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Today’s Headlines: Recall improvements are long overdue

Here are the stories you shouldn’t miss today:

TOP STORIES

Californians might be ready to change the system

The recall election facing Gov. Gavin Newsom comes to an end today, but its effect on California politics could linger.

Launched by conservative critics and fueled by anger and fear over the state’s COVID-19 restrictions, the campaign has shined a light on the rules governing recall efforts, with academics and activists alike saying improvements are long overdue.

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Now polling indicates voters might be ready for changes too — at least up to a point.

More on the recall

— President Biden joined Newsom on Monday night for a final campaign stop in Long Beach on the eve of the recall election. The president’s stop in California marked the closing campaign act for Newsom, who has touted support from several high-profile Democrats in recent weeks, including former President Obama, Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont. Last week, Vice President Kamala Harris returned to California to rally voters for the governor.

— When radio talk show host Larry Elder leaped into the gubernatorial recall race, it couldn’t have worked out better — for Newsom, writes columnist George Skelton.

— If you haven’t yet cast your ballot, here’s your guide to the 2021 recall election.

— The editorial board’s official endorsement: There are many reasons to vote no on recalling Newsom. (And if you’re curious, here’s a piece that explains how the newspaper endorsement sausage gets made.)

Sign up for our California Politics newsletter to get the best of The Times’ state politics reporting, including full coverage of the recall election and the latest action in Sacramento.

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Are L.A. schools a frontrunner or a vaccine mandate outlier?

The assertive move last week by the Los Angeles Unified School District to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations for students — the first large school system in the nation to do so — has thrust the issue before education policymakers, especially those who support vaccines as essential to curb the pandemic.

If L.A. did it, should they?

The immediate answer is probably not, amid concerns about parent opposition, litigation and the challenge of one more complication at a time when academic recovery and mental health support are imperative. But many school districts are also likely to adopt a wait-and-see approach.

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More top coronavirus headlines

— Thousands of Los Angeles Police Department employees plan to seek exemptions to L.A. rules requiring city employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19, according to preliminary figures obtained by The Times on Monday.

— California’s pandemic trends appear to be improving, led especially by declining hospitalizations in Southern California and the Bay Area, although hospitals in the Central Valley and the rural north remain under terrible strain. But the improvements are not guaranteed to last. Just take a look at what’s happening in Britain.

— The White House has begun planning for boosters later this month, if both the FDA and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention agree. Advisors to the FDA will weigh evidence about an extra Pfizer shot Friday at a key public meeting. But some science experts say the booster isn’t warranted yet. They say the vaccines are working well despite the rise of the highly contagious Delta variant.

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

California’s wildfires burning at greater elevations

A study published in June in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that climate warming over the last few decades has exposed an additional 31,400 square miles of U.S. forests to fires at higher elevations.

Experts said the fire’s extreme behavior is partly driven by the state’s warming climate, in which rapid snowmelt and critical dryness are propelling wildfires to ever-higher elevations that were previously too wet to burn.

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That extreme behavior may partially explain why the Caldor fire was able to jump the granite ridge overlooking the Tahoe Basin.

President Biden surveyed destruction caused by the Caldor fire and said climate change will continue to worsen wildfires and other natural disasters.

“We can’t continue to try to ignore reality,” Biden said. “The reality is, we have a global warming problem.”

More California headlines

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— California parole commissioners’ possible parole of Sirhan Sirhan has divided the Kennedy family, others who remember the killing of Robert F. Kennedy, and even the Pasadena neighborhood where the convicted killer hopes to settle if freed.

— Demonstrators upset over Los Angeles City Hall’s homelessness and policing policies disrupted the celebration of a new city department Monday, drowning out the remarks of Mayor Eric Garcetti and others.

— The historic Squaw Valley ski resort near Lake Tahoe will be renamed Palisades Tahoe after its owners determined that the name was offensive to Indigenous women.

Our daily news podcast

If you’re a fan of this newsletter, you’ll probably love our new daily podcast, “The Times,” hosted by columnist Gustavo Arellano, along with reporters from across our newsroom. Every weekday, it takes you beyond the headlines. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts and follow on Spotify.

