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Today’s Headlines: Hearts, minds and vaccines

A nurse administers a COVID-19 vaccine
A vaccination event in Gardena in April. As the U.S. works toward a 70% vaccination rate by July 4, California doctors, family members and officials are pushing those still on the fence to get vaccinated.
(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

With shorter lines, 2,000 canvassers and even TikTok ads, California is trying to encourage COVID-19 vaccinations.

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Hearts, Minds and Vaccines

Like swing voters in an election, those who have yet to be vaccinated will determine the outcome of the United States’ COVID-19 vaccination campaign, including how quickly the spread of the coronavirus will stall and to what extent the disease will become a long-term threat.

President Biden is pushing to get a first dose to 70% of Americans by July 4. That ambitious goal may be out of reach in many parts of the country but could still be attainable in California, where nearly 50% of the population has received at least one dose, vaccine skepticism is lower and the effects of the pandemic have been farther-reaching.

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Moving the needle by 20 percentage points in the Golden State will be a tough challenge, experts say — but may still be possible with the right combination of incentives and rationale, which will intensify as vaccine appointments plateau.

In an effort that resembles a “get out the vote” campaign, California is hiring 2,000 canvassers to phone bank and knock on doors and is running a flurry of ads and testimonials on television, radio and TikTok.

The state is also expanding its efforts to target Californians who don’t have cars, reliable internet, paid sick leave or doctors they trust. Officials are coordinating free transportation, setting up kiosks outside high-traffic areas such as malls and train stations, and opening more clinics for walk-in appointments, as are CVS, Walgreens, Rite Aid and other pharmacies receiving doses from the federal government.

Meanwhile, the city of Los Angeles is no longer requiring appointments at its vaccination sites and is planning to wind down the Dodger Stadium mega-site by the end of the month.

A Battle Over the GOP’s Future

Top House Republican Kevin McCarthy has publicly endorsed Trump loyalist Rep. Elise Stefanik for the post of No. 3 leader over Rep. Liz Cheney, who has called out the former president for promoting discredited claims that the 2020 election was stolen.

McCarthy denied that Republicans’ effort to remove Cheney was based on her views about Donald Trump or her vote to impeach him over the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol. He said her continued attention on Trump distracted from Republicans’ goals of winning back the House in 2022 and successfully opposing Biden’s agenda.

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House Republicans could vote as early as Wednesday to remove Cheney, the highest-ranking woman in the Republican leadership and daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney.

More Politics

— In his 2020 election victory, Biden benefited from high turnout among voters of color and support from college-educated white voters , a new study says.

— With L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti in the running for a post as U.S. ambassador to India, many wonder what a mayoral departure would mean for the city’s most pressing issues.

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— The Trump Justice Department secretly seized the phone records of three Washington Post reporters who covered the federal investigation into ties between Russia and Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, the newspaper said.

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

A Study in Corporate Activism

Politics has always been a minefield for businesses. But it used to be one they could avoid.

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Three decades ago, it was all but unheard of for a major consumer brand to stake out a position on a hot-button culture war issue. Today, they’re increasingly finding such positions thrust on them by societal upheavals too big to ignore and activist customer bases demanding expressions of solidarity and meaningful action.

The history of Patagonia suggests aversion to taking a stand is unnecessary, if not outright counterproductive. The company has managed to pull off a high-wire act mixing business with activism throughout its 48-year history, its core business selling outdoor clothing seemingly bolstered by its progressive attitude.

OUR MUST-READS FROM THE WEEKEND

— In the shadow of Mt. Everest, businesses may not survive a third consecutive tourism season spoiled by COVID-19.

Fat shaming, BMI and alienation: COVID-19 brought new stigma to large-sized people.

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Video games came between a mother and son in the pandemic. Could they bring them back together?

— The pandemic shaped a family for generations. Not COVID — the 1918 flu.

