May 21, 2022

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Today’s Headlines: Biden, reversing Trump order, announces tougher car pollution standards

11 min read

Here are the stories you shouldn’t miss today:

TOP STORIES

Biden, reversing Trump order, announces tougher car pollution standards

President Biden unveiled plans to strengthen car pollution standards through 2026, putting the United States on a path to reduce greenhouse gas emissions — though not as quickly as many environmentalists say is needed.

The proposed standards, written by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Transportation Department, would replace significantly weaker Trump-era rules that essentially undid the nation’s biggest climate change initiative. In their place, the Biden administration offers a compromise that it hopes progressives can live with and automakers can follow.

The president also signed an executive order that encourages automakers to produce more zero-emissions vehicles and sets a new goal of having half of all new cars and trucks be emissions-free by 2030. This would include battery-electric, plug-in hybrid electric and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.

The future “is electric,” Biden said to supporters gathered on the South Lawn of the White House, where several electric vehicles, including Ford’s F-150 Lightning, had been parked to serve as a backdrop. “There’s no turning back,” he said. “The question is whether we’ll lead or fall behind in the race for the future.”

After signing the order, the president took an electric Jeep Wrangler for a drive around the White House.

Biden’s proposal would tighten pollution standards over four years, beginning with cars coming off the production line in the fall of 2022.

More politics

— In a rare extended interview on homelessness Thursday, Gov. Gavin Newsom applauded the removal of homeless camps from Echo Park Lake and Venice Beach in Los Angeles, staking out a position that reflects a change in the political dialogue about homelessness in California.

— President Biden has ordered authorities to refrain from deporting numerous Hong Kong residents who are in the U.S., granting them an 18-month “safe haven” in the face of China’s fierce crackdown on dissidents and democratic institutions.

— Four Republicans hoping to replace Gov. Gavin Newsom took turns blaming the governor for the state’s problems during a debate peppered with vows to end pandemic-related mask mandates, enact massive tax cuts and abolish state and local sanctuary policies.

— A Sacramento judge refused to block Gov. Newsom from telling voters in the election handbook that the Sept. 14 recall election was organized by “Republicans and Trump supporters.”

Sign up early for our California Politics newsletter, coming in August, to get the best of The Times’ state politics reporting, including full coverage of the recall election and the latest action in Sacramento.

The Golden Globes are pulled back from the brink

Several months after the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. pledged “transformational change,” the vast majority of its 84 members voted for a slate of proposed bylaws intended to overhaul the organization, expand membership with a focus on diversity and restore its credibility with the entertainment industry.

The vote is seen as a significant step to pull one of Hollywood’s highest-profile awards shows — the Golden Globes — back from the brink of possible extinction. The bylaws are expected to codify reforms involving core issues including governance and membership, as well as policies concerning Golden Globes voting, members’ conduct, compensation, ethics and a host of perks — including the prohibition of gifts from studios and others.

The tally was 63 to 19 in favor of the new bylaws, according to sources familiar with the vote who weren’t authorized to comment.

The proposed statutes required a two-thirds majority to pass. They aim to address the controversies that have long dogged the association, triggering a months-long boycott by a coalition of leading talent publicists and playing a significant role in NBC’s announcement that it would not broadcast the Globes next year.

Under the new bylaws, the HFPA is expected to hold elections for a new board by September that will include outside directors for the first time. The board is also expected to appoint a CEO and other professional managers, including a chief financial officer and a diversity and inclusion officer. Moreover, the association will work to bring the Globes back on the air in January 2023.

The U.S. is dangerously divided over vaccines

As the U.S. reached the milestone this week of getting at least one dose of a vaccine into the arms of 70{9f8850bc8f664a2ac1fdee25ffd85a3cdac362824700ab0655dbcffd0add5cb2} of the adults in the country, few people were celebrating. The highly contagious Delta variant was surging across the U.S., and there was growing exasperation that the national project to stem the spread of the coronavirus had stalled as it met resistance to vaccinations in large sections of the conservative South and Midwest.

The split between those who have received their COVID-19 shots and those who refuse to be vaccinated follows familiar geographical and political fault lines. Democratic-leaning states in the Northeast, such as Vermont and Massachusetts, lead the way in vaccinations. In contrast, staunchly Republican states that voted for former President Trump in 2020, including Alabama and Mississippi, have the lowest vaccination rates and the steepest increase in cases and hospitalizations.