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FROM THE ARCHIVES

From the Sept. 14, 1973, Los Angeles Times: “A new Department of Motor Vehicles policy which provides for the recall of ‘offensive’ personalized license plates is not yet two weeks old, and it is already being challenged.

“The DMV, which began issuing personalized plates in 1970, now has the legislative authority to recall issued plates ‘if they are considered offensive to good taste and decency.’

“Last week the first recall notices were sent to Californians.”

Among the challengers was 39-year-old Encino builder and accountant Burt Blum, who told The Times, “It is a restraint of free expression. Who has the right to decide what’s decent or indecent?”

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a man with a mustache points to a license plate on a mercedes that reads "up urz2"
Sept. 13, 1973: Burt Blum points to his personalized license plate that the Department of Motor Vehicles wanted to recall.
(John Malmin / Los Angeles Times)

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NATION-WORLD

— The Biden administration says it is expanding its effort to find and reunite migrant families who were separated at the U.S.-Mexico border under former President Trump as it faces criticism for its own handling of the border.

— The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has installed its first out transgender bishop to oversee nearly 200 congregations in Northern California and northern Nevada.

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— Western governments and the United Nations’ human rights chief voiced concerns Monday about the Taliban’s first steps in power and the risk of famine. The U.N. is calling for more than $600 million in emergency funding for Afghans.

— Climate change could push more than 200 million people to leave their homes in the next three decades and create migration hot spots unless urgent action is taken, a World Bank report says.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

Fox Entertainment has acquired WarnerMedia’s TMZ, the tabloid website and TV shows operated by Harvey Levin. TMZ is known for its aggressive pursuit of celebrity news and its impromptu interviews with stars as they exit restaurants or airport terminals.

— The Volcano Theatre Company has long been the cultural heart of an Amador County hamlet, drawing thousands of people each year. Fires and the pandemic may have temporarily halted operations, but the show must go on.

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— You may scoff at a show about “Little Ellen” DeGeneres. But it’s easy to recommend, writes television critic Robert Lloyd.

— “Cops” was pulled off the air last year amid the nationwide protests over policing. Fox News Media is bringing it back, with plans to offer the show on their streaming service.

— Our favorite looks from the Met Gala red carpet.

BUSINESS

— Hollywood says its antiracism is not a “fad.” So we asked for a status update: Inclusion has grown, but gaps remain.

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— A global car shortage has created a rental car crunch too, with low inventory and high prices. Experts say the pain will last until at least 2022 (sorry, travelers).

SPORTS

— Concussions and depression nearly crushed linebacker Bo Calvert. Now he leads UCLA’s defense.

— After years of unfulfilled promises and festering fan frustration over the direction of USC’s underachieving football program, the Trojans fired head coach Clay Helton just two games into his sixth full season. Bill Plaschke says USC better get it right this time.

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OPINION

— Larry Elder is the latest example of the “model minority” candidate, writes columnist Frank Shyong. It’s a tactic we’ll see more of: Model minority candidates can help affirm far-right perspectives on racism while offering an easy defense for the Republican Party.

— Three days after 9/11, Rep. Barbara Lee was the lone vote in Congress against war. Two decades later, she stands by her choice.

ONLY IN L.A.

It’s not your imagination. That driver at the stoplight is revving his engine so loud it can set off car alarms. Then he roars off as the signal turns green, even if it’s just to the next stoplight. With a tight auto market and lots of time at home, car enthusiasts across Southern California are building out their dream vehicles. Sales of parts that make vehicles faster and flashier were a major contributor to the record $47.9-billion 2020 sales year for California’s aftermarket automotive industry.

a man in sunglasses stands next to a silver car with the trunk open
Jonathan Rodriguez stands next to his 1963 Impala Super Sport lowrider. The trunk reveals the new batteries that he installed along with a new hydraulic system.
(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)
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Today’s newsletter was curated by Seth Liss and Laura Blasey. Comments or ideas? Email us at headlines@latimes.com.


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