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Trader Joe's Working To Remove Product Branding Criticized As Racist

Trader Joe's beer — branded "Trader Jose's" — is seen on the shelf during the grand opening of a Trader Joe's in October 2013 in Pinecrest, Florida. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Trader Joe's is getting rid of product names such as Trader José's, Arabian Joe's and Trader Ming's that critics say are racist and perpetuate "harmful stereotypes."

"We made the decision several years ago to use only the Trader Joe's name on our products moving forward," spokesperson Kenya Friend-Daniel told NPR by email. She added that the company "had hoped that the work would be complete by now but there are still a small number of products going through the packaging change and we expect to be done very soon."

The branding has come under new scrutiny after a petition demanded that the company "remove racist branding and packaging from its stores."

The petition, which has gathered more than 2,800 signatures, said the labeling "belies a narrative of exoticism that perpetuates harmful stereotypes."

The petition adds: "The Trader Joe's branding is racist because it exoticizes other cultures — it presents 'Joe' as the default 'normal' and the other characters falling outside of it — they are 'Arabian Joe,' 'Trader José,' and 'Trader Joe San.'"

It wasn't immediately clear which of these product lines had already been changed and which were slated to change in the near future. Friend-Daniel, the spokesperson, stressed that the change was not in response to the petition but was already in progress.

She said the controversial approach to naming "may have been rooted in a lighthearted attempt at inclusiveness." However, Friend-Daniel said, "we recognize that it may now have the opposite effect — one that is contrary to the welcoming, rewarding customer experience we strive to create every day."

Other major companies and organizations have also announced recent changes to their branding amid mass protests pushing for racial justice in the United States.

For example, Aunt Jemima, the pancake and syrup brand, said last month that it will change its name and logo. Last week, Washington D.C.'s NFL team announced that it is retiring the Redskins name and logo.

This story was originally published on NPR.

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Outdoor Haircuts Are Now Legal In Southern California

An L.A. barbershop shuts its doors amid new closures and restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, July 14, 2020. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

It’s now legal in Southern California to get a professional haircut outdoors. In fact, it is the only legal way to get a haircut.

Last week, Gov. Newsom ordered salons and barbershops in most of the state to close down once again due to a surge of new coronavirus cases. Today, Newsom clarified that it's okay to operate, but only if they can do it outdoors. (You can also get skin care, a manicure or a massage.)

The idea, Newsom said in his Monday press conference, is to increase airflow, minimizing the likelihood of customers or stylists breathing air contaminated with the coronavirus.

Shade tarps and canopies are allowed, as long as three sides are open to the breeze. And salons can’t offer any service that might require a customer to go indoors. So no shampooing, unless there is an outdoor sink.

Salons join a growing list of industries in California that are banned from operating indoors but are allowed outside, including restaurants, gyms and churches.

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Confirmed COVID-19 Cases Near 160K In LA County; Call Center Launched For Contact Tracing


Los Angeles County’s coronavirus task force delivered its daily update on the COVID-19 pandemic. Read highlights below or watch the full video above.

Los Angeles County officials reported 3,160 new confirmed cases of coronavirus today, bringing the total to at least 159,045 cases countywide. In total, 6,445 cases have been reported in Long Beach and 1,700 in Pasadena (those two cities operate their own health departments).

County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer also reported nine new deaths of COVID-19 patients. The total number of deaths countywide now stands at 4,104 people.

So far, 92% of those who have died had underlying health conditions, Ferrer said.

Ferrer also provided a racial breakdown of the confirmed deaths, based on information confirmed for 3,820 of the victims. According to the latest available information:

  • 47% Latino/Latina [48.6% of county residents]
  • 11% African American [9% of county residents]
  • 26% White [26.1% of county residents]
  • 15% Asian [15.4% of county residents]
  • “Less than” 1% Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander [0.4% of county residents]
  • 1% identified as belonging to another race or ethnicity

Ferrer also announced the launch of a new call center to help contact tracing efforts. People who have tested positive for COVID-19 can call 1-833-540-0473 to be connected with a public health specialist who can also interview them and connect them with resources. Ferrer said it would be operational seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.


