Today’s Headlines: Two-thirds of California counties are now in the high COVID-19 community level

By Elvia Limón

Hello, it’s Tuesday, July 5, and here are the stories you shouldn’t miss today:

TOP STORIES

New COVID-19 subvariants cause concern in California

In a sign of how the new coronavirus wave continues to spread across California, two-thirds of the state’s counties are now in the high COVID-19 community level, in which the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends universal masking in indoor public spaces.

This comes as health officials are warning of concerning weeks ahead as two new ultra-contagious Omicron subvariants — BA.4 and BA.5 — spread. Experts believe the subvariants, which are not only especially contagious but also capable of reinfecting those who have survived earlier Omicron infection.

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

A shooting at a Fourth of July parade in a Chicago suburb

A gunman opened fire on an Independence Day parade in suburban Chicago, killing at least six people, wounding 30 others and sending hundreds of marchers, parents with strollers and children on bicycles fleeing in terror, police said.

Authorities said a man named as a person of interest in the shooting was taken into police custody Monday evening after an hours-long search around Highland Park, an affluent community of about 30,000 people on Chicago’s north shore.

The shooting was just the latest to shatter a ritual of American life. Schools, churches, grocery stores and now community parades have all become killing grounds in recent months.

Kamala Harris could break a record that Democrats don’t want

Vice President Kamala Harris is on pace to set an unusual record, breaking the most tie votes in the U.S. Senate. But many Democrats and progressives don’t see the distinction as much of an honor.

Harris’ tiebreaking votes have mostly been needed to unclog procedural gridlock over nominations, highlighting the limits of the Biden administration’s governing power.

Her inability to help pass substantive legislation has also increased pressure on Democrats to destroy the Senate filibuster, a rule that requires legislation to win the support from 60 senators before it can proceed to a final vote.

More politics

  • More evidence is emerging in the House’s Jan. 6 investigation that lends support to recent testimony that then-President Trump wanted to join an angry mob that marched to the Capitol where they rioted.
  • The Supreme Court ruled that the Biden administration can end the “Remain in Mexico” program, but life does not appear likely to change much for asylum seekers waiting in Tijuana.
  • California Gov. Gavin Newsom targets Gov. Ron DeSantis, former President Trump and Florida’s policies in a campaign ad running in that state, and invites Floridians to the West Coast.

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

Crime is up on buses and trains. Metro has a plan

A $122-million pilot program by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority will place up to 300 uniformed workers on trains and buses starting this fall with the aim of making riders feel safe.

The ambassadors will help with directions, alert police to a threat, point people to homeless services, keep an eye on vulnerable people, and check that seats are clean and passengers are safe. The program will run for up to five years and could be expanded if successful.

The transit agency has been grappling with sagging ridership and increased crime. Officials hope the program will create a sense of security, lure back longtime users and bring in new commuters.

Putin declares victory in Luhansk

Russian President Vladimir Putin declared victory in the eastern Ukrainian region of Luhansk, one day after Ukrainian forces withdrew from their last remaining bulwark of resistance in the province.

Putin’s declaration came as Russian forces tried to press their offensive deeper into eastern Ukraine after the Ukrainian military confirmed that its forces had withdrawn from Lysychansk. Luhansk Gov. Serhiy Haidai said that Ukrainian forces had retreated from the city to avoid being surrounded.

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OUR MUST-READS FROM THE WEEKEND

“He told me, I’m only going for two years, the time will go by quickly,” said Luz Estrella Cuevas Remolino, 31, whose husband left the family in Tuxtepec, Mexico, in hopes of supporting them by earning money in Georgia. Pictured with Cuevas are her son, daughter and mother.

(Eva Lepiz / For The Times)

A Oaxacan community prays for two brothers — one dead, one alive — who were in the San Antonio trailer. Mariano and Begai Santiago Hipólito were frustrated with their jobs where on a good week they might each make about $100. They planned to travel to Georgia and return a few years later with enough money to better support their children.

O.C.’s Vietnamese homeless people feel like outcasts in a culture of family and achievement. They have converged on Little Saigon from the rest of the state and beyond, drawn by familiar foods and the ease of communicating in their native language. They number about 20, which locals say is an increase since the pandemic started.

Inflation grips L.A. taco vendors: Less meat? Raise prices? Absorb losses? Rising food and fuel costs have forced some street vendors to ration their supplies or raise their prices on what some take for granted as convenient and affordable food. But for many entrepreneurs, their livelihood is at stake amid soaring inflation.

CALIFORNIA

Researchers use AI to predict crime and biased policing in major U.S. cities like L.A. A group of social scientists out of Chicago has developed a machine learning model it says not only predicts crime a week in advance, but has also uncovered biased policing in eight major U.S. cities, including Los Angeles.

A measure to increase California’s minimum wage to $18 fails to qualify for the November election. Although California’s minimum wage is higher than the national rate of $7.25, proponents of the measure say the current standard is not enough, especially as housing costs and gas prices soar.

Can a Target gift card help you stay off meth? This L.A. program is trying it. It is a simple idea at first glance: Giving people rewards, week by week, can encourage them to keep doing difficult things. Researchers say such “contingency management” programs use the reward systems in the brain to nudge people away from drugs.

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NATION-WORLD

Motive is likely not terrorism-related in the shooting at a Danish shopping mall, police say. Police have not identified a motive for the attack inside one of Scandinavia’s biggest shopping centers. A suspect carrying a rifle and knife was quickly arrested. The three people killed were a 17-year-old boy and a 17-year-old girl, both Danes, and a 47-year-old Russian man.

The release of the video of the police killing of Jayland Walker sparks outrage in Akron. Walker was shot and killed at the end of a car chase early on the morning of June 27. Eight officers fired at Walker in a parking lot, authorities have said. A civil rights attorney representing the Walker family has said the 25-year-old was shot as many as 60 times.

After the abortion ruling, clinic staffs grapple with trauma. Nationwide, workers at clinics that shuttered abortion services are feeling fear and stress as they try to pick up the pieces and chart a path forward. Conversations with frantic patients that first day play on an inescapable loop in their heads.

The recent climate ruling could dampen government efforts to rein in Big Tech. The court “basically said when it comes to major policy changes that can transform entire sectors of the economy, Congress has to make those choices, not agencies,” said Neil Chilson, who is now a fellow at libertarian-leaning Stand Together, founded by the billionaire industrialist Charles Koch.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

Amber Heard asks the judge to throw out the verdict in Johnny Depp’s defamation trial and investigate a juror. Heard’s attorneys call the jury’s June 1 award of $10 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages to Depp “excessive” and “indefensible.”

David Crosby, Stephen Stills and Graham Nash return to Spotify after taking a stand against Joe Rogan. The musicians will reportedly donate streaming profits to COVID-19 charities for a month or more. The folk rockers’ Spotify return comes nearly half a year after they ditched the app in solidarity with their former bandmate, Neil Young.

Drake relives his bar mitzvah glory days onstage with the Backstreet Boys. Drake, who was born in Toronto, agreed to make a surprise appearance on the group’s DNA world tour after bumping into one of the Backstreet Boys “at a restaurant the other night.”

BUSINESS

Water restrictions bring big profits for businesses helping SoCal cope with drought. Obtaining water, conserving water and, in some cases, stealing water have become pillars of the drought microeconomy. It is a vast and quickly expanding marketplace that includes products — artificial turf, rainwater storage tanks and low-flow household fixtures among them.

Corporate boardrooms are becoming more politically polarized. For all the hand-wringing among U.S. conservatives that companies are increasingly imposing their liberal social agendas on workers and customers, a new study finds that top executives have become more Republican, and C-suites more ideologically like-minded, over the last decade.

OPINION

I’m officially reclaiming the U.S. flag from the fascists. “Long before I was called “anti-American” (by devotees of the white demagogue), you could say I was a kind of patriot. The flag inspired in me a sense of pride. But the flag has changed meaning for many of us,” writes Times columnist Jean Guerrero.

I lived through Columbine. Here’s what I have to say to survivors of mass shootings. “In 1999, at age 17, I crouched on the floor of Columbine High School’s cafeteria while two of my friends began their murderous spree, ultimately killing 13 classmates and one teacher. I got out, but from that moment, my life was divided into Before and After,” writes Krista Hanley.

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SPORTS

Everything you need to know about UCLA and USC joining the Big Ten. Beyond the givens of brutal weather and earlier start times that await UCLA and USC upon their 2024 defection to the Big Ten, scores of questions remain.

Bob Baffert returned to Santa Anita Park after his suspension expired. Depending on whom you talk to, Baffert is either beloved or reviled, with more in the former than latter category. The truth and the facts will ultimately be decided through litigation.

Megan Rapinoe: Presidential award is ‘validation of all the things that I’ve stood for.’ She has campaigned against gender discrimination and in favor of equal pay. Standing up and speaking out has never been a problem for Rapinoe. Soccer is what she does, but it isn’t who she is.

ONLY IN L.A.

Erewhon smoothies, from left: Activated, Coconut Cloud, Hailey Bieber’s Strawberry Glaze, Pitaya and Turmeric Crush.

Erewhon smoothies, from left: Activated, Coconut Cloud, Hailey Bieber’s Strawberry Glaze, Pitaya and Turmeric Crush.

(Dania Maxwell / Los Angeles Times)

Each of Erewhon’s seven locations has a tonic bar that serves a variety of smoothies. Times food columnist Lucas Kwan Peterson tried every smoothie on the menu, minus the make-your-own smoothies and including Hailey Bieber’s $17 Strawberry Glaze Skin Smoothie, launched around the same time as her skincare line, Rhode.

Bieber’s smoothie is … pretty good. It’s actually very good. It’s thick, creamy, has plenty of strawberry flavor, courtesy of Harry’s Berries, and occasional date chunks impart great texture and natural sweetness. But will it make your skin better? No comment.

The results of the smoothie tasting — which was about $300, plus gratuity — are grouped into ones Lucas liked, ones he was neutral on, and ones that needed a little work — OK, sometimes a lot of work.

FROM THE ARCHIVES

People celebrate the Fourth of July in Santa Monica in 1929.

People celebrate the Fourth of July in Santa Monica in 1929.

(Los Angeles Times)

Some things never change — even 93 years later. Californians took to the beach to celebrate the Fourth of July in 1929, just like many did this week.

We appreciate that you took the time to read Today’s Headlines! Comments or ideas? Feel free to drop us a note at [email protected]

Eleanore Beatty

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