Today’s Headlines: COVID booster guidelines in California just got simple

Hello, it’s Wednesday, Nov. 17. Here’s a fun bit of trivia: Did you know the first Chuck E. Cheese opened in 1977 in San Jose? You also might be interested to know that the “E” stands for “entertainment.”

For 44 years it has been a cultural force, but now the future of the chain is looking a little bleak. Can an animatronic rodent appeal to today’s kids? The parent company tells The Times it isn’t ready to give up yet and says a willingness to adapt has kept it alive. (As the pandemic shuttered locations, it opened Pasqually’s Kitchen, a ghost kitchen named for the Cheese band’s mustachioed drummer.)

As you chew on that, here are more of today’s headlines:

TOP STORIES

Mixed up by the COVID booster rules? California made it simple

With confusion mounting over who is eligible for COVID-19 booster shots, California health officials updated the state’s guidelines to say that essentially all adults are recommended to get the additional vaccination.

Federal officials could take similar action by the end of this week: There’s increasing expectation that the Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will officially make booster shots available to all fully vaccinated adults as long as enough time has passed since their initial vaccination series.

Since COVID, more companies are secretly monitoring WFH employees

Despite evidence that working from home has not diminished U.S. productivity during the pandemic, employers are increasingly turning to monitoring software that can track workers’ keystrokes, log active hours, take regular screenshots and even activate a web camera.

And many companies may be using such tracking systems without workers’ knowledge.

Also:

Stay up to date on pandemic developments, coronavirus case counts and vaccine news with Coronavirus Today.

As Garcetti waits, senators review allegations in harassment lawsuit involving key aide

As L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti — President Biden’s pick, more than four months ago, for ambassador to India — awaits a hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, senators are scrutinizing allegations stemming from a sexual harassment lawsuit involving the mayor’s former advisor. Former staffers have said it was common knowledge in Garcetti’s office that the advisor acted sexually inappropriately toward male employees.

More politics

  • Progressive Democrats are test-driving hardball tactics. Some say the party could fracture. Progressives say a shared belief in the power of government to bring about positive change is “the glue” that will hold it together.
  • Rep. Jackie Speier said she would not run for reelection next year — the latest House Democrat to retire.

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

China’s nuclear and military buildup raises the risk of conflict in Asia

It was already a dangerous race: China versus the United States, each pouring hundreds of billions of dollars into missiles, submarines, warplanes and ships, vying to dominate the Indo-Pacific. That race may now go nuclear.

A Pentagon report released this month estimated that China may have 700 nuclear warheads by 2027 and 1,000 by 2030 — a dramatic increase from last year’s assessment that China’s 200 or so warheads would only double over the next decade.

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CALIFORNIA

California will take less water from the Colorado River. Two and a half years after signing a deal aimed at averting a crisis on the river, officials from California, Arizona and Nevada are discussing a new plan to take less from the shrinking river and leave more water in Lake Mead to reduce the risk of the reservoir falling to dangerously low levels.

A Times investigation has spurred L.A. County supervisors to move toward decriminalizing bicycling violations. The board made the move and ordered a review of “biased policing” that the Sheriff’s Department uses to enforce such laws. Among other things, The Times investigation found that sheriff’s deputies searched 85% of cyclists they pulled over, and 7 of every 10 stops involved Latino cyclists.

An Orange County woman fought to sleep in the park and won — for now. Homeless people rarely fight minor criminal charges all the way to trial. But Nancy Wood’s battle is a stark illustration of a system that leaves them in Catch-22 situations, with no clear route to getting a roof over their heads, while officials in many cities are intent on shooing them away.

Orange County hasn’t had a Latino supervisor in more than a decade. Yet nearly a third of Orange County residents are Latino. The Orange County Board of Supervisors appears poised to select a map that creates a majority Latino district for the first time while also giving influence to Asian voters as a once-in-a-decade redistricting process moves closer to completion.

A fugitive husband and wife were sentenced in absentia for their part in a COVID relief fraud ring. Richard Ayvazyan got a 17-year term for leading the ring, which stole $18 million meant for small businesses upended by lockdowns. Marietta Terabelian got seven years.

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NATION-WORLD

Most Americans support the right to abortion but also support a 15-week limit. New opinion polls show that most Americans do not entirely agree with either side in an abortion case heading to the Supreme Court next month.

Austria instituted a nationwide lockdown for unvaccinated people on Monday. It was perhaps the most drastic of a string of measures being taken by European governments to get a massive coronavirus resurgence under control.

Prosecutors rested their case in the Ahmaud Arbery trial. Three white men are charged with chasing and killing Arbery. In eight days of testimony, prosecutors called 23 witnesses and wrapped up with photos of the shotgun wounds that punched a gaping hole in his chest.

