Hello, it’s Wednesday, Jan. 19, and here are the stories you shouldn’t miss today:
After setbacks, Biden enters second year looking to emphasize accomplishments
When President Biden steps into the East Room this afternoon for his second press conference since taking office, he’ll talk about “how to build on the foundation we laid in the first year.”
The one-year milepost, historically, is a pivot point for presidents, the natural transition from fighting to enact their agenda to selling it to voters ahead of the November midterm elections. But Biden’s first-year agenda remains incomplete, to the frustration of his aides, Democratic activists and a weary public.
Facing strong political headwinds, Biden is eager to shift the latest narrative around his presidency that his ambitions and experience have been no match for the crises he has confronted.
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California surpasses 7 million coronavirus cases, adding 1 million in one week
California has recorded more than 7 million coronavirus cases — one week after the state tallied its 6 millionth case. Even during last winter’s disastrous wave, it took a little over three weeks for California to get from its 2 millionth cumulative coronavirus case to its 3 millionth.
The speed of new infections is a testament to the Omicron variant’s transmissibility, believed to be two to four times more contagious than the Delta variant, which in turn was more infectious than earlier strains that pummeled California last winter.
While signs show that Omicron causes milder disease on average, the unprecedented level of infection spreading through the country means many vulnerable people will become severely sick. Modelers forecast 50,000 to 300,000 more Americans could die by the time the wave subsides in mid-March.
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Terrifying video and 911 calls are released three years after the Borderline mass shooting
Emergency calls that were made on Nov. 7, 2018, and the raw video from the Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks were released Tuesday by Ventura County after litigation by The Times following a mass shooting that left 12 dead at the restaurant.
The documents show the terror and chaos that broke out when former U.S. Marine machine gunner Ian David Long opened fire before midnight at the crowded bar, which was hosting college country music night. The records chronicle almost every moment after Long unleashed 61 rounds inside the bar, where 128 people were injured as they fled the bloody scene and 29 were hospitalized.
Los Angeles has been chosen to host the Summit of the Americas, a key gathering of the region’s leaders
The Biden administration has chosen Los Angeles to host this year’s Summit of the Americas, a key gathering that U.S. officials hope will help mend diplomatic fences in the Western Hemisphere, officials familiar with the decision said.
For the Biden administration, holding the meeting in Los Angeles provides ways to show the connection between U.S. domestic and foreign policy. The city has a large population of Latinos with family members spread throughout Central and South America. Los Angeles has also been hit particularly hard by COVID-19, a disease that disproportionately affects Latinos.
L.A. County felony charges are a first in fatal crash involving Tesla’s Autopilot
Four days after Christmas in December 2019, a 2016 Tesla Model S on Autopilot exited a freeway, ran through a red light and crashed into a Honda Civic, instantly killing the Civic’s driver and passenger.
Nearly two years later, prosecutors in Los Angeles County filed two counts of vehicular manslaughter against the driver of that Tesla. Experts believe it is the first felony prosecution in the United States of a driver who caused a fatality while using a partially automated driver-assist system.
As such, the case represents a milestone in the increasingly confusing world of automated driving.
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PHOTO OF THE DAY
Female fire chief named as LAFD faces harassment complaints. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has picked Deputy Chief Kristin Crowley to lead the department, his office confirmed Tuesday. If confirmed by the City Council, Crowley would become the first woman to lead the city’s fire agency.
The state will pay $10,000 to low-income students for community service work. Selected students will be expected to serve a total of 450 community service hours throughout the academic year, focusing on issues that include education disparities in K-12 schools, climate change and COVID-19 recovery.
The state will delete a popular affirmation from ethnic studies after a suit claims it’s an Aztec prayer. The California Department of Education also is removing an Ashe affirmation from the curriculum. Ashe is a concept from the Yoruba people of Nigeria that refers to the power to effect change. The lawsuit argued it constitutes a religious chant.
Police release a suspect video and announce a $250,000 reward in the fatal stabbing of 24-year-old Brianna Kupfer inside the Hancock Park furniture store where she worked. Surveillance footage shows the suspect walking past people and into multiple businesses Thursday. Police believe the suspect was not known to Kupfer, and a motive was not clear.
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Blinken will visit Ukraine as U.S.-Russia tensions escalate. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will meet with President Volodymyr Zelensky as tensions between the U.S. and Russia escalate over a possible Russian invasion of its neighbor, the State Department said Tuesday.
Despite the violent volcano blast, Tonga appears spared from widespread disaster. The government said Tuesday that it has confirmed three deaths — two local people and a British woman. Concerns remain over the fate of people on some of the hard-hit smaller islands, where many houses were destroyed. Communications have been down everywhere, making assessments more difficult.
