Today’s Headlines: Virus cases dip as people cross their fingers and head to LAX

Here are the stories you shouldn’t miss today:

TOP STORIES

LAX Thanksgiving travel is expected to double, bringing new coronavirus dangers

The sea of Thanksgiving travelers has already begun to swell at Los Angeles International Airport, with crowds of people snaking through check-in lines and waiting for bags. The holiday is shaping up to be the busiest travel moment since the beginning of the pandemic, with 2 million people expected to travel through LAX, double the number from last year.

The growing crowds bring new coronavirus dangers. California has now reported 5 million coronavirus cases, a sobering total. And yet the daily numbers of newly recorded infections and those hospitalized with the disease have declined in recent weeks, a welcome trend. It’s a precarious one, however, as travel picks up steam and people gather indoors.

More top coronavirus headlines

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

House Democrats are poised to approve ‘Build Back Better’

House Democrats were on the precipice last night of approving a sweeping measure to strengthen the nation’s social safety net programs and begin to respond to the climate crisis — a sorely needed show of progress for President Biden’s legislative agenda even as it faces more hurdles.

But shortly after midnight Eastern time, they chose to delay the vote until this morning as House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) hit nearly four hours of a winding speech that blocked Democrats from voting.

More politics

  • Column: Kevin Faulconer totally flopped as a candidate for governor. So why not try again?
  • California, using tools to find where poverty and pollution intersect, has been leaning in to the fight against environmental injustice. The White House and other states are borrowing from its tools and tactics.

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

That settles it: No SAT, no tests at all, for UC admissions

After more than three years of research and debate, the University of California has slammed the door shut on using any standardized test for admissions decisions. Faculty could find no alternative exam that would avoid the biased results that led leaders to scrap the SAT last year.

The debate was closely followed nationally. UC’s decision could embolden other campuses to also permanently drop testing requirements.

Where is Peng Shuai?

What began as a confrontation between feminism and authoritarianism within China has evolved into a wider sports and human rights showdown as the tennis world takes a stand for Peng Shuai, a Chinese player who accused a Communist Party leader of sexual abuse and has since vanished from public view.

Peng Shuai of China at the U.S. Open tennis championships in New York in 2019.

(Eduardo Munoz Alvarez / Associated Press)

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CALIFORNIA

Gardena will pay the 8-year-old child of a shooting victim $1.3 million. The city settled with the son of Kenneth Ross Jr., who was killed by police in 2018. His death spurred lawmakers to enact a state law that decertifies officers who act criminally or with bias.

California’s undergrad college enrollment drops for a second year. The precipitous drop — driven largely by big declines in community college attendance — is fueled by a declining population and pandemic pressures drawing young adults to the workforce, not classrooms.

The fate of the first law enforcement officer to be prosecuted in an on-duty shooting in Los Angeles County in 20 years is now in the hands of jurors. L.A. County Sheriff’s Deputy Luke Liu could face up to 11 years in prison for fatally shooting Francisco Garcia in a Norwalk gas station in February 2016.

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NATION-WORLD

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt commuted the death sentence of condemned inmate Julius Jones on Thursday, the day of his scheduled execution. Jones has proclaimed his innocence from death row for more than two decades in the 1999 killing of a suburban Oklahoma City businessman.

To sink nuclear talks, Iran’s hard-liners are using a novel weapon: a hit TV show. “Gando,” a hit “Homeland”-like show that swept Iran by storm, is having an impact far beyond the small screen, morphing into a real-life political force that could upset sensitive nuclear negotiations between Tehran and the West. That’s exactly what its producers want.

A Philippines church leader is charged with coercing sex under the threat of “eternal damnation.” Apollo Carreon Quiboloy trafficked girls and young women for sex and oversaw a scheme that deployed scores of his followers to the U.S., where, under duress, they solicited donations that financed his rich lifestyle, according to an indictment.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

The Black News Channel wants to give a voice to an underserved audience. The nascent Tallahassee, Fla.-based channel is the only full-time national TV news channel dedicated to serving Black viewers. BNC is attempting to make inroads as cable TV news audiences are shrinking and technology has lowered the barrier of entry for video news start-ups.

Lin-Manuel Miranda resurrected an unfinished one-man show. The result is Netflix’s “Tick, Tick … Boom!” starring Andrew Garfield. Miranda drew from everything he knew about theater to make the stage-to-screen translation as authentic as possible.

Harry Styles was proudly progressive at the Forum. “Feel free to be whoever it is that you’ve always wanted to be,” he told his audience on Wednesday night. What’s interesting, writes pop music critic Mikael Wood, is Styles’ music looks decidedly backward.

