.

streetcars are stacked four high in a junkyard
March 19, 1956: Old Pacific Electric red cars sit at Terminal Island junkyard, awaiting dismantling to become scrap metal.
(Los Angeles Times Archive / UCLA)

CALIFORNIA

— Aides to Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva thought building a helipad near his home would be simple. But documents reveal how the project quickly turned ugly with the involvement of a former sheriff’s deputy.

— Will off-roading end at Oceano Dunes? The California Coastal Commission will consider the fate of the controversial area — the only state park where vehicles can be driven along the beach.

Tim McOsker, a former political aide and LAPD union lobbyist, has launched a bid for Los Angeles City Council, reshuffling the campaign for the second time in a week.

— Where there has been great need, Angelenos have stepped up with mutual aid groups to help feed their neighbors and fill gaps in services and support.

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NATION-WORLD

— The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has determined that Oregon’s Detroit Dam is at risk of failing when — not if — a large earthquake strikes the Pacific Northwest, with the potential for a “catastrophic flood.”

— Big companies have been passing off cheap coffee beans as authentic Kona, depressing prices for the real stuff. Hawaii’s coffee farmers hope lawsuit settlements will protect their product and consumers.

— The U.S. sanctioned an additional 24 Chinese and Hong Kong officials over Beijing’s ongoing crackdown on political freedoms in the semi-autonomous city, just ahead of the Biden administration’s first face-to-face talks with China.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

— NBC has broken its silence on the Golden Globes controversy, acknowledging its role in “necessary changes.”

— Black fans may not forgive “The Bachelor.” But Matt James has their attention.

Sarah Ramos reflects on the L.A. experience of auditioning for — and losing out on — a part in “Gossip Girl” for Image, The Times’ new style magazine.

Speedy Gonzales is routinely criticized as offensive and stereotypical. But time and time again, Mexicans — the very group you’d think would hate Speedy the most — rise to defend his honor, writes columnist Gustavo Arellano.

BUSINESS

— The Internal Revenue Service is planning to delay the April 15 tax filing deadline by about one month, giving taxpayers additional time to file returns and pay any outstanding levies.

— The Federal Reserve predicted that U.S. economic growth will expand this year at the highest rate in nearly four decades, and it pledged to support the anticipated surge by keeping interest rates near zero.

SPORTS

LaMelo Ball is coming home to L.A. in historic company and as an NBA rookie of year frontrunner.

— The NBA trade deadline is a week away. Here’s who the Lakers could acquire at the finish line.

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

— May-lee Chai, an associate professor of creative writing at San Francisco State University, on how Asian women are relentlessly objectified in American culture.

— These Venice residents peacefully coexisted with their homeless neighbors. Until one man made that impossible, columnist Robin Abcarian writes.

WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

Andrew Yang ran for president, then New York City mayor — both as a Democrat. But first, he charmed the right wing on his road to political stardom. (Politico)

— The hobby that is ham radio is no longer relegated to the basement. It’s headed to alpine peaks and become a “biathlon for geeks.” (Outside)

ONLY IN CALIFORNIA

For a long time, people tried to escape Alcatraz, the historic island prison off San Francisco. Now, with coronavirus restrictions starting to ease, the site has reopened for a limited number of indoor tours, which had been on ice for more than a year. Face masks and social distancing are still required at the island, which once housed Al Capone and George “Machine Gun” Kelly.

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


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