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Today’s Headlines: Violence in L.A. is on an alarming rise

People view an overturned vehicle after  a car-to-car shooting  in  Venice
People view an overturned vehicle after a car-to-car shooting in Venice early Monday that left one man dead and a woman wounded.
(KTLA)

Here are the stories you shouldn’t miss today:

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Violence in L.A. is on an alarming rise

A bloody Fourth of July weekend that left a dozen people dead across Los Angeles accelerated an already troubling uptick in homicides and shootings in 2021, with some of the city’s most impoverished communities bearing the heaviest toll. Police officials say guns are fueling the rise.

Homicides are up 25% so far this year across Los Angeles, although the brunt of the increase has been felt in South Los Angeles, where killings have jumped 50% over the same time last year.

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Shootings citywide, meanwhile, have spiked by half this year. Police and community activists are bracing for tough months ahead as the summer traditionally brings with it a rise in bloodshed.

As with the COVID-19 pandemic, the rise in violence has not been spread evenly in Los Angeles. Watts, Westmont, downtown Los Angeles, Westlake and other largely poor neighborhoods have endured much of the upheaval. “Black and Latino communities are suffering,” said Najee Ali, a community activist.

The worrisome trend is playing out in cities other than Los Angeles too. After experiencing decades of historic declines in homicides, many big cities nationwide saw that crucial bellwether sharply reverse course in 2020 and have been helpless to stop the surge in killings in 2021. Last weekend, at least 189 people were killed in violent incidents across the U.S., according to gun violence archives that gather data from police and media reports.

Biden’s balancing of bipartisanship

When Joe Biden was running for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020, his rivals disparaged the nearly half-century Washington veteran as a man of another era. Five months into his presidency, it is hard to imagine any Democrat better able to walk the political tightrope between the White House and Capitol Hill.

Biden has needed every bit of his experience, policy expertise and personal connections to pursue a bold two-track approach to advancing his legislative agenda, negotiating with Republicans while holding his party together in a Congress that Democrats barely control.

In just his first five months as president, he has shown flexibility to deploy different approaches to leadership.

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It’s not clear that Biden will keep his footing. His strategy for advancing both a bipartisan infrastructure bill and a sweeping package of progressive policies that Republicans have vowed to oppose — including family assistance and climate change measures — may collapse. And that could leave him and his party empty-handed as they head into next year’s midterm elections.

The maneuvering in the coming weeks and months will test not just Biden’s legislative agility but also a central premise of his surprisingly ambitious presidency: That both sweeping policy reforms and bipartisanship are vital and achievable in the world’s leading democracy.

More politics

U.S. Capitol Police announced that the agency will open regional field offices in California and Florida to investigate threats against members of Congress after the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

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— Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams has won the Democratic primary for mayor of New York City after appealing to the political center and promising to strike the right balance between fighting crime and ending racial injustice in policing.

— As California faces the recall election of Gov. Gavin Newsom, columnist Mark Z. Barabak looks back at when an effort to oust Dianne Feinstein as San Francisco mayor backfired. It made her a star.

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

Delta variant raises concern

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The rise of the highly contagious Delta variant is causing increases in new coronavirus cases and hospitalizations in California prompting concern about the spread of the illness in unvaccinated communities.

While those fully vaccinated against COVID-19 are believed to have high levels of protection against the variant, more people who have not been vaccinated are getting sick, data show. Delta spreads more than twice as readily as the version of the virus that sparked the global pandemic.

The scientific consensus is that fully vaccinated people are well protected from infections with the Delta variant. That’s great news for the 50.5% of Californians who received one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine or two doses of either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines.

But concern about kids under the age of 12 who are not yet eligible for any COVID-19 vaccine has some parents worried as the Delta variant begins to rise.

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Meanwhile, Biden announced new steps Tuesday to inoculate additional Americans as the more contagious variant spreads. “Millions of Americans are still unvaccinated and unprotected,” Biden said. “And because of that, their communities are at risk. Their friends are at risk. The people they care about are at risk.”

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FROM THE ARCHIVES

For years, the Los Angeles Times Charities supported the Los Angeles Boys Club in Lincoln Heights. One of the club’s programs included trips to summer camp. In 1990, the club became the Los Angeles Boys & Girls Club.

A short story in the July 7, 1955, Los Angeles Times reported:

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“Nineteen members of the Los Angeles Times Boys Club left yesterday on the club’s first summer camp outing of the season. The boys, ages 7 to 13, were taken to the Deep Creek public camp in the Arrowhead area. Six more groups will go later.

“Camping gear was lashed to one of the club’s buses which the boys boarded at the clubhouse, 2635 Pasadena Ave. Accompanying the group were Director Nick Lucero and four counselors.”