Here are some other key figures being reported today:

  • There are currently 2,232 people hospitalized with COVID-19. Of those individuals, 26% are in the ICU, with 19% on ventilators. Ferrer said the hospitalization rate has ticked up over the past few days. “We’ll need to continue to pay a lot of attention to this, to make sure that we’re not starting to see significant increases in the number of people requiring hospitalizations.”
  • Ferrer said 916 cases have been confirmed among people experiencing homelessness in L.A. County.
  • Ferrer said the county was back to testing more than 20,000 people daily after facing some setbacks.
  • Overall, more than 1,540,289 COVID-19 tests have been carried out and their results reported to L.A. County health officials. Of those tests, 10% have been positive.
  • There have now been 3,317 confirmed cases “at some point in time” in county jail facilities, Ferrer reported. In total, 2,974 inmates and 343 staff members have tested positive.
  • There are 190 confirmed cases in the state prison system — 133 inmates and 57 staff.
  • Ferrer reported that 63 health care workers have died from the virus in the county. Almost half of them were nurses and more than 70% of the health care workers who have contracted the virus were employed in nursing homes.
  • Of the 812 pregnant women with confirmed cases in the county, 77% are Latina, “a mirror image of the inequity that Latinx people have experienced since the beginning of the pandemic," Ferrer said. One pregnant woman with COVID-19 has died.
  • 100% of babies born to mothers infected with the virus tested negative for COVID-19.

Ferrer indicated that contact tracing — identifying people who may have come into contact with someone who tests positive for the virus — has had mixed results. She said less than 50% of COVID-19-positive individuals contacted by the county provided information about others they have been in close contact with.

She said those who declined to provide their contacts were often worried about losing housing or their job. “There’s also likely an inherent distrust of providing anybody with their personal information,” Ferrer said.


Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated the total number of cases reported today as 3,116 and the total number of cases thus far as 159,046. LAist regrets the error.

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Horse Racing Will Continue At Los Alamitos — With Increased Scrutiny

A race horse attends morning workout at Santa Anita, another racetrack that's been under scrutiny. (David McNew/Getty Images)

The California Horse Racing Board has approved a plan that will allow races to continue at Los Alamitos track. The Orange County facility had been placed on probation and was at risk of losing its license after 29 horses died there this year — 19 while racing or training and 10 from illness.

The new plan includes:

  • An additional veterinarian to monitor horses during training and on exiting and entering the track
  • A "security steward" to oversee veterinary and barn practices
  • A panel to review race entries; the panel can reject an entry for any reason related to horse or rider safety
  • A fatality review whenever a horse dies, regardless of the cause of death

The board voted unanimously (6-0) today to approve the track's plan. They issued a brief statement following the vote:

After the Los Alamitos Racing Association presented a plan to the California Horse Racing Board that includes additional safety personnel and greater scrutiny of horses in training and entered to race, the Board accepted the plan and took no action against the racetrack’s license, while indicating intent to monitor the plan for effectiveness and compliance.

The sport has come under increased scrutiny as public awareness of the frequency of horse injuries and deaths has grown. Santa Anita Park closed early last year over similar concerns, and a report in March found many of the horses had pre-existing injuries related to high-intensity training.



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California Gov. Newsom: 'We Need A National Strategy' On Coronavirus Testing


Gov. Gavin Newsom is delivering an update on California's response to coronavirus. You can watch the live video above and follow this post for updates.


Newsom noted that labs have been under strain due to increased testing not just in California but across the country, which has slowed down test results from national labs. Tests are coming back in an average of seven days, California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said said.

High priority tests are coming through in 24-48 hours, while it can be 13-14 days in other cases, Ghaly said. The state testing task force has been reconsituted to help make sure those that need the fastest turnaround time get it, he added.


The seven-day average for coronavirus cases is 8,911 — there were 6,846 new cases yesterday. The positivity rate over the past two weeks is 7.39%. This time last week, that two-week average was at 7.41%. The seven-day average is now 7.2%, while it was 7.7% at this time last week.

There has also been an average of 124,279 tests conducted per day over the past week, a new record. There were 127,000 tests conducted yesterday.

There were 9 COVID-19-related deaths reported yesterday, Newsom said — the seven-day trend is an average of 91 deaths per day. That is down from 102 deaths per day the previous week. There were 90 COVID-19 deaths reported Saturday.

Hospitalizations are up 16% over the past two weeks to 6,921, though it's a slower increase than the state has been experiencing in recent weeks — it was at 50% a couple weeks ago. About 9% of the state's hospital beds are taken by COVID-19 patients, while 59% of the state's total beds are occupied. ICU numbers are up 12% over the past two weeks to 1,943. That rate of growth has also decreased, Newsom noted. Right now, 17% of ICU capacity is in use by COVID-19 patients.

In Placer County, thouse numbers are flipped, with just 18.6% of ICU beds available, Newsom said. In San Benito County, 0% of ICU beds are available. Some counties are facing issues with not just the number of hospital beds, but with hospital staff stressed thin, Newsom said.

There are currently 33 counties on the state's COVID-19 monitoring list — San Francisco County was recently added, Newsom said. The list represents what Newsom described as the overwhelming majority of the state's population.

