Today’s Headlines: L.A. County has highest coronavirus case rate in five months
By Elvia Limón, Laura Blasey and Amy Hubbard
Hello, it’s Wednesday, July 6, and here are the stories you shouldn’t miss today.
Troubling coronavirus case numbers in L.A.
Los Angeles County’s coronavirus case rate hit its highest point in nearly five months over the Fourth of July weekend.
The trends underscore what could be weeks of increases in infections and hospitalizations, with the latest Omicron subvariants, BA.4 and BA.5, appearing to be among the most contagious yet.
Experts are urging people get up to date on their vaccinations, including boosters. Don’t wait for an Omicron-specific booster, they said, since its rollout will likely be delayed until November.
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More top coronavirus headlines
- Researchers at Caltech have developed a vaccine designed to neutralize multiple coronaviruses at the same time.
Stay up to date on variant developments, case counts and vaccine news with Coronavirus Today.
Parade shooting suspect is charged with 7 counts of murder
A man charged with seven counts of murder in the mass shooting at a Fourth of July parade in a Chicago suburb legally bought five weapons, including two high-powered rifles, despite authorities being called to his home twice in 2019 for threats of violence and suicide, police said.
Lake County State’s Atty. Eric Rinehart promised that dozens more charges would be sought. He added that the suspect, if convicted of the murder charges, would receive a mandatory life sentence without the possibility of parole.
Final L.A. mayor election map shows a striking divide
In the race to be the next mayor of Los Angeles, the city has sided with U.S. Rep. Karen Bass in the primary election. The county’s certified results put her, followed by developer Rick Caruso, ahead of the rest of the primary candidates. The two will move on to the general election in November.
Explore the precinct results from Los Angeles and see how your neighborhood voted.
County officials spent weeks reviewing and tabulating late-arriving mail-in ballots, which offered results that were sharply different from the first snapshot on election night. The election, which saw more than 84% of ballots cast by mail, revealed the expanding political might of L.A.’s left, which succeeded in unseating a councilman and securing big gains for several other candidates.
- The Georgia prosecutor investigating the conduct of former President Trump and his allies in the state after the 2020 election is trying to compel Sen. Lindsey Graham and Rudolph W. Giuliani to testify before a special grand jury.
- As she seeks higher office, Lindsey Horvath may be expected to tout her nine years on the West Hollywood City Council, yet her website doesn’t mention the city’s name. Why did she scrub it?
- More than 250,000 dependent visa holders across the U.S are at risk of leaving the country in which they were raised after “aging out” of qualifying for lawful status under their parents’ visas. Now, after years of advocacy, the so-called documented dreamers have caught the attention of Congress.
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How technology has made your car ‘a candy store of distraction’
Digital distraction is contributing to a surge in highway deaths. Yet automakers continue to load cars with interactive technology, and consumers say they can’t stop texting and video-calling while behind the wheel.
New automotive technology also includes innovative safety features such as lane-departure warning and blind-spot detection. Yet despite these and other crash-prevention systems, the highway death count continues to rise.
Will Floridians push back at the polls?
Will the assault on abortion rights determine the way people vote? Both major parties are asking that question in the run-up to the November midterm election. With a majority of voters nationwide favoring abortion rights, Democrats are making it a central issue in swing states, while Republicans hope to avoid a backlash that could dampen a “red wave” at the polls.
That tension is especially acute in Florida, where Republicans dominate the political landscape, but 56% of people believe that abortion should be legal in all or most cases. Federal data show that only New York and Illinois have higher abortion rates.
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PHOTO OF THE DAY
A labor shortage has hit public pools. Can a new bill help? Many swimming pools statewide can’t find enough lifeguards because of bureaucratic red tape and the aftermath of pandemic shutdowns. AB 1672 would allow ocean lifeguards, who undergo highly rigorous training and are generally better paid than their counterparts, to work at public pools during off-seasons.
As it exploded past 3,000 acres, the Electra fire was threatening the power grid, officials say. The fire along the border of Amador and Calaveras counties ignited Monday afternoon near the North Fork of the Mokelumne River and quickly spread amid dry brush and steep terrain near the Electra powerhouse, a Pacific Gas & Electric hydropower facility.
Poor air quality lingered in Los Angeles after the Fourth of July firework shows. The South Coast Air Quality Management District issued a particulate advisory through Tuesday for much of Southern California because of fireworks, which emit high levels of particulate matter and metal air pollutants. The pollution last Fourth of July caused the second-worst air quality on record from the holiday.
A federal judge in California throws out Trump-era rollbacks on endangered species. Environmental groups hailed the decision, which they said speeded up needed protections and designation of critical habitat designations for threatened species, including salmon in California and the Pacific Northwest.
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Rampant wildfires once led to global mass extinction, scientists say. Can it happen again? Though millions of years separate the events of the Great Dying millions of years ago from the wildfires threatening the modern world’s forests, a new study highlights eerie parallels between that ancient period of global warming and our own.
Ukrainian governor urges evacuation of residents. Gov. Pavlo Kyrylenko said getting people out of Donetsk province is necessary to save lives and to enable the Ukrainian army to better defend towns from the Russian advance.