BUSINESS

California holds 70% of the country’s priciest ZIP Codes. Home prices across the country soared during the pandemic, but at the top of the market, California kept its crown as the priciest state in the nation — by far.

Multiple states are investigating Instagram. A group of U.S. state attorneys general are investigating the app over its efforts to engage children and young adults, taking aim at the risks the social network may pose to their mental health and well-being.

SPORTS

Shohei Ohtani was named MVP in a unanimous vote. The Angels star became the first two-way player to win the American League most valuable player award after hitting 46 home runs and posting a 3.18 earned-run average as a designated hitter and starting pitcher.

The Clippers couldn’t stop Ja Morant’s scoring surge. A third-quarter rally led by Morant was key in the Memphis Grizzlies’ 120-108 victory over Los Angeles on Thursday night.

“May the best Shaw win.” USC is going to win. Song Girls captain Hannah Shaw is sure of it. UCLA is going to win. Bruins dance team member Lauren Shaw is sure of it. Only time will tell who is victorious on Saturday, but the two cousins on rival spirit squads are ready to face off.

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OPINION

Don’t blame politicians for California’s sky-high gas prices. Blame COVID-19, writes columnist George Skelton. Supply shrank when millions of Californians — and people around the world — got locked down, and now millions are back on the roads.

YOUR WEEKEND

Candies are cut in half on top of graham crackers.

Make your own s’mores with a Scotchmallow twist.

(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)

Try something new with your morning brew this weekend. Unwrap a See’s Candies Scotch Kiss and drop it into your hot coffee. Let it melt, then stir. Or try a Scotchmallow s’more (deliciousness pictured above). Those are two of the See’s Candies hacks in our Food section. Why See’s? It’s celebrating its 100th birthday. In 1921, Charles A. See, a Canadian chocolate sales representative, opened a small candy shop at 135 N. Western Ave. in Los Angeles with wife Florence and his widowed mother, Mary See. It would become a beloved national brand. Something special happens when you walk into a See’s shop, columnist Jenn Harris writes.

Tune in to the best Netflix has to offer. There’s no way to select just 75 TV shows from a catalog as large as Netflix’s without making someone mad, but the eight-member Times TV team has tried their best, from “Wynonna Earp” to “Documentary Now!” to “Seinfeld.”

How about making a compost pile? November’s the time, say our gardening experts. If that’s not up your alley, The Times has a bunch of other ideas, including L.A. Zoo Lights, which returns today through Jan. 9. Expect more oversize glowing animals, a “magical disco ball forest” and the world’s largest illuminated pop-up storybook, among other displays. More details and ticket prices at the zoo website.

WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

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A Black man opened an art gallery in South L.A. He was branded a gentrifier. Terrell Tilford was shocked to find spray-painted on the side of his art gallery: “What’s all this white people s—!!!” For years, Band of Vices had featured the work of local artists of color. Also, Tilford grew up locally and is Black. With his gallery at the heart of what looks to be the new West Adams, he’s eager to be a presence, but he faces the threat of backlash from residents who perceive any renewal as a step toward removal. (Los Angeles Times)

Is work remote or in-office? Right now, it’s neither. Work life for many is in a mushy middle ground offering the worst of both worlds, with some commuting to the office just to Zoom. Sooner or later, employers will have to pick a side. (New York Times)

Wait, is my hair falling out? There’s plenty for one to worry about in a pandemic, but here’s a lesser acknowledged fact: It’s been a near-perfect mass hair-loss event. The big question is why it’s so hard to find the right information. (The Atlantic)

Now here’s something we couldn’t look away from, and we really did try: the yassification meme. Click at your own risk. (Buzzfeed News)

FROM THE ARCHIVES

Men in hats stand near a street car that has smashed into a power pole.

Dec. 19, 1934: A derailed trolley rests against a pole at McClintock Avenue and 37th Street in Los Angeles.

(Los Angeles TImes)

The Times reported 87 years ago today on the derailment of a trolley that was chalked up as the work of striking streetcar employees. Pushing for better wages, they’d been replaced on the job. A car axle was “firmly wedged” across the street-car tracks, causing the trolley carrying 50 passengers to derail, swerve and crash. There were no injuries, but seven people were treated for shock, the paper reported. Labor disputes are part of the Red Cars’ storied past. The Times’ Patt Morrison earlier this month wrote about the history of what was “once the grandest electric streetcar system in the nation” and what led to their demise.

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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