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Today’s Headlines: Struggling California Republicans once again fighting over future

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TOP STORIES

After recall flop, struggling California Republicans once again fighting over future

California Republicans thought they found a unifying rallying cry in the recall attempt against Gov. Gavin Newsom. Instead, the campaign exposed — and even worsened — some of the long-standing clashes between the establishment and grass-roots base, while leaving unsettled the question of how the party can stop its losing streak in the state.

“In California, Republicans don’t fall in line,” said Bill Whalen, once a top aide to former Gov. Pete Wilson, tweaking a well-worn political cliche about the GOP’s supposed discipline. “Instead, they line up to fall all over one another.”

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Any way it’s sliced, the recall election wound up being a big boost for Gov. Gavin Newsom’s political future. And it was another self-inflicted, bruising bust for California Republicans, said columnist George Skelton.

More California politics

— The recall is over for Newsom. But just as wildfires, punishing drought, record homelessness, a housing shortage, a once-in-a-generation pandemic and a learning curve at the Capitol have challenged much of his term in office, Newsom returns to work facing those same problems and more.

— Arnold Schwarzenegger, who became California’s governor in 2003 after a recall, said he was relieved that Newsom kept his job. He said, “It’s better to stay with someone who you know what they’re going to do, rather than someone who comes in wacky and is changing everything around.”

— The recall election is over, but the vote counting continues — as does debate over whether it was all worth it. Newsom survived the recall attempt by a big margin, but it could cost taxpayers $300 million, and that has led some to question whether the system works and if changes are needed.

How did your neighborhood vote in the California recall election?

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.

Declining child coronavirus cases indicate generally safe school reopenings in L.A.

The early weeks of fully opened schools throughout Los Angeles County have coincided with declining pediatric coronavirus cases, the first indication that campuses are generally operating safely without a troubling number of outbreaks.

Over the last three weeks, coronavirus cases declined across all pediatric age groups by about 40%, according to L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer.

Citing the low number of school coronavirus outbreaks, districts in L.A. County will no longer be required to send unvaccinated students home to quarantine if they come in contact with an individual who tests positive and if they have met certain safety conditions.

More top coronavirus headlines

— One in three people who survived COVID-19 has suffered from long COVID, according to a study of Long Beach residents published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday.

Los Angeles County continues to see improvement in weekly COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. Nonetheless, coronavirus transmission levels remain high, and unvaccinated people are still at high risk of getting infected with the highly contagious virus.

— Proof of a COVID-19 vaccination or a recent negative test will soon be necessary to enter Los Angeles County’s largest theme parks, a top health official confirmed Thursday.

— A new study ties the COVID-19 pandemic to an “alarming” increase in obesity in U.S. children and teenagers.

— No, there is no scientific evidence showing masks cause harm to children’s health, despite baseless claims suggesting otherwise.

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

Giant Forest trees prepped for flames in Sequoia National Park as KNP Complex fire closes in

As the growing KNP Complex fire continues its march through Sequoia National Park, fire crews on Thursday were prepping the famed Giant Forest for flames by wrapping some of the massive sequoias in fire-resistant aluminum material.

The Colony fire — one of two blazes making up the nearly 9,000-acre complex fire — is within a mile of the grove, and officials fear the flames could reach the giant trees within the day. The grove is home to roughly 2,000 giant sequoias, including the 275-foot General Sherman Tree, considered the largest tree on Earth by volume, fire officials said.

Wildfire is a natural part of the life cycle of sequoias. But with climate change fueling a new breed of extreme fire, some of the world’s largest trees are now threatened by the flames.

Our daily news podcast

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FROM THE ARCHIVES

Twenty-five years ago today the GOP strategy was to scuttle a bill on immigration. Despite broad bipartisan support for a crackdown on illegal immigration and legislation before Congress to do that, the legislation became so ensnarled in election-year politics that its prospects for passage were in doubt.

Imperiling the measure was a risky GOP strategy partly aimed at denying President Clinton a signing ceremony in the weeks preceding the Nov. 5 election, lawmakers in both parties said.