NATO nations have signed accession protocols for Sweden and Finland. The 30 NATO allies sent the membership bids of the two nations to the alliance capitals for legislative approvals — and possible political trouble in Turkey. The move further increases Russia’s strategic isolation.
Two key U.K. Cabinet ministers quit Boris Johnson’s government. Treasury chief Rishi Sunak and Health Secretary Sajid Javid resigned within minutes of each other, costing Johnson the support of the men responsible for tackling two of the biggest issues facing Britain: the cost-of-living crisis and surging COVID-19 infections.
HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS
A not-so-mighty ‘Thor’ sequel is painless but pointless. There are a few good things worth singling out in the otherwise not-very-good thing that is “Thor: Love and Thunder.” “Still, the best thing about the movie, as far as I can tell, is its running time,” writes Times film critic Justin Chang.
‘Only Murders’ boss spills Season 2’s secrets — including the story behind that painting. The first season concluded with everyone’s favorite crime-investigating podcasters solving the murder of Tim Kono, a fellow resident, while also introducing a new crime. This time, their cantankerous co-op board president, Bunny (Jayne Houdyshell), is the victim, and our oddball heroes are prime suspects.
That #Gentleminions TikTok trend is driving movie theaters bananas. The social media challenge encourages youngsters to don formal attire and go absolutely bananas in the theater for the titular yellow sidekicks.
Britney Spears’ lawyer: Emails show ex-business manager helped set up her conservatorship. The filing lands within the battle lines that the attorney staked out last November, after Spears was freed from the legal arrangement that had restricted her autonomy for more than 13 years.
On its back foot in a defamation lawsuit, Fox News hires new legal counsel. “Superlawyer” Dan Webb will lead the Murdoch-owned company’s defense against Dominion Voting Systems in the case tied to 2020 election fraud claims.
U.S. gasoline market shows signs of cooling off. Retail prices have fallen for 21 consecutive days, the longest losing streak since April 2020. The relief at the pump is welcome news for many who rely on cars for work and leisure — and for President Biden as he tries to lower costs.
How can states limit guns? By protecting the right to peaceably assemble. The deadly July 4 attack in Highland Park, Ill., underscores how a cherished constitutional right is under attack. A pressing challenge for state governments is to reconcile an expanded 2nd Amendment “right to bear arms” with the 1st Amendment’s “right of the people peaceably to assemble.”
The Supreme Court is poised to cut the heart out of majority rule. If the court’s conservatives adopt the independent state legislature theory, they would be making up law to create an outcome of one-party rule.
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UCLA Olympic sports faced an uncertain future until the Bruins jumped to the Big Ten. UCLA, saddled with $102.8 million in athletic debt, wasn’t sure it could keep fielding all sports before moving from the Pac-12 to the Big Ten.
Why the Sparks believe early-season adversity could mold them into playoff contenders. Four of the Sparks’ next five games are against teams in playoff position, but it’s far from the toughest thing the team faced this season. They already survived May.
Brittney Griner pleads for freedom, but is America listening? The basketball star sent a heartbreaking letter to President Biden from a Russian prison pleading for her freedom. Her teammates worry that no one is listening, writes Times sports columnist Bill Plaschke.
ONLY IN L.A.
L.A.’s weather story is filled with drama — lightning, killer floods and even snow. For 150 years, L.A. has bought its own climate PR: Temperate! Balmy! A garden! A paradise! Sunshine 730 days a year!
Mostly true — almost always true. But L.A. can be a weather pinball machine: a thing of beauty in repose, but flip the “on” switch, and pow, bang, ding-ding-ding — weather cacophony, more often than you might realize. Columnist Patt Morrison takes a deep dive into the city’s wackiest, wettest and wildest weather from decades past.
FROM THE ARCHIVES
Sixty-five years ago today, on July 6, 1957, John Lennon met Paul McCartney at a church social, the Woolton Village Fete, in a suburb of Liverpool, England. Lennon was 16; McCartney had turned 15 a couple of weeks earlier. Lennon was playing at the fete with his band the Quarrymen.
McCartney had come at the invitation of a classmate at the Liverpool Institute High School for Boys, who wanted him to see the group’s dynamic lead singer, Lennon. As The Times wrote in 2017, McCartney was impressed, and later that evening as he, Lennon and friends “were hanging out waiting for a dance to get underway, McCartney asked Lennon if he might borrow his guitar and demonstrate his chops a bit.” He played Eddie Cochran’s “Twenty Flight Rock” — “a challenging number for a 15-year-old in most any circumstance but all the more impressive since that recording hadn’t yet made the British sales charts.” He followed that up on the piano with an impression of Little Richard, playing “Long Tall Sally.”
National Museums Liverpool recounts that Lennon “hid his admiration” but saw talent and a kindred musical spirit in McCartney. “He looked a bit like Elvis too and was clearly head and shoulders above everyone else in the group, maybe even him.”
That first meeting provided tantalizing glimpses of “all the traits that we recognise in John and Paul ... ambitious and competitive, musically inquisitive and open, single-minded and with a steely determination to pursue their own musical interests in their own way and on their own terms. And it all happened beside and on the church hall stage in the local village fete.”
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