Today’s Headlines: Biden’s anti-crime plan
President Biden announced new efforts to stem a rising national tide of violent crime.
Biden’s anti-crime plan
President Biden announced new efforts to stem a rising national tide of violent crime, declaring the federal government is “taking on the bad actors doing bad things to our communities.” But questions persist about how effective the efforts can be in what could be a turbulent summer.
Crime rates have risen after plummeting during the initial months of the COVID-19 pandemic, creating economic hardship and anxiety. The plan focuses on providing money to cities that need more police, offering community support and most of all, cracking down on gun violence and those supplying illegal firearms. The “zero tolerance” policy would give no leeway to gun dealers who fail to comply with federal law — their licenses to sell would be revoked on a first offense.
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While crime is rising — homicides and shootings are up from the same period last year in Los Angeles; Chicago; Minneapolis; Baltimore; Houston; Portland, Ore., and Baton Rouge, La. — violent crime overall remains lower than it was a decade or even five years ago.
As a senator, Biden wrote several major anti-crime packages, including a 1994 bill that contained provisions now viewed by some as an overreaction to crime spikes in the 1980s and 1990s. Critics say those bills helped lead to the mass incarceration of Black Americans, and Biden’s involvement became an issue in his 2020 campaign.
While Biden has expressed second thoughts about some aspects of the legislation, he and his allies still point to the law’s provisions.
— A bipartisan group of senators reached a tentative framework on an infrastructure deal ahead of a crucial meeting with Biden at the White House.
— Vice President Kamala Harris will travel to the southern border Friday, after months of Republican criticism of the Biden administration’s handling of a large increase in families and unaccompanied minors arriving from Central America.
— Biden will move immediately to replace the director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, Mark Calabria, an appointee of former President Trump with broad powers over mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The Supreme Court opened the door for Calabria’s removal.
— New York prosecutors followed Trump’s money to his accountant, Allen Weisselberg. As they build a potential case against his boss, will Weisselberg stay quiet?
Delta variant reaches California
The Delta variant of the coronavirus is beginning to spread in California, offering a preview of how the battle of the pandemic will change as officials move to protect a shrinking minority who remain at risk because they have not been vaccinated.
The variant may be twice as transmissible as the conventional strain. But California and the rest of the nation are now far more protected against COVID-19 than ever before. California has one of the highest vaccination rates in the nation, and the U.S. has one of the highest per-capita rates of inoculation in the world.
Vaccines available in the U.S. are believed to be effective against the Delta variant as they have been for all known variants. But that still leaves tens of millions of unvaccinated people potentially vulnerable.
The recent boost in vaccinations in the Golden State is a bright spot that comes as officials confirmed that the nation probably will fall short of Biden’s goal of administering at least one dose to 70% of U.S. adults by July 4. California is one of 16 states, along with the District of Columbia, that have reached that target, but it will take a few more weeks after the Fourth of July for the nation to meet the benchmark.
More top coronavirus headlines
— According to the CDC, more than 1,200 cases of heart inflammation have been reported in people who received mRNA COVID-19 vaccines.
— Colombia has reached 100,000 confirmed deaths from COVID-19, becoming the 10th country globally to cross that threshold.
Britney Spears wants out
Britney Spears has finally confirmed what many fans have long suspected: She wants out of her conservatorship. The pop star, who has tens of millions of followers on social media and an estimated $60 million in her estate, has been under the restrictions of a conservatorship since the beginning of 2008.
Spears’ shrouded life, and her mysterious Instagram account, led to the rise of the #FreeBritney movement: an effort by a group of supporters to end the singer’s conservatorship and raise awareness of conservatorship abuse.
Wednesday’s hearing was held in person at Stanley Mosk Courthouse in downtown L.A. Spears appeared via telephone, while the attorneys and others involved with the conservatorship appeared via video. The singer’s parents also attended virtually. No recording was permitted, and cameras, cellphones and laptops were banned in the courthouse.
“I truly believe this conservatorship is abusive,” the pop star said during the hearing. “I want to end the conservatorship without being evaluated.”
On Tuesday, the New York Times reported on confidential court documents that showed Spears had been quietly pushing back against aspects of her conservatorship for years. During Wednesday’s hearing, Judge Brenda J. Penny said she was aware that these documents had been made available to the media and asked if anyone present knew anything about that. No one said a thing.
FROM THE ARCHIVES
After a four-year absence, the Who returned to Los Angeles in 1980 with seven live concerts. The 110,000 tickets quickly sold out. On June 20 and 21, 1980, the Who performed at the Forum in Inglewood. The following five performances, June 23-28, were at the Los Angeles Sports Arena.