The majority of U.S. states pursue nuclear power for emission cuts. The renewed interest in nuclear comes as companies, including one started by Microsoft founder Bill Gates, are developing smaller, cheaper reactors that could supplement the power grid in communities across the U.S.
HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS
The 2022 Grammy Awards are leaving Los Angeles for a rescheduled ceremony. The ceremony will take place on April 3 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. “The Daily Show’s” Trevor Noah will host, and it will air live on CBS and stream on Paramount+.
‘How I Met Your Father’ is not for cynics. That’s its best quality, writes Times television critic Robert Lloyd. The plots are the usual stuff of mainstream situation comedy. That does not mean it’s difficult to watch; at worst, it’s pleasant, undemanding company that might ring some harmonious bells with viewers.
‘Insecure,’ H.E.R. lead 2022 NAACP Image Awards nominations. The nominations were announced Tuesday morning by “Proud Family” star Kyla Pratt, “black-ish” actor Marcus Scribner and singer-songwriter Tinashe.
Marty Roberts, of beloved L.A. lounge act Marty & Elayne, dies at 89. He was one-half of the irrepressible, crowd-pleasing lounge duo of Marty & Elayne, the L.A. partnership that serenaded everyone from Frank Sinatra to Nicolas Cage.
André Leon Talley, fashion icon and culture influencer, dies at 73. The influential fashion journalist and the former creative director and editor at large of Vogue magazine often spoke of the challenges he had climbing the ranks of the fashion world as a larger Black man.
Microsoft buys Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion. The deal gives Microsoft access to blockbuster games such as “Call of Duty” and ”Candy Crush,” while providing building blocks for the metaverse, or a virtual environment. The announcement also comes as Activision is in turmoil over allegations of misconduct and unequal pay.
AT&T and Verizon to delay launch of 5G wireless service near airports. The nation’s largest airlines said the service would interfere with aircraft technology and cause massive flight disruptions. The decision arrived Tuesday as the Biden administration tried to broker a settlement between the telecom companies and the airlines.
The bankruptcy auction of ‘The One’ mega-mansion is delayed in hopes of finding buyers. The online bankruptcy auction is now scheduled for Feb. 28 to March 3, and the transaction’s closing, which is subject to court approval, is set for March 21.
The Dodgers promote fast-ascending executive Brandon Gomes to general manager. A former pitcher with the Tampa Bay Rays who joined the Dodgers after his retirement as a player in 2016, Gomes has risen quickly through the club’s front office. He moved from pitching coordinator in 2017 to director of player development in 2018 to vice president and assistant general manager the last three seasons.
First look at NFL divisional playoffs: Rams seek repeat against Tom Brady and the Buccaneers. The Rams are looking to become the second consecutive team to win the Super Bowl in their home stadium. A year ago, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers made NFL history by doing that, and now the Rams have to get through them and Brady to keep their hopes alive.
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Does declining school enrollment spell disaster? That argument doesn’t add up. It doesn’t make sense to deny per-pupil funding for the days when students aren’t in class. The schools’ expenses don’t go down those days; they can’t reduce staffing or rent out space on campus because a student misses three weeks of the school year.
Shame on SoCal leaders for backing a ballot measure to roll back housing fixes. Senate Bill 9 lets property owners construct duplexes, and in some cases four units, in most single-family-home neighborhoods. For many politicians and homeowners, the measure amounted to defiling the vaunted single-family neighborhood. And opponents were determined to find a way to get rid of it.
ONLY IN CALIFORNIA
What’s your sign? What’s your California native plant? The Times’ greenery guru Lisa Boone has paired favorite plants with the signs of the zodiac because in difficult times, she writes, “we tend to look to the stars.”
Born today? Then you’re Capricorn: “You are disciplined and expect the same of plants. You prefer plants that show structure. So try the paradise pajaro manzanita, a bold evergreen with dramatic dark red bark with white, pink and startling red flowers. As one of the more practical signs, you will appreciate that its shredding bark is used by birds as nesting material.”
FROM THE ARCHIVES
Fifty years ago today, Sandy Koufax became the youngest player ever elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. The Times reported: “The former Dodger southpaw also received more votes than any player in the 40 years of balloting by the Baseball Writers Assn. of America.”
Koufax was a three-time Cy Young Award winner. In 1963, ’65 and ’66, he led the Dodgers to the National League pennant, with World Series wins in 1963 and 1965. He told The Times in 1972 that, as a professional baseball player, the Hall of Fame election was “the greatest honor that can come to you. But I can’t say it’s my greatest thrill. The thrills come while you’re playing.”
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