The governor reminded everyone to wear a mask, physically distance, wash your hands, and minimize mixing. He said that the next few weeks will be critical.


The governor stressed the importance of personal decisions in how quickly the state gets to reopen different sectors. He said that our actions will determine when children go back to school, how we can connect with family and friends, and when businesses reopen.

He went through a slide explaining that risk is reduced by wearing masks, taking indoor activities outside, staying 6 feet apart, and not gathering with large numbers of people. Minimizing mixing also helps to increase safety due to the exponential effect that a COVID-19-positive person can have on others, Newsom noted.

The governor said that clarifications on how barbershops and salons can move operations outside have been added to the state COVID-19 website, as additional clarifications were needed due to local ordinances around issues like the outdoor use of chemicals.


The CDC has released guidelines for pool testing, which Newsom said will help California to expand testing.

The governor thanked the vice president for sending in 190 HHS staff to help in California. He added that a national strategy on COVID-19 testing is needed.

"Anybody that's willing to help this state, I'm going to express deep gratitute for that help," Newsom said. "We need a national strategy, not just support here in the state. This nation needs more support on testing at a national level, and we continue to need more support on our efforts to contact trace, isolate, and quarantine individuals. And we certainly look forward to being able to compliment those efforts if and when they materialize."

President Trump has expressed interest in sending Homeland Security agents into Oakland. When asked about this, Newsom said that the president hasn't given California any sort of heads up about this, and if they were to attempt such an action, California would reject it.

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‘I Want To See Something Better’: Child Care Union Election Ends This Week

A home day care in South L.A. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

Child care providers are hopeful a successful drive to unionize could bolster their struggle for better pay and conditions as they care for kids in a system that’s underfunded and further crippled by the coronavirus.

Voting wraps up Wednesday to determine whether the state’s 43,000 child care providers can join Child Care Providers United, which is part of SEIU Local 99.

Sue Carrera, a family child care provider in Inglewood and Local 99 executive board member, said the effort is needed to ensure a better life for her grandchildren and “even my grandchildren’s children,” adding, "I want to see something better for them."

One goal is raising the rate of reimbursements providers receive for caring for children from low-income families through the state’s subsidy programs.

Many providers report they make less than the California minimum wage of $12 an hour (the minimum wage in the city of L.A. is $15 an hour). Carrera said after she pays her bills there’s rarely any money left over.

Nationwide, child care workers make a little over $10 an hour on average.

Willian Alfaro, who’s studying child development at Los Angeles Trade Technical College, told us:

“I've looked and researched how much money and it's … extremely sad and depressing. It needs to be heard again and again and again.”


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'Tenet' Abandons Plans For Summer Release In US, Another Major Blow To Movie Theaters

An empty ticket area in a closed AMC movie theater in Santa Monica in March — pandemic closures have devastated the theater business. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

The traditional summer movie season has been eviscerated by the pandemic, and now one of the very few studio films set for release in the coming weeks has canceled its plans for a theatrical release.

Warner Bros. today said that Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet,” whose premiere already had been postponed multiple times, will abandon its Aug. 12 debut. The studio did not announce a new domestic release date, but hinted that “Tenet” could open overseas before it reaches U.S. screens.

Toby Emmerich, the chairman of Warner Bros. Pictures Group, said in a statement:

“Our goals throughout this process have been to ensure the highest odds of success for our films while also being ready to support our theater partners with new content as soon as they could safely reopen.”

Originally, the $200-million drama about time travel that stars “BlackkKlansman’s” John David Washington, was set to arrive at the multiplex on July 17. That release was delayed to July 31, and then again to Aug. 12.

Now that “Tenet” has dropped off the summer release schedule, Disney’s live-action “Mulan” is the only high-profile production set to open in August. But that film, which also has shifted its release date several times, also is likely to scrap its Aug. 10 premiere.

The “Tenet” news could be devastating for theaters, some of which have been teetering on bankruptcy. In California, theaters were allowed to reopen on June 12 in some counties — under many new guidelines and restrictions — only to be ordered shuttered again in early July after COVID-19 cases surged. [Drive-in theaters were allowed to reopen in mid-May.]

The multi-billion dollar industry has recorded no material income for the past three months. As new coronavirus cases surge and officials across the country are reinstating shelter-in-place mandates, some Wall Street analysts are now saying theaters may not open until next year.


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Fall High School Sports Season Delayed

A high school football coach in Saratoga, California talks to his team. (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

The start of California’s high school sports season has been pushed back until at least December — meaning traditional fall sports, like football, won’t crown new state champions until next spring.

