Today’s Headlines: Residents displaced by LAPD fireworks explosion
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Residents displaced by LAPD fireworks explosion
More than a month after the LAPD blew up the 700 block of East 27th Street while trying to safely detonate a cache of illegal fireworks, displaced families who have remained in less damaged homes on the street say they are struggling to piece their lives back together.
Some complain of injuries suffered in the blast. Others have lost work. Some say they will never regain what they lost.
LAPD Chief Michel Moore said the police are committed to getting to the bottom of what happened and helping those families affected by the explosion, including keeping a patrol vehicle on the block 24 hours a day to keep them and their property safe.
However, during a recent Police Commission meeting, Moore denied responsibility for two recent deaths, saying his understanding is that both men had “underlying health conditions” and that their deaths were not a result of the explosion.
A preliminary review indicated that the explosion was probably caused after officials confiscating the fireworks miscalculated the explosive power of homemade devices they had placed into a “total containment unit” to be detonated at the scene.
The containment unit was meant to absorb whatever blast ensued. In the moments before the detonation, police told some residents to evacuate or remain inside and others that they would hear a loud bang and shouldn’t worry.
Instead, the June 30 explosion ripped through the neighborhood — blasting out windows and badly damaging homes and businesses. Those in the immediate blast zone fared the worst, but damage stretched for blocks.
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Tokyo Olympics were an attempt at normalcy
The COVID-19 pandemic had forced a year’s postponement and, with much of Japan still in a state of emergency, cancellation remained possible to the last moment. Even as the massive sporting event lurched ahead, spectators were banned, leaving athletes to compete in eerily quiet stadiums and arenas.
With inclement weather threatening to ruin Sunday’s closing ceremony, the sky lifted and brightened by late afternoon. After 17 rocky days, these Summer Games had once again found a way to get by.
As 100-meter champion Lamont Marcell Jacobs of Italy said: “Finally we’ve managed to do it, so that’s a positive way to look at it.”
Local organizers transformed Olympic Stadium into one of Tokyo’s well-known city parks for their goodbye show, covering the field with swaths of real grass and pathways. Kids skateboarded, people did yoga and bicycle riders whizzed past.
If the scene attempted to evoke a sense of normalcy, it also reinforced the Tokyo Games’ extraordinary and often contradictory nature.
Politics govern vaccination rate
The Los Angeles Times set out to understand how politics play out at the local level and affect vaccine efforts. We looked at the percentage of fully vaccinated people in each U.S. county with a population of at least 20,000 and for every state identified the county with the lowest rate (except Hawaii, for which no county-level data were available).
We asked the mayors of the county seats why their counties had fallen behind and whether they were vaccinated. In the four places without mayors, we asked town managers.
Of the 26 officials who responded, 17 were vaccinated, three were not, and six declined to say. The majority expressed deep frustration at the way politics had infected the campaign to inoculate enough Americans to wipe out the virus.
Most of the places with the lowest rates were overwhelmingly Republican, often among the reddest counties in their states when supporting Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election. In several, Trump — who was vaccinated in January — won by more than 50 percentage points.
“It’s a hard sell here,” said David Trujillo, the Democratic mayor of Lovington, N.M., county seat of rural Lea County, where the former president won by 60 percentage points.
Trujillo was among the first locals to be vaccinated in mid-winter; he secured a spot because vials were going to waste for lack of sign-ups. The rate for the county is now 20% — about a third of the rate statewide.
Well aware that promoting vaccination could hurt his reelection campaign in April, the mayor rarely mentions it anymore, he said.
Perhaps because of the political perils of discussing vaccination, many Republican mayors either failed to respond to The Times’ inquiry or — in six cases — responded but said they would not answer any questions.
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OUR MUST-READS FROM THE WEEKEND
— Business was slow at an L.A. County vaccination site, until medical teams walked the neighborhood. They’re going door to door in Watts answering vaccine questions, and it’s working.
— Huntington Beach’s first Black councilwoman faces jeers with calm. No wonder the MAGA crowd hates her.
— Aggressive testing, tracking apps and restrictions prevented a widespread COVID-19 outbreak from derailing the Olympics, but there were problems.
— A majority of Black Americans believe having a mental health condition is a sign of weakness. Simone Biles and other athletes are changing the narrative. Here’s how their bravery in mental health can help California heal from COVID-19.
FROM THE ARCHIVES
In 1984, Mary Decker and Zola Budd got their feet tangled during the women’s 3,000-meter race at the Olympic Games in Los Angeles. The incident knocked Decker into the Coliseum’s infield and out of the race.
Budd, a South African who was running for Great Britain, stumbled but regained her balance. Decker tumbled to the ground, tearing the number off Budd’s back as she fell. Maricica Puica of Romania won the race and Budd finished seventh.
Twenty-five years later, Budd told The Times’ Bill Dwyre about being whisked away to her mother’s hotel, where she stayed in semi-hiding. For two days, she watched TV and waited for her flight back to England.