On June 23, 1980, Los Angeles Times, pop music critic Robert Hilburn reported:
“The Who, relegated in recent years to chasing the ghost of its own early greatness, caught up with that greatness Friday night at the Inglewood Forum with a masterful display of energy and commitment.
“The veteran rock band still relies too much on old material, but the power of its performance surely convinced both the curious and the cultists in the audience that the Who deserves its ranking as one of the half-dozen best bands ever in rock.”
— QAnon beliefs are spreading through California’s yoga, meditation and other wellness circles. Experts and members say the community was primed for conspiracy theories.
— Some regulations that have protected California renters from eviction during the pandemic are nearing expiration, leaving many tenants worried about how they will stay housed.
— Two Orange County sheriff’s deputies who are twin brothers admitted to submitting falsified military orders to obtain paid leave from the Sheriff’s Department.
— A swarm of bees went on the attack in a restaurant parking lot in Fountain Valley, leaving three people hospitalized.
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— In a pair of California-focused rulings, the U.S. Supreme Court decided in favor of a motorist who said a police officer violated his privacy rights by following him home and struck down part of a historic California law, ruling that agricultural landowners and food processors have a right to keep union organizers off their property.
— For decades, an agonizing war over water has divided Indigenous people and the descendants of settlers in Oregon. But as the land dries out, the real fight is about race, equity and generational trauma.
— A local lawmaker wants to condemn a city-owned park in Seattle with a large homeless encampment next to a courthouse and declare the area a public safety hazard or nuisance property.
— This Chinese app was meant for indoctrination. But then came the romance scammers, duping middle-aged, single women into lucrative investment schemes.
HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS
— “Loki’s” enchanting Lady Loki doesn’t like that name. This backstory explains why.
— If “The Masked Singer” gets you all hot and bothered, Netflix’s “Sexy Beasts” might be the dating show you’ve been looking for.
— He died homeless and forgotten. Now gay Black composer Julius Eastman finally gets his due.
— The beloved Bootleg Theater in Historic Filipinotown is closing permanently after more than a year of a COVID-19-related shutdown.
— One of the nation’s largest unions, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, announced it will mount a nationwide effort to organize Amazon’s delivery and warehouse workers.
— The Supreme Court dealt a blow to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac investors in their challenge to the government’s collection of more than $100 billion in profits from the government-sponsored enterprises.
— John McAfee, the antivirus software pioneer turned anti-government cryptocurrency promoter and frequent fugitive from the law, was found dead in his prison cell in Spain.
— U.S. Olympic gymnastics trials are this weekend, and Simone Biles is a shining example of overcoming adversity. She’s part of a bright future that can’t come fast enough for USA Gymnastics, columnist Helene Elliott writes.
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— Hunter Biden is trading on the family name — again. In an effort to earn a living without politically compromising his father, he has turned what he describes as a lifelong passion — art — into a job, writes columnist Robin Abcarian.
— This Supreme Court ruling doesn’t end labor rights in the fields. It just makes it harder for mostly nonwhite, non-English-speaking farmworkers to exercise those rights, writes The Times’ editorial board.
WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING
— Former NRA President David Keene was tricked into speaking at a fake high school graduation. The 3,044 empty seats represented the students who did not graduate this year as they had been killed by gun violence. (Buzzfeed News)
— Do chance meetings at the office boost innovation? There’s no evidence of it. For some, the office even stifles creativity. As the pandemic eases in the U.S., a few companies seek to reimagine what work might look like. (New York Times)
ONLY IN CALIFORNIA
A few years ago, Karissa Allen and Justin Cox met at a privately owned industrial-supply distributor both worked for; they became fast friends and soon co-founded Ol’ Dirty Planters.
Art influenced most of Allen’s life since the San Bernardino native moved to Los Angeles in 2004 as a USC student, dancer and USC Trojan marching band member. Allen worked in the social media world for a few years, which allowed her to work with brands and flex her creative muscle before Ol’ Dirty Planters allowed her to take it to another level.
San Diego native Cox, the other half of Ol’ Dirty Planters, grew up around animals. He had a horse, a pig and a sheepdog. Cox ended up being a top Division 1 athlete on the track team at USC. After college, he started a marketing agency and his photographs have been published in numerous fashion magazines. Ol’ Dirty Planters has been a passion project for Cox.
Today’s newsletter was curated by Daric L. Cottingham and Laura Blasey. Comments or ideas? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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