FROM THE ARCHIVES

There’s verbal mudslinging in politics, and then there’s actual mudslinging. In 1954, Republican Mildred Younger was running for a state Senate seat when mud was flung against a billboard of her near Figueroa Street and Sunset Boulevard.

“The mischief stirred up members of the Hollywood Young Republicans, who, acting as individuals, announced that they would organize a cleanup committee,” The Times reported on May 10, 1954. “ ‘We don’t know who perpetrated this un-American action,’ said Leonard Stout, president of the Hollywood Young Republicans. ‘We Young Republicans are indignant over such low practices and that’s why we’re pledging ourselves to Mildred Younger to act as a cleanup crew,’ he said.”

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Apparently, it wasn’t the only dirty trick during that campaign season.

People scrub a billboard
May 9, 1954: Hollywood Young Republicans clean Mildred Younger billboard after it was smeared with mud. From left: Walter Fruewald, Doris Black, Leonard Stout and Betty Learned.
(Los Angeles Times)

CALIFORNIA

— A fatal boat wreck off Point Loma last week underscores migrants’ desperation in coming to the U.S.

Michael Schroder, the former dean of extended studies at Cal State San Marcos who racked up tens of thousands of dollars in improper travel billings, is now under criminal investigation by the San Diego County district attorney’s office, university officials said.

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High schoolers are saying no thanks to reopened campuses and are staying home. Not too many want “Zoom in a room.”

— Will a second location for Cielito Lindo help the historic Olvera Street taqueria survive?

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NATION-WORLD

— A gunman opened fire at a birthday party in Colorado, killing six adults before taking his own life, police said.

— A 12-year-boy who took Mexico City’s Metro to buy his mom a Mother’s Day present was among those killed in last week’s collapse of an elevated segment.

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— More than 1,200 migrants in several decrepit, overcrowded fishing boats reached a tiny Italian island in the span of 12 hours, as human traffickers exploited calm seas and warm weather, the mayor said.

— China’s space agency said that a core segment of its biggest rocket reentered Earth’s atmosphere above the Maldives in the Indian Ocean and that most of it burned up.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

— Scarlett Johansson has joined a growing Hollywood call to ditch the Golden Globes, slamming past “sexist questions and remarks” from member journalists of the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn.

Elon Musk hosting “Saturday Night Live” was a gimmicky ratings grab but not a disaster, TV critic Robert Lloyd writes.

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— “Mortal Kombat’s” Joe Taslim has gone from judo champion to film star, but Western audiences have yet to see all he can do.

— How a pandemic year of loss reshaped Maya Lin’s art and architecture.

BUSINESS

— The European Union cemented its support for Pfizer-BioNTech and its novel COVID-19 vaccine technology by agreeing to a contract extension for a potential 1.8 billion doses through 2023.

— Is Epic Games’ showdown with Apple turning into a mismatch?

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SPORTS

Steelo Sports is the first Black-owned company to supply gloves to contemporary major league players. It hopes to grow the game with Black and younger fans.

— The Angels claimed this weekend’s Freeway Series with a 2-1 win over the Dodgers in Sunday’s rubber match.

Medina Spirit, winner of this year’s Kentucky Derby, tested positive for an anti-inflammatory after the race, once again putting trainer Bob Baffert in the middle of another drug scandal.

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

— The war is on for control of Congress, but California tied its hands behind its back in trying to do the right thing, columnist Nicholas Goldberg writes.

NFTs are digital tulip fever, science writer and artist Margaret Wertheim posits. Can you imagine paying millions of dollars for a bar code?

WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

— A Yale law professor looks at how college became a ruthless competition. (The Atlantic)

— The story of “Sesame Street”: It began as a radical experiment. (NPR)

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ONLY IN L.A.

If you drive down Saticoy Street in Reseda, it’s easy to overlook the spot known as the Cactus Ranch. Alert passersby might glimpse some rusty dinosaurs rising above a ramshackle fence and otherworldly plants amid the endless houses and curbside retail. That’s kind of what makes it a magical secret place.

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


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