Today’s Headlines: The mentally ill languish in California jails without trial or treatment
By Elvia Limón and Jason Sanchez
Hello, it’s Wednesday, Sept. 14, and here are the stories you shouldn’t miss today:
The mentally ill languish in California jails without trial or treatment
Thousands of mentally ill detainees incarcerated across California in recent years have languished in jail, where they’re denied trial or proper treatment from the Department of State Hospitals, a Times investigation has found.
At the heart of the problem is a persistent failure by state officials to sufficiently expand state hospitals or other community-based care options despite surging numbers of incompetent criminal detainees and a string of court orders mandating the state transfer such defendants out of jails faster.
Without the needed beds, mentally ill defendants are being left behind bars and without substantive care for far longer than the courts have said is constitutional. While their criminal cases and rights to a speedy trial are put on hold based on their illnesses, they are denied the services that might restore them to competency and allow their cases to proceed.
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PnB Rock’s killing has heightened worries about social media vulnerability
One of the first things attorney Dawn Florio told PnB Rock, whose real name was Rakim Allen, when she began representing the rapper was to be careful about what he posted on social media and when. On Monday, Rock was having lunch at Roscoe’s House of Chicken & Waffles in South Los Angeles. He was killed during a botched robbery after being targeted for his jewelry, police said.
Chief Michel Moore said the Los Angeles Police Department was investigating whether the killing stemmed from an Instagram post by his girlfriend that geotagged Roscoe’s, shared minutes before the shooting.
Police said they were searching for the gunman and attempting to determine a motive, so it may take time to know the post’s role in the slaying. But the shooting has reignited discussion of the dangers of the real-time use of social media by celebrities who post about their locations and luxury possessions.
L.A. schools chief has emergency authority to deal with the recent cyberattack
Supt. Alberto Carvalho received rare emergency powers to deal with the ongoing crisis caused by a massive Labor Day weekend cyberattack on the nation’s second-largest school system. In an interview after the meeting, Carvalho revealed another element of the attack.
Hackers left behind almost invisible tripwires with the potential to set off another chain of damage or compromised information, further indication of the seriousness of the breach, which is under investigation by the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and local law enforcement.
The Board of Education granted the emergency authority, which specifies that Carvalho for one year “may enter into any and all contracts” to obtain “materials, supplies and professional services necessary to address the emergency conditions caused by the cyber-attack.” The authority allows Carvalho to take action “without advertising or inviting bids and for any dollar amount necessary.”
The IRS is getting a lot more money for audits. Should you be worried?
Did a shiver go down your spine when you heard that Congress was pouring a whopping $80 billion into the Internal Revenue Service over the next 10 years to beef up the nation’s tax collection system?
Hard as it may be to believe, all that new money is almost certainly good news. It doesn’t mean the tax cops are more likely to be on your tail. In fact, it might make the whole business of paying your taxes easier and better, maybe even reduce the amount all of us have to pay. Plus, Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen has said the IRS won’t increase audit rates for individuals or small businesses with incomes of less than $400,000.
- President Biden and others celebrated the Democrats’ landmark climate change and drug pricing law at the White House.
- Rep. Katie Porter (D-Irvine) bought a home on the UC Irvine campus in 2011. Now she’s facing criticism for living there while on leave from her faculty post.
- Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina introduced a proposal to ban abortion nationwide.
- Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill making it easier for local governments to fill lifeguard positions after a summer in which labor shortages closed much-needed public pools.
- A three-way race in Oregon, pitting a Democrat, a Republican and an independent candidate, has scrambled the math, making for a rare contest in the Democratic stronghold, writes columnist Mark Z. Barabak.
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Iran is urging people to have babies and making life hard for those who don’t
If you’re looking to make a baby in Iran, you won’t find a more willing, supportive or enthusiastic partner than the government. Officials are desperate to reverse a declining birth rate that has fallen below the level necessary merely to hold the current population steady at 84 million.