Albert Fathergill, 9, leans from a bus to kiss his mother, as 19 members of the Times Boys Club leave for summer camp.
July 6, 1955: Albert Fathergill, 9, leans from a bus to kiss his mother, Ethel Fathergill, as 19 members of the Times Boys Club leave for summer camp.
(Bruce H. Cox / Los Angeles Times)

CALIFORNIA

— Academic Lanhee Chen, a GOP policy advisor to recent presidential candidates, announced that he is running for state controller in a bid to break the Republican Party’s losing streak when it comes to statewide offices.

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— After a broiling July 4 holiday weekend, temperatures are expected to keep climbing through the week across Southern California.

— Heather Holt had been in charge of the Los Angeles City Ethics Commission for nearly a decade but struggled to get a raise approved. That’s because the agency operates at the mercy of officials it is charged with policing.

— The film “Black in Mayberry,” which grew out of Black Lives Matter protests last summer, shines a light on El Segundo’s intolerant past. Nearly a century ago, L.A. leaders offered beachfront property to a prominent Black entrepreneur to build a retreat for the city’s fast-growing Black population. El Segundo fought back and the incident has reemerged as the city reckons with its past.

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NATION-WORLD

— Haitian President Jovenel Moise was assassinated in an attack on his private residence, the country’s interim prime minister said in a statement Wednesday.

Ammon Bundy built his name on confronting the government. Now he wants to be Idaho’s governor, pledging to protect conservative values by turning federal land into private development.

— As the search for survivors continues at Champlain Towers South, lawsuits seeking answers and blame for the condo collapse are already underway in Florida’s legal system while authorities open criminal and civil investigations.

— British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s backers have enthusiastically dubbed it “Freedom Day” — July 19, when the government is expected to lift nearly all coronavirus-related restrictions in England. But not everyone is celebrating.

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— Nine people, including six high school students, were arrested in Hong Kong over an alleged plot to set off homemade bombs in courts, tunnels and trash cans as political tensions rise.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

— The Ivy League reigns on TV. A new show from The CW wants to make HBCUs “the A story.”

Britney Spears isn’t the only person who wants out of her conservatorship. Spears’ longtime manager has reportedly resigned while the co-conservator of her estate and her court-appointed attorney say they want out.

— The famed painting “The Blue Boy” is returning to London after a century at the Huntington, but experts fear the trip presents a grave risk to a masterpiece.

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— How do you become a film editor? The latest installment of our Explaining Hollywood series cuts to the chase.

BUSINESS

— The Pentagon said it was canceling a cloud-computing contract with Microsoft that could eventually have been worth $10 billion and would instead pursue a deal with both Microsoft and Amazon. The original deal had faced extended legal challenges by Amazon.

Quentin Tarantino dropped some news for L.A. moviegoers this week: He has bought Los Feliz’s Vista Theatre, which had been closed and awaiting government grants. The former owner explains how the surprise deal came together.

SPORTS

— Over the last year, friends and family say, former USC lineman Chris Brown seemed to settle on his path. His death has opened a window into a life that extended far beyond football.

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— When is the right time for Olympic athletes to protest? Tommie Smith, who famously raised his fist on the medal stand in Mexico City in 1968, says it’s the Tokyo Olympics.

— Sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson was not on the Olympic roster released Tuesday by USA Track and Field. The decision means the American champion’s positive test for marijuana will cost her a chance at running on the relay team in Tokyo, in addition to her spot in the 100-meter individual race.

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OPINION

— Transgender spa customers have the same rights as everyone else. Antidiscrimination laws stand for the principle that all are welcome, whether we are comfortable or not, The Times’ editorial board writes.

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Britney Spears is just the beginning. Reform of the laws governing conservatorships is long overdue, writes legal commentator and retired judge LaDoris Hazzard Cordell.

WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

— Why did the police shoot Matthew Zadok Williams? Outside Atlanta, a mother and five sisters look for answers. (The New Yorker)

— What counts as plagiarism in the pulpit? The new leader of the Southern Baptist Convention has delivered sermons containing passages from those of his predecessor, causing a furor. (The New York Times)

ONLY IN L.A.

A stretch of the 101 Freeway roars with the traffic of 300,000 vehicles each day. It’s a daunting task for mountain lions trying to cross it. But architect Robert Rock has a challenge ahead too, and if he’s successful, fewer of the animals will end up as roadkill. Rock is part of a team of architects, federal biologists, conservation groups and government agencies trying to build a proposed $87-million bridge for wildlife.

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Today’s newsletter was curated by Daric L. Cottingham and Laura Blasey. Comments or ideas? Email us at headlines@latimes.com.


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