There was no verdict after daylong deliberations by the Kyle Rittenhouse jury. At issue is whether the teen who killed two people with an AR-style semiautomatic rifle was the instigator in a night of bloodshed in Kenosha, Wis., or a concerned citizen who came under attack while trying to protect property.

Israel held a “Miss Holocaust Survivor” pageant. The winner of the title was an 86-year-old woman who survived mass roundups and massacres of Jews as a child in Romania.

PHOTO OF THE DAY

“To be honest, I’ve never fit in anywhere.” Ruth Negga recently spoke to The Times about her role in “Passing,” now streaming on Netflix; her childhood in Ireland and England; and being “othered.”

(Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times)

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

Miley Cyrus, Halsey, Machine Gun Kelly are on the lineup. Ahead of Super Bowl LVI on Feb. 13 at Inglewood’s SoFi Stadium, the Super Bowl Music Fest will come to downtown L.A.’s Staples Center on Feb. 10-12 with a series of all-star double bills.

Netflix finally reveals its top content. The company on Tuesday began rolling out weekly reports on top shows and movies by number of hours viewed on the streaming service after receiving feedback that it should be more transparent. (Yes, “Squid Game” is at the top.)

Michael Tubbs has a memoir. Born Black and poor in Stockton, he was mayor by 26. Out this week, “The Deeper the Roots” is an intimate, personal story of defying odds, helping others do the same and making history along the way.

BUSINESS

Miramax is suing Quentin Tarantino. The movie studio brought the suit against the “Pulp Fiction” director over his plan to auction off NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, related to the groundbreaking 1994 film.

The Staples Center is getting a new name for Christmas: Crypto.com Arena. The downtown Los Angeles venue, home of the Lakers, Kings and Sparks, will wear the new name for 20 years following a $700-million deal between the Hong Kong-based cryptocurrency exchange and AEG, the owner and operator of the arena.

The up-and-down story of trampoline parks. It was an idea that defied conventional logic: Fill a 20,000 square-foot warehouse with trampolines and hope you attract enough paying customers to outpace rent, maintenance, payroll and insurance claims. The premise, it turns out, proved popular and surprisingly profitable — at least until the pandemic.

Around 150 Activision employees staged a walkout. The action at the video game publisher’s Irvine headquarters was a bid to press Chief Executive Bobby Kotick to step down, after a report that he was aware for years of sexual misconduct claims and had been accused of mistreatment by several women.

SPORTS

A win for the Clippers. In a rarity, the Clippers’ biggest problem Tuesday wasn’t falling behind by double digits. It was holding onto a lead of that size in an eventual 106-92 win over the San Antonio Spurs.

The U.S. men’s national soccer team settled for a 1-1 draw with Jamaica in its World Cup qualifier. The U.S. goes into the two-month winter pause 4-1-3 and second in the tournament standings.

Can the Lakers get their act together? LeBron James remains day to day after missing his seventh straight game, their depth hasn’t saved them, their defense hasn’t been as reliable or consistent as it was last season, and they stumbled through the cushiest part of their schedule with a 7-5 record at home and 8-7 overall. Soon, things will get tougher, writes columnist Helene Elliot.

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OPINION

Public opinion is unified on prescription drug prices — they’re too high, writes Elisabeth Rosenthal. So why are the Democrats settling on a menu of weak, halfway measures to address the problem of sky-high drug prices?

How is inflation like critical race theory? A lot of voters have a hard time explaining how either works, but they know they don’t like it when they see it, writes columnist Jonah Goldberg.

ONLY IN CALIFORNIA

A man stands among gravel and patchy snow at the top of a mountain

Vincent Valencia lives alone at the summit of Mammoth Mountain. “A social butterfly isn’t going to like this job,” he said. “But that’s not me.”

(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

“A social butterfly isn’t going to like this job. But that’s not me.” For much of the last 18 years, Vincent Valencia has lived alone at the summit of Mammoth Mountain — a frozen world that is lashed regularly by the ugliest weather California has to offer. With UFOs, avalanche-blasting cannon fire and 184-mph winds, life supervising the Mammoth Mountain Ski Area’s gondola operation can get pretty weird.

FROM THE ARCHIVES

Two women sit at a table in front of microphones and a cake with a skull and crossbones.

Nov. 17, 1964: A caption in the L.A. Times said “Mrs. Afton Slade” had a cake “celebrating” smog, although the dessert clearly calls it an “unhappy” birthday.

(Los Angeles Times)

On this day 57 years ago, the Stamp Out Smog organization went to bat for clean air with a cake marking 21 years since smog was first detected in Los Angeles, according to the California Air Resources Board.

The group’s efforts likely weren’t helped by the coverage it received in The Times, which said: “A women’s committee to Stamp Out Smog (SOS) commemorated the 21st anniversary of smog in California on Monday — a beautiful smogless day.”

Today’s newsletter was curated by Amy Hubbard and Laura Blasey. Comments or ideas? Email us at [email protected]

Eleanore Beatty

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