But the drive to engineer a baby boom also has its dark side, with the state intruding further into people’s private lives and interfering in their most intimate decisions. Just as many Americans are grappling with the conservative-dominated Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe vs. Wade, many Iranians find themselves faced with a hard-line theocratic regime intent on abolishing or severely restricting access to abortion and contraception.
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PHOTO OF THE DAY
The U.S. Forest Service is resuming its prescribed burning program with new rules that it says minimize the risk of fires escaping control. The announcement comes after a 90-day pause prompted by a pair of escaped burns that merged into the largest wildfire in New Mexico history and destroyed hundreds of homes. But some experts say the restrictions, which include a requirement that agency administrators authorize ignitions for 24-hour periods only, create more barriers to doing the work precisely when the need for it is most acute.
A middle school student was arrested after a school employee was exposed to fentanyl. The Bakersfield Police Department responded to a report of a 13-year-old student at Chipman Junior High who was in possession of fentanyl on Friday, police said. While on their way to the school, they received a report of a yard supervisor possibly overdosing after coming into contact with the pills, authorities said. The student was arrested on suspicion of possession of a controlled substance for sales purposes.
Prosecutors are recommending an eight-month sentence in a kidnapping hoax. Sherri Papini is scheduled to be sentenced in federal court Monday in connection with her 2016 disappearance from her Northern California neighborhood, which prompted a nationwide search. While family, friends and law enforcement searched for Papini, she was with her ex-boyfriend in Orange County, prosecutors say. She returned home 22 days later, claiming two Latino women held her captive in a closet.
A rare third year of La Niña is on deck for California. The latest outlook has increased the chances of the weather pattern sticking around through November to 91%, a near certainty. The pattern may also linger into winter. In the Southwest, La Niña seasons tend to be drier, which could spell trouble for the drought-ravaged region.
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Ken Starr has died at age 76. Starr is best know for leading a five-year inquiry into fraudulent real estate deals involving a longtime associate of former President Clinton. He delved into the removal of documents from the office of Deputy White House Counsel Vincent Foster after his suicide and assembled evidence of Clinton’s sexual encounters with Monica Lewinsky, a former White House intern.
Alex Jones is a “bully,” says the plaintiffs’ lawyer in his latest trial. The lawyer for Sandy Hook families showed jurors data indicating how Jones’ audience increased as he spread lies about the 2012 school shooting. He showed them photos and videos of things Jones said and told the panel members they already had the tools from their own life experiences to decide what to do in this case. It’s the second such trial for Jones, who was ordered by a Texas jury last month to pay nearly $50 million to the parents of one of the slain children.
The U.S. says Russia spent $300 million to covertly influence world politics. In the newly released cable, the State Department cites a new intelligence assessment of Russia’s global covert efforts to support policies and parties sympathetic to Moscow. It’s the latest effort by the Biden administration to declassify intelligence about Moscow’s military and political aims.
Malcolm X has been inducted into the Nebraska Hall of Fame. Fifteen years after being rejected as too controversial, Omaha-born Malcolm X is the organization’s first Black honoree.
HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS
Do awards still matter in a TV business in turmoil? The Emmys did little to mask the fears swirling in Hollywood as streamers like Netflix and HBO Max face subscriber losses and make layoffs, and traditional broadcast networks like NBC look toward a shift in programming strategy. “Streaming companies are anxious. Investors are anxious, advertisers are anxious and the creative community is anxious. Agents are anxious, everybody’s anxious,” ex-Disney chief Bob Iger recently said.
Jean-Luc Godard, a deeply influential filmmaker, has died at age 91. Godard died at his home in Rolle, Switzerland, by assisted suicide, which is legal under Swiss law, his legal advisor said. Forever content to forgo commercial success in exchange for artistic freedom, Godard was the most inventive and radical of the directors of the French New Wave, which upended European cinema in the 1950s and ’60s, reflecting their personal visions and challenging traditional filmmaking conventions.