Today’s announcement from the California Interscholastic Federation isn’t a total surprise: As coronavirus numbers surge, Gov. Gavin Newsom handed down a directive last week that will likely force most public and private K-12 schools to begin the new school year online.

As L.A. Times high school sports guru Eric Sondheimer puts it:

The state’s governing body for high school sports might be giving the state’s more than 800,000 athletes their best opportunity to have a sports season in the 2020-21 school year.

Here’s the new calendar from the CIF, which affects both the normal fall and spring sports calendars.

California’s state high school football championships were supposed to be wrapped up by early December. Instead, they’re now scheduled to be held in mid-April 2021.

Athletes in sports like cross country, girls volleyball and boys water polo will see their November state tournament dates pushed back into mid-March.

Spring sports will be delayed as well. For instance, the state basketball tournament, normally played in March, has now been penciled in for June 2021.


Morning Briefing: Efforts To Hold LAPD Accountable Continue

The leader of an LAPD police unit makes his way through the crowd as people hold up signs at a Black Lives Matter protest in Hancock Park on Tuesday, June 2, 2020. (Samanta Helou-Hernandez for LAist)

Never miss a morning briefing. Subscribe today to get our A.M. newsletter delivered to your inbox.

This weekend saw ongoing efforts on the part of L.A. activists to challenge systemic racism and police misconduct.

In an outdoor town hall-style event on Saturday, organizers of the People’s Budget L.A. and Black Lives Matter-L.A. convened 200 people – including L.A. City Councilmembers Herb Wesson, Curren Price and Mike Bonin – to brainstorm how the city can respond to non-violent incidents, other than bringing in the police.

"[Police] don't come with patience," said speaker Jan Williams, whose brother has schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. "They come with weapons and ready to defend themselves."

Meanwhile, in Northeast L.A. on Sunday, hundreds of protesters marched in honor of Mely Corado, who was killed by LAPD officers while working at Trader Joe’s in Silver Lake two years ago. Corado was struck when two officers exchanged fire with an armed suspect, and her family is calling for the officers to face charges. The Los Angeles Police Commission ruled that the officers acted within policy during the incident.

Keep reading for more on what’s happening in L.A. today, and stay safe out there.

Jessica P. Ogilvie

Coming Up Today, July 20

In the last installment of a three-part series, Bumdog Torres reflects on his journey as a photographer living and working the streets.

Listen to Broadway performers play original material, learn how racism is a public health issue, skip the lines at Comic-Con@Home and more. Christine N. Ziemba has this week’s best online and IRL events.

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The Past 48 Hours In LA

#BlackLivesMatter: The late civil rights pioneer and Congressman John Lewis spread his message any way he could – including at Comic-Con. More than 200 people attended an outdoor brainstorming session organized by the People's Budget L.A. coalition led by Black Lives Matter-Los Angeles.

Policing The Police: Protesters marched through Silver Lake in memory of Mely Corado and called for the LAPD to be held accountable for her 2018 death in a police shootout at the Trader Joe's in Silver Lake where she worked. The FBI will review the death of Andrés Guardado, an 18-year-old who was shot five times in the back by an L.A. County sheriff's deputy.

Opening And Closing (And Opening And Closing): Pasadena-based Harvest Rock Church filed a federal lawsuit seeking to stop Gov. Gavin Newsom's ban on singing and chanting in places of worship. Catholic schools throughout Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara counties will open the 2020-21 school year with distance learning.

Photo Of The Day

Protesters gather at Trader Joe's in Silver Lake to remember Mely Corado, who was killed there in 2018 by LAPD gunfire.

(Josie Huang/LAist)

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Local Tourism Industry Suffers Major Setbacks Due To COVID-19 Closures

A sign advertises bus tours on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Hollywood, California March 10, 2020. (Photo by Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images)

International travel to Los Angeles has dwindled to almost nothing, amounting to nearly $5 billion in lost revenue for the local tourism industry. To help the city’s businesses and attractions survive, officials at the L.A. Tourism and Convention Board hope that Angelenos will consider taking local vacations.

Adam Burke, the board’s chief operating officer, estimates that if every employed L.A. resident stayed three nights in a local hotel, dined at three restaurants, and visited three museums or cultural attractions, it would go a long way towards rebuilding the economy (although it’s not clear how safe any of those activities are, under current coronavirus protection measures).

“That alone would inject about $1.4 billion back into our local economy,” Burke said, “and, thankfully, would generate over 21,000 jobs.”

In the meantime, LAX is installing touchless kiosks, temperature screening, and deep cleaning technology to ensure the safety of travelers – and in an effort to reduce anxiety around air travel.

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