Ever since the health crisis began in the United States, the coronavirus, in all its forms and variants, has magnified the nation’s political differences. Americans have disagreed on wearing masks, government lockdowns and even the seriousness of a virus that’s killed more than 615,000 people in the U.S.

“This is the most politicized I’ve ever seen America — and the tragedy is that it’s politicized over a life-and-death issue,” said Frank Luntz, a Republican pollster advising the Biden administration COVID-19 task force about how to reach people reluctant to get the vaccine.

Surveys from the Kaiser Family Foundation indicate the partisan gap on vaccinations is widening. In April, the average vaccination rate in counties that voted for Trump was 20.6{9f8850bc8f664a2ac1fdee25ffd85a3cdac362824700ab0655dbcffd0add5cb2} compared with 22.8{9f8850bc8f664a2ac1fdee25ffd85a3cdac362824700ab0655dbcffd0add5cb2} in Biden counties. By July 6, that gap had increased to 11.7{9f8850bc8f664a2ac1fdee25ffd85a3cdac362824700ab0655dbcffd0add5cb2}.

More top coronavirus headlines

Moderna said its COVID-19 vaccine remained 93{9f8850bc8f664a2ac1fdee25ffd85a3cdac362824700ab0655dbcffd0add5cb2} effective six months after the second shot as it reported second-quarter earnings and revenue that beat expectations.

— If you have long-term symptoms of COVID-19 or any other condition, navigating the healthcare system can be rough. Here are tips for getting the care you need.

L.A. County has taken aggressive actions to fight the Delta variant, and officials in the county and city are considering more. How it will affect you.

— The Los Angeles Community College District will require proof of vaccination or regular testing for students and faculty members during the fall semester. The University of California and California State University systems announced last month that vaccinations would be required of all students and staff members.

For more, sign up for Coronavirus Today, a special edition of The Times’ Health and Science newsletter.

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FROM THE ARCHIVES

In 1970, the popular television series “The Odd Couple” debuted, in which Jack Klugman played Oscar Madison and Tony Randall appeared as Felix Unger.

In this photo, Big Brothers’ “little brothers” are (front row from left): Greg Waring, Vince Carroll and Dave Warner. In back row are: Steve Taranda, Ray Dodson and George Romero.

In “The Odd Couple” Season 1, Episode 9, Oscar and Felix join the Big Brothers of America foundation. Felix tried to show his little brother culture, but the boy wanted to hangout with Oscar. The Big Brothers episode aired on Nov. 19, 1970.

August 1970: Jack Klugman, wearing baseball cap, and Tony Randall play host to “little brother” members of Big Brothers of America during their visit to the Paramount set of “The Odd Couple.”

(Kathleen Ballard / Los Angeles Times)

YOUR WEEKEND

— More than a dozen pianos placed in public spaces across Beverly Hills and the return of the L.A. Phil’s “Tchaikovsky Spectacular” with fireworks lead our shortlist of culture to catch this weekend. Before you go, remember to call or check online for reservation requirements and other COVID-19 protocols.

— It’s normal to have lost touch with people — and yourself — over the course of the pandemic. Here’s how to get back out there and make friends again.

Disneyland has a new annual pass program. Here’s everything you need to know.

— Charming 19th century photographic portraits at LACMA, illuminated prayer books at the Getty and a groundbreaking 1946 graphic memoir at the Japanese American National Museum. Southern California’s museums have plenty to offer for August.

CALIFORNIA

— In a sign of the region’s worsening drought, state water officials announced Thursday the shutdown of a major hydroelectric power plant at Lake Oroville in Northern California, citing the lowest-ever recorded water level.

— Los Angeles County’s Superior Court, the nation’s largest trial court system, told employees Thursday they must promptly get fully vaccinated once a COVID-19 vaccine receives final government approval, or face termination.

— Powerful winds and dry conditions caused fires in Northern California to explode Wednesday, with the massive Dixie fire sweeping into the town of Greenville and destroying swaths of downtown.

— For decades, the attack on Michelle Wyatt, a 20-year-old college student, confounded investigators. Now, DNA reveals a suspect in the San Diego woman’s rape and murder.

California healthcare workers must be vaccinated by the end of September under new health order. The new mandate applies to employees in hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, clinics, doctor’s offices, hospice facilities, dialysis centers and most other healthcare settings, and stipulates that they complete their inoculation regimen by Sept. 30.

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NATION-WORLD

— Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Thursday ordered another special legislative session to again try passing a GOP bill to restrict voting options after Democrats left the state in protest to prevent Republicans from changing the state’s elections laws.

Three young activists once seemed destined for promising lives, but they dared to challenge some of the most entrenched powers in Asia. Their stories reflect the seismic changes sweeping the continent, where voices for democracy have been suppressed by corruption, growing inequality and the widening influence of the so-called China model.

— The United States Coast Guard offloaded drugs worth more than $1.4 billion at Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The agency announced that the crew of the cutter James offloaded about 59,700 pounds of cocaine and approximately 1,430 pounds of marijuana.

— The Kentucky attorney general, Daniel Cameron, who investigated the Breonna Taylor case, responded Thursday to months of blistering criticism by saying the decision not to charge any police officers in her death was “ultimately” in the grand jury’s hands. However, some jurors have complained they were limited in what crimes they could consider.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

Britney Spears not only wants dad Jamie Spears removed as the conservator of her estate but she wants him removed ASAP. The pop star’s attorney is asking that a hearing about ousting Jamie as conservator be moved up from its scheduled Sept. 29 date, at minimum, or that Jamie simply be removed and replaced by Jason Rubin, who has been suggested by Team Britney as an acceptable temporary conservator.

“The Bachelor” reportedly has its first Black executive producer: Jodi Baskerville, a franchise stalwart who has also worked on such high-profile reality series as “America’s Next Top Model” and “Pit Boss.”

Hollywood production has returned to pre-pandemic levels despite the spread of new coronavirus variants. Even as the highly infectious Delta variant threatens Californians, the film and television industry recorded 9,791 shoot days in the second quarter of 2021 — up 4,947{9f8850bc8f664a2ac1fdee25ffd85a3cdac362824700ab0655dbcffd0add5cb2} from the 194 shoot days for the same period last year and up 40{9f8850bc8f664a2ac1fdee25ffd85a3cdac362824700ab0655dbcffd0add5cb2} from 7,011 shoot days in the first quarter of this year.

— Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the creators of “South Park,” signed a massive $900-million deal with ViacomCBS’ MTV Entertainment Studios to extend the show through 2027 — or 30 seasons — and produce 14 movies.

BUSINESS

— Lockdowns weren’t so great for movie theaters or the economy as a whole. But they gave a big boost to virtual socialization on apps such as Discord, Teleparty and Clubhouse. Will their success last?

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, a deeply influential voice in Washington who rose from the coal mines of Pennsylvania to preside over one of the largest labor organizations in the world, died Thursday. He was 72.

SPORTS

— Southern California-raised athletes April Ross and Alix Klineman won gold for U.S. in women’s beach volleyball. The two methodically dismantled their Australian opponents in the hot sun, ending with a long embrace after the gold-medal point. Here’s our story by staff writer Ben Bolch on how hard it is to keep a relationship in beach volleyball.

— The baseball tournament at these Olympics has featured plenty of stars, but the biggest of them all might be the baseballs themselves. Here’s why players around the world love Japanese baseballs.

— The USC football team has much to prove after a pandemic-shortened season ended in bitter defeat in the Pac-12 title game. With preseason camp set to begin on Friday, here are 10 players to watch as the Trojans prepare for the crossroads campaign that lies ahead.

Get the latest news from Tokyo with our Olympics live blog and the Sports Report newsletter.

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OPINION

— Homeless people on Venice Beach got interim housing. Why can’t this happen all over the city? asks The Times’ editorial board.

— President Biden should not let Cuban American elites — who are not representative of the Cuban people — dictate his policies toward the island nation, writes Jean Guerrero.

WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

— On Jan. 6, Metropolitan Police Officer Mike Fanone was dragged, stun-gunned, threatened with his own gun and beaten unconscious by rioters. He can’t forget and he’s determined not to let anyone else, either. (Time)

— Let’s talk about (queer) sex: The importance of LGBTQ-inclusive sex education in schools. (USA Today)

ONLY IN L.A.

There are Dodgers fans, and then there’s Tom Wilson, who wants to make sure no one forgets the Houston Astros sign-stealing scandal that may have cost the Dodgers the 2017 World Series. Wilson has been selling large foam asterisks that read “Astroisk” online and outside Dodger Stadium as a visual reminder of the episode. “I love baseball and I feel kind of like a steward,” he said. “I think a lot of fans feel that way.”

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

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