Jann Wenner didn’t like his biography. So he wrote a memoir. Just less than six years after the release of an extensive Wenner biography, a book for which he was interviewed but which he then disowned, the co-founder and former publisher of Rolling Stone has released a memoir. In a review, Times Books contributor Chris Vognar says the book is a victory lap for the now-retired media guru, filled with celebrity gossip and name-dropping.
R. Kelly’s child pornography and trial-fixing case has gone to the jury. Jurors began deliberating, sorting through a month of evidence and arguments to decide verdicts on charges accusing the singer of producing child pornography, enticing minors for sex and successfully rigging his 2008 child porn trial. Kelly, 55, was sentenced in June to 30 years in prison after a separate federal trial in New York.
Lower gas costs slowed U.S. inflation for a second straight month. Consumer prices surged 8.3% last month compared with a year earlier, the government said, down from an 8.5% jump in July and a four-decade high of 9.1% in June. But excluding the volatile food and energy categories, so-called core prices jumped 0.6% from July to August — dashing hopes, for now, that core prices would moderate. Rents, medical care services and new cars all grew more expensive last month.
California’s giant new batteries kept the lights on during the heat wave. The severity and duration of this latest climate-driven heat tested the state’s electricity grid like never before. But the system held, thanks in part to a new system of huge, grid-connected batteries. Battery storage is a powerful tool for grids facing new strains from heat, cold, fire, flood or aging networks. And just as important, batteries are key to the zero-carbon future we need to avoid even greater stresses down the line.
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Latinx curlers push for Olympic glory. On many evenings at the San Francisco Bay Area Curling Club, the Oakland facility where Jose Sepúlveda practices, he is surrounded by half a dozen other young adult and middle-aged Walter Mittys — urban-studies professors, community activists, social media managers and public-school teachers, many of whom also dream of representing their countries as curlers. It’s a dream that appears increasingly possible as new and emerging markets begin to embrace the sport, making its base both larger and more diverse.
How to watch “Thursday Night Football” on its new home. Amazon Prime Video becomes the exclusive home of the NFL program. The NFL contests have ratings potency and will probably be the most livestreamed events ever. But even as streaming video has become ingrained in the culture, it may still be new to some football fans. Here’s what you need to know before kickoff.
ONLY IN CALIFORNIA
For a one-time price of $90,000 you’ll never have to worry again about parking in San Francisco, according to a real estate post advertising a parking spot a block from Oracle Park. The current owners of the parking spot bought it for $85,000 but haven’t yet found a new buyer, said Bill Williams, who is selling the spot for Compass Real Estate.
The spot, under a condo, is for sale, for residents or nonresidents. It does not come with the condominium, the real estate agent pointed out. The convenience of the spot, with its proximity to the Giants stadium, is part of the reason it goes for such a hefty price. That and the fact that parking in the dense city is so hard to come by.
FROM THE ARCHIVES
Ninety-two years ago this month, on Sept. 1, 1930, the eighth annual Radio Show of the Southwest opened in Los Angeles, and The Times published a “Special Radio Section.” The event was a big deal. A top headline in the section read “Radio Show Opens Today in Unequaled Splendor.”
It was the dawn of the Golden Age of Radio. The radio “became the central piece of furniture in the average family’s living room” in this era, as PBS wrote. People listened to Burns & Allen, Abbott & Costello, “The Lone Ranger,” the eerie creaking door in the opening of “Inner Sanctum Mysteries,” President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “Fireside Chats.”
“It was magic that you could sit in your living room around a big console and hear something from around the country or overseas,” former radio announcer George Wallace told The Times in 2000. “It’s impossible for people today to think of families sitting around the radio, with no picture.” The medium was bound to be overtaken by TV, he said, but “it was sort of like losing a friend.”
Times staff writer Amy Hubbard contributed to this report.
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