“I ate a lot of Haagen Dazs ice cream,” she said.
— Los Angeles County public libraries could stop fining patrons for late books and other materials under a proposal being considered by the Board of Supervisors — a measure some consider long overdue.
— The California Republican Party overwhelmingly voted not to endorse a candidate in the recall race to replace Gov. Gavin Newsom, a move framed as an effort to preserve party unity but viewed by skeptics as an effort to protect an establishment favorite and a reflection of the changing dynamics of the race.
— Los Angeles County officials will consider a proposal on drafting a report on policies surrounding the mandating of proof of vaccination to enter certain indoor public spaces. Supervisor Janice Hahn, whose 4th District includes several beach cities, wrote the proposal, to be discussed at this week’s Board of Supervisors meeting, which asks staff and attorneys to draft a report in two weeks about what the county’s policy could look like.
— The Dixie fire is now the second-largest wildfire in California history, burning more than 463,000 acres through a large swath of Northern California.
— Los Angeles County health officials reported 4,283 new coronavirus cases, the largest daily number in months. Public health officials attribute the rise to continued high rates of transmission of the Delta variant and significant increases in testing.
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— Taliban fighters on Sunday seized most of the capital of northern Afghanistan’s key Kunduz province and took another neighboring provincial capital after a monthlong siege. The advances were the latest in a series of blows to government forces as U.S. troops complete their pullout after nearly two decades in the country.
— Census Bureau statisticians and outside experts are trying to unravel a mystery: Why did people leave so many questions unanswered in the 2020 census?
— The Senate cleared an important procedural hurdle when called in Saturday after failing to wrap up work late Thursday on the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. Senators voted 67 to 27 to advance the measure.
— Olympic visitors will likely remember not technological advances but the reams of paper forms, glitchy apps and rigid bureaucracy of Japan’s anti-COVID measures.
— Despite a sluggish start, the European Union’s COVID-19 vaccination drive has caught up to that of the United States, where the slowdown of the country’s once-vaunted campaign has contributed to the virus’ deadly comeback.
HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS
— Dennis “Dee Tee” Thomas, a founding member of the long-running soul-funk band Kool & the Gang, known for such hits as “Celebration” and “Get Down on It,” has died. He was 70.
— Cristobal Tapia de Veer breaks down how he made the “Hawaiian Hitchcock” music for “The White Lotus,” HBO’s limited series about a luxury resort permeated by dread.
— SAG-AFTRA weighed into the fight between Scarlett Johansson and Walt Disney, blasting the studio’s reaction to the actress’ lawsuit over “Black Widow,” citing “gender-shaming and bullying.”
— Moviegoing, once expected to be close to semi-normal levels by now, continues to be battered by the pandemic and in-home streaming. The latest casualty: James Gunn’s “The Suicide Squad,” a critically acclaimed, carnage-ridden would-be smash that disappointed with $26.5 million in estimated ticket sales.
— The incoming president of the Writers Guild of America, West, Meredith Stiehm, says film and TV writers are being shortchanged in the streaming revolution.
— As the Delta variant spreads, employers are increasingly establishing vaccination mandates for their workers. Here’s how those policies look.
— The United States women’s basketball team continued its nearly 30-year-long Olympic winning streak, defeating Japan for the gold medal.
— Albert Pujols, replacing an injured Justin Turner, hit a two-run home run in the second inning to help the Dodgers defeat the Angels 8-2.
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— Critical race theory is little understood, and it does not have to be divisive. But the uproar over ethnic studies in public schools is clouding the realities, writes The Times’ editorial board.
— To discourage hackers, the U.S. must make it harder for them to profit — and signal that the country is ready and willing to retaliate, writes Jonathan Welburn and Quentin Hodgson.
WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING
— In April, the writer Aaricka Washington set a goal that she would learn to swim before her 30th birthday. Inspired by Black women trailblazers such as Olympic gold medalist Simone Manuel, she took a leap of faith. (Insider)
— College was supposed to close the wealth gap for Black Americans. The opposite happened. Black college graduates in their 30s have lost ground over three decades, the result of student debt and sluggish income growth. (The Wall Street Journal)
ONLY IN L.A.
According to Times data, Los Angeles County is reporting an average of more than 2,800 new coronavirus cases per day, six times the rate of infections reported a month ago. The vast majority of new cases are among unvaccinated people. As legislators struggle to reach consensus on mask and vaccine mandates, venues in Los Angeles County are gearing up for battle once more.
In L.A. County, masks are again required in all indoor public spaces; health officials recommend but do not mandate vaccination. Yet a growing number of local venues, including the Troubadour, are requiring patrons to show proof of inoculation or a negative test within the past 48 hours to enter the premises. For Jef Soubiran, co-owner of Frogtown live venue and restaurant Zebulon, it’s a matter of survival.
Today’s newsletter was curated by Daric L. Cottingham. Comments or ideas? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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