Officials with Republican Bob Dole’s presidential campaign — frustrated by Clinton’s embrace of many traditional GOP themes — were among those pushing that strategy for the immigration bill.

CALIFORNIA

— A proposed high-speed train to Las Vegas is being hailed as an eco transportation jackpot. But conservationists say it may harm desert sheep and other animals.

— The effort to recall Los Angeles D.A. George Gascón has fizzled out, but his critics say a retry is coming.

— California Supreme Court Justice Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar said Thursday he will step down to run an influential foreign policy think tank, giving Gov. Gavin Newsom an opportunity to pick his second jurist for the state’s highest court.

— A routine police call at Napa County’s Lake Berryessa on Wednesday turned up an incongruous haul for a recreational area: a bag of heroin, $8,500 cash and a water scooter with an AR-15 rifle tucked in its storage compartment

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NATION-WORLD

— President Biden’s “Build Back Better” agenda is poised to be the most far-reaching federal investment since Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal or Lyndon B. Johnson’s Great Society.

— The United States will arm Australia with nuclear submarine technology as part of a new defense partnership, one of many steps that Biden is taking to strengthen alliances as a bulwark against China. The move has angered not only Beijing, but America’s oldest ally — France.

— Seven failed prosecutions were part of the so-called China Initiative, a sweeping program launched in November 2018 under the Trump administration to counter theft of trade secrets, hacking and economic espionage that is now unraveling.

— U.S. visa lottery winners feel “hopeless” in their struggle to leave Afghanistan. Despite a ruling that the State Department must expedite their processing, Afghans and their advocates say it’s unlikely the U.S. government will meet the deadline.

— Police raids on movie screenings. Censors closing in. Hong Kong’s filmmakers fight to stay free amid a government crackdown.

— The draft of a new family code for Cuba proposes allowing same-sex couples to marry and adopt. A new family code must be approved by Cuba’s parliament and in a national referendum, and the changes could face intense opposition.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

— Black players changed the CBS reality competition series “Big Brother” forever. Fans say the show can’t “tiptoe” around it.

— “Blue Bayou” is a very messy, very moving tempest of a movie that lays bare a Korean American immigrant’s nightmare, writes film critic Justin Chang.

— People of color have complained that TikTok handles their accounts and content in ways that seem unfair and racially biased. Fed-up Black creators are leaving the platform.

— Relations between the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees and the major studios took a turn for the worse as the head of the union issued an unusually blunt warning to employers over their handling of contract negotiations.

BUSINESS

— Developers want to build what they hope will be a visually stunning, $500-million high-rise on Sunset Boulevard in the heart of Hollywood called the Star. The proposed 22-story glass-skinned office tower would create its own bubble-like world with garden levels.

— The pandemic disproportionately saw women get laid off, leave their jobs or reduce their hours. It had another effect too: lots of women starting first-time business ventures that experts say is a pandemic silver lining.

SPORTS

— The urgency to find the perfect fit for football coach has never been higher at USC, where the last three coaches have been fired midseason. Here’s what we know about the search so far.

— For the first time since late June, the Dodgers are healthy enough to employ traditional starting pitchers in five consecutive games, just how they envisioned it in spring training, when they had eight quality starters for five spots.

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OPINION

— Op-Ed: Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley did the wrong thing for honorable reasons. We need new rules for starting nuclear war.

— For QAnon conspiracy theorists, the use of migrant children in their propaganda conveniently conflates voluntarily traveling to the border for asylum with trafficking, writes columnist Jean Guerrero. They’re energizing support for draconian border policies.

ONLY IN L.A.

In February, L.A. kids in masks flocked to Mid-City, queuing up in front of a yellow, white and red sign instantly recognizable to anyone who spent summers in Mexico: OXXO. But Latin America’s ubiquitous and iconic convenience store doesn’t actually exist in L.A. — it was a pop-up orchestrated by streetwear label Paisaboys. It’s a brand built on innuendo and the references are plenty, aimed at L.A.'s Latino communities: “This is what the people want — to feel that nostalgia, that nuance, that inside joke that you know when you’re growing up as a Mexican in